Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Library at 22 Months

Thursday marks my two year anniversary as a public library librarian. With so many story time kids running around, I tend to think in a lot of toddler terms, which means I'm about to be 24 months into this career (22 months at this particular branch).

One of our partnerships that I don't think I've mentioned yet is with a group called Early Stages. Early Stages is part of the public school system here and they specialize in early intervention for kids who may need special services. Once a month an Early Stages Representative comes to story time and chats with parents about developmental milestones and when and how they can have their children assessed. The last time Early Stages was here I snagged a handout on developmental benchmarks for 2 year olds and started thinking about how they apply to me as well.

By their second birthday most children:

• Walk alone
I'm becoming more and more adept at handling the children's room by myself. I no longer quiver in fear when someone takes a sick day. I have discovered the grace and confidence to handle hoards of rowdy children who have just discovered the opposite sex.

• Carry toys while walking
I still can't use props efficiently during story time. I see my co-worker, Ms. E., bust out the big books and puppets or juggle multiple musical instruments and I think "hmm, that's ambitious." Maybe next year, until then I've got my trusty flannel board sets.

• Climb on and off furniture 
After months of cajoling and a few loaves of home-made bread, our facilities guy finally gave me a ladder to keep. No more waiting for someone to show up if I want to hang things from the ceiling (or justifying why I absolutely need giant poofballs falling from the ceiling) and I almost always want to hang things from the ceiling. This small addition has given me more flexibility and allowed me to think more creatively in terms of presenting the room. It's very liberating. (I was tempted to make a Martina McBride Independence Day joke here, but I couldn't figure out how to word it so I'll just leave you with this.) In conjunction with the ladder, more and more large scale displays have begun to go up. We had the Baby Mouse Wall and the 25 Days of Art Gallery. Ms. E takes care of most of the book displays and face-outs on the shelves while I change out program bulletin boards and make elaborate collages out of tissue paper. This room is so much more lively and inviting than when I first walked in 22 months ago and I'm very proud of the transformation.

• Scribble with crayon
Programs are expanding. We've gone from 2 every month to at least one a week. And during the summer we've been experimenting with theme weeks. We had a week long no-heat cooking club where we made pickles and salads and smoothies with spinach and coming up next month there will be a week dedicated to fashion, inspired partially by the super successful tutu making party we had back in June. Thanks to a new Friends group who seem very excited to spend money, arts programs are taking off

• Recognize names of familiar people, objects and body parts
I pride myself on knowing the names, families and a lot of the personal dramas of the kids I see each day. I know their name by the third time they come in and by the fifth time I know who shouldn't be sitting next to them at the computers; working up here is like watching a soap opera all day long. For some reason I'm not as good with adult names, parents just don't register like their children do.

• Follow simple instructions (1 or 2 steps)
It's been a tough transition to a new manager. We're being asked to do more and more things, with very little credit or recognition of the program heavy schedule that we have and the sheer amount of face time that goes into knowing the kids and being able to diffuse situations before they escalate too far. I was recently sent to a clutter workshop, during work hours when I had a stack of things to do on my desk, because the new manager thinks our workroom is too messy. We're working on our communication and effective strategies for helping her understand exactly what we do during any given day. Hopefully by the time we open with extended hours in October we'll all be on the same page.

• Begin to sort objects by shapes and colors
Weeding knows no end. In the past 3 months all of the paperbacks have been sorted, integrated or discarded. A shocking amount of our books aren't in the catalog- which just goes to show how long it's been since someone tried to check them out. Ms. E worked for 3 months on the Juv J books and did an amazing job organizing holiday books and the overflow collection. I spent a few extra days working through our problem shelf and laughing at some of the ridiculous CDs that have managed to stand the test of time. I keep telling myself that once the kids go back to school I'll have the time and the motivation to tackle non-fiction. While weeding can be super tedious, it does give me the chance to learn the collection better and to make sure we're not circulating books that give population data for Burma from 1995.

• Imitate behavior of others
I'm picking up a lot of slang and a lot of vernacular that would make an English teacher cry. "You do too much" is not a compliment, although I always thank the kids for recognizing my hard work when they spit it at me. I can't even explain what "You got me guh" means, it's more a feeling then anything.They laugh when I tell them to "walk it out" when they're running, because adults aren't supposed to know about rap music. They're even more perplexed when I can finish the first verse of "Baby Got Back" whenever someones says "Oh my god, Becky" in that particularly snotty way. Seriously though, that song is old enough to be most of these kid's mothers- if songs could have kids- it should not be as popular as it still is.

• Want to do things for themselves
I've never had a problem with wanting to do things by myself. In fact, I'm actively learning how to let go and be okay with other people doing things. Whether that means not always doing a story time, letting the kids help with displays even when I don't necessarily like the end result or delegating tasks to teen workers, this year has been in exercise in not needing everything to be my way all of the time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Theme Thursday: Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright

"RAWR," said the fiercest jungle beast, "I'm so excited they finally did a story time on me!"

Song: Good Morning Dear Earth

Song: Open, Shut Them

Book: The Dancing Tiger by Malachy Doyle

Finger Play: Where are Baby's Fingers?

Song: Wheels on the Bus

Flannel: I Had a Rooster

Book: Tiger, Tiger by Dee Lillegard

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: Turn Around from Getting to know Myself

Make and Take Craft: Tiger Faces

-construction paper
-glue sticks

Process: Before story time cut cat head shapes from orange construction paper. Cut triangle wedges from black and circles for eyes from any color and long rectangles with points for the nose from a contrasting color. Then sit back and let the kiddos create!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Strange Books

A companion to "Things I've Found Cleaning Out the Office" this is a list of the truly spectacular gems I've found while weeding fiction and non-fiction paperbacks- because Summer Reading season is the PERFECT time to start a gigantic weeding project.

Snapshots from the Wedding by Gary Soto

A look at traditional Mexican wedding traditions this book has the creepiest illustrations ever. In addition to not really sharing any wedding traditions that are uniquely Mexican, the illustrator choose to have the groom in an arm sling, and feature dirty feet and keg beer. In a children's book.

It also somehow won a Pura Belpre award for illustration. To each their own.

Cats Sleep Anywhere by Eleanor Farjeon 
It's true, they do. I just didn't know someone had written a book about it.

The Shaggy Dog: The Movie Storybook
This book has never circ'ed. Not once. And it serves as a prime example of what our collections person called "Trivial" when explaining the MUSTIE method of weeding.

Ice Mummy: Discovery of a 5,00 Year Old Man by Mark Dubowsi
I just really like the text on the back cover. It seems like a free verse poem doesn't it?

If You Were There in 1492 by Barbara Brenner
I really take issue with the cover illustration. A tiny blond white boy would not, I repeat, not be rowing a nicely dressed black girl anywhere in 1492. Even if you can explain away the racial issues, which isn't likely, they are unchaperoned and that is simply unacceptable.

Benny the Penny and the Big Secret by Philip Edles
Is the big secret that you shouldn't litter?

Jane's Class Makes Big News and The Children Who Wanted to Know by Lillian Caesar-Sutherland
 I can't decide what I like the least: the poorly drawn illustrations, the passive aggressive attempts to make you seek out more of this author's books or the level of detail on kidney disease and dialysis that is completely inappropriate for the age range that it is targeting. 

Meet My Neighbor: The Hip-Hop Dancer by Marc Crabtree
The Meet My Neighbor series is awesome for last page "huh?" plot twists. Meet My Neighbor: The Librarian spends the final half of the book talking about the librarian's upcoming wedding and the inclusion of her Indian culture into the ceremony but the Hip-Hop one takes the cake. After getting to know our neighbor, Marcello, his dance crew and a series of dance moves he just up and takes off for "The Artic" to teach a bunch of kids there the love of dance.

 Straight gangster.

Sticker placement Fails
Finally, these just really made me giggle. Due to the placement of author initial stickers, these well known picture books take on a whole new identity.

Nappy Hair becomes Happy Hair
The true story of a girl whose hair stood on end when she was happy and fell down when she was sad.

 The Bicycle Man becomes She Bicycle Man
A delicate examination of transgender identity so rarely seen in picture books.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Theme Thursday: BRRRRRRR

Sometimes I can get really sick of summer. Like really really sick of it. I don't like it when it's too hot to ride my bike or sit outside and enjoy a good book. So in the midst of a heat wave, I like to do a story time on all things cold.

Song: Good Morning Dear Earth

Finger Play: I Had a Little Turtle

Song: Open, Shut Them

Flannel: Alphabet Soup- COLD

Book: The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming

Flannel: 5 Little Snowmen

Song: Mi Cuerpo from Best of the Bowl: Ingles y Espanol

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Book: Jingle-Jingle by Nicola Smee

Song: Wheels on the Bus

Song: Turn Around from Getting to know Myself  

Make and Take Craft: Snowpeople at the Beach
-snowmen coloring sheets
-construction paper
-glue sticks

To go with the snowmen coloring sheets I cut out quick paper doll like outfits for them including sunglasses and both men and women's bathing suits. To size the suit correctly, place a piece of construction paper underneath one of the coloring sheets and using a pen or sharp pencil heavily draw a swimsuit directly onto your snowman. When you lift the paper you will see the outline of your drawing on the construction paper. Let the kids color and glue to their hearts delight!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tutu Party

The last time I went to the fabric store I noticed that tulle was on sale for 1.49 a yard. And you know what that means? TUTU PARTY!

A lot of our story time girls love princesses and fancy dresses and when one mom in particular asked me if I knew where to get a cheap tutu for her little girl, I knew that a program of this type could go over really well. We try not to do distinctly gendered programs, so I was a little bit worried about this one. It's true, no boys showed up, but I was prepared to show any boy who seemed interested how to use the same techniques to make a lion's mane or warrior head dress if tutu's seemed just a bit too girly.

-scissors (prep)
-thick ribbon for the waistband (we used a spool of Christmas decorating ribbon that was languishing in our craft closet and it worked perfectly)

I learned how to make tutu's using an internet tutorial ages ago- for the past 3 years my Halloween costumes have included a tutu element because, why not? I no longer remember where the original one is (bad librarian) but it's the same basic knot technique as this one. So refer to that in case my description gets confusing.

1) Cut the tulle
Cute the tulle into long strips, approximately twice as long as you want the tutu to be. Tulle can be tricky to work, especially cut, since it's so thin, but folding it makes it more manageable and fewer cuts are required.

2) Measure the waistband
We took the ribbon and wrapped it around each girl's midsection (or where ever she wanted the tutu to sit) then we added about 10 inches to each side. Tie knots where the ribbon meets. The ribbon on the outside will be the ties, while the ribbon on the inside is what we'll be working with.

3) Tie the tulle
Pick up a piece of tulle and fold it in half. Pull the ends of the tulle through the opening at the end, catching the ribbon in between so it creates a knot. At this point, please refer here where there are great pictures to help.

4) Take a quick break and tie some around your ponytail too, creating a fabulous head piece.

5) Repeat step three until the ribbon inside the knots is completely covered. 
You can pull the tulle tighter or looser depending on your preference and amount of tulle. The pulling the tulle closer together will make the tutu poufier, but also requires more material. 

6) Tie the tutu around your waist and strike a pose!
Note: This is where I really wish it was okay for me to put pictures of children on the internet without their knowledge/permission. Because while you can see exactly how cute their tutus turned out, you cannot see the looks of absolute JOY on their faces. And let me tell you, they were ecstatic. As one girl said "Girl, we look creative, you better know it!"

I greatly underestimated the interest in this program and therefore we ran out of tulle pretty quickly, leaving a few girls with unfinished tutus. I went back to the fabric store, restocked, and the next week we had materials available for kids to finish their tutus. A few little girls who had missed the first program were even able to make one with some help from the older girls!

While we didn't have time to do this, incorporating a tutu making session into a Fancy Nancy or Pinkalicious themed tea party/program would be a smash hit.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Theme Thursday: I Scream, You Scream

Story time this week was all about my favorite thing- ICE CREAM!

Song: Good Morning Dear Earth

Flannel: Little Snake

Finger Play: I Had a Little Turtle

Flannel: Alphabet Soup: ICE CREAM

Book: Isaac the Ice-Cream Truck by Scott Santoro

Book: What Can You Do with a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla

Song: Open, Shut Them

Song: Turn Around from Getting to know Myself 

Make and Take Craft: Paletas
-construction paper
-popsicle sticks
-glue sticks

Before story time cut out popsicle shapes of construction paper. Let the kids color their popsicle/paleta and then glue it onto a popsicle stick. My kids liked gluing them in a sandwich around the stick so they had a double sided popsicle. Yummmm.