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 (3/30/20-4/5/20).

Annamarie’s Reading

Picture Books

Everything Else

Note: Mixture of old and new this week. I’ve been reading eARCs on my phone from NetGalley and starting to move into the big stack of books I may have taken from the library after we closed to patrons. No better time than now to get acquainted with some new first chapter books! Someday I’ll get to the rest of the ARCs I got at ALA Midwinter…

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 Week 2

Week 2 of virtual baby storytime! Our library just announced we will remain closed through May, so there will be a few more weeks of this content to come.

I did not use all of these pieces in the livestream this week. I am trying to figure out how I continue to cut 1-2 things per run through, and I STILL end up 10 minutes over. Every time. I think the more I practice the more directions I add in, which is good, but which also makes my storytime longer. So cutting things isn’t currently helping. I’ll get there.

In an effort to conserve time, since cutting content didn’t seem to help, I also went from three to two repeats of each rhyme (which is what I do regularly in the library). I didn’t see any comments that were sad about this switch, so I’m going to stick with it for now. I want to try to give our regular attendees as similar an experience as possible to what we do in the library, so I don’t want to cut entire sections of the storytime if I don’t have to. At least for me, I think that familiarity and structure helps a lot right now.

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

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 Introduction Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip & Book Recommendation

Action & Body Rhymes

Didn’t use in this week’s livestream.

Songs

Also used The Tickle Song by Rainbow Songs. This was my first video that was blocked by YouTube due to copyright. Other music videos just had a Copyright Claim added saying that we can’t monetize the videos.

Movement & Bounce Rhymes

Didn’t use in this week’s livestream.

Puppet Time

Manipulative Time – Scarves

Closing Song

DIY Play

Social Media Collection Promotion

Before social distancing days, I was a member of my library’s Marketing the Collection Committee (I suppose I still am, that sounded kind of depressing). One of my personal work goals for this year was to promote our children’s collection using social media.

A week before we closed, I posted my first few Instagram Stories sharing some of my favorite non-fiction graphic novel series (Science Comics, Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, Maker Comics). I created a detailed spreadsheet with the books I was going to highlight every two weeks for the rest of the year, coordinating titles with library events and seasonal activities. Books started piling up at my desk, so I would have physical copies for those 15-second videos.

And then we were sent home, and priorities shifted.

Looking on the bright side of things, our closure allowed me to explore our digital content in a way I hadn’t before. Personally, I checked out ebooks regularly, but, other than when I was on vacation, I was much more likely to pick up a physical book than download an ebook, if I had a choice.

I shifted my plans–that spreadsheet went out the window, and instead, with our marketing department’s approval, I started posting one Instagram story a day focusing on a different ebook or eaudiobook (without having to film myself–it’s faster without worrying about retakes and word choice and backgrounds and technology hiccups).

My personal Instagram Story parameters are below (much of this is adapted from the instructions I was given by marketing before I started):

  • One story a day.
  • I rotate through four topics:
    • eaudibooks for families
    • ebook for ages 0-5
    • ebook for ages 6-8
    • ebook for ages 9-11
  • Mix up the time you post stories (this often ends up being afternoon or evening for me, based on when I remember)
  • Add flare. (I’m still learning how to do this.)
    • Add stickers
    • Tag authors when possible – creates some great interactions!
    • Add video when possible–I record my phone screen using the free app XRecorder to show myself scrolling through a list of favorite titles or playing a clip from a Weston Woods book video from Hoopla.
  • Try not to add too much text. (I fail at this regularly.)
  • Focus on ebook services that don’t involve long hold lists when possible–for me, this means I promote titles on Hoopla or Cloud Library more than the Overdrive library shared across my state.

I am planning to figure out Later.com by the end of the week to have these scheduled instead of having to post each day. I keep opening the website, staring at the home page, not immediately seeing how to schedule a story, and getting distracted by something else. I blame still getting used to working from home.

Some sample Instagram Stories without video:

And some sample Instagram Stories with video (that you can’t see play below, but may make more sense with that information):

This is just a small piece in my library’s overall social media plan while we are closed to the public. What is your library doing? Share your awesome ideas in the comments!

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 Week 1

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.

Find additional content at the links below:

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.

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.

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