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

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

Padlet is ACES for RA!

Sorry about the mid-day posts these last few days. I’ve been in branch, and too wiped to write posts the night before. I’m working from home for the rest of the week, so I’ll be back to my scheduled flurry of posts during the day.

What’s up in the land of Professional Development? Well, I’ve discovered some more fun tools, thanks to the Library Voice blog. It’s primarily for school librarians, but I love exploring school librarian tools and lessons, because they have some great ideas. Sure enough, the Library Voice’s 25 Days of Digital Tools introduced me to some wonderful new toys to play with – and short videos on how librarians use them! The one I want to holler about today is Padlet. As a colleague put it, “It’s almost like Pinterest, without the ads”. It’s a virtual online bulletin board that you and your colleagues can share and work on together, like a Google Doc. This is fantastic for those of us in Readers Advisory, because how many times have you answered the phone or had a patron come in and ask for books, and have your mind go completely blank? I read over 200 books a year, but if a parent calls me and asks for picture books about dinosaurs, my brain resets to “567.9” or “How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?” What about the days when there’s no children’s librarian available and someone calls for RA? Having a padlet of booklists gives us the chance to collaborate on booklists with our colleagues and have RA at our fingertips when answering reference and RA questions in an area we may not be as knowledgeable about.

 

It’s free to start a Padlet, and you get three boards with your free account. Here, I’ve started my three: YA, Books for Grownups, and Children and Middle Grade Booklists. Once you establish your Padlets, you can add to each of them – and that’s where the fun begins.

 

 

Here’s a glimpse of my Children and Middle Grade Padlet. I can make any number of lists within the Padlet. Think of each Padlet as a binder, and within the binder, you have sections for each of your subjects. Here, in my Children’s and Middle Grade Padlet, I can make booklists with Arts & Crafts, Fun Facts, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, and I can even deep dive into niche things like “Winter”, “Grandparents”, “First Day of School”, and more. You can add pictures, links, text, anything you want to make this resource yours.

I ran this by a few of my friends from our library system, and they loved it! So we’re collaborating on it together, and there are so many ideas, so many ways to work with this. I’m really looking forward to developing this over the next few months.

And now… I know I stick to kids and YA, but I’ll give you a sneak peek at my Romance padlet. Because I’m fairly new to Romancelandia, being a newish reader in the genre, and because everyone, EVERYONE loves Netflix’s Bridgerton, so you can expect to be getting a lot of calls and visits about readalikes (remember Downton Abbey?) I’ve started putting one together, so please forgive the patchiness – it’s in its fledgling stages.

 

Customize your background, how you want your info laid out, and share links for viewing and/or editing, all for free. Three Padlets gives you a lot of freedom to work, so you can get a real taste of it before thinking about whether you want to upgrade.

 

I haven’t started my YA one just yet – just created the list heads, so I’ll share when I have it a little more populated. You can also visit the Padlet Gallery to see other Padlets and get more ideas, and you can follow other Padlet folx! Very excited to play around and learn with this one. If you’re using Padlet, shoot me a link so I can see what you’ve got! You can find me here.

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 Librarianing

You CAN judge a book by its cover

I’ve been reading librarian Becky Spratford’s RA for All blog for a few months. She’s a horror fan – that’s how I found her blog – and she has some great Readers Advisory articles. Since RA is possibly my favorite part of librarianship, I get a lot out of her posts and I’ve started incorporating some of her ideas here. Today, I want to talk about book covers. Becky Spratford has some good posts on book covers; her Deep Dive Into Book Cover Design has links to interesting articles on book cover design, and her July post on making book covers work for us spoke to my soul.

See, I’m a merchandising fiend. When we were open to the public, I’d wander through my library shelves and put books that had great covers face-out, sure; I’d also put books face-out that needed some extra notice (read: low circ). I love making up displays with fun things to print out, and books to show off. Because in spite of the fact that we say we don’t want to judge books by their covers, we also say that a picture is worth a thousand words! A book cover is artwork, and we love to look at art. We’re largely a visual people, after all. Book covers appeal to visual learners, inviting them inside to see what lurks beneath the surface.

Even putting together my Bitmoji library, I put thought into book covers. I’m creating multiple displays, after all! Do I put new books down that the kids may not have seen, since we’re all under quarantine? Do I put down favorites that will bring them to the library website? Do I plop in a mixture of both? It’s a dance. (I ended up going with both established favorites and new books.)

Display your book covers proudly! Think of them like your own little art gallery, and invite others to enjoy them, too. You may pick up a few new readers along the way.

Posted in professional development

Good for Parents & Professional Development: How to Raise a Reader

How to Raise a Reader, by Pamela Paul & Maria Russo/Illustrations by Vera Brosgol, Lisk Feng, Monica Garwood, & Dan Yaccarino, (Sept. 2019, Workman), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1523505302

I like finding good books to recommend to parents and to add to my own professional development, so I picked up How to Raise a Reader. Written by two editors of The New York Times Book Review, How to Raise a Reader is all about inspiring parents, caregivers, and educators to promote a lifetime love of reading. Organized into four parts – Born to Read, Growing a Reader, Your Middle-Grade Reader, and A Reader for Life, with a fifth section providing book suggestions by themes and reading levels (not A-Z, more like age and grade) – this is a handy Readers’ Advisory volume to have at your fingertips, and a good suggestion to hand parents who want to work toward growing their own readers. There’s advice, tips and facts about early childhood learning, and booklists, booklists, booklists. Illustrated in full-color by popular children’s book illustrators, this is a book that will make you fall in love with reading again, too. It’s easy to read; easily skimmed if you need to look for one specific section or booklist; and filled with an upbeat, positive attitude: you can do this! You can get kids to love books!

Never overwhelming, the information is presented in easily digestible sections and fact boxes. Get yourself a desk copy to keep on hand, and consider adding this to your parenting sections. And encourage those parents when they come in, looking scared and lost. Remind them that reading kids’ books is fun, and tell them that they should never feel bad about reading along with their kids, too! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a parent confide that they “aren’t really readers”, or “haven’t picked up a book in SO long”. Kids’ books are the best way to get back into reading – let this book and your expertise be the pep talk bewildered or just plain tired caregivers need.

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books

Activists, Musicians: Biographies

If you’re looking for some biographies on musicians who worked to change the world, here’s a starter list.

 

Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters, by Michael Mahin/Illustrated by Evan Turk, (Sept. 2017, Athenum), $17.99, ISNB:  978-1481443494  It’s a good thing Muddy Waters wasn’t good at doing what he was told. Everyone from his grandma to record producers said no one wanted to hear the blues, but Muddy just kept playing, from family picnics to smoky juke joints, until he finally got to Chicago, and recorded his music.

Mahalia Jackson: Walking With Kings and Queens, by Nina Nolan/Illustrated by John Holyfield, (2015, Amistad/HarperCollins),$17.99, ISBN: 978-0-06-087944-0  Mahalia Jackson had a voice that could make you stop whatever you were doing in listen. Walking with Kings and Queens tells her story, from her New Orleans childhood to her performance at the March on Washington.

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop, by Laban Carrick Hill/Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, (Aug. 2013, Roaring Brook Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781596435407  In 1973, music changed forever when Clive Campbell – you may know him as DJ Kook Herc – created a new way of playing music to make the beats last longer, letting you dance longer. It caught on. Kids started breakdancing rather than fighting; a culture arose that influences music, style, and language to this day.

 

Nina: Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone, by Alice Brière-Haquet/Illustrated by Bruno Liance, (Dec. 2017, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 9781580898270  Singer and activist Nina Simone grew up listening to music made by “important men in powdered wigs from past centuries” and faced down systemic racism to shine as a classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop vocalist and activist.

Listen – How Pete Seeger Got America Singing, by Leda Schubert/Illustrated by Raúl Colón, (June 2017, Roaring Brook Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626722507  Folk artist Pete Seeger led by example, be it through song or through activism. He said that participation would save the human race, and encouraged it through actions: he supported unions, protested war, and marched for civil rights, and he was vocal about environmentalism.

When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon & Garfunkel, by G. Neri/Illustrated by David Litchfield,
(March 2018, Candlewick), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763681746  The story of music duo Simon & Garfunkel, told in verse, takes the artists from their childhood in Queens, New York, through their mutual love of music and discovery of ’60s social change, and through their early musical career.

 

Posted in Humor, Non-Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Letters to Books

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks, by Annie Spence, (Sept. 2017, Flatiron Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250106490

Recommended for readers 16+

Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the kind of book I wish I’d written. It’s the kind of book all book lovers kind of write in our mind, but Annie Spence is the one who took it and turned it into literary gold.

Librarians weed. It’s kind of our job. But book lovers (usually) weed, too, right? You stare at that overworked bookshelf, and you know that some of those books are visitors, whose time has come to go and visit other readers; some, like your Neil Gaiman books, your Doctor Who novels, and your Gail Carriger books, have permanent residency on those shelves. (Or is that just me?) You weed, talking to yourself as you go, letting the books – and yourself – down easy: “You were so much fun during my chick lit phase! But you know… I’m sure they’ll love you at the library, think of how many other people will love you.” Or, “Good lord, you’re still here?  You need to go; you don’t have to go to the trash, but you can’t stay here. Is Book Crossing still live?”

Annie Spence writes letters to books (and, in one story that got me a look on the bus when I seal-bark laughed out loud, a bookshelf) in her library, in her home, anywhere. She writes to Frog and Toad and tells them everything I wanted to say but never realized. She has an wonderful obsession with Jeffrey Eugenides (as a Neil Gaiman fangirl, I relate) and feels bad for a much-loved copy of The Goldfinch. Her essays are funny and touching and my friends are tired of me texting them, saying, “Wait, you have to read this part”; one friend finally texted back, “I’m requesting the book now, can you STOP?”

The second half of the book moves from her letters to brief essays – lists, really – that book lovers will adore: Excuses to Tell Your Friends So You Can Stay Home with Your Books (so guilty); Readin’ Nerdy (books about librarians, whoo hoo!); Blind Date: Good Books with Bad Covers (you know we all think it), and Recovery Reads: books to read after you’ve been traumatized by a previous book (looking at you, A Monster Calls).

While it isn’t a teen book, it’s easily crossed over. It’s a great book to hand to teens who may not “get” reading. This. THIS is why we read, I will tell them. (Do you hear me, Alex Awards Committee?) Dear Fahrenheit 451 is perfect for book lovers. Annie Spence is one of us. *group hug*