by J. Patrick Lewis; illustrated by Anna Raff (Candlewick, 2013)
Ever heard of “Dragon Appreciation Day” (January 16)? How about “International Cephalopod Awareness Day” ( October 8)? Or our personal favorite, “Chocolate-Covered Anything Day” (December 16)? Well, J. Patrick Lewis and Anna Raff have, and they’ve assembled a funny, surprising collection of poems and illustrations that pay tribute to lesser-known celebrations. From advice from a worm in “What the Worm Knows” (for Worm Day on March 15) to the susurrating, lyrical word-pictures of “Bats” (for Bat Appreciation Day on April 17), these poems introduce a variety of poetic forms along with the silly holidays they celebrate. These kid-friendly poems beg for classroom and programming extensions with stories, songs, and crafts, and this book would be a terrific holiday or end-of-year gift for the teacher on your list.
September is Library Card Sign-Up Month. Here’s a great book to share with patrons of all ages:
Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough. Illustrated by Debbie Atwell. Houghton Mifflin, 2013. (Recommended for ages 5 and up.)
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who didn’t quite fit the expectations that people had of her. She didn’t march through the streets in protest, didn’t alert the media, but quietly, bit by bit, library by library, she changed the world.
Once upon a time, children were not welcome in libraries. Anne Carroll Moore, children’s librarian at the Pratt Institute Free Library, thought otherwise. She advocated libraries just for children and, in doing so, brought the mission of making the public library a resource and symbol of hope for all people to the New York Public Library and to libraries around the world.
Author Jan Pinborough lists two goals in writing this book: “One was to encourage ‘otherwise-thinking’ children to value and pursue their own individualistic ideas––and thus to make their own unique contributions to the world. The second was to prompt people to think about that indispensable yet much-taken-for-granted gift, the public library.” She succeeds marvelously on both counts. Whether you are a librarian or a lover of libraries, you will be moved by Anne Carroll Moore’s quiet conviction and determination. Share this book with a child in your life and honor her pioneering spirit.
Show Me a Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling by Emily K. Neuburger. (Storey Publishing, 2012).
Subtitled “40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling”, this book is a terrific addition to your professional bookshelf. Neuberger clearly articulates the benefits of storytelling and imaginary play in helping children exercise creativity, expand their emotional awareness, practice communicating, make connections, solve problems, and develop moral thinking – and then she provides instructions for forty knock-your-socks-off crafts that encourage kids to create, imagine, and tell. Most of the crafts are designed for school-age children, but if you work with preschoolers, don’t let that stop you from checking out this terrific book – language-fostering activities like “Story Pool”, “Story Sparks”, and “Magical Mailbox” would be great additions to a preschool storytime or classroom if you pre-make the pieces. Elementary teachers will find lots here to liven up language arts lessons, and for public librarians, well – you’ve got all you need right here in this little book for a weekly hands-on-storytelling program for school-age kids. Our favorite project: “Storytelling Jar” (which Neuburger describes as “a storytelling terrarium”), a thing of beauty AND a story starter. Though each of the crafts here is a bit more detailed than your typical storytime fare, each is eminently doable (even for the non-crafty) and uses everyday materials.
We asked our readers for their best school age programming ideas. Here’s a roundup of their responses:
“In our little library in Scotland we don’t have enough staff to have a regular school age program, but we open up our regular pre-school storytimes (when school is not in session) to a wider age range, invite older siblings, insist that carers are present, then call them family storytime! The trick is to have a craft for older siblings to do while the ‘story’ part is happening. Then an easier craft for the younger ones and carers for after. Older siblings usually want to do the easy craft too, and help out the little ones at the same time. We have no storyroom, so staff can multitask and we don’t need so many staff to cover.” -The Library Quine (aka Janet), Loons and Quines @ Librarytime
“For the last 4 years I have presented a Gingerbread House making and stories for school aged children. Each child age 6 + (accompanied by an adult) makes a small graham cracker gingerbread house. We put together the walls, then we read a story (usually The Gingerbread Girl), then we put the roof on the house, then we read The Gingerbread Cowboy. This allows the walls and roof time to harden. After that the kids put all kinds of candy on their house to decorate. I provide coloring sheets and the icing recipe for families to take home. This is a fun program that families can come to together. Often we get both parents and several of their children who come and work on the houses together.” -Amie L.
Kathy and Christine say:
- What’s playing at the movies? Is there a popular movie that was inspired by a book? Anytime there is a highly anticipated movie based on book, circulations for that book increase and people are often interested in any programming linked to it. The perfect time to offer a movie-based program is prior to the movie, when everyone is eagerly awaiting its release. Often you can find completed programming ideas on the internet.
- How about a contest? School age kids love to show off what they know, so give them the opportunity, whether it’s a dance contest, “Library Idol”, a good old-fashioned spelling bee, or a trivia contest based on a favorite book or series. You just need to set up the rules and the room, and provide prizes and refreshments.
- Let the kids be the program! Invite kids to sign up for a talent show at the library. Their friends and family will be sure to come – a built-in audience!