Support for PBS Parents provided by:

  • Arthur
  • Cat in the Hat
  • Curious George
  • Daniel Tiger
  • Dinosaur Train
  • Nature Cat
  • Odd Squad
  • Peg + Cat
  • Pinkalicous and Peterriffic
  • Ready Jet Go
  • Splash and Bubbles
  • Sesame Street
  • Super Why!
  • Wild Kratts
  • Sid the Science Kid
  • Bob the Builder
  • Martha Speaks
  • Ruff Ruffman Show
  • Mister Rogers
  • Cyberchase
  • SciGirls
  • The Electric Company
  • WordGirl
  • Caillou
  • Oh Noah
  • Fizzy's Lunch Lab
  • Maya & Miguel
  • Postcards from Buster
  • Clifford
  • WordWorld
  • DragonFly TV
  • ZOOM


Home »

Posts in Libraries Category


Thank a Library Worker Today and Every Day

Posted by Susan on April 13, 2010 at 9:57 PM in Libraries
Bookmark and Share

Ah, National Library Week. It's one of my favorite celebrations. The best part of the week is always National Library Workers Day. It was yesterday, April 13, 2010, but I celebrate it at my library every day.

National Library week 2010.jpgLibraries are enormous and complicated systems to run. It would be impossible to have a library if not for all the amazing people that work so hard. Some of them you might see regularly, such as librarians or people at the circulation desk, but there are so many unsung people you may not even know about. Here are a few I'd like to highlight. All of these positions exist in my library system and I'm sure they do in yours as well. At smaller libraries, there might be one or two people who play several of these roles.

Let's take a walk around the library and meet some of them. We've got to start with the custodians. I can't begin to tell you what a valuable part of the team they are, particularly in the children's section. They take care of all kinds of spills and accidents that happen all day long and they also set up for various events. There's the security people who keep the library safe for children and everyone else. And the facility managers and repairmen who make sure that everything is in working order and up to code.

Let's go in the back room and say hi to all those great people who work in circulation. You only see them when they're at the circulation desk, dealing tirelessly with a variety of issues and patron complaints and keeping numerous policies straight in their heads. But they're not done when they're off the desk. They also spend quite a bit of time checking in returned books and processing holds and transfers.

Shelver.jpgWave hello to the shelvers as they sort and place in order all the books, DVDs, CDs, and everything else on their carts. Then they'll go shelve them... something that takes a surprising amount of time, particularly with thin picture books. This picture of a shelver is from the Abilene Public Library.

Stop by and meet the branch manager. This is the person responsible for everything happening in their branch including budgets, schedules and fire alarms. They're who the staff call if there's ever a major (or minor) problem. At smaller branches, these folks also do circulation, shelving, reference and everything else.

Here are the people who deal with interlibrary loan. They get books and other materials from all around the country for you, usually for free or at a low cost. You'll also see lots of green boxes back here for audio books for the blind and physically disabled. WTBBLgreencassettes1.jpgThis picture is from the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library in downtown Seattle. Did you know that many libraries also provide service to home bound patrons?

As long as we're back here, do you see that enormous bookcase full of DVD and CD cases, with each one missing a disk? Be sure to thank the folks who handle the audiovisual problems and match up the hundreds of disks returned with their empty cases, so that the material is still available for the rest of the patrons to use.

Hey, look at all the brand new books on the shelves! They didn't appear there by magic. Let's walk over to the technical services department, which is usually at a library's central branch. Don't interrupt the selectors, they're incredibly busy reading reviews and new books. As they purchase, they are trying to make a balanced and current collection for the library and to stretch every dollar of the materials budget. Often there are only one of two selectors for the entire library system.

Look at all those boxes of new books. Someone has to unpack them, pay the invoices and report problems and damaged books. The catalogers and book processors are over here too. They make sure that every book has correct labels, stickers and an accurate catalog record.... an extremely time consuming job. Then the books have to be sent to each individual branch.

Step onto the loading dock. Here's the driver who visits every single branch, every day and brings new books and holds. They also pick up and return all the books returned to branches other than the ones they were borrowed from. (The drivers in this picture are from the Metropolitan Library System).

Also, back here, there's a spot where books get repaired so that the library can hang onto each book as long as possible. The irreparable books that have fallen apart are being replaced constantly so that the materials can be made available to more patrons.

Let's go upstairs and say hello to some more unsung heroes. Here we can find the people who answer the phone, order the supplies, pay the bills and keep the library humming. Thank the tech support department, who work tirelessly fixing endless computer problems and keeping the website current. Did you attend a good program at the library recently? Thank the person who put all the effort into coordinating and planning it. Odds are that you heard about the program because of the work of the publicity department. They find ways to advertise everything happening at the library, in a variety of different ways including Facebook, Twitter, blogs and press releases. The human resources, training, and budget departments are also invaluable pieces in the puzzle. Here's the library system's director... the person who has to make tough budget and management decisions and who works with the community and elected officials to advocate for the library.

Let's walk out to the reference desk. Here we can meet the people (librarians, library assistants, library associates and substitutes) who answer every kind of question you can possibly imagine. Listen in for a minute: "Where's the bathroom?", "Where's the nearest store that sells a particular product?", "I have a problem with my water bill. Who do I call?", "What book would who recommend for a second grader who reads on a fifth grade level and likes fantasy?", "What's a good, new mystery novel?", "I recently got diagnosed with an illness. Can you help me find everything there is to know about it?", "I just invented something. What do I do next?", "I need a county map from 1850", "Can you give me a list of local daycares?", "Which tax form do I use?", "What's the name of that new blockbuster movie that came out last week? Can I put the DVD on hold?"

Lots of public libaries have archives and goverment records. Take a look at the work room where the archivists preserve and take care of all the original documents, maps and pictures. Do you see all the storage? There are lots of documents back here that don't fit on the shelves.

book sale.jpgDon't forget to thank a friend... the Friends of the Library. These tireless volunteers sort used books for book sales and help with shelving and circulation and much more. They also do various fundraisers... and every penny goes back to the library. This money helps provide all kind of programming such as summer reading and author visits that wouldn't be a possibility otherwise.

Our tour could go on forever, you would be amazed at how many people it takes to run a library. We only met a few of them today. The next time you're at a library, take a moment to thank these folks. Even if you don't run into them, realize how much work it takes to get each book on the shelf, every day.

And then, tell someone about it. Let the branch manager or library director know. Let your elected officials know. In these troubled economic times, virtually every library system in the country is facing reduced hours, major budget reductions, staff layoffs and branch closures. If your library is important to you, speak up to the people who can do something about it.

Thank you to every single person at the Arlington Public Libraries. I am in awe of the work all of you do everyday. Without you, there would be no library.

Is there someone at your library that stands out? Do you work at a library? What do you do? I'd love to hear all about it.


Library Tip: Check Out Your Books Early and Often

Posted by Susan on March 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM in LibrariesSeasonal Books
Bookmark and Share

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Did you visit your library this week to find a book for St. Patrick's Day? Did you find anything? I'm guessing that you didn't. Or if you did, it was an old battered book that was published many years ago.

St. Patrick's Day.jpgHow can I be so telepathic? Because at every single library, on every single holiday, the relevant books are all checked out by the actual date of the holiday. And this doesn't just go for holidays. If you go into my library today, you'll find that all the books for spring are checked out. Pretty soon, as caterpillars start crawling onto the sidewalks, every book about how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly will be gone from our shelves.

Here's a tip: Never wait until the last minute to find seasonal books. Check them out a month before the season or event (even earlier than that is fine too). If you look at the Christmas books in November, you'll find all the newest and most popular books available for your perusal. If you wait until the middle of December, you'll find the dregs that other people decided no to check out.

I can certainly understand the desire not to spread out the holiday. However, most libraries lend books out for three weeks (with the option of renewal for another 3 weeks.) Many libraries let you renew twice, which means that if no one is waiting for the book, you can have it for up to nine weeks (over two months).

Don't forget to be considerate and remember that you're not the only one looking for books on that subject. Try not to take more than one or two holiday books so that there's enough for everyone else. (Unless, of course, you check out all the Passover books in September, when no one's looking for them). Also, as soon as you're done with a seasonal book, return it to the library so other people can check it out. For example, even though the St. Patrick's Day books got checked out already, we were able to find a couple that recently came back to give to the people who were looking for holiday books this week.

Where is the Green Sheep.jpgIf the library is completely out of the books you're looking for, be creative. A book like Mem Fox's beautifully crafted Where is the Green Sheep? works perfectly well. Or try one of Tomie dePaola's Irish folktales.

My library has the holiday books in the regular collection, but not every library has the shelf space to do that. If yours doesn't, ask the librarians where the books are when they're not on display. Many libraries keep their holiday books in their storytime rooms.

Have a lovely holiday.


A Patchwork Quilt

Bookmark and Share

Perhaps it is because we are having one more dreary, cold, wet (yes, still snow flurries!) day in Nashville, all I want to do is what Jen has just recommended: cozy up with a good book. And I would add that I'd like to cozy up under a fabulous quilt!quilt.jpg

I will use that quilt metaphor in this month's posting. So many of the postings this past month provide great fabrics of ideas and suggestions for developing in young children a love of reading. I will try to sew some of those fabrics into a quilt of connections. Thanks to James Ransome's end pages in Under the Quilt of Night for this quilt that I would choose for wrapping myself.

Immediately upon reading Jen's post, I registered to vote in the contest Ideas for Change in America. I had not heard about this contest and was delighted to read so many great project ideas. The "Read to Kids" campaign gets my vote, of course. I particularly like what the creators have said in the description:

"By reading aloud with children, we can improve their interest in and attitudes toward reading and improve children's fundamental literacy skills, including reading comprehension, vocabulary, reading ability, listening comprehension, attention span and ability to articulate thoughts. Being read to by an adult also helps build a child's self-esteem and confidence.

A national "Read to Kids" campaign could engage national and local literacy organizations, schools, teachers, parents, authors, publishers and nearly every sector of business and society that understands that our nation's future depends on our children's literacy skills."

I join Jen in encouraging you to vote....and suggest that you send the "Read to Kids" description on to those you know in the business world as well!

Thank you, Pam, for reminding us about Goin' Someplace Special. 51pIwG2kZwL.jpgThis ranks very high on my "favorite books of all time" list. Those who share my love of this book should be sure to check out the Reading Rockets website that Gina has led us to. The writing prompts for Goin' Someplace Special are excellent. Even though the February challenge has ended, I plan to store the ideas inside a copy of the book.

NOTE to sure to check for the March prompts. One of my former students entered one of her second grader's writing in January and her student was selected for an honorable mention. What a fabulous way to validate the efforts of a young writer!

Susan got us all thinking about how we organize, shelve, and attempt to easily locate our books. As a Mac computer user, I have used a software package called Booxter for several years. The program allows me to use a scanner like they have at the grocery store to record the ISBN codes on the back of each book (you can also manually enter these). All the information I need, including a picture of the cover, immediately pops up and is added to my catalog of books.

Finally, I'll add my own "piece of fabric" to this quilt. It actually brings us back to our many conversations around this year's Caldecott Award winner, The Lion and the Mouse. The website Teaching Books includes a video of Jerry Pinkney as he talks about the creation of the book. He ends the interview by saying that this fable is truly about family and helping others.

Scroll on down the link and check out the suggestions for enriching a reading of big no no.jpgBenny and Penny in the Big No-No (this year's Geisel Award winner). The book becomes interactive when you click on the "Play" button.

Let's hope for lots of sunshine and even some days that will make us all want to take our books and young readers outside!

Happy Reading......Ann


More Than One Way to Shelve a Book

Posted by Susan on February 24, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Libraries
Bookmark and Share

Ask a simple question, get lots of fascinating answers. Last week, I talked about my home library and asked: "Do you organize your books? How so?" Between comments on the original post and on Facebook, I got over 200 responses. I thought you might enjoy reading a sample of them. There were lots of funny, creative and intriguing answers.

How did the majority of people say how they organized their books? By genre? By author? By subject? Nope (although all of those were mentioned repeatedly.)

Child organization 2.jpgThe number one answer was: by physical attribute. Height, size, width and weight were all on the list. Also, whether the book was hardcover or a paperback. A surprising number of people said they sorted by color. See this picture for a beautiful example.

"I live in an RV. The few precious books we keep are divided by owner (Mom/family) then fiction/non-fiction, then ordered by size (because space is at a premium)."

"Hardcovers are shelved vertically and paperbacks end up stacked horizontally."

"Height, so I can adjust the various shelves to the level of the books on them. (This drives people who organize by subject crazy by the way)."

The second most popular method was by genre and the third was alphabetical. Many adults were very specific about they shelved their books. For example:

"As a grad student I had a special system. My personal library was broken down by subject, content similarity, book size, and color, since I knew exactly in my head which books I had and what each one looked like. I could find them much quicker that way."

"I have photos of each of my bookcases, so that when I move, I can arrange the books exactly how I had them in the previous setting. I pack them according to bookcase too. Original arrangements are by topic, and size, mostly, often author, if several titles by same."

Children's books posed a much bigger challenge, and one I completely understand:

"Arrange the children's books?? Try explaining that concept to my 4 year old."

"I put them in a bookshelf. Then said child comes along and tears them all out. Then rinse and repeat."

Leon's Library.jpg"I have 3 year old twins, I am happy if their books are back on their book shelf every night!"

"My son's books always get scrambled through his room every time I try to organize them."

"If I can keep the kids' books with the spines facing the right direction, we're doing well."

"Are you kidding me? We have books everywhere. Just getting them on a shelf is an accomplishment. I take solace in the fact that the books are all over is because they love to read book, after book, after book."

"My toddler is against organization."

Here's some of the methods used by parents:

"Big books on the big shelf. Little books on the little shelf. Keep the books off the floor."

"I have the board books down low, and a big shelf of readers. Then there is a giant pit full of oversized books I don't know what to do with. All the books in the kids' room are left to their own devices. It's all about serendipity up there."

"On my adult shelves, by category, then author, then height, for visual appeal. On the kids shelves, there is a lot of traffic. So I just tidy and place by size so it looks neat."

"I've got it 'easy' since my child is a toddler; all indestructible board books on one shelf, other books arranged by publisher/series on another shelf with a special spot for 'current reading' books. We're concentrating on winter/snow-related books this week."

Child organization.jpgA few people mentioned that it was the children actually doing the organizing:

"As a child I wanted to be a librarian and taped little call letters to the fronts of all my books."

"When my daughter was 8 she began organizing her book shelf by genre. I was in chidren's literature course while finishing up my English degree and she was fascinated by the work I had to do. So one day she decided to put all of her historical fiction, fantasy, biography, etc. in respective categories. I was impressed by how much she had learned."

And I found that not everyone holds on to their books.

"I try to give my books away. I only keep those I have an attachment to. I find it's better to share with the Veterans Admin., or library, or wherever so they are read again and again."

"We recycle a lot of my son's books with their younger cousins. We lay out the books they've outgrown and invite cousins over to pick and choose what they like. The rest have gone to the friends of the library."

Plus, I discovered some interesting and creative ways to shelve books (and other objects.)
"The most fun way to organize is to have the titles of the book all tell a story as you look the spines on the shelf. Sentences and poems are fun to make that way. I also like to put them in order by relation to one another."

Flotsam"I am a self-confessed bibliophile. I live with my books, constantly making stacks of the ones I'm reading at the moment and displaying them with other furniture about the room. At school, I've arranged low, long book shelves with one standing tall bookshelf for display of children's books with great, illustrated covers/sleeves and related artifacts that go with that theme. For example: Flotsam is on display with a collection of shells, clay sea creatures, etc."

And, this was a common refrain:
"I just want to know how she gets her kids to follow the system!"

The truth is, I don't. I mentioned in my previous post that we had moved recently, but it was six months ago. My son had disorganized everything I had originally organized. Our books were everywhere, so last weekend, I made an attempt to put them back in some kind of order. We discovered lots of books this week because we were finally able to find them.

And here are my favorite comments. I kept these until the end to give you a laugh.

"By how short the errant chair leg is."

"I organize them... mess them up a bit... then organize again."

"The librarians do it for me. I store them in my library bag until they are all read, and then I drop them in the book return slot. Then I go look for more already-sorted books. It's like magic!"

"Yep, right on the back of the toilet in order of which was most recently read!"

Thanks to Lee Erickson for the beautiful pictures of his toddler granddaughter looking at books. See his whole post on the subject here (with more great pictures).

Thanks to Alex Zealand for the picture of her five year old's bedroom and his book collection.


A Children's Librarian at Home

Posted by Susan on February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Libraries
Bookmark and Share

I spent a lot of time this weekend in the library, but I don't mean the public library where I work. I was organizing my home library.

We've moved a couple of times, and every time the bookshelves get set up, I struggle with how to arrange the books. My children's book collection has grown quite large and by now encompasses at least 5 bookcases.

This time when I shelved everything, I gave a great deal of thought to how my kids would use the library.

On the bottom shelf I always put board books (which are impossible to keep in order, of course). When my older son was a baby, we kept his toys and board books on the bottom shelves, so that he could play with anything he yanked off. At the moment, most of the board books are in the baby's room which has a built in bookcase. Baby book shelf
The picture books went on the lower shelves to make it easier for my son to reach them. I also set up a stool near the bookcases, so he can reach the books up top. (The picture books go up to the fourth shelf on each bookcase because I have so many).

My older son is starting to learn to read, so I pulled every early reader I had (2 shelves worth) and put them near the bottom also. That way, they're accessible any time he wants them. Early reader shelf
I couldn't leave it at that. I had lots more categories to organize! I made shelf space for compilations, Mother Goose, classics and poetry.
Classics and Compilations
I have a shelf for non-fiction, which I need to add to. Also, I always have a shelf for the Caldecott and Newbery winners (and I this year I'm going to add the honor books).
Caldecotts and Newberys
Comic strip books, like the magical Calvin and Hobbes have just about taken over their own bookcase. Comic Strip books
I've given holiday books their own special section. That way I don't have to search through all the picture books every time a holiday comes up. Holiday shelf
Chapter books are on the top shelves, including long series and favorite authors. Chapter books
And of course, Harry Potter gets a shelf of his own. Harry Potter shelf
Also, whenever I organize, I always leave a box open for donations. It's okay (but hard) to give away books, but it's also a good idea to remove books that you don't like or bought on an impulse. That way you'll have more room for the rest. Donation box

And yes, because I couldn't help it, I alphabetized the books by author. Only by letter though, so all the W books are on the same shelf. That makes it much easier to find multiple books by the same author author. Plus, when I'm looking for a book, it's much quicker to go to the right shelf instead of searching all the books.

So here's a glimpse of a small part of my library. (Keep in mind that you're only seeing three bookcases). I actually have ten bookcases in use, most of which are filled with children's books. The shelves are not completely full, on purpose. That's for all the books we have yet to discover!Bookcases

But really, it doesn't matter how you organize it. The most important thing is that you have a designated space to put the books you read to your children and that they're able to access it on their own. Size doesn't matter. When I was growing up, my mom kept one small shelf of picture books in my brother's closet. I can't tell you how exciting it was every time I went to that shelf and picked out a book for us to read together.

Do you organize your books? How so? Do you have a special place set aside for children's books that your kids can access? Is it in their bedroom? The living room? Or someplace else. I'd love to see your children's bookshelves. Please e-mail me at If I get enough pictures, I'll showcase all of your bookshelves next week!


Tips for Growing Bookworms: #5 Visit Libraries and Bookstores

Posted by Jen Robinson on December 14, 2009 at 6:00 AM in LibrariesLiteracy NewsRecommendations
Bookmark and Share

This is Part 5 of a continuing series on encouraging young readers. These ideas were originally captured in a post that I did on my blog in 2007, 10 Tips for Growing Bookworms. Here at Booklights I'll be expanding upon and updating each idea, and adding links for more information.

Tip #5: Visit libraries and bookstores. I talked last week about how I think that it's important for kids to have at least a few books that they can own and cherish. And that's absolutely true. But I think that libraries and bookstores are important in raising readers, too.

It would be impossible, not to mention incredibly wasteful, to try to buy copies of every book that might possibly work for your child. Libraries allow you to choose a variety of books on every visit, and to try books out before you buy the ones that your child really loves. This is a true gift. The library will have the big-name popular books, sure, but they'll also have books that you would never have heard of on your own. The array of choices can be dazzling. Some of those books might become your child's favorites. [Image credit: Microsoft ClipArt gallery]

But there's much more to it than just the chance to try out books for free. A library is a celebration of books and reading, day in and day out. Taking your child to the library is a way to show her that you aren't the only one who values books. Lots of people, from all sorts of backgrounds, work in and visit the library, and think that books are important. Libraries also have events and read-alouds, programming centered around showing kids that books are fun. Yes, you can (and should!) read books aloud at home. But being surrounded by other kids listening to the same book delivers a powerful message to pre-schoolers. Hearing someone besides Mom or Dad reading books aloud tells kids that literacy is a universal thing. All of this reinforces what you're already doing at home.

Another plus to visiting libraries, although one that not every visitor takes advantage of, is access to librarians. Youth service librarians excel at recommending books based on a child's interest. Sure, you can find book recommendations online, too. But if your school or community boasts a highly trained, caring person, someone who can get to know your child and help him to select books, why on earth wouldn't you take advantage of that? I still have books on my shelves that were recommended for me personally by my elementary school librarian.

For more on the services performed by librarians, from collection development to cataloging, check out this recent post from Liz Burns at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy. Other Booklights posts that talk about the benefits of libraries can be found here (from Susan), here (from Terry), and here (from Pam).

Many of the benefits of libraries (with the notable exception of the free access to books) are also true of bookstores. Bookstores show kids an environment and a culture filled with people who also love books. The good ones are staffed by people who can help you choose books based on your child's interests. Bookstores also often have fun events. A bookstore is more likely than a library to host author events. These can be an amazing opportunity to get kids excited about books. See my Booklights post about a Rick Riordan author event last summer, an earlier post on my own blog about an event by Jon Scieszka, and Becky Levine's recent post about a signing by Eoin Colfer. [Image credit: Photo taken by Susan Taylor Brown at Jon Scieszka signing event at Hicklebee's Books.]

And although the books aren't free at the bookstore, that can be a plus, too. Occasionally taking your child out and buying her a book says that you value books enough to spend money on them. My mother used to take me to our local used bookstore on a regular basis. She'd buy books for herself, and she'd buy books for me. We always had fun picking them out. I loved the treasure of finding a used copy of a book by one of my favorite authors. Is it any wonder that I grew up a reader? (And, actually, my mom and I still go to used bookstores together when we have the chance. And I still love finding old copies of books by cherished authors.)

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of visits to the library, and visits to bookstores. Taking your child to visit both can be a wonderful component to growing bookworms. And, as an added bonus, you get to visit libraries and bookstores yourself.


Fuzzy Slippers, Coffee, and Sneaking in the Library

Posted by Terry on November 10, 2009 at 7:00 AM in Libraries
Bookmark and Share

Just the other morning, I grabbed a cup of coffee and visited my library. I was still in my pajamas. It was okay, the librarians didn't mind. In fact, they didn't even notice. Why? Because I was visiting the library from the comfort of my house.

laptop_house.jpgDon't get me wrong, I L-O-V-E going to the library. Frankly, if I could live there, I would. There are times, though, when the library's hours don't work for my schedule. So I improvise. One of the great things about living in the 21st century is that we can go to the library whenever the mood strikes. It doesn't matter that the library itself isn't open, we can check on - or check out - all of the wonderful offerings that live there. Many (if not most) library systems have at least a Web site with an online catalog of their holdings.

As an example, in my local library - Jefferson-Madison Regional Library - I can search for talking books (aka audio books, books on tape, books on CD), videos, musical recordings, scripts for plays, and of course, books. I can find them by subject, author, and title; and in a HUGE leap from the card catalog I grew up with, I can find them by just about any keyword, too.

Aside from the "cool" factor of searching the stacks with coffee in hand, what makes visiting the library after hours so great is the opportunity it creates for parents and readers alike. Here are some ways that those early morning or late night visits can help you.

book_pile.jpgReserve books you want to read. Let's say a friend recommended a "must read" book to share with your kids during a recent play date. Odds are you aren't the only person who is going to want that book. Head to the online catalog and place a "hold" to reserve it. You may need to wait a day or two until it is pulled, but having the book waiting for you can save a lot of time on one of those days when your schedule is more than a little pinched.

Create a cheat sheet of the books you want. One of the great things about visiting the library is looking through the stacks. Sometimes, though, fate intervenes and there isn't a lot of time for browsing. On the days your toddler is overdue for a nap or your first grader is ready to melt down, it helps to have a ready-made list (with call number) of the books you plan to read. If your child is fixated on trucks, then having that list of picture books about trucks - with an X next to the ones you've already read - can save a lot of time and frustration!

stack_of_books.jpgCheck on book availability. Forewarned is forearmed. It helps to know BEFORE you get to the library whether the book on [pick a subject or author name] that your child desperately wants to read is available. One of the most important tools in the parenting toolbox is "redirection." If you know ahead of time that the book your child is looking for isn't available, you may be able to offer alternatives and avoid a conflict. Many library websites have a page for new arrivals. You may be able to entice your young reader to be the first person in your library to read a particular book.

Maximize your read aloud time. Libraries are filled with a lot more than paper versions of books. Within the various collections - including children's books - you can find audio versions that complement the traditional editions. For example, in my library I found Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower by Peggy Parish as both a hardcover and a book on tape. My daughter and I can listen together, and while she follows along with the book, I can stir the spaghetti!

ribbon-wrapped-book.JPGGet a few book ideas. Holiday shopping has begun, and books make great gifts. Let's say you heard about a book that sounds like it might be great for your nephew. Yes, the publisher's blurb can help you; but your nephew is particular about his fantasy (and his parents are particular about violence). So before you decide, why not borrow it from the library?

Do some in-depth research. With more than 10,000 libraries listed, is the largest network of library content and services. Worldcat is also a portal for building research bibliographies and digital content like downloadable books. A simple search will tell you whether or not the book/CD/video/periodical/etc. you are interested in is at your local library or a neighboring one.

These are just a few of the ways that you can take advantage of all that the library has to offer and ensure that your visits go smoothly. A tool I discovered this summer is Library Elf. The Elf is a FREE service that can help you keep track of your library holds and due dates. You can register all of the library cards in your family to help you manage who has what checked out and avoid overdue fees. Having the Library Elf's assistance was particularly handy this summer when all of us were borrowing books on our own cards and more recently during this first round of Cybils reviews to let me know when holds were available.

Spending the day at the library, wandering in and out of the stacks, and talking with the librarians is my idea of a perfect day. Nothing can replace the fun of chatting with the librarians. They are the most helpful, insightful, excited readers I know. But at the times they aren't available - and you want to sneak in some of that library quiet at home - the online catalog can fill the gap.

Susan T.

Miss Annie Sez

Posted by Susan T. on September 22, 2009 at 12:27 PM in Chapter BooksLibrariesPicture Books
Bookmark and Share

In my town, Miss Annie has a following. A big following--of babies, chess players, chapter-book readers, and parents who can chant "Alligator Pie" along with her.

Miss Annie (her real name is Annie Reuter) works in the children's department at the Westport (CT) Library. Some years back, my son and I took part in many of her toddler story times. A fifth grader now, he stops by to chat with her. So do I.

Recently, after she finished up supervising the Wednesday junior chess club, I asked Miss Annie for her latest read-aloud recommendations. Here's her list. Each book works for a group or one-on-one.

For first and second graders: Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers 

For kindergartners: The Moonglow Roll-O-Rama, by Dav Pilkey 

For three and four year olds: Preschool to the Rescue, written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand 

Miss Annie is one of a fabulous staff of book lovers in the children's section of our library. They all know information like this!

What are your local librarians recommending these days? Stop by and ask. You'll get lots of good ideas.

P.S. The full text of Dennis Lee's poem "Alligator Pie" is online at the University of Toronto Library. Click here to read it.


One card fits all

Posted by Susan on September 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM in Libraries
Bookmark and Share

As your kids head off to school, make sure they have one very important school supply: a library card.

A library card is more than a piece of plastic. It's usually the first tangible thing a child has in their own name. It gives them a sense of ownership and independence and it opens doors for children in so many wonderful ways.

One of my favorite parts of being a children's librarian is giving out those very first library cards. I love watching their faces light up with pride as they receive something that's all their own. Here's what I say:

"Take a good look at the children's reference desk. You're never interrupting a librarian at the desk... we're sitting here waiting for you to ask us a question. Come to us if you need help with homework, or the computer, or finding a book. We'd love to recommend a good book or series for you. No question is ever silly or unimportant."

Library Card.jpgSeptember is National Library Card sign-up month. It started in 1987 to meet a challenge proposed by then Secretary of Education William Bennett who said: "Let's have a national campaign... every child should obtain a library card- and use it."

Does everyone in your family have a library card? Do you remember getting your first library card? How old were you? How about your children? When did they get theirs?

What would you say to a child getting their first library card?


June: Sandpapering Ideas

Posted by Ann on June 25, 2009 at 10:38 AM in LibrariesPicture BooksRecommendations
Bookmark and Share

I am delighted to join the Booklights bloggers Jen, Pam, and Susan. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading their posts....what wonderful resources they are for parents, teachers, and children's booklovers everywhere! My role will be to provide an end-of-the-month summary, reaction, and share the ideas that Jen, Pam, and Susan have prompted. To quote E.B. White, "A once a month column gives three weeks of off time to devote to a sustained project like shingling a barn or sandpapering an old idea." While I do not plan to shingle a barn, I will be spending this next year sandpapering a lot of old ideas as I will be on sabbatical from my work at Vanderbilt University.

Jen's latest post about the power of social reading reminds me of the research done in the early 1970s on how children make their choices of what books to read. And while these findings were taken from studying children who likely now have little readers of their own, it may still be relevant to our discussion. It turns out that when making the decision of what book to choose, children rely on the recommendations of others, the availability of books, and returning to the same author or illustrator whose work they have enjoyed in the past. Sounds a lot like adult readers, doesn't it?

So Jen's suggestions of parent-child book clubs and encouraging kids to talk to each other about the books they are reading are great. Teachers are also very valuable resources for making book recommendations. And the lists of favorites that were provided in May make fabulous suggestions of picture books that will be enjoyed by readers of every age. Many of you will want to grab a book bag and go to your local library to check out their favorites:

Pam (May 7)
Susan (April 27 and May 6)
Jen (April 24)

As I read their lists, I felt compelled to mention my own "Top Ten".....for this moment in time, anyway!

1. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, by Mem Fox (ill. Julie Vivas)
2. I'm in Charge of Celebrations, by Byrd Baylor (ill. Peter Parnell)
3. The Library, by Sarah Stewart (ill. David Small)
4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar (pop-up version), by Eric Carle
5. Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen (ill.
6. Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney
7. Time for Bed, by Mem Fox (ill. Jane Dyer)
8. Truman's Aunt Farm, by Jama Kim Rattigan (ill. Brian Karas)
9. Pink and Say, by Patricia Palacco
10. Animalia, by Graeme Base

The second finding from the research I mentioned above is about availability of books to read. On June 11, Pam talked about bringing home books. The second most frequent memories of early reading my university students have is that of bringing bags full of books home from the public library (the first most popular memory is that of their family reading time at night before bedtime).

It is particularly important that children have lots of books available to them in the summer. By the way, I think that summer is the perfect time for reading LESS challenging books! Try new genres of literature. Check out the latest nonfiction picture books. Take the time to look very closely at the illustrations.

And on June 10th, Susan provided us with a very nice example of how to discuss the illustrations of Where the Wild Things Are (by the way, the movie based on this book is scheduled to come out on October 16). It has been said that a child's first introduction to fine art is through the picture book. Spend time this summer talking about the art that you and your child will enjoy together in many of the picture books we have recommended.

Please, please do not encourage children to stop reading picture books too early. Show your children how much you enjoy the art of the picture book. As Susan mentioned, Brian Selznick's Caldecott winning book The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a picture book with a much longer format....544 pages rather than the usual 32! While it may seem daunting at first, 9-12 year olds will quickly discover the illustrations must be read just as carefully as the text in order for the book to be understood.

The professor in me loves Arthur Rackham's belief about illustration: "The most fascinating form of illustration consists of the expression by the artist of an individual sense of delight or emotion aroused by the accompanying passage of literature."

Looking forward to another month of wonderful posts....Ann

Support for PBS Parents provided by: