Tag Archives: children’s library

Book Review: The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Image from Jim Trelease's Website

The Handbook begins with a rationale for the importance of reading aloud to children, and cites statistics and case studies that show the benefits it offers to literacy, family togetherness, child development, and more.  Then, Trelease walks the reader through some practical techniques as well as beginning reading suggestions for every age and interest.

Based on his experience as a father and grandfather, and his familiarity with many anecdotes from other parents, Trelease tells us (p. 4) that there are some major advantages derived from reading aloud to [your] child:

  • Associating reading with pleasure in the child’s brain
  • Establishing background knowledge (ie, what animals live on farms, what a bulldozer looks like, what a fiddle is).
  • Building vocabulary (Children’s picture books are meant to be read to a child not by a child because their vocabulary and structure are too sophisticated.)
  • Provide a positive reading role model (YOU!)

Although I’m only about halfway done reading The Handbook, I’ve skimmed the final sections that contain a plethora of reading recommendations of every sort.  I highly recommend The Read-Aloud Handbook to parents, teachers, librarians, and any other professional that works with children.

Here’s a link to the author Jim Trelease’s home page that contains book lists, lecture downloads, and excerpts/major points from every chapter of his book.

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Knuffle Bunny Free – My First Storytime

In honor of the recent publication of the third (and final) installment of the Knuffle Bunny series by Mo Willems, I decided to do a Knuffle-centric storytime for my October program at the library.  The program was advertised for 4 to 7 year olds, but some toddler siblings tagged along with their moms.

Here’s a rundown of the activities:

  • Knuffle Bunny – A Cautionary Tale – DVD narrated by the author & his daughter
  • Teddy bear toss with music & dance (kids brought their teddies)
  • Knuffle Bunny Too – A Tale of Mistaken Identity – read aloud
  • A look at the map – where does Knuffle Bunny travel to?
  • Knuffle Bunny Free – An Unexpected Diversion – read aloud
  • Craft – Make a Mo Willems-style picture of your family

It was my first storytime at the library, and I was nervous.  The storytime was a bit hectic, as the toddlers-in-tow made a lot of noise, but the moms kept tabs on them, luckily.  The children enjoyed the stories, it seemed.  The craft took about 5 minutes longer than I expected, and the glue was much more messy than it was when I made a sample craft (my glue stick skills are more fine-tuned I guess).  Another children’s librarian stayed in the room to observe me, and she said that the program went well and that I did a good job, especially considering the whiny toddlers.

I had a good, but nervous time, and I hope the kids enjoyed themselves.  After all, it’s all about the kids’ enjoyment and developing love of reading.

My next program will be an “Honor Our Veterans” storytime, followed by children creating thank-you cards for local hospitalized veterans.  Wish me good luck!

Webkinz Fun – My First Program!

Sorry for the delay! My itsy-bitsy netbook is still under the knife in intensive care.  Right now, it sits, gutted, on my other desk.  Because I password-protected my files originally, I am unable to access them now from the severed hard drive.  Alas, it will be more time before my digital mobility is functional again.
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This Monday was my first real library Children’s program: “Webkinz Fun.”  My supervisor gave me the great idea, as she had success with the concept in the past.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Webkinz are the newest incarnation of the Beanie Babies phenomenon.  However, Webkinz have the distinction of having an online component in which children and their parents can participate in virtual communities based on the stuffed pets that they have paid for adopted.

The program went relatively smoothly, despite the one child in the room who was determined to test out just how long his lungs would allow him to wail.  Fortunately his mother and my supervisor were both in the room, so I wasn’t faulted for his tantrum.  It was a very laid-back activity and consisted of:

  • children introducing themselves and their pets to each other
  • a game of Webkinz bingo (this was a big hit)
  • a craft where children designed a plastic name tag for their pet
  • children showing off their name tags to each other (this wasn’t quite smooth since the children were getting antsy)

All-in-all, this program felt like a success, and got a “great” rating from my supervisor, which made me very happy.  My favorite pet names were Chihuahua for a Chihuahua, Ssssss for a snake, and Flower for a dog.  How cute!

For my October program, I’ll be hosting a Knuffle Bunny fest centered around the recently-premiered Knuffle Bunny Free that hit the shelves this week.  I’ll give more updates on the program as I plan the details.

A Quiet Night at the Library

Right now, our library seems to be in the very middle of a multi-week lull in the action in the Children’s Room. The Make a Splash summer reading club ended nearly two weeks ago, but there is still a week left before procrastination-happy parents come in for last-minute summer reading books requested by the schools.

I normally work only 1pm-5pm on Fridays, but I volunteered for extra hours (and extra $), so I worked until 9pm.  From 5-9 I was on duty in the Young Adult/teen room.  It was the slowest day I’ve experienced, and the lack of teens was probably compounded by the fact that the weather outside was lovely.  During my four hours in the teen room, I probably helped only 5 teens and one elderly gentleman – much fewer than usual.

Luckily, I’d been given some projects to work on by my superiors and the other librarians.  Tonight was perfect for doing computer-heavy, involved tasks.  Here’s a sample of the few projects I’ve been doing:

1. Princess Book List.  In the Children’s Room, we’ll often get parents of preschool girls asking for princess books.  Inevitably, this happens while all of the librarians are busy with other patrons, so the princess patrons simply get referred to the Disney section.  Well, my superiors (and I) agree that it would be ideal to encourage non-Disney books, and make them easily available for the little girls that like everything to be a combination of pink, purple, and sparkly.  I finished the list today, and it should appear on the SHPL webpage next week.

2. Summer Book Weeding. This is my first assignment of this sort.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with library lingo, “weeding” is the process of assessing the frequency of use of materials in order to give/throw away anything that doesn’t earn its place on the shelf.   Today, I started the first round of weeding of the Summer Story books, just going through ones that have been on the front display shelf.  So far, it seems that less than 1/5 of the books are going into the tentative “weed” pile.

3. Journal Hunting. One of the full-time librarians got handed down an assignment from the boss, and she handed it down to me.  I started going through the School Library Journal, checking to make sure that our library has copies of all the most highly featured materials in the journal.  So far, I’ve found that we already have all but a few of the books that appear in the featured lists (this one happened to be about picture books that reinforce mathematical concepts).

Although these three projects are business-as-usual for seasoned librarians, they are all new tasks for me.  I’m excited to learn new procedures and develop familiarity with all aspects of the profession.  Additionally, I may also soon begin re-cataloging all of the audio CD collection in the Children’s Room.  We shall see….and don’t forget to enjoy the extra “quiet time” at the library in the August slow season.

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No Flying, No Tights

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Sorry I’ve been MIA for awhile from my little blog – but I do keep up with my google reader, at least.  I’ve been busy with my first annotated bibliography for my Fundamentals of Library Science summer course, and I’ve let my meager writing fall by the wayside.

My topic of research is graphic novels, and how they can be used in libraries to support literacy.  If you know of any cool websites, please write a comment about it; it would be most welcomed.

A librarian coworker highly recommended this awesome site called No Flying, No Tights, which includes great recommendations of graphic novels, based on age and genre.  I’ve explored it only a little, but so far, it looks like a great readers’ advisory (and personal reading) tool.  Tell me what you think.

Chinese Cinderella – Book Review

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Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter

by Adeline Yen Mah

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The original Cinderella story dates back to China’s Tang dynasty (618-906) Ye Xian tale.  The heroine was an unwanted stepdaughter who escaped the clutches of her evil stepmother thanks to her own hard work and perseverance.

Like Ye Xian, Adeline (her Chinese given name is Jun-ling) received no tenderness or compassion from her family; both of “their stories may be perceived as talismans against despair” (p. 197).  This autobiography follows Adeline’s personal history beginning with her birth, through her years of emotional abuse in her family’s home, to her adolescent years living as the lone one of her boarding school classmates who receives neither letters nor visitors.  As a child, she didn’t look for pity, she sought only to live unnoticed by her classmates rather than reveal the sad realities of her home life.  Yen Mah intertwines some of her native China with this retelling of her life story: the significance of the Chinese pictorial written language, how children are given names in Westernized Chinese families, and the internal tension experienced by Adeline as a speaker of both English and Chinese.

Chinese Cinderella was written for young adult readers and uses straightforward language and storytelling techniques, albeit with a somewhat formal vocabulary.  The author’s reminiscences of her unhappy childhood awake sympathy in the reader; young readers are drawn to her story, sharing in her hope of a better life as she grows up.  I highly recommend Chinese Cinderella to pre-teens, teens, and adults alike, for Yen Mah’s inspiring personality that radiates from the pages.  Personally, I enjoyed reading Yen Mah’s story thoroughly and I could hardly put it down.  I’m looking forward to reading her full biography, Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter, found in adult libraries.

For more information about Adeline Yen Mah and her great work, visit her official web page here.  There, you can find links to her books, letters from fans, biography, and more.

References:

Yen Mah, A. (1999). Chinese cinderella: the true story of an unwanted daughter. New York: Dell Laurel-Leaf.

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My First Day as a Librarian Trainee

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As I discussed with one of my coworkers (one of the summer pages) during my break today, a career in libraries must really be the right path for me: for the last few months, my professional growth has progressed more smoothly than I could have ever hoped. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve recently been very blessed with two successive library jobs, along with acceptance to an MLS program. Thanks for letting me revel in the moment!

So, today was my first day working as a Librarian Trainee (“trainee” because I’m still working on my MLS degree.) I was nervous about not having many reference skills, but my fears were put to rest by my supportive coworkers. These lovely librarians guided me gently through my first day sitting at “the big desk.”

Here’s a sampling of all the interesting interactions I had with patrons today:

-registering kids for programs (ie, “baby boogie time,” such cute titles)
-signing kids up for computer stations
-finding Captain Underpants, Cam Jansen, and army-themed books on the shelves with kids
-helping parents schedule time to borrow museum passes (we have a very lucky library!)

I enjoyed the ebb and [very busy!] flow of my short shift.  Even though some parts of the day were more busy than I could handle alone, I felt so satisfied helping so many people today – and I was lucky enough that most of the patrons were very friendly and patient with my emerging know-how.  I’m really looking forward to my next shift on Friday, and to the next few months of learning on-the-job.  Cheers to a great first day as a children’s Librarian Trainee!

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