I just started my new job in December, and I felt bad I didn't really get there quite early enough to really plan any special holiday programs or take-home kits, so somewhat at the last minute I decided to at least do a special evening pajama Christmas storytime.
Confessions of a Children's Librarian: Storytime, STEAM, Commentary, & More
Friday, December 24, 2021
Sunday, December 19, 2021
New Year, New Job!
Sunday, November 7, 2021
Owls - Family Storytime
Saturday, November 6, 2021
ABC's & 123's - Family Storytime
Monday, October 25, 2021
Slithery, Slippery Snakes - Family Storytime
I was not the one who actually presented this storytime, but I did plan it and left it for my boss to use when she covered my storytime while I was on vacation. The whole snake thing has been a running joke for a couple of months now, and it was a theme I had not done before, so I figured why not, plus I found a couple of cute songs/rhymes to go with it.
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Pizza & Guacamole - Family Storytime
Maybe you don't think those two things go together (but it does seem like people are putting avocados on/in everything these days), but think of it as both being party/snack foods featured in September.
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Play In the Sand Day - Family Storytime
When I haven't come across any books to inspire me - which has been happening a lot this last year as there seems to be a dearth of new picture books suitable for storytime - I start looking over the lists of various holidays and observances to get ideas for themes I haven't done before. I found that National Play in the Sand Day fell right on our storytime day, and decided to give that a go as playing in sand is such a great activity for little ones, and here are a few articles explaining why:
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Silly Chicken Stories - Family Storytime
Toddler Storytime - August
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
One Step Forward, and Two Steps Back...
Yikes! It's been 6 weeks since my last post, and I'm starting to see why most blogs fizzle out after about 3-5 years....It takes time and creative energy to keep a blog going, and as I move forward in my career and and all the changes life has thrown at me lately, it's hard to find enough of either.
When I first started this blog six years ago I was only working part-time, which left me plenty of time and energy for blogging, reading, and everything else, and as someone just entering the field I was full of enthusiasm and ideas. Now I'm full-time and too exhausted and screen-fatigued when I get home to do any reading or writing in the evenings, and seem to have hit a bit of a creative wall with programming. I've done so many storytimes in my career that while I still love doing it, I'm not as excited about writing them up and find myself repeating things I've done before more often. Frankly, I'm very underwhelmed by the picture books being published in the last year or so. I've seen nothing new that inspires me lately; the recent publications are often so text heavy and dull, IMHO, or just not suitable for storytime.
And to be perfectly honest, the last year and half have been extremely difficult for me on every level, and I'm sure that's true of everyone. I miss normal. I miss working in a thriving library. I miss my regulars. I miss doing regular programming. Most of all, I miss stability. At the beginning of the summer I was so excited because I could finally start having in-person programming again outdoors, and I really thought we were going to be back to normal, in-person programming again this fall. I started planning things, arranged to start outreach visits with nearby preschool, and then I began hearing that nasty word "Delta", and soon everything changed again.
Friday, July 16, 2021
Summer 2021 - Uncertainty & Difficult Transitions
How is the summer going for you? I am sure there's a wide range in summer programming, with some libraries sticking to virtual programming and take-home kits, some libraries charging full steam ahead and returning to normal pre-pandemic summer programming, and many falling somewhere in between.
As I said in my previous post, our summer has been a somewhat awkward, confusing combination of virtual programming, take-home kits, and in-person programs combined with a last-minute replacement of our already planned summer reading program with a new, completely different one
Thursday, July 15, 2021
Cats - Family Storytime
Monday, July 5, 2021
Where Do We Go From Here?
Saturday, June 26, 2021
Polar Bears - Family Storytime
I was first inspired to plan a polar bear theme by Mac Barnett's new book, A Polar Bear In the Snow, but at the last minute decided not to use it because I wasn't sure the pictures would be visible and clear enough to everyone, with us having storytime outdoors and being all spread out.
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Wolves - Family Storytime
Since the CLSP summer reading theme this year is "Tails and Tales", I am using animal themes for all my storytimes. This week I focused on wolves, and I wanted to avoid the typical "big bad wolf" story that paints wolves in a negative light since conservationists and wildlife biologists are working very hard in our state to re-establish wolf populations and educate people on their necessity for a healthy ecosystem.
Friday, June 11, 2021
Movement Family Storytime - IRL!
This week was a momentous occasion - after more than 15 months, I was finally able to do a real storytime, in person, with REAL LIVE KIDS!
Thursday, June 3, 2021
Announcement RE: E-mail Subscriptions
Unfortunately, Feedburner will no longer support the e-mail subscription service this blog has used after June 2021. What this means is that if you have previously subscribed to the automated e-mails of new content from this blog, this will be the last month you will receive them.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
So, I have something to confess that might be shocking to some, though I am sure there are those who are secretly in agreement with me. Now hold on to your cardigans folks, but the truth is.... I hate summer reading!
Saturday, May 22, 2021
Cryptography - Hybrid STEM Program
For May's STEM program I decided to repeat a program I'd previously done in-person ("Spy School") with some tweaking to adapt it to a take-home kit plus video format, focusing only on the hidden and coded messages part and re-branding it as a Cryptography program.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Cinco de Mayo - Virtual Storytime
My storytime happened to fall on May 5th, plus May is Latino Book Month, and since half our population is of Mexican American heritage I decided to do a Cinco do Mayo theme. First I did a little research to be sure I understood what the holiday was for and how it is celebrated, and since frustratingly none of our several books about Cinco de Mayo appeared to be written by Mexican or Mexican American authors I had to come up with a slightly different way to interpret the theme as I only wanted to use books by Latino authors.
Frogs - Virtual Storytime
Today is National Frog Jumping Day! And it has a literary connection, being named in honor of all the frog-jumping contests spawned by Mark Twain's short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (originally published as "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog"). I've always found frogs to be a fun storytime theme, so decided this was a good reason to do it again.
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Early Literacy To Go - May
Since I decided to take a short break from storytimes the latter half of this month, May's early literacy kit didn't include as many different themes. My first storytime happened to fall on May 5, and the second on National Frog Jumping Day, so my themes were Cinco de Mayo, frogs, and Latino Books Month overall (though I could not find frog books with Latino authors, unfortunately).
This month's kit contained the following:
- Activities - easy, everyday activities categorized by the ECRR2 five practices
- Talk - about the meaning of Cinco de Mayo and the different ways it's celebrated, talk about your own heritage, traditions, and celebrations.
- Play - build with blocks or small boxes, engaging in conversation while doing so.
- Write - playing with dough, planting seeds, scribbling, coloring, and drawing.
- Sing - songs with animal sounds, counting songs, along with recorded music, included songs
- Read - together and independently
- Book Suggestions:
- Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (print & digital)
- What Can You Do With a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla
- My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintano (print & digital, English & Spanish)
- Lucia Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza
- Salsa: A Bilingual Cooking Poem by Jorge Arguleta (print & digital)
- Cinco de Mayo by James Garcia
- How Do Tadpoles Become Frogs by Darice Bailer (Vox talking book)
- The Frog Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta (digital)
- One Is a Pinata by Roseanne Greenfield Thong & John Parra (digital)
- "Five Green & Speckled Frogs" (counting down song)
- "The Alligator & the Frog" (action rhyme with large body movement)
- "Ten Little Frogs/Diez Ranitas" (counting song in English & Spanish)
- Included Craft - Paper Bag Piňata
- small brown paper bag
- 2 small rolls of crepe paper
- 2 packs fruit snacks
- Included Craft - Bouncy Frog
- frog cut out of green cardstock
- lily pad cut out of green cardstock
- 2 1/2" wide strips of cardstock
- small dot stickers, assorted colors
- googly eyes
- small strip of red paper
- Included Activity - Five Green & Speckled Frogs
- 5 die-cut frogs
- assorted color dot stickers to speckle them with
- lyrics of song
- Activity sheets
- Frog coloring page
- Life cycle of a frog
- Scissor skills sheet
- Find the two exactly alike frog coloring sheet
- Die-cut Letter "F"
This coming week will be my last virtual storytime, followed by a 3-week break to prepare for the summer. Then, starting June 9th I am going to move to in-person, outdoor storytime. That won't be without challenges, though we have a nice green space, we are on a busy road so it's fairly noisy. But no one is interested in virtual programming anymore, and I feel like we are at a point with the pandemic that it's about as good as it's going to get for the foreseeable future. With the demands of the summer program, I just cannot possibly make time for the elaborate monthly Early Literacy kits, and with moving away from virtual storytimes and starting in-person programs, I feel that there is no longer the same level of need as I will be giving early literacy information and tips in-person, as well as providing a take-home craft or activity each week.
Then I'm really hoping once summer is over, we will continue to make the transition back to "normal" in-person programming and I can really begin doing community outreach, which is desperately needed here. I think the take-home kits definitely met a community need for the last 7 months for those who couldn't access the virtual storytime or kids who simply couldn't engage in that format, but with current staffing levels and transitioning to in-person programs once again, I don't think they are sustainable, at least not in their current form. I may consider a simply monthly newsletter instead.
Thursday, May 6, 2021
My First Grant-Funded Project
I'm excited to share a little grant project I've been working on that I'm rather proud of. It's nothing on a grand scale, not terribly innovative or particularly amazing, but I hope it will make a small difference for the kids in the community we serve.
Sunday, May 2, 2021
Superheroes - Virtual Storytime
April 28th in National Superhero Day, and though I've never really been a fan of the whole superhero genre, I know a lot of people are so thought it would be good for a storytime theme. However, I did find it surprisingly challenging to find superhero books suitable for storytime that I liked. I was still trying to decide on books up until that morning, when luckily two holds came in just in time.
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Dinosaurs - Virtual Storytime
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Paleontology - Hybrid STEM Program
I never outgrew my childhood fascination with dinosaurs, which is actually part of why I decided to take my current position as it is located in a state with lots of dinosaur fossil sites and trackways, and I work dinosaurs into my programs as often as I think I can get away with. Luckily, most kids love dinosaurs, so it's a win-win for everyone. When I saw that April 18th was "Velociraptor Appreciation Day", I figured that was as good an excuse as any to do a paleontology theme for my monthly STEM program.
National Crayon Day - Virtual Storytime
One of my weekly storytimes fell on March 31st, which is National Crayon Day. Not only are crayons a great way to teach colors, but scribbling, coloring, and drawing are great pre-writing activities and a crayon-themed storytime is a great way to encourage this at home.
Monday, April 19, 2021
Be Kind to Spiders Week - Virtual Storytime
Lately I've been looking to various lists of holidays and observances for inspiration for my storytime themes, and the first full week of April was "Be Kind to Spiders Week". Since so many people have somewhat irrational fears of spiders as adults, I thought maybe this would be a good opportunity to provide some factual information and a more positive spin on spiders.
Monday, April 5, 2021
Early Literacy To Go - April
This month I again looked to lists of holidays and observances to inspire storytime themes, settling on Be Kind to Spiders Week, Spring, Velociraptor Appreciation Day, Superhero Day, and Poetry Month (incorporating poetry throughout the month rather than a specific poetry-themed storytime). Though these kits are designed to stand alone and provide early literacy support to those who cannot access virtual programming or have kids who just can't engage with that format, they also complement the virtual storytimes.
Sunday, March 21, 2021
Awesome New Books - Virtual Storytime
March 10th is the "International Day of Awesomeness", which I decided to use as a segue to introduce some awesome new picture books. (In reality they weren't brand new, both having been published in 2020, but with the pandemic shutdowns and changing jobs I didn't see them until the end of the year, and hadn't had a chance to use them until now.)
Friday, March 12, 2021
A year. Twelve months. Three-hundred and sixty-five days. It sounds like such a long time, but it feels like it was just the other day.
That's how long it's been since I worked what would turn out to be my last shift at a job I loved.
Saturday, March 6, 2021
Early Literacy To Go - March
This month I looked over a few lists of various holidays and observances in March for a little inspiration in planning my storytimes for this month. Although these kits are designed to stand alone, I also design them to complement my virtual storytimes, so that's where my planning process starts: first I plan my storytime themes, then I decide what crafts/activities I want to provide so I can order materials if needed, then I come up with all the other suggestions, songs/fingerplays, and tips. The themes I decided to use are: World Wildlife Day, International Day of Awesomeness (awesome new books), St. Patrick's Day, Folktales and Fables Week, and National Crayon Day.
Friday, February 26, 2021
Snowflake Science & Frosty Experiments - STEAM Program
This month, I decided on a wintery theme, adapting a couple of activities from a previous program and adding some new ones to give it a snowflake science focus. Most supplies were provided in a take-home kit they could pick up from the library, which also had basic instructions and QR links to the Facebook page and YouTube channel where the video presentation could be found that would have a lot more information and where they could see me demonstrate the activities.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Black History Month/Basic Concepts - Virtual Storytime
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Pandemic STEM Programming
One of my goals in my new position was to get some STEM programming going as there was very little being done in this system and none at my library. So once I had early literacy covered with both take-home kits and virtual storytimes, I turned my attention to STEM.
Thursday, February 18, 2021
After the "Hello" song, I explained that today we were going to be detectives and solve a mystery.
Saturday, February 6, 2021
Early Literacy To Go - February
I had somewhat of a difficult time putting this month's kit together. Part of it was just a lack of uninterrupted time to concentrate on planning, but the ideas just weren't flowing, either. I also had to do a little back-tracking because I had initially planned out my storytimes for the month mainly featuring new picture books rather than themes because we've gotten so many great ones in lately, but then realized I had not done anything in any way for Black History Month, so I had to re-think everything. And since I like to make the early literacy to go kits complement the virtual storytimes, I had to get the storytimes planned before I could plan the kit.
Thursday, February 4, 2021
New Books - Virtual Storytime
We have gotten in so many great picture books lately that I couldn't wait to use, I decided to forego using a theme for a couple of weeks this month in order to share some of them right away.
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Moose - Virtual Storytime
I've had a "moose" themed storytime in the back of my mind for over a year, since back in the before-times when I noticed that there were several cute picture books with moose. Then the pandemic hit, lost my job, yada yada yada, and now I'm in Colorado, which made the theme even more fitting since there are moose here.
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Virtual Programming - Let's Be Honest
Is there anybody who really feels they've got this down or that it's really what people want? Does anyone really enjoy it? C'mon, let's be brutally honest here...
I'll be the first to admit I hate it, for so many reasons.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Early Literacy To Go - January
Monday, January 11, 2021
Snow - Virtual Storytime
I guess I always do some kind of snow-themed storytime in January, but I was able to come up with two books I had not used before, so it's somewhat original. The weather is very unpredictable where I am now, for example a week after I arrived here in October a big storm dropped temperatures and 8"-12" of snow on us, after being sunny and 75 the week before, and after a few days almost all traces of snow were gone. I've been told they've had blizzards pop up as late as May, or even in the summer!
I started with a hello song, introduction, and lead-in song, then read the first book, Pablo In The Snow, by Terri Sloat and Rosalinde Bonnet. A little lamb named Pablo has never seen snow before, and is amazed when "pieces of the clouds" start falling down. He goes outside to explore and discovers lots of fun things to do in the snow. But he stays out a little too long and can't find his way home as new snow has covered all of the tracks.
I chose this book for a few reasons: it shows several snowy day activities, it was a newer book and I had not seen or used it before, and my branch happens to have "Lamb" in its name. I also used it as a reminder that if you get lost or separated from your group, you should stay put and call for help.
Next we counted out ten snowflakes as I put them on my flannel board, and then sang the following while counting on our fingers:
There was a little snowman, (pretend to stack 3 large snowballs)
Who had a carrot nose. (indicate long nose)
Along came a rabbit (hold up two fingers and "hop" hand around)
And what do you suppose?? (hold out upturned hands)
That hungry little rabbit (hold up two fingers, rub tummy with other hand)
Looking for his lunch (look around)
Ate the snowman's nose! (pretend to eat)Nibble, nibble, crunch!
Then I read one more book, Snowball Fight! by comedian Jimmy Fallon and illustrated by Adam Stower. I was surprised when I came across this book as I had never heard that Jimmy Fallon had ever written a children's book. It is a bit older, 2005, which is probably why I wasn't familiar with it. Though I am generally VERY skeptical about celebrity authors, this turned out to be a really great, fun storytime book. It has very little text and lots of action as the neighborhood kids gather for an epic snowball fight. It ends with the protagonist sneaking out and making one last snowball and storing it in the freezer for "future use!", which is something my brother and I always did as well.
Once again, I am not getting tons of views and I don't know how many of those "views" really indicate someone watched a significant portion of the storytime or just clicked through it, and I don't have access to any additional information Facebook provides to the administrators, only what it shows to the public. Our branch's page only has like 400 followers, so I wouldn't expect many views, but I would like to know if *anyone* is really watching. I may get a couple of "likes" from patrons, but thus far no comments.
I don't expect to return to normal, in-person programming until maybe the Fall (though I expect to be told to do outdoor in-person programming before that), so I will keep offering the virtual storytimes and early literacy kits for the time being and hope I start to pick up some viewers and re-evaluate in a month or two. Of course, I appreciate any and all suggestions for making virtual storytime more engaging and/or attracting viewers!
Sunday, January 3, 2021
Christmas - Virtual Storytime
At first I wasn't sure about doing a Christmas storytime, having previously worked in a very diverse, multinational community with a wide array of ethnicities, cultures, and religions where we did not do Christmas programs. However, the library and community where I work now is very different and Christmas celebrations and programs are the norm. There was a wide array of non-Christmas programs available as well, and I made sure the theme was announced in advance so those who preferred to opt out could do so. But with storytime falling just two days before Christmas, and knowing so many in our already economically depressed community have had even more hardship due to the pandemic, I really felt a cheery Christmas storytime would best serve this particular community at this time, plus my manager had requested some type of Christmas program.
(I know this is a very divisive topic in our profession, and I have discussed my thoughts and opinions on the matter in previous articles, here and here, so I prefer not to debate the issue on this post.)
Winter - Virtual Storytime
After taking a few weeks to settle into my new position and first develop a non-virtual alternative to storytime, I turned my focus to virtual storytime in December. I know many people are reporting that patrons have screen fatigue and interest in virtual programming has sharply declined, but I felt that I had to at least give it a try. Partly because I really didn't know what else to do and felt pressured to do *something*, and partly because I had not done a storytime in 10 months and really missed the performance aspect of reading books aloud. Of course it isn't the same without a live, in-person audience, but it would at least keep me in practice.
Friday, January 1, 2021
Reflecting on 2020 and Looking at 2021
Every new year I like to reflect on the year that has passed, looking at everything I've experienced, accomplished and learned, and set goals for the year ahead. I was about to start this article off saying something like "Well, it's time for my usual new year's post...." when I realized that there was nothing "usual" about it this year. Before I write my annual post, I look at the one from the previous year to see how I did on meeting my goals, and as I read it I found myself thinking, "oh, you poor naïve thing, you have NO idea what is coming for you!" 2020 was a disaster of a year, bringing hardships, challenges, and changes that turned our world upside down, and will continue to have ramifications into 2021.