Friday, June 24, 2011

One World, Many Stories ... and Hats From Around The World

Have you ever witnessed a child playing with hats? It's fun to see how their moods can change from serious to silly simply by putting on a hat. With a Fireman's hat, children imagine they are racing in a firetruck to get to a fire quickly in order to save the day. Very serious work indeed. However, with a wizard's hat, the mood changes from serious to magical as they wave their imaginary wand in the air and exclaim "Hocus Pocus"! Whimsical mayhem made to order by a little wizard. Of course the same can be said for children of all ages. Hats can have that kind of effect. To help librarians come up with unique story time programs here is one that incorporates, stories, songs, rhymes and culture. In other words it has it all.

In a typical story time programs, a hat is a perfect prop for an inspiring half-hour of reading to the young ones. Hats can also come in handy when working with teens, as a way to draw them out of their shells and let them express themselves without fear of rejection. Hats are wonderful, but they can also teach wonderful lessons on cultures. Just think what a Viking Warrior's hat can do for a story time. My Great-graet-great-grandfather.... was a Warrior is the inspiration for a unique One World, Many Stories Summer reading program. The cover of this book is humorous and inspiring. The Viking's helmet is all it took to generate the idea of hats and what they say about a culture.

The books that were chosen for this program besides the title mentioned earlier, are fun as well as informative. For example, Ann Morris' Hats! Hats! Hats! provide colorful photographs of different people from around the world and their hats. Paul Hoppe's book Hat is an imaginative story of a boy who finds a hat and can envision its unique uses, including doubling as as a boat or a sled. The last book selected, Eileen Spinelli's Do You Have A Hat? is is perfect for setting the mood for festive hat changing, wearing and hopefully giggles. This is where poetry and pandemonium may collide.

Before the poem begins, carefully lay out a sombrero, beret, ushanka, paddy hat, cowboy hat and a fez. (These items are easily found in costume stores or online.) Explain to the audience that hats from around the world are on display and will be used during the action poem/song. Every time a hat is named, a volunteer from the audience needs to model that hat. At the end of the poem, other hats are distributed to those who wanted to model but did not get the opportunity. Once everyone has a hat to wear, invite them to gather around in a circle for a new game. Explain to the audience that when they hear music they must take off their hats and pass it to the person to the right of them. When the music stops they must then wear the hat they are now holding in their hands. Start out slowly with the music, but eventually speed up it up to encourage the hats to be passed faster. Favorite music to use with this game is the Chicken Dance or the Mexican Hat Dance. Adding some spice into the game, on slips of paper write down the names of the hats. When the music stops, the leader will randomly draw a hat's name and the person who is wearing that particular stye will win a small prize. If this program does not generate giggles, it would be very surprising!

The poem/song that can be used is available below. It can be sung to the tune of This Old Man.

This big hat from Mexico
it is called a sombrero
with a wide brim from here to there
Wouldn’t you like one to wear?

This fury hat from Russia
It is called a Ushanka
With flaps over the ears just like so,
Wouldn’t you like one, yes or no?

This flat hat its from France,
it is called a beret, by chance
you see one, it looks like a pie
Would you wear it or should I?

This straw hat from Japan
it is called a paddy hat, it can
be worn for work or play
Would you wear one today?

This sturdy hat from USA
Everyone knows its a cowboy’s hat,they say
it’s worn by brave guys and gals,
Wouldn’t you like to wear one pal?

This tasselled hat from African land
it is called a Fez and
it is short and made of felt that's red
Would you like one on your head?

All these hats from every country
they tell us a wonderful story
of people from here to there
Do You have a hat to share?

Hats can be a children librarians' best tool. They are easy to find and in many cases very economical since they can be used over and over again. Don't be surprised if children ask for a repeat of the games or the entire program. It generates that much enthusiasm. Which should be the ultimate goal for every children's library program.

*the poem published here is written by Lisa Valerio-Nowc.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

One World Many Stories Geography Comes to Life!

What could make geography interesting to patrons of all ages? A Globe? A map? An insteractive video game? The first response to these suggestions is usually greeted with a yawn and mutterings of boring. However, when working on a shoe-string budget for fabulous summer reading programs, the ordinary run of the mill objects will have to become extraordinary tools. How do you ask? One simple way is to use Uri Shulevitz' How I Learned Geography. In his short biographical tale, Shulevitz describes his father's gift as something that was quite awful that turned into a tool to ignite his imagination. What could be so awful yet turn out to be so wonderful? A map. This title is intriguing in so many ways, and can lead to interesting programming ideas for librarians looking for a creative hook to lure patrons in this summer.

Using maps, pictures of famous landmarks, and manilla envelopes the perfect geography game is ready to be played children. The questions can range from really simple to complex depending on the age group of the children. Children can form teams of two to see who can correctly identify the landmarks and place them on the right country. The team to correctly place the pictures The team to correctly place the picture on the right country. First team to correctly place ALL countries on the map wins a prize. To add a level of difficulty and fun, time the event to see who can finish first.

Everyone dreams of going of to a far away place. For teens who are natural hams and even for those who are wanna be hams and just need a push in the right push in the right direction, a travel video contest could be the creative outlet they need this summer. Simple instructions, such as the length of the video clip should be no longer than 2 minutes and 30 second long.. In the travel video, teens must describe a destination of their choice. It can be a real or fictional place and be as serious or funny as they would like. the point of the video is to convince the audience that their heaven on earth is worth going too, again an, again. Videos can be uploaded to the library's webpage or viewed at a final party. This is where the fun begin as the community will have a chance to vote on the best video. The travel video with the most votes wins a "spectacular" prize. (Cheap replicas of the Academy Awards Statue is one that teens should love to win but gift cards work well too!)

Once upon a time Mapquest had a sense of humor and allowed directions requests for finding one's way to Hawaii. The detailed instructions would include going to the coast and crossing the Pacific with a kayak. It was amusingly creative. Tapping in on that idea, give your young patrons the opportunity to become a Cartographer or map maker. This activity, if they choose to accept it, will demonstrate how creative young patrons can be on mapping out directions to their favorite place in the world. There are no restrictions on the types of vehicles to use, or the length of time they suspect it will take to get to the destination or if the final destination is real or imagined. What counts is creativity. This is loads of fun and it might surprise some librarians that "mapping" out directions is a fun activity. Even for them!

Geography does not need to be boring. With a few simple items, and one terrific book, ideas for keeping children busy this summer are not hard to find.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Part 2: One World Many Stories: Getting there for Juvenile & Young Adult Readers

Juvenile and teens are no stranger to travel. In some point in their lives, they have gone on family trips by car or plane to visit relatives, go to amusement parks or in some cases Europe and other exotic travel. Books that relate the stories of going on a trip can feel quite natural and familiar. While other books spin the tale of wild adventure to far away places that most readers dream about going to one day. Either way, the authors draw out the travel in each of us and takes readers along on a trip they won't soon forget. For wonderful examples in juvenile and young adult novels of characters' unforgettable travel, keep reading.

Christopher Paul Curtis' award winning book The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 gives the reader a little bit of a history lesson along with getting acquainted with the Watsons, who are warm, funny and likeable. They could very well be the reader's neighbor down the street. Kenny narrates the story of his family's trip from Flint, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama. What was in store for them on this family trip was something that would change their lives forever. One of the most chilling moments in America's history, where four little girls died inside the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church, as it burned to the ground.

On a less serious note, Gordon Korman's Born to Rock is a different twist on the family trip. Leo Carraway's life is turned upside down by events that are out of his control. First he loses his scholarship due to a "cheating" incident. Then Leo learns that King Maggot, the top punk singer of the 1980s and leader of the band Purge, may be his biological father. What else can he do but confront the King, asks him to help him pay for college and become a roadie in Purge's comeback tour. It's one big adventure after another on the tour route. Leo finds that his own beliefs are challenged because they clash with the "rocker" world, but ultimately he has more in common King Maggot than he originally thought.

Not all characters have the normal "family vacation". Characters such as Amy and Dan from the 39 Clues series have flown around the world to track down a family fortune. Along the way, they find out the truth about their family's role in history. Amy and Dan use every conceivable mode of transportation from helicopter to limo. Young Adult readers have their own series that includes adventures, chase and spies. Teens who love spy novels love Alex Rider, a teenage British secret service agent. In this series Anthony Horowitz takes reader's to every corner of the world and back. Alex accepts seemingly impossible missions, fights bad guys and in the end, comes out victorious. Could it be anything less for one of Britain's youngest spies?

With titles like the ones mentioned, there is no doubt that finding the right book to "travel" with should not be a problem. Okay, maybe one problem, which book to read first?