Author Archives for Annamarie Carlson

Virtual School Age Program: Pokemon Week

Last week was an extra layer of busy for me. Each summer for the last three years we have had a Pokemon event. Typically, our Pokemon Party lasts about two hours, has about 200 attendees, and includes trivia, BINGO, crafts, tech, snacks, card trading, and more. The 2020 Pokemon Party was on the calendar…and then COVID happened. Even though this event typically relies heavily on in-library activities and the shared love of a few hundred Pokemon fans in one space, I knew this was one of my must-make-virtual activities.

Pokemon Party turned into virtual Pokemon Week, mostly hosted through Facebook Live. This platform creates some limitations, but it has been our go-to location for most of our virtual programming (and we do still see a lot of familiar faces on there). I created off-Facebook versions of these programs to allow for non-social-media users to also join in on the fun.

Attendance was strong at these events, with 60 active participants in both Pokemon Trivia and Guess that Pokemon, and about 40 active participants at Pokemon BINGO.

In addition to all of the shared content below, I also had these three links available for each event:

Day One: Pokemon Trivia

Very similar to our in-person trivia (except no prizes and easier), our virtual Pokemon Trivia included 20 questions. This was created in PowerPoint and presented using Facebook Live’s screen share tool. Due to the setup, my computer screen was the PowerPoint file, so I had a coworker typing answers to comments, and I verbally responded to some comments after seeing them through the livestream on my phone. Audio and video quality are a big deal as we move farther down the path of virtual programming, and I will never doubt the value of my lovely Yeti microphone (I actually like my voice when I listen back to a recording. I didn’t think that was possible.).

Video of Facebook Live Event:

Same Event on YouTube: The same trivia content can be found in the YouTube video, though this was created for this platform so the extra content is a little different:

Certificate: At the end of the trivia event, we provided a link in the comments to a printable Trivia Master certificate:

Additional Links:

Day Two: Guess that Pokemon

During our in-person event, this is a passive station with images on the wall that attendee’s identify, self-score, and then pick-up a small prize (like a button or bookmark). I made this another trivia-style event.

Video of Facebook Event:

Same Event on YouTube:


Additional Links:

To Make Your Own Character Shadows: I used Microsoft PowerPoint, though this should work in any Microsoft tool (and most image editing software):

  • I found most of my Pokemon images here, though any image without a background can be edited this way.
  • In PowerPoint:
    • I pasted the image.
    • Right clicked on the image and selected “Format Picture.”
    • In the new options to the right, I selected the fourth image in the new toolbar, “Picture.”
    • Changed the “brightness” to zero. The image is now solid black.

Day Three: Pokemon BINGO

Pokemon BINGO was a different virtual adjustment–attendees were able to see me this time! There was an extra “step” here–attendees needed to download Pokemon BINGO cards ahead of time and either print them out or play virtually (like in a paint style program).

Video of Facevook Event:

Downloadable BINGO Cards: 100 unique downloadable Pokemon BINGO cards, plus instructions to play at home.


Additional Links:

Day Four: How to Draw Pokemon

We wrapped up our Pokemon week with our first virtual presenter for the summer, cartoonist Steve Harpster. He taught kids how to draw cartoon-style versions of a variety of Pokemon!

Virtual Baby Storytime: Week 8

Babies, babies, babies! I’m adding a couple new items this week I haven’t tried before–a new action rhyme and puppet activity. I’ve really enjoyed book retellings with toddlers and preschoolers, and I’m going to try to rethink some of my puppet activities to still include those animal noises that are so important for this age while theming them to stories instead of mostly rhymes. Not sure how that will actually work in person, but I think it works well virtually. This was the first time I used Everybunny Count as well–not for lack of trying, as I kept meaning to use it and then I would get sick or something like a pandemic would happen and my storytimes would be cancelled.

Background: While my library is closed during the COVID pandemic, we are 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!

Find additional content at the links below:

Baby Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip & Book: Everybunny Count! by Ellie Sandall

Everybunny Count!: 9781444933840: Books

Early Literacy Tip: When playing, have fun making noises like animal sounds or truck sounds. Hearing different noises and experiencing different pitches and volumes helps baby’s language development.

Song: What Shall We Do with the Sleeping Baby? by Rainbow Songs

Action Rhyme: Clap Them

Bounce Rhyme: I’m Bouncing

Bounce: Rocking Horse

Song: Hands Together, Hands Apart by Rainbow Songs

Puppets: Do Crocs Kiss?

Manipulative: Drums

Closing Song: Skinnamarink

Virtual Preschool Storytime: Week 2

Back to preschool! I’m not sure how many more of these I will get to do as we move back into the library in the next few weeks, so I’m excited to have another opportunity to program for preschoolers. I particularly like being able to retell books with flannels, puppets, and props, which just isn’t something I can do as much with babies, since everything is so action-oriented due to those short attention spans. I even broke out one of my personal flannel sets for the camera this week, since I’m filming from home anyway.

I’ve really enjoyed virtual programming–there is something freeing in not having a group of kids in front of me. I know many don’t feel this way, and it was an adjustment at first, but I am much less self-conscious without kids and adults staring at me. I’m not nervous beforehand the way I am for an in-person storytime. I also enjoy the YouTube videos–it is an interesting way to make what feels like a more permanent footprint with our services. I know we will be virtually programming for a while longer, but I hope we also continue some version of our YouTube presence after this is over. There are always people who can’t make it into the library, but some of those people can watch us on their devices. It’s a different way to reach our community.

Background: While my library is closed during the COVID pandemic, we are 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!

Find additional content at the links below:

Preschool Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip & Book: Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood

Grandma's Tiny House: Brown-Wood, JaNay, Burris, Priscilla ...

Early Literacy Tip: Have your preschooler tell you a story they are familiar with.

Song: Banana Banana Meatball by Blazer Fresh

Action Rhyme: Funky Spunky Monkey

Retelling: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Action Rhyme: Dino Ditty

Magnet: Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?

Closing Song: Elmo Slide by Sesame Street

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 (6/1/20-6/7/20).

Annamarie’s Reading

Picture Books & Readers:

Graphic Novels:

Everything Else:

Note: My reading is slowing down a little, and I expect it to continue to do so between real-world issues taking precedence and the return to working in the library. Not looking forward to that commute.

Reading Highlights:

  • Love is Powerful – Timely picture book focusing on promoting love and kindness and the power of peaceful protest.
  • Sherlock Bones – Fun, quick mystery that is written and illustrated in a style that will really appeal to Bad Guys fans.
  • Lightfall – Yet another Amulet readalike that will have a great audience. Looking forward to the rest of the series. I hate to say “yet another” because all three of these graphic novels from the last few weeks are really strong on their own–it just feels odd to be reading them in such succession.
  • Measuring Up – Cooking, friendship struggles, and a much needed diverse, realistic fiction graphic novel great for fans of Smile.
  • What Lane? – Torrey Maldonado does great work again with this realistic fiction story of a young mixed boy beginning to recognize the differences in his (white and black) friend groups and the acts of racism that surround him everyday. Particularly great because while the main characters are in middle school, I feel comfortable handing this to a 3rd-4th grader.
  • Eels – Wow, eels are incredibly weird, strange creatures. Well written, appealing non-fiction that is easy to booktalk.

Michala’s Reading

Back next week!

Anti-Racism Resources

Black Lives Matter. Why is that such a controversial statement? Why do black men disproportionately get arrested and sentenced to prison time? Why do black people–and other people of color–die at the hands of police when walking down the street, sitting in their home, sitting in their car?

I don’t have some enlightened response. I’m on this journey, like so many white people. I’ve been learning and confronting my own racism. There are things I’ve said as a kid, as a teen, as an adult, that I regret. I’ve committed microaggressions. I was That White Kid who said she didn’t see color, that the only race was the human race, in a lofty way like I was the most enlightened kid in the world. I was That White Teen who had a lengthy argument with a black teen about why affirmative action was wrong because I thought it made it harder for me to get into an elite college. I was That White Young Woman in college who said “all lives matter” more regularly than I would like to remember.

Before, after, and meanwhile, BIPOC continued to die and struggle, while educated white people, like myself, pranced around feeling enlightened. We had a black president after all. Surely racism was over.

Libraries and librarians taught me better. Taught me to do better.

Libraries let me leave my box of like-minded people. When I had thought about race before, it had always been external–those racist old people. Those white supremacists. Those weird protesters claiming God was on their side and no one else’s. I’m not like them, so I’m not racist.

At library conferences, I met people from around the country. Around the world. I made friends, and I must have said or done some decent things, because they liked me and invited me to go to dinner with them. And I did something that I wasn’t always very good at. I listened. And while the words and conversations I heard were about other people’s words and other people’s actions, I saw myself reflected there. And it wasn’t pretty.

So I started reading. And learning. White Fragility spent three weeks staring at me on my nightstand before I finally decided to just do it already, read it. I delayed because part of my brain knew what I would find and knew I wouldn’t be “comfortable” with it. I read it without stopping once. The emotional whiplash didn’t leave for a much longer time.

I’ve kept digging. Kept learning. Kept growing. But I’ve made a mistake again, right here–this post is focusing on me. My white lady story. And sorry Facebook, we don’t need another white lady story. Or another white lady post showcasing protest selfies. Protest. Speak out. Inform. Donate. But please stop bragging while you do it.

George Floyd is dead. Breonna Taylor is dead. Thousands of others are dead. Millions more live in fear, knowing that they or their friends, siblings, parents, children could be next.

There are a lot of anti-racism book lists out there for all ages. In the time it would take me to review all of the book lists or even compile my own list below, I could have actually read a bunch of new titles.

We, Michala and I, decided to go a slightly different route with this post, focusing on anti-racism learning tools, resources, and articles that had a particular impact on us. Things that have helped us recently and helped us on our own personal journeys.

Maybe one of them will help someone else out too.

Anti-Racism Resources

Project READY: Reimagining Equity & Access for Diverse Youth

Project Ready: Our library’s youth department has been working through this training since January. For people who already have a background in anti-racism efforts and the struggles of BIPOC, much of this may be review, but for the average white librarian or educator, this is an excellent dive into race and racism. This is not a one day, one week, one month, or even one year training–our department is most likely looking at spreading this content over 2-3 years. Includes many suggested resources that allow users to dig even deeper into these issues.

Scaffolding Anti-Racism Resources: An excellent breakdown of resources for white people based on where they currently are on their anti-racism journey with thought pieces, articles, and teaching tools for all stages of learning. See all of the resources from this excellent toolkit here.

What Is an Anti-Racist Reading List For? by Lauren Michele Jackson: This piece made me rethink the reading lists that so many, including myself, have been so eager to help create and distribute. Beyond making my white lady self feel good, what is their impact? So much more to unpack–read the article, not me summarizing it. Also take a look at this Twitter feed.

A Plan for Movement Worksheets: There aren’t always protests or marches to be a part of. These worksheets help us keep ourselves accountable when this specific moment has passed.

Storytime Underground: I started librarianship after the reign of Storytime Underground’s website, so I have only ever been more familiar with their often scattered Facebook Group, containing random posts from participants mostly about storytime books and self-bragging about programs and decorations. In the last few days, the group admins have taken the group back, shifting its focus to what I was always told was part of their initial effort. Their new exploration started with this thoughtful apology from one of the co-founders and has continued with many of their posts this week, which are restricted to posts focusing on racism, black lives matter, and the like.

Examining Police in the Library: Two thought pieces that I read recently (even though neither is new) on examining how police are depicted in children’s books and their presence in libraries:

Embrace Race: This website sometimes feels more directed at parents than educators, but there are plenty of resources for both. Explore their resource page for webinars, articles, and more focusing on specific aspects of working with kids and talking about race.

Student Voice: A student from our community wrote and performed this piece about her experiences. It is worth a listen. <3

Virtual Baby Storytime: Week 7

I am bouncing with ages quite a bit in June, and while I will be presenting two more virtual preschool storytimes this month, I am also back to Baby Storytimes the whole month. I’m excited to be back with babies, though not so much to have to live up to my coworker’s adorable baby who made appearances throughout May.

As I expected, I am recycling some of my content here that I used in the first six weeks. Repetition is good for this age, and I also keep to a more strict routine with this age range week to week (though I am reordering my middle slightly). I have had more time than I may have had in the library, so I was able to do more research than usual, and I am planning to scatter a few new content pieces throughout, especially new body rhymes and puppet activities, which will mean a couple new videos a week.

General baby storytime links I share with the public:

Background: While my library is closed during the COVID pandemic, we are 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!

Find additional content at the links below:

Baby Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip & Book: Peek-a-Baby by Karen Katz Peek-a-Baby: A Lift-the-Flap Book (9781416936220 ...

Early Literacy Tip: Talk to your baby as you go about your day, even if they can’t respond with words yet. Encourage, listen, and respond to your baby’s babbling.

Song: Row, Row, Row Your Boat by Old Town School of Folk Music

Action Rhyme: Make Your Arms Go Up

Bounce Rhyme: Humpty Dumpty

Bounce: Here We Go Bumpy Boo

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It by Old Town School of Folk Music

Puppets: Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Manipulative: Scarves

Closing Song: Skinnamarink

Social Media Collection Promotion Part 2

I’m in a weird time right now where I have a ton of (virtual) programming coming up to share with you all over the next few weeks–sometimes two virtual storytimes a week, sometimes a full week of Pokemon programming, sometimes a special Elephant & Piggie storytime, plus the weekly graphic novel book club–but I’ve been spending most of my work time preparing for those things or other future projects that I don’t want to write to you all about until they’ve happened.

So, I’m revisiting a project I wrote about two months ago, Social Media Collection Promotion through Instagram stories. I’ve continued this project since we’ve closed with a daily Instagram story advertising an ebook, series, ebook website, or virtual program.

When I started this project, I rotated through age ranges and formats more carefully–about 40 days into making Instagram posts, I stopped being as careful and just grabbed content that felt relevant and appealing. I still try to select titles that are either immediately available through Hoopla or do not have long hold’s lists through Overdrive or Cloud Library. Even though we have opened for curbside, I am still focusing on ebooks.

Some things I’ve learned:

  • Posts get about 200-250 views a day no matter who I tag, use of hashtags, popularity of materials, etc..
  • Engagements, profile clicks, and responses (and, from what I can tell checkouts) only really occur with materials that are already very popular–I got a stronger response when I shared that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is free to download on Overdrive and that the new Hunger Games prequel is available on audio via Hoopla.
  • Honestly? I don’t know how much of an impact these are having. Part of my personal goal for the year was to create a long term plan for social media collection promotion, and frankly I don’t know if it is worth it, at least through Instagram stories. Most of my viewers are library staff. I’d like to potentially try less frequent posts in a different platform–even an Instagram post once every two weeks–but that wasn’t an option before the pandemic, and I know social media has a different purpose at the moment as we start to reopen.

Instagram Stories – Picture Books:

Instagram Stories – First Chapter – Chapter:

Instagram Stories – Program Advertisement & General Service:

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 (5/25/20-5/31/20).

Annamarie’s Reading

Picture Books & Readers:

Graphic Novels:

Everything Else:

Note: This week was very picture book heavy, with a ton of great eARCs mixed in with Hoopla Bonus Borrows (many of which aren’t included here because they are fairly well known books, and isn’t this list long enough?). Finished the Babymouse series this week and almost done with Nikki & Deja.

Reading Highlights:

  • Animals Brag About Their Bottoms – This is just another adorable picture book title where it is exactly as advertised–animals brag about their big, stripey, furry, unique bottoms. Somehow mixes what will be a humorous read aloud about animals with body positivity.
  • Superhero Gran – This one stood out to me as a great storytime book, especially with the amount of grandparents we have in our community.
  • This is a Book of Shapes – Is it terrible that I wish this book didn’t have the animal inserts and humor and was literally a book of “this is a square” with an illustration of a square on a white background (about two thirds of the book is formatted like this)? Why can’t we have more really, really simple books that don’t try to be more? Do publishers have any idea have many copies I would beg my library to purchase that were literally just “A” “a” on a white background that were big enough to trace with a finger?
  • Fence: Rivals – Fence is back! More Fence! More Fence!

Michala’s Reading

Virtual Preschool Storytime: Week 1

My first go at virtual preschool storytime!

This was a particularly interesting experience for me because in the past I’ve only really filled in for this age range, and I’ve used most of my go-to content for toddlers the last few months. I’m not against reusing the same content for toddlers and preschoolers (as is age appropriate), but part of my stretch into preschool storytimes includes building our YouTube content for preschoolers, and I don’t want to just make duplicate videos for this age range.

I’m not quite as swamped with virtual programs at the moment, so I used last week to dig into the child development and blogs for this age range. It’s been fun! I have a nice pile of new (to me) content that I’m excited to try out over the next month.

As usual, there are more videos here than content that actually fit in a 30 minute storytime. I like to give myself options, and I make videos often 3-4 days before I go live. Plus, more content for YouTube is just another way for our patrons to access storytimes.

Background: While my library is closed during the COVID pandemic, we are 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!

Find additional content at the links below:

Preschool Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip & Book: The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson

The Cow Loves Cookies: Wilson, Karma, Hall, Marcellus ...

Early Literacy Tip: Pick stuff you love. The kids can tell if you hate what you are reading. They can always tell.

Song: Drivin’ In My Car by Ralph’s World

Action Rhyme: Cool Cat

Retelling: Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd

Fingerplay: Wiggle Fingers

Magnet: Little Fox

Manipulative: Shakers

Closing Song: Elmo Slide by Sesame Street

Play & Learn at Home

Last summer, a coworker and I ran a very successful baby and toddler play program. Each week, about 80-100 parents and little ones joined us for a variety of interactive activities.

Six months ago, when we were planning for May-August 2020, we were thrilled to be able to offer Play & Learn again this summer, plus an additional four weeks in May.

Then COVID happened.

Obviously we weren’t expecting a pandemic, but luckily we were able to shift our plans to adapt this program virtually for the month of May.

Each week, Lisa (my coworker) and I emailed registered caregivers a video and instruction sheet for two DIY play activities, made from objects commonly found around the house.

My share of the content can be found below:

Cereal Boxes and Straws

Cereal Boxes & Straws Instruction Sheet

Tissue Box Play

Tissue Box Play Instruction Sheet

Tape Play

Tape Play Instruction Sheet

Card Slot Drop

Card Slot Drop Instruction Sheet

Make sure to check out Lisa’s great content as well. Check out the links below about how to make: