The PLAY issue: Play, Literacy, and Youth

The PLAY issue: Play, Literacy, and Youth
the journal of the Association for
Library Service to Children
Volume 10 Number 1 Spring 2012 ISSN 1542-9806
The PLAY issue: Play, Literacy, and Youth
Sendak, Riordan, Joyce: Read More About ’Em!
Making Mentoring Work
Association for Library Service to Children
50 East Huron Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Change Service Requested
Volume 10, Number 1
Spring 2012
2 Editor’s Note
Sharon Verbeten
Play and Literacy
3 We Play Here!
Bringing the Power of Play
into Children’s Libraries
Betsy Diamant-Cohen, Tess Prendergast, Christy Estrovitz,
Carrie Banks, and Kim van der Veen
11 The Preschool Literacy And You
(PLAY) Room
Creating an Early Literacy Play Area
in Your Library
Constance Dickerson
16 A Museum in a Library?
Science, Literacy Blossom at
Children’s Library Discovery Center
Sharon Cox
18 Broward County Library
Celebrates Ten Years of the Ashley
Bryan Art Series
Eric Gómez
20 At Poseidon’s Fish Market
Winning an Author Event with Rick Riordan
Joella Peterson
23 The Forgotten Characters
of Childhood
25 Instruction, a First Aid Kit,
and Communication
The Rise of William Joyce’s
The Guardians and The Leaf Men
Stephanie Bange
Necessary Components in the
Mentoring Relationship
Meg Smith
27 Beyond Library Walls
Improving Kindergarten Readiness
in At-Risk Communities
Kim Snell
30 Newbies and Newberys
Reflections from First-Time
Newbery Honor Authors
Sandra Imdieke
37 Inside Over There!
Sendak Soars in Skokie
An Exploratory Study of
Children’s Views of Censorship
Natasha Isajlovic-Terry and Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie
The Power of Story
The Role of Bibliotherapy for the Library
James R. Allen, et. al.
22 Call for Referees
50 Children and Technology
Digital Storytelling
More than the Sum of Its Parts
Larence Wawro
53 ALSC News
63 Index to Advertisers
64 The Last Word
Elizabeth Enochs
ON THE COVER: Puppets poke out of the "P is for Purple Puppet Theatre," designed by the Burgeon Group. Photo by Jason Doiy taken at the San Francisco Public Library.
Editor’s Note
Power of Play
By Sharon Verbeten
When I was a child, I never considered that
my play time was actually teaching me
something. I was just having too much fun
to notice.
Sharon Verbeten, De Pere, Wis.
Editorial Advisory Committee
But now, as a parent and librarian, I’m well aware that every puzzle
my daughter puts together, every play dinner she serves me, and
every pulse she pretends to take are all part of one of the five vital
early literacy practices. Play is a stepping stone to learning more
about the world around her.
Christina M. Desai, Chair, Albuquerque, N.M.
Rita Dunn, Wyoming, Mich.
Africa S. Hands, Louisville, Ky.
Robin Fogle Kurz, Pendleton, S.C.
Joyce R. Laiosa, Voorheesville, N.Y.
Jean M. Stevenson, Duluth, Minn.
Mary Fellows, ALSC President, Ex Officio, Albany, N.Y.
Sharon Verbeten, Editor, Ex Officio, De Pere, Wis.
Executive Director
And, as few people could say it better, Mr. Rogers noted, “Play
gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.”
Several practitioners in this issue share with our readers how
they’ve incorporated play into their library environments, and
how children and families are responding. Each practitioner may
approach play in his or her own way, with whatever resources are
available, but the takeaway should be clear: allow children the
opportunity and freedom to play, and, to paraphrase Dr. Seuss,
“Oh, the places they’ll go!” &
Icon Denotes Peer-Reviewed
Readers will notice a new feature this issue: a star icon (pictured)
to indicate those articles that are peer-reviewed (refereed).
Aimee Strittmatter
Managing Editor
Laura Schulte-Cooper
Children and Libraries (ISSN 1542-9806) is a refereed journal published three times per year by
the American Library Association (ALA), 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611. It is the official publication of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of ALA. Subscription
price: members of ALSC, $20 per year, included in membership dues; nonmembers, $40 per year
in the U.S.; $50 in Canada, Mexico, and other countries. Back issues within one year of current
issue, $12 each. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Children and Libraries, 50 E. Huron St.,
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Chicago, IL 60611; 1-800-545-2433, press 5; fax: (312) 944-2641; e-mail: [email protected]
Statement of Purpose
Children and Libraries is the official journal of ALSC, a division of the American Library
Association. The journal primarily serves as a vehicle for continuing education of librarians
working with children, which showcases current scholarly research and practice in library service to children and spotlights significant activities and programs of the Association. (From the
journal’s “Policies and Procedures” document adopted by the ALSC board, April 2004.)
Children and Libraries (CAL) has always appealed to a wide audience, including public and school librarians but also academic
faculty and college students. Researchers who publish in CAL will
now be assured that their articles will “count” as peer-reviewed
(a double-blind process), and students may cite these articles in
their papers when required to use peer-reviewed articles. CAL also
will continue to publish interviews, feature columns, essays, ALSC
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Caldecott to Mark Anniversary
Next year, 2013, will mark the 75th anniversary of the
Randolph Caldecott Medal. Quick, without looking—do you
know what book won the 1938 medal? It was Animals of the
Bible, a Picture Book, illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop with
text selected by Helen Dean Fish.
You may not remember the book or the year, but ALSC is looking forward to honoring the longevity of the medal with a special issue of Children and Libraries, set to publish in May 2013.
It may seem like a long way off, but we're well underway with
the planning for editorial features, photos, and maybe a few
surprises. Watch the journal and our ALSC website, blog, and
Facebook page for updates as the year goes on. &
Manuscripts and letters pertaining to editorial content should be sent to Sharon Verbeten,
editor, 820 Spooner Ct., De Pere, WI 54115; (920) 339-2740; e-mail: [email protected]
Manuscripts will be sent out for review according to the journal’s established referee procedures. See, “Communications & Publications” for author guidelines. If you are
interested in serving as a volunteer referee for manuscripts submitted to CAL, contact Editor
Sharon Verbeten at [email protected] More information about the referee process is available on the Web at the above address.
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Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Special focus: play and literacy
We Play Here!
Bringing the Power of Play
into Children’s Libraries
Betsy Diamant-Cohen, Tess Prendergast, Christy
Estrovitz, Carrie Banks, and Kim van der Veen
“Play is the child’s natural medium of self-expression.”1
icture a child serving up a pretend cup of tea to her teddy
bears. Picture a child getting messy in the sandbox, this
time with a real-life friend. Picture a child pretending to
be his favorite animal and gleefully chasing his mom, roaring
all the while.
As light-hearted and whimsical these may be, while we conjure
these images of children playing, we should also consider that
play is the work of childhood. Children take play seriously, and
so should we. For children, and especially young children, play
is the process of building knowledge of the world and their
place in it. A child’s brain adapts to the environments in which
they are nurtured and in which they play.
While play may seem to be a natural part of childhood, many
children in our communities face barriers to playtime that
can have detrimental effects on their long-term health and
development. Many families living in poverty are unable to
access opportunities for their children to explore and play.
Safety concerns in some neighborhoods lead to children staying
home for long stretches of time with fewer opportunities to
learn new words, make friends, or have extended periods of
free play outdoors.
Research in this area has determined that children living
in chronic poverty tend to demonstrate lags in language,
cognitive, social, and physical development as compared to
their age peers who are not impoverished.2
Somewhat ironically, affluent children are often rushed from
one “enriching activity” to the next, with little time left for
free play. Children with disabilities have the added barrier of
multiple therapy and medical appointments that eat into time
that could otherwise be spent playing. Also, anecdotal evidence
from families suggests that environmental and social barriers
to inclusion persist in many settings.3
This article attempts to explain both the developmental
benefits of play for all children while offering concrete and
practical examples of ways that children’s librarians can
promote, provide, and support play experiences while working
with children and their families. Play is essential, and much of
Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen is a children’s programming consultant and trainer who has worked in children’s museums and public
libraries for more than thirty years. She has an MLS and a doctorate in communications design. Tess Prendergast, a children’s librarian at
Vancouver (B.C.) Public Library for fifteen years, has just begun working on her PhD in early literacy at the University of British Columbia.
Christy Estrovitz is the Early Literacy Specialist with the San Francisco Public Library and member of the Every Child Ready to Read
Oversight Committee. Carrie Banks is the librarian in charge of The Child’s Place for Children with Special Needs and Kidsmobile at the
Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library. She has been working with children with disabilities for more than thirty-five years, long before she got her BA
in Developmental Psychology or her MLS. Kim van der Veen combined her love of libraries (she was the Administrative Manager, Phoenix
[Ariz.] Public Library), and informal learning (she was Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Phoenix), to start the Burgeon Group.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
We Play Here!
In these settings, building with blocks, playing outdoors, and
creating “delicious desserts” out of sand are no longer standard
staples of preschool life. It is no wonder that more young
children are obese and exhibit signs of depression.
The passage of No Child Left Behind has created a situation in
U.S. schools in which teachers must prepare even very young
students for standardized tests, leaving less time for creative
and more playful (but still educational!) pursuits. This pressure
to perform well on standardized tests (dire consequences await
teachers and schools whose students perform poorly) also
seems to have trickled down to some segments of the early
childhood community.9
At a San Francisco Public Library Branch, a young patron plays
with a toy that measures height and asks about reading habits
too. Photo by Jason Doiy.
what we do in our work both inside and outside of the library
can support the revival of playtime in the lives of children.
What the research tells us:
A recent study reports that children age eight to eighteen
spend an average of seven hours and thirty-eight minutes in
front of at least one media screen per day.4
Less than half of American children have a playground
within walking distance of their home.5
Parents often bring work home, spending time on workrelated tasks that could be spent with their children.6
In “The Vital Role of Play in Early Childhood Education,” author
Joan Almon documents the demise of play in the United States.7
A recent New York Times article by Hilary Stout repeated her
concerns.8 These pieces present compelling evidence that
children participating in too many organized and structured
activities demonstrate diminished imagination, children under
pressure to complete homework in their earliest years of life
experience heightened stress levels, and childhood obesity is
still a major health concern because sedentary activities have
replaced active play.
For example, around the country, many preschools have
replaced free play and recess with academics, expecting children
under five to spend their time sitting in seats and memorizing
information. Schools might try to improve math test scores
by having young students take practice math tests instead of
providing the children with more developmentally appropriate
and hands-on experience with manipulatives, thereby building
the children’s concepts of quantity.
Many early childhood educators, however, recognize the
importance of cognitive skills developing in harmony with
social and emotional skills. For instance, in Maryland, early
childhood educators assess children’s skills, behaviors, and
knowledge using the Work Sampling system of the MMSR
(Maryland Model for School Readiness). These assessments
help teachers pinpoint what their students know, are able to do
on their own, and what skills are still emerging.
The focus is not just on academic learning, however; there also
is a focus on social and personal development, the arts, and
physical development. This all-encompassing definition for
school readiness, demonstrated by this particular assessment,
seems to be the exception rather than the rule, as much of the
discourse around school-readiness includes more academic
skills such as early reading, writing, and math knowledge. In this
paradigm, early learning is in serious danger of being seen as a
product, not a process, and the end result may be that children
miss out on the benefits of simply learning through play.
Scientists, psychologists, other medical professionals, and
educators say that “most of the social and intellectual skills one
needs to succeed in life and work are first developed through
childhood play.”10 In Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots
of Violence, authors Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley
discuss the lack of playful, loving connections with an adult
in the first three years of life as one factor leading to violent
behavior in adults.11
Research conducted by Stuart Brown, founder of the National
Institute of Play, showed that violent individuals all had severe
play deprivation in their childhoods. His research concluded
that when children do not play, they demonstrate social,
emotional, and cognitive narrowing. They are less able to
handle stress and experience higher rates of depression.12
Play, then, is a catalyst for positive socialization; when
children are not given the opportunity to play, the long-term
consequences can be severe.
While we understand that play has a powerful influence on
children’s development, we also are faced with the truth that
children’s play often is marginalized and undervalued in our
society. To counteract this situation, a growing movement seeks
to restore play to the lives of children. As children’s librarians,
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
We Play Here!
we believe we have a vital role to play in this restoration of play
as the prime activity of childhood.
How Babies’ Play Experiences Help Them Learn
Even in their youngest years, children benefit from play. Watch a
three-month-old child explore her environment. She is concentrating every sense on this moment. She will feel, listen, look,
smell, and most assuredly taste everything that comes her way.
Spontaneous play opportunities can abound in children's early
years, and they harness these experiences to maximize their
own learning and development. Far from needing structure and
an ever-ticking activity clock, young children benefit most from
extended opportunities to play in environments suited to their
Children with and without disabilities share in the benefits
of inclusive play. Both sets of children develop friendships
and an appreciation for diversity, increase their acceptance of
individual difference, and experience an increase in empathy
and social cognition.16 Additionally, Vygotsky emphasized the
importance of providing children with disabilities with the same
kinds of learning opportunities to advance their development
as their nondisabled peers.17
So, play is an important factor in the development of all children.
Not only does play encourage imagination, we are beginning to
understand that it also helps children develop important lifelong
skills such as emotional control, social competency, personal
resiliency, and continuing curiosity about the world.
Children’s Librarians’ Role in the Revival of Play
Play is so important that the recently revised Every Child
Ready to Read® @ your library now includes play as one of the
five elements essential to the development of early literacy
skills.18 In this way, practitioners and parents are encouraged
to utilize the rich learning opportunities that talking, singing,
Exploring the properties of objects—how they
feel and taste, what they do when shaken, how
something might change if it is wet or frozen—is the
beginning of observation and scientific exploration.
Sensory exploration—feeling different textures and
touching and holding things—is a precursor to writing.
Young children are thoroughly engrossed in the
absorption of new information. Their interactions
with people, objects, and events construct their new
knowledge. Furthermore, children are attracted to
activities that correspond to their current developmental
needs. For example, young children delight in playing
peek-a-boo as they develop the concept of object
permanence, which is the understanding that objects
continue to exist even when they are out of sight.*
Through play, they are learning about the names of
things and concepts, ways of interacting with others,
their role in the world, and they are developing their
own sense of self.
Lev Vygotsky, a Russian child psychologist and educational
pioneer, conceptualized something he called “the zone of proximal
development” in the early part of the twentieth century. This zone
ranges from what a child is able to accomplish independently all
the way to what he or she is unable to do without support from
an adult or more experienced peer. The child’s development,
assisted by others, through the zone of proximal development has
been described as “scaffolding,” or “scaffolded learning.”13
When it comes to play, children with disabilities are more like
children without disabilities than not. They experience the same
benefits and also have a difficult time finding the opportunity
to play. In fact, for children with disabilities, play is even more
important. In general, play helps the child with a disability
“express herself, develop a positive image of herself, and learn
to interact with the rest of the world.”14 It is an opportunity to
develop new social, communication, and physical skills and a
motivation to practice these skills in a “normal” environment.
These are the skills they will eventually need in school, the
community, and the workplace.15
Interaction with adults by smiling, cooing, and
imitating sounds helps develop communication skills.
*Jean Piaget, Howard E. Gruber, and J. Jacques Vonèche,
The Essential Piaget: An Interpretive Reference and Guide.
(Northvale, N.J.: J. Aronson, 1995).
reading, writing, and playing offer young children. (For more
information, visit
With the enhancements to Every Child Ready to Read @ your
library, play has now been embraced as part of the public
library’s mission to support children in their early years and their
families. Many public libraries have already begun incorporating
play into programs and spaces, and we encourage readers to gain
inspiration from these examples.
The later development of abstract processing requires first
the development of language and literacy skills. We must build
the ability to talk about, record, and recall the universe we are
discovering. The library is the center of this aspect of play. Play in
the library involves learning about the world, telling and hearing
stories, and the transition to the world of abstract learning. For the
young child, the early steps in these activities are rooted in play.
Here are some ways you may see play enacted in your libraries
(in other words, you are already supporting play!)
Playing with musical instruments gives children the
opportunity to express themselves nonverbally. Learning
what happens when a maraca is shaken or a bell is rung
encourages scientific exploration through experimentation
with cause and effect. Playing along to music strengthens
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
We Play Here!
the book aloud, instills a love of books, which can lead to
improved language and literacy skills and more positive
associations with reading in general.
More Benefits of Play for the Young Child
Language skills by talking with others during play
and looking at books.
Social skills, such as sharing while playing with toys
and patience while waiting for a turn.
Self-control, such as learning to stop through freeze
games and knowing how to “use words and not
hands” to solve an argument.
Creativity through imagination and role-playing games.
Problem-solving skills by solving puzzles and following
Understanding of symbols by using pretend play to
imagine that one object really is something else. (For
more information, visit
listening skills and fine motor coordination. You do not have
to present an entire program on music. Rather, incorporate
five minutes of musical instruments into your already
existing programs and see how much richer they become.
Participating in arts-and-crafts activities helps children build
fine motor skills while cutting, pasting, or coloring. Exposure
to a wide variety of art materials encourages creativity, and
learning how to look at art enhances visual literacy.
Using colored scarves sparks the imagination, inspires freeform body movements, provides librarians with opportunities
to talk about colors, and exposes children to unusual textures.
Play recorded music for a few minutes during a program, and
move along with the scarves.
Puppet play in storytime helps children explore ways
to communicate ideas and feelings. By using a puppet as a
mouthpiece, even very shy children can be encouraged to attempt
independent learning experiences. Puppets can illustrate new
vocabulary words, create a bond with storytime children by
giving frequent hugs or kisses (which a human librarian could
not do), and capture the attention of easily distractible children.
Baby programs encourage playful bonding between parents
and their children. Songs, rhymes, and fingerplays are
presented that can be replicated at home. Librarians use
playful rhymes and games to help children learn school
readiness skills. They model playful behavior for parents and
can talk about the importance of play.
Playing around with picturebooks, such as showing animal
illustrations in Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider and singing a
song about the sounds the animals make rather than reading
More Playful Examples from the Field
Mother Goose on the Loose®
Mother Goose on the Loose is a parent/baby program used in public
libraries throughout the United States. With nursery rhymes as the
basis, this program seamlessly integrates book reading, singing,
looking at book illustrations, playing musical instruments, reciting
rhymes, waving colored scarves, puppet play, and interacting
playfully with one’s caregiver. It intrinsically incorporates activities
that help children build self-confidence and self-regulation skills
such as sharing, taking turns, showing appreciation to others,
following directions, and receiving positive reinforcement.
San Francisco Public Library
Baby Rhyme Time
Children’s services staff members at the San Francisco Public
Library (SFPL) believe that libraries are natural gathering places
for new parents, and that the library is uniquely positioned to
offer playful programs and spaces. In response to noticing that
the greatest need in serving young children was actually serving
new parents, the literacy-based Baby Rhyme Time was expanded
by introducing a playtime segment to support the emotional and
social needs of caregivers and their babies. The pilot program at
the Mission Branch Library received instant praise and popularity.
Playtimes quickly became an integral early literacy service.
Components of a successful playtime are simple: a safe
programmable space, staff to manage books, toys, and time.
By expanding the storytime with playtime, caregivers relax
after a hurried trip, mingle with other caregivers, connect as a
community, observe other babies, and actually enjoy their child
in the library setting. New parents crave and, more importantly,
need these opportunities and outings.
Benefits of playtime include:
supporting the social and emotional needs of babies and
creating an inviting environment for exploration;
fostering new relationships; and
positioning the library as the early literacy resource for
Here Come the Toys!
Start with an attractive collection of board books and hearty
stock of bubbles. Build your program with balls, sorting toys,
discovery boxes, scarves, bells, shakers, rattles, linking toys,
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
We Play Here!
exploration tunnel, toys with mirrors,
and creative dramatic toys. Young ones
discover the world through their senses,
especially taste. Be prepared to clean the
toys before the next session. For cleaning,
use soap and warm water or Clorox Green
Works Compostable Wipes. Allow to dry
overnight, and toys are ready for the next
On a shoestring budget, simply pass
out board books, articulate how books
are a child’s first toy, turn on the tunes,
and blow bubbles. At SFPL, some staff
members incorporate a ritual by singing
an opening and closing song.
Amy Perry, SFPL children’s librarian, uses
playtimes as an informal opportunity to
get to know the community. With a warm
smile, she walks around the room and
speaks with each pair, especially new
attendees. Perry sparks a conversation
by asking open-ended questions, sharing
an observation from the storytime,
mentioning an upcoming program,
or commenting on what the child is
doing. These friendly chats cultivate a
supportive community for new parents
and welcoming environment for all. Also,
she says, when in doubt, blow bubbles
and turn on music, such as The Beatles,
Putamayo Kids’ Latin Playground, Frances
England, or any cheerful tunes. Playtimes
hold intrinsic value of providing families
with an opportunity to play, socialize, and
enjoy this special time. Friendships and
playgroups form during playtimes.
Brooklyn Public Library
Including children with disabilities in
these kinds of play opportunities is easier
than you might think: it starts with the
environment. Program spaces should
be accessible to children with physical
disabilities. Supportive chairs, such as
cube chairs, and large foam blocks for
support during floor play allow children to
be on the same level. The area should be
stimulating, but not overwhelming. Many
typically developing young children, as well
as those with autism or sensory processing
dysfunction, are easily overwhelmed by
too much sensory input. For that reason,
background noise, such as music playing
on a CD throughout the playtime, may
prove to be a barrier for some children.
ages 7–9
ages 8–12
The Morgan Love Series (written for girls,
7-9 years old) and the Alec London Series
(written for boys, 8-12 years old) are chapter
book series that provide moral lessons to aid in
character development. These series will also help
youth develop their vocabulary, English, and math skills
as they read through the stories and complete the
entertaining and educational exercises provided at the
end of each chapter and in the back of the book.
You may purchase these series through your favorite library distributor or
contact Moody Publishers customer service directly at 1-800-678-8812.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
We Play Here!
Model your acceptance of communication boards and
communication apps found on a variety of devices. And talk
about talking! At a gardening program we conducted several
years ago, Anthony (a child with autism) communicated with
picture symbols pointing to “yes,” “no,” “want,” etc. There was
also a Spanish-speaking family in this same program, so I began
a discussion about what language we use at home, which led
to the children teaching each other words in their language,
including sign language (me) and picture symbols (Anthony).
We all went home knowing new words that day. These important
inclusive conversations can take place naturally and informally
in the course of playtimes.
Vancouver Public Library
In a partnership program targeted to children with speechlanguage delays, facilitators have witnessed previously silent
children burst into speech and action while they reinvent
segments of the story they have just learned with toys and other
props (such as felt board stories).
Two children collaborate to play their own invented music on the
Magic Music Box in Vancouver (Wash.) Community Library.
The Child’s Place for Children with Special Needs at the Brooklyn
Public Library hosts inclusive playtimes. The toys and learning
materials make up another essential element of inclusive play.
They should appeal to multiple senses. For example, alphabet
blocks with Braille are both visually and tactilely appealing. Try
to have multiple varieties of the same toy: wooden trains, Lego
trains, and remote-control trains will accommodate children
with a wide range of physical and intellectual abilities.
There should be activities for children with divergent abilities.
For example, puzzles with large knobs and texture appeal to
young children, children with physical disabilities, children
with developmental delays, and children who are blind.
Smaller, more complex puzzles may prove attractive to children
engaging in social play, older children, strong mathematical
learners, and some children on the autism spectrum.
Finally, the materials in your collections, whether they are toys
or literature, must reflect the children you work with. Dolls
reflecting the variety of heritages seen in your community are
important, as are dolls that use wheelchairs, mobility canes,
hearing aids, and assistive animals. Toys designed for children
with disabilities, and commercially available ones, should both
be part of your collections and available to all children. The
National Lekotek Center ( is a good resource
for information on adaptive toys.
Playtime Tips
Inclusive play depends on communication in all its forms. Children
may use speech, sign language, picture symbols, or computergenerated speech, so you should normalize these communication
modalities. Have a set of picture symbols for basic words and learn
some basic signs. Twenty or so words will get you started.
Unhindered by any structure or routine, children are free to
explore story elements in ways that make sense to them, and they
are able to use multi-sensory avenues to experience the story. As
children with disabilities and children without disabilities are more
alike than different, we believe that these same opportunities for
language and literacy learning during playtime after storytime
can easily be made available for all children.
Playtime Tips
After storytime, leave out your props, puppets, and felt board
stories and invite children to play with them, move them
around, talk about them, talk to them, talk to others, and
reenact the stories they have just heard or invent totally new
ones. This simple addition to already existing programs takes a
bit of extra time; it’s best to stay in the room to facilitate the play
and be on hand to talk to parents and caregivers. This added
playtime sends a message to parents that unstructured literacybased play is valuable. At the same time, librarians can model
and encourage this kind of literacy play at home by drawing
attention to story elements that can easily be reenacted with
toys of all kinds. For example, it is easy to act out various
versions of Nicola Smee’s wonderful Clip Clop with just a
handful of stuffed animals, with either the child or adult playing
the part of the horse. Provide picture books that encourage
playful reenactments, and let young imaginations soar.
Other Examples
Vancouver (Wash.) Community Library opened the largest
early literacy space in the nation in July 2011. In more than
4,500 square feet, zones are designed to meet state standards
in early learning while enticing parents to play with their
children. Filled with library materials and prompts for playing,
singing, reading, and talking, more than twenty sculptures
and activity pods fill five unique zones. From the River Zone
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
We Play Here!
Finn, Isobel. The Very Lazy Ladybug. Illus. by Jack Tickle.
Scholastic, 2001. 32p.
Twenty-Five Playful Picturebooks
These books have been selected because of the ease
in which they can be adapted to open-ended play
scenarios. For example, many can be acted out with a few
stuffed toys or household items. Others have elements that
can easily be incorporated into dramatic or fantasy play.
Encourage children to adapt the story they know to create
their own unique interpretations together. Your own library
shelves are filled with many more playful picture books!
Allen, Pamela. Who Sank the Boat? Illus. by the author.
Coward-McCann, 1983. 32p.
Beaumont, Karen. Move Over, Rover. Illus. by Jane Dyer.
Harcourt, 2006. 40p.
Bloom, Suzanne. The Bus for Us. Illus. by the author. Boyds
Mills, 2001. 32p.
Brett, Jan. The Mitten: A Ukrainian Folktale. Illus. by the
author. Putnam, 1989. 32p.
Burningham, John. Mr. Gumpy’s Outing. Illus. by the
author. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970. 32p.
Campbell, Rod. Dear Zoo. Illus. by the author. Four Winds,
1982. 18p.
Christelow, Eileen. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the
Bed. Illus. by the author. Clarion, 1989. 32p.
Dodd, Emma. Dog’s Colorful Day: A Messy Story about
Colors and Counting. Illus. by the author. Dutton, 2001. 32p.
Dunbar, Polly. Penguin. Illus. by the author. Candlewick,
2007. 40p.
Faulkner, Keith. The Wide-Mouthed Frog: A Pop-Up Book.
Illus. by Jonathan Lambert. Dial, 1996. 16p.
Feiffer, Jules. Bark, George. Illus. by
HarperCollins, 1999. 32p.
Hacohen, Dean. Tuck Me In! Illus. by Sherry Scharschmidt.
Candlewick, 2010. 40p.
Harris, Robie H. Maybe a Bear Ate It! Illus. by Michael
Emberley. Orchard, 2008. 40p.
Hort, Lenny. The Seals on the Bus. Illus. by G. Brian Karas.
Henry Holt, 2000. 32p.
Lillegard, Dee. Sitting in My Box. Illus. by Jon Agee. Marshall
Cavendish, 2010. 32p.
Litwin, Eric. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. Illus. by
James Dean. HarperCollins, 2010. 40p.
Numeroff, Laura Joffe. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Illus.
by Felicia Bond. Harper & Row, 1985. 32p.
Rosen, Michael. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Illus. by
Helen Oxenbury. Margaret K. McElderry, 1989. 40p.
Slobodkina, Esphyr. Caps for Sale; A Tale of a Peddler,
Some Monkeys & Their Monkey Business. Illus. by the
author. W. R. Scott, 1947. 42p.
Smee, Nicola. Clip-Clop. Illus. by the author. Boxer, 2006. 28p.
Taylor, Thomas. Little Mouse and the Big Cupcake. Illus. by
Jill Barton. Boxer, 2010. 32p.
Waddell, Martin. Owl Babies. Illus. by Patrick Benson.
Candlewick, 1992. 32p.
Williams, Sue. I Went Walking. Illus. by Julie Vivas. Harcourt,
1990. 32p.
Wood, Audrey. The Napping House. Illus. by Don Wood.
Harcourt, 1984. 32p.
first and best teachers, each village provides opportunities for
children with their caregivers to read, play, and learn together
in a literacy-rich environment. In addition to the physical
space, regularly scheduled learning parties for caregivers and
their children are led by librarians.
to the Land of Imagination, the Light Tower Zone, and the
Mechanical Artworks, more than half of the activities and toys
were invented for the space. Imaginative play takes center
stage with structures like a Spy Craft, Pretend Garden Café,
and Weather Wind, while children and parents alike learn to
play with brand new activities like the Magic Music Box.
The Waukegan (Ill.) Public Library has an Early Learning
Center in the Children’s Department that includes an art
studio, music hall, nature and play center, crawl space, theater,
and math and science lab (
In Maryland, Storyville is located inside two Baltimore County
Public Libraries. These interactive early literacy and learning
centers are “child-sized villages that include developmentally
appropriate books and activities” (
_about.html). Designed to provide a safe, educational, and
fun environment that supports parents’ roles as their child’s
Little Heights is a special PLAYroom in the Cleveland
Heights–University Heights (Ohio) Library that has carefully
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
We Play Here!
chosen play materials to help children “learn the art of
counting, sorting, matching, and much more.” Free drop-in
sessions are held throughout the year. This dedicated space
within the library is open to the public three days a week
The Farmington Community Library in Michigan has an
indoor percussion playground on one side of the children’s
room. Careful construction and soundproofing allow children
to experiment with sound and play a variety of percussion
instruments without disturbing other library visitors.
Laramie County Public Library in Cheyenne, Wyoming, has
a large-scale “book factory” with conveyor belts, a twentyfoot-long Bookmobile, and animation kiosks with more than
one hundred activities for young children and their families
In Ohio, the “Librainium” in Lakewood Public Library has a lifesized paper boat covered with local news, book reviews, songs,
and fishy tales for young children, families, and caregivers.
Their several hundred activities include a letter factory and
an alphabet whirligig to entice families to visit and play at the
library regularly (
Inviting and Encouraging Play
Most adults have developed the ability to focus their attention.
A young child will pay attention nearly equally to all of her
sensory inputs. Through a process referred to as sensory
integration, children learn to connect sensory inputs by source,
and then to focus their attention to specific sources of sensory
inputs. The later development of abstract processing requires
first the development of language and literacy skills.
Through experiences, we build the ability to talk about (via
multiple communication modes), record, and recall the universe
we are discovering. The library is the ideal champion and
destination for aspects of play that support the development of
language and literacy development. Play in the library involves
learning about the world, telling and hearing stories, and the
transition to the world of abstract learning. For the young child,
the early steps in these activities are rooted in play.
Several decades ago, it was unusual to find community spaces
intended for children outside of parks, schools, children’s
museums, or entertainment centers like Disney’s theme parks.
Even in public libraries, the physical world was primarily designed
for adults, with perhaps some child-sized furnishings.
More recently, library designers have looked to parks, schools,
children’s museums, and Disney World as inspiration for ways
to make their children’s areas more inviting.
But what if libraries were to reinvent the notion of play at the
library? How would library play look and feel different from play
at home, in a preschool, in a park, or in a children’s museum?
If the nature of a child’s environment has a profound impact
on how a child plays and grows, why not make a different play
environment at the library? How can libraries, in other words,
make unique learning environments that are distinct from
these other play and learning models?
How do libraries engage children and families as a critical and
necessary destination for all ages? Libraries have materials
and resources that are not available elsewhere, so how do we
integrate books, materials, and other media into how we think
about play in spaces?
One simple model is to identify toys and manipulatives that relate
to your special collections, like color, alphabet, numbers, and
shapes, and then create integrated materials and activity tabletops,
kiosks, or spaces that reflect the content of those collections.
In the Vancouver (Wash.) Community Library, a series of special
collections were identified and used as a springboard for more
than twenty large-scale play structures in five learning zones.
One structure, the Magic Music Box, is a creative, collaborative,
large-scale replica of sheet music, which allows children to
add wooden notes (balls) on a conveyor belt and have them
make music by turning the handle and having the notes fall off
onto a xylophone. It requires the collaboration of at least three
participants exploring through play how the toy works and taking
turns at different stations to make the music work. This piece
is accompanied by a collection of music books for inspiration,
to take home, to learn more, or to match patterns to hear sheet
music revealed. This toy is creative, open-ended, collaborative,
and evolves as participants learn more about how it works.
Like music itself, there are endless variations for learning about
melody, chords, harmony, and tempo. Because caregivers have
never seen it before, and are often puzzled about how it works,
children often become the explorers, showing their parents how
to play. Hidden along the side of the music box are messages
and hints for play for parents to prompt their child, evoking
Vygotsky’s concept of the proximal zone of development with
questions like, “What does a triangle sound like?” “What does a
letter sound like?” “What happens if . . . .?”19
Although an elaborate example, the same basic principle of
providing collaborative play opportunities can be successfully
applied in any library. Create a literacy café! With a simple set
of dishes, a table, and some graphics taped down (burner, grill,
etc.), you will soon see dramatic play blossom. Add in a menu of
play for parents (with suggestions for how to interact at various
ages and with a few jokes for good measure), and you’ll have
a bustle of play right next to a collection of books selected for
the experience. Soon you’ll see a child consult a “cookbook” in
dramatic play, use a book as a serving platter, and even ask a
parent to choose from board book menu of fruit shapes.
Since play is truly how children learn, the time is ripe to explore
how that play relates to collections, programs, space, and how
play can be integrated into the library.
continued on page 52
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Special focus: play and literacy
The Preschool
Literacy And You
(PLAY) Room
Creating an Early Literacy Play Area
in Your Library
Constance Dickerson
hen we learned our library had been awarded a
Museum and Library Services (LSTA) Grant from
the State Library of Ohio, it couldn’t have come at
a more opportune time. We were renovating the branch that
we’d identified as recipient for the grant to create a preschool
literacy PLAYroom, which we call the Preschool Literacy and
You (PLAY) room.
The space intended for our story room quickly morphed into
a playroom; we thought we could hold storytimes in our
meeting room or in the general children’s area by moving a few
tables back. The opportunity to outfit a designated 24-by-18foot space was a dream come true.
For those of you who do not have the good fortune of devoting a
separate room to early literacy play, it is my goal to demonstrate
how you can achieve some of the same objectives by adapting
your current space with a limited budget.
We were inspired by our earlier collaboration with Family
Connections, a local agency dedicated to parent education. We
partnered with them in 2003 to win a grant to create an early
literacy PLAYroom in a newly acquired building adjoining our
main library. As with our recent grant, the timing coincided with
a building renovation. The resulting program, Little Heights, is
extremely successful, drawing several thousand attendees per year.
Little Heights, staffed by Family Connections, operates three
times weekly. It was our desire to build on the success and the
demonstrated need in the community to open an early literacy
PLAYroom in a branch at the opposite end of our service area.
This portion of our service area borders on East Cleveland, where
three library branches have closed in the past few years, and it is
in an area of Cleveland Heights that Cleveland Heights–University
Heights School System has identified as one where children are
the least prepared in the district to attend kindergarten.
We also wanted to have a PLAYroom that could be open many
more hours than the limited hours of Little Heights. By locating
our PLAYroom adjacent to the children’s department, separated
by a half wall and in close proximity to our children’s reference
and circulation desk, we were able to create a room that would
be open and supervised during the library’s open hours.
In our grant application, we identified learning and play centers
for which we would purchase materials and produce guides
containing literacy-rich activities. These centers include a post
office, doll house, construction zone, “around town,” doctor’s
office, market, laundry/cleaning center, puppet theater, and
kitchen. We also purchased items to create a baby station
where prewalkers can enjoy soft, interactive containment while
playing with toys especially designed for babies. Additionally, we
purchased a teepee for cozy reading and play, a self-contained
Constance Dickerson is Branch Manager,
Noble Neighborhood Library, Cleveland
Heights–University Heights (Ohio) Public
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Preschool Literacy And You (PLAY) Room
Table 1. Purchases and Vendors
indoor sandbox, a magnetic dry erase wall board, and a set of
soft interlocking stepping stones.
Kinder seating and table
Vinyl loveseats
Gressco HABA® interactive tree panel
Decofoam Globulos soft seat
(caterpillars & whales)
Brodart Library Supplies
and Furnishing
Interactive wall panels
Burgeon Group
Book house displayer
Whitney Brothers
multimedia carousel
Today’s Classroom
SmartEd Services
AWE Early Literacy Stations
Indoor sandbox
Buddy Systems
Two- and three-bin
storage paloozas
Play food
Land of Nod
Puzzles and toys
Lakeshore Learning
Toys, mailbox, magnetic/dry erase
board, lily pad cushions
Kaplan Early Learning
Montessori Services
Toys for Around Town Stations,
vehicles, play mats
Service station
Doll house, dolls
Kitchen island
Puppets and puzzles
U.S. Toy/Constructive Playthings
Baby station toys/playmat
Wall mount magazine
(literature) racks
Custom word banners
Quote the Walls
Puppet theater
Washing machine
Little Colorado
In addition to our play stations, we also wanted dedicated early
literacy computer stations and listening and viewing stations to
play CDs and DVDs. The Advanced Workstation in Education
(AWE) Early Literacy Stations fit our first priority; these come
preloaded with dozens of programs devoted to development of
literacy for children aged two through eleven.
We chose monitors with touch screens so the youngest users
could activate commands. There also are mice for kids who prefer
them, and the keyboard is attractively color-coded for functions,
numbers, symbols, and letters. We continue to be impressed with
the content and child-friendliness of these stations.
For our listening and viewing needs, we opted to purchase a
Tap-It mobile SmartBoard. Not only do we have listening and
viewing options when our laptop is connected, but this is a
great resource for posting storytime rhymes and games and
prerecording program content. Because of its mobility and
maneuverability, the Tap-It was a great choice for interactive
activities, especially for children with special needs. The screen
can tilt from vertical to horizontal and be raised and lowered.
The potential for acquiring these with grant money is great,
and there are opportunities for developing special-needs
programming in the library.
Wall panels that enhance the décor of the PLAYroom double
as literacy enhancers. A six-foot tree inspires children to create
stories as they move ladybugs up and down its trunk, while a
hedgehog and rabbit peek through a hole and can be moved
back and forth around the base of the tree. Five colorful wall
panels created by Burgeon Group grace one wall at toddler level.
Spin a Story has two roller games with the theme of Baby’s
Birthday Party. In the first, the user spins for who brings it, what
type of present, what’s inside, and how the present makes baby
feel. There are four possible outcomes for each category. The
second game shows items that can be matched by color, shape, or
object, and each picture has its name printed below. A clock panel
allows children to change the hands as a mouse moves around the
perimeter in which the classic rhyme is noted. There is a panel
of different textures to feel and shapes to fit. Colored mirrors
for the looking make up another panel. The fifth panel offers a
sequencing game fitted into a house—The House that Jack Built.
Another branch library is purchasing a different set of Burgeon
panels that we can easily trade between the buildings. The
walls are further adorned with custom banners for the practices
“talking,” “playing,” “singing,” “writing,” and “reading”—the five
core principles of ALSC and the Public Library Association's
Every Child Ready to Read initiative. These banners were
inexpensive ($27 each) and had many color and font options.
As for furniture, two sectional couches, a couple of storage bins
for toys and puzzles, and two child-sized shelving units are the
constants in the room. The shelving units are small and visually
interesting. One is shaped like a house, and one is a circular,
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Preschool Literacy And You (PLAY) Room
three-tiered carousel—just right for board books. A small table
with chairs offers a place for working puzzles or serving “meals.”
After a fruitless search for benches that could hold both a
parent and a child at a child-friendly height, we commissioned
one of our buildings department staff to build benches to our
specifications. We ordered two literature holders to hold guides
to the play station activities and other literacy information. The
couches we chose are of a high-quality vinyl that we preferred
for durability as well as easy cleaning. We completed the room
with soft vinyl seating shaped like caterpillars and whales, with
curves perfect for child seats; they are light enough to be moved
easily around the room. A set of vinyl lily pads (the evolved
version of carpet squares) is perfect for storytimes and special
programs when we have a crowd to seat.
We chose the lily pads and other patterns and colors to
complement the department theme. The architects wanted to
convey a sense of entering a glen filled with forest and water
elements. Murals of Denise Fleming’s In the Small, Small Pond
(Henry Holt, 1993) and In the Tall, Tall Grass (Henry Holt, 1991),
used with permission, accent the walls leading to the Children’s
Department. The carpet, desk, chairs, and flooring are in blues
and greens, and the focal point of the department is a sevenfoot wooden tree with branches that reach eight feet in all
directions. Dappled “sunlight” shines through the canopy.
In the main areas of the department, and in outfitting the
PLAYroom, we selected natural materials as much as possible.
These selections also keep with the library’s objective of
preferring environmentally sound options.
Some of our furniture selections, books, and audiovisual materials
were covered by the library’s matching fund responsibility in
the amount of $12,375 to offset the total amount of the grant,
$35,652. We purchased board books and parenting books to
reside in the PLAYroom. We also bought a collection of Playaway
Views, self-contained video players preloaded with 90 to 120
minutes of preschool programming.
Part of our plan was that toys, play stations, and materials
including books and puppets would be rotated every few weeks
to keep the room fresh. For our purposes, it was important to
have a significant storage area nearby, and this should certainly
be a consideration in planning your own purchases.
We had continued good fortune in being selected as a local
company’s service day project, so when it came time to assemble
and unpack toys, we had many extra hands. It is always a
challenge to implement a grant project in addition to staff’s
regular responsibilities. Certainly it is an advantage to make use of
volunteers. The realization that we would need volunteer support
was apparent early in our planning. Keeping toys clean adds
significant work to our daily routine.
We also hoped that volunteers would be able to interact with
children and caregivers, giving suggestions on how to increase
literacy aspects of play, to encourage general room cleanliness, and
to create word labels. While volunteers can fill gaps in what staff are
able to do, keep in mind that recruiting, training, supervising, and
assessing volunteers adds another layer to staff responsibilities.
One of the duties we gave to volunteers was creating word
labels. With Little Heights as a model, we considered labeling
furniture and implements as they do, to enrich the environment
with letter identification and awareness. We decided to take this
one step further and include languages that are spoken in our
service area. With the help of a volunteer, staff created thematic
word rings (laminated cards held together with rings). For
example, the ring to accompany the workbench has cards for
screwdriver, hammer, wrench, nails, and saw in English, Arabic,
Spanish, Russian, French, Hebrew, and Nepali. We also plan to
Playing and learning in the PLAYroom with mail, the Tap-It, and puppets.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Preschool Literacy And You (PLAY) Room
rhymes, and songs; then we retired to the PLAYroom to make
some meals. We donned aprons, washed fruits and vegetables,
put them in pots and pans on the stove, put cookies on a sheet in
the oven, set the table, and served. Don’t have the stuff? Make a
pot of pretend soup by bringing a ladle from home, marking off a
yarn circle and asking each child to add an “ingredient” to the pot.
Start the process off with your own pantomimed contribution.
Make sure you stir after each addition, taking turns with the
children. Then, party in the soup acting out Laurie Berkner’s
recording, “I Feel Crazy, So I Jump in the Soup,” from the Victor
Vito CD. Offer parents a handout that extends the theme with
suggestions for more literacy building exercises to try at home.
A master builder at work.
create “word magnets” for each play station on the floor and
have those available to use on our magnetic wall board.
Children’s staff created an activity sheet to be used with each play
area. These are arranged by entries under the five literacy skill
builders: talking, playing, singing, writing, and reading. Booklists,
rhymes, activities, and conversation starters are included so
children and caregivers can use the sheets to structure their play
in the library and take ideas home to extend the play.
Literacy activity guides can be created to highlight any library’s
programs or materials. With a bulletin board, a children’s
department can choose one of our themes, provide activity
sheets to go, and inexpensively create games and activities to
be utilized in the library.
For example, if your theme is construction:
Decorate the bulletin board or area with “caution” tape.
Make a sign that says “hardhat area.”
Have a display of related books.
Create matching games using construction words and
pictures or a sequencing game of a building site.
Encourage bilingual literacy with words in the language
spoken in your service area.
The activities on our wall panels also can be reproduced quite
easily and cheaply with some time. Simple mazes are available
free online. The “what present does whom bring and how does
it make baby feel” game can be made using laminated cards
for each category: who, which present, what’s inside, and how
does it make baby feel. Cards can be drawn and placed on the
tabletop to create different scenarios enhancing print awareness
and narrative skills. Alternate versions are limitless. Games for
matching colors, shapes, and objects can be replicated in the
same way. A prop to grow clock literacy can be as simple as the
old brads holding “hands” on a paper plate face. Children can
help make texture boards or boxes and enrich vocabularies with
the adjectives that arise.
We can stock our indoor sandbox with a variety of objects to
inspire stories. One time there may be a toy car, a dinosaur,
a key, a ball, a lion, and a small bowl. Imagine the plotlines.
Our indoor sandbox is self-contained and has two holes with
“sleeves” for children to put their arms through, reach in and
play, so it’s easy to contain the sand. An inexpensive substitute
for our sandbox might be a bin with shredded paper, which
would make spills easier to clean up than using sand.
Our interconnecting hard plastic “stepping stones” attach to
each other puzzle-style in endless variations. We have considered
attaching letters to the tops so that children can arrange them
in alphabetical order or to spell out words, another activity that
could be recreated on a shoestring budget using cardboard or
poster board. Invite children to go on a letter hike.
We chose not to label furniture in the way that our model Little
Heights PLAYroom does, but that is something that can easily
be done. Also, a little paint and a steady hand can add words
like the early literacy practices to walls if appliqués are outside
of your budget.
Build vocabulary by laminating pictures of tools with their names
in a variety of languages and attach them to rings like we did.
Offer a related storytime.
We planned programs to highlight individual play areas. Our first
focused on food, with the typical storytime complement of stories,
Magnetic and dry erase wall boards aren’t very expensive,
and you can create your own word magnets with laminated
cardstock and a roll of magnetic tape. If you have limited wall
space and your library can spring for a rolling room divider, it
can be used to mount your magnetic board and as a felt board
and bulletin board and roll out of sight when it’s not needed.
You may not have the money to purchase AWE Stations for your
library, but you might consider dedicating at least one computer
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Preschool Literacy And You (PLAY) Room
Left to right: The PLAYroom brochure, sample pages from a bilingual word ring.
to early literacy by creating a homepage with links to early-literacy
information, activities, and games for caregivers and children.
Consider subscribing to a database like Book Flix, a great readalong resource with a large library of children’s books. Also,
recognize the role that music plays in fostering literacy and have
musical moments in your library, especially during storytimes.
In conjunction with the opening of our PLAYroom, we plan to
offer a series of programs for early childhood educators, parents,
and caregivers. Our first will feature Deforia Lane, a local
professor of music therapy who developed a program called
Toddler Rock, which fosters literacy through musical activities.
The program is offered for Cleveland-area preschoolers at
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and at a local
preschool. Tap the experts in your own service areas. Dedicated
professionals often are available inexpensively or at a reduced
cost for libraries.
Children’s librarians are well known for their creativity, their
skills in garnering donations, and their craftiness in doing more
with less. By thinking of what we do on a regular basis and
framing those activities in the context of early literacy skills,
we are able to devise ways of sharing strategies to educate the
adults in the lives of the children we serve and move toward our
goal of getting every child ready to read.
The PLAYroom has been open since May and feedback has
been very positive. We have received comments asking if we
can be open additional mornings. Users are pleased with the
variety represented by our purchases and how we alternate play
stations to keep things fresh.
The AWE early literacy computers receive many favorable
comments, too; caregivers appreciate knowing that everything
a child accesses on these is about learning. The PLAYroom has
become a regular field trip destination for preschools, day care
centers, and kindergarten classes. Mornings, evenings, and
Saturdays have become popular one-on-one times for children
and caregivers. We hoped to provide more interaction between
staff or volunteers and caregivers with children than we have
been able to do because of our staffing limitations.
As far as loss and breakage, we’ve naturally experienced some.
We were able to get multiple sets of some things like kitchenware
and dolls for the dollhouse, but in years to come, we hope to
be supported by our Friends of the Library to replace broken
items. We were perhaps idealistic in our preference for natural,
sustainable materials and admit that plastics are probably more
durable. &
Photos by Sheryl Banks.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Special focus: play and literacy
A Museum in a Library?
Science, Literacy Blossom at
Children’s Library Discovery Center
Sharon Cox
Exploration plaza.
pon entering the Children’s Library Discovery Center,
one is greeted with an interactive map featuring all
the locations of libraries in Queens. One cannot help
but be drawn in by the map, which features Queens neighborhoods and landmarks. Step on the piano icon on the motionactivated floor map and hear the strains of a Steinway piano,
or loyal fans cheering for the Mets as you stand on the coveted
Mets icon, and so it goes on as you make your way along the
path. Directly ahead is the Interactive Diversity wall onto which
words are projected in Spanish, French, Russian, Mandarin,
and Korean—reflecting the diversity of Queen’s County.
With sunshine streaming through the tall windows, strategically
placed reading tables, and welcoming chairs, the Discovery
Center offers a relaxing environment in which children can
learn, explore, experiment, and be inspired.
The Helen M. Marshall Children’s Library Discovery Center is
an exciting and engaging 14,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art
library with two discovery plazas, which include interactive
tabletop science exhibits similar to those found in a science
museum. Interspersed among the discovery plazas are book
displays related to the exhibits to pique the curiosity and
interest of children visiting the Discovery Center.
Some of the exhibits include a bug viewer, where children
can examine and distinguish differences in insects. The Color
House encourages children to experiment with mixing colors,
Sharon Cox is Manager of the Children’s
Library Discovery Center at Queens Library
in Jamaica, New York.
and the Touch Theatre allows children to use their sense of
touch to identify objects. These exhibits were designed and
developed by the San Francisco Exploratorium in collaboration
with Queens Library staff, the New York Hall of Science, and the
Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
The Discovery Center also boasts an early childhood center for
our youngest visitors. Entering under an impressive wave, they
are greeted by a large mural featuring numbers, letters, and
shapes, and overhead mobiles to engage their imagination.
Literacy is the capstone of the Discovery Center, and the
books, interactive exhibits, web resources, and other learning
materials in every area of this library reinforce our visitors’
literacy skills, turning them into lifelong learners.
Along with traditional library programming for children, the
Discovery Center also brings to life a hands-on interactive
learning environment with a science, technology, engineering,
and math (STEM) programming element. Children also have
access to the latest technology, such as smart boards, Alienware
laptops, iPads, and e-readers—all enhancing their multimodal
learning experiences.
Led by Interactive Exhibits Supervisor Susan Cole, our science
programming is facilitated by specially trained teenagers, known
as the Discovery Team. The team conducts Saturday science
labs and discovery cart activities, which help the children
experience and learn science concepts in a fun and interactive
environment. This new element of programming also allows
our librarians to incorporate science into our traditional library
programming, such as Toddler Learning Center, Timeless Tales,
and Mother Goose.
Programming with STEM content allows us to expand our reach
and bring new customers into the library. It also allows library
staff to gain new skills by using inquiry-based methods in their
interaction with children while using the exhibits in the exploration
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
A Museum in a Library?
“...stunning art
and scrupulous
— Mary Quattlebaum
(Children’s Literature)
The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem
By Rosalyn Schanzer
★ Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book
★ Society of Illustrators Original Art Award,
2011 Gold Medal United States
★ NCSS—Notable Social Studies Trade Books
in the Field of Social Studies 2011
★ Best Books 2011—School Library Journal
The early childhood area.
★ 100 Magnificent Children’s Books of 2011
plazas. This also allows the children to ask questions, investigate, and communicate
their observations regarding the science-themed exhibits, which we hope will foster an
interest in further research and exploration into other areas of the library.
With this center, we have integrated traditional library resources and programming
into a more modern cultural and institutional environment, in this instance libraries
and museums. This hybrid learning environment brings new users to both institutions.
Customers using the library expect to find books and other traditional library
resources, but they don’t expect to see exhibits usually found in a museum setting.
The collaboration between Queens Library and our museum partners—the San
Francisco Exploratorium, the New York Hall of Science, and the Brooklyn Children’s
Museum—allows us to share and capitalize on our expertise in our respective fields,
leading to an incredible learning environment. This collaboration is a definite plus
for both communities. More of these collaborations between cultural institutions
can only lead to growth and appreciation for what we do in our respective fields.
Collaboration also allows for funding opportunities, particularly to develop and
enhance the services we offer our end users, creating a pathway and a resource for
our future generations. &
★ Notable Children’s Book— ALSC
★ Best of the Best—Chicago Public Library
★ 100 Magnificent Children’s Books of 2011— Fuse #8
978-1-4263-0870-3 (LB) $27.90/$32.00 CAN
978-1-4263-0869-7 (HC) $16.95/$18.95 CAN
978-1-4263-0888-8 (EL) $16.95/$16.95 CAN
Ages 10 and up • 144 pages • 5” x 8”
Watch a video of Roz Schanzer
creating the art for Witches
Photos courtesy of Queens Library.
The Children’s Library Discovery Center is supported by a grant from the National
Science Foundation. To see more about the Children’s Library Discovery Center, watch
the short video at
Available wherever books are sold.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Broward County
Library Celebrates
Ten Years of the
Ashley Bryan Art
Eric Gómez
Some of Ashley Bryan’s artwork on display.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Broward County Library Celebrates Ten Years of the Ashley Bryan Art Series
Left to Right: Librarian Eric Gómez, Ashley Bryan, and Dr. Henrietta Smith.
t was ten years ago that the Broward County Library reached
out to Ashley Bryan through the help of Henrietta M. Smith,
Professor Emerita on the faculty of the School of Library and
Information Science, University of South Florida.
Smith worked with Bryan to establish a children’s book author
and illustrator art series at the African-American Research Library
and Cultural Center (AARLCC) in Fort Lauderdale. The goal was
for Bryan to contribute eight original art pieces to the library
to serve as the core of the art collection, but the series quickly
evolved beyond bringing award-winning Coretta Scott King
writers and illustrators of children’s books to Fort Lauderdale.
The cultural impact of the Ashley Bryan Art Series on the
community has been long-lasting—it has brought children
and families into the library and engaged youth with children’s
book art and illustrations. The programs have included cultural
performances, video conferencing, author and illustrator school
visits, literacy workshops, and introduction to African-centered art
forms. During these last ten years, more than 1,500 children have
received a free autographed copy of a visiting children’s illustrator.
Eventually, the Youth Services section at the AARLCC pursued
other Coretta Scott King Award–winning authors and illustrators
whose work reflected African American culture—including Pat
Cummings, Jerry Pinkney, Bryan Collier, Kadir Nelson, James E.
Ransome, Tonya Bolden, Shadra Strickland, and Floyd Cooper.
As this is the tenth anniversary of the series and the twentyfifth anniversary of the Broward County Library Conference
on Children’s Literature, Bryan himself will be the featured
artist this year. It comes at the appropriate time: Bryan was
just honored with receiving the Coretta Scott King—Virginia
Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American
Library Association.
Throughout the ten years, a planning committee met to
coordinate the series. The committee members have endured
staff changes due to library personnel budget cuts and have
kept the original goal alive for the Ashley Bryan Art Series—to
reach as many children and families as possible.
Much of the financial support has come from the community
through Friends of the Broward County Library, the Broward
County Library Foundation, and the Friends of the AARLCC. During
the last several years of deep cuts in library programming, staff
reductions, and school outreach visits, the planning committee
has formed strong community partnerships, especially with the
Caribbean Bar Association, in seeking alternate sources of funding
for library programming during these tough economic times.
Despite the somtimes rocky road, the legacy of the Ashley Bryan
Art Series remained constant—to increase children’s interest in
and appreciation of literature and art, promote family literacy,
provide a role model for children, and encourage the use of the
library as an active part of life in the community. &
Eric Gómez is Head of Youth Services at the Broward County
African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in
Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is the REFORMA member on the
2010–12 ALSC Quick List Consulting Committee and the 2010–
12 ALSC Liaison with National Organizations Serving Children
and Youth Committee. He was a member of the 2009
Newbery Medal Committee.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
At Poseidon’s
Fish Market
Winning an Author Event with Rick Riordan
Joella Peterson
Author Rick Riordan at the Tumwater (Wash.) library event.
t first I didn’t want to try. You hear about a contest or
application for something big—bigger than you could
even dream of. You really want to go for it, but you worry
about your chances of winning.
stage, a tower, and a landing dock for visitors arriving by boat.
The venue had such a strong water element that I decided to
build the proposal around Poseidon, god of the sea, and the
unique water resources in our community.
That’s exactly how I felt when I saw the Olympian Week contest,
author Rick Riordan’s promotional tour for The Son of Neptune’s
release. After I saw the contest requirement in three different
places my coworkers convinced me to apply. I retrieved the
application from the recycle bin (where I had thrown it for the
third time) and decided to go for it.
I needed a dynamite proposal. I called local community
organizations (the Olympia Yacht Club, Orca Books, the local
water education groups, and school librarians) to explain my
vision and set up tentative partnerships. I begged some graphic
designers I knew to help me craft the proposal so it would look
like a professional, nautical-themed document.
The application was challenging. Each applicant had to base her
proposed event on a specific Greek god or goddess (Aphrodite,
Athena, Hades, Hephaestus, Ares, Poseidon, or Zeus). Each
space had to have the capacity to hold about 750 people. I
started calling schools and community centers to check the
seating capacity of their auditoriums.
I took scads of pictures of the venue, and the graphic designers
took my proposal, photos, and ideas and made it look like a
nautical presentation, complete with a logo. I wrapped the
whole thing with fishing line, tied it with a lure, and sent it in.
After a weekend of networking, the Olympia Visitor’s
Bureau pointed us to the Olympia Port Plaza (which could
accommodate thousands because it was located outside) in
a neighboring city. The Plaza was located on the water with a
Joella Peterson is Youth Services Librarian at
the Tumwater (Wash.) Timberland Regional
In early August I learned I had won one of seven author visits of
the Olympian Week Tour! I had guessed that with all the splashy
Poseidon-themed details (like having the author arrive by yacht
or including more than two dozen “fish market stalls”) and the
large number of participants that would be able to come (more
than their 750 person requirement) that I would have a good
chance of winning. But that didn’t stop me from jumping up
and down for a full fifteen minutes after I received the phone
call—until reality hit me. And the reality was that now I had less
than two months before the October book release date to pull
everything together.
I first needed to determine how to publicize not only the
event, but also a call for volunteers, donations, and support.
Fortunately, every organization that worked with the library
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
At Poseidon’s Fish Market
started to spread the word (company newsletters, staff meetings,
word-of-mouth). I e-mailed and called other organizations to
share the excitement and ask for help (time, money, discounts,
and borrowing supplies). Not counting volunteer time or items
borrowed, various organizations donated or provided discounts
for more than $6,000. Our very generous library district paid for
the staff time and more than $2,000.
School librarians were vital to the publicity success. With
their help, teachers, students, and parents soon learned of the
exciting news—many volunteers were recruited. The library
sent publicity announcements to various media outlets from
Seattle to Portland. Official publicity on Disney’s and Riordan’s
websites also helped spread the word.
I also talked about the event—everywhere. When I went into
the community I talked about the event, and I even recruited
a few new organizations to donate materials. The rest of the
library staff did the same thing. Soon, we not only had enough
help and support to make the event happen, we had new
community partners requesting to contribute. For example, a
new graphic design company donated their work to build their
company portfolio. The printing and rental companies gave us
large discounts. The week before the event, a community youth
group even asked if they could provide free shuttle service to
and from the parking lot.
With so many organizations working together, it became a
community event rather than just a library event. When we gave
out more than 2,500 tickets (at the library and at the Port Plaza
on the day of the event), we asked people how they had heard
about it; most said word-of-mouth.
This event became the highlight of our library programming
for the year. More than 3,500 people attended Poseidon’s Fish
Market. People came from Canada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming,
Oregon, California, Utah, Ireland, and, of course, all over the
state of Washington. (Thankfully, we had twenty-seven staff
members from our library district and forty-six volunteers.)
Riordan arrived by yacht and spoke for twenty minutes before
going to the Signing Tsunami booth to sign books. We had a
sea-life touch tank, community partner booths, spots for photo
ops, a “fishing” booth, craft booths, and activity booths with
everything from a costume contest to a volleyball game with
beach balls.
I believe we set a record for the number of “thank you” and “I
love our library” comments we received. I also had a number of
organizations say to call them if we did another program like
this because they would love to be community partners.
Despite the masses of people, and thanks to careful planning,
we smoothed out most potential hiccups—such as how to keep
thousands of people happy while waiting to hear Riordan speak
and get their books signed, all within three hours. To curtail the
frustrations that come with waiting in line, we gave out tickets
in color groups of one hundred. Ticket holders could only get in
line once their color had been called.
Top: A family of readers; photo by Martin Stark. Center: Teen volunteers dress up to promote Poseidon’s Fish Market; photo by
Richard S. Park. Bottom: Librarian Joella Peterson, third from left,
with Rick Riordan and Disney Publishing representatives; photo by
Richard S. Park.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
At Poseidon’s Fish Market
As a result, most groups did activities in the Fish Stalls, while
only one hundred stood in line. Musical groups performed, and
the local Kiwanis group sold concessions. Trivia questions were
posted throughout the signing line to keep people entertained
while they waited.
While a few problems cropped up (at one point a few teens
thought it would be a good idea to throw garbage off the
tower), we had our library security guard on duty to help calm
the masses (which was especially helpful when the crowd all
wanted to rush to meet the author as he stepped off the boat).
We also had an organizational structure in place so that if
staff needed assistance, we had a chain of people to respond
to problems—ending with a member of the library district
management team.
I was able to meet and thank Riordan when he was signing four
hundred books at the Orca Book Store before the event. As a
librarian who has struggled to overcome learning disabilities
and dyslexia, I can’t tell you how incredible it was to meet
the author of such amazing dyslexic and ADD/ADHD heroes
like Percy Jackson. Even though I could hardly talk with such
a huge grin plastered to my face, Riordan and the Disney
representatives in turn expressed their gratitude for our efforts
in putting the event together.
Riordan was kind to everyone (not just the gushing librarian) and
took time to ask questions as well as answer them. One eightyear-old patron especially liked his interaction: Riordan asked
which Greek god or goddess he would want for a parent. When
the answer of “Poseidon” was given, Riordan said, “Of course,
the god of the sea. That would be awesome. You could surf really
well, breathe underwater, make toilets explode. It would be
great!” The patron laughed over that answer for weeks afterward.
This was an amazing event with a great author. We dreamed big
and then made it bigger.
So for all you librarians who see that application for an award or
contest—don’t throw it out—apply! Be sure to showcase the local
aspects that make your library and community unique. Pull the
community together to make the visit as big as the author.
Riordan was amazing to work with, and I suspect that many
authors are just as excited to meet their fans as their fans are to
meet them.
Finally, involve those fanatic readers. I can’t stress how helpful
it was to have volunteers that were excited about the event.
When they bring that enthusiasm, the event is sure to become
legendary. &
Call for Referees
To make Children and Libraries a truly interactive publication, we’re looking for ALSC members to serve as volunteer referees
for journal articles. Unsolicited articles and those of a scholarly nature must be submitted to at least two referees to judge the
submissions on accuracy, style, impact, importance, and interest. Specialists in particular genres (such as technology, literature, intellectual freedom, programming, and so on) are especially needed.
Referees make recommendations to the editor on whether or not manuscripts should be accepted for publication. Inter­ested
librarians should contact Children and Libraries Editor Sharon Korbeck Verbeten at [email protected] for more information on the referee process.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Forgotten Characters
of Childhood
The Rise of William Joyce’s The Guardians and The Leaf Men
Stephanie Bange
William Joyce, photo by Tony Reans.
n his 1997 autobiography The World of William Joyce
Scrapbook (HarperCollins), then-40-year-old children’s
author and illustrator William Joyce wrote that he was working on a book called The Man in the Moon and the Guardians
of Childhood.
It’s time for Joyce fans to rejoice because the long wait for
this new book is over—well, almost. The first three titles in
the Guardians of Childhood series (The Man in the Moon,
Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, and
E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core,
all published by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster) are out, with
additional titles in the pipeline.
The series concept is simple: picturebooks will give the
mythology and background for the characters in the series,
visually exploring how they came to be, who they are, and how
they found their roles in life. The novels will carry the story of
their adventures and the action forward. Fans will want to be
sure to read the picturebooks to gain a deeper understanding
of what’s behind the plot of the novels.
When he became a father, Joyce realized that every parent
“has their tenure in becoming the oracle of the Tooth Fairy, the
Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus.” He felt unsatisfied with the
vague explanations given to him as a child. Since no defined
backstory or mythology for these mythological characters of
childhood has evolved, he decided to fill in the blanks.
It just seemed such a gap in our culture that we have very
specific mythologies for Spiderman, Superman, and Batman,
but we don’t have one for the group of characters that we
actually believed in as kids. I felt like some of them were
starting to fade. I don’t hear kids talk about the Man in the
Moon the way they did when I was a kid. I don’t hear them talk
about Jack Frost or the Sandman.
For the first picturebook in the series, The Man in the Moon,
Joyce used computer illustration for the first time, which he
describes as “very liberating.”
“At this late date in my career, I essentially went back to school,”
he said. “My teachers were people who were sometimes half my
age. But, it’s great! They keep you young. I’ve got all this theory
and experience and they’ve got all this new technology. We’re
very compatible.”
To create the art, first he did a rough color study on the
computer rather than a traditional sketch. After experimenting
with color and light on the digitized illustration, he painted
the image in oils or in oil over acrylic. Again, the image
was scanned and details were added using the computer—a
process new to Joyce. He pointed out that a few illustrations
in the book are completely painted with a paintbrush, as he
enjoys this process. So, the illustrations in the book are truly
“mixed media”—some are done in oil paint, some digitally, and
some a hybrid of the two.
Stephanie Bange is Director of the
Educational Resource Center at Wright
State University in Dayton, Ohio. Bange
interviewed author William Joyce via Skype
in August 2011 exclusively for Children and
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Forgotten Characters of Childhood
that component to The Guardians’ mix of myth-building and
storytelling vehicles.
Not one to sit still, William Joyce has another picturebookrelated feature film on the horizon. Several years ago, he
received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to
adapt his picturebook The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs
(HarperCollins, 1996) into play form. It became, in his words, “a
behemoth. We had a cast of one hundred. It was crazy! It was the
most mad effort I’d ever embarked on!”
Joyce approached the process of writing the first novel of the
series (and his first novel), Nicholas St. North and the Battle of
the Nightmare King, differently from The Man in the Moon. He
chose to write as if he was painting word pictures. Drawing from
the broad story arc he had developed for the five novels evolved
over the years, Joyce fleshed out the book after sketching the
plot structure with his editor, Laura Geringer, who is credited
as coauthor.
According to Joyce, the story had been in his head so long, the
words just flowed onto paper. He remarked that he is enjoying
watching the characters evolve into the Guardian they will
become. Readers will find that each chapter has an intriguing
title; this is Joyce’s nod to eighteenth-century author Henry
Fielding, whose books appeared in a serialized format with
delightful chapter titles.
About the same time the books came under contract, Joyce
struck a deal with DreamWorks Studio to develop and codirect
an animated feature film based on the characters from the
series. With DreamWorks on board, fans should note that this
probably won’t be strictly a “kids’ film.”
As of early 2012, all Joyce would reveal is that the Man in the
Moon (Tsar Lunar) is a very spectral presence. The casting
includes the vocal talents of Chris Pine as Jack Frost, Alec
Baldwin as Nicholas St. North, Hugh Jackman as E. Aster
Bunnymund, Jude Law as Pitch, and Isla Fisher as the Tooth
Fairy. The release date for Rise of the Guardians is November
21, 2012.
Joyce is currently extending venues for storytelling through the
use of technology to reach today’s young readers, including the
development of creative, interactive websites and storybook
apps by the studio he cofounded, Moonbot Studios.
Joyce’s friend, film director Chris Webb (Robots, 2005), saw the
play and loved it. Combining their mutual love for the 1938
classic Errol Flynn film Robin Hood, the two decided to develop
The Leaf Men further into their own swashbuckler of a film.
Joyce hinted that the premise of the film is a world where “these
little men—as little warriors—live in the forest, just outside your
window. People don’t even know that these men—the size of
small plastic army toys—are fighting titanic battles.”
As writer, producer, and production designer for the film,
Joyce has created a whole mythology for the Leaf Men and
their evil nemesis, including details such as good guys riding
hummingbirds and bad guys riding bats. Seven years later, Webb
and Joyce are currently in production on the film, The Leaf Men
and the Brave Good Bugs, produced by Blue Sky Studios, with
a release date of May 17, 2013. “It’s beautiful and stirring and
thrilling and it’s much more complex than the picturebook. I’ve
started doing novels that will set up the film much in the same
way I’m doing novels to set up The Guardians.”
Joyce feels very fortunate at this point in his career. He has set
himself up to be in control of the content of his books and the
film adaptations of them. He is able to keep the details of the
stories straight, keep the storyline moving forward, and stay
true to his vision.
So here is William Joyce—author; illustrator; New Yorker cover
artist; three-time Emmy Award winner (for the animated Rolie
Polie Olie series); a leader in the digital animation industry as
screenwriter, producer, executive producer, production designer,
set designer, conceptual character creator, and codirector; 2008
Louisiana Author of the Year; one of Newsweek’s one hundred
People to Watch in the New Millennium; and a participant in the
2011 National Book Festival.
When I asked him if there was anything he couldn’t do, Joyce
laughed and modestly responded,
I really, really despise doing taxes. I’m horrendous at math,
pretty bad at programming my phone. I’m a very distracted
driver; in fact, I’m a danger behind the wheel because I am
always thinking of these stories. That’s how I do my best
thinking . . . when I’m driving.
Located in his hometown of Shreveport, La., Moonbot is
responsible for creating the Academy Award-winning The
Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore—the film, the
website, and the iPad app. Their creative talents also developed
The Guardians’ website (www.theguardiansofchildhoodbooks.
com). Joyce describes it as largely “pretend science, history as we
wish it had been, and the future we hope will be.”
I’m not sure about you, but I’ll be on the lookout for William
Joyce—both on the road and off! &
Building on the lessons learned in creating the book app
for The Fantastic Flying, Joyce is looking forward to adding
Photos published with permission of Simon & Schuster Children’s
Publishing. ©2011 by William Joyce.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Instruction, a First Aid Kit, and Communication
Instruction, a First Aid Kit,
and Communication
Necessary Components in the Mentoring Relationship
Meg Smith
“Knowledge advances by steps, and not by leaps.”¹
—Lord Macaulay
or youth services staffers without mentors, entering the
professional world of librarianship is comparable to taking a giant leap into the great unknown. For staffers who
may be new professionals, work as the sole youth services advocate for their entire system, or simply desire to increase their
skills, a mentor can serve as a lifeline for mentees as they gain
knowledge to take each step into their work as a youth services
In North Carolina, those steps are easily taken in the first year of
the North Carolina Youth Services Mentor Program, sponsored
by the State Library of North Carolina. This visionary program
formally trained fourteen youth services mentors across the
state in 2011. Led by Lori Special, library consultant in Youth
Services for the State Library of North Carolina, this initiative
focuses on developing training leaders and pairs interested
mentees, many in rural libraries without formal library training,
with veterans in the field selected for their years of experience
and expertise. After the completion of a three-day workshop,
mentoring librarians began their work.
Focusing on collaboration, the youth services mentors attended
trainings highlighting adult learning styles, current
technologies, communication skills, and the importance
of fostering a positive mentoring mentality. These mentors
will serve as training leaders throughout North Carolina. To
successfully provide these trainings, the attendees participated
in hands-on teachable moments by modeling training styles
During a training exercise, mentors taught their
fellow mentors with a nonlibrary related skill.
Here, youth services mentor Tanika Martin demonstrates training techniques on Jason Rogers,
North Carolina adult master trainer and reference
librarian with Wake County.
and brainstorming with their colleagues. These mentors are
now prepared to serve as youth services trainers, focusing in
part on updating staffers on the information available in the
second edition of ALSC and PLA's Every Child Ready to Read
program. These trainers also will reach beyond teaching staff
in the library to directly serving the customers walking through
the doors as the mentors share these resources with teen
parents, a group often underserved in public libraries.
Special, in addition to her leadership in training initiatives,
pairs mentors with individual mentees. These pairs will meet
regularly, communicating the goals necessary to facilitate
the mentee’s professional growth. Haglund explains that
successful mentoring relationships rely on many factors,
including “having a clearly defined purpose and goals; having
coordinator or committee support; mentors who are accessible,
have interpersonal skills, and an interest in the development
of others; training in mentoring skills; regular meeting of the
These traits may best be divided into three categories:
instruction, a “first aid kit,” and communication. With these
Meg Smith is Branch Manager of the Hope
Mills Branch of the Cumberland County
Public Library and Information Center in
North Carolina.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Instruction, a First Aid Kit, and Communication
Just as the need for specific
professional tools evolves, so does
the shifting framework of both the
mentor’s and mentee’s experiences.
Lee explains that “mentoring can
change and develop as the mentor
acquires individual skills after
mentoring a variety of individuals.”5
The contents of the first aid kit must
adapt to the individual’s growing
Youth Services mentors brainstormed their goals for the program and the intended audience
for their library workshops.
traits a mentee may step confidently into the professional work
of librarianship.
The mentor serves as the instructor in the relationship, providing
the mentee with the training tools necessary to build youth
services skills. Formalized instruction through electronic or
in-person workshops provides a structured experience to gain
knowledge; this training, according to the authors of Outstanding
Library Service to Children: Putting the Core Competencies
to Work, rests on the mentor serving in a leadership role.
The training relationship may include “a written plan, allow
flexibility and experimentation (since we often learn the most
from mistakes), and pass on not only specific methodologies but
also the joy of working with children and a serious commitment
to personally directed professional growth.”³
This plan requires that mentors and mentees provide concrete
goals and an assessment of their abilities to ensure mentees
reach their milestones.
Trainings also must be built into individual meetings between
mentor and mentee. Lee asserts that it is critical for the mentor
to remain available and approachable to his or her mentee to
allow for opportunities for spontaneous training.4 Frequent
interactions between mentor and mentee ensure that these
unstructured teachable moments provide another forum for
mentor and mentee to connect. Both print and electronic
resources provide tangible support to the mentor in leading
training opportunities.
While instruction provides the foundation, the mentee’s
professional “first aid kit” provides both the concrete and
intangible resources required for emergency on-the-job
training. Its contents will vary from mentee to mentee; tools
may range from tried-and-true storytime props to a copy of
the staffer’s most cherished book on professional development.
Tailoring the mentee’s first aid kit depends on the staffer’s
individual skills and abilities.
This first aid kit also houses those
building blocks of information the
mentee gains, often received through
shadowing experiences. Purposeful
shadowing provides the mentee
with the hands-on experiences that
form a central component of the
mentee’s first aid kit.
Metz’s Coaching in the Library: A Management Strategy for
Achieving Excellence defines the traits of superior coaching,
elements easily adaptable to shadowing opportunities in the
mentor–mentee relationship: “The coach assesses the situation,
determines an appropriate level of coaching, and plans for
the coaching by understanding and effectively applying the
observation, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment process
through the initial, content, and wrap-up stages of the coaching
The mentor’s observations, fully obtained during the shadowing
process, reveal gaps in knowledge so the mentor may determine
appropriate goals.
In addition to a developed first aid kit to hold professional tools
and experiences, a successful mentoring relationship requires
frequent communication.
An introductory conversation begins the groundwork for the
mentor–mentee relationship. What are the expectations for
growth? What skills and abilities does the mentee already bring to
the table? Hass and White explain that “communication involves
active listening, paraphrasing, clarifying, and feedback.”7
These traits encourage nonjudgmental communication and
allow both mentor and mentee to determine the purpose of
their relationship, documenting the growth achieved by their
Communication must be frequent, and flexibility is the mindset
necessary to foster this open communication. Smith and English
explain that adaptability deepens the trust possible between
supervisor and employee, a trait applicable to the mentor–
mentee dynamic: “Youth services managers must convey this
flexible mindset by maintaining open communication and
encouraging regular opportunities for dialogue.”8 Flexibility
ensures the mentor successfully alters the mentee’s goals when
continued on page 43
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Beyond Library Walls
Improving Kindergarten Readiness in
At-Risk Communities
Kim Snell
The Ready to Read Corps Bookmobile was generously donated
by the Nationwide Insurance Foundation.
are not able leave their homes during the day. We offer to
come to their homes to train them, their families, friends, and
neighbors. It has been very successful.”
utreach services are nothing new for libraries. Neither
is Every Child Ready to Read. But at Columbus (Ohio)
Metropolitan Library (CML), two concepts have combined into an innovative initiative that takes teams of staff out
of the library and into the most at-risk neighborhoods to help
parents and caregivers learn how to be their child’s first teacher.
This is our Ready to Read Corps—the full-time job of fifteen
dedicated staff members. Some of these staff members are
librarians, others have master’s degrees or strong backgrounds
in education, public service, or another related field, but all have
the unique skills to make this program successful. All of them
are full-time staff members who spend the majority of their
time outside of the library, although office time is needed for
planning, training, event scheduling, and program evaluations.
The Ready to Read Corps’ primary focus is to seek out parents
and caregivers of children ages zero to five who don’t come to
the library, to organize trainings and to conduct impromptu
sessions that focus on prereading skills necessary for early literacy and kindergarten readiness. They also check out books and
sign up children and adults for library cards during trainings.
There are six Ready to Read Corps teams of two, and each team
focuses on specific communities or neighborhoods. They work
with Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) offices, food pantries, churches, hospitals, and benefits offices to engage parents
and caregivers in places they already visit. Teams even go to
Laundromats and hair salons. During trainings, parents and
caregivers receive a take-home kit that includes board books,
finger puppets, crayons, and literature about prereading skills.
“We have learned that another great way to get more parents
and caregivers to participate is to offer a home party option,”
said Sarah Mackey, Ready to Read Corps program manager.
“Many stay-at-home parents and home daycare providers
The Corps also has its own bookmobile, thanks to the generosity
of the Nationwide Insurance Foundation. The bookmobile is
parked at apartment complexes, parks, or other community
gathering spaces and is open to anyone who wants to come on
board. The bookmobile also visits home daycare providers to
serve as a library on wheels.
Planning and Research
The Ready to Read Corps concept was born of CML’s desire
to be an agent of change for at-risk children and their parents
and caregivers. Focusing on children ages zero to five, team
members performed extensive research beginning in 2008,
including the following:
A review of school readiness and early-learning research.
A focused discussion with representatives from Action for
Children, Columbus Urban League Head Start, and the Ohio
Children’s Foundation.
Kim Snell has been the Media Relations
Strategist for Columbus Metropolitan Library
since 2007. She earned her master’s degree
in Marketing and Communications from
Franklin University and her bachelor’s degree
in Public Relations from Kent State University.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Beyond Library Walls
An environmental scan of thirty-seven agencies providing
early learning programs and services.
laptops, printed materials, vehicles, and the take-home kits for
parents and caregivers.
A review of Ohio Department of Education data.
To date, we’ve raised $1.5 million to fund the Corps through
donations by United Way of Central Ohio, the Siemer Family
Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Nationwide Insurance Foundation,
and the Columbus Metropolitan Library Foundation. While we
will continue to aggressively seek funds for this program, we
began shifting some of the costs to run this program to our own
library budget when we passed our levy in 2010.
A review of the Ohio Department of Education’s School
Readiness Solutions Group Strategies.
An analysis of 2000 Census data, specifically factors that
contribute to a lack of school readiness.
An analysis of ten school districts’ Kindergarten Readiness
Assessment-Literacy scores (KRA-L, a required test created
by the Ohio Department of Education for all children
entering kindergarten in Ohio).
We found a scarcity of programs and services in Franklin County
(our service area) that provide literacy or school-readiness
information designed to help parents and caregivers understand
their role in preparing their child for school. We also learned
that about 40 percent of children entering kindergarten here are
not adequately prepared to succeed in school, according to the
Ohio Department of Education’s KRA-L results.
Since we needed significant financial support, we approached
businesses and foundations that fit into these categories:
library supporters, early childhood education supporters, and
community-focused donors. Our goal was to raise enough money
to fund materials and operations for one team for one year,
approximately $120,000. This money goes toward staff salaries,
Community Outreach
We worked with a local outside organization, M2 Consulting,
which specializes in data gathering and compilation, to develop
an extensive database of social service agencies, churches, food
pantries, hospitals, and other community touchpoints that
would be appropriate for this service. We started calling these
organizations and talked about the program’s goals and the
importance of early learning. Some organizations were a little
hesitant in the beginning. They were understandably cautious
about giving anyone access to their clients. Most organizations,
however, were eager to participate in this kind of program,
especially one being offered by our library system. Now that
we have strong support from donors and several reputable
organizations in the community, more doors continue to open
and participation continues to increase.
“People are surprised the library is doing this,” said Mackey.
“They are almost always receptive, and I am amazed at the
number of customers and community groups who thank us for
what we are doing. The public library offers several services,
and this is the new work of the public library.”
The People Who Make it Work
This is a unique job—librarian, social worker, community
advocate, and teacher all rolled into one. Our Ready to Read
Corps staff has unique skills and experiences that make them
ideal for the work they do in the community.
“I was part of the first Ready to Read Corps team that was
developed,” said Abby Kiracofe, program leader of the Weinland
Park/Parsons Avenue team. “My experience providing community outreach during my seven years here at CML was a solid
foundation for my role in this program.”
Due to the diverse population we serve in central Ohio, it
was critical for us to offer this training to first-generation
immigrants—team members offer training in Spanish and
Somali, as well as English.
Abby Kiracofe, right, shares Ready to Read literature with a caregiver in the Weinland Park community.
“By speaking to parents in their native language, they are more
comfortable with the information you present and they are also
more likely to ask questions,” said Magaly Vázquez, team member
and native Spanish speaker. “I love conveying the message to
people that it is the little things you do with your children that get
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Beyond Library Walls
Left: Little Atticus is thrilled with his new book that was part of the Corps’ take home kit for his mother. Right: The Ready to Read Corps
provides training in the homes of Somali parents and caregivers.
them ready for school. And once people understand what to do,
they are very enthusiastic to get started.”
Partners in the community also are critical. One valuable
partnership is with Columbus City Schools. In September 2011,
they began giving us contact information for the parents of
children on the waiting list to enter the pre–K program. We invite
the parents to participate in our training sessions and give them
the tools they need to begin preparing their child for school.
Beyond the Corps, we also have trained some of our community
partners to reach the people who most need the service.
“We developed the concept of train-the-trainer for the Corps
with the first group of the Nurse Family Partnership operating
out of Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” said Kiracofe. “This
group now offers our Ready to Read information to their young
moms via in-home visits. Our program has also rolled out to Help
Me Grow, Family Ties, Columbus Literacy Council, and more.”
year-olds with the kindergarten readiness assessment used
in Ohio. We received the first round of results in January 2012
and we are encouraged by the data. Since 2009, the Ready
to Read Corps has reached 6,366 parents and caregivers of
8,296 children. In just two years of operation, this initiative
has reached over 14,500 people in our community. We also
learned that we are reaching the intended population of the
economically disadvantaged. At the time of intervention, 67%
of parents reported they plan to use the literacy kit every day
and 89% plan to use it at least three times per week.
“There are both benefits and challenges to being the first
program of our kind,” said Mackey. “On one hand, we have no
map to follow. We have no other organization to look to and ask,
‘How did you do it?’ On the other hand, we get to make our own
way. We get to experiment and learn firsthand what works and
what doesn’t.”
What Have We Learned?
Measuring Success
We’ve learned that
Measurement is the key to determining our success. Our goal is
to help raise kindergarten readiness levels to 90 percent, but we
know it will take several years to see that level of impact.
We are working with the Voinovich Group at Ohio University to
measure our program’s success. We have developed an extensive
database that tracks every visit, workshop, community meeting,
and one-on-one meeting and records attendance statistics,
demographic information, and post–workshop evaluation.
We also have developed an evaluation plan that tracks the
kindergarten readiness of a sample group of three- and four-
flexibility is key;
evaluation is critical;
building trust and partnerships takes time and patience; and
perseverance is important.
And most of all, we’ve learned we’re providing an invaluable
service to parents, caregivers, and children in our community.
The challenges we face are well worth our efforts to transform
the lives of those who benefit most—our children. &
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Newbies and Newberys
Reflections from First-Time Newbery Honor Authors
Sandra Imdieke
Left to Right: Jennifer Holm, Kirby Larson, and Ingrid Law.
The content of this article has been edited and adapted from the
June 2011 session “Newbies and Newberys: Three Authors Talk
About the Wows and Woes of Winning the Newbery Honor with
First Books.” Sandra Imdieke moderated the session.
subsequent books. This article recounts the stories each author
told in that session, revealing insights and ideas that can be
shared with children by librarians and teachers.
Holm received her 2000 Newbery Honor for Our Only
May Amelia, her first novel, published by HarperCollins
Children’s Books. May Amelia has seven older brothers, and
life with them is not easy in a Finnish family farm growing
up in Naselle, Washington, in 1899.
hat happens when an author receives a Newbery
Honor for her first published novel for children?
Jennifer Holm, Kirby Larson, and Ingrid Law, authors who share
this distinction, revealed their personal moments of “wow and
woe” in June 2011 at the American Library Association Annual
Their reflections included their thoughts at the time their book
was first accepted for publication, the subsequent experience
of learning their book had been selected for an award, and
the experience of working through the process of publishing
Larson received her 2007 Newbery Honor for Hattie Big Sky,
her first novel, published by Delacorte/Random House. In
this historical-fiction novel set in 1918, sixteen-year-old
orphan Hattie Brooks inherits 320 acres in Montana and she
has ten months to “prove” her claim by homesteading.
Law received her 2009 Newbery Honor for Savvy, her first
novel, published by Dial Books, in partnership with Walden
Sandra Imdieke is a professor in the School of Education at Northern Michigan University, where she teaches
undergraduate and graduate courses in children’s literature. She served as Priority Consultant for Group V Awards
from 2009 to 2011, and she is the chair of the 2013 Caldecott Committee.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Newbies and Newberys
Media. Mibs is a member of a unique family who each
receive his or her savvy when they turn thirteen. Since her
brother is able to cause hurricanes, and her grandfather can
move mountains, Mibs wonders what her gift will be.
paper boat on a wading pool then having the whole pool picked
up by a tidal wave.
“Wow” Question 1: How did your first novel come to be accepted
for publication?
Holm: I cannot top that story. I was working in advertising
on products that you all know and love like Dove Soap and
Tagamet and Huggies baby diapers. I enjoyed advertising a lot
and, for the record, it is like the TV show “Mad Men.”
Larson: I had gotten to know editor Michelle Poploff when
Random House published the paperback editions of my early
reader chapter books. As any struggling new writer would, I
made a point of staying in touch with her. In 2003 or 2004,
we were both presenting at a writers’ conference on Whidbey
Island, Washington. Michelle invited me to join her for dinner
and over pasta we got caught up.
But one thing about advertising that really helped me get
published is that people yell at you a lot and tell you “no” and tell
you that you are wrong. “That logo is too big, that baby’s diaper is
wrong.” You obsess about the baby crawling away from camera
so that the diaper is perfectly placed on their fat little legs. If you
got anything wrong, everyone was very quick to criticize you. So
I got used to taking criticism as just part of my daily life.
She asked me what I was working on and I remember saying,
“Oh, nothing you’d be interested in. It’s just a historical novel
about a young girl who homesteads by herself in eastern
Montana in 1918.” Michelle said, “Well, I like historical fiction.
Send it to me.” So when I felt it was ready, I sent it. Ten days
later, the phone rang and it was Michelle.
I wrote Our Only May Amelia over several years while I was
working in advertising, and then I started to send it out. It was
in the days before e-mail, so it cost $3.50 in postage. I would just
send it out and about fourteen rejections later a lovely agent
said, “Yes!” I continued to work in advertising for a couple years,
but getting published changed my life.
I had just gone through a seven-year publishing drought, and the
only reason I could imagine her calling was to let me down gently
over the phone. So it took me a few beats into the conversation
to realize she was offering to publish the book! I don’t remember
much from our chat but I do remember that after hanging
up, I actually fell to my knees, sobbing. I was overcome with
emotions because that book had been written while I was losing
my beloved grandmother to Alzheimer’s, and I considered it my
love letter to her. Though she died before the book came out,
I’m confident Grandma knew about it and, in fact, I have always
felt a little guilty because I suspect she was up there working
on the Newbery committee that year. More than anything else,
Michelle’s faith in my book gave me the faith to keep writing.
“Wow” Question 2: The big moment comes—you get “the call”
from the Newbery Committee Chair. What was that like?
Law: For me, Savvy was my second try to find representation.
I spent about six months sending out another middle-grade
manuscript over and over and over again, and I got forty-five
rejections. But a few people said, “We really like your writing;
we just don’t like this book. Send us whatever you write next.” I
was so excited I immediately started on Savvy.
I wrote very quickly, finishing Savvy in about four or five
months. I sent it out two days after I finished it. Two weeks later,
and two revisions later, my agent sent it to thirteen publishers.
That was on a Monday morning. My future editor e-mailed my
agent at two o’clock the following morning.
I’d worked for the government for sixteen years. I was a single
mom. And I was living in a mobile home in Boulder, Colorado,
because that was the only place in town that I could afford and
still have a yard and room for my daughter to grow. When my
agent forwarded that e-mail, I fell off my chair at work.
Thirty days after accepting an offer from Dial Books for Young
Readers, partnering with Walden Media, I also had a film option
from Walden. It was indescribable. I think of it as putting a little
Law: As I mentioned, my life changed very fast. Right after Savvy
was accepted for publication, the fine people at Dial Books,
Penguin Young Readers Group, and Walden Media started talking
about Newbery potential. For a brand new author, that was both
exciting and intimidating, but I also knew that the Newbery
Awards cannot actually be predicted. There are no finalists, and
there are so many great books published every year.
About a week before the call, my head was in a bit of a strange
place because Savvy had been on some mock Newbery lists.
There was a lot of buzz about it. People would say to me, “Oh,
we shouldn’t talk about it. We don’t want to jinx it.” But so many
people began to say something like this to me that I began to
think, “Oh my gosh, do I actually have a shot at this?”
I was working on my second book, already pulling out my hair
to try to make it good, and I said to a friend, “I don’t know if I
want to get a Newbery honor because if I did—oh my goodness,
talk about the pressure!” I was also afraid of the attention I
would get from such a prestigious award because I have always
been a shy person. It used to be, when I was talking to groups
this size, I would always ask people to turn and face the wall
because it was so intimidating. I thought if I got a Newbery
award or honor everyone would be “staring” at me.
I wasn’t getting any writing done at this point because I was
obsessing more than a little bit about the upcoming award
announcements. So my friend said, “You need to go to your
favorite place in the world. You need to sit down and decide
what you actually want. It doesn’t mean you will get what you
want, but it would be nice if you put that thought away so
you can get back to your writing.” So I went out to my favorite
crooked path by my house in Colorado. I sat on a bench with my
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Newbies and Newberys
they called you, and in fact the weekend of the award, my
father was quite sick, and my whole family was actually in
Pennsylvania at the hospital. He was in the cardiac ward, and
you weren’t allowed to have cell phones there.
Monday was a long boring day in the hospital, and around three
in the afternoon, they took my father to get a procedure done. My
mom and I were just sitting in the room, and I said, “I’m just going
to go out to the lobby and call and check my voice mails and stuff.”
I called in to work, and there were thirteen voice mails. I was
still working in advertising, and I had a lovely boss at the time
who always said, “Anytime you need to go help out with the
family just go. It is just commercials. Just go.”
So I was kind of annoyed that people were leaving me all these
work messages. I started to listen to them, and the first message
was from my publicist at Harper who said, “Oh! I am so excited
for you,” and just hung up. I thought, “She is excited my dad is
in the hospital?”
And then the second call was this very Southern voice saying,
“Hello, this is Caroline Brodie, and I am calling from the
Newbery committee to let you know that Our Only May Amelia
has won the Newbery honor.” And I thought “What?” I ran back
into the hospital room and I said, “Mom, Mom, May Amelia got
a Newbery honor!”
favorite notebook, and I wrote and thought about it. “Do I want
to get the gold sticker?” I asked myself. No, too much pressure.
So, after some thought, I wrote in my notebook, “I want to win
the Newbery honor award, silver.” I thought that silver sticker
would look good on the book’s cover, too.
This sounds like I have a huge ego, and I don’t want you to think
that. I just needed to get the distraction of thinking about the
award out of my system. My friend had told me that after I wrote
down what I really, truly wanted on a slip of paper, I should bury
it. So there I was, at a pond, sneaking around looking for a rock
under which to bury this note of hope I’d written. As you know,
the Newbery awards are announced in January. In Colorado, the
week before the Newbery conference, the day I buried the note
was a beautiful sunny day. On the day of the announcement,
it was eleven degrees and the stones were frozen to the earth,
but I’d told myself when I’d buried the note that, when I heard
either way—yes or no—I was going to go back to the pond and
unearth my note so that nobody could find it. It’s not like I put
my name on it or anything, but I was a little paranoid.
And she said, I kid you not, “I’m sure you didn’t honey, maybe
it was just nominated or something.” My mother didn’t believe
me, and so I had to go take her out of the room and play the
message for her over the phone. So when you see her you can
tell her that you know the real story.
Larson: I was not a blog reader and knew nothing about mock
Newberys. I was blissfully unaware that there would be any
discussion like that. I wrote an ordinary book that even my
lovely editor said, “You know, this is a quiet book.”
So I really had no idea. People like Karen Cushman win the
Newbery award, not Kirby Larson. Monday night, I had been at
a Random House celebration for the Cat in the Hat anniversary,
since ALA happened to be in Seattle that year, where I live. We
had rich cake and ice cream, and I didn’t feel well and wasn’t
able to get to sleep until four in the morning. At 6:15 or 6:30 a.m.,
the phone rings, and this woman says, “Is this Kirby Larson?”
I was thinking that it was really early to be calling but I said, “Yes.”
“The Kirby Larson who wrote Hattie Big Sky?” and I said, “Yes.”
Doing that helped for the week. The conference was held in
Denver, so on the morning of the call, I was in the same time
zone. When the phone rang I thought, “Oh, please don’t let that
be my mother!” But it was the Newbery committee. My daughter
told me that my reaction to the call was very embarrassing. The
rest of the day was fabulous.
Holm: When Our Only May Amelia was published, I was
unaware of how any of this worked. I didn’t understand that
And she said, “Well I am calling from the Newbery committee to
tell you Hattie Big Sky has won an honor award.”
I gasped, and my husband didn’t know what was going on
and he was ready to dial 911. I have no idea what I said on the
phone. My husband assures me I said, “Thank you.” When I
hung up, I burst into tears. Thirty seconds went by and then I
said, “What if it is a joke?”
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Newbies and Newberys
At the end of the phone call, the Newbery chair had said that
since I live in Seattle, I should come to the press conference just
to see it myself. If you know anything about Seattle morning
traffic, it is hideous. There is no way you can get from our house
to downtown in less than an hour, and I was still in my pajamas.
But my husband knows all the back ways, so we got there.
I sat in the back because I still wasn’t sure if it was true or not. They
were showing the covers of each of the award-winning books on
this enormous screen and, after they showed Penny from Heaven
(Jennifer Holm’s book), I saw that corner of blue from the cover
of my book, and I burst into tears. The librarians sitting near me
must have been thinking, “What is wrong with this woman?”
Because ALA was in my hometown and so many librarian,
bookseller, and writer friends of mine were attending the press
conference, a cheer rose up. I have never been good at athletics,
so I never knew what it felt like to score the winning basket, but
that moment helped me imagine it. I will treasure that day for
the rest of my life.
“Wow” Question 3: Once you knew you had been chosen for
an honor award, was there a time during that year when the
realization of the significance of the honor truly “hit you?” Did
you have a “Newbery moment?”
Holm: No one in my family ever thought I would be a writer. I
wanted to be an archaeologist, an actor, and an artist, but most
of all, when I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina. I was fired
from the ballet at the young age of five because I would stop
dancing during the performances. I loved reading as a kid, but
mostly my childhood was marked with bad haircuts such as my
Dorothy Hamill and the evil perm, which a lot of us have had.
And I didn’t show a lot of promise on my report cards. In fact, I
did have a fair amount of notes from the guidance office, which
my mother kept for some reason. She also kept notes I passed
in class. I kid you not, this is a note she kept for me. It says, “Hi
Jen! How is it going? Did you ask him to the party yet? He will
say yes, most likely if you ask him. I am in Spanish and we have
a stupid substitute, Mrs. Emory. It looks like she has a wig on!
Without the wig, with the wig, I better go before she sees this.”
I did have a little literary brush with some guy named Lloyd
Alexander. I was a crazy, psychotic Lloyd Alexander fan, so I sent
him a gushing package with a sample of my writing when I was
ten or eleven. I came home from school and my mom said, kind
of disapprovingly, “There is some guy on the phone for you, Mr.
I thought he was calling to tell me what a brilliant writer I was, but
he was calling to get my address because when I wrote him a fan
letter, I had just given my phone number, and since I had the same
area code, he knew I was a local kid. He was just calling to get my
address. Talking to him on the phone was my brush with fame.
Eventually, I started writing, and my dad was my main
inspiration. He had grown up in a strangely interesting place
called Naselle, Washington, which was populated by a lot of my
family and a lot of scary Finnish grandfathers and immigrants,
so his family story is the basis for Amelia.
I would just like to say for the record that I have been writing
about Scandinavians before that Stieg Larsson guy. I mean, come
on. So the Newbery committee called, and I obviously missed the
call because I was at the hospital. But the first moment where I
was starting to get the sense that this was a really amazing thing
and a sense of the power of the Newbery was in the hospital.
My mom didn’t believe me about the call, but my dad told every
single nurse in the ward, and after that they responded to the call
button really fast. So that was our first moment, and he milked it.
Naselle, Washington, is a town you can drive through and you
won’t even know you have been there. The population is three
hundred, and we are not exactly a hard family to find. We even
have our own lane, Holm Lane.
Our farm was a working dairy ranch when my dad was a kid.
Until pretty recently, it was a working cattle ranch, and my uncle
and aunt still live on the farm. I get a call from my aunt one day,
and she said this kid had just showed up on the farm looking for
May Amelia! He was a fourth grader named Jack whose teacher
had read the book to the class. He lived in Seattle, so it was a good
three-hour drive, but he was on spring break and he begged his
grandparents to take him to Naselle to go find May Amelia.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Newbies and Newberys
Larson: I think it is a process really, not a moment, and I
think it continues to be. I am still in awe. You can tell by the
way I remember it. I think the best thing is to win a silver,
really, because you get to dress up, but you don’t have to give
a speech. I just feel blessed that I am on the same list as E. B.
White because he won the honor for Charlotte’s Web. What
can be better than that when you are a writer? So I think it is a
continual, joyful blessing and a tiny bit of a curse, which I think
we are going to talk about next.
“Wow” Questions: Subsequently you have all been successfully
published again, but in between, what were the challenges?
Were expectations a factor? What about research and revision?
Law: The issues I had around “expectation” were huge. And
I felt I’d only compounded these issues, and other people’s
expectations, by choosing to write my second book in the same
family and the same story world as Savvy.
I was even more nervous about other people’s reactions because
I chose to write Scumble from a brand new character’s point of
view. Since Savvy is a coming-of-age story and the book’s main
character, Mibs, learns what she needs to learn by the end the
book, I thought that if I just took Mibs and threw her into a new
adventure, it would somehow dishonor her character.
I wanted Mibs’s story to stand alone. And I wanted to continue
exploring the idea that we don’t always get what we want when
we grow up, but we often get what we need. A “savvy” is really
just a metaphor for growing up, and I wanted to look at a savvy
birthday from a whole new point of view, a boy’s point of view.
He got to town and stopped at the gas station and started asking
people where she lived. They said that the Holms live down the
road, and somebody pointed them to the farm. He showed up
on the farm and asked to meet May Amelia.
My aunt had to tell him that she didn’t really exist. My uncle
actually gave him a ride around the farm, took him on the
tractor and showed him the diary. This has actually happened
a lot since then. The other thing I learned is if you write a book
about your father’s side of the family, you better write a book
about your mother’s side of the family.
Law: The power of the Newbery honor was demonstrated to me
in one way by the difference between my 2008 ALA experience,
after Savvy had just come out, and my 2009 ALA experience,
when I was there for the Newbery banquet. Both conferences
were fabulous, but in 2008, I did a lot of thumb-twiddling and
desperate smiling at passersby before someone would stop to
ask me what my book was about. But in 2009, the line for my
book-signing wrapped around the booth and away into the
Another unforgettable Newbery moment was when my
hometown dedicated our local Read Across America Day
celebration to me that year, and I was honored by the town
In a way, as I was writing that second book, I was growing up
again, too; I was growing up to be an author. I was entering
a new and mysterious world filled with various publishing
demands—speaking publicly, doing school visits, and being
interviewed for newspapers, radio, and television. So I was
trying to write a second book while doing all of these things I
had never done before, while trying to adjust to my new life.
And still there was that expectation . . . that fear. Everyone loved
Savvy so much. I kept asking myself: What if I fail? What if I
come out with my second book and no one likes it?
I wrote the first draft of Savvy in four and a half months, and
we edited it fast. The whole process took from January to mid
October of 2007, whereas Scumble took about two years for the
entire process. I was very pleased with it in the end, but there
were moments when it was a crazy, crazy kind of endeavor that
pulled me to pieces before putting me back together again.
I thought it was kind of funny that I would have to talk about
research because both Kirby and Jenny write historical novels.
One might ask, how much research does one have to do for a
fantasy book?
When I was writing Savvy, I was about halfway through the
book, and my daughter and I decided to take the entire road
trip that the kids in the book take. The book starts with a storm,
and on the day we drove into Kansas for my research trip, there
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Newbies and Newberys
were eighty-four tornadoes from North Dakota to Texas, and we
drove right into one. That was an interesting beginning!
But it was very helpful to take the trip. Even thought I write
fantasy, I set my stories in the United States—in the real world—
and I wanted to know the truth about the places and the things
I was writing about before I added my own fiction.
My daughter was also very helpful. When we visited the world’s
largest porch swing, in Nebraska, she made the comment, “How
can this be a porch swing if there is no porch?” I stole that line
and gave it to my main character.
Holm: For me, everyone wanted to have a sequel right away. I didn’t
have an idea for a sequel, so I decided to make things easier by
doing historical research for the Boston Jane series, which is set in
the 1850s. This started me down my dark path of historical fiction
research. I am a little obsessive-compulsive in real life, so doing
historical fiction just kind of magnifies that bad personality trait.
The book is about Jane, a girl who moved from Philadelphia to
the West Coast. It is like a little story of self discovery and a love
interest. So when I started research for Jane, I would get bogged
down by all of these technical historical details, like how many
days exactly would it take for her to get there? Did she travel by
ship? Should she go over the mountains?
In the process, I figured out that there is somebody out there
who knows everything. So I did a lot of these calls where I called
the New Bedford Whaling Museum and I asked, “How long
would it take to go around the cape in a ship this size? How
many crew members? What would they eat?” And it was as if the
museum librarian had been waiting for somebody her whole
life to call and ask her that.
That process has continued with me, and I think I have spoken with
every unique archivist. For Penny from Heaven, there is a scene
where Penny gets her arm stuck in a washing machine, a wringer.
I became obsessed with wringer washing machines. There is a guy
in the Midwest who owns the official Wringer Washing Machine
Museum. He spent three hours on the phone with me, sent me a
book, and invited me to visit the museum. So what changed the
most for me is I became even more OCD in my research.
Larson: A research trip some years back found me digging
around in the basement of the Montana Historical Society,
where I found a photo of a girl and an exquisite and life-sized
Japanese doll. How did this doll end up with this little girl in
Podunk, Montana? And why did this happen?
Answering those questions took a few more years of poking
around, during which time I learned that there had been
fifty-eight of these dolls originally sent to children in the
United States from children in Japan in hopes of improving
relationships between our two countries. The dolls visited
more than four hundred cities coast to coast, and after a year
of traveling, were sent to various museums in each of the then
forty-eight states. At the time I started exploring the topic, there
were fourteen dolls yet unaccounted for.
After I shared my interest with my editor, Michelle, she suggested
looking for a way to connect a contemporary reader with this
story. I was intrigued by the notion of the still-missing dolls
and planned to weave in a mystery. And I liked the idea of a boy
main character because it was unexpected and because boys
like my nephew, Christopher, and my neighbor, Mason, don’t
often get a chance to see themselves reflected in kids’ books.
These quiet, artistic, and sensitive boys play with dolls as easily
as they play catch. So, with a main character named Mason, I
dove in, creating a book I called Seal’s Secret. I worked hard on
that puppy, revising it a dozen or more times. By April 2009, I
had a version I thought was worthy of showing Michelle and so,
right before I took off on a three week trip to Qatar, Lebanon,
and Egypt, I sent it to her.
Now, mind you, I’d never stopped to chat with my editor about
what she’d meant by connecting a contemporary kid with these
historical events. I had never even showed her any of the drafts.
I was just so relieved to have completed the “Dreaded Second
Novel” after winning a Newbery honor for my first novel that I
went blithely off on my trip, eager to enjoy what I imagined to
be a several month break from the manuscript.
Editors are supposed to take eons to get back to writers.
Michelle’s editorial letter was waiting for me when I returned
home. After reading the editorial letter, I picked myself up off
the floor. I may have cried. I definitely had a hard time breathing.
I read through that letter many, many times. I wish I could say
that I realized instantly that I’d been kidding myself about the
manuscript and that I knew deep down it didn’t work. But I
thought I’d done a good job with the story.
So I set up a time for us to talk. Michelle, and her assistant, Rebecca,
knew I could do better. They pointed out to me that the strongest
parts of the story—the parts I myself liked best—were written
from a historical perspective. Something someone said during
the conversation etched itself in my brain. The dolls’ story takes
place, for the most part, during the Great Depression. My wise
counselors pointed out that, once again, our country was going
through hard times and suggested that perhaps the connection to
the contemporary reader would come through sharing that hardtime experience with the story’s main characters.
The more we talked, the more excited I got. If you haven’t
figured it out already, I love poking around in history. I finally
saw this turn-down as a fresh start, a chance to more fully
explore those years before World War II. I could even see the doll
being one of the viewpoint characters in the book. Not a sticky
sweet baby doll, but a self-important doll, puffed up with pride
at having been created to be an ambassador, a doll that has as
much use for a child as a dog does for a flea.
Here is what I wrote to Michelle after our conversation:
I want to say how much I appreciate your support and
encouragement. Writing this novel after Hattie was a huge
obstacle for me, and simply completing a draft I felt good
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Newbies and Newberys
about sending to you was a major accomplishment. I really
appreciate, too, feeling freed up to approach the story in a
new way, one that sparks my interest in history and speaks
to my heart.
I spent some time “moodling,” to steal a phrase from Zora Neale
Hurston, over possible story lines and that moodling included
more research about the Depression. For example, I discovered
that Eleanor Roosevelt had received hundreds of thousands of
letters as First Lady, and I was caught by those letters which
said things like, “I am writing to you for some of your old soiled
dresses, if you have any;” and “I am sending this letter with the
pennie [sic] I get to take to Sunday school.”1
This time of exploration got my storytelling juices flowing, and I
began to envision this book taking place in different parts of the
country. I put Seal’s Secret aside. There were a few scenes I could
keep, and two characters remained though they got tweaked
dramatically, but otherwise I started over from scratch.
By the time all was said and done, I had five historical viewpoint
characters, including the master doll maker who created Miss
Kanagawa, a contemporary kid—a boy!—and an uppity doll—
six key characters in all. Of course, this re-visioned book outgrew
its original title. I came up with a few suggestions, but Michelle
felt confident that The Friendship Doll was the best choice.
As charged up as I was about this new version of the book, as
time went on, it seemed to pale in comparison to Hattie. I was
still battling that Dreaded Second Novel Syndrome. One day
I was walking our dog, Winston, with my husband and I told
him—my husband, not the dog—about what I was feeling. He
bluntly reminded me that I’d thought the first drafts of Hattie
were horrible, too.
I had no such memory, so I came straight home and read the
very first draft of Hattie Big Sky. My husband was right—it was
awful! I couldn’t have been happier! I figured if I could fix up a
rotten manuscript once, I could probably do it again. But I will
let you all be the judge of that.
What has inspired your writing?
Holm: For Penny from Heaven, I had a real moment of
inspiration. My mother’s mom had a very Italian-American
family. My grandmother was a nurse, and my grandfather was
a doctor. They got married, but my grandfather died when she
was pregnant, a huge tragedy for my family.
his family’s way of honoring him. But at my grandfather’s
brother’s death bed, my uncle grabbed me and said that she
was named Penny because my grandfather knew he was
dying. My grandfather called her Penny because she was a
lost penny he could never hold. I could not let that story leave
me because it was so sweet and dark, something you can’t
make up.
Larson: I was one of the caregivers for my grandmother in
her last years. She told me one day that the only time her
mom (Hattie) was ever afraid was in the winter when the
wild horses stampeded. We live in Seattle, and there aren’t too
many wild horses, even in the winter. In addition, my great
grandmother was four-feet-eleven inches, probably weighed
eighty-five pounds, and had thick bifocals. I couldn’t envision
her anywhere near wild horses.
In trying to figure out the truth in my grandma’s comment,
I learned that tiny little Hattie did go to Eastern Montana to
homestead by herself, which I thought was an amazing story.
I further learned that, during World War I, many women with
limited options headed west to homestead. The story was too
compelling to leave behind.
Law: I had just given up on submitting the book nobody
wanted, and I said to myself one day, “OK, I am going to sit
down and write the craziest sentence I can think of, and I’m not
going to edit it or judge it.”
Without putting any thought into the process beyond that, I
wrote, “When my brother Fish turned thirteen, we moved to the
deepest part of inland because of the hurricane, and, of course,
the fact that he’d caused it.” It is still the first line of Savvy.
The purpose of this session was to explore the “wow” of the
accomplishment of receiving a Newbery Honor for a first
published novel, as well as some of the challenges, or “woes,”
that sometimes come along after the celebrations are over. The
recollections of these authors provide us with behind the scenes
insights. Perhaps these are stories we can share with aspiring
writers who visit our libraries or sit in our classrooms, and who
need our encouragement or inspiration to keep writing. &
Holm, Jennifer. Our Only May Amelia. HarperCollins, 1999. 272p.
Larson, Kirby. Hattie Big Sky. Delacorte, 2006. 289p.
Law, Ingrid. Savvy. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2008. 352p.
My mom was raised by her maternal family, and everyone
always called her Penny, which is not a typical nickname for her
real name, Beverly.
She had always said that she thought that was because her
father’s favorite song was Pennies from Heaven, and it was
1. Robert Cohen, Dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Letters from Children of
the Great Depression (Univ. of North Carolina Pr., 2007).
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Inside Over There!
Sendak Soars in Skokie
Photos by Ruth Sinker, prov id e d by Sko kie (Ill.) Pu b lic L ib ra r y.
Library of Philadelphia and developed by Nextbook, a nonprofit
organization dedicated to supporting Jewish literature, culture,
and ideas, in conjunction with the American Library Association
Public Programs Office.
The exhibit was organized by the Rosenbach Museum and
The national tour of the exhibit was made possible by grants
from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Righteous Persons
Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, and an anonymous
donor, with additional support from Tablet Magazine: A New
Read on Jewish Life. &
his winter, Skokie (Ill.) Public Library hosted an exhibit
exploring the push and pull of the New World and the
Old World in Caldecott Medal winner Maurice Sendak’s
works, following how his artistic journey led him deeper into
his own family’s history and his Jewish identity. The Youth
Services Department even held a “Reading Rumpus” as part
of a Sendak Sunday event to involve families in reading and
exploring the exhibit.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
An Exploratory Study of Children’s
Views of Censorship
Natasha Isajlovic-Terry and Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie
“I don’t think they should stop you.” —Emily (age nine)
hile much literature exists about children, intellectual freedom, and censorship, very little is
known about what children themselves think
about this topic.
To explore this topic, we conducted a focus-group interview
with six children ages nine to twelve. The results indicate that
children have and can articulate opinions about censorship,
that these perspectives vary between children and from those
of adults, agree that some materials may be inappropriate for
children of particular ages, feel that adults have the right to
restrict access to materials but also are adept at finding ways to
acquire and read, view, or listen to restricted materials. Children’s
voices need to be considered in the further development of
policies and practices related to intellectual freedom and their
access to materials for pleasure reading and information.
Censorship and intellectual freedom are central issues to the
field of librarianship. Oppenheim and Smith claim that “the
relationship between librarians and censorship is and has been
a troubled one. Information professionals typically feel that
they should provide access to information regardless of content
or conflict with their personal points-of-view.”1 From a library
perspective, intellectual freedom should be protected at every
opportunity. However, this tenet often contradicts the interests
of many parents who choose to control and monitor the
material their children read and watch. Occasionally, parents
bring formal challenges into the library when they find material
they experience as objectionable.
The Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom defines a challenge
as “a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school,
requesting that materials be removed because of content or
appropriateness.”2 Not surprisingly, and perhaps because of their
age, we were unable to find evidence of challenges to collections
initiated by children. In fact, there appears to be little written about
children’s perspectives on intellectual freedom and censorship,
particularly when it applies to material of interest to them.
Literature Review
A large body of literature exists focusing on the issue of
censorship. Much of the literature consists of policy
statements,3 descriptions of how libraries should and do deal
with censorship,4 lists and discussions of which materials are
Natasha Isajlovic-Terry (far left) is an independent
is ......
and librarian at the Foundation
Center-San Francisco, California, and Lynne McKechnie (left) is Professor of Information and
Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
An Exploratory Study of Children’s Views of Censorship
being challenged,5 and explanations of why those books are
being challenged.6
ones, in the areas of the library where they can most easily find
them—the children’s/young adult shelves.”11
Most of this literature presents adult perspectives. Viewpoints
of younger people appear rarely, usually involve teens rather
than children, and present adult interpretations of children’s
opinions rather than children’s direct voices. For example,
in “One Teen’s Stand against Censorship,” Hall describes the
lawsuit filed by high school student Emma Rood against the
U.S. government over the Children’s Internet Protection Act
(2000) and includes Rood’s comments and opinions.7
As evident in this very brief overview of a very large literature
concerning children and censorship, the voices of children
themselves are seldom heard. To address this gap in understanding,
we undertook an exploratory study to answer the following
research question: What do children think about censorship of
materials that have been developed for or are of interest to them?
As teens are very different from children, this brief article
provides no insights about children’s views. In a regular column
in the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, which describes
successful defenses of challenges against materials, it is
reported that school librarian “Victoria Foster . . . explained
that she filed an objection [to Joyce Carol Oates’s Sexy] after
a student brought the book to her attention, directing her to
chapter seven ‘and that the f-word came up quite a bit.’” Foster
also complained about sexually explicit passages in the novel.8
To investigate, we conducted a focus-group interview with six
children ages nine to twelve. Long established as an appropriate
method for exploring opinions,12 the focus group interview
has been used extensively in library and information science
(LIS).13 This method is included in several research-methods
texts regularly used in master’s and doctoral LIS programs
throughout North America.14
Also included in the report are the responses of a teacher, the
school principal, and even the author of the book, who had been
contacted by a student via email. Even though that student clearly
had an opinion, it was not represented in the article. This example
is typical of a literature in which children’s views about censorship
are simply not or are only indirectly explored and presented.
Although few in number, there are some published reports of
focus-group studies conducted with children in LIS. Waters
conducted a focus group with nine children ages six to nine
about their experience of the public library.15 Dresang, Gross, and
Holt used surveys, observations, and focus groups to investigate
the use of computers in a public library by children in grades
four to eight.16 Lushington used focus groups with children and
teens to aid in planning a new children’s library space.17
The dominant concern expressed when it comes to questionable
material is how it might affect children and whether it is
suitable for the intended audience and age group. For instance,
the most challenged book of 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010,
according to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office of
Intellectual Freedom, was Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s
2005 children’s picture book And Tango Makes Three.9
One of the reasons given in many of the challenges is that it
is “unsuited to age group.”10 This indicates that the parties
challenging this work are concerned that children age four to
eight may be adversely affected by reading a story about two
male penguins that hatch an egg together and proceed to raise it.
While many adults seek to protect children from “inappropriate”
materials, others, in the hope of protecting children from
censorship, fight challenges to children’s materials. Librarians
and library and information science (LIS) scholars are prominent
within this group. For example, Anne Curry reports on the
results of two studies examining whether or not librarians were
moving controversial materials for children and teens to adult
sections in public libraries and the most common reasons
presented for challenging materials for reading. Curry ends her
article with the following statement:
“Books that deal openly with controversial subjects are the
ones young people like the best. . . . One of the most important
responsibilities we assume as librarians is to make sure older
children and young adults get these lifelines. We need to
provide them with challenging books, including controversial
Of particular interest are three articles that, in addition to
reporting the results of studies, provide extensive information
about the research design process—what worked and what
didn’t when using focus groups with children: Large and
Beheshti’s work on children and web-based portal design;18
Harris and McKenzie’s study of barriers faced by children in
using public libraries;19 and Meyers, Fisher, and Marcoux’s work
on the information behavior of tweens.20 These articles, as well
as a selection of texts devoted to doing research with children,21
informed the design for this study.
Focus groups are appropriate for this study for several reasons.
Krueger and Casey note the usefulness of the method for
exploring topics about which little is known.22 Greenbaum
asserts the ability of the focus group to increase what is shared
by participants through their interaction with each other.23
Green and Hogan note that “focus groups create a safe peer
environment and replicate the type of small group settings
that children are familiar with from their classroom work.”24
Freeman and Mathison claim focus groups “engage children
because they diminish the effects of adult power.”25 Most
importantly, according to Christiansen and James, by focusing
on the children’s own speech as the main source of data, focus
groups position “children as central informants of their own life
Our focus-group size of six in this exploratory study appeared
to work well; it was small enough so all could participate and
large enough to generate significant interaction between the
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
An Exploratory Study of Children’s Views of Censorship
children. Four of the participants were girls (Celia, age nine;
Emily, age nine; Julie, age ten; and Sarah, age twelve) and two
were boys (Billy, age ten; and Anthony, age eleven).27
Although it is usually recommended that girls and boys not
participate in the same focus group, a mixed group seem
appropriate in this case because the children were relatively
young (this is a more serious consideration for teens) and the
topic was not deemed to be gender sensitive.
Our convenience sample of participants was recruited through
flyers posted throughout the university; e-mail messages sent to
faculty, staff, students, and acquaintances; and through wordof-mouth. We did not collect sociodemographic information
about the participants, but the children did represent a variety
of backgrounds.
One was the child of a faculty member; others had parents who
worked in professional, entrepreneurial, technical, and clerical
positions. In addition, children of dual- and single-parent
families were represented. The children lived both in the city
where the study was conducted and in surrounding rural areas.
As with any exploratory study with a limited-size convenience
sample, care must be taken in generalizing or transferring the
results to other groups.
The focus group took place in a university meeting room. The
interior was visible through windows in both doors. In case a
child might need support or comfort (a situation that did not
arise), participants’ parents sat outside in a nearby lounge.
The focus group, held in the early evening on a mid-week day
during the school year, lasted about one hour.
As the children arrived, they were given name tags and were
introduced to the researchers. The logistics of the focus group
were described to the participants, and they were encouraged
to ask questions. At this point, we allowed the children to
tell the rest of the group their names and an interesting fact
about themselves. This served as an icebreaker and helped to
stimulate participation.
The focus group was audio-recorded and then transcribed the
following week. One of us served as the moderator, and the
other as a support person who attended to any special needs of
the children and to the equipment and made brief observation
notes. Healthy snacks were distributed after the formal focus
group ended.
The focus-group transcript was analyzed using Corbin and
Strauss’s grounded theory approach to identify themes related
to the research question.28
expressed the following when the group was asked whether
they felt parents should limit what their children read and see.
“Um, I don’t think it’s a good idea ’cause, I think reading, like, is
good for people and you should be able to read whatever you
want. Unless it’s inappropriate, like really inappropriate.”
Although Sarah felt her parents should not be able to tell her
what she could not read, she recognized there were certain limits
to what was appropriate. Sarah also felt that some literature
should be reserved for older children. When discussing Scary
Stories to Tell in the Dark, Sarah said, “I think that . . . they
should limit it to like older kids,” but she also indicated the book
should not be removed from the library even though it might
frighten some children.
Emily (age nine) felt parents should not control children’s
reading. “I don’t think they should stop you,” she said. When
discussing a specific instance of censorship, Emily said, “I
still think they should let it [the book] out because I think
kids should be able to read whatever they want and believe in
whatever they feel like believing in.”
Julie (age ten) responded, “I think they should maybe stop you if
it was really, like a bad book, if there was . . . I don’t know, killing
in it and it was school.”
Similarly, Billy (age ten) said he did not think parents and
teachers should limit what children read “unless it’s really bad.”
While all participants felt that censorship was not a favorable
practice, some articulated that it sometimes might be necessary.
These children were able to identify examples or contexts where
this might be so.
Some Things are Worse than Others
One participant thought different types of material warranted
different treatments. When asked whether she had read or
seen something that she later felt was inappropriate, Sarah
responded, “I think it’s just magazines ’cause there’s a lot of
inappropriate stuff in them. Well, some of them.” Sarah also felt
that “a lot of video games have like, negative and violence. And
movies too.”
Yet she had stated earlier that parents should not limit what
children read. When asked directly if her parents should be
able to restrict negative and violent content, Sarah responded,
“Well, in movies and like video games mostly, not in books as
much.” These responses indicated that Sarah felt the type of
material affects the impact on the user and that a child would
be more negatively affected by violent images in video games
and movies than by similar content in a book.
Varying Views of Censorship
What’s Inappropriate?
The participants held varying opinions about censorship. Some
felt censorship was negative, but that there were some instances
when it should be practiced. For example, Sarah (age twelve)
What constitutes inappropriate content varies between book
challenges. Although And Tango Makes Three is a frequently
challenged book, the focus-group participants did not mention
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
An Exploratory Study of Children’s Views of Censorship
that book or label content involving same-sex relationships as
Instead, the participants focused on violent and scary content.
For example, Julie said her “teachers limit it. We read a book
called Pig Boy, and some guy got killed by a pig shredder.”
Anthony (age eleven) said “the author Shane Peacock should
stop writing his books. . . . Two of his newest books—murder!”
When discussing Twilight, the participants did not find
paranormal content controversial. Instead, they agreed the
book was meant for older kids because of the violent aspects.
Emily said, “My friend told me at the end of Twilight, someone’s
head gets sliced off.”
Anthony thought Twilight was controversial because “Bella
does not deserve to get pregnant with a vampire.” This was the
first and only allusion throughout the focus group to sexual
content and the idea that it might be inappropriate for children.
The very popular Harry Potter series also was described as
controversial. Billy did not understand why, saying “probably
a four-year-old would like it,” and that he did not understand
why some people thought it was bad. Julie said, “I don’t like
Harry Potter” but then agreed that even though she did not like
it, other kids should have the choice to read it.
While children and adults seem to share the feeling that violent
and frightening content might be offensive, they disagreed about
other types of content. These children, unlike many adults, were
not concerned about homosexuality, sex, the paranormal, and
witchcraft and wizardry in children’s books. They also showed
sensitivity to the idea that the perception of inappropriate
content is subjective, understanding that what one person finds
controversial or offensive can be enjoyed by many others.
Finding a Way to Get What You Want
The children in this focus group did not seem to hesitate and
used a variety of methods to get restricted materials. When
asked what he would do if his teacher said he could not read
Twilight, Billy said, “Um, I wouldn’t really care, ’cause I would
just take it out secretly and then just read it at my house.”
When asked whether she would read or watch something she
was told not to, Julie said, “I don’t tell my mom and dad what
I read. I just read it.” She described one of her methods for
acquiring restricted materials: “If your library’s open . . . ah . . .
once you leave, you can just take it out.”
When asked whether or not he was allowed to watch South
Park, Anthony stated, “No. I do anyway.” When asked what she
would do if someone told her she could not read Harry Potter,
Sarah said, “You probably could just probably like try like to get
it or like ask an older sibling to get it for you, if you have one, or
something. Or like some older friend or something.”
These responses demonstrate the participants acted with
independent agency. They felt that they were able to identify
what was inappropriate. Although they knew that parents had the
right to limit what they read and watch, they ultimately felt that
they could decide for themselves and act to get those materials.
Location, Location, Location
As evident in the following interaction, the participants
recognized that some items, although they are available to
everyone in the library, are placed in certain areas of the library
to discourage younger children from borrowing them.
Emily (age nine) said, “In my school, they, well the library, they
organize it and then one section it has like, a lot of books that
probably older kids would read.”
Who Decides?
At Celia’s (age nine) school, teachers and the school librarian
were able to limit what is read and by whom. “They don’t let me
take out too mature books. You have to be a certain age to take
them out . . . because, um, our librarian thinks that it might be
too inappropriate for us.”
While all the children thought teachers have the right to limit
what their students read at school, they felt that control did not
extend outside of school. Billy said, “If it’s the teacher . . . unless
you’re at school, they can’t really limit what you do. . . . ’Cause
at school they’re like your parents, but when you’re in your own
house, your parents are the parents.”
We found it very interesting that the participants were so
accepting of their roles as children. They were not angry about
being told what they could and could not read. They seemed
to acknowledge that some content is reserved for older people
regardless of how they themselves might feel about that.
Ironically, these same children were easily able to get access to
materials they knew had been restricted.
Billy responded, “Yeah [the] back. In my school it’s like the back
of the library.” The children recognized that area, although
not labeled as such, was for the older kids at their school. Billy
thought placing materials in specified areas made sense. He
stated, “Pirates of the Caribbean for example, and they put it
in the kindergarten library . . . and they [the kindergarteners]
wouldn’t be allowed to take it out. That would be kind of stupid.”
Julie responded, “Yeah, why would they put it there?” Anthony
said, “They won’t even let us take that out.” Billy recognized
the futility in placing materials suited to older children in the
kindergarten area. He also accepted that this material was
intended for older children.
Billy had a lot to say about the placement of materials within
his school library. He seemed concerned that a fiction book
with a questionable image on the front cover was placed
“basically a few steps away from the kindergarten area.” He
thought that a solution to this problem would be to “replace the
fiction with the non-fiction, like move them around. Because
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
An Exploratory Study of Children’s Views of Censorship
the non-fiction’s on the opposite side of the library from the
kindergartens. So, it should be moved.”
Ultimately, he thought “they shouldn’t put the books in the
library if they don’t want the kids to read them.”
Sarah agreed with Billy. She said, “I think for the books that
aren’t for everybody they should put like, like under a desk or
something, cause if the little kids see it and find out they can’t
read it, they might want it even more.”
They Want Them Even More
Sarah mentioned twice during the focus group that children
would probably want things more once they were restricted.
When asked whether they felt this was true, Billy and Julie
agreed that they would want something more if it was restricted.
This idea is not unique to this group of children. In an
article by Stewart about a recent controversy surrounding
Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn, it is reported that a school
representative stated, “Book bans serve only to shame children
and heighten their curiosity.”29
Intellectual freedom advocates share this viewpoint. The
responses from both the children and the adult experts point to
a paradox arising from the act of restricting access to materials.
Items are restricted to prevent children from reading, viewing,
or listening to them, but the restrictions ultimately increase
children’s curiosity and desire for the restricted material.
With only one small focus group, the results of this exploratory
study are not definitive and cannot be generalized to a
population. However, because it evoked the voices of real
children, it has made a substantial contribution to the literature
on children, intellectual freedom, and censorship.
The thoughts of the children who participated in this focus
group are notable in several ways. First, it is clear that children
of this age are able to think about censorship and do have
opinions about it. Further, it seems that these opinions not
only vary between children, but in some ways are significantly
different from those of adults.
The children agreed that some materials are inappropriate for
different age groups and were readily able to provide examples.
At the same time, they wisely noted that such designations were
largely subjective and that something that might offend one
person would be fine for another.
As librarians with a strong professional commitment to intellectual
freedom, we were surprised to learn the children felt that adults, in
particular parents and teachers, had the right to restrict children’s
access to materials. And we were delighted to hear them describe
how they circumvented these restrictions to get what they wanted.
We hope this small study will inspire others to further explore
children’s views of censorship. We also hope that practicing
children’s librarians will work to ensure that children’s voices
will be considered in the future development of policies and
practices concerning their access to information, pleasure
reading, and other materials.
The children who participated in this study had a good idea
of their own tastes, but also of their limitations—what they
could and could not handle at a certain age. Children should be
seen as trusted and knowledgeable partners when it comes to
deciding what is and what is not appropriate for them to read. &
Note: An earlier version of this paper won an Honorable Mention
in the 2011 ALISE/Library Media Connection Paper Award
1. Charles Oppenheim and Victoria Smith, “Censorship in
Libraries,” Information Services & Use 24 (2004): 159.
2. “And Tango Makes Three tops ALA’s 2006 List of Most
Challenged Books,” Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom 56,
no. 4 (2007): 137.
3. See, for example, American Library Association, “Section
53 Intellectual Freedom,” Policy Manual (Chicago:
American Library Association, n.d.),
aboutala/governance/policymanual/index.cfm (accessed
July 15, 2010).
4. See, for example, American Library Association, Office for
Intellectual Freedom, The Intellectual Freedom Manual,
7th ed. (Chicago: American Library Association, 2006);
and Catherine Lord, Defending Access with Confidence
(Chicago: American Library Association, 2005).
5. See, for example, “And Tango Makes Three.”
6. See, for example, Jean Vos MacDonald, J. K. Rowling:
Banned, Challenged, and Censored (Berkeley Heights:
Enslow, 2008); and Pat Scales, “What Makes a Good Banned
Book?” Horn Book Magazine 85, no. 5 (2009): 533–36.
7. Jeremiah Hall, “One Teen’s Stand Against Censorship,” The
Advocate 863 (2002): 24.
8. “Success Stories: Libraries: Boulder, Montana,” Newsletter
on Intellectual Freedom 57, no. 1 (2008): 25.
9. Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, And Tango Makes
Three, illus. Henry Cole (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005).
10. “Tango tops Challenged Books List for Third Consecutive
Year,” Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom 58, no. 4 (2009): 177.
11. Anne Curry, “Where is Judy Blume? Controversial Fiction
for Older Children and Young Adults,” Journal of Youth
Services in Libraries 14, no. 3 (2001): 28–37.
12. See, for example, Richard A. Krueger and Mary Anne Casey,
Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research,
4th ed. (Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2009); and Thomas L.
Greenbaum, Moderating Focus Groups: A Practical Guide
for Group Facilitation (Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2000).
13. Graham R. Walden, “Focus Group Interviewing in the
Library Literature: A Selective Annotated Bibliography 1996–
2005,” Reference Services Review 34, no. 2 (2006): 222–41.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
An Exploratory Study of Children’s Views of Censorship
14. See, for example, Susan E. Beck and Kate Manuel, “Chapter
4 Interviews and Focus Groups,” Practical Research
Methods for Librarians and Information Professionals (New
York: Neal-Schuman, 2008); Ronald R. Powell and Lynne
Silipigni Connaway, “Focus Group Interviews,” Basic
Research Methods for Librarians, 4th ed. (Westport, Connn:
Libraries Unlimited, 2004); and Barbara M. Wildemuth,
“Chapter 25 Focus Groups,” Applications of Social Research
Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science
(Westport: Libraries Unlimited, 2004).
15. Marjorie R. T. Waters, “A Child’s Focus Group Discussion
in the Library: Part One,” Public Library Quarterly 15, no.
2 (1996): 5–6; Waters, “A Child’s Focus Group Discussion
in a Public Library: Part Two” Public Library Quarterly 15,
no. 3 (1996): 5–7; Waters, “From the Mouths of the Young:
What Children and Young People Think about the Public
Library,” Public Library Quarterly 15, no. 4 (1996): 3–16.
16. Eliza T. Dresang, Melissa Gross, and Leslie Holt, “New
Perspectives: An Analysis of Gender, Net-Generation
Children, and Computers,” Library Trends 56, no. 2 (2007):
17. Nolan Lushington, Libraries Designed for Kids (New York:
Neal-Schuman, 2008).
18. Andrew Large and Jamshid Beheshti, “Focus Groups
with Children: Do They Work?” Canadian Journal of
Information and Library Science 26, no. 2/3 (2001): 77–89.
19. Pam Harris and Pamela J. McKenzie, “What It Means To Be
‘In-Between’: A Focus Group Analysis of Barriers Faced by
Children Aged 7 to 11 Using Public Libraries,” Canadian
Journal of Information & Library Science 28, no. 4 (2004):
Eric Meyers, Karen E. Fisher, and Elizabeth Marcoux,
“Studying the Everyday Information Behavior of Tweens:
Notes from the Field,” Library & Information Science
Research 29, no. 3 (2007): 310–31.
Pia Christensen and Allison James, Research with Children:
Perspectives and Practices, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge,
2008); Melissa Freeman and Sandra Mathison, Researching
Children’s Experiences (New York: Guilford, 2009);
Sheila Greene and Diane Hogan, Researching Children’s
Experience: Approaches and Methods (London: Sage, 2005).
Krueger and Casey, Focus Groups.
Greenbaum, Moderating Focus Groups.
Green and Hogan, Researching Children’s Experience, 237.
Freeman and Mathison, Researching Children’s
Experiences, 104.
Christensen and James, Research with Children, 1.
Pseudonyms are used throughout this report to protect the
identity of the children.
Juliet Corbin and Anselm Strauss, Basics of Qualitative
Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing
Grounded Theory, 3rd ed. (Los Angeles: Sage, 2008).
Kirsten Stewart, “Twilight Book Missing after Parent
Complains,” Salt Lake Tribune, Mar. 19, 2009, www.sltrib
.com/ci_11944849?source=most_viewed (accessed Mar.
27, 2009).
Instruction, a First Aid Kit, and Communication, continued from page 26
this open communication reveals the mentee’s training plan
has veered off course.
Through instruction, professional resources and experiences,
and frequent open communication, mentees receive the tools
necessary to thrive. These mentees, through being part of a
productive mentoring relationship, become equipped with the
skills to “pay it forward” and to become mentors themselves.
Lee explains that “frequently, the trainee will provide this gift
to others by becoming a mentor, thus providing the experience
for someone else.”9
The North Carolina Youth Services Mentor Program created
an online village of mentoring professionals with the training,
resources, and support necessary for them to mentor staffers
across North Carolina. This village ensures that youth services
staffers without mentors readily available to them receive the
tools required to confidently step into the professional work of
youth services. What a village, indeed. &
Photos by Melissa Lang.
1. Elizabeth Knowles, ed. The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase,
Saying, and Quotation (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1997): 237.
2. Lotta Haglund, “Brief Communication: Mentoring as a
Tool for Staff Development,” Health Information and Libraries Journal 21, no. 1 (2004): 61.
3. Rosanne Cerny, Penny Markey, and Amanda Williams,
Outstanding Library Service to Children: Putting the Core
Competencies to Work (Chicago: ALA, 2006): 80.
4. Marta K. Lee, Mentoring in the Library: Building for the
Future (Chicago: ALA, 2011): 38.
5. Ibid., 36.
6. Ruth F. Metz, Coaching in the Library: A Management
Strategy for Achieving Excellence (Chicago: ALA, 2001): 26.
7. V. Heidi Hass and Tony White, “Mentoring Task Force
Report,” as quoted in Lee, Mentoring in the Library, 2.
8. Meg Smith and Sarah English, “A Map, a Life Vest, and a
Navigator: Required Supplies for Youth Services Training,”
Children & Libraries 7, no. 1 (2009): 47.
9. Lee, Mentoring in the Library, 6.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Power of Story
The Role of Bibliotherapy for the Library
James R. Allen, Sandra F. Allen, Kathy H. Latrobe, Michael Brand, Betty Pfefferbaum, Brenda Elledge, Tracey Burton, and Matthew Guffey
ork with victims of disaster has moved from traditional psychiatric models of individual psychopathology to models of people as participating in and
constituted by their interactions with others and within their
communities and its institution. It involves struggles to calm
and contain, to reclaim control, to make meaning, and to connect and reconnect.
Even the roles of professional mental health workers have
changed. Rather than seeing themselves as having definitive
answers and knowledge, they are now more likely to emphasize
a willingness to listen, witness, and offer what information they
have. For survivors, it may be helpful to ask even unanswerable,
existential questions in the presence of a nonjudgmental
person who can tolerate ambivalence and uncertainty.1
Librarians are quite cognizant that they are not therapists.
However, libraries can offer a safe place for children to express
their concerns, to have their experiences, thoughts, feelings,
and actions validated, and to explore ways to feel better. In this
process, brief bibliotherapy may have an important role.
With the simple words, “Come, sit down. Let me tell you a
story,” the librarian invites the child into a human relationship.
Long after the latest therapy fads and catchphrases are history,
people will still be telling stories, joining their characters in
imagination, and finding models for how to change their lives.
We experience stories. Such experiences shape us in ways
that abstractions cannot, for they appeal to all of what we are
as human beings—feeling and meaning-making beings with
James R. Allen, MD, MPH, is Vice Chair and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Rainbolt Family Chair in Child Psychiatry,
and Director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral
Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City. Sandra F. Allen, PhD, is a Clinical
Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences
Center. Kathy Latrobe, PhD, is Professor of Library and Information Studies in the School of Library and Information Studies, College of
Arts and Sciences, University of Oklahoma in Norman. Michael Brand is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences,
Director of the Social Work Fellowship Program, Adjunct Professor of Public Health, and a member of OU Physicians , University of
Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Betty Pfefferbaum, MD, JD, is George Lynn Cross Research
is ...... Paul and Ruth Jonas Chair,
Professor and Chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Tracey
Burton, MLS, currently serves as Program Coordinator for the Southwest Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center at
the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, College of Public Health, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Brenda L. Elledge, DrPH, is
Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, College of Public Health, University of Oklahoma
Health Sciences Center. She is currently the Director of the Southwest Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center.
Matthew W. Guffey is Master of Public Health candidate, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Power of Story
bodies, not just reasoning. This phenomenon underlies David
Lawrence’s claim: “Being a novelist, I consider myself superior
to the saint, the scientist, the philosopher, and the poet who are
great masters of different parts of man alive, but never get the
whole hog.”2
probably contains the message that both past and future are
determined by active choice.
An atmosphere of calmness.
An opportunity to limit negative emotions through concepts,
words, and emotional containment.
Validation of the child’s experience, thoughts, feelings, and
actions. The truth of events for each of us is found not just in
what happened, but also in how we felt and thought about it
then, how we feel and think about it now, and the reactions
of significant others.
There are varying and inconsistent definitions of the term
bibliotherapy; it is really a generic term for a continuum of
activities that offer potential for growth, self-understanding,
and healing through the use of literature or film. Literature,
as John Pardeck and Jean Pardeck have pointed out, provides
models of how to understand and handle dilemmas and real-life
situations.3 Within the movement of story and storytelling lie
answers to the perennial questions, “Who am I? Why am I here?
Who are you? What happens to people like me in this world?”
In their review of the literature, David Russell and Caroline
Shrodes define bibliotherapy as a process of dynamic
interaction between the reader and literature—interaction that
may be utilized for personality assessment or for adjustment,
preparation, healing, and growth.4 We suggest librarians can
provide such brief acute intervention in the wake of a disaster.
While contradictory, the bibliotherapy literature does present a
consensus on several points. First, bibliotherapy is not meant
to be psychotherapy. Teachers and librarians are not therapists.
They do not intend to deal with psychopathology or offer what
is more appropriate in the office of some therapist or counselor.
Second, bibliotherapy has traditionally been conceptualized
as facilitating three processes: identification, catharsis, and
problem-solving.5 Identification is affiliation with a character in
the story. You join him or her on the adventure. After all, we all
are characters, bundles of values and understandings in action,
involved in some significant action over time. Identification is
especially useful if the character solves a problem successfully
and so can be a model for hope.
Catharsis is the release of tension experienced by the reader who
lives through the character’s situation, sharing his or her motivations
and conflicts, and the story’s climax, surprises, and resolution.
Insight is the gaining of some awareness of one’s motivations or
the motivations of another. In discussing solutions to a character’s
problems, participants have opportunities to utilize interpersonal
problem-solving strategies, explore alternative responses,6
and develop the ability to mentalize—that is, to understand
both themselves and others as motivated by internal states, a
characteristic now shown as an important factor in resilience.7
However, the involvement in stories that a library can provide
during or after a disaster can serve many other functions:
A place of safety.
An opportunity to do something active rather than be a
passive victim. Metaphorically, the story that will be heard
Reinforcement of related assumptions such as, adults can
soothe and help and that there is goodness in the world.
Support for such developmentally appropriate efforts as
social referencing (checking with an adult) to appraise and
address external dangers.
Addressing of factual inaccuracies and misattributions of
Reinforcement of narrative coherence, the ability to organize
events into a sequence of beginning, middle, and end, rather
than to experience them as a series of unrelated random
events. Such a sequencing offers the possibility of change.
Without that, stories have little interest.
Scaffolding for co-constructing context and meaning. Every
action is an episode in a possible history.8
Support of the preschool and school-age tasks of cooperation
and sharing.
An opportunity for vicarious problem-solving and for
elaborating alternative solutions. If people cannot imagine
themselves doing something, they are unlikely to do it. We
need our heroes, models, and mentors.
Prevention of pathogenic expectations of future helplessness,
lack of safety and security, or failure of protection.
Shaping of the child’s subsequent experiences through
priming. Stories help determine what we are likely to
perceive or ignore.
Promotion of mentalizing, the understanding of both self
and others as motivated by internal states and therefore
predictable and potentially changeable.
In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, the librarian can
be of help just by being a comforting presence and offering
a calm, safe environment; providing useful words and
concepts; offering missing information; correcting factual
misunderstandings; and supporting problem-solving. For
example, Bessel Van der Kolk, J. Christopher Perry, and Judith
Herman importantly noted that following trauma, the capacity
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Power of Story
Table 1.
Crisis Bibliotherapy
Traditional Bibliotherapy
Very time-limited (1 or 2 sessions)
Several sessions or self-help
Provision of safe environment, timestructuring, emotional containment,
and examples of problem-solving
Personality modification,
change in disturbed behavior,
or mastery of developmental
Normal response to abnormal event
Psychopathology or
developmental distortions
Keeps discussion on story characters
and situation
Uses story as springboard to
delve deeply into reactions
to derive comfort from the presence of another person
eventually was a more powerful predictor of improvement
than the trauma itself.9
Because of developmental limitations, young children are prone
egocentrically to attribute what happened to their own actions
or to magical thinking and so suffer unnecessary guilt and
shame. Having appropriate concepts and words can surround
negative emotions with boundaries and limits, transforming
them into something that can be managed.
Normally in their fourth or fifth year, children begin to appreciate
that different people may perceive events differently, that they
themselves felt differently in the past than they do now, and
that things may not be what they appear to be. For example,
a child can now understand that because he or she has been
treated badly, it does not automatically mean he or she is bad.
This provides opportunities to look at alternative perspectives
on their experiences.
Problem-solving involves several steps:
1. Delineating and describing the problem.
2. Brainstorming possible solutions.
3. Guessing the consequences of different actions.
4. Choosing the best solution.
The ease of the process depends on the child’s developmental
level, intelligence, anxiety or other emotional inferences, and
the framework an adult can provide. Younger children may
have trouble even defining the problem, and the problems
older children highlight may not be the problem the adult
sees. Usually, the connection between goals and actions do
not become clear until about age five. Four-year-olds may
have trouble understanding that small steps can lead to a goal.
Under stress, older children may regress to these earlier levels
of functioning. The librarian can help all of them by providing
necessary scaffolding.
It should be noted that what we are proposing is not debriefing.
At least in adults, some of the few controlled studies that have
examined debriefing’s preventive effects following exposure
to a traumatic event have suggested a poorer outcome than
no intervention at all.10 What we are suggesting is that the
librarians do what they know how to do well: offer children a
place to listen to and to discuss a story.
Crisis Bibliotherapy vs. Other Types
There has been concern in the bibliotherapy literature as to
the boundary between discussion and psychotherapy and,
therefore, the appropriate role of the librarian.11 Quite apart from
the issues of turf and politics inherent in such discussions, these
issues are largely irrelevant to what we are proposing—one or
two story and discussion groups in the aftermath of a disaster.
Although oversimplified, Table 1 provides a list of differences
between traditional and crisis bibliotherapy.12
Narrative and the Experienced Self
Our individual self is a center of experience and agency. It
becomes more complex and integrated as we mature.13 At about
age three, the young child usually has elaborated some kind of
concept of self, as demonstrated in the use of the pronoun “I.”
By age four or so, they are able to conceptualize themselves
over an extended period and can form an autobiographical self
involving a story of who they are, what will become of them, and
their relationship to the world. Whether it is a fireman, princess,
or a superhero, kids try on many roles and personalities. This
also is the time when kids engage in pretend play par excellence.
In this mode, correspondence to reality is not examined. The
child knows that play and fantasy may not reflect external reality,
but this is considered as having no implications for the external
world.14 Such pretense offers opportunities for the expression of
unconscious conflicts and surprising competencies. Imagination
provides possibilities to create new realities.
We live in a storied world. Hearing or seeing stories provides
children with models of how experience can be shaped into
meaningful patterns. In play and drawing, they even create
stories of their own, with or without an audience.
Stories bring together our experiences, making sense of them
and integrating them into something meaningful. They typically
offer a carnival of interpretive possibilities, but we may get stuck
in one version and live it out. For example, some posttraumatic
symptoms seem to result from problems in integrating the
trauma into one’s life story as an unfortunate event belonging
to the past. Rather, the sufferer’s narrative does not contain
it, contains it too rigidly, or is overwhelmed by it. Through
storytelling and the discussion of stories, the librarian can offer
models of more useful and less pathogenic story structures.
At any given age, particular stories or at least particular
interpretations seem especially attractive. These generally
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Power of Story
embody themes appropriate to the child’s stage of development
or situation—in this case a disaster, a sudden event that is out of
the ordinary. Some stories may have metaphoric correspondence
to the child’s inner reality. However, stories also have a distancing
effect. It is out there, just pretend.
By introducing potential alternative understandings and
reactions, story discussions may help children correct their
own story of what happened. Sometimes, they may provide
a different perspective or indexing scheme; the same events
can be interpreted differently depending on the genre or story
skeleton. Alternatively, a story may highlight or downplay
certain phenomenon, helping the listener retrieve neglected
aspects or contextualize and formulate them differently. This
allows for different possibilities to emerge. Such processes can
open a space between experience and response, freeing the
listener somewhat from being embedding in his or her external
or internal worlds. These processes also can help the listener
better contain his or her experience in narratives, or at least in
less rigid ones. Sometimes this may amount to a reauthoring of
the listener’s story and, thereby, his or her sense of self.15 In a
certain sense, we are our stories. If we had different stories, for
example, we would be someone else.
Summarizing several thousand studies on the construct of
self, Timothy Judge et al. concluded that locus of control, selfesteem, and self-efficacy combine to form a core self.16 All three
phenomena, however, are closely linked.17 Locus of control—one
of the most studied variables in psychology—is the extent to
which people believe their life circumstances are a function of
their own actions (internal locus) as opposed to external factors.18
Being treated as having intention supports the child’s sense of
self both as subject and as agency. People’s belief in their abilities
to mobilize the resources they need to succeed exerts a strong
influence on their behavior and resilience. Albert Bandura has
called this self-sufficiency.19 The librarian leading a discussion
response can support all these in the child participants.
Research in Bibliotherapy
The use of bibliotherapy expanded greatly in the second half
of the nineteenth century. In the United States, this coincided
with the period of long-term psychiatric hospitalizations. More
recently, however, in the United Kingdom Neil Frude set up an
ambitious program that has successfully treated thousands of
outpatients in the National Health Service.20 Every day, it is used
by classroom teachers.21
Several studies have reported promising results, but good
research studies are few. Arguably one of the best studies
showed greater reductions in depressive symptomatology in a
bibliotherapy group than in an assessment-only control group
and significantly lower risk for major depression in a six-month
followup.22 However, the book utilized for the bibliotherapy was
a self-help book on cognitive therapy.
Indeed, in his 1987 review and analysis of the field, Ronald
Lenkowsky concluded that results of the approach were
conflicting because of serious experimental flaws and a plethora
of confounding factors.23 However, none of this literature is
particularly relevant to what we are proposing: the use of stories
and their discussion as a brief intervention at the time of a
Future Needs
There is a need for the experimental study of the use of
specific stories for children at specific developmental levels.
They need to consider specific conflicts and life situations,
utilize controlled and before-and-after designs, and avoid
confounding factors. Then, it might be possible to look at the
idiosyncratic ways particular children respond as well as the
effects of different facilitator styles.
At that point, it would be possible to compare the usefulness
of stories that openly deal with specific topics, such as death
or divorce, as opposed to stories that are less obviously a fit or
parallel at a superficial level but which may better reflect the
child’s internal world.24 Operating through metaphor stories
may have considerable power to bypass conscious resistance
and thereby be more therapeutically useful.
Reader Response Theory
Traditional literary analyses offer useful information on how
authors achieve effects through narrative style, technique,
and manipulation of point of view. However, these are only
potential, and their effects are subject to modification by the
reader.25 Close observation of five adult readers of William
Faulkner, for example, led Norma Holland to conclude that each
reader’s comments reflected his or her personal psychological
preoccupations.26 This highlights how important it is to consider
children’s responses in terms of their development age and
immediate concerns.
For example, F. André Favat, has described the correspondence
between thinking processes of young children and fairytale
discourses, thereby explaining their enduring popularity,27 and
Perry Nodelman has delineated the appeal of ever-popular
superheroes.28 Children, however, will hear and remember a
story differently than how it is read to make it better fit their
needs. Many great stories can be read at many stages in life,
and the reader may find something meaningful, but different,
each time.
Potential Dangers
For the Child
Until this point, we have considered the positive effects of
stories in general, and bibliotherapy in particular. However, we
all can probably think of examples of children frightened, if not
entranced, by scary stories and stories that shocked or stirred
up emotions a child could not contain. There are people who
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Power of Story
are retraumatized in telling the story of their own trauma. There
are children who have intense emotional reactions to fictional
plots that resonate too closely with their painful memories.
However, these dangers can be reduced if the librarian is
sensitive to containing the children’s emotions, directing the
discussion to the story, and highlighting self-efficacy, that is,
what the protagonist (or child) did to help himself.
For the Librarian
For the existential questions that arise in the context of a
disaster, there may be no answer. However, just being able to ask
them and share them in the presence of a calm, nonjudgmental
person is a comfort and a gift.
Work with victims of disaster has both positive and negative
effects on the caregiver. Compassion satisfaction can be
found in the work, but so can compassion fatigue, secondary
(vicarious) trauma, and the hopelessness and difficulty in doing
ones job well that characterizes burnout.29
If the child begins to move from the story to speak about
himself, displacement is breaking down and you are moving
close to slipping into therapy or counseling. If you become
uncomfortable or feel that this is beyond your expertise,
validate their feelings and what they did to help themselves,
then gently guide them back to the story.30
Perhaps you might have them retell the story, explore and
generalize the consequences of certain behaviors, evaluate the
helpfulness of different alternatives, or have them select the
characters they most admire.
In the aftermath of a disaster, the most important things for
librarians to consider are the following:
Offering the child a caring, soothing relationship in a calm,
safe environment; the companionship of the narrating
transaction; and the narcotic effect of narrative on pain.
Facilitating a sense of group and community support and
care, showing the child that there is goodness in the world.
Providing time-structuring when perhaps no one knows
what to do but feels the need do something.
Taking advantage of a very human interest in stories, our
human need that life mean something, and perhaps even
the brain’s tendency to process experience in narrative form.
Offering concepts and words that can contain feelings, a
framework to understand what happened, and scaffolding
for problem-solving and hope.
For many children, hearing or reading a story may re-create an
experience of comfort and emotional closeness, and activate the
calming rituals associated with bedtime. Safe attachment is the
primary way that children learn to regulate internal states, and
we all tend to feel closer to those with whom we share stories.
For some children, stories will provide a distraction from
overwhelming immediate concerns. For some, stories will
offer a sense that they are not alone—others have faced similar
problems and survived. For others, a story may offer a way of
making sense of their experience, a model for future behavior,
and the groundwork for problem-solving.
At the least, stories may limit and bind unverbalized fears with
concepts and words. Unverbalized fears know no bounds. For
other children, the story may permit some sort of vicarious
handling of problems. All this occurs in a displaced manner.
After all, the story is just pretend.
Remember, you are not offering therapy. You are discussing the
human responses that all of us know and that good stories make
explicit: stress reduction and relaxation, grief and loss, fear and
uncertainty, the problems of moving, and the helplessness of
not knowing what to do.
Remember, working with trauma is draining for the caregiver.
Make sure you get adequate rest, exercise, food, and relaxation.
Seeing our lives as a story interacting with other stories gives us a
sense of being part of a sequence of meaningful events and a sense
of meaning in our lives. In these stories, we are both characters and
cocreators. The stories you and your charges are now cocreating
may offer them healing and come to define you both.
Stories help create and bind a community. Without them, we
know neither who we are nor what we should do. &
The development of this paper was made possible through the
Southwest Center for Public Health Preparedness, College of
Public Health, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
funded by a Cooperative Agreement between Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of Schools
of Public Health (ASPHA) for activities involving the Centers for
Public Health Preparedness (CPHP).
1. Naama M. Tokayer, “Spirituality and the Psychological and
Physical Symptoms of Trauma” (PsyD diss., University of
Hartford, Conn.), Dissertation Abstracts International 63
(2002): 1052.
2. David Herbert Lawrence, “Why the Novel Matters,” in
Selected Literary Criticism, ed. David Herbert Lawrence
and Anthony Beal (New York: Viking, 1966): 105.
3. John T. Pardeck and Jean A. Pardeck, Bibliotherapy:
A Clinical Approach for Helping Children (Yverdon,
Switzerland; Langhorne, Pa.: Gordon and Breach, 1993).
4. David H. Russell and Caroline Shrodes, “Contributions of
Research in Bibliotherapy to Language-Arts Programs,”
School Review 58, no. 6 (1950): 335–42.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
The Power of Story
5. Beth Doll and Carol Ann Doll, Bibliotherapy with Young
People: Librarians and Mental Health Professionals
Working Together (Englewood, Colo.: Libraries
Unlimited, 1997); Mildred T. Moody and Hilda K. Limper,
Bibliotherapy: Methods and Materials (Chicago: American
Library Association, 1971); Cathy A. Malchiodi, “Trauma,
Loss, and Bibliotherapy: The Healing Power of Stories,”
in Creative Interventions with Traumatized Children, ed.
Cathy A. Malchiodi (New York: Guilford, 2008).
6. Rhea Joyce Rubin, Using Bibliotherapy: A Guide to Theory
and Practice (Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx, 1978).
7. Peter Fonagy et al., Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and
the Development of the Self (New York: Other, 2002).
8. Alasdair C. MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory,
2nd ed. (Notre Dame, Ind.: Univ. of Notre Dame Pr., 1984).
9. Bessel A. Van der Kolk, J. Christopher Perry, and Judith L.
Herman, “Childhood Origins of Self-Destructive Behavior,”
American Journal of Psychiatry 148, no. 12 (1991): 1665–1671.
10. Alexander C. McFarlane, “Individual Psychotherapy for
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Psychiatric Clinics of
North America 17, no. 2 (1994): 393–408.
11. Ronald S. Lenkowsky, “Bibliotherapy: A Review and
Analysis of the Literature,” Journal of Special Education
21, no. 2 (1987): 123–32; Daniel Taylor, The Healing Power
of Stories: Creating Yourself Through the Stories of Your
Life (New York: Doubleday, 1996); Mildred T. Moody and
Hilda K. Limper, Bibliotherapy: Methods and Materials
(Chicago: American Library Association, 1971); Rhea Joyce
Rubin, Using Bibliotherapy: A Guide to Theory and Practice
(Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx, 1978).
12. For more on the format of traditional bibliotherapy
described in Table 1, see Glenda Halliday, “Psychological
Self-Help Books: How Dangerous Are They?”
Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 28, no.
4 (1991): 678–80; Gerald M. Rosen, “Self-Help Treatment
Books and the Commercialization of Psychotherapy,”
American Psychologist 42, no. 1 (1987): 46–51.
13. James R. Allen and Barbara A. Allen, “Redecision
Therapy: Through a Narrative Lens,” in The Handbook
of Constructive Therapies: Innovative Approaches from
Leading Practitioners, ed. Michael Hoyt (San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass, 1998): 31–45; James R. Allen, “From a Child
Psychiatry Practice,” in Life Scripts: A Transactional
Analysis of Unconscious Relational Patterns, ed. Richard
Erskine (United Kingdom: Karnac, 2010).
14. Peter Fonagy et al., Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and
the Development of the Self (New York: Other, 2002).
15. Allen and Allen, “Redecision Therapy”; Allen, “From a
Child Psychiatry Practice.”
16. Timothy A. Judge et al., “Are Measures of Self-Esteem,
Neuroticism, Locus of Control, and Generalized SelfEfficacy Indicators of a Common Core Construct?” Journal
of Personality and Social Psychology 83, no. 3 (2002):
17. Owen R. Lightsey Jr. et al., “Generalized Self-Efficacy,
Self-Esteem, and Negative Affect,” Canadian Journal of
Behavioural Science 38, no. 1 (2006): 72–80.
18. Julian B. Rotter, “Internal Versus External Control of
Reinforcement: A Case History of a Variable,” American
Psychologist 45, no. 4 (1990): 489–493.
19. Albert Bandura, “Human Agency in Social Cognitive
Theory,” American Psychologist 44, no. 9 (1989): 1175–84.
20. Neil Frude, “Bibliotherapy as a Means of Delivering
Psychological Therapy,” Clinical Psychology 39 (2004): 8–10.
21. James W. Forgan, “Using Bibliotherapy to Teach Problem
Solving,” Intervention in School and Clinic 38, no. 2 (2002):
22. Eric Stice et al., “Brief Cognitive-Behavioral Depression
Prevention Program for High-Risk Adolescents
Outperforms Two Alternative Interventions: A Randomized
Efficacy Trial,” Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology
76, no. 4 (2008): 595–606.
23. Lenkowsky, “Bibliotherapy.”
24. David Cole Gordon, Therapeutic Metaphors: Helping
Others Through the Looking Glass (Cupertino, Calif.: Meta,
25. Louise M. Rosenblatt, The Reader, the Text, the Poem: The
Transactional Theory of the Literary Work (Carbondale:
Southern Illinois Univ. Pr., 1978).
26. Norman Norwood Holland, 5 Readers Reading (New
Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Pr., 1975).
27. F. André Favat, Child and Tale: The Origins of Interest
(Urbana, Ill.: National Council of Teachers of English,
28. Perry Nodelman, “Some Heroes Have Freckles,” in
Children and Their Literature: A Readings Book, ed.
Jill P. May (West Lafayette, Ind.: Children’s Literature
Association, 1983).
29. Beth Hudnall Stamm, Professional Quality of Life Elements
Theory and Management, (accessed
March 2012).
30. Sandra F. Allenet al., “Assessing the Impact of a Traumatic
Community Event on Children and Assisting with their
Healing,” Psychiatric Annals 29, no. 2 (1999): 93–98.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Children and Technology
Digital Storytelling
More than the Sum of Its Parts
Larence Wawro
“Hey kids! Want to read a story?”
If that doesn’t get kids’ attention, how about, “Hey kids! Want to
tell a story?”
In this increasingly technological world, keeping kids interested
in both reading, writing, and the processes of storytelling can
sometimes use a bit of an upgrade. Why not incorporate digital
storytelling at your library?
Last year, I attended a workshop at the Center for Digital Storytelling
in Berkeley, California. Although the workshops are for teaching
adults how to create and express their own stories, there are some
wonderful opportunities for librarians serving children to introduce
these skills to patrons and students, giving children another tool to
find their voices and express themselves in the digital age.
So what, exactly, is digital storytelling or a digital story? The
website for the Center for Digital Storytelling (www.storycenter
.org/index1.html) defines it as “a short, first person videonarrative created by combining recorded voice, still and moving
images, and music or other sounds.” You combine the recorded
voice with the visual elements of photos or pictures with other
elements, such as music or sound effects, to create a unique
multimedia piece that is more than the sum of its parts.
There are many reasons for sharing digital stories with
patrons. It encourages children and adolescents to think
about how stories are created. We read stories to children, but
how do we go about telling our own stories? Many children
watch YouTube clips, but giving them the opportunity to
create their own content and stories is a powerful tool—it
helps them consider the elements of stories as well as
increasing their awareness of the elements of the media they
see around them.
It also allows them to express themselves. As so many of us
know, children have amazing stories to tell. Whether they are
stories of personal struggles or achievements, or some fantastic
story they’ve dreamt up, digital storytelling gives them another
avenue for self-expression.
A Digital Stories Toolbox
So what tools does one need to create digital stories? There are
programs available on your computer and online that can be
used to create digital stories. At the workshop I attended, we
used Apple’s Final Cut Express, a powerful program that gives
its user many options for layering visual and audio tracks.
Although this is a great program, the expense may not make it a
viable option for all libraries.
Most PCs and Macs, however, come with their own videoediting software. Windows Movie Maker for PCs and iMovie for
Macs are ideal resources.
Larence Wawro is Children’s Librarian at Muckleshoot Library in Auburn, Washington. He is a member of the ALSC
Children and Technology Committee, which also includes Gretchen Caserotti, Sondra Eklund, Amy Graves, Jennifer
Hopwood, Travis Jonker, Debra Marshall, Joella Peterson, Jennifer Salas, and John Schumacher.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Children and Technology
Although your options are more limited than more robust
video-editing programs, the simplicity can actually make the
process simpler because it limits the bells and whistles that can
begin to weigh down a project. (For computers with Windows
7, I recommend downloading a copy of Windows Movie Maker
2.6 from the Microsoft website; the timeline function makes it
easier to edit still pictures than the updated Windows Movie
Maker Live that comes with Windows 7.)
Digital Storytelling Resources
Center for Digital Storytelling
In terms of audio-recording software, Audacity, a free audiorecording program for PCs, or Garageband for Macs are great
tools—just add a microphone and you’ll be ready to record the
narrative in no time.
Flickr Creative Commons
Henry the Superhero
Last, but by no means least, don’t forget about images. With
the prevalence of digital cameras and cell phone cameras,
many children may have easy access to pictures to use for their
stories. Other options are scanning photographs the children
may have or scanning pictures that they have drawn.
Windows Movie Maker 2.6
If you don’t have access to a scanner or if you need other options,
you can find pictures available online under Creative Commons
licenses, such as Flickr Creative Commons, which can be used
for free as long as you give credit to the owner of the image and
do not use it commercially. There are numerous websites, such
as Jamendo, that offer music under the same stipulations.
“Digital storytelling is an empowering
and creative way for kids to tell their
stories, and when they’re all done, they
won’t just stick it on their refrigerator—
they can share it with the world.”
Ready, Set, Record!
Once you have your tools ready, what’s next? There are multiple
methods, but I’ll outline one possible strategy. The time
expended on each step will depend on your audience and
resources. However, you may want to plan this project over
multiple sessions and allow extra time to deal with unforeseen
technical issues or time spent scanning images.
Have the children write out the stories they wish to tell. This
can either be an overview of what they want to see or the
script that they will record. These could be original stories or
they can share a personal experience. Although playing with
the technology may sound like more fun than writing, having
them focus on the story will give them a better appreciation
for the process and make for a better finished project.
Record the children telling their stories. This can be
accomplished in a quiet space using a microphone and one
of the recording programs. If you are working with a group,
you might have the other children working on creating
storyboards (on computer or on paper) by making rough
sketches or notes about what pictures they want to appear
within the different parts of their script.
Arrange the images and audio in the editing software. If you
are using Windows Movie Maker 2.6 or iMovie, import the
audio and image files. This incorporates all the files within
the program so you can use them like ingredients in a recipe.
The next step is fairly simple—both Windows Movie Maker
and iMovie allow you to click and drag the audio into the
appropriate audio timeline. You can then click and drag the
images that you want onto the video timeline, then click and
drag how long you want each image to appear on the screen.
By doing this, you can make the images sync up with the
audio and have them appear with the corresponding dialog.
Gather their images. Children could bring in pictures on a flash
drive, or they can scan a hard copy. They also may be able to
access their own pictures on Facebook or use public-domain
images. Another possibility is to have them draw pictures
and scan them or have them create pictures with a computer
program such as Microsoft Paint.
Throw in a little movie magic. If you have some extra time,
add effects in Windows Movie Maker or iMovie to make the
transitions blend more seamlessly. Or, try having the image
pan (move from one side to the other), much like in a Ken
Burns film. In fact, iMovie has an effect titled after the famed
documentary director himself.
Export the work to a movie file. After you have assembled
the audio and visuals, export the file into a playable movie
file, such as a WMV file for Windows or MOV for Macs.
This is just one way to accomplish a digital story. Experiment
and find what works for you and your patrons or students.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Children and Technology
For one project I did with my son, who was four at the time, I
gave him index cards on which he could draw each scene or
panel of his story. After he finished creating, I laid the cards out
and recorded him telling me the story.
I scanned the index cards, added the audio file and a title
screen, and we were done. This method skipped the initial
writing and just let him have fun drawing images and thinking
about the story more as a comic book.
Another possibility—if it is too difficult to record the children
or you don’t have access to a microphone—is to create text
screens between the images that help tell the story, such as in
silent movies. You could let music be the soundtrack and let the
images and text do the “talking.”
These examples are not meant to be a definitive guide; rather
they are a starting point for digital storytelling.
What’s important is to find what works for you and your
participants and fits the resources available. Digital storytelling
is an empowering and creative way for kids to tell their stories,
and when they’re all done, they won’t just stick it on their
refrigerator—they can share it with the world. &
we play here!, continued from page 10
We reiterate that children’s librarians have an important role in
the repositioning of play as a vital aspect of childhood for all
children. We hope that our collective experience as children’s
librarians in a variety of roles has provided you with insight,
ideas, and inspiration about how you can continue to support
play in your programs, spaces, and conversations. The library
is the perfect place to show the way through play and we invite
you all to become advocates for play in your libraries. &
1. Virginia Mae Axline and Leonard Carmichael, Play
Therapy: The Inner Dynamics of Childhood (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1947).
2. Dolores A. Steglin et al., “Play Therapy as an Effective
Intervention in Schools Serving Impoverished Students &
Families,” IPA/USA Quarterly (Winter/Spring 2011): 7–8.
3. Kim Susan Blakely and Mary Ann Lang, Getting in Touch
with Play: Creating Play Environments for Children with
Visual Impairments (New York: Lighthouse National
Center for Vision and Child Development, 1991).
4. Kaiser Family Foundation, “Daily Media Use among
Children and Teens Up Dramatically from Five Years
Ago—Kaiser Family Foundation,” press release, Henry
J. Kaiser Family Foundation
entmedia012010nr.cfm (accessed Dec. 21, 2011).
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
2003_gallup_study_results (accessed Dec. 21, 2011).
6. Hilary Stout, “Effort to Restore Children’s Play Gains
Momentum,” New York Times, Jan. 5, 2011, www.nytimes
.com/2011/01/06/garden/06play.html?_r=1 (accessed Dec.
21, 2011).
7. Joan Almon, “The Vital Role of Play in Early Childhood
Education,” in All Work and No Play: How Educational
Reforms are Harming our Preschoolers, ed. Sharna Olfman
(Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2003): 17–42.
8. Stout, “Effort to Restore Children’s Play.”
9. “No Child Left Behind (NCLB),” The Sage Glossary of the
Social and Behavioral Sciences, ed. Larry E. Sullivan et al.
(Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 2009): 351.
10. Stout, “Effort to Restore Children’s Play.”
11. Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley, Ghosts from
the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence (New York: The
Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997).
12. Stuart L. Brown and Christopher C. Vaughan, Play: How it
Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates
the Soul (New York: Avery, 2009).
13. Lev Vygotsky, Mind in Society: The Development of Higher
Psychological Processes (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ.
Pr., 1978).
14. Sue Schwartz, The New Language of Toys: Teaching
Communication Skills to Children with Special Needs, 3rd
ed. (Bethesda, Md.: Woodbine, 2004): 29.
15. Mary Jane Weiss and Sandra L. Harris, Reaching Out,
Joining In: Teaching Social Skills to Young Children with
Autism (Bethesda, Md.: Woodbine, 2001): 174–76.
16. Tim Hobbs et al., “Friendship on the Inclusive Electronic
Playground,” Teaching Exceptional Children 33, no. 6
17. Lev Vygotsky and Robert W. Rieber, The Collected Works of
L. S. Vygotsky (New York: Plenum, 1993).
18. Association for Library Services to Children and Public
Library Association. (2011, May 4). Every Child Ready to
Read Sneak Peek Webinar. Retrieved from http://www
19. Burgeon Group Interactive Learning Spaces, 2011, www
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Board Major Actions
Midwinter 2012 Actions
The following actions were recently
taken by the ALSC Board of Directors.
Electronic Actions
Approved, support of the Franklin
Institute’s NSF implementation grant proposal, “LEAP into Science: Understanding
and Building Partnerships for Informal
Science and Literacy,” by providing a representative to the grant advisory board.
(January 2012)
Approved, the addition of the word
“annually” to appendix IV on the bottom
of page 4 of the Belpre Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU). (March 2012)
Approved, the change to the membership statement of the Scholarships:
Melcher and Bound to Stay Bound
Committee to:
“Chair plus five members (6 total).
At least one committee member
shall be a library school faculty
member. All members of committee
are virtual. An ALSC Program Officer
serves as staff liaison.” (March 2012)
Approved, the change to the membership statement of the Grants
Administration Committee to:
“Chair plus eight members (9 total).
All members of the committee are
virtual.” (March 2012)
Approved, the Twitter guidelines as
presented. (March 2012)
Board documents are posted on ALA
Connect ( and
provide complete details about the issues
listed below. Go to the ALSC section of
ALA Connect and click on “Online Docs.”
Board documents are usually posted
about two weeks prior to conference.
Accepted, the consent agenda for 2012
Midwinter Meeting, with Documents 7, 10,
14, and 15 pulled out for further discussion.
Approved, consent agenda items 7, 10,
14, and 15.
Accepted, revisions to the Policy
for Service on the May Hill Arbuthnot
Lecture Committee.
Agreed, to ask the Budget Committee
to recommend a dollar amount to support the first bullet point of DOC #26b
(“Possible Activities to Support the
Advocacy Goal Area”).
Amended, the budget for the Caldecott
Award 75th anniversary celebration to
reflect four free webinars to members.
Amended, Guidelines for Communication
for Virtual Committees, number 6.5, to read
“are required” rather than “should be sure.”
Approved, the Budget Committee’s recommendation for use of Friends of ALSC
$2,000—logo, development, marketing.
$2,000—sponsorship for two individuals
to attend ALSC Institute ($1,000/each).
$1,000—sponsorship of a table at the
Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet,
with individual tickets available
through a drawing organized by the
membership committee.
$600—Two “Nook and a Book”
drawing giveaways: one at Annual
Conference and one through a virtual
Approved, recommendations to support activities suggested for the Advocacy
Goal Area of the Strategic Plan (DOC
#26b: “Possible Activities to Support the
Advocacy Goal Area”)
APPROVED, the Organization and Bylaws
Committee's motion to change 1) the
name of the “Legislation Committee” to
“Advocacy and Legislation Committee” and
2) the function statement of the committee.
APPROVED, the Organization & Bylaws
Committee motion to amend the membership statements of the Great Websites
for Kids, Quicklists Consulting, and
Children and Technology Committees,
as discussed.
Book List for New Readers
ALSC revised the popular bibliography
“Great Early Elementary Reads,” which
features recommended book titles for
beginning readers. PDFs of the book
list are available online in full color and
black and white and are free to download, copy, and distribute. The updated
bibliography is organized into two categories: “Starting to Read” and “Reading
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
on My Own.” It includes books published
between 2009 and 2011. The titles were
selected, compiled, and annotated by
members of the 2011–2012 ALSC SchoolAge Programs and Services Committee.
ALSC Institute: Libraries Leading
the Race
Join ALSC in Indianapolis September
20–22, 2012, for our biennial National
Institute. This two and a half day workshop, devoted solely to children’s and
youth library services, offers a small,
intimate setting for participating in
programming and getting to know colleagues. Programs will delve into some
of the most important topics in library
service to children, such as using technology in your programming, what’s hot
in children’s spaces, working with underserved populations, and using local partnerships to improve your programming.
You’re sure to go home feeling reinvigorated about the profession and more
connected to others in the field.
The Institute will also be the kick-off to
the Caldecott Award’s 75th anniversary
celebration and will feature a very special Breakfast for Bill panel discussion to
commemorate the occasion. This panel
will feature past Caldecott Award winners and honorees Denise Fleming, Kevin
Henkes, and Eric Rohmann, as well as
Ben Sapp, director of the Mazza Museum:
International Art from Picture Books. This
star-studded event is sure to dazzle and
inspire; additional award-winning authors
and illustrators are scheduled to speak
throughout the Institute, including: Peter
Brown, Gary Paulsen, April Pulley Sayre,
Doreen Rappaport, and Bryan Collier.
The Institute is being held at the Sheraton
Indianapolis City Centre in Indianapolis,
Indiana. Specifics regarding registration and
programs are at
Questions? Contact Jenny Najduch at
[email protected] or (312) 280–4026.
ALSC Sponsors Emerging Leader
Congratulations to Ingrid Abrams, children’s librarian at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public
Library; she is ALSC’s representative
in the 2012 Emerging Leader program,
which enables newer librarians to participate in workgroups, network with peers,
gain an inside look into ALA’s structure, and have an opportunity to serve
the profession in a leadership capacity.
Emerging Leaders receive up to $1,000
each to participate in the Midwinter
Meeting and Annual Conference, and
each participant is expected to provide
years of service to ALA or one of its units.
Two ALSC Sites Get Facelift
ALSC has recently redesigned two online
resources: Great Websites for Kids and
the Día site. To better serve the growing
population of libraries offering events
for El día de los niños/El día de los libros,
the Día site, now at,
has been expanded. In 2012, ALSC is
focusing on serving the needs of parents,
caregivers, and children. To that end, the
newly designed site has created a section devoted to ideas and resources for
those audiences. The site also includes a
resource guide, designed for public and
school librarians, giving them everything
they need to produce a Día event at their
library. Included in the resource guide
are a program model, planning timeline, best practices, and information on
outreach, partnerships, marketing and
publicity, as well as funding ideas.
The updated Great Websites for Kids
( boasts a fresh
and colorful kid-friendly look and interactive social media enhancements. Clear,
bright icons display subject categories
and appear on every page, while eyecatching thumbnail images provide a
visual preview of each great site represented. Special sections highlight Sites of
the Week and Month, Most Popular pages,
and Top Rated selections. Prompts for
each site offer “more selections like this.”
Visitors now can actively connect with the
site and further their online experience
by rating sites; sharing their favorites on
social media sites such as Facebook; and
e-mailing recommendations to friends.
Perkins Honored with DSA
Linda A. Perkins is the 2012 recipient
of the Association for Library Service to
Children’s (ALSC) Distinguished Service
Award. This prestigious award honors
an individual who has made significant
contributions to library service to children and to ALSC.
Perkins became involved with ALA and
ALSC from the moment she graduated
from library school at Case Western
Reserve, and she continues to give her
passion and energy to libraries today, even
after her retirement from the Berkeley
(Calif.) Public Library. She began as a
member of the 1978 Newbery–Caldecott
Committee (when it was still a joint committee) and served as chair of the Mildred
L. Batchelder Award Committee in 1995.
Perkins was a Priority Group Consultant
in 1999 and 2001, and has served three
terms on the ALSC Board of Directors—
the first time as a member, 1988–92,
the second as ALSC President, 1991–92,
and the third as ALA’s ALSC Councilor,
Her role as a champion of the Pura Belpré
Award was one of her greatest contributions during that time. While serving as president of ALSC, Perkins along
with Oralia Garza de Cortés, Sandra
Ríos Balderrama, and Toni Bissessar of
REFORMA, appeared before the ALSC
Board at Midwinter in 1993 to request
a joint task force with the goal of establishing a joint book award “to encourage Latino authors and illustrators in
their efforts to produce children’s works
celebrating the Latino experience in the
United States.” In her “Children’s Book
Award Handbook,” author Diana F.
Marks wrote, “Linda Perkins, president
of ALSC at the time, became essential.
A strong proponent of multiculturalism,
she gave a boost of energy and credibility
to the project. She also knew the ‘ropes’
of how to make the award a reality.” In
1996, Perkins served on the Pura Belpré
Award Committee. Perkins also played
a vital role in gaining support for and
securing the adoption of ALSC’s El día de
los niños/El día de los libros Celebration.
In Berkeley’s Board of Library Trustees
resolution, on the occasion of Perkins’s
retirement, its members proclaimed
their gratitude to her for stepping in
on “several occasions” as acting deputy
director of the Berkeley Public Library
and said, “Ms. Perkins’s ready wit and
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
winning humor are among the many
qualities that make her a beloved
coworker.” From the time she began her
career at Berkeley as a supervising program librarian, Perkins oversaw library
services to young people continuously
for thirty-two years.
Perkins’s passion for books and support of young people remains at full
strength even in retirement. She volunteers at local elementary school Berkeley
Arts Magnet, currently serves on ALSC’s
2012 Notable Children’s Books Selection
Committee, and is a member of the
Friends of ALSC Notables’ Circle. Her
commitment to addressing the needs of
the young people she served in her public library system resulted in benefits for
libraries and librarianship nationwide.
ALSC is pleased to honor Linda Perkins
with the 2012 Distinguished Service
ALSC, a division of the ALA, is the world’s
largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service
to children. With a network of more than
4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational
faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a
better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit ALSC’s
website at
The 2012 ALSC Distinguished Service
Award Committee includes Alan Bern,
Berkeley (Calif.) Public Library; Elise
DeGuiseppi, Pierce County Library
System, Tacoma, Washington; Caroline
Parr, Central Rappahannock Regional
Library, Fredericksburg, Virginia; Lucinda
Whitehurst, St. Christopher’s School,
Richmond, Virginia.; and Jennifer Brown,
chair, children’s editor, Shelf Awareness,
New York, New York.
2012 Award Winners
In addition to the Distinguished Service
Award, ALSC confers numerous other
grants and awards each year. We are
pleased to announce our 2011 recipients!
ALSC/BWI Summer Reading Program
Grant: Wichita Falls (Tex.) Public Library
Bechtel Fellowship: Allison Angell,
Benetia (Calif.) Public Library.
learn all about one of the most significant
awards in the field of children's literature.
Bookapalooza Award: First Regional
Library, Hernando, Mississippi; Conley
Elementary School Library, Whitman,
Massachusetts; and Saginaw Chippewa
Academy, Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
As part of the Caldecott Award's 75th
anniversary celebration, ALSC is offering
the Caldecott Uncovered webinar to all
participants free of charge. Registration
is limited to 95 participants.
Maureen Hayes Author/Illustrator Award:
Lisa McClure, Hartford (Conn.) Public
Light the Way: Library Outreach to
the Underserved Grant: Mary Seratt,
Memphis (Tenn.) Public Library and
Information Center
Penguin Young Readers Group Award:
Heather Schubert, Hill Country Middle
School, Austin, Texas; Eric Barbus, San
Francisco Public Library-North Beach
Branch; Linda Klein, Anchorage (Alaska)
Public Library; and Donna Alvis, Ephesus
Public Library, Roopville, Georgia.
For more information on the winners
and how to apply for 2012 awards, please
visit:, click on Awards
& Grants—ALSC Professional Awards.
Summer Brings New Webinars
ALSC invites you to celebrate summer
with two brand-new webinars starting
in July.
The first webinar is all about effective utilization of social media. Give Me Something
to Read! When Social Networking Meets
Readers Advisory examines online
resources that are part readers advisory and part social networking. Learn
how to combine tools like Goodreads,
LibraryThing, and Your Next Thing with
classic readers advisory to help answer the
question "What should I read next?"
In Caldecott Uncovered: What You've
Always Wanted to Know about the
Caldecott Medal, you can get all of your
pressing questions about the Caldecott
Medal answered. How are members chosen for the Caldecott Committee? How
does the committee decide if a book
really is a picture book? Why can't the
committee consider the text of a picture
book...or can it? Here is an opportunity to
Give Me Something to Read! When Social
Networking Meets Readers Advisory
Tuesday, July 10, 6–7 p.m. CT
Caldecott Uncovered: What You’ve
Always Wanted to Know about the
Caldecott Medal
Thursday, July 12, 6–7 p.m. CT
Give Me Something to Read! When Social
Networking Meets Readers Advisory
Thursday, August 9, Noon–1 p.m. CT
Detailed descriptions and registration information are at
New webinars are added regularly, so
please check back. Questions? Please
contact Jenny Najduch at [email protected]
.org or 800-545-2433 ext. 4026.
Interested in presenting an online course
or webinar for ALSC? Submit a proposal to
the Education Committee at: http://www
Jack Gantos, Chris Raschka win
Newbery, Caldecott Medals
Jack Gantos, author of Dead End in
Norvelt (Farrar Straus Giroux), and Chris
Raschka, illustrator of A Ball for Daisy
(Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of
Random House Children’s Books) are the
2012 winners of the John Newbery and
Randolph Caldecott Medals.
In Dead End in Norvel, the importance of
history and reading (so you don’t do the
same “stupid stuff” again) is at the heart
of the achingly funny romp through a
dying New Deal town. While mopping
up epic nose bleeds, Jack narrates this
screw-ball mystery in an endearing and
believable voice.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
In A Ball for Daisy, a wordless book
with huge children’s appeal is the story
of an irrepressible little dog whose
most prized possession is accidentally
destroyed. With brilliant economy of line
and color, Raschka captures Daisy’s total
(yet temporary) devastation. A buoyant tale of loss, recovery and friendship.
Deceptively simple paintings of watercolor, gouache, and ink explore universal
themes of love and loss that permit thousands of possible variants.
Two Newbery Honor Books were named:
Inside Out & Back Again (HarperCollins
Children’s Books/HarperCollins Publishers),
written by Thanhha Lai, and Breaking
Stalin’s Nose (Henry Holt and Company )
written and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin.
Three Caldecott Honor Books were
named: Blackout (Disney/Hyperion
Books), written and illustrated by John
Rocco; Grandpa Green (Roaring Brook
Press, a division of Holtzbrinck), written
and illustrated by Lane Smith; and Me
. . . Jane (Little, Brown and Company, a
division of Hachette Book Group), written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell.
Members of the Newbery Committee
were Chair Viki Ash, San Antonio Public
Library; Laura Amos, Norfolk (Va.)
Collegiate School; Timothy D. Capehart,
Dayton (Ohio) Metro Library; Mary Clark,
Greenwich (Conn.) Country Day School;
Stacy Dillon, LREI, New York; Naphtali
Faris, Missouri State Library, Jefferson
City; Peter Howard, Louisville (Ky.) Free
Public Library; Andy Howe, Simms
Library, Albuquerque (N.M.) Academy;
Maeve Visser Knoth, San Mateo (Calif.)
County Library; Angelique Kopa,
Harford County Public Library, Belcamp,
Maryland; Renee C. McGrath, Nassau
Library System, Uniondale, New York;
Mary Michell, Skokie (Ill.) Public Library;
Andrea R. Milano, Multnomah County
Library, Hollywood Branch, Portland,
Oregon; Lynn M. Rutan, Holland,
Michigan; and Amanda J. Williams,
Austin (Tex.) Public Library.
Members of the Caldecott Committee
were Chair Steven L. Herb, Pennsylvania
State University, Paterno Library,
University Park; Pabby Arnold, East Baton
Rouge (La.) Parish Library; Christine D.
Caputo, Free Library of Philadelphia;
Tony A. Carmack, Loudon County (Va.)
Public Library; Peg W. Ciszek, Northbrook
(Ill.) Public Library; Patricia A. Clingman,
Dayton Metro Library, Kettering, Ohio;
Betsy Crone, Guilford County Schools,
Greensboro, North Carolina; Ellen G.
Fader, Multnomah County Library,
Portland, Oregon; Michele Farley,
Indianapolis, Indiana; Cathryn M. Mercier,
Simmons College, Boston; John E. Peters,
Bronx, New York; Deanna Romriell, Salt
Lake City (Utah) Public Library; April Roy,
Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library; Allison
Santos, Princeton (N.J.) Public Library;
and Luann Toth, School Library Journal,
New York.
Batchelder goes to Eerdmans
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an
imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing,
is the winner of the 2012 Mildred L.
Batchelder Award for Soldier Bear. The
Batchelder Award is given to the most
outstanding children’s book originally
published in a language other than
English in a country other than the
United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the
United States.
Originally published in Dutch in 2008
as “Soldaat Wojtek,” the book was written by Bibi Dumon Tak, illustrated by
Philip Hopman and translated by Laura
Watkinson. Based on a true story and
set during World War II, the novel follows the journey of refugee Polish soldiers and the mischievous young bear
they acquire in the Iranian desert while
transporting equipment for the British
army. More than a mascot, Voytek the
bear becomes an integral part of the
war effort, raising morale—and passing
ammunition—in the battalion.
One Batchelder Honor Book was also
selected: The Lily Pond, published by
Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random
House Children’s Books, written by
Annika Thor, and translated by Linda
Members of the Batchelder Committee
were Chair Susan Stan, Central Michigan
University, Mount Pleasant; Rita
Auerbach, New York; Ann Crewdson,
Issaquah (Wash.) Library–King County
Library System; Helen Kay Kennedy,
Kent District Library, Spencer Township
Branch, Gowen, Michigan; and Roger
Sutton, Horn Book , Boston.
Tonatiuh, Garcia McCall
Win Belpré
Duncan Tonatiuh, illustrator of Diego
Rivera: His World and Ours, and
Guadalupe Garcia McCall, author of
Under the Mesquite, are the winners of the
Pura Belpré Illustrator Award and Author
Award, honoring Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms,
and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books. The awards are
administered by ALSC and the National
Association to Promote Library and
Information Services to Latinos and the
Spanish-Speaking, REFORMA.
Diego Rivera: His World and Ours
(Abrams Books for Young Readers ) highlights the accomplishments of Mexican
painter, activist, and muralist Diego
Rivera. Tonatiuh’s stylized illustrations
include elements of Mayan artwork and
represent his interpretation of Diego’s
original artwork, answering the question “What would Diego paint today?”
Through eye-catching digital collage,
Tonatiuh juxtaposes contemporary
Mexican life with the past.
In Under the Mesquite, (Lee and Low
Books), Guadalupe Garcia McCall, writing
in emotionally riveting free verse, gracefully manages to convey the experience
of growing up in a bicultural community
in Texas with geographical accuracy and
a radiating authentic voice for its main
protagonist, fourteen-year-old Lupita,
the oldest of eight children dealing with
their mother’s terminal illness.
Two Honor Books for illustration were
named: Rafael López for The Cazuela that
the Farm Maiden Stirred (Charlesbridge),
written by Samantha R. Vamos, and Sara
Palacios for Marisol McDonald Doesn’t
Match/Marisol McDonald no combina
(Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee
and Low Books ), written by Monica Brown.
Two Honor Books for narration were
named: Margarita Engle for Hurricane
Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Shipwreck (Henry Holt), and Xavier
Garza for Maximilian and the Mystery
of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha
Libre Thriller (Cinco Puntos Press).
Members of the Belpré Committee were
Chair Jamie Campbell Naidoo, University
of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; Rebecca Alcalá,
San Francisco Public Library; Carling
Febry, San Diego; Daisy Gutierrez-Ngo, San
Jacinto College, Pasadena, Texas; Amanda
Sharpe, Harper Junior High School Library,
Davis, California; Henrietta M. Smith,
Delray Beach, Florida; and Luis Vargas,
Long Beach (Calif.) Public Library.
Carnegie Honors Weston Woods
Paul R. Gagne and Melissa Reilly Ellard
of Weston Woods Studios, producers of
Children Make Terrible Pets, are the 2012
recipients of the Andrew Carnegie Medal
for excellence in children’s video.
In this whimsical reversal of Can I keep
him? Lucy Bear finds a little boy in
the forest and takes him home against
her mother’s advice. Although she and
Squeaker become best friends, Lucy
soon discovers that taking care of her
cute critter is not all fun and games.
Members of the Carnegie Medal/Notable
Children’s Videos Committee were Chair
Martha Seif Simpson, Stratford (Conn.)
Library Association; Marilyn Ackerman,
Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library, Office
of Materials Selection; Linda L. Ernst,
King County Library System, Bellevue,
Washington; Linda A. Gann, University
of North Carolina-Greensboro, School of
Library and Information Studies; Suzanne
Myers Harold, Multnomah County
Library, Portland, Oregon; Lindsay D.
Huth, Arlington Heights (Ill.) Memorial
Library; Gwen M. Taylor, Lewis-Clark State
College, Lewiston, Idaho; Emily Tichenor,
Tulsa (Okla.) City-County Library; and
Joanna Ward, County of Los Angeles
Public Library, Temple City, California.
Tales for Very Picky Eaters
Takes Geisel
Author and illustrator Josh Schneider
is the recipient of the Geisel Award
for Tales for Very Picky Eaters (Clarion
Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). The
award is given to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished book for
beginning readers.
Each of the five chapters in Tales for
Very Picky Eaters recounts James’ refusal
to eat yet another disgusting, smelly,
repulsive, lumpy, or slimy food. Not only
picky eaters, but all readers will delight
in the outrageous suggestions along with
the off-the-wall rationale from his very
clever dad for why he should become
more adventurous in his food selections.
James turns the table on his father when
he decides to become more daring and
bold in his meal choices and actually
tries something new.
Three Geisel Honor Books were named:
I Broke My Trunk (Disney/Hyperion),
written and illustrated by Mo Willems; I
Want My Hat Back (Candlewick), written
and illustrated by Jon Klassen; and See
Me Run (Holiday House), written and
illustrated by Paul Meisel.
Members of the Geisel Committee were
Chair Carole D. Fiore, Training and Library
Consulting, Tallahassee, Florida; Lauren
Anduri, Oakland (Calif.) Public Library
and Sequoia Elementary School, Oakland,
California; Connie Champlin, Cultural
Adventures, Centerville, Massachusetts;
Cheryl Lee, Palo Alto (Calif.) City Library;
Jackie Partch, Multnomah County Library,
Portland, Oregon; Mary Schreiber,
Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma,
Ohio; and Maureen White, University of
Houston–Clear Lake.
Listening Library Wins Odyssey
Listening Library, an imprint of Random
House Audio Publishing Group, producer of the audiobook Rotters, won
the Odyssey Award for Excellence in
Audiobook Production. In Rotters, written by Daniel Kraus, narrated by Kirby
Heyborne, and produced by Listening
Library, Heyborne’s versatile character voicing animates the strange tale of
Joey, a sixteen-year-old whose mother
has died. His struggle begins as he is
dropped into the isolated world of his
father, a grave robber. The exquisite timing pulls us through the chilling story of
the destruction and rebuilding of Joey’s
Four Odyssey Honor Audiobooks were
named: Ghetto Cowboy (Brilliance
Audio), written by G. Neri and narrated
by J. D. Jackson; Okay for Now (Listening
Library/Random House), written by Gary
D. Schmidt and narrated by Lincoln
Hoppe; The Scorpio Races (Scholastic
Audiobooks), written by Maggie Stiefvater
and narrated by Steve West and Fiona
Hardingham; and Young Fredle (Listening
Library/Random House), written by
Cynthia Voigt and narrated by Wendy
Members of the Odyssey Committee
were Chair Lizette D. Hannegan, Easton,
Maryland; Carrie Scott Banks, Brooklyn
(N.Y.) Public Library; Kate Capps, Olathe
(Kan.) Public Library—Indian Creek
Branch; Viola Dyas, Oakland, California;
Cathy Lichtman, Plymouth (Mich.)
District Library; Barbara Moon, Suffolk
Cooperative Library System, Bellport,
New York; Jennifer R. Sommer, Wright
Memorial Public Library, Dayton, Ohio;
Beatriz Pascual Wallace, Seattle Public
Library; and Sue-Ellen Beauregard, consultant, Booklist Magazine, Chicago.
Sweet Wins Sibert
Melissa Sweet, author and illustrator of
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story
of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade was
named the winner of the 2012 Robert F.
Sibert Medal for the most distinguished
informational book for children published in 2011. The award was announced
today by the Association for Library
Service to Children (ALSC), a division of
the American Library Association (ALA),
during the ALA Midwinter Meeting held
January 20–24 in Dallas.
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of
the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade, published
by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children,
an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,
is about Tony Sarg, the artistic inventor who conceived the huge balloons
that float through New York City each
Thanksgiving. Beginning at a very young
age, his never-ending zeal for play and
discovery delighted millions, and likewise, Sweet’s festive words, mixed media
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
illustrations and thorough research, bring
their own contagious joy to this celebration of his life’s creative process.
“Sweet’s book rose above all others this
year by brilliantly showing and telling
the story of one person’s ideas with passion and panache, demonstrating the
very best of what an informational book
can be,” said Sibert Medal Committee
Chair Andrew Medlar.
Melissa Sweet grew up in New Jersey,
attended Kansas City Art Institute, and
currently lives in Maine. She has created
dozens of diverse children’s books and is a
recipient of a 2009 Caldecott Honor Award
for her illustrations in“A River of Words.
Four Honor Books were selected: Black
& White: The Confrontation between
Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene
“Bull” Connor (Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills
Press), written by Larry Dane Brimner;
Drawing from Memory (Scholastic Press),
written and illustrated by Allen Say; The
Elephant Scientist (Houghton Mifflin
Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt), written by Caitlin O’Connell
and Donna M. Jackson, and photographs by Caitlin O’Connell and Timothy
Rodwell; and Witches! The Absolutely
True Tale of Disaster in Salem (National
Geographic Society), written and illustrated by Rosalyn Schanzer.
Members of the Sibert Committee were
Chair Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public
Library; Roxane L. Bartelt, Kenosha
(Wis.) Public Library; Marian L. Creamer,
Children’s Literature Alive!, Portland,
Oregon; Karen MacPherson, Takoma
Park (Md.) Library; April Mazza, Wayland
(Mass.) Free Public Library; Susan Z.
Melcher, Jefferson County Public Schools,
Louisville, Kentucky; Patty Saidenberg,
George Jackson Academy, New York, New
York; Denise Schmidt, San Francisco
Public Library; and Deborah Taylor, Enoch
Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Maryland.
100 titles of humor, magic and realism,
Morpurgo movingly captures the struggles faced by both children and animals
during wartime,” stated 2013 Arbuthnot
Committee Chair Susan J. Pine.
Born in England, Michael Morpurgo was
teaching when he discovered the magic
of storytelling and began writing. His
books are noted for their imagination,
power, and grace. In 1976, he and his
wife established the charity Farms for
City Children. He is an officer of the
Order of the British Empire and served
as Britain’s third Children’s Laureate. His
novel, War Horse, has wowed theater
audiences in London and New York and
movie audiences all over.
Members of the 2013 Arbuthnot
Committee were Chair Susan J. Pine, Forest
Hills, New York; Gratia Banta, Lane Public
Library, Hamilton, Ohio; Carolyn Phelan,
Northbrook (Ill.) Public Library; Victor
Schill, Fairbanks Branch Library, Houston;
and Rachael Vilmar, Eastern Shore
Regional Library, Salisbury, Maryland.
Notable Children’s Books
Younger Readers
All the Water in the World. By George
Ella Lyon. Illus. by Katherine Tillotson.
A Ball for Daisy. By Chris Raschka. Illus.
by Chris Raschka. Schwartz & Wade.
Blackout. By John Rocco. Illus. by the
author. Hyperion.
Bring on the birds. By Susan Stockdale.
Illus. by the author. Peachtree.
The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden
Stirred. By Samantha R. Vamos. Illus. by
Rafael López. Charlesbridge.
Chirchir Is Singing. By Kelly Cunnane.
Illus. by Jude Daly. Schwartz & Wade.
Morpurgo to Deliver
2013 Arbuthnot
Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo
will deliver the 2013 May Hill Arbuthnot
Honor Lecture. “The author of more than
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction
Site. By Sherri Duskey Rinker. Illus. by
Tom Lichtenheld. Chronicle.
Grandpa Green. By Lane Smith. Illus. by
the author. Roaring Brook.
Harry and Hopper. By Margaret Wild.
Illus. by Freya Blackwood. Feiwel &
I Broke My Trunk. By Mo Willems. Illus.
by the author. Hyperion.
I Want My Hat Back. By Jon Klassen.
Illus. by the author. Candlewick.
King Jack and the Dragon. By Peter
Bently. Illus. by Helen Oxenbury. Dial.
Little Treasures: Endearments from
Around the World. By Jacqueline
K. Ogburn. Illus. by Chris Raschka.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Little White Rabbit. By Kevin Henkes.
Illus. by the author. Greenwillow.
Me . . . Jane. By Patrick McDonnell. Illus.
by the author. Little, Brown.
Mouse & Lion. By Rand Burkert. Illus.
by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. di Capua/
Naamah and the Ark at Night. By Susan
Campbell Bartoletti. Illus. by Holly
Meade. Candlewick.
A New Year’s Reunion: A Chinese Story.
By Li Qiong Yu. Illus. by Zhu Chen
Liang. Candlewick.
Over and Under the Snow. By Kate
Messner. Illus. by Christopher Silas
Neal. Chronicle.
Prudence Wants a Pet. By Cathleen Daly.
Illus. by Stephen Michael King. Roaring
See Me Run. By Paul Meisel. Illus. by the
author. Holiday.
Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? By
Susan A. Shea. Illus. by Tom Slaughter.
Blue Apple.
Should I Share My Ice Cream? By Mo
Willems. Illus. by the author. Hyperion.
Dot. By Patricia Intriago. Illus. by the
author. Farrar.
Stars. By Mary Lyn Ray. Illus. by Marla
Frazee. Beach Lane.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Tales for Very Picky Eaters. By Josh
Schneider. Illus. by the author. Clarion.
Tell Me the Day Backwards. By Albert
Lamb. Illus. by David McPhail.
Ten Little Caterpillars. By Bill Martin.
Illus. by Lois Ehlert. Beach Lane.
The Great Migration: Journey to the
North. By Eloise Greenfield. Illus. by Jan
Spivey Gilchrist. HarperCollins.
Inside Out and Back Again. By Thanhha
Lai. HarperCollins.
Junonia. By Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow.
The Trouble with May Amelia. By
Jennifer L. Holm. Atheneum.
Underground. By Shane Evans. Illus. by
the author. Roaring Brook.
The Unforgotten Coat. By Frank Cottrell
Boyce. Illus. by Carl Hunter and Clare
Heney. Candlewick.
These Hands. By Margaret H. Mason.
Illus. by Floyd Cooper. Houghton Mifflin
Lemonade, and Other Poems Squeezed
from a Single Word. By Bob Raczka.
Illus. by Nancy Doniger. Roaring
The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the
Chimps. By Jeanette Winter. Illus. by the
author. Schwartz & Wade.
Tìa Isa Wants a Car. By Meg Medina.
Illus. by Claudio Muñoz. Candlewick.
The Lily Pond. By Annika Thor. Trans. by
Linda Schenck. Delacorte Press.
Wonderstruck. By Brian Selznick. Illus.
by the author. Scholastic.
Where’s Walrus? By Stephen Savage.
Illus. by the author. Scholastic.
The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to
Feed Families. By Susan L. Roth and
Cindy Trumbore. Illus. by Susan L. Roth.
Lee & Low.
Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku. By Lee
Wardlaw. Illus. by Eugene Yelchin. Holt.
Who Has What?: All About Girls’ Bodies
and Boys’ Bodies. By Robie H. Harris.
Illus. by Nadine Bernard Westcott.
Middle Readers
America Is Under Attack: September 11,
2001: The Day the Towers Fell. By Don
Brown. Illus. by the author. Roaring
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story
of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. By
Melissa Sweet. Illus. by the author.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Breaking Stalin’s Nose. By Eugene
Yelchin. Illus. by the author. Holt.
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/
Marisol McDonald no combina. By
Monica Brown. Illus. by Sara Palacios.
Children’s Book Press/Lee and Low.
Maximilian and the Mystery of the
Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre
Thriller. By Xavier Garza. Cinco Puntos.
Migrant. By Maxine Trottier. Illus. by
Isabelle Arsenault. Groundwood.
Young Fredle. By Cynthia Voigt. Illus. by
Louise Yates. Knopf.
Zita the Spacegirl. By Ben Hatke. Illus.
by the author. First Second.
Older Readers
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance
of Amelia Earhart. By Candace Fleming.
Schwartz & Wade.
Anya’s Ghost. By Vera Brosgol. First Second.
Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the
Atlantic. By Robert Burleigh. Illus. by
Wendell Minor. Simon & Schuster.
Between Shades of Gray. By Ruta
Sepetys. Philomel.
No Ordinary Day. By Deborah Ellis.
Billions of Years, Amazing Changes: The
Story of Evolution. By Laurence Pringle.
Illus. by Steve Jenkins. Boyds Mills.
The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens
of a Tale. By Carmen Agra Deedy and
Randall Wright. Illus. by Barry Moser.
Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless
Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists.
Illus. by various. First Second.
Diego Rivera: His World and Ours. By
Duncan Tonatiuh. Illus. by the author.
Soldier Bear. By Bibi Dumon Tak. Illus.
by Philip Hopman. Trans. by Laura
Watkinson. Eerdmans.
Dream Something Big: The Story of the
Watts Towers. By Dianna Hutts Aston.
Illus. by Susan L. Roth. Dial.
The Third Gift. By Linda Sue Park. Illus.
by Bagram Ibatoulline. Clarion.
Bluefish. By Pat Schmatz. Candlewick
Thunder Birds: Nature’s Flying Predators. By
Jim Arnosky. Illus. by the author. Sterling.
Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the
Lawless Years of Prohibition. By Karen
Blumenthal. Roaring Brook.
E-mergency. By Tom Lichtenheld. Illus.
by Ezra Fields-Meyer. Chronicle.
Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems. By
Kristine O’Connell George. Illus. by
Nancy Carpenter. Clarion.
Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic
Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and
Monsters. By Donna Jo Napoli. Illus. by
Christina Balit. National Geographic.
Black & White: The Confrontation
Between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth
and Eugene “Bull” Connor. By Larry
Dane Brimner. Calkins Creek.
Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion
of 1917. By Sally M. Walker. Holt.
Dead End in Norvelt. By Jack Gantos. Farrar.
Drawing from Memory. By Allen Say.
Illus. by the author. Scholastic.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Hidden. By Helen Frost. Farrar.
2012 Notable Children’s
Mirror Mirror: A Book in Reversible
Verse. Live Oak Media.
Moon Over Manifest. Listening Library.
The House Baba Built: An Artist’s
Childhood in China. By Ed Young and
Libby Koponen. Illus. by Ed Young.
Little, Brown.
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians.
Recorded Books.
Okay for Now. Listening Library.
The Apothecary. Penguin.
Operation Yes. Brilliance Audio.
Beethoven’s Wig: Sing Along Piano
Classics. Beethoven’s Wig.
The Other Half of My Heart. Listening
Clementine and the Family Meeting.
Recorded Books.
Practically Ridiculous. Pluckypea
Countdown. Listening Library.
The Sisters Club: Cloudy with a
Chance of Boys. Brilliance Audio.
Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers
Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air.
By Stewart Ross. Illus. by Stephen Biesty.
Songs of the Baobob: African
Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes. Secret
Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s
Secret Children. By Kimberly Brubaker
Bradley. Dial.
Stone Soup. Weston Woods.
Lost & Found. By Shaun Tan. Illus. by the
author. Arthur A. Levine.
Dead End in Norvelt. Macmillan.
Dear America: Like the Willow Tree.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late.
Weston Woods.
Ella Jenkins: A Life of Song.
Smithsonian Folkways.
Thunder over Kandahar. Listening
How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of
the Awfully Famous. By Georgia Bragg.
Illus. by Kevin O’Malley. Walker.
Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean
Pirate Shipwreck. By Margarita Engle. Holt.
A Monster Calls. By Patrick Ness.
The Unforgotten Coat. Brilliance Audio.
Fletcher and the Springtime
Blossoms. Weston Woods.
Ghetto Cowboy. Brilliance Audio.
Jim Gill Presents Music Play for Folks
of All Stripes. Jim Gill.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton
Place, Book 2: The Hidden Gallery.
Listening Library.
Ivy and Bean: What’s the Big Idea.
Recorded Books.
Jefferson’s Sons. Listening Library.
Jessica. Live Oak Media.
Looking Like Me. Live Oak Media.
Lucky for Good. Listening Library.
The Elephant Scientist. By Caitlin
O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson.
Illus. by Caitlin O’Connell and
Timothy Rodwell. Houghton Mifflin
Young Fredle. Listening Library.
Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein.
By Susan Goldman Rubin. Charlesbridge.
For an annotated list of the above
recordings, including recommended
age levels and running times, visit
Okay for Now. By Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion
Members of the Notable Children’s
Recordings Committee were Sharon
Haupt, chair, San Luis Coastal Unified
School District San Luis Obispo,
California; Cari Albarelli, Kansas City,
Missouri; Sunday Cummins, National
Louis University, Wheaton, Illinois;
Linda Martin, Sugar Hill Elementary
School, Gainesville, Georgia; Sharon
McKellar, Oakland (Calif.) Public Library;
Daniel Meyer, Kew Gardens Hills, New
York; Danielle Shapiro, Brooklyn (N.Y.)
Public Library; and Janet Thompson,
Chicago Public Library.
Raggin’, Jazzin’, Rockin’: American
Musical Instrument Makers. By Susan
VanHecke. Boyds Mills.
Queen of Hearts. By Martha Brooks. Farrar.
The Scorpio Races. By Maggie Stiefvater.
Sita’s Ramayana. By Samhita Arni. Illus.
by Moyna Chitrakar. Groundwood.
Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time:
What the Hubble Telescope Saw. By
Elaine Scott. Clarion.
Stones for My Father. By Trilby Kent.
The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman. By
Meg Wolitzer. Dutton.
Tall Story. By Candy Gourlay. David
Flyaway. By Lucy Christopher. Chicken
Terezin: Voices from the Holocaust. By
Ruth Thomson. Candlewick.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Under the Mesquite. By Guadalupe
Garcia McCall. Lee & Low.
Witches! The Absolutely True Tale
of Disaster in Salem. By Rosalyn
Schanzer. Illus. by the author. National
All Ages
Can We Save the Tiger? By Martin Jenkins.
Illus. by Vicky White. Candlewick.
Heart and Soul: The Story of America
and African Americans. By Kadir Nelson.
Illus. by the author. Balzer + Bray.
If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered
Alphabet. By Leslie McGuirk. Illus. by
the author. Tricycle Press.
Never Forgotten. By Pat McKissack. Illus. by
Leo and Diane Dillon. Schwartz & Wade.
Press Here. By Hervé Tullet. Illus. by the
author. Handprint Books/Chronicle.
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature. By
Joyce Sidman. Illus. by Beth Krommes.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
2012 Notable Children’s Videos
All the World. Weston Woods.
Eric Carle: Picture Writer: The Art of
the Picture Book. Eric Carle Studio.
A Child’s Garden of Poetry. Warner
Home Video.
Children Make Terrible Pets. Weston
Choosing to Be a GFF (Good Friend
Forever). Good Friend.
Coming Out: What Every Teen (Gay
and Straight) Needs to Know. Human
Relations Media.
The Day of the Dead. Weston Woods.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!
Weston Woods.
For the annotated list, visit
* Denotes a closed meeting.
Members of the Notable Children’s
Books Committee were Kathleen T.
Isaacs, chair, Pasadena, Maryland;
Meagan Albright, Alvin Sherman Library,
Research and Information Technology
Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Miriam
Lang Budin, Chappaqua (N.Y.) Library;
Dana Buttler, Beaver Acres Elementary
School, Beaverton, Oregon; Patricia
Carleton, St. Louis (Mo.) Public Library;
Rosemary S. Chance, Dept. of Library
Science, Sam Houston State University,
Huntsville, Texas; Barabara A. Chatton,
University of Wyoming, Laramie; Edith
Ching, Silver Spring, Maryland; Betsy
Fraser, Calgary (Alberta) Public Library;
Maryann H. Owen, Racine (Wis.) Public
Library; and Linda A. Perkins, Berkeley
(Calif.) Public Library.
Thursday, June 21
2012 Conference Schedule
2–4:30 p.m.
Executive Committee
4:30–6 p.m.
AASL/ALSC/YALSA Jt. Executive Committee
Friday, June 22
7–9 p.m.
2013 Award and Notable Chair Orientation
1–4 p.m.
Board of Directors I
Saturday, June 23
8–9 a.m.
Priority Group Consultants
(as of April 6)
8–10 a.m.
2013 Carnegie/Notable Children’s Videos;
2013 Geisel*
See for the complete list, including room locations and
You Want Me to Circ WHAT?! or How
to Best Utilize Toys as a Literacy Tool
in Programs and as a Fun Part of Your
Kitten’s First Full Moon. Weston
Too Many Toys. Weston Woods.
Members of the Carnegie Medal/
Notable Children’s Videos Committee
were Chair Martha Seif Simpson,
Stratford (Conn.) Library Association;
Marilyn Ackerman, Brooklyn (N.Y.)
Public Library, Office of Materials
Selection; Linda L. Ernst, King County
Library System, Bellevue, Washington;
Linda A. Gann, University of North
Carolina-Greensboro, School of
Library and Information Studies;
Suzanne Myers Harold, Multnomah
County Library, Portland, Oregon;
Lindsay D. Huth, Arlington Heights
(Ill.) Memorial Library; Gwen M. Taylor,
Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston,
Idaho; Emily Tichenor, Tulsa (Okla.)
City-County Library; and Joanna Ward,
County of Los Angeles Public Library,
Temple City, California.
For an annotated list, including recommended age levels and running
times, visit
For the annotated list of the above
videos, including recommended age
levels, visit
Party Day. (Laurie Berkner Band) Two
Tomatoes/Razor & Tie.
Private Eyes/Les Yeux Noirs. National
Film Board of Canada.
Robot Zot! Weston Woods.
Safety Smart Science with Bill Nye the
Science Guy: Germs & Your Health.
Disney Educational Productions.
Scaredy Squirrel. Weston Woods.
Stone Soup. Weston Woods.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
Lending Collection. The newly revised
Every Child Ready to Read recognizes
that play is an important part of early
literacy development, and if play is a
child’s work then what better tools than
toys! This will be hands-on fun for everyone as participants learn tips and tricks
of effectively using toys to educate and
entertain in the library and beyond.
ALSC 101. If you’re new to ALSC or if this is
your first Annual Conference as a children’s
librarian, then this program is for you! We’ll
provide you with information about the
perks of ALSC membership, tips on how
to get involved, and tricks of the trade for
navigating conference. Plus, enter a raffle
for a chance to win a Newbery-Caldecott
banquet ticket or a Nook and a Book!
8 a.m.–noon
2013 Caldecott;* 2013 Wilder*
Exploring Rainbow Family Collections.
Rainbow Families are increasing
throughout the country. Children with
same-sex parents live in 96 percent of
all counties nationwide and more than 6
million children live with an LGBTQ parent. With the recent influx of children’s
LGBTQ picture books, how can librarians
decide which books are the best for their
collections and programs? This session
describes criteria for selecting children’s
books with LGBTQ content, highlights
outstanding titles, and provides suggestions for connecting these books with
Rainbow Families.
9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Division Leadership
10:30 a.m.–noon
2013 Sibert;* Notable Children’s Books
(procedural meeting)
Science in the Stacks. A new library
service model that provides hands-on,
science learning opportunities for children ages 3–12 in urban public libraries.
Science in the Stacks is centered around
36 Discovery Exhibits that provide experiential science learning that is integrated with traditional library resources.
1:30–3:30 p.m.
Board Orientation
Nonfiction Book Blast: Booktalks and
Activities for Your Library. Start school
with new booktalks and activities for this
year’s hottest nonfiction books. Twelve
authors will booktalk their new 2012 nonfiction books for elementary school, middle school, and high school readers. Find
out the story behind each book and take
home a packet of booktalks and activities
you can use in your library. Moderated
by Booklist Quick Tips for Schools &
Libraries columnist Anastasia Suen.
1:30–4:30 p.m.
Notable Children’s Books
1:30–5 p.m.
Notable Children’s Recordings
1:30–5:30 p.m.
2013 Newbery*; 2013 Odyssey*
4–5:30 p.m.
2013 Arbuthnot;* 2013 Batchelder;* 2013
Geisel;* 2013 Sibert;* 2014 Arbuthnot;*
Organization and Bylaws
4:30–6:30 p.m.
2013 Belpré*
7–9 p.m.
ALSC Happy Hour. After ALSC 101, join
colleagues for a Happy Hour drink! This
is a perfect opportunity to meet new
people and relax after a long day. Hosted
by ALSC, this unofficial event is open to
members and nonmembers alike.
Sunday, June 24
8–10 a.m.
2013 Nominating*
8 a.m.–noon
2013 Belpré;* 2013 Caldecott;* 2013
Newbery;* 2013 Odyssey;* 2013 Sibert;*
All Committee I & II
10:30 a.m.–noon
Budget I
There’s an App for That: Using Technology
to Enhance Children’s Librarianship.
Apps are all the rage these days. As
schools and public libraries are increasingly adopting mobile devices such as
iPads and eReaders, librarians are looking
for ways to use apps to enhance lesson
plans and create “Storytimes 2.0.” In this
presentation, two school librarians and
two public librarians explain and demonstrate how they have successfully integrated apps into their library programs
and services. This session will help you
raise the bar for librarianship and learning at your own institution.
1:30–3:30 p.m.
All Discussion Groups; Collection
Management Discussion Group
Belpré Award Celebración. Join ALSC and
REFORMA for this gala event honoring
the 2012 Medal winners and honorees.
The New Nonfiction: What Is It and
Does It Matter? What makes for excellence in nonfiction? We’re used to looking for reliability, utility, narrative skill,
and clear, attractive illustration. But
given new realities of access to information, questions of authority and context,
standardized testing, and emerging core
requirements that emphasize critical
thinking and language arts, are these
still the most important criteria for nonfiction for young readers? This panel will
debate a new framework for evaluating and using the new nonfiction—and
maybe even define it.
1:30–4:30 p.m.
Notable Children’s Books
1:30–5:00 p.m.
Notable Children’s Recordings
2–3:30 p.m.
AASL/ALSC/YALSA Jt. Legislation
4–5:30 p.m.
2013 Batchelder;* 2013 Geisel*
I WANT A TRUCK BOOK! Reorganizing
Your Picturebook Collection to Meet
the Needs of Young Patrons and Their
Caregivers. Find out how and why some
public and school libraries are moving
away from traditional “alpha by author”
picturebook shelving to a more intuitive
model that takes into account the ways
young patrons actually search for reading
material. The speakers—two public librarians and one school librarian—will present
their rationales for change as well as the
nuts and bolts of how they accomplished
their reorganizations—and increased both
circulation and patron satisfaction.
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
6–11 p.m.
Newbery Caldecott Banquet. This gala
event celebrates the Newbery, Caldecott,
and Wilder Medalists and Honorees—
authors and illustrators of the year’s
most distinguished books for children.
Cash bar before dinner; doors open at
6:45 p.m.
Monday, June 25
8–10 a.m.
Youth Council Caucus
ALSC and YALSA Joint Presidents’
Program: The Digital Lives of Tweens
and Young Teens. Michelle Poris, PhD,
will launch the program by illuminating attendees on what lives are like for
tech-savvy tweens and young teens. Poris
has nearly 20 years of research experience with youth and families and is currently the Quant Savant at Smarty Pants,
a full-service market research and strategic consulting firm, for which she leads
all custom and syndicated quantitative
research initiatives. Following Poris,
library futurist Stephen Abram, MLS, will
shine a beacon on the intersection of digital learning, libraries, and youth. Abram
was listed by Library Journal as one of
the top 50 people influencing the future
of libraries. Abram is past-president 2008
of the Special Libraries Association (SLA)
and the past-president of the Ontario
and Canadian Library Associations
(CLA). Following these presentations, the
ALSC and YALSA presidents will showcase short videos submitted from librarians in the field to highlight effective
programming and innovations for working with tweens and young teens.
economic crisis. Especially hard hit are
children’s services whose early literacy
programming and summer reading programs disappear as closures and shorter
schedules increase. Learn from recent
events in Oakland, California, and from
other librarians and community members how new social media and family
friendly actions can stem the tide and
mobilize your communities and staff to
save their libraries.
10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
ALSC Awards Presentation and
Membership Meeting. Join your colleagues for the annual presentation for
the Batchelder, Carnegie, Geisel, and
Sibert Awards. The ALSC Membership
Meeting will immediately follow where
Mary Fellows, ALSC president, will recognize the 2013 professional award
winners and share the past year’s accomplishments and new initiatives.
1:30–4:30 p.m.
Notable Children’s Books
1:30–3:30 p.m.
2013 Nominating*
4–5:30 p.m.
Odyssey Award Presentation & Program.
Celebrate the spoken word at the 2012
Odyssey Award Presentation, featuring
this year’s winner and honorees.
4–5:30 p.m.
Budget II
Tuesday, June 26
How to Save Your Library: Advocating
on Multiple Fronts during Economic
Crisis. Public libraries across the country
are facing decimation during the current
1:30–5:30 p.m.
Board of Directors II &
Index to Advertisers
ALSC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover 4
Bella and Harry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover 2
Dawn Publications. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover 3
Lift Every Voice Books/Moody Publishers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
National Geographic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Scholastic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover 3
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
A World Record Achievement
Elizabeth Enochs
“How would you like to spearhead an effort to
win Lee Bennett Hopkins the Guinness World
Record for most prolific anthologist of children’s poetry?”
That was the question posed to me in April
2011 by Dr. Sylvia Vardell, professor of Library
and Information Studies at Texas Woman’s
University and internationally known advocate for children’s poetry.
Could any children’s librarian resist?
After all, I read from Hopkins’s books several times a week to children in the library.
Teachers on our faculty treasure their dogeared copies of My America and Good Books,
Good Times! And I had just served on the
2011 selection committee for the Lee Bennett
Hopkins Poetry Award, so I knew of his personal generosity and heartfelt commitment to
spreading the word about poetry for children.
I was hooked.
cation, I compiled a more detailed bibliography,
aided by a surprise assistant, my thirteen-yearold son, Jeff.
He has been a Hopkins fan since second grade,
thanks to his teacher’s passion for children’s
poetry. He proofread with me into the wee hours,
identifying the earliest edition of many titles,
finding missing ISBNs, and navigating WorldCat
like a pro.
“Glad to do it, Mom,” he insisted. “I really love his
Guinness sent the bibliography to one of their
expert consultants, and for another two weeks . . .
no response. Finally, with no advance notice, the
official World Record certificate arrived! We took a
picture of Jeff holding the award and sent it off to
Hopkins right away.
My son’s elation reminded me that as librarians, we
can promote extraordinary achievements in unexpected ways that reach new audiences. Who knows
what child might pick up a copy of Incredible
Inventions because it’s written by a Guinness
World Record–holding poetry anthologist?
The online application had a frustrating
word limit that precluded full citations for
Hopkins’s astonishing 113 anthologies of
poetry for children. In the end, I submitted an abbreviationriddled bibliography and an agonizingly short description of
his life’s work that conveyed very little other than the number of
titles he had authored. After that, I wrung my hands and waited.
Hopkins’s world record acknowledges his astounding personal
achievement, and every child who loves poetry can share in the
absolute joy of it.
In July, we received a rejection due to unclear information on
the bibliography—not exactly a surprise. But that’s when the
real work began. Freed from the word limit of the online appli-
Elizabeth Enochs is Librarian at George C. Clarke Elementary
School in Fort Worth, Texas, and a library science doctoral student at Texas Woman’s University.
Got a great, lighthearted essay? A funny story about children and libraries? Books and babies? Pets and picture books?
A not-so-serious look at the world of children’s librarianship? Send your Last Word to Sharon Verbeten at [email protected]
Spring 2012 • Children and Libraries
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