Author Archives for Annamarie Carlson

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We are joining the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (3/23/20-3/29/20).

Annamarie’s Reading

Annamarie Top Titles include:

Note: I powered through a hodgepodge of picture books and readers this week, available through Hoopla’s new Bonus Borrows programs–titles you can check out without counting toward your monthly limit (and without costing the owning library any money).

Michala’s Reading

Unfortunately, Michala is currently under the weather. She will return with her weekly reads when she is feeling better!

Get better Michala! (And stop reading this, and go back to sleep!)

Virtual Baby Storytime Clips

We are all figuring out what this new, mostly virtual world means for our jobs and communities. I don’t have an answer to those big questions, but I do have some virtual baby storytime content I can share.

My library is hosting five virtual storytimes a week, livestreamed through our Facebook page. While those livestreams are deleted soon after they are complete, we are also making YouTube clips of select elements of our storytimes that our patrons can view anytime they would like–and that I can share with all of you!

These activities were all used in my virtual baby storytime this week, designed for ages 0-24 months. There is a lot here, and I definitely went 15 minutes over my 30 minute storytime this week. Future programs will have less content.

Lyrics or links for any activities are in the YouTube video descriptions.

Be prepared–YouTube loves to freeze my face in only the most flattering positions.

Baby Storytime Introduction Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip & Book Recommendation

Action & Body Rhymes

Songs

Movement & Bounce Rhymes

Puppet Time

Manipulative Time – Shakers

Closing Song

DIY Play

And, just for fun, a video of the chicks that I took home to take care of and livestream after our in-library hatching program was disrupted by our closing. These little ones have returned to Bring the Farm to You, where they will be used for educational programming and as backyard chickens.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We are joining the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (3/16/20-3/22/20).

Annamarie’s Reading

Annamarie Top Titles include:

Note: Some new graphic novels this week. Expecting reading to pick up as I adjust to work-from-home life.

Michala’s Reading

3/9/2020 – 3/15/2020

Michala’s top titles include:

3/16/2020 – 3/22/2020

Michala’s top titles include:

Note: So I apologize that last week I missed updating my reads and you got the same book 2 weeks in a row from me. I got all caught up in the covid-19 news and work updates that I completely flaked on these updates.so this week you get both week’s reads in one!

At-Home Baby Play

We’ve written a ton of baby play posts on this blog, and, since many of us are stuck at home for a while, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite activities that can easily be replicated at home. These can be made with objects you can find around the house.

Other awesome play ideas with everyday objects:

What am I missing? Post other ideas in the comments, and I will add them to the lists above.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We are joining the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (3/9/20-3/15/20).

Annamarie’s Reading

Annamarie Top Titles include:

Note: I was planning to catch up on my stacks of books this week…and now with everyone essentially in quarantine, I imagine I will be able to keep pushing through titles for a while.

Michala’s Reading

Michala’s top titles include:

Note: .

Note: I rolled heavy on illustrated books this week trying to quickly cut down the stack of books at my desk…..it sort of worked.

Stay-at-Home Professional Development

In the next few weeks, I imagine many of us will be either working at our libraries without patrons or working at home because of the coronavirus. While we all have plenty of tasks to keep us busy, this may be an advantageous time to complete online professional development work. There are many great resources out there–some costly, but many free.

I’ve completed a few of the below programs, and others are on my to-do list. Send me additional recommendations in the comments below, and I will happily add them to the list. I’m currently only listing programs that may be especially of interest to youth or teen services librarians.

Free, Available Anytime

Courses

Grant Writing and Crowdfunding for Public Libraries: Learn how to read a grant application and successfully apply for a grant. Particularly useful for large grants $50,000+. Optional $50 cost to earn a verified certificate.
Time to Complete: 12+ hours

Librarians Guide to Homelessness: Created by Ryan Dowd, learn best practices for library staff on how to understand and better serve the homeless population. Includes tips on how to deal with and de-escalate common situations and issues and make staff feel empowered and safe. May only be available to Ohio librarians.

Project READY: Reimagining Equity & Access for Diverse Youth: In-depth diversity training specifically designed for youth librarians in public and school library settings. Broken down into three sections covering foundational knowledge, transforming your practice, and continuing the journey.
Time to Complete: 30+ hours (not including activity and program planning and execution)

Serving Library Users on the Autism Spectrum: Project PALS: Learn how to better serve your patrons on the autism spectrum.
Time to Complete: 4+ hours

Supercharged Storytime: Discover ways to improve your storytimes with intentionality, interactivity, and assessment.
Time to Complete: 10+ hours

Trauma Basics for Youth Workers: Learn the basics for practicing and implementing trauma-informed care in youth settings including what trauma is, how it impacts the brain, and how to foster interpersonal safety. Two-hour course is free with options for lengthier in-depth training at a cost (8-hours or 30-hours).
Time to Complete: 2 hours

Webinars

Advancing Racial Equality in Your Library: This webinar, presented by the Race Forward Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), presents an overview of concepts and approaches libraries are using to reduce racial barriers in their work.

Booklist Webinars: Catch up on your reader’s advisory for all ages with free one hour Booklist webinars. Just in the last month, there are four cool youth-focused webinars on Penguin’s new voices imprint, books for beginning readers, feminist reads, and diverse new titles.

Conflict as Opportunity: Library Restorative Practices for Youth: Pima County (AZ) Public Library (PCPL) has radically shifted its approach toward interacting with youth in violation of the library’s Customer Code of Conduct. Using restorative justice practices, PCPL created a justice board with community partners to facilitate more mindful approaches to incidents involving youth, focusing on creating opportunities for growth and engagement rather than barriers to library access.

Countdown to Coding: Computer Science for Preschoolers: Learn ways to incorporate coding concepts into storytimes and playtimes for 3-5 year olds.

Improving the Quality of Youth Programs: Through a series of trainings and assessment tools from the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, Houston (TX) Public Library made changes to create engaging programs where youth want to be instead of have to be.

Multicultural Picture Books: A Deeper Look at Your Collection: Learn about the Diverse Book Finder tool and how to use it to help develop your collection.

Thinking Sideways: Compuational Thinking and Early Literacy: This on-demand webinar explorers components of computational thinking, what it looks like in early childhood, and how library staff use developmentally appropriate activities to support whole-child development. Young children can become successful problem-solvers, creative thinkers, and lifelong learners at the library.

Toolkits, Websites, & More

Championing Children’s Services Toolkit: Encompasses a variety of easy to use advocacy resources to empower librarians to engage their communities to build healthy successful futures for children.

Getting Started with Mindfulness: A Toolkit for Early Childhood Organizations: Learn about implementing mindfulness techniques into your daily work and organizational culture, try hands-on strategies for doing so, and learn more from organizations that have begun this journey.

Ideabook: Libraries for Families: Learn about ways to engage families and promote lifelong learning.

Learning Across Boundaries: How Librarians Are Bridging Children’s Interests: Contains insights into how libraries are helping families connect children’s learning across home, school, and local settings, and what it might take to make libraries even greater community connecters.

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth: Learn about technology practices for ages 0-14 in public libraries.

National Research Agenda for Library Service to Children (Ages 0-14): Current research trends, areas of further exploration, and current needs in the field that might be addressed through research.

Public Library & School Library Collaboration Toolkit: When public and school librarians and library workers engage in collaboration, community members reap the benefits. This toolkit includes context and suggestions for creating partnerships of all sizes.

Reimagining School Readiness Toolkit: Created to help librarians help families prepare children ages 0-8 for school.

Revisiting the Potential uses of Media in Children’s Education: Journalist Chris Berdik interviewed more than 20 experts from a range of fields, including developmental psychologists, educators, media historians, app developers, as well as education nonprofit leaders and funders, to understand some of the lessons that can be learned from the successes and failures of children’s educational media over the past 50 years. Together, they explore what we must do to make the most of new technologies and the changing role of families and teachers, and grapple with questions about media, learning, and educational equity.

Cost, Available Anytime

ALSC Archived Webinars: If you are an ALSC member, these one-hour educational sessions are free. If not, each webinar costs $25 to access. Many topics available from advocacy and storytime to STEAM, child care,diversity, early literacy, and more.

Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators™ Online Course (Zero to Three): Observe, understand, and reflect on critical interactions with infants and toddlers that support and nurture their social-emotional, cognitive, and language and literacy development and learning.
Time to Complete: 13 hours
Cost: $375
Also available as separate micro-courses:
Social-Emotional Development – 6 hr, $150
Cognitive Development – 4 hr, $100
Language and Literacy Development – 3 hr, $75

Spanish for Libraries from the iSchool @ UW-Madison: Learn vocabulary, pronunciation, common phrases, and other skills as you progress through the course by watching videos, listening to recordings, and reading relevant literature. Available March 27.
Cost: $100

Cost, Scheduled

Advancing Family Engagement in Public Libraries: A PLA Professional Development Series: Learn about family engagement and update and refine your programming and spaces to encourage this practice.
Time to Complete: 8 months
Cost: $550
Next Session: March session full; Fall 2020

Allyship, Anti-Oppression Practices, and Building Inclusive Libraries: Learn how to support members of marginalized groups with everyday actions in a range of scenarios and offer guidance on working to dismantle systemic oppression.
Time to Complete: 4 weeks
Cost: $175
Next Session: Begins April 6

Bilingual Storytime at Your Biblioteca: Learn how to successfully deliver the various elements of bilingual storytimes, either on their own or with a bilingual community partner. Participants will discover new books, rhymes, songs, plans and resources that they can immediately put to use in their bilingual storytime programs.
Time to Complete: 4 weeks
Cost: $175
Next Session: Begins May 4

Computational Thinking: Introduction to Computational Thinking for Every Educator: With support from Google, learn about computational thinking and computational thinking integrated activities that you can take back to your school or library.
Time to Complete: 15-30 hours
Cost: Free
Next Session: Summer 2020

Full STREAM Ahead: How to take Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to the next level with maker kits: Learn about STREAM concepts and create maker kits appropriate for various age groups.
Time to Complete: 5 weeks
Cost: $115-$185 (depending membership level)
Next Session: Begins April 6

Homeschoolers and the Public Library: Learn how to identify and connect with homeschool families; explore the various methods of homeschooling; discover your state’s legalities around homeschooling; understanding the importance of the library to the home educated; and develop a program plan specifically for homeschooled youth in your community.
Time to Complete: 5 weeks
Cost: $115-$185 (depending membership level)
Next Session: Begins April 6

Planning Programs and Services for Toddlers and Preschoolers: After laying the groundwork for developmentally appropriate practice, this course offers you strategies and ideas for providing outstanding services to families with young children.
Cost: $175
Next Session: Begins March 30

Practical Library Services for Grade School Kids (Kindergarten through Second Grade): R. Lynn Baker will provide information and hands-on practice to help library staff create intentional, literacy-based programs for children in kindergarten through second grade. You’ll gain practical knowledge and skills and an understanding of how to put them to work.
Cost: $175
Next Session: Begins April 27

Storytelling with Puppets: Give participants practical strategies for incorporating puppets into storytime.
Time to Complete: 5 weeks
Cost: $115-$185 (depending membership level)
Next Session: Begins April 6

Using Intentional Planning to Choose Developmentally-Appropriate and Diverse Books for Storytime: Get hands-on practice connecting current and classic children’s books to the developmental ages and stages of infants, toddlers, two-year-olds, and preschoolers. Focus on intentionally choosing books based on their connection to the early literacy skills and five best practices of Every Child Ready to Read®; their connection to fostering school readiness skills; and their connection to diverse family cultures and traditions.
Time to Complete: 4 weeks
Cost: $175
Next Session: Begins April 6

Accessing eContent from Home

My library, like so many others across the country, has closed due to growing concerns related to the coronavirus. We are planning to provide online content to our patrons in the meantime.

So many folks are collecting fantastic lists of resources–I’m including some of my personal favorites over a series of posts, starting with accessing eContent.

Library Services

One of my favorite tips (that I use year round) is to remember that if your family has multiple library cards, or if you have cards to multiple libraries, each one may offer you access to some of the same eresources–but allowing you to get more content. If you organize your accounts and cards, you may actually be able to check out 18 or 30 or 50 items on a website like Hoopla each month. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it might be able to help some families.

Hoopla

Hoopla is awesome because everything is available to everyone with no waiting (though you are capped on the number of items per month). I talk about Hoopla during my book talks and am a regular user, so I am fairly familiar with its great content.

Some personal favorite titles that could be good to highlight to your patrons include:

Series or Authors, Kids Chapter Books:

  • 39 Clues (audio only)
  • Amelia Fang
  • Artemis Fowl
  • Captain Underpants (audio only)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior
  • Dork Diaries (audio only)
  • Fablehaven
  • Fairy Tale Reform School
  • I Survived (audio only)
  • Isle of the Lost
  • Ivy and Bean
  • Judy Moody
  • Kingdom Keepers
  • Mercy Watson
  • Minecraft (Mark Cheverton)
  • My Weird School
  • Nikki and Deja
  • Origami Yoda
  • Percy Jackson
  • Ramona Quimby (audio only)
  • Rick Riordan
  • Rick Riordan Presents
  • School of Good and Evil
  • Serafina and the Black Cloak
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (audio only)
  • Sisters Grimm
  • Spirit Animals (audio only)
  • Stick Cat
  • Stick Dog (not all titles)
  • The Terrible Two
  • Trapped in a Video Game
  • Upside Down Magic (audio only)
  • Warriors
  • Wayside School
  • Whatever After (audio only)
  • Wings of Fire (audio only)
  • Zoey and Sassafras

Single Titles, Kids Chapter Books:

  • 50 Wacky Things Animals Do by Tricia Martineau
  • Anyone but Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp
  • AstroNuts Mission One by Jon Schieszka
  • A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting by Joe Ballarini
  • Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • Black Panther by Ronald L. Smith
  • Bow Wow by Spencer Quinn (audio only)
  • City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab (audio only)
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman (audio only)
  • A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano
  • Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
  • From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot (audio only)
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (audio only)
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (audio only)
  • The Great Penguin Rescue by Sandra Markle
  • Great White Shark vs. Killer Whale by Thomas K. Adamson
  • Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
  • The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
  • Jinxed by Amy McCuloch
  • The New Kid by Jerry Craft (audio only)
  • Poop Detectives by Ginger Wadsworth
  • Posted by John David Anderson
  • Refugee by Alan Gratz (audio only)
  • Space Case by Stuart Gibbs (audio only)
  • Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale
  • Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
  • The Unteachables by Gordon Korman (audio only)
  • Wedgie & Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors (audio only)

Picture Books & Beginning Readers:

  • 5-Minute Stories (not all titles)
  • Ana & Andrew
  • Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins
  • Biscuit (all titles)
  • Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Synder
  • Clark the Shark (all titles)
  • Curious George (all titles)
  • Fancy Nancy (all titles)
  • Five Little Monkeys (all titles)
  • Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry (audio only)
  • I’m Brave! by Kate McMullan
  • Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah Hoffman
  • Mo Willems titles (audio & movie only)
  • Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
  • Mr. Putter & Tabby
  • Pete the Cat (all titles)
  • Pinkalicious (all titles)
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer
  • Scaredy Squirrel
  • Splat the Cat (all titles)
  • Unicorn Day by Diana Murray
  • Waiting by Kevin Henkes
  • We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

Graphic Novels:

  • Artemis Fowl (series)
  • The Backstagers (series)
  • Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
  • Big Nate (series)
  • Dance Class (series)
  • DC Super Hero Girls (series)
  • Dear Justice League by Michael Northrop
  • Diana: Princess of the Amazons by Shannon Hale
  • Earth Before Us (series)
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Ghost Friends Forever (series)
  • Goldie Vance (series)
  • Guinea PIG, Pet Shop Private Eye (series)
  • Illegal by Eoin Colfer
  • Invisible Emmie by Terri Linenson
  • Lumberjanes (series)
  • Miles Morales (series)
  • Moonstruck (series)
  • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales (series)
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians (series)
  • Phoebe and Her Unicorn (series)
  • Plants vs Zombies (series)
  • Poptropica (series)
  • Red’s Planet by Eddie Pittman
  • Rutabaga: The Adventure Chef (series)
  • Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn
  • The Sisters (series)
  • Warriors (series)

Libby (OverDrive)

OverDrive‘s content will vary depending on what your library or consortium has added to it. However, with services being used by many people at once, this might be an ideal time to highlight a special OverDrive feature–“It’s Your Lucky Day.” This provides patrons with a select number of popular titles that are immediately available. Content changes regularly, but at this moment, I could check out Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and On the Come Up without waiting.

RBdigital

If your library subscribes, RBdigital is an awesome resource for kids magazines, all immediately available. My favorites on this website include:

  • American Girl
  • Animal Tales
  • ChickaDEE
  • Highlights for Children (in all its ages and iterations)
  • National Geographic Kids

Beyond Library Services

As much as we want to boost our library econtent, realistically, even just over the course of three weeks, the above resources are going to dry up. A card’s 10 Hoopla checkouts can only go so far, and the best content on Overdrive will quickly have long holds.

I’m including some other suggestions for ways to access econtent for kids, for free or cheaply, below.

Free:

Subscription Services:

  • Audible (30 day free trial, 1 audio a month, $14.99/month): This service is expensive for what you get (only one audiobook a month), but it is by far the most user-friendly audiobook service that I’ve tried. Only recommended for regular audiobook listeners or for the free trial.
  • Epic! (30 day free trial, $9 a month): Immediate access to 35,000 picture books, early readers, chapter books, and learning videos. Includes popular titles like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Goosebumps, Princess in Black, Big Nate, Guinness World Records, and more.
  • Kindle Unlimited (30 day free trial, $9.99/month): Access a ton of titles from the Kindle library. While not everything is included (the collection is actually fairly limited), this can be your cheapest way to access many popular titles (that goes beyond the kid-exclusive content available at Epic!). All Harry Potter, Rick Riordan, and Big Nate books are available. While you are limited to 10 downloaded titles at a time, you are not limited to ten titles a month (like Hoopla). May be ideal for particularly voracious young readers. A great breakdown on the pros and cons here.

Book Apps:

  • Barnyard Dance! by Loud Crow (iOS) – $2.99
  • Blue Hat, Green Hat by Loud Crow (iOS) – $2.99
  • Byron Carton Collection #1 by Oceanhouse (iOS, Android) – $4.99
  • The Cat in the Hat by Oceanhouse (iOS, Android) – $2.99
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App! by Disney (iOS) – $5.99
  • Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Oceanhouse (iOS, Android) – $2.99
  • Even Monsters Get Sick by Busy Bee Studios (iOS) – $0.99
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Oceanhouse (iOS, Android) – $2.99
  • The Going to Bed Book by Loud Crow (iOS) – $2.99
  • Goodnight Construction Site by Oceanhouse (iOS, Android) – $3.99
  • Goodnight Moon by Loud Crow (iOS) – $4.99
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Oceanhouse (iOS, Android) – $2.99
  • The Monster at the End… by Sesame Street (iOS) – $4.99
  • Moo, Baa, La La La! by Loud Crow (iOS) – $2.99
  • One Fish Two Fish – Dr. Seuss by Oceanhouse (iOS, Android) – $2.99

What other e-resources do you know about to help your patrons access ebooks and the like while stuck at home? Mention them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list above!

Reader’s Theater

I am not a theater person. That isn’t entirely true–I love watching productions. However, I am not a fan of performing in them, nor do I have any background in theater or drama club beyond that one play in middle school and a scattering of elementary full-class productions.

For unknown reasons, within days of starting my current job, I was told I would be the partnering librarian for the monthly reader’s theater program. Fifteen kids ages 8-12 attended a one-hour weekly rehearsal for three weeks followed by a performance for family and friends during the fourth week. We would take a two week break, and restart the cycle with a new set of scripts and (potentially) a new batch of kids.

This program has grown on me, and evolved, over time. It is still quite bare bones for a theater/acting program. I only see the attendees for three hours ahead of performance day, and this program has no budget beyond the folders that hold their scripts and a roll of masking tape. However, the kids enjoy the program, the simple structure works for me, and the low budget makes this easy to replicate.

Before the Program

Most of my work takes place before I see the kids the first time. Personally, I don’t use standard “reader’s theater scripts” that you can find on Google–they often feel forced or aren’t as fun for my 3rd-5th graders. Instead, I look for funny picture books that can be adapted to a reader’s theater style performance. I also have a stash of old Zoom Playhouse Scripts. The Zoom website is no longer available, but some of these can be transcribed from YouTube videos.

Some of my favorite picture books I’ve adapted over the years include:

I’ve also been creating a jokes script that all the kids can perform in at the same time (mostly pulling from the Just Joking series).

I plan for a full group of 15 kids. Not every kid is in every play. I select scripts that allow for 60 parts total (four per reader). Many picture books allow for multiple narrator roles, allowing me to tweak scripts to fit the number of parts I need to reach 60.

Once I have all of my scripts, I print them all out and highlight the appropriate lines for each part. Then, the sorting begins.

I sort scripts into folders before the first rehearsal. Kids then randomly select a folder without knowing what parts are inside. This doesn’t let me control which performers get which parts, but it does allow for scripts to be more evenly distributed and leads to less arguments from kids (and parents) about favoritism.

To break scripts down into folders, I try to aim for the following:

  • 4 scripts per folder
  • At least 1 script that is a “lead” role (more lines)
  • Not all parts in one folder are narrator roles
  • Folders generally stick to one “gender”. I try to use gender neutral names when possible, but if I am stuck with a few more obviously gendered parts I try to keep them together. (I was so proud of my group this last round–this was the first time that we had boys as Cinderella and girls as Princes and not one complaint or argument about switching parts from kids or parents.)
  • If possible, spread scripts out based on the chosen performance order (not all scripts are at the beginning or end)

After (or during) the script organization process, I create the performance order. Once that is set, I create labels that list which scripts are in a particular folder as well as a second label listing the performance order. Both labels are put on the front of each folder, and then the folder is filled with the appropriate scripts, in performance order. I use three-prong folders, so scripts are hole-punched and inserted into the prongs.

Some other practices to make script assignment smooth:

  • Scripts are all labeled with a letter.
  • I create a master sheet for me, organized by play, labeling which scripts have which parts. Eventually, I change script letters to the name of the performer. This helps a ton when 15 8-11-year-olds are paying zero attention to which play comes next.
  • I have a jar on hand with the names of each kid inside on a separate slip of paper. If someone is absent, I pull a name out of the jar to evenly distribute extra parts.

During the Program

Each Reader’s Theater session follows the same 4-week structure:

  • Week 1: Intro to Reader’s Theater, Basic Stage Terminology, Random Script Distribution, Rehearsal of First Half of Scripts
  • Week 2: Script Folder Exchange (optional), Rehearsal of Second Half of Scripts, Practice any scripts from week 1 that now involve props or a lot of entering and exiting
  • Week 3: Full Rehearsal
  • Week 4: Performance for Parents

Before the kids arrive, I set up our stage, by running a piece of masking tape to block off a chunk of the room. This is the easiest “stage” creation, and everyone understands the distinction.

The first three weeks begin with a theater game, normally either Bippity Bippity Bop or Splat. I’ve never been too successful with other theater games. Normally only 2-3 kids out of 15 are actual current or future “theater kids”, and at least a few will shut down if I try to get them to dance in front of their peers or do something that could be seen as embarrassing. The kids are generally already full of energy after school, so I also avoid any game that encourages running as it is hard enough to get them to not do that on their own.

We only rehearse one script at a time, so the kids who are not currently practicing are welcome to watch and give feedback, or they can explore some busywork packets–mad libs, dot-to-dots, kawaii coloring sheets, Captain Underpants Name Changer, etc.

On performance day, kids enter our Activity Center first for one last talk through before we invite friends and family inside. I give them a hodgepodge of cheap dress up items we have on hand to help them get the theater vibe and feel a little bolder when performing in front of a crowd. I introduce the performers to the room, and we run through our scripts for our audience.

Once the initial work is complete, this program is easy to setup and roll out each week, with little prep needed week-to-week. I currently run this program once a year (instead of monthly), and while I don’t see this as strongly with the less frequent programming, there is a notable improvement in the kids reading skills and confidence reading out loud over the course of the month. It also fills a gap in our programming–we regularly offer tech programs and quite a few art programs, but there isn’t an alternate offering that fits that “performing” space. Between helping interested kids test out their stage skills on an easy audience and the direct connections to reading fluency, Reader’s Theater is always a winner.

Kids Passive Program: Book Tournament

A few year’s ago, one of my personal work goals was to start a monthly kids passive program. At the time, our library offered a monthly Imagination Station, a pretend play space for approximately ages 2-6, and a monthly teen passive, for students in grades 6-12. Children in the middle often ended up trying to participate in the activities designed for younger or older kids.

Read about some of my other passive programs at the links below:

One of my favorite passives is our Book Tournament voting bracket. I select 16 titles that have appeal to ages 6-12 (generally our most popularly requested titles), and match them against one another.

Visitors of all ages can vote about once a week for their favorite titles. Over a month, our titles are whittled down to our final match-up, which has now twice resulted in Harry Potter vs. Dog Man (but a different outcome each time).

Voting sheets and a voting box are displayed at the youth desk and beside our large bracket poster.

For 2020, our first round match-ups included (winners in bold):

  • Dog Man vs. Magic Tree House
  • Land of Stories vs. Amulet
  • I Survived vs. Wimpy Kid
  • Big Nate vs. Smile
  • Harry Potter vs. Last Kids
  • Bad Guys vs. Captain Underpants (by one vote!)
  • Who Would Win vs. Percy Jackson
  • Wings of Fire vs. Baby Sitter’s Club

Our rounds continued until we were eventually whittled down to the same match-up as 2018: Dog Man vs. Harry Potter. In 2018, Harry Potter won by a landslide. In 2020, however, Dog Man took the trophy by a single-vote victory.

Many patrons came in each week to check on–and sometimes attempt to contest–who had won the previous week. I’m excited to bring this back again next year and to see if we have a different outcome. 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We are joining the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (2/24/20-3/1/20).

Annamarie’s Reading

Annamarie Top Titles include:

Note: I knew my reading would slow down–spent a lot of this week adjusting vacation plans for the next year (coronavirus!), so not so much time buried in books.

Michala’s Reading

Michala’s top titles include:

Note: .

Note: I was on vacation most of this week and really fell behind on my reading.

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