Search Results for "virtual school"

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

Virtual Baby Storytime: Week 4

Week 4 of virtual baby storytime! I am finally at a 30 minute storytime, woot!

Views dropped this week, with about 35 watching live and about 60 one-minute-views before the livestream was taken down. However, we did have more comments from regulars than we did on previous recent recordings. I’m also not sure if people just didn’t want to see my face twice in one week.

Folks on one of the state library web meetings also mentioned dropping viewers, and they had some interesting feedback regarding Facebook Live algorithms starting to stop notifying people when they go live due to the frequency–they could tell based on the decrease in impressions on their posts.

I’ve seen some libraries live streaming to multiple sources at once via two different devices, which is interesting. We have such a large built-in audience on Facebook, though we are also getting quite a response from our registered school age events. I can’t quite picture Zoom or a similar software working well though, just based on the number of meetings I’ve sat in on where people won’t turn their mute on–one person has rustling papers or pets in the background, and suddenly their face is the only one anyone participating can see, even if they aren’t the person talking or hosting. Any solutions out there?

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

We talked about writing this week, including fine motor activities and shape recognition.

No tip and book video because the book I used–one of my favorites–is unfortunately not available as an ebook through our library.

Up!: How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones: Susan ...

Action & Body Rhymes



Movement & Bounce Rhymes

Puppet Time

Manipulative Time – Stuffed Animals

Closing Song

DIY Play

Stay-at-Home Professional Development


As many of us will be telecommuting for a few weeks longer than initially anticipated, I updated some of the links below and added a few more suggested resources.

Please share other great resources in the comments!

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


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.
Also consider the entire Public Library Management 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.

Mel’s Desk Professional Storytime Development: Not quite an official course like many of these other offerings, but may be the most useful in practical day-to-day storytime improvement. Practice storytime flow, create your own storytime mission statement, and make and evaluate your storytime top 40 list.

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)

Raising the Bar Early Literacy Training: Access early literacy storytime training by the New York Public Library including a plethora of valuable resources for early ages.
Time to Complete: 10+ hours

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

Sesame Strong: Access bundles of resources focusing on family engagement, particularly focusing on hosting mini-programs with parents or caregivers.
Time to Complete: 3+ hours

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

Supporting Caregiving Families: Learn about serving families of military personnel and veterans in particular with helpful vocabulary, digital resources, and hands-on activities.
Time to Complete: 3+ 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


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.

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.

Using Your Library’s Virtual Presence to Reach Users with Disabilities: Is your library working towards improving online accessibility to customers with disabilities? Have you developed new programs and services that intentionally welcome individuals with disabilities, but are struggling to connect with your target audience? Developing inclusive library services will be more effective if your library connects with the disability community, and leveraging your organization’s virtual presence will help you do that.

Additional Webinar Resources:

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.

Middle Grade Magic Virtual Conference: While the conference occurred on April 8, login to view excellent presentations from many diverse authors and information about upcoming children’s books.

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.

Virtual Events

April 25-26: YALLSTAYATHOME: Features panels and speakers ranging from middle grade through young adult lit.

May 1-2: Everywhere Book Fest: A virtual gathering of kidlit authors, illustrators, and books that will bring the book festival experience to young readers everywhere.

May 27: SLJ Day of Dialogue: Learn from authors, librarians, and educators from around the globe in this first-time-virtual event.

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. Some webinars available to everyone for free.

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

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

Cultural Competence for Librarians: For the library profession, which has historically struggled with developing a workforce that is reflective of the communities being served, these changing times will require cultural competence, defined by the Association of College and Research libraries as “a congruent set of behaviors, attitudes, and policies that enable a person or group to work effectively in cross-cultural situations” (ACRL, 2012). While cultural competence has become a part of some library and information science programs, for librarians currently working in the field, cultural competence may be an enigma. This course will introduce librarians to the concept of cultural competence in the library and information science profession.
Time to Complete: 4 weeks
Cost: $175
Next Session: Begins May 4

Foundations of Early Literacy: Both using and expanding on the early literacy information in the Every Child Ready to Read® initiative, you will become familiar with the early literacy skills and practices. Building on this knowledge, we will explore ways to apply them to your work, including ways to make library environments supportive of staff sharing early literacy information and activities with parents and caregivers.
Time to Complete: 4 weeks
Cost: $175
Next Session: Begins May 4

Library Resources and Services for Patrons on the Autism Spectrum: This course will provide librarians with a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder, effective means of communicating individuals with ASD, strategies for designing inviting and accessible library environments and programming, and suggestions for building relationships with community partners to better serve the needs of patrons with ASD.
Time to Complete: 4 weeks
Cost: $175
Next Session: Begins May 4

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

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 (4/6/20-4/12/20).

Annamarie’s Reading

First Chapter Books

Everything Else

Note: Same as last week–still plugging through a mix of eBooks (including eARCs) and physical first chapter books I took from work (there may have been quite a few of those). Got some great eARCs and book ideas from the Middle Grade Magic Virtual Conference on Wednesday–did anyone else get a chance to attend?

Michala’s Reading

Note: Yay, I’m back and survived the plague! Not 100% better, but enough that I’m not dying both literally and figuratively in my house. I’m still quarantined, but I’m here! Not gonna lie, even reading is slow for me right now, but I made it through a few books and hope to be back to reading lots of things for the weekly posts (and feeling super chagrined that I never manage to post anything else) very soon!

***I apparently love exclamation points***

Recommended Free Apps & Podcasts for Kids

Like many libraries around the country, we got the news last week that we will remain closed throughout the month of April. Since we now have a better timeline, we are able to move forward with virtual content more easily–including a ReadSquared online stay at home learning program.

We don’t have any prizes, just virtual badges that kids and families can earn by completing activities at home. Some are directly related to books, some connect to the library, and others just provide ideas for new ways to explore your home or the (limited) world around you.

One of the “missions” I worked on involved exploring technology. I created curated lists of apps and podcasts that families can experience at home.

After much finagling, I was very proud of myself for managing to create a list of recommended apps that are all free AND work on both iOS and Android devices. All suggestions are listed below, and can be downloaded or shared as PDFs here:

Recommended Apps, Ages 2-5

Play and Learn Science by PBS Kids

Caregivers and children work together to explore scientific concepts and to develop problem solving skills. Explore water, weather, physics, light, and more. Android, iOS, Amazon

Little Chickies (Los Politos) by Encantos Media Studios, PBC

Interact with the traditional Spanish lullaby “Los Politos” through a story, art projects, music activities, digital scrapbooks, and more. Available in eight languages. Android, iOS

Fish School by Duck Duck Moose, LLC

Practice letters, numbers, shapes, and colors through fun games with colorful fish and friendly sea creatures. 
Android, iOS, Amazon

GoNoodle—Kids Videos  by GoNoodle

Filled with short videos that teach music, movement, patterns, dance, yoga, and mindfulness. Suggested to watch and dance along as a family.
Android, iOS, Amazon

Animal Sounds for Baby (Laugh & Learn Animal Sounds)by Fisher Price Inc.

Babies and toddlers can practice identifying animals and their sounds with engaging, brightly-colored illustrations and vibrant sound effects.
Android, iOS, Amazon

The Cat in the Hat Builds That by PBS Kids

Explore STEM concepts through mini-games and activities. Includes a variety of downloadable materials and ideas for caregiver and child interaction. Android, iOS, Amazon

Khan Academy Kids by Khan Academy

Explore thousands of educational activities, books, songs, and games teaching reading, language, writing, math, social-emotional development, and more. Android, iOS, Amazon

PBS Parents Play & Learn by PBS Kids

Discover games for parents and kids to play together in familiar locations, like the garden, the kitchen, the bathroom, and more.
Android, iOS, Amazon

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Duck Duck Moose, LLC

Sing along to various versions of the classic children’s song “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Includes free-play activities related to on-screen characters.
Android, iOS, Amazon

Artie’s World by Minilab Ltd

Follow Artie around the world. Create presents for Artie’s friends by tracing basic shapes on the screen. Watch your drawings come to life!
Android, iOS, Amazon

Baby Games—Piano, Baby Phone, First Words by RV AppStudios

Toddlers can engage with simple sound effects and pretend play with virtual musical instruments and simple nursery rhymes.
Android, iOS, Amazon

Pokémon Playhouse by The Pokémon Company International

Engage in this open-ended play app by interacting with Pokémon characters, listening to stories, solving puzzles, and more. 
Android, iOS, Amazon

Elmo Loves 123s by Sesame Street

Trace each number (1-20) and explore with Elmo and Abby through puzzles, games, coloring, and videos. Free version only includes numbers 1-3. Android, iOS, Amazon Cost: Free (Lite) $4.99 (Full)

Endless Alphabet by Originator Inc.

Learn new vocabulary words and practice identifying letters in this interactive puzzle game. Free version only includes seven words. Android, iOS, Amazon | Cost: Free (Lite) , $8.99 (full)

Recommended Apps, Ages 6-8

Molly of Denali by PBS Kids

Explore the Native Alaskan village of Qyah with Molly using diagrams, pictures, field guides, and maps. Solve problems, play games, and accomplish community tasks. Android, iOS, Amazon

Pet Bingo by Duck Duck Moose

Practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to earn adorable virtual pets, pet food, and pet toys.
Android, iOS, Amazon

ScratchJr by Scratch Foundation

Create your own interactive stories and games by snapping together programming blocks to make your characters move, jump, dance, and sing. Android, iOS, Amazon

Tami’s Tower by Smithsonian Institution

Use basic engineering principles to help Tami the golden lion tamarin solve problems encountered in the jungle.
Android, iOS, Amazon

Jet’s Bot Builder: Robot Games by PBS KIDS

Build and personalize your own robot before traveling through outer space to complete STEM challenges. 
Android, iOS, Amazon

Think & Learn Code-a-pillar by Fisher Price, Inc.

Learn basic coding and problem-solving skills as you move your virtual caterpillar through a variety of logic puzzles. 
Android, iOS, Amazon

CyberChase Shape Quest! by PBS KIDS

Practice geometry and develop spatial reasoning skills through puzzles and games as you try build a new environment in Botopolis. 
Android, iOS, Amazon

Recommended Apps, Family

ChatterPix Kids by Duck Duck Moose

Turn pictures of real life objects into silly, playful messages with filters, recorded audio, stickers, and more.
Android, iOS

Storytime Online by SAG-AFTRA Foundation

Watch diverse celebrity readers perform both classic and timely children’s picture books for all ages.
Android, iOS

Toontastic 3D by Google LLC

Draw, animate, and narrate your own cartoons. Record your voice, insert pictures, and share your creations with friends and family. 
Android, iOS

Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Identify birds flying through your backyard by answering five questions or taking a picture of the bird and identifying where you live. 
Android, iOS

NSF Science Zone by National Science Foundation

Learn about hundreds of scientific discoveries with exciting videos and high-resolution photos that will take you from the far reaches of space to the smallest bacteria. Android, iOS

Seek by iNaturalist

Learn about nature by using recognition technology to identify plants and animals in your backyard or on a nature hike. 
Android, iOS

Pick Your Plate! by Smithsonian Institution

Explore cultures from around the world through food. Learn about new cuisines and select nutritional meals that fit your virtual budget. Android, iOS, Amazon

Recommended Podcasts for Kids

1. Aaron’s World. Journey to the distant past into the world of dinosaurs and imagination.

2. But Why. Approaches silly and very real questions in a kid-friendly manner—from “why do we taste food?” and “why do lions roar?” to the timely “But Why Special On

3. Cirlce Round. Share folktales from around the world, adapted into modern radio plays.  

4. Ear Snacks. Music duo Andrew and Polly create a fun soundtrack for all ages
performing original children’s music.

5. Molly of Denali. Listen to the adventures of Molly Mabray, an Alaska Native girl
determined to discover the identity of the creature that stole Molly’s birthday cake.

6. Pants on Fire. This hilarious game-show style podcast keeps kids guessing. Two
grow-up “experts” talk about a topic—one is an expert, and one is a pants on fire liar. Listeners have to figure out who is who!

7. Peace Out. Yoga and meditation for kids. Practice relaxing and mindfulness through visualization and breathing exercises.

8. Smash Boom Best. Debaters enter heated competitions over some intense
match-ups—such as unicorns vs. dragons and chocolate vs. cheese—to convince
listeners which is the best.

9. Story Pirates. Amazing performers turn original stories written by real kids into podcast episodes often featuring celebrity guests.

10. Story Time. Designed to serve as bedtime stories, these short, sweet episodes feel like miniature audiobooks with music and sounds.

11. What If World. Mr. Eric examines kids’ most wacky “what if” questions from “What if sharks had legs?” to “What if dinosaurs were alive today?” with humor and levity.

12. Wow in the World. Jump into the wonders of the world with Mindy and Guy in this daily kids podcast by NPR.

What great resources am I missing? Share them in the comments below!

Summer Reading Promo

Like so many libraries, we are re-examining our Summer Reading Program through a virtual lens. At the end of 2019, we moved our reading program from software designed and managed in-house to the ReadSquared platform, kicking off using that service with our first Winter Reading Program in December. Personally, I can’t say I love ReadSquared, but it gets the job done.

We don’t have answers to many of the questions that I see being asked in Facebook Groups every day–how are you distributing prizes? Will any part of the program be available in person? What about people without Internet?

My library doesn’t have all of those answers, and I surely don’t, but I did get tasked with making a video to replace our annual school assemblies. A few years ago, we were able to start visiting 15+ elementary schools in our service area during May for assembly-style presentations where we got kids excited about summer reading. In Ohio, the kids didn’t go back to school after mid-March, so those assemblies obviously were not going to happen. However, we did want to send the schools something to supplement those visits.

Enter the summer reading video.

This took me a few full days worth of work to make, with the bulk of the work taking about 8 hours (filming, editing, screaming at my computer, etc.). Finished product is below:

…and the how-I-did-it follows.


General Idea

I knew I wanted to create a video that mimicked the general style of YouTubers–short quick cuts, lots of humor. That seemed like a safe, approachable direction that should appeal to elementary students, and it also meant that I wouldn’t have to (1) memorize really long chunks of text or (2) read from a script (a pet peeve of mine–it is always obvious you are reading, and it always pulls me out of whatever I am watching).

During my storytime videos I just talk freely, but I wanted to make sure I got my words exactly right in this video because so much of our program is up in the air, and people remember what we say. I don’t want to talk about how the kids get to choose their own prize books (a normal staple of our program) when that may not happen this year. We just don’t know.

I was a bit lost for direction on this until a coworker sent me a lovely video made by a school librarian advertising their book fair. I think her humor and silly motions gave me a much better idea of what I was aiming for (and an answer to the dreaded “how do I start?”).


Storyboard Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

Back in the days when I made videos more frequently, I got into the habit of storyboarding. I knew I was going to need some sort of direction for this video, as I was planning for a lot of short clips/scenes to keep the video moving.

I didn’t draw out a full storyboard, but I did write out a simple word document breaking the film into clips including my general ideas for props, background, and more:

Some of this changed before the final run through–I couldn’t find free green screen software quickly, so I dropped the space bit. The Spongebob rainbow imagination hands didn’t translate when filming either. However, this gave me a place to start.

PPT Text

I transferred big chunks of text to PPT slides, broken into the small bits that were going to take place in one cut. I was going to use this as a script behind the camera to read from, though, as mentioned before, I hate reading from a script, so I ended up just using this to help practice before saying whatever came out of my mouth on film.

Props & Supplies

Mostly, I didn’t need too many props…except for the bits where I attempt to be funny near the beginning middle. (Yes, that is supposed to be a tiger king joke. No, I don’t think it hits home.)

I worked with what I have on hand. For example, the book fair video started with that school librarian playing a trumpet and using a toy megaphone. I have neither. I made a paper megaphone and leaned into the awkward by writing MEGAPHONE on the side.

After the experience I had filming this, I would suggest less props. I think I started to lose my mind when I started swapping out all of the props on the storage unit behind me for each of the “funny” bits (tiger king, Harry Potter, Frozen). This took much more time than it was worth (maybe 10 seconds of camera time for 20-30 minutes of setup and destroying my house).



I don’t really have a house that is setup for filming anything. The easiest room for me to film in is a spare bedroom, which was essentially a storage space before this. To avoid the mugshot effect (filming against a bare wall), I hiked upstairs the best piece of furniture I could stage–a 3×3 cube unit (that had once been holding craft supplies…that are now all over my house). For storytimes, keeping this unit on the floor works well–it isn’t very tall, but I was trying to focus on the rhymes and my stuffed bear “baby.”

For this video, I wanted my background to be more engaging. So, suddenly, the cube unit is precariously on top of a trunk, and I am rearranging the items on the unit to appeal a bit more to the 6-11 year old crowd instead of the 2-3 year old audience I normally have.

I also had to figure out placement. For storytimes, I am typically a bit further away from the camera–for baby storytime, I want my lap to be in the shot to show when I am touching my baby’s feet or bouncing; for toddler storytime I need to have enough space around me to hold up a flannel board or book. None of that mattered here–it was all about me being engaging, and, following the pattern of YouTubers everywhere, that meant making myself more of a central part of the frame. Figuring out how to position myself with roughly my shoulders and head filling the frame with a background that was engaging but not overpowering took more time than I would like to admit.


The particular equipment I use included:

For my particular device, I think the audio in the smartphone is sufficient (no need for an external mike). I have a few issues with lighting on particularly gloomy days, but 90% of the time, natural lighting is the best option when filming. Just make sure your window isn’t directly behind you.

Being on Camera

I read about the struggles of being on camera for many librarians, and, unfortunately for any readers out there, I don’t have too much to add to that conversation. I think I’m actually a little more comfortable in front of the camera at this point than I often am in front of patrons.

My tips for getting comfortable:

  • Don’t watch yourself while filming. If you tend to overthink everything you do, turn your phone around and film with that much higher-quality camera on the back of your device. I started doing this for live storytimes because, on an Android device, you can’t flip a livestream so that the words in a book are facing the right way for the audience on your front-facing camera. And it is freeing. I stare at that little circle on my phone and release any tension–I can’t see comments, I can’t see my weird hand gestures, I can’t see anything–and it is all out of my control now. Embrace the chaos. It let me stop overthinking every motion.
  • Picture that one storytime kid. You know the one. The one that comes to all of your storytimes, and hopefully appears at some virtual ones too. I know that Miss Julia is always watching–and she is who I am presenting too. If no one else comes, I know Julia had a blast–and that is all I need.
  • Get silly. I am always, always, so self-aware in storytimes. I can move past some of it, especially with a bigger crowd, but when I have just a few adults and kids staring at me, it makes me very aware of my every motion and every time a story, song, or joke doesn’t connect. I am always looking for reactions–and here, I have to give that up because there are no reactions (at least that I can see while presenting). It is just me. So, mentally, I tell myself that every single thing hit home. There is nothing to tell me otherwise–so gosh darn it I am going to believe that the viewers LOVED every second of it. This lets me get sillier than usual. There isn’t a mom in the corner silently judging me (more likely spacing out completely out of exhaustion, but our brains tell us we are the center of the universe so…). It is just me dancing like no one is watching.


Oh, editing.

Your success and frustration with editing is largely going to depend on your computer. Do you have a high-powered computer? Preferably a Mac? The fastest, best internet humanly possible? You should be set.

Oh, you are like the rest of us mortals, and you don’t have all those things?

Join the club.

I have a decent-ish (Windows) computer now, but it was still a struggle at many points in the editing process. I don’t suggest you buy a new computer for this, so use what you have.

I used OpenShot video editior. This is free software that gets the job done. It is not very intuitive–not nearly as intuitive as, say, iMovie (available for free on a Mac)–but it has the bells and whistles if you know where to find them. I had to do a lot of Google searches to figure out how to do most tasks, but there are many really accessible tutorials out there. Just be ready for the time commitment and learning curve, especially the first time you use it.


I didn’t worry too much about music being copyrighted, except for whether YouTube would demonetize a video vs. block it entirely. Most popular songs lead to demonetization, which as a public library not making any ad revenue anyway, this really isn’t a big deal. (Some songs do lead to a Youtube video being blocked in most countries, which is depressing after all of the effort you put in to make it.)

I was able to download both songs I used for free from Freegal using my library card. I also regularly pull Royalty Free Music from for introductions and such.

So many of us are filming our own videos now…what are you doing? What questions do you have? Virtual programming isn’t going anywhere anytime soon–how are you making it work for you?

2020 Mid-Year Review: What Am I Reading?

You might have noticed from those What Are You Reading? posts that I read. A lot. I read a lot of picture books (which I know many people don’t count in reading totals). I also read a lot of graphic novels, which can generally be considered “faster” reads than chapter books. But, even with those considerations, I know I read a lot.

I’m privileged in the time I can dedicate to reading–I only work one job and reading is directly related to that job (though not something I really ever get to do on the job). My job gives me easy access to free books, without having to go out of my way to pick them up or even to track down a list of new releases. I don’t have kids or the responsibilities that come up with taking care of young people. Even though I go through slumps, I genuinely enjoy reading. And I’ve had particularly a lot of time for it during the pandemic.

I pride myself on reading books featuring diverse characters. I didn’t really do this as a child, beyond the books that won awards or were regularly in recommendations from school and public librarians. I didn’t think about what the characters in my books looked like until I started library school. (More privilege. I’m just chock-full of that.) I had some pretty phenomenal professors that pointed my head in the right direction, and since then, especially in that last few years, I’ve been making a conscious effort to read diverse kids books.

I know that I’ve made a specific effort to book talk titles featuring diverse characters–though, now that I look again at my process, 3/9 isn’t as high a ratio of diverse books to white/non-human books as I would like. Especially when I put the research in and discover that two of those three books are written by white authors. I’ve been trying to correct that by focusing exclusively on own voices in more recent video book talks — but I’ve already felt the itch to book talk a non-own voices book, and I’m afraid once I open myself to that, I’ll once again not promote own voices books as much as I should.

I also know that my storytimes do not feature enough diversity. I tend to blame this on my typical age group–babies–and the overall lack of books that I really feel is ideal for those wiggling one-year-olds. While the industry definitely has issues, that lack of diversity in my storytimes is squarely on me, and something I’m looking at.

So what is this post about? I want to look at what I’ve actually read so far in 2020.

If anyone has a recommendation on how to do this that is simpler than creating a spreadsheet and reviewing each title one at a time, please let me know. I mark a lot of these things through Goodreads shelves, though, for reasons I do not understand, Goodreads will not show me all of the books I read this year in a way that was easily sortable–it kept dropping off the last 100, which left me with incomplete data.

My own voices data is particularly questionable, as it is subject to searching for a Google image of an author I wasn’t sure of, and then going to their author website if I still wasn’t sure, or if I was genuinely surprised by their whiteness (more often than not unfortunately). I’m hoping to rectify this by making this a more regular effort instead of trying to quickly sort 720 books in one weekend.

Some of the data doesn’t quite add up the way you would imagine, as some books are in multiple categories. For example, there are some picture books and graphic novels also tagged as non-fiction titles.

The breakdown is below.

Mid-Year 2020 Reading Statistics

  • Format/Intended Age:
    • 329 Picture Books (46%)
      • 129 diverse main characters (39% of picture books)
    • 191 Graphic Novels (27%)
      • 44 diverse main characters (23% of graphic novels)
    • 80 First Chapter Books (11%)
      • 45 diverse main characters (56% of first chapter books)
    • 50 Beginning Readers (7%)
      • 20 diverse main characters (40% of beginning readers)
    • 34 Juvenile Fiction Chapter Books (5%)
      • 13 diverse main characters (35% of juvenile fiction)
    • 8 Teen Fiction Books (1%)
      • 4 diverse main characters (50%)
    • 4 Adult Fiction Books (0.5%)
      • 0 diverse main characters (0%)
  • Fiction/Non-Fiction/Genre:
    • 66 Non-fiction (9%)
      • 29 contain diversity in “characters” (picture books/graphic novels teaching facts), biographies, memoirs, or focus on racism (44% of non-fiction)
    • 19 Biographies (3%) (also included in NF)
    • 653 Fiction (9%)
      • 231 contain diverse main characters (35% of fiction)
  • Author Makeup:
    • 475 Books Written By Female Authors (66%)
    • 238 Books Written By Male Authors (33%)
    • 153 Non-White Authors (21%)
  • Diversity:
    • 260 Diverse Main Characters (36%)
    • 132 Diverse Main Characters Written By Own Voices Authors (18%)
    • 28 LGBT Main Character (4%)

Breakdown: Format/Intended Audience

  • 329 Picture Books (46%)
    • 129 diverse main characters (39% of picture books)
  • 191 Graphic Novels (27%)
    • 44 diverse main characters (23% of graphic novels)
  • 80 First Chapter Books (11%)
    • 45 diverse main characters (56% of first chapter books)
  • 50 Beginning Readers (7%)
    • 20 diverse main characters (40% of beginning readers)
  • 34 Juvenile Fiction Chapter Books (5%)
    • 13 diverse main characters (35% of juvenile fiction)
  • 8 Teen Fiction Books (1%)
    • 4 diverse main characters (50%)
  • 4 Adult Fiction Books (0.5%)
    • 0 diverse main characters (0%)

I know I read a lot of picture books, and those inflate my overall reading count for the year. I am pleasantly surprised that picture books only make up 46% of my reading for the year (though when I include the similarly-sized Beginning Readers, those types of books make up a combined 52% of my reading so far this year). I’d like to continue to try to keep my picture book reading to under 50% of my overall books for the year, to make sure I am digging into those older age ranges.

Graphic novels have become my comfort zone, particularly for the speed I can read them and their popularity with our patrons. Next time, I would like to break this number down further with the age range the graphic novels are aimed at. I’d like to hold this count steady around 25% of my reading.

During quarantine, I made a particular effort to increase the first chapter books I read, particularly diverse titles. I think that is reflected here. Even with first chapter books being only 11% of my total reading for the year that is much higher than previous years (based on my knowledge of my reading not any formal stats).

These three areas are my weakest reading age ranges

  • Beginning Readers: I struggle with these because I love a good story, and these are not written with the “good story” angle in mind.
  • Juvenile Fiction: I knew my juvenile fiction chapter books have been weak this year, but ouch. Only 5% of my reading has been traditional chapter books–I’m going to work on that.
  • Teen Fiction: If I thought my middle grade reading was low, teen books are abysmal. Though, I will try to defend this a little because at least 30% of those graphic novels are for teens. I don’t program for teens, and we don’t get as many reader’s advisory questions, and…I’ve let this age range slip. Badly. (Michala go write a teen book blog post!)

The second piece of this category I wanted to examine was diverse main characters at the format-level.

While the wait for census numbers will probably take much longer than usual due to the pandemic, the projections for 2020 have remained the same for years: the expectation is that of children in the US (under the age of 18), 49.8% will be “non-Hispanic White.” My reading reflects the books I talk about and share, and my reading needs to, at a minimum, reflect the races of kids today too. I would like to have each of these categories be comprised of at least 50% books featuring diverse main characters.

That isn’t going to be easy–the majority of books published are very white-centered or animal-driven, and while that has been improving a little, it hasn’t improved to the point of enough new titles to necessarily let me increase my reading across these categories without intentionally not reading any other books in those categories. I also need to realistically consider what my reading will look like post-working-at-home. Fifty percent in each category is not likely to happen this year–but maybe it can happen in one or two categories this year, and more over the next few years.

Next Steps:

  • Continue reading any diverse picture books and first chapter books I can access.
  • Actively look for more diverse beginning readers and graphic novels. These are two areas that I’ve always felt are weak proportionately in diversity, at least in my library. Dig harder here.
  • Read more juvenile fiction chapter books, focusing on diverse titles. There have been 10 beside my bed for a week. Actually read them.

Breakdown: Fiction/Non-Fiction/Genre

  • 66 Non-fiction (9%)
    • 29 contain diversity in “characters” (picture books/graphic novels teaching facts), are biographies or memoirs, or focus on racism (44% of non-fiction)
  • 19 Biographies (3%) (also included in NF)
  • 653 Fiction (91%)
    • 231 contain diverse main characters (35% of fiction)

I don’t like non-fiction. Sorry world. I never enjoyed reading non-fiction as a child, and I very, very rarely do as an adult.

Since I struggle with non-fiction (and biographies) so much as it is, I’m going to try to make sure that the books I do read include diversity. I have a tendency to only read non-fiction books about animals, and I want to shift that towards more biographies and memoirs. Poetry is wrapped up in non-fiction too, and while I don’t think I will ever actively enjoy poetry, it is very easy for me to commit to reading diverse poets and generally avoiding white ones.

I can’t even out all of my reading percentages, and this is one that, while I know it is an issue from a reader’s advisory perspective, I am going to set aside for now, though keep it in the back of my mind. I will keep an eye out for reading lists containing great diverse non-fiction for kids, and try to focus on those.

Next Steps:

  • Keep an eye out for more diverse non-fiction titles.
  • Read more biographies – increase biographies read during the year to at least 6%.

Breakdown: Author Makeup

  • 475 Books Written By Women Authors (66%)
  • 238 Books Written By Male Authors (33%)
  • 153 Diverse Authors (21%)

Again, I have to choose what I want to work on, and I’m going to let my female-male breakdown go. I’m reading more books by female authors than male authors. I would like to dig into non-binary authors and authors that identify as multiple genders (and, honestly, some of the authors on my list may do that–this was not the best researched spreadsheet).

I do need to focus on reading books by diverse authors. I’ll get into this more in the next section, but the disproportion between books I’ve read written about diverse kids and books written by own voices authors is alarming. (Only half of the diverse main character books I read this year are by own voices authors! Half!) Having 21% of my reading reflect books written by diverse authors is a start, but it is far from where I would like to be. I want to focus heavily on that number during the second half of this year.

Next Steps:

  • Read more books by authors who are non-binary or identify as multiple genders. Not really examined here, but read more books by transgender authors too.
  • Read more books written by diverse authors. Aim to get that percentage to at least 33% by the end of the year.

Breakdown: Diversity

  • 260 Diverse Main Characters (36%)
  • 132 Diverse Main Characters Written By Own Voices Authors (18%)
  • 28 LGBT Main Character (4%)

These were the numbers I was really looking for. I’ve been actively seeking out books with diverse main characters, so I’m glad this number was a bit higher than I expected when I started looking at titles (but not as good as I secretly hoped). This is exactly why I need to actually look at the data though–because if I had to make a guess a month ago, I probably would have said that 40-50% of what I read is diverse, and that is not the case.

The real rude awakening for me, particularly over the last few weeks, has been how many books featuring diverse main characters are written by white authors. That hurt because, in the fake world in my head, I had assumed that the increase in books featuring diverse characters, that I was seeing and reading each year, also meant more diverse authors were getting published. This has never been true, and while the information was right there for me to find, I naively believed otherwise for far too long.

I’ve noticed the own voices dilemma in my own reading and book talking as I’ve started to make virtual book talk videos, focusing on own-voices titles. So many books I recommend regularly or put on displays–Bad Babysitters, Sanity and Tallulah, Zoey and Sassafras, Molly Lou Melon, Lola and Leo, Jabari, Emma on the Air, Katie Woo, and so many more–are all by white authors. Some have connections to the community they write about–the author of Emma on the Air is married to a man from the Dominican Republic and has two mixed children–but it isn’t the same.

I need to do more research when selecting books to read, and make more of an effort to read those books actually written by own voices authors. The other books can be good too, but the own voices books need to take priority.

Next Steps:

  • Prioritize–in reading, book talking, and dispalying–books by diverse authors featuring kids that look like them.
  • Increase the amount of books read by own voices authors to at least 25% by the end of 2020.
  • Increase the amount of books featuring LGBT characters to at least 8%.

Final Thoughts

Overall, these numbers weren’t as bad as I expected but also weren’t as good as I secretly hoped.

I’m interested to revisit this at the end of the year and see where these numbers end up. I like creating specific steps to move toward my goals, but I also tried to ground my goals in smaller increases because, once I go back to in-building work full time, my amount of reading overall will decrease. I can also tell that I am starting to hit a reading roadblock–I keep trying to push through, but I can already tell it is much harder for me to get through a chapter book than a faster picture book or graphic novel right now.

There are so many more elements of my reading I could examine. How does my reading breakdown over typical genre lines? How does diversity breakdown over genre lines? How about male vs. female main vs. non-binary main characters? I really didn’t dig into LGBT characters and authors as much as I could have here. This list focuses on the books I’ve read this year–can I examine what I used in storytime? What books I book talked or used in programs? All the books I’ve ever read?

This is a new process for me, and a daunting one, though necessary. How do you examine your reading? How do you keep track of what you do–and don’t–read enough of?