Summer Reading Club 2015: Build It!

Our Summer Reading Club theme this year is Build It and we could not be more excited! A little tired and stressed yes, but mainly excited. What will we be building, creating and imagining? What does Summer Reading Club look like around Vancouver? We’re glad you asked!

BRIT Rocket
SRC rocket made by staff at the Britannia Branch of the Vancouver Public Library!

First up check out these sites for ideas and inspiration:

Next up, let’s get into the programs and activities that have us all geared up! (#sorrynotsorry)

Build a Story Contest

This was a Lindsey-and-Dana-over-sushi original. Coming off of last year’s Battle of the Funny Books which Lindsey developed we knew our system wide book battle had to measure up. Feeling restrained by our theme we were worried that simply gathering building books wouldn’t have the same spark. So, we decided that we wouldn’t vote for whole books but elements of a story instead such that Vancouver kids would Build a Story! Ta-da! Starting next week kids will vote (from lists we’ve created) for their favourite character, then their favourite villain, favourite setting and finally their choice ending. With these elements chosen it turns into a writing/drawing/graphic novel’ing contest where kids submit a story and stand to win a prize or have their work added to our collection. Feel free to check out our library’s website and stay tuned for more details!

Family Fort Night

There are lots of neat things going on this summer but a few we’re reeeeally pumped about. We’ve been reading about Family Fort Nights (thanks Amy and Laura) long enough to know that they’re pure awesome so when I found out our theme I swore I’d make it happen and lo and behold I will hold an after-hours Family Fort Night at my (new!) branch next week. Here’s how I’m hoping it goes: we will close the branch down and reopen for an hour on Friday night to families and kids only. Each group will choose a story to read, grab fort supplies and start building. My co-worker has a night light and sound machine which I cannot wait to try!

Paper Minecrafts

Paper Minecraft, meet the Three Little Pigs! Kids listen to contemporary versions of this favourite story, cut out and glue paper Minecraft pigs and wolves, and work together to build the pigs’ houses. Will the creeper come to help the wolf? The kids have been going nuts over this one!

paper minecrafts

Make Your Own Lego Movie

We’re going to create spectacular short films using Lego, iPads and a stop animation app. Kids will work in a team to build a great story and then strategically set up their Lego pieces to create a fantastic film. We’re providing the iPads.

We are proud to say these are just a brief smattering of the programs we’ll be involved with this summer. Please let us know what you’ll be getting up to in the comments below!

Early Literacy Messages in Action: Blog Post Round Up

This week on Jbrary we’re talking about how and why we incorporate early literacy messages in storytime.  I wrote all about my methods earlier this week, but the extra special part of this conversation is that it is happening on many other youth services blogs!  I have been so moved by everyone’s willingness to share about this topic (I may or may not have been crying while reading these posts), and I already know from comments we’ve received that this type of practical information is needed by storytime practitioners.  Please check out all these other amazing posts – it’s the Early Literacy Messages in Action Round Up!

Early Literacy Messaging Graphic

Kendra at Read Sing Play writes about how conveying early literacy messages starts right when caregivers arrive. She shares an excellent example of weaving an aside into a song transition. Main message: Be enthusiastic and engaging!

Erin at erinisinire traces her storytime planning journey over the course of the past three years. By ditching themes and focusing on the early literacy messages, her process changed dramatically. She shares examples of what she says to caregivers and links to some awesome resources.

Katie at Storytime Katie directly addresses common concerns people have about incorporating early literacy messages. She shows you how to take a formal aside and turn it into a conversational transition.  The feedback from her storytimers is testament to her genius!

Mary at Miss Mary Liberry highlights the importance of catering your early literacy messages to your audience and community.  She shares her best tips – use humour, be positive, demonstrate your genuine fascination – that help her convey these early literacy “reminders.”

Kelly at Practice Makes Perfect shows you how to “keep it simple.” She explains how after attending a workshop by guru Saroj Ghoting, she took the idea of an “empower aside” and worked it into her storytime transitions.

Lisa at Libraryland knows from being a library manager how early literacy messages in storytime factor into larger library initiatives.  By practicing her messages in her low-key baby play time, she gained the confidence to naturally weave them into storytime.

Kim at Literary Commentary shares her “stealth” method of incorporating early literacy messages and provides examples of library brochures and handouts she gives out to caregivers at storytime. She’s also got a stellar list of websites to visit for more early literacy information.

Kelly at Ms. Kelly at the Library not only created our awesome logo, but also wrote a post about the why and how she incorporates early literacy messages. She’s got some awesome examples and links to where to find more.

Brooke at Reading with Red created a Top 5 list of things she wished she knew about early literacy when she first became a librarian. Her list is the perfect combination of encouragement and practical advice for getting started with early literacy messaging.

Laura at Literacious covers the three major ways she tries to talk to her caregivers – storytime, parent/child workshops, and through their 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program. A great reminder of how we can include these early literacy goodies in all sorts of library programs.

Melody at Storytime Bandit gives four tips on how to make storytime more than entertainment by incorporating early literacy messages. Read til the end for links to favourite websites.

Mel at Mel’s Desk shares her favourite part – the message template she created! It not only tells caregivers why we do things but also how it contributes to their child’s reading development. Don’t miss the video clip of Mel in action!

Katy at That’s So Juvenile lays out her three guiding principals for using early literacy messages in babytime. She had me at her Harry Potter reference!

If you’re thinking , “I’d love to share what I do!” well it’s not too late to join! Write a post (or ask about writing a guest post!) about how or why you include early literacy messages in storytime and leave a comment with a link to your blog post. I’ll be sure to add it to this round-up.

Thank you to everyone who has participated so far!  This series is a testament to our profession.  I am so dang proud.

Early Literacy Messages in Action

Understanding and advocating for early literacy is one of the most important aspects of my job.  One of the most frequent places I can talk to caregivers about early literacy is storytime.

We often get asked where we find our early literacy messages and how we incorporate them into a storytime setting.  So this week, along with many other youth services bloggers, we will be sharing our advice and experience incorporating early literacy messages into storytime.  We bring you the Early Literacy Messages in Action Blog Tour!

Early Literacy Messaging GraphicWe’ll be posting a round-up on Friday of everyone who shares a post on this topic.  We’ll be sharing our posts on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #EarlyLitInAction.

Incorporating Early Literacy Messages Into Storytime

I don’t believe there is one right way to do this. Just like we all have our own storytime style, we all have different ways of talking to our community members. In general, my style is very relaxed, conversational, and informal.  Some people may be afraid to sound preachy or condescending, but I’ve found that when I keep the asides simple and casual this doesn’t happen. Also, if I can make the early literacy tips personal by sharing stories about my nieces and nephews that goes a step a further by helping me develop relationships with my storytimers. Here are three ways I incorporate early literacy messages in storytime.

1. In My Welcome Message

The main point I try to get across to caregivers in my welcome message is that storytime is a chance for them to bond with their child and develop a positive, loving relationship. So when they sing with their child, help them with the rhymes, and sit with them during the stories, they are making their child feel safe and loved.  When kids feel safe and loved, their brains are more open to learning.  This early literacy message works doubly to encourage caregivers to participate during storytime rather than sit on the sidelines.

2. Before or After Singing, Reading, or Rhyming

Connecting an early literacy tip to a rhyme, song, or book helps me remember to say it. I’ll often write the message down on my storytime planning sheet too.  Saroj Ghoting has a blog with a plethora of early literacy asides for specific songs and books called Storytime Share.  I try to work in at least one tip per storytime, but if I’ve got a really calm group I can often fit in more. But I’m cautious of over-burdening the caregivers with information, especially if they are new to storytime.

Here are three examples of  how I actually say early literacy tips to caregivers.


“We’re going to sing a song now about fruits and vegetables. This song has lots of great action words in it like peel, mash, shuck, pop, slice, and squeeze.  Today when you eat lunch or dinner, try using these words again or introducing new words about the foods you’re eating with your child.”


“Can everybody make their hand into a fist?  We’re going to pretend our hand is a beehive today. We’re also going to practice counting to five. Who here can count to five? Okay, here we go (say rhyme two times).  I love doing this rhyme because it helps kids develop their finger muscles which they’ll need when they learn to write. Any rhyme or song that encourages your child to separate their fingers is great for this development.”

Breathe

“We’re going to read a book called Breathe by Scott Magoon.  Before we read, let’s all practice taking a big breathe (practice breathing in and out).  How do you feel when you take a deep breathe? It makes me feel calm and happy. This book is a great way to teach kids how to calm themselves when they feel upset which we can model by breathing deeply.”

3. In 1-1 Conversations with Parents

If it feels uncomfortable to make these kind of statements in storytime, take advantage of the 15 minutes before and after storytime to interact with caregivers and kids 1-on-1. During this informal time, I’ve told many parents of toddlers that it’s okay if their child can’t sit still for an entire book – just read what you can and then move on but keep the experience positive. My messages can be more specific based on the child and sometimes the concerns of the parent.  When delivering early literacy messages becomes tied to developing relationships with my community members, it’s a double win!

Early Literacy Messages Resources

Here’s where you can find early literacy messages to use in storytime.

General Early Literacy and Childhood Development Books

  • So Much More than ABCs: The Early Phases of Reading and Writing (2013) by Judith A. Shickedanz and Molly F. Collins
  • Language Development in Early Childhood (2013) by Beverly Otto
  • Handbook of Early Literacy Research: Volume 3 (2011) Edited by Dickinson and Neuman
  • NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children (2011) by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
  • Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps – And What We Can Do About It (2010) by Lise Eliot
  • The Philosophical Baby (2010) by Alison Gopnik
  • Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs (2010) by Ellen Galinsky
  • Proust and the Squid: The Story of Science and the Reading Brain (2008) by Maryann Wolff
  • From Lullabies to Literature: Stories in the Lives of Infants and Toddlers (2008) by Jennifer Birckmayer and Anne Kennedy 
  • Growing a Reader from Birth: Your Child’s Path from Language to Literacy (2004) by Diane McGuinness
  • Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy (2003) Edited by Hall, Larson, and Marsh
  • From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development (2002) edited by Jack P. Shonkoff and Deborah A. Phillips

Would you like to join us in blogging about early literacy messages in action?  Feel free to use the blog title and logo in your post, and leave us a comment letting us know about it!

Canadian Libraries Spotlight: PEI Public Library Service

In January we put a call out for Canadian Youth Services Library content and we have been overjoyed at the response! This post is the seventh in our guest post series highlighting the amazing work being done in Canadian libraries to serve children and families. We’re going to turn it right over to our fabulous guest blogger Roseanne to introduce herself and tell you all about her Books to Go program!

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The Librarian

Hi! My name is Roseanne Gauthier, and I’m the Youth Services Librarian for the PEI Public Library Service. I’ve only been in this position for a few months – previously I was the Children’s Librarian at the Confederation Centre Library in downtown Charlottetown. I was born and raised in Prince Edward Island and consider myself unbelievably lucky to be working in my home province.

PEIPublicLibraryServicelogo_2_1

The Library System

There are 26 public libraries across Prince Edward Island, serving a population of 145, 000. The largest branch, the Confederation Centre Public Library, is located in the capital city of Charlottetown, while the other branches reach from Souris (near the Island’s eastern tip) to Tignish (near the Island’s northwestern tip). Most branches are rural libraries staffed by one person, and Confederation Centre is the only library with a full-time, dedicated children’s librarian. Traditionally, PEI was made up of small farming and fishing communities; however, increasingly Islanders are moving to areas in and around Charlottetown, and the province’s other major municipality, Summerside.

Books to Go Cornwall

The Program

A common comment from our patrons with young families is that they are too busy to spend time browsing the libraries’ shelves to find the best books to read with their children. These patrons understand the importance of reading and books, but they struggle with fitting the library into their day-to-day lives.

Mulling over this challenge, the PLS’ Literacy and Public Services Librarian, Rebecca Boulter, remembered a program she had seen at a few other libraries, including the Cape Breton Regional Library Service – picture books in a bag that could be checked out together. What if parents could rush into a library, grab a bag of high-quality picture books, check them all out in one quick transaction, and head back out the door? The PLS could save patrons time and maybe encourage them to make a few more visits to the library than they would otherwise.

Rebecca worked closely with the former Youth Services Librarian, as well as our French Services Coordinator, to come up with a list of titles, and Books to Go!/ Livres sur le pouce! was born. The program launched as a pilot project in October 2014 with 20 bags of books available at our four busiest English branches and 20 bags of books one of our French branches. Each bag contains 5 carefully selected picture books.

After a bit of slow start, Books to Go! started to take off – getting the book bags out from behind the circulation desk so patrons could help themselves was key. And although the original intent was to save parents time, it’s been fun to learn about other ways the bags are being used. Grandparents who aren’t always familiar with what’s new in children’s literature borrow them when their grandchildren are coming to visit. Families borrow them to amuse their children during errands, long waits in doctor’s offices, a sibling’s hockey practice, or on road trips. Some kids even get excited to visit the library and pick a new “surprise” bag – “I’ll try #3 this week, please!”

Although right now there are no plans to expand the Books to Go! program, it’s certainly been a great addition to our services for children. We’d recommend it to any libraries struggling to find solutions for time-strapped families on the go!

5 Tips for Youth Services Bloggers

Welcome to the world of youth services blogging.  There’s kind of a lot of us! Dana and I have been blogging here at Jbrary for over two years now, and I finally feel knowledgeable enough to write this post.  Though not the most glamorous topic, I wanted to spend some time talking about our website – how we’ve organized it, features we’ve added, what we blog about, and why we’ve made those decisions.

Blogging can be very personal, and this post is in no way meant to be a “One blog to rule them all” type of thing. We all make choices based on the reasons we blog and our personal aesthetics.  And there is certainly more than one way to do things effectively as a blogger. This post will simply explain Jbrary.

Here are five things we do in an effort to make Jbrary the best blog it can be.

1. Make it Findable

As librarians, we feel especially responsible for making our content findable.  What happens to a blog post after it’s been published? Can people still easily find it a year later? Here’s what we’ve done to make our content findable:

  • Navigation Bar: We created different tabs in our navigation bar that organize our content. These tabs have definitely changed over the past two years, but that’s just part of being a new blog and figuring your shit out.  We tried to think about the different people who use our blog and what they might want to find. One of the bigger decisions we made was to separate out our “storytime” and “school-age” programs.
    naivagtion bar 2If you click on either of these links you will see ALL of our posts for each category even further organized by age group or topic. We hope this makes it easy to browse our content and find what you’re looking for (or perhaps stumble upon something you didn’t even know you were looking for!).
  • Categories or Tags: For a long time we had a tag cloud in the sidebar, but after looking at our analytics we changed it to a list called “Categories.”  Whenever we write a post, we classify it as one of the categories on the list. These categories are the same as the ones on the actual pages you can get to using our navigation bar, we’re just providing another way in. We put it on our sidebar so that people see it when they scroll down to read our blog posts. Here’s a zoomed out view of our website with a big red arrow pointing to our Categories feature.

categories

  • Search Bar: We may be one of the few blogs left that still features a search bar, but we think it’s worth it to have in case someone doesn’t use the navigation bar and wants to find a specific post. If you have a blog and provide no other content organization, I highly recommend having a search bar!

2. Make it Connected

Blogging is only one of the social media platforms we use, and we want people to be able to easily link our social media accounts together. That’s why we feature our “Stay Connected” buttons at the top right of our sidebar.

connectedWe also link to our blog and our YouTube channel on our Twitter account where we’re most active. Again, just trying to make it easy for people to find us and connect all our different resources.

twitterLastly, we want Jbrary connected to all the other wonderful youth services folks blogging so we created a Blogroll featuring all of the active youth services blogs we know about.  Sometimes when we add a blog it sends an email to the blog owner and they learn about us too.

3. Make it Shareable

We need to give a huge shout out to Ingrid at The Magpie Librarian because she encouraged us to install a plugin that allows people to share individual posts.  Our plugin allows people to share via email, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook. This feature makes it so much easier for other people to publicize our posts, and we try to return the favour as often as we can! Here’s what it looks like:

share buttons

4. Make it Personal

Not everyone has the luxury of being able to identify themselves and where they work, so we count ourselves lucky in that regard. We love having an “About Us” page that features pictures and a short description of who we each are. This also allows people to find our individual Twitter handles.  Whenever I find new blogs, the “About Page” is one of the first places I go to (maybe I’m just nosy!) – But I love learning the blogger’s name, what city they live in, and what their job is like. And for us in particular, we are among the few children’s librarians in Canada who blog so we want to highlight that fact and make it easy for others to find us. Lastly, we included a “Contact Us” feature here so people can email us with any questions.

5. Make it Interesting

When we first started to blog, we mainly posted thematic storytime outlines. And that was great – I don’t think there is anything wrong with just posting storytime outlines. Often it can serve as an organizational tool for the blogger in his or her own professional life. But we just found ourselves wanting to write about other stuff – like what it’s like to be an auxiliary librarian or why we think it’s okay to do holiday programming.  We also love doing series and really exploring a topic in depth. I think the variety you get on our blog is one of its strengths, and its something I look for in other blogs too.

So those are the five principals that have guided the creation and development of Jbrary as a website and blog. What advice would you give to library folks looking to start a blog? Is there something you do that we didn’t mention?  Leave us a comment and let’s discuss!