Adventures in Booktalking

Since starting my current position as a “middle years” focused children’s librarian, I’ve spent a good chunk of time developing relationships with the Teacher Librarians at my area schools. It’s been a wonderful part of my job – all of my TLs are super friendly and open to collaboration. We’ve been developing ways we can work together throughout the year that benefit both parties. On my end, my overarching goals are to ensure that all the kids in my area have three things:

  • a public library card
  • a visit to the public library
  • a knowledge of and (hopefully!) a relationship with the public librarian (that’s me!)

One of the ways I’ve made headway on the last goal is by doing booktalking programs at the schools. In addition to promoting our collection and cultivating a love for reading, booktalking programs let the kids get to know me. They see my face, they learn my name, and we get to talk about our favourite books together. It’s been amazing, and somewhat astonishing, at how effective this program has been. Kids have been coming in and asking for the books I talked about. Some of them personally ask to speak to “Len-say.” And my hope is that when I visit them again in June to promote the Summer Reading Club, I’ll be a familiar face.


Last fall I’d definitely been feeling what Erin puts into words so well – the pressure to put on ground breaking school-age programs that I see on so many wonderful blogs. But then I realized that booktalking – though it may be considered a very basic program – is exactly what my community needs; in addition to falling in line with my library’s strategic initiatives. So I’m going with it, and I’ve been super happy with that decision.

So, what exactly did I do? Well, the first thing I did was email Abby who gave me lots of booktalking advice and shared some examples of booktalks she’d done. She has been a great role model to me in this endeavor and I highly recommend checking out her blog further.

Here are the details! I’m providing you with pretty much EVERYTHING I used because I wish I would have had something like this last year when I started to plan.

Continue reading “Adventures in Booktalking”

Thrive Thursday December Round Up!

Thrive Thursday LogoWe could not be more thrilled to host this month’s Thrive Thursday Round Up and for those of you who might be new to Thrive Thursday, here’s what it’s all about:

Thrive Thursday is an online blog hop in which participating bloggers post a description of an after school activity on their blogs the first Thursday of the month. All the participating posts are gathered into one spot in a link round-up. It is a way of sharing ideas, encouraging new techniques, and building community among children’s library staff and around the country (and fingers crossed…around the world). For more information check out the schedulePinterest board, and Facebook Group.

And now, without further ado this month’s fabulous contibutors! Storytime Steph starts us off with a super cool and simple Light Painting program for 3rd-5th graders. Ms. Kelly at the Library stopped by to tell us all about her Brushbots program which was part of her ATLAS (After School at the Library) series. She was inspired (as we all are) by Anne Clark who also sent in a couple School Age program ideas this month. Behold the third installment of her Minute-To-Win-It programs, now with even more fun games and an instructional YouTube video! As big fans of Smile we also loved Anne’s Smile Tween Book Club, especially (like the tweens…) the emoji portrait! The Thrive Thursday Queen herself shared what she’s been up to lately, including the new Winter Collection sported by her felt board table and a super awesome Gingerbread Book Character Scavenger Hunt. Awnali Mills of Librarian on the Loose (and App Reviewer Extraordinaire!) recently hosted a Diary of a Wimpy Kid Party to celebrate the release of Long Haul complete with Pin the Booger on the Finger, because she HAD to! While we all know Minecraft is where it’s at Maggie’s Minecraft Club harnesses the sheer excitement and steers the kidlets towards a common goal, complete with awesome prize buttons and bookmarks. Neato! Lindsey (being the darling that she is) reminded me that we collected a whole load of Passive Programs mostly for school agers not too long ago, including TMNT Skills Testing and scavenger hunts galore so we’re adding that to the mix.  Now it’s time for your Thrive Thursday dessert and believe me, we saved the sweetest for last! Laura from Laura’s Library Adventures recently wrote about her Sweet Snack Series and in particular making ice cream which looks like a whole bundle of delicious fun.

That’s all for December’s Thrive Thursday Round Up. Thank you to everyone who contributed and we’ll see you all around the interwebs !

Passive Programs Throw Down!

Way back when, the teachers in British Columbia were on strike for VERY GOOD REASON which led to more kids in the library than we were used to in  June and September, and the Summer Reading Club (while so much fun) didn’t quite stretch far enough. It was at this time that I learned of the magic of Passive Programs. Through colleagues near and far I began to collect these gems and have finally sat down to share them with you. The images below are from some simple but clearly very popular passive programs our friends Alicia and Christie tried out in our backyard!

Getting crafty with bookmarks!
Books can be games too! Just add kidlets.
Origami Books and Paper
Origami= Forever Awesome.

First up, a quick note about why I love Passive Programs oh-so-much:

  • Passive Programs are always running. That means the kids who can only get to you late on a Saturday or Monday-on-the-way-to-picking-up-her-brother can participate.
  • These activities provide a sneaky, yet perfect opportunity to engage with younger patrons while they’re busy honing their ninja skills (just wait!) or heading off on a scavenger hunt. Have a conversation, point to a resource or simply learn a name. It’s all gold.
  • Collection connections! With the right activity or entry point you’ve Indiana Jones’d into the pile of treasure we know (and labour over) our collection to be.
  • Finally, while I wish there was another name passive or low impact programs are just that. Minimal work up front and then fairly easy to deliver and/or maintain. Easy peasy lemon squeezy for busy librarians like you’n’me!

Continue reading “Passive Programs Throw Down!”

Family Dance Party!

This fall I started a monthly program called Family Dance Party. Inspired by the success of my Silly Songs Dance Party over the summer, this program is all about movement and music. Here’s my rationale behind the program:

  • Music programs promote our audio collection – both online streaming and Audio CDs – a part of our collection that is underused.
  • Dancing is a great form of physical activity and appeals to the kids who struggle with being still for long amounts of time. It’s important to offer programs that target multiple different ways of learning.
  • It’s intergenerational – little kids, big kids, aunts, uncles, grandparents – everyone is welcome!
  • And pretty much every single reason listed in this article: The Importance of Music for Children (I never thought I’d link to a Barnes and Noble article but they really hit the nail on the head).

The program lasts for one hour and is a combination of free dance, guided dancing, and musical games. I hold the program in our meeting room and clear everything out except for a table with books and CDs and some chairs in case an adult needs to take a rest. Here’s what we got up to – some of it is the same as my Silly Songs Dance Party, but I’ve added lots of new stuff after listening to over 50 children’s music CDs.

lets all dancelauriecaspar

Body Talk by Greg and Steve on Kids in Motion
This is a great song to begin with because it is slow paced and has the kids go through each of their body parts and warm them up.

Shake My Sillies Out by Raffi on More Singable Songs

Let’s All Dance by Will Stroet on Let’s All Dance
If you have never listened to Will Stroet’s music, stop everything and go listen. A fellow Vancouverite, he is an award-winning bilingual musician who is so flipping awesome. I love using this song because it has simple directions and it includes English, French, and Spanish.

Dance Break: Play Simon Says with Dance Moves
Be as ridiculous as possible. For example, I say things like, “Simon says do the worm” or “Simon says do the sprinkler.” I ask for a few kid volunteers to be Simon and their dance moves are usually LOL worthy.

I’m Gonna Catch You by The Laurie Berkner Band on The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band
What kid doesn’t like being chased?  This can get kind of crazy with a large group, but so far it’s been a huge hit as has everything by Laurie Berkner.

I Wanna Dance by Will Stroet on Let’s All Dance
This song goes through a series of children’s names, giving them the chance to show off their dance moves. I just shout the names of the kids at my program and give them a chance to bust a move.

Jump Up! by The Imagination Movers on For Those About to Hop
A high energy, quick song with lots of jumping and turning around.

All the Fish by Caspar Babypants on I Found You
I like this song because each animal swims a different way and we pretend to be each one. We also make the bubbles pop over our heads, though I could definitely see using this song with a bubble wand or bubble gun.


Dance Break: Musical Chairs
I always have extra songs on my playlist that I use for this game. I love playing music from the 1950s and 1960s. Some of my favourites are “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Rock Around the Clock,” and “Rockin’ Robbin.”

The Freeze by Greg and Steve on Kids in Motion
There are lots of freeze-type songs out there but this is the one I like the best. A huge shout out to Angie for exposing me to Greg and Steve!

Jump Up, Turn Around by Jim Gill on Jim Gill Sings Moving Rhymes for Modern Times
At this point it’s nice to offer a more mellow song that lets you catch your breath. This tune has simple actions so all the kids have to do is follow along.

Shaker Songs:
Time for some egg shakers! After passing out them out we do these three songs:

Shake it to the East by Kathy Reid-Naiman on Reaching for the Stars
Let’s Shake by Dan Zanes on Catch That Train!
Let’s Shake by Will Stroet on My Backyard

Free Dance:
After we have sufficiently shaked, I play a series of free dance songs. People are free to take a break if they need to or grab one of the music themed books on display. I keep dancing with the kids who are still full of energy. Here are some of my go-to songs:

I Really Love to Dance by The Laurie Berkner Band on The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band
I Love It by Eric Litwin
and Michael Levine on Rockin’ Red
Happy by Pharrell Williams on Girl
Horns to Toes by Adam Bryant and Sandra Boynton on Rhinoceros Tap
You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by The Wiggles on Hot Potatoes: The Best of the Wiggles

And that’s it! Right now the only prop I have is egg shakers, but as soon as I get scarves and rhythm sticks I will definitely be adding those into the mix.

Have you ever held a dance party at your library?  Let me know your favourite songs to play!

Celebrating International Games Day: A Games Bonanza!

Ever since I discovered Bink and Gollie I cannot get enough of the word BONANZA and I am finally working on a program which I believe deserves this title. In preparation for the upcoming International Games Day I am putting together what I hope will be a bouquet of literacy infused fun and delight! Though don’t let on to the too-school-for-cool tweens I am hoping to impress…

Cool Cat Strolling


First off, inspired by Lindsey’s song cube (which was inspired by Mel’s storytime cube) I thought I’d make a die to help us choose which game to play next. On each side will be an image representing each of these six games.

Book Characters 20 Questions: Sort of like a literary Guess Who, draw a name from a hat and the kids get 20 chances to narrow it down. Depending on your group the last guesser could draw the next name!

Rock, Paper, Scissors: We played this at ALA 2014 (as adults at conferences do) and it was a blast! Adults *cough* sorry, kids get up and battle each other and once they’re out kids keep cheering the winners on until the final battle. If you’ve got book savvy kids you could come up with trios of characters and establish the who-beats-who like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl, complete with actions of course!

Book Bingo: This was a program our library did as part of Summer Reading Club this year and it was wildly successful. In order to be the caller you must booktalk one book and then you can go on to call out the letter (B, I, N, G, O) and pick a book character out of the pile which of course adorn the awesome BINGO cards you made. Keep track of what’s called and use pennies or other chips, not dabbers. Trust us.

Would You Rather: It’s not what you’re thinking, it’s more of a choose your own adventure with characters and scenarios that kids know. C’mon! Again pull questions out of the hat like would you rather let the pigeon drive the bus or stay up late? Or if you could live in a graphic world would you rather live in Amulet or Bone? When you ask each question point to a different side of the room for each choice. Let the kids vote with their feet and then prepare for some hilarious discussions.

Eye Spy (on the cover of that book): Using either a powerpoint slide with several familiar (or new!) cover images or a real-deal book display you’ve put together play a quick game of eye spy. Super sly opportunity to booktalk while you’re playing!

Book Jenga: Last but definitely not least and quite possible the one I am most excited about.  We’re going to stack REAL BOOKS (I haven’t decided yet between paperbacks or clunky discarded coffee table books) like Jenga blocks! I will add challenges to each book (like the themed Jenga sets) with challenges like which book or movie character would you like to be friends with and as the kidlets successfully pull them out they have to answer/complete the challenge. For more awesome Jenga ideas check out Lupine Librarian‘s book themed jenga, Another Library Blog’s icebreaker jenga, or library themed Jenga from this amazing Library Games and Fun Activities board.

Because this program is still in the planning stage I cannot report on how it all went.  But I promise to update you all real soon on how it goes! In the meantime if you have any lit based kickass games for school agers please drop us a line below!


Book Character Parties: A Round Up

Fall planning, you sneaky beast, you!  The other week I was thinking about what to plan for the fall when school starts back up, so I asked my Twitter friends the following question:


And I have to say, ya’ll made it rain!  There were so many ideas and blog posts thrown my way that I had to bring them all together in some way.  But first, here’s why I think book character parties are a super awesome idea:

  • They bring the focus back to the books. I’m completely over one-off craft programs that require no creativity or innovation.
  • You can promote your collection – Read alikes, anyone? How about some non-fiction that would pair well with the book?
  • You can include literacy based activities and the kids won’t even care because it is SO FUN.
  • They draw on kid culture – What books are your kids interested in? What book won’t stay on your shelves? Start there.

So here is a round up of the amazing ideas everyone shared with me, plus some that I found on my own.

Alice in Wonderland

American Girl


Captain Underpants


Diary of a Wimpy Kid


Dr. Seuss

Fancy Nancy

Geronimo Stilton

Harry Potter

The Hobbit

The Hunger Games

I Survived

Laura Numeroff


Lunch Lady

Magic Tree House

Mo Willems

Percy Jackson

Pete the Cat


Rainbow Magic Fairies

Stars Wars: Jedi Academy and Origami Yoda

Winnie the Pooh

Other Awesome Ideas

If I’ve missed a book character party you’ve written up somewhere, please leave a comment and I will add it in to this post.  Or if you have any ideas for how to better organize the categories, let me know.

Happy fall planning!



A Tour of Library Tours!

We present a tour of tours, or more accurately a stealing all of the ideas! Lindsey and I have both taken up new job posts within the last little while and I have found myself thrown into a couple tours unawares. What did I do? I turned to the Twitter-Sphere and resident Tour Gurus (which sounds cooler when said in Canadian) Sara Bryce and Marge Loch-Wouters and their awesome coworkers at La Crosse Public Library! I have learned so much from colleagues near and far I thought it high time to share. And by share, again I mean pool all the internet genius.

May I first recommend a “tour” label search of Sara’s blog? It is so cool to read about how much work they have put into tours  Field Trip Adventures! Some of the big ticket things I have learned and incorporated into my library visits are:

  • Asking kids (no matter how young!) who owns the library and letting them know they do!
  • Showing damaged materials as a way to talk about sharing, taking turns and being respectful with library stuff.
  • Setting up stations at exciting/important spots around the library signaled by visual cues or even stickers. Eep, such fun!
  • Developing scripts not as a cop-out but as a way to create consistent, high quality tours around really cool themes no matter who is delivering them.

Next up you have to read Marge’s posts which focus more on the bigger picture stuff like identifying key messages you want your tour to target and the relationships La Crosse Public Library has cultivated with their schools.  Can I just say how amazing it would be to have Marge as a boss?! Now let’s head to LibrErin where Erin adapts Sara’s Dog’s Colorful Day tour for a daycare visit! LibrErin sang the ABC’s with her group to talk about how the books are arranged and made dog necklaces for the kidlets to collect stickers on! Continue reading “A Tour of Library Tours!”

Superhero Academy: Spring Break Program at the Library

For the past few weeks I’ve been in spring break planning mode.  Now the funny thing about this program is that I won’t actually be the one carrying it out.  I’m moving to a new branch this week, but I knew I wanted to leave the incoming librarian with an awesome program to start her off.  I’m a little sad I won’t get to see the kids’ faces as they complete their superhero training, but the upside is I have an amazing program I can pull out in the future.

I got my inspiration and activities from the many other people who’ve held a superhero program and blogged about it.  Here’s a list of resources I consulted:

So here’s what I decided on!  When kids first arrive, they will be given an OFFICIAL SUPERHERO CHECKLIST that they have to complete in order to get their OFFICIAL SUPERHERO CERTIFICATE. The five tasks they have to complete are:

1. Make a superhero mask or cuffs (or both!)


I got the template for the superhero masks from Sunflower Storytime.  For the cuffs, I collected a bunch of paper towel and toilet paper rolls and cut them down to kid-size. The plan is to have markers, crayons, and stickers out that the kids can use to decorate.  Then all you need is a hole punch and some ribbon to finish them off.

2. Bean Bag Attack


I collected empty tissue boxes, soda bottles, and an empty jug of laundry detergent (ask your co-workers – they will come through for you!), and then I decorated them with pictures of super villains.  I hope these aren’t too scary! You can stack them in any formation you like, then give kids bean bags (or squishy balls) and have them knock them down.  I anticipate this station being one of the most fun.

Continue reading “Superhero Academy: Spring Break Program at the Library”