Category Archives: children’s librarian boot camp

Children’s Librarian Boot Camp: Organizations and Blogs

So, I’m definitely no expert on being a Children’s Librarian. As someone who had self-identified as a Teen Librarian, there’s so much I just don’t know about the children’s side of things. In order to get myself up to speed, I thought I’d pick a different topic each week to get myself up to speed on, and of course, report back to you, dear reader.

One of the first things I decided I needed to do when I shifted focus was figure out who the heavy hitters are in the childlib world. Where else to start but the American Library Association. The mega-organization is incredibly active in so many parts of the library world, for better or worse. I’m already a member of YALSA (the teen services branch) and PLA (for public librarians). YALSA has so many cool resources for teen and tween librarians — from webinars to booklists to blogs. I wanted to know what kinds of resources the Association for Library Services to Children offered, so off I trotted to their website. It turns out, they offer a lot of the same stuff for the tiny folks! Obviously, one of their biggest attention grabbers is the fact that they award the Newbery and Caldecott awards, but they compile tons of other lists and awards, too! They have a blog (well, I mean, who doesn’t!), which features upcoming trainings, reports from committees, ideas, and comments on trends. They also sponsor campaigns and research initiatives (remember my last post about Every Child Ready to Read?). There’s obviously a lot going on there, which isn’t surprising, when you consider how many children’s librarians and educators there are out there.

So, ALA and it’s many helpful divisions have got a lot of the theoretical parts of children’s librarian-ing down. But I was still thirsty for some more blogs that featured front-line reports of programming and reference services to children. Obviously, one of my first stops was Pinterest. The visual pinboard site has pretty much exploded over the past year, and for good reason. It’s way more fun to browse craft projects and displays when you can see the pictures of the final products. I usually search for a theme word and then scroll through the results to find useful stuff. Sometimes I add “craft” or “preschool” or “unit” to the terms to get more specific results. Once I find someone who’s pinned awesome stuff, I follow them, so I can steal more ideas in the future.

I also found some pretty great children’s library blogs to follow:

Miss May Liberry features great felt read-along activities for Flannel Friday (this is a thing where children’s librarians feature their awesome flannels in social media on Fridays).

My Storytime Life and Library Noise don’t seem to be posting anymore, but they both have some great stuff in the archives.

Teach Preschool has awesome ideas for sensory activities, games with sneaky learning aspects, and crafts.

Read It Again! focuses on storytime plans for the 2-5 set.

Abby the Librarian is awesome, and has a little bit of everything.

Mel’s Desk is really great about explaining the WHY behind different storytime or program ideas.

Finally, Design of the Picture Book is just a really cool blog focusing on the graphic design aspects of children’s book, and is great from an art perspective.

 

I’m definitely still trying to find more blogs to read and professional development things to browse, so if you have suggestions, shoot ’em my way!

 

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Play and Whaaaa?

So, when I first started my new job as a children’s librarian, I was told that I would be helping out with something called Play and Learn. “Yay! Great!” I said out loud. “What the heck is that?!?” I thought. Boy, did I have a lot to learn back in the salad days of, um, a month ago.

It turns out Play and Learn is a program based on the concepts and ideas behind Every Child Ready to Read. ECRR is a program created by the Association for Library Services to Children and Public Library Association, and it emphasizes skills and activities that enhance pre-literacy. Reading doesn’t just start when a five year old starts reading about Dick and Jane! It starts when toddlers get to play with things that are different shapes, when they hear books read out loud by their caregivers, or when they use stampers to mash letters in to play-doh.  Being familiar with the tools of literacy and spending time with caregivers who care about reading themselves is pretty much the best training for reading you’ll ever get.

So what does that mean for play and learn? It pretty much means we get to have the most fun program ever! Each week, we start out by sitting on the story time rug with the kiddos. We usually play a game of Ants in the Pants, in which the toddlers (play and learn is directed toward 2-5 year olds) try to guess which colored pants our little ants are hiding behind. It’s a super fun activity that has all kinds of underlying concepts – colors, guessing, and rhyming. It also gives late-comers a chance to settle in.  Then we get to sing a song! We usually only read one short-ish story, and often try to include interactive elements, like acting out the motions, or singing along.  We finish up with another song. Sounds like a pretty normal (and short!) story time, right?

Well, that’s where the playing comes in! We set up a number of stations centered around a different theme. Each station encourages important developmental assets, like imagining, fine motor skills, sensory play, or building.

Toddlers and their parents can spend time hanging out, reading, playing, and interacting with other kids in a super laid back environment. It’s pretty much the coolest free thing to do this side of Toddler Time!

In the coming weeks, I’ll start chronicling some of the awesome themes, books, and stations we’ve cobbled together to make Play and Learn work! Hopefully, by putting all this down on, um, the screen, I’ll be able to do an even better job — especially since I’m in charge of Play and Learn for our winter session! Eeep!