Posted in Librarianing, professional development

SYNC 2022 is coming!

It’s been a minute since I wrote up a professional development post, so I’m excited that Sync is back and doing another year of free audiobooks for teens (and tweens) this summer. It’s simple: visit the Sync webpage on AudioFile Magazine’s website and sign up if you’re new to the program – if you’ve signed up before, they’ve got you, no worries. Sync Summer 2022 launches on April 28 with a fiction and nonfiction book; download them via the Sora app (if you’re new to the app, have your school info handy – your school, your special code if you have one) and check in every week for two new books!

The first two books for 2022 are…


Black Panther Tales from Wakanda


Four Short Stories, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Parents – I tried logging into Sora with my parent login, and it worked! Enjoy a book or two with your kids!

Librarians and educators, AudioFile Magazine is a great resource for audiobook reviews. The Curated Lists are a great starting point for anyone who’s not sure where to stick a toe into the audiobook pool, and they have suggestions for kids and teens, with searchable age levels. They have a great list on Welcoming Audiobooks for folx new to the country, which I need to keep on hand here at the library to start booktalking and promoting to my families.

In short, AudioFile Magazine – great resource, so much to explore and start recommending to your audiobook families. Sync 2022 – free audiobooks all summer long through Sora!


Posted in Librarianing, professional development, programs, Summer Reading

Summer Scares is back!

It’s time to start planning Summer Reading already – I know, right? – and there are some great themes available: there is the Oceans of Possibilities theme, and there’s the Read Beyond the Beaten Path. For those readers that like the spookier side of life, I’m very excited that the Horror Writers Association is back with Summer Scares!

I don’t use Summer Scares as the sole Summer Reading program at my library, but I do promote it to give me that little extra, to reach all my readers at the library, because I have quite a few spooky/horror fans here (including me). This year’s Summer Scares Middle Grade offerings are fantastic:

Source: RA For All, Summer Scares FAQ and Resources, 3/1/2022


I’ve only read one of the YA offerings, Clown in a Cornfield, which I LOVED (and which is getting a sequel in August!); I’m looking forward to diving into these other selections:

Source: RA For All, Summer Scares FAQ and Resources, 3/1/2022


Info and resources are available on the RA for All: Horror blog, which is updated pretty regularly by Becky Spratford, who also writes the excellent RA for All blog. These are excellent Readers Advisory blogs that you should be subscribed to; Becky Spratford has great insights and puts up plenty of links for professional development.

Posted in professional development

Guest Post: Why is fluency important to comprehension?

Hi all! I’ve got a guest post today from Alesia, from, an online education resource for K-5 educators. There are some great, free lesson plans, worksheets, and activities to be found there; I’ll be trying some of these on for size as we increase our self-directed (passive) programming. Without further ado, here’s Alesia’s article on fluency and comprehension.

Why is fluency important to comprehension?

Developing fluency and comprehension significantly helps children become proficient readers. These two skills are connected, with fluency supporting children’s comprehension of the texts they read. When teaching children how to read, a focus on fluency should be part of the program. 

What is Fluency?

Fluency is the ability to read smoothly with automaticity. Fluency makes reading sound like talking. It consists of three components: accuracy, rate, and expression. 

Accuracy is the ability to read words correctly. The more accurate readers are, the fewer mistakes they make. 

Rate is the speed or pace that words are read. Fluent readers have a consistent flow to their reading. Their reading is not filled with stops and starts. 

Expression is related to how a reader’s voice sounds. Expressive readers vary their volume, pause at appropriate places, and attend to punctuation, adding excitement or intonation to their voice. Their reading does not sound robotic or monotone. 

What is Comprehension?

Comprehension is a key component of reading. Without it, children are merely reading words on a page, with no understanding of what they mean. Think of times when you have read a paragraph or page, then had to go back and read it again because you had little understanding of what you had just read. Comprehension was missing. 

Comprehension allows readers to understand, interpret, and interact with texts. It allows readers to understand the vocabulary in books. They also bring their own prior knowledge and experience to the text in order to make connections. They make predictions and confirm or revise them as they read. Children with well-developed comprehension skills can infer while they read. They also ask questions or have “wonderings” as they progress through a book. All of these skills allow children to understand the books they read.    

How Does Fluency Affect Comprehension?

If children are struggling to solve words, their efforts become focused on decoding. Their rate of reading slows down, often becoming word-by-word or robotic-like. Expression is lacking or even absent, as they concentrate almost primarily on word solving. 

When children read fluently, they recognize words more automatically and can shift their focus to what the words mean. They are able to concentrate on what the text is saying and can interact with it, using the comprehension skills described in the section above.      

How Do I Teach Fluency?

To teach fluency, make sure you are modeling what fluent reading sounds like. Demonstrate how you pause, change your voice, and group words together so your reading is not choppy. Provide children with opportunities to demonstrate their own fluency. Beginning readers can start with one sentence that they can read smoothly. Encourage them to make their reading sound like talking. It may be helpful to record their reading so they can hear what they sound like. 

To encourage fluency, it is important that children are reading books appropriate for their level. If a book is too difficult, children will struggle to solve the words and fluency will break down. Choose “just right” books or, if fluency is the main goal of the lesson, consider using a book that is even a bit easy to read. Without the need to tackle unknown words, children can focus all their efforts on reading the book fluently. Re-reading a familiar book is another way to shift the focus to fluency.  

To support fluency, preview books and identify vocabulary that you may need to pre-teach. Anticipating challenging words and reviewing them before children begin reading will help their fluency. Sometimes fluency is even hindered by characters’ names that kids are unfamiliar with. Spotting these problems ahead of time will prevent them from stumbling throughout the book. 

Fluency also improves when children have a well-developed sight word vocabulary. We want children to recognize high-frequency words like “the,” “and,” and “it” automatically. Without a bank of known sight words, children will struggle through texts.

As we teach children to read, it is easy to become focused on word-solving strategies. However, it is important that we don’t neglect fluency, which opens the door to a deeper comprehension of texts.   


Posted in Conferences & Events, Librarianing, professional development

Signal Boost: Submit a Proposal to Host Jason Reynolds in Spring 2022

Today’s a big news day, huh? Just on the heels of my post about the Kids’ Book Awards Finalists, Every Child a Reader announced that not only is Jason Reynolds extending his term as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for an additional year, but that they are accepting proposal submissions from schools interesting in hosting an event with Mr. Reynolds! Events are likely to be held in April/May 2022, as Mr. Reynolds will be holding in-person events. The press release is here and you can read full details on the Every Child a Reader website.

If you’re not a school library, please consider getting in touch with schools nearby and collaborate with them on submitting a proposal. Other criteria, from Every Child a Reader, are as follows:

  • Audience for events should be in the 5th-12th grade range.
  • The location should have a system in place for how they will select two student interviewees in advance of the event.
  • Jason’s goal for the Ambassadorship is to visit small, underserved communities that don’t often have the opportunity to host authors.
  • Events must be private/available to students only.
  • Please complete this google form with your event proposal no later than December 1, 2021.

Good luck!

Posted in professional development

Women’s History Month: Women to Know

March is Women’s History Month, and as I’ve looked through my books, I realize I have quite a few on women in history: women like Codebreaker Elizebeth Friedman, and astronomer Vera Rubin are two real-life figures in history who are finally seeing their stories told; books like My Day with the Panye praise Haitian women for their strength, and fictional characters like Dominguita Melendez and Ruth Keller shine a spotlight on young women taking charge.

For the next couple of weeks, as we finish March, I’ll be spotlighting women to now in my review posts. Some you may know, others may be new to you. And that’s okay: it means their stories are finally being told. Now, go out and tell others about them.

In the meantime, some links to keep the Women’s History Month momentum going:

National Women’s History Museum

National Women’s History Alliance


And some activities:

Women’s History Month trading cards (Counting on Words, Teachers Pay Teachers)

Women’s History Month coloring poster and writing activity (The Constant Kindergartener, Teachers Pay Teachers)

Women’s History Month poster set (Create-Abilities, Teachers Pay Teachers) List of Women’s History Month resources


Posted in Graphic Novels, professional development

YALSA announces Great Graphics Novels for Teens!

Diamond Comics’s Bookshelf email is a great resource for anyone who loves and/or works with graphic novels. This week, they reminded me that YALSA released their Great Graphic Novels for Teens list, along with a great graphic of the Top Ten. Clicking graphic will link you directly to the article on Diamond’s Bookshelf page.

I read six out of the top 10 this year, and 36 out of the total 125. This is a solid list; really happy with it. And now that I’m seeing the Wonder Twins is up here? Ridiculously excited; I just requested it and had to restrain myself from requesting about 25 more right off the bat. For the total list, click here, and consider signing up for Diamond’s emails, if you don’t already get them. You can visit the site here and see for yourself.

Posted in professional development

Adventures in Readers Advisory: Celebrity Book Clubs

Not kidlit related, but YA crossover into adult related.

My library still has grab-and-go service, so browsing is a challenge, especially for my senior patrons who may not have online access – or may not want it! That’s been the biggest frustration voiced by many of my patrons, for kids, teens, and adults alike: they miss browsing. We’ve taken some measures where we can, like putting up a browsing table behind the pick-up request area, where patrons can see look over some books and ask to see them. One of us library staff can head over, pluck the books, and hand ’em over. I’ve managed to get a lot of kids’ books circulated this way.

Remember when everyone and their aunt or uncle had a celebrity book club? When I first got the idea to promote celeb book club picks, I figured I’d have my pick of names to show off books for. Welp, it looks like most of those have dried up in the pandemic, but I found a few mainstays: Jenna Bush Hager for the Today Show, Good Morning America, Reese Witherspoon, and the original celeb book club powerhouse, Oprah Winfrey. Luckily for me, Oprah recommends four books for February and Jenna Bush Hager’s spotlighting two this month!

Easily created in Google Slides, it’s really just a book cover, blurb, and title of the slide. Place them around pickup areas to provide a browsing opportunity that won’t lead to folx spending a lot of time in the library (we have a max number patrons allowed in at a time), yet still providing them with some new books that they can request. For those of you with tech-savvy patrons, add a QR code that will link straight to the book detail page on your website and let patrons request the book right away. I doubt I’ve got these in the building at the moment (I’m writing this from home today), because the second a new book club pick is announced, the holds blow up, but if you have any copies in your location, keep them at your circ desk, ready to hand off to anyone who wants a copy to take home then and there.

Want to do these with kidlit? Why not? Here are a few I came up with today.

I’m sure more creative friends can do something even more exciting in Canva or Publisher. Share if you do, I’d love to see!


Posted in Librarianing, professional development

Adventures in Canva: Romance Flyer

I know it’s not kidlit-related, but I made a thing and wanted to share! I’m still trying to play around with templates in Canva, so I tried my hand at a contemporary romance flyer that I can display at my little teller window at circulation. Here’s what I came up with:

I didn’t put in titles, QR codes, authors, because I want to keep it unfussy and hope it sparks conversation. If this works, I’ll give it a shot with some YA titles, some MG titles, and display them by our pick-up station, where patrons grab the books they requested. I’m trying to create opportunities for browsing in a space were we can’t browse for the moment, if that makes sense. Let me know what you think, please!

Posted in professional development

Readers Advisory Fever: PW’s and GoodReads Best Books of 2020

Although I feel like my life has been on pause since March, it’s that time again: Best Books lists are coming.

Winter, annual book lists, same thing.

Publisher’s Weekly has their lists up, and these are a big help for readers advisory (“He/she/they just want a good book, can you just suggest a good book?”) and for end of year budget money – if you haven’t gotten these into your collection, it’s a good bet you’ll want to put some money toward those now. Here’s the Best of 2020 Picture Books, Best of 2020 Middle Grade, and the Best of 2020 YA.


Next up, it’s YOUR chance to vote. GoodReads has opened up their opening round of voting for the Best Books of 2020. While it’s your chance to voice your opinion on your favorite books this year, it’s also a great chance to see what’s popular: talk these books up, and get them on your shelves. There are 20 categories here, including good ones to talk up, like Debut Novel, Comics and Graphic Novels, and popular genre fiction, like Mysteries and Thrillers, Romance, Humor, Horror, Fantasy, and Sci Fi. There are categories for Young Adult, Young Adult Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Middle Grade & Children’s, and Picture Books, so that’s a nice breakout to keep handy.

Posted in Conferences & Events, professional development

Upcoming: Latinx KidLit Book Festival

There’s a great professional development/learning opportunity coming up in December: The Latinx KidLit Book Festival is free, virtual, and takes place on December 4th and 5th!


The author list is a dream: Elizabeth Acevedo, Eric Velasquez, Francisco Stork, Gabby Rivera, Raúl the Third, and SO MANY MORE. My head is spinning. Zoraida Cordova is also attending, so I’ll be sitting here, in front of my computer, clutching my Brooklyn Brujas books and squealing.

Fill out the Librarian/Educator information form and get on this mailing list. There are also links to Educator Resources for a variety of children’s books by Latinx authors and illustrators further down on the Educator Resources pages – don’t miss these.

The panels look fantastic. I particularly want to see the one on Picture Books in the Age of Activism, and the Fantasy, Myths, and Legends also looks amazing.

Made for readers and educators alike, try to catch this festival. We need to support these authors, illustrators, and publishers!