Tag Archives: reading

2013: Time to Go!

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Happy New Year all!

I get excited every New Year’s because it’s a fantastic reason to look back at the year, be grateful for what we have, make plans for the future, and let go of what didn’t turn out the way we want.

2013 is the year I’m going to graduate from grad school! I’m excited for this journey to be over and can’t wait for the adventures that are about to begin. I’ve made several NY resolutions (or even better, made NY aims) to strive for in 2013. I aim to finish strong with school, let go of petty problems, push myself to create more programs and build work relationships, and to READ. I’ve enjoyed reading blog posts and Twitter feeds today of librarians resolving to read a certain number, etc. of books for 2013. I don’t have an amount I want to read but I do aim to read widely (not just read within my favorite genres) so that I’m even better prepared to do readers advisory with kids at the library. I also aim to say YES more this year: yes to opportunities, spur of the moment events, whatever comes my way. Soon I could be tied down by more than just a job-I want to make sure that I have no regrets.

Goodbye 2012, hello 2013!

Down with Censorship

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I always have interesting feelings when it comes to censorship, and reading Christine Jenkin’s chapter “Censorship: Book Challenges, Challenging Books, and Young Readers” brought up all the feelings–good and bad.

How can I have mixed feelings about censorship? First, let me assume you’re a librarian (or will be one shortly) and assure you that I’m not pro-censorship, not in the least. But Christine brings up important aspects of ordering materials where you debate in your mind a purchase of something and that you might not end up buying it because of potential issues down the road. It’s not selection in this case but censorship.

Sometimes you have these reactions without even realizing it. I order materials for our YA section (really it’s the middle school collection). My coworker orders for High School. Things that are on the cusp we’re consistently sending back and forth to each other–is this you? is it me? It’s not that we would consider not getting it but we don’t want it to go to the wrong collection–it needs to get into the hands of the people who want to read it. It’s very easy to slip into this way of thinking so you always need to second guess yourself on why you’re not buying something. I’m lucky that I have someone to bounce titles off of. When in doubt, I always order it. I can read it and if it’s wildly inappropriate it can be added to the high school section.

The second reaction I always have to censorship is my reaction to the people who want a material removed, not because they’re worried about their child but all the other children who might read it. Or who might read Harry Potter and want to practice witchcraft. Or who might read any number of things can get the wrong idea.

Now, I don’t have children but a long time ago I used to be one and I still think like one. The things that had the most influence on me growing up were my parents and friends. Not books. And I read a LOT. Do not be concerned about children reading books and getting ideas. Spend time talking to your children and passing along your opinions, morals, and ethics if that’s what’s important to you. Read books together and have conversations about how this fits into your family’s values. Or how the character does something wrong (whatever wrong may be) and what your child thinks they should have done instead. Be a parent.

Imagination is okay. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. Not only is censorship awful because who is one person to decide if something is okay for all children and teens (everyone and every family is different) but remember: the moment you tell that kid or teen that they can’t read something because it’s bad for them, they are going to try extra hard to get a hold of that book and pass it along to their friends.

Okay, rant over 🙂

48 Hours of Awesome

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It’s hard to believe that it’s Monday and I’m back at work. While on one side I’m inspired and anxious to read, read, read after attending the conference but on the flipside I’m back to catching up on everything that happened this week and the feeling of librarian togetherness just isn’t the same as being surrounded by 500+ librarians who are excited about a lot of the same things that you are.

I saw so many interesting panels, got to talk to several awesome librarians, meet and geek out at some of my favorite authors–this event is like a rock concert for librarians. I think I had only two complaints–and neither had to do with the quality of the symposium. Each panel was unique and different and at the end of the sessions on Saturday and Sunday I was beat because my mind was so excited from everything that was racing around in it.

I’m fairly certain I’ll add in another post about what I went to and links to what was talked about, but I wanted to write about the panel that impacted me the most. Surprisingly, it was the fanfiction/art one. Hearing the panelists speak brought back these memories of me when I was a teen. It was 1997 and the TV show Spy Game was on. No, not the movie but the TV show. I loved this show so much I wrote a letter (actual snail mail) to the network begging them not to cancel the show. Heartless people they were, they canceled in anyways. So I looked for people online who also loved the show and discovered people wrote stories where the two main characters got together. Yes, I was “shipping” even back then, even before I knew what it was.

The panelists talked about how teens seek how fanfiction, write it themselves, or create art because they are not ready for the world they have discovered to end. That was how I felt about Spy Game. And just like teens now, I thought I was the only person in the world who felt this way. I had completely forgotten about this time in my life until the panel brought it back to me and I’m grateful.

Before I leave this post for the day, I just want to mention the other moment that struck me from the symposium. It was in the Fickle Future panel, and two authors (Ellen Hopkins and Beth Fehlbaum) made me tear up as they described the teens who approach them after visits, when everyone else has left to tell them how their stories helped them. The authors mentioned how important it is to have stories like theirs in libraries, and to fight for them to stay, because there are so many teens like this, much more than we realize. That broke my heart a bit.

It was these moments of intense empathy and connections with my inner teen that helped remind me of why I love working with tweens and teens. The symposium reawakened my energy and enthusiasm. I’m excited to read more, create more, and engage the people who come to my library. The next symposium won’t be until 2014 in Austin, Texas. I’ll be there–will you?

New Program Jitters

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I love that my job gives me opportunities to create programs. But if I was truly honest, sometimes I would say that I hate that my job lets me create programs. Why? It’s sometimes so hard to tell what’s going to be a success or not. And when you invest yourself and put everything you have into a program, to see it fail can be hard.

Truly, creating programs is fun. The sky is the limit (but also in that limit is budget, time, availability of staff and space, and interest). You hope that turnout is going to be amazing but sometimes it just falls short. Teens (and in this I’m including the 6th through 8th graders that I mainly work with) don’t always show up. Connecting Young Adults and Libraries talks about whether or not you cancel a program just because one teen shows up. The answer? Of course you don’t because that teen made a choice to come to that program and this is your chance to start a relationship with this teen. But it’s hard in a numbers world to justify the cost and time when few teens show up.

This is why I get nervous about programs. I go to plan but I’m seized with questions: is this a good date? Will they like it? Will they come? Toddler and young grade school programs are easier–you know the parents are going to bring them. But that’s not likely to happen with teens. For teens either they’ll come on their own or their parents will force them and they’ll be unhappy while they’re there (for example, in my “Monsters, Wings, and Other Halloween Things” program where the young teen voiced his displeasure at the program, the movie we played–everything).

My new program jitters are happening again. Our new monthly program Book Blitz is going to be starting in two weeks. This book talk program will feature a different book genre each month (October’s is Scare Your Socks Off) and allow myself and our Teen Librarian to share awesome titles they might have missed. Teens will be able to share their favorites in that genre with us. Since we get asked about book discussion programs (but in my experience they never have time to all read the book) I’m hoping that this program will fill a need with teens who are looking for great books. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for teens to show up that day. And if it should fail after a couple months? I’ll dust myself off and try something new. It’s hard but you know what? It’s so absolutely worth it.

Helping Babies Learn

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Confession: I do not have kids. I’ve never taken child development classes or anything like that. I’ve babysat, worked in the kids department of my library for 4 years, watched a best friend’s child go from infant to toddler, but yet I’ve never really sat and thought about the miraculous thing that is a kid’s mind.

This week in class we’re looking at early literacy and Every Child Ready to Read. Sometimes, let’s be real, class articles can be a bit dry. These book chapters were fascinating. Here’s some amazing information from Early Literacy Storytimes @ Your Library by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz:

–Babies are born with a lot of brain cells (100 billion) but they’re not connected. What makes electrical impulses between the cells? Sensory experiences: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. (Chapter 1 page 6)

–Serotonin helps the electrical impulses and the connections. When does the brain produce higher levels of serotonin? When the baby feels loved and cared for. (Chapter 1 page 6-7)

–“Emotions boost memory by creating a release of chemicals that act as a memory fixative. When emotions are engaged, the brain is activated….High levels of stress have a deleterious effect. (Chapter 1 page 7-8)”

Honestly, it’s a little hard for me to wrap my brain around baby brains. It’s incredible to think that these tiny little things when they’re born are wired to start receiving everything we give them, and everything that we do–tell stories, talk to them, read to them, love them, hug them, care for them–will lead up to and prepare them for being ready to read.

Isn’t it simple and obvious when you think about it? That a child who is read to in a positive and fun environment will associate reading as being pleasurable instead of being a skill. That talking to your baby about what you’re doing, pointing out vocabulary, showing them words on a page, rereading the same book 57 times in a row because they say “Again!” is building skills that will lay a great foundation for getting them ready to read and creating repetition that builds memory and learning. And these are things that you can do from the moment they’re born!

As they get older you can start helping early literacy development by embracing the six early literacy skills (Chapter 1 pgs 12-14 ):

  • Print motivation-having an interest in and an enjoyment of books
  • Phonological awareness-the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words
  • Vocabulary- knowing the names of things
  • Narrative skills-ability to describe things and events and to tell stories
  • Print awareness-noticing print in the environment, how to handle a book, how to follow words on a page
  • Letter knowledge-knowing that letters are different from each other, the same letter can look different, each letter has a name and is related to specific sounds

Be ready and able to point them out during storytime or just having a conversation with a parent (or even your friends with children!). It can make a huge difference towards a child having a strong foundation towards starting to read.