DIY Harry Potter Wands

We are in full Harry Potter mode in my household these days. Sophie is reading the first book and officially *obsessed.* Which of course makes my little children’s librarian heart happy.

For her 8th birthday party we did a Harry Potter theme, and we decided to make wands as gifts for each attendee. I don’t think this craft project translates well to a library program because of the use of hot glue and spray paint, but if you wanted to make them ahead of time or simply for fun then this tutorial is for you!

I became emotionally attached to these wands.

What You Need

I live in Vancouver and order take-out sushi a lot, so I had a collection of wooden chopsticks that were perfect for this craft. I picked up the spray paint at my local Michael’s. I chose it because it does all three jobs in one and dries very quickly. I got the colour Root Beer.

Step-By-Step Guide

Begin by sanding down the chopsticks so kids don’t get splinters. Make sure to get the top edge – I rounded it off a bit to be safe. If you buy a pack of chopsticks online that are already smooth you can skip this step.

Once your chopsticks are splinter free, heat up your hot glue gun and get ready to create some wand patterns. There is no right way to do this – I did zigzags, knobs, stripes, swirls, etc. I tried to make each wand unique. Do not worry about imperfections – it will all be covered by spray paint! Sophie tried her hand at wand-making too, but it requires a lot of hand-eye coordination. Be forewarned , this does use a lot of glue. I think I used about one glue stick per wand.

This is how they look with the hot glue on them.

The next step is to spray paint them. The kind I used is a paint, primer, and sealer all in one so I didn’t have to do multiple different coats. I put down a piece of cardboard to catch the mist. The more you spray the darker the coat, so you can do different variations of brown. I let these dry for about an hour just to be safe.

Once the wands are dry you can decorate! I bought a pack of gold, metallic, silver, and black sharpies at Michael’s and used them to add accent colours. Sophie and Jon enjoyed helping me make each wand special.

And that’s it! Once the sharpies dry they are good to go. At the birthday party I played Mr. Ollivander and had each kid come to my wand shop where their wand chose them. At the end of the party we used the wands to practice the spells from this spell book I printed for each child. Honestly I’m not sure who had more fun – me or the kids!

Wands ready for their wizards!

If you are looking for even more book character party ideas, don’t miss the round-up I continually update. So many great ideas to celebrate the stories in our lives.

2019 Picture Books: Grandparents

Intergenerational bonds are something special. Sometimes I have moments where I forget that all of my grandparents have died, and I’m struck with an intense sadness when that moment passes. Here are some books coming out in 2019 to help us treasure the time we have with our grandmas and grandpas.

See the other posts in my 2019 Picture Book series:

G-L-A-M-O-R-OUS (thank you, Fergie.)
Passing down stories is truly a great gift.
A fairy tale retelling featuring the three little pigs and Grandma.
Yes, THAT Paul McCartney.
Love those suspenders, Grandpa!
A much needed story – can’t wait to read this one.
A little boy comes up with a game to get his grieving grandpa to talk and it works.
An intergenerational tale of bridging cultures.
I can’t with this cover. It’s just too cute.
A take on the classic cumulative tale.
A little girl turns to her grandpa to help her answer a question she keeps getting asked.
A girl learns about her grandpa who was a farmer in West Africa.
You make lemonade?
This little girl has a whole lot of questions and grandma is there to talk.
Abuelo’s memory starts to go, but luckily he’s got a grandson to help him find his way.
Another one about memory loss.
A boy tries to recreate the best day ever.
This one looks sad.
is that they are awesome!
I bet this will be a fun one to read aloud.
Lots of love for grandpas this year.
A true story of a girl and her grandmother in Iran.

Which ones do you think will fly off your library shelves? Let me know in the comments!

The Library Services for Children Journal Club Wins an Award!

In November 2017 my colleague Christie Menzo and I launched a new project designed to get library staff serving children to read and discuss emerging research related to our field of practice. It’s called the Library Services for Children Journal Club. I’ve written recaps of each of our meetings here on Jbrary as a way to spread awareness of the club and to encourage others to join the discussion.

At the 2019 British Columbia Library Association conference held this past weekend Christie and I were given the Young Adult and Children Services Award for the creation of the LSC Journal Club which shows exceptional service in the area of children’s or teen librarianship in British Columbia. What an honour!

We were able to give a short acceptance speech and I thought I’d share it here too. I was so nervous accepting the award that I didn’t say everything I intended, but I hope the message rang true. I wrote the first paragraph and Christie wrote the second.

Thank you to the British Columbia Library Association and the Young Adult and Children’s Services division for this award. When you envision a children’s librarian you probably think of things like singing The Wheels on the Bus with a group of rambunctious toddlers or making rocket ships out of cardboard and glitter or getting a group of 100 people to shake their sillies out. Which is true! Doing those things is why I love my job so much. But we started the Library Services for Children Journal Club because we also see ourselves as researchers and analyzers of current research in any field related to child development and youth services. The “what” we do is important – those early memories of the library as a fun and welcoming space create future users many of you see later in life – but the “why” behind what we do is perhaps even more important. We want to push our field to think about those reasons critically.

We created Library Services for Children Journal Club so that we could have more space to discuss the “whys” behind the important work Children’s staff do. Lindsey and I believe that opportunities for professional development conversations and critical thinking in the field needed to be ongoing, regularized, and open to all levels of staff. Conferences like this are great AND we need to build on these conversations throughout the year so that we remain vibrant, research-informed organizations. We encourage all of you to consider beginning your own journal clubs in your own communities. Lindsey and I are happy to help you get started and you can check out our website: for more information on how to get started or join our Vancouver group. Thank you again for this fabulous award. Happy learning.

If you’ve never heard of the LSC Journal Club before and are interested in getting involved please let me know! We encourage local groups to form and you can see if there is one in your area already.

As children’s librarians we don’t always get the recognition we deserve, but dang it feels good when we do.

2019 Picture Books: Reading and Writing

I mean, OF COURSE I was going to make a thematic list about literacy! I think these books would make great CLEL Bell award nominations too. Check out these 2019 picture books about reading and writing.

See the other books in my 2019 Picture Book series:

Pizzoli’s books are always fun and great for storytime.
A poetic journey through my favourite activity.
Nothing like a little peer pressure.
Another one in this fun series.
A young girl writes a story for her cat’s alter ego, Tiger.
A biography of Carter G. Woodson
Cabrera alert! Cabrera alert!
A grade 2 girl learns how to spell and write her name.
Fooled me!
I live for these STEM fairy tale retellings. Also, HER CORNROWS.
Time to get educated, Wolf.
She’s a poet and the bully is named Big Brad Wolf. Enough said.
Look at those baby owls!
A boy writes a series of letters to the president about building a wall between him and his brother.
This one gets meta. Also belongs on my Feelings and Emotions list.
Reading really does feel like magic to a kid who doesn’t know how to read yet.
3 books in one!
I wonder if that’s one of the infamous NYC library lions.
This is just to say…I am actually interested in how this book.
A Japanese import about the wonder of a bookstore.
I think it’s about time for a Book Superhero.
Graphic novel style with a Reading Superhero!
I’ll buy anything Lucy Ruth Cummins illustrates.
Every child deserves a book to call their own.
Those posters have piqued my interest.
I have complicated feelings about Little Free Libraries. Ask me about it.
For future authors everywhere!
So many picture books misrepresent libraries. I hope this one gets it right!
Crayons have been the first writing utensil of many little ones.
Peanuts still going strong at my library.
This book may be more about worms than drawing, but drawing is great finger muscle practice.
Get to know the story behind the writing utensil.
Perfect for those of us overcoming perfectionism.
Pencil has to compete for a boy’s attention with things like video games and movies.
Books with mustaches!
Everyone has one!

Which ones are you looking forward to reading this year? Let me know in the comments!

Professional Development Books: Child Development

Welcome to Part 3 of my Professional Development Books series. Part 1 showcases books about language and literacy, while Part 2 features my go-to program planning resources.

This post is all about child development, child psychology, and brain development. In truth, I have not read all of these in full – this list is partly for my own reading inspiration. My goal is to read one a month. Anyone with me?

The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids (2014) by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl
I am a little biased about this one because firstly, if my last name didn’t give it away, my family is Danish, and secondly, this is how I raise the little one in my life. The authors spend a chapter each on the 6 elements of PARENT: Play, Authenticity, Reframing, Empathy, No Ultimatums, and Togetherness. Written in accessible language, this is a great book to read for yourself or to recommend to other caregivers.

The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids by Alexandra Lange
A design critic steps into the world of children by investigating how toys, homes, schools, playgrounds, and cities affect children’s health, values, and behaviours. Though not directly related to library service, this is a fascinating look at the other things in the world that heavily influence child development.

Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn – and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less (2003) by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff
These two authors are also on my Literacy and Language list. In this book they push against the accelerated learning trend and make the case for play (which we know is so important!). I haven’t read it yet, but they’ve got a 2017 book out called Becoming Brilliant that I also want to check out.

The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children (2016) by Alison Gopnik
I recommend all of Gopnik’s books. This is her most recent one which centers on the myth of “good parenting.” She argues that prescriptive parenting has made life worse for adults and kids, and offers advice on how to create a safe and stable environment for children which fosters exploration and experimentation. I also put it on my Language and Literacy list.

The Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs (2010) by Ellen Galinsky
Committed to providing a research-based parenting advice book, Galinsky lays out 7 critical areas where science can inform our interactions with small children. Filled with lots of suggestions that caregivers can use (or not). Highly recommend for anyone wanting to learn more about executive function.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children (2009) by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
I’ve written about my love of this book before, and it’s no wonder it’s a bestseller. Each chapter covers a different topic – praising children, sleep, race, lying, self-control, teen rebellion, and more. A quick, fun read that will get you thinking in new ways.

Nurturing Personal, Social and Emotional Development in Early Childhood: A Practical Guide to Understanding Brain Development and Young Children’s Behaviour (2018) by Debbie Garvey
Case studies and examples fill this guide which aims to inform early childhood educators about brain development and encourages them to reflect on their own practice. Some topics such as reward systems and food eating aren’t as applicable to a library setting as a home or childcare, but there’s lots of recent research to explore here.

The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive (2019) by W. Thomas Boyce
I first learned about this book through an interview with the author on NPR. Using the metaphor of the two flowers, Boyce examines what makes some children able to cope with stress, while others are more sensitive and reactive. An interesting look at how we can support kids who need it most.

The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life (2010) by Alison Gopnik
As I said, I recommend everything written by Gopnik. This one is especially relevant for those of us serving babies. Learn about memory, attachment, language acquisition, and how babies view the world.

Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps – And What We Can Do About It (2009) by Lise Eliot
A neuroscientist takes on assumptions and stereotypes about gender that start from birth. I like how she explains how small differences become amplified over time with parental reinforcement, but also how she looks at the role of genes and hormones to see what differences actually exist. Differences among us are presented as emerging, malleable characteristics rather than fixed biological traits.

The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children (2007) by David Elkind
Another push towards play as a method of learning versus the regimented educational curriculum popular in the 1990s. Elkind explores how play can help with reading, science, and math. An easy read with lots of great examples.

The Psychology of Babies: How Relationships Support Development From Birth to Two (2014) by Lynne Murray
Written by a professor of developmental psychology, I highly recommend this book to anyone doing babytime. Learn how a baby’s brain grows and changes in the first two years and how relationships can aid that development. I love the photograph sequences that illustrate main concepts so you see it in action.

The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind (2000) by Alison Gopnik, Andrew N. Meltzoff, and Patricia K. Kuhl
Revolutionary when it was published this book argues that “evolution designed us to both teach and learn.” Although the research they cite can’t be counted as groundbreaking anymore, they do a great job of using cognitive science to explain children’s brains and language development.

Screen Time: How Electronic Media – From Baby Videos to Educational Software – Affects Your Young Child (2007) by Lisa Guernsey
Despite being published in 2007, this book offers a great framework for choosing digital media that I still use today – Content, Context, and Your Child. Guernsey provides a critical look at technology for little ones but doesn’t give into the fear mongering common in the media.

The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults (2015) by Frances E. Jensen
Changes the question about teens from “What were they thinking?” to “How were they thinking?” The first four chapters provide the inside (brain) scoop on what’s happening as teens develop and were the most interesting to me. The next 12 chapters dive into specific topics such as drug and alcohol use, sleep, taking risks, mental illness, and stress. Highly recommend for those us serving teens and trying to understand them better.

The Toddler Brain: Nurture the Skills Today that Will Shape Your Child’s Tomorrow (2017) by Laura A. Jana
The premise of this book is based on the premise that the Information Age requires much different thinking abilities than the Industrial Age (which we still see in the structure of our schools). The author argues that the first five years are a prime time to develop what she calls QI Skills and she spends a chapter each describing how we can foster emotional intelligence and qualities such as curiosity, creativity, and empathy.

Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College (2011) by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang
This one contains the most science-y language and the most breadth covering from birth to teenage years. The neuroscientist authors lay out neural development, the importance of play, and how children’s brains adapt to school and other challenging environments.

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind (2011) by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
Written by a psychotherapist and a clinical professor of psychiatry, this popular book explains how a child’s developing brain affects emotions and behaviour. Written for caregivers, this book gives concrete strategies for dealing with common parental frustrations that are tied to brain development. Includes a chart showing the 12 strategies applied to different ages and stages.

Do you have a book about child development that has impacted the way you think or serve children in libraries? I would love to know about it!

2019 Picture Books: Seasons

Winter, spring, summer, or fall. All you have to do is…look up the call number.

James Taylor, anyone, anyone?

I get asked to do season specific storytimes at preschools and daycares more than any other theme. Here are some 2019 picture books about seasons to add to your library collections.

Check out the other posts in my 2019 Picture Book series:

I am a huge fan of Green’s illustrations and I think she’ll bring the seasons alive in this one.
If you haven’t seen this series by Witek, definitely check them out.
Celebrate nature and the changing of the seasons.


Celebrate the winter solstice.
The moon has a mustache! Hee hee hee hee.
A little boy helps a snowball experience all four seasons.
Since living in Vancouver I can actually relate to snow in the winter.
Admittedly, this is more about cats than winter.
This book is described as festive so it might have something to do with the holidays.
Hop on a snowplow and make your way through a snowstorm.
Set during winter, a young girl uses her imagination to combat bullying. Noting for the inclusion of two moms and Vietnamese American character.
Will winter bring what his heart desires?
Hate to break it to you, buddy…
A wonderful winter activity.
A sneaky STEM title.
Winter is full of beautiful colours.
Two best friends have different ideas of the best way to spend winter.
Part of a series – see below for fall.
A nonfiction pick about how animals handle the chilly season.


Love all of her nonfiction titles!
Part of the Taking a Walk series.
Goodbye, snowball.


A concept book about colours and counting set during autumn.
Follow an autumn leaf after it falls from its tree.
A father and son venture into the woods to find the perfect show-and-tell object.
A nonfiction pick that explains why leaves change colour.


Rotner is one of my favourite nonfiction picture book authors.
A boy learns about sea glass during a summer trip to the beach.
Part of the Taking a Walk series.
A Chinese folktale comes to life.
Loving those pool vibes in the title.

Looks like winter is having a year. Could it be because….winter is coming?! Let me know which ones you are looking forward to reading in the comments!

Professional Development Books: Program Planning

This post is Part 2 of my Professional Development Books series. Part 1 features my top choices for books about language and literacy. This week I’m sharing books that I’ve used and others have found helpful when it comes to planning library programs. Most of them focus on storytime and the early years.

Did I miss one of your favourites? Let me know in the comments! I’m especially on the look-out for books about serving school-age kids outside of a school environment.

Artsy Toddler Storytimes: A Year’s Worth of Ready-to-Go Programming (2013) by Carol Garnett Hopkins
If you provide craft or extension activities after storytime or if you need STEAM storytime ideas, this is the book for you. The author provides 52 thematic storytime programs with additional art experiences and templates attached to each one.

Baby Storytime Magic: Active Early Literacy Through Bounces, Rhymes, Tickles, and More (2014) by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker
An excellent introduction to the logistics of babytime for beginners. Includes ideas for how to engage caregivers as well as sample program outlines and information on early literacy. See also: Baby Storytime: A Beginner’s Guide.

Books in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Books Through Art, Games, Movement, Music, Playacting, and Props (2013) by Julie Dietzel-Glair
Written specifically for storytime providers, this annotated bibliography gives you 500 titles with suggested extension activities categorized by the type listed in the title above. Easy to browse. Includes lots of ideas to shake up storytime while you are reading a book. See the companion nonfiction book below.

Cooking Up a Storytime: Mix-and-Match Menus for Easy Programming (2014) by Susan Anderson-Newham
Using a cooking metaphor, the librarian author outlines the necessary ingredients for a successful storytime. Includes brief information about early literacy, language development, and Every Child Ready to Read. The chapters on incorporating math, science, and poetry are the most unique.

Diversity Programming for Digital Youth: Promoting Cultural Competence in the Children’s Library (2014) by Jamie Campbell Naidoo
This book defines cultural competence and provides a guide for planning culturally competent programs that avoid stereotypes. Also covers research on digital media and children with examples of how libraries implement digital storytimes and more. Some of the apps may be dated at this point, but it includes an annotated list of digital media that promotes cultural competence.

Folktales Aloud: Practical Advice for Playful Storytelling (2014) by Janice M. Del Negro
Provides a range of oral stories broken down by age group that can be used in storytelling programs. Includes tips for how to add dramatic elements and how to cater to different groups. Highly recommended if you want to up your oral storytelling game. Includes a list of folktales to check out.

Including Families of Children with Special Needs (2014) by Carrie Scott Banks
This book is not just about program prep but addresses making your entire library accessible and friendly to people of all ages and stages. American in context, it covers the history of inclusion, staff training resources, library design, and program content. Lots of discussion around policies and attitudes which can shape your space in a positive way.

Let’s Start the Music: Programming for Primary Grades (2014) by Amy Brown
Ready-to-go program templates for the musically motivated. Aimed at grades K – 3, I think most of these can be adapted for preschoolers too. Really useful when you’re searching for songs to play in programs and books that keep a beat.

More Storytime Magic (2016) by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker
If you are just beginning as a storytime presenter and don’t know where to start, any of the books by this duo are good to check out. They provide thematic storytime plans with book, song, and flannel story suggestions. Also see their original book, Storytime Magic, and their follow-up Multicultural Storytime Magic for more ideas.

Nonfiction in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Nonfiction Books through Movement (2016) by Julie Dietzel-Glair
This slim volume is an annotated bibliography of 200 nonfiction picture books with suggested movement activities that tie into the five early literacy practices identified in Every Child Ready to Read, second edition. Books are grouped into five larger themes to make browsing easier.

The Ramped-Up Read Aloud: What to Notice as You Turn the Page (2019) by Maria Walther
A new favourite! Though written by a teacher for teachers, this book gives 101 picture books aimed at school-age kids and how to read them in a way that connects to larger concepts such as understanding feelings, developing a growth mindset, and considering point of view. A great resource for school-age visits.

Reading Pictures Books With Children: How to Shake Yo Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See (2015) by Megan Dowd Lambert
I already wrote an entire blog post about why this book is so great and why every children’s librarian should read it and own it. It changed the way I view picture books and how I read them with kids of all ages. Can’t recommend enough!

Read! Move! Learn! Active Stories for Active Learning (2007) by Carol Totsky Hammett and Nicki Collins Geigeert
A short introduction to why movement is connected to literacy gives way to an annotated list of over 70 picture books with suggested motor skill activities. Each spread shares literacy tips, related games, and vocabulary and concept connections. Although the titles are older, a great starting point for anyone developing music and movement programs.

Roots and Wings: Affirming Culture and Preventing Bias in Early Childhood (2016) by Stacey York
Though aimed at teachers and early childhood educators, this book provides a great overview of the psychology of prejudice and racial awareness through childhood. Lots of good tidbits we can apply to our storytime programming especially when it comes to talking to kids about race.

STEP Into Storytime: Using StoryTime Effective Practice to Strengthen the Development of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds (2014) by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Kathy Fling Klatt
Child development meets storytime in this well researched guide to planning and developing storytimes. Learn how to be intentional in your choices, how to scaffold material to different ages, and how to plan mixed-age storytimes. Sample storytime outlines included.

Stories, Songs, and Stretches! Creating Playful Storytimes with Yoga and Movement (2017) by Katie Scherrer
This slim volume guides you through planning and preparing a yoga storytime for preschoolers. In addition to teaching some basic yoga moves, it includes 12 thematic storytime outlines you can print and use.

Storytimes for Everyone! Developing Young Children’s Language and Literacy (2013) by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Pamela Martin – Diaz
This book expertly explains the transition from the six skills presented in Every Child Ready to Read to the five practices presented in the second edition, and how storytime providers can incorporate those five practices. Learn how to incorporate an early literacy aside (explain, example, empower). Includes many sample storytimes for the 0 – 5 crowd that are a good jumping off point for planning your own. Also check out this duo’s 2006 book Early Literacy Storytimes @ Your Library for even more ideas.

Supercharged Storytimes: An Early literacy Planning and Assessment Guide (2016) by Kathleen Campana, J. Elizabeth Mills, and Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting
Research based! Coming from the VIEWS2 research out of the iSchool at the University of Washington, this book provides you with a planning tool to help you craft interactive and intentional storytimes that serve your community. I love the focus on reflection and assessment as a constant part of our practice. One of my storytime bibles.

Transforming Preschool Storytime: A Modern Vision and a Year of Programs (2013) by Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Melanie A. Hetrick
This is the book to read if you want to incorporate repetition in storytime or learn how to tell a story in different ways. They take 8 books and give 6 weeks worth of activities related to the story. I recommend this one to preschool teachers a lot!

What are your favourite programming planning resources? Let me know in the comments!

2019 Picture Books: Bodily Functions

Look what finally won my Instagram poll!!!!

I am not one of those children’s librarians who think snot and poop are funny. I try, friends, I really try, but it’s just not me. I can assure you that our littlest patrons don’t share my refined taste, so I’ve collected all of the 2019 picture books about bodily functions I could find. Here’s what we got.

See the other posts in my 2019 Picture Book series:

Did they have to make it look so cute?
Do you love saying the word poop? These peeps do.
That’s the fanciest toilet I’ve ever seen.
At least they are telling us!
I *could* have put this on my holiday list, but let’s be real. That’s not why kids will read this.
Looks like they are covering everything here, folks.
Okay, I admit this book is actually about asking questions, but the title will grab their interest.
Babies are kinda gross.
Does anything NOT?

Which ones do you think your library kids will love? Let me know in the comments!