Monday, October 31, 2011

A Classic Halloween Tune Just For Libraries

This Halloween night, there is much to be celebrating. Many libraries across the country were spared from having their doors shut for good. Times are tough but one thing is for certain, a world without libraries is scary indeed. In celebration of the spookiest night of the year and promoting libraries, here is a little parody that was written to the tune of "Monster Mash". Enjoy!

The Monster Book

I was in my library, late one night
when my eyes beheld an eerie sight.
In the Library a monster did appear
And he made it perfetly clear

He wants the book!
He wants the monster book
the monster book!
A tale with a scary hook,
He wants the book!
All the bookshelves shook,
He wants the Book !
He wants the monster book!

This surprised me not in least
for the trendy ghouls from the east
Came to the library just last week
Lookng for the book of which we speak.

They Read the book!
They read the monster book
The monster book!
A tale with a scary hook,
They read the book!
All the bookshelves shook,
They read the Book !
They read the monster book!

Now the zombies come in one by one
Reading spooky stories and having fun
Wolfman has his favorites, too.
Dracula reads to his son!

The library’s rockin to Frankie's page turning' beat.
Igor’s book club has a place to meet
Teen werewolves thinks thats just fine
Cause they reserve their books online.

They Read the book!
They read the monster book
The monster book!
A tale with a scary hook,
They read the book!
All the bookshelves shook,
They read the Book !
They read the monster book

A librarian’s note reached Drac’s coffin
Seems an overdue book brought him in.
He opened his lid, and did insist
"I did return the book “Transylvania Mist!”

They Read the book!
They read the monster book
The monster book!
A tale with a scary hook,
They read the book!
All the bookshelves shook,
They read the Book !
They read the monster book

Everything is cool, Drac’s on the Library board
The monster book has struck a cord.
For the living, this book was meant too
Come to the library, we'll check it out to you.

copyright 2011 Lisa Valerio-Nowc

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This Blog Brought To You By the Letter "L"

Sesame Street has been a treasured icon of children educational programming. For over forty years children have enjoyed wonderful characters such as Cookie Monster, Kermit and of course,the loveable Big Bird. Over the years the radical concept of this program aimed to help children learn the basics, such as the alphabet, by watching television. A novel concept back in the 1960's. It was and still is a wonderful idea, and it has lived up to its goal of preparing children to get a "jump" into preschool. There are several reasons for the success of this iconic program. After all to appeal to audiences year after year for over forty years is a big deal and accomplishment. What can children's library program learn from the Seasame Street success? How can Sesame Street longevity be incorporated into the library setting? The answer to these questions are simple and attainable.

Everyone knows who lives on Sesame Street. It is the ideal neighborhood where everyone gets along, watches out for each other and most importantly helps each other when there's a "problem" It must be comforting to children to see the puppets interact with each other and adults when trying to "figure" out the problem. The children's room should become that comfortable place where children can play, read and interact with each other freely. For discovering the solutions to homework or questions, the children would know that without a doubt asking the "adult" in the room for help, who just happens to be the knowledgeable, friendly and helpful librarian. There should always be sunny days in the children room, just as it is on Sesame Street. Are the children who come to your library know the names of the librarian? Is there an outreach to the neighborhood families to visit the library often?

Sesame Street is also not static. New puppets come along. Every week there are new visitors who stop by and say hi. Along with the traditional core lessons such as the ABC, new ideas and lessons are introduced to keep the program fresh. Take a hard look at your children's programming. Think about how long a "favorite" program has been running in the library. Should the storytime program be revamped? Should a new program be introduced? Should an invitation be sent to "celebrity" visitors to add some excitement to the Youth Services Area.

Never overlook the power of caregiver's in a child's life. Sesame Street began by proving to parents, grandparents, educators and babysitters that their program had a lot to offer children in the formative years. Once the adults were "hooked" it took little time for the tots to become lifelong fans of the show. How many parents do you know that still can sing "I love Trash"? At a best guess, there are very few parents today who did not grow up with Sesame Street. Even if they lived in another country, they are still able to recognize Bert and Ernie, along with all the other regulars. Children's librarian are in the unique position to capture the attention of caregivers and entertain the youngsters. If the caregivers love what they see in their library, then chances are the children are being entertained. If the children grow to love the library, the programs and reading, chances are very good that they will become lifelong library supporters. Sesame Street found their residual audience. Libraries should be doing the same.

Last but not least, it has never occurred to Sesame Street that they would become obsolete or irrelevant in their viewers' eyes. Instead they have carried on the tradition of the program, all the while, looking for other outlets to spread their message of early learning and literacy. Libraries are constantly listening to the "experts" who say that the industry is doomed and the need for libraries is fading. As professionals in the field, we know that this is not even close to the truth. However, looking at trade magazine, a young librarian might get the idea that the library is a dead end job. Wrong! When was the last time your library investigated new ways of funding a program? When was the last time you thought creatively about getting the library's message out? It's time that libraries stop allowing experts opinions define who librarians are and what libraries can do for the community.

Sesame Street the friendliest place on earth where children are encouraged to learn, read and grow. Funny, those very same words should be applied to libraries. Don't you think so?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Witches That Have Cast A Spell On Readers

Witches. Around this time of year, they are everywhere. Chances are you may even find a flattened out witch against your neighbor's tree. In this day and age, no one is afraid of a little ol' witch. There have been many stories that have given readers a glimpse of what witches look like, laugh like and even how to make one disappear ... for good. Classic stories of witches are read throughout the year, not just in October. However, the Fall, with it's festive Halloween celebration, provides a wonderful excuse to list favorite literary witches. Every avid reader either remember these witches well or at least have heard about them from others.

The stereotypical witch is ugly, mean and vengeful. However, there are some witches that have broken the mold and taught readers that there is good and bad in every walk of life. Including witches. Some are just poor, loveable and misunderstood. Of course, all witches have the ability to do "magic" or some may call it wicked "witchcraft". Like it or not, the authors who have introduced us to these characters have brilliantly forged the way for the witches to cast their spells on an unsuspecting audience. Yet, no one truly complains about the spells. Quite frankly, they are rather enjoyable and worth every minute that readers are cast under their spells.

Without further fuss and musing, here is a quick list of ten fictional witches that everyone should know or at least has heard about in their literary "trails" of life.

Greek mythology has many unusual characters. Medea is no exception. In Euripides play she is the mother who does the unthinkable. She murders her own sons. There has often been debates on whether she qualifies as a "witch". To settle this debate consider two important fact. One she is often called a sorceress. Secondly, she worships the witch God Hecate. Lastly, she murdered her brother with no regrets. If that doesn't make her a witch, then the rest of this list should be pretty tame.

The Queen in Snow and the Seven Dwarves is the classic example of a witch in disguise. Every child is familiar with the story of how poor Snow White had a stepmother who was truly a witch. No need for the magic mirror to tell the truth about this evil Queen/witch. All one has to remember is the fact that a poor guardsman, on the Queen's orders, had to take Snow White out to the forest, kill her and bring back her heart in a jewlery box as proof that she was gone. When the Queen found out that she was not the Fairest of them all because Snow White still lives, all is not well in the Kingdom. (Care to guess at what might have happened to the guardsman? It's probably not a good ending for him) In an old lady disguise, complete with poisoned apple, the Queen/Witch tricks Snow White into falling into her evil trap. All ends well for Snow White when a handsome prince comes along to plant a kiss of true love on her lips. However, the evil Queen/Witch will forever go down in history as the model for every creep witch to follow. Be vain. Be vengeful. Be vicious.

In Hansel and Gretel, the old witch lives alone in the forest in a gingerbread edible home. Children wandering around alone in the forest should pack a lunch instead of chewing off part of a home. Every reader knows that this can only lead to trouble. This awful witch not only lures innocent children into her home "sweet" home, she also likes to fatten them us so she can eat them. Perhaps this is where the legend of withes hating children began.

Shakespere also used witches to tell a story. Who can forget the Three witches in Macbeth. They were also known as the Three Weird Sisters, and to be honest, they fit the description. They were the prophetesses who correctly predicted the rise and fall of Lord Macbeth. Of course, some have often commented that Lady Macbeth had all the qualities of a Queen Witch without the title. Others say she was just being a loyal wife and standing by her man. Nonetheless, the Three Witches were considered evil and in Shakepeare's time, they were considered a harbinger of bad news.

The Wizard of Oz introduced readers to witches from all corners of the world. On the one hand, The witch from the North uses her magic for good. She is beautiful, helpful and is similar to a Fairy Godmother. Everyone in Oz loves and trusts the Witch of the North. However, the Wicked Witch of the West, is the exact opposite of her peer from the North and behaves like the witches of legend. She flew around on a broom but never once did a black cat appear at her side. Then again, who needs black cats when flying monkeys are so much more entertaining.

In C.S. Lewis' the Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, the witch is definitly the antagonist of the story. To say she is cold, is an understatement To place Narnia in a one hundred year winter to gain and keep power is just one of her many calculating moves. Lewis' use of the witch demonstrates the capacity of evil to wield its power in any form possible. The White Witch claims to be human and uses the creatures as her minions. She has all of Narnia under her control and knows that human entering into her world will disrupt her her control. Thus any human who appear in Narnia are to be brought to her. Lucy and her siblings get caught up in her trap but eventually find a way, with Asian's help, to free Narnia of her control.

Not all witches are bad, some are helpful and lovable. Their magic is used for good and only called upon when it is necessary. One such witch is Strega Nona, Tomie DePaola's Italian grandmother who is also a witch. Strega Nona dos not wear a pointed hat, black dress and fly around on a broom. Instead she wears traditional Italian peasant dress, a babushka and has a magic pot that produces enough spaghetti to feed an entire neighborhood and hen some. This witch makes every reader wish their Nona was as "homey" as Strega Nona.

Broom-Hilda is not from traditional literature. As a librarian, it is important to remember that reading cartoons is a positive activity. With that being said, she is worth a mention because she plays a part in popular culture. She looks like a typical witch, for being 1500 years old but in a very humorous way she is depicted as a man-crazy, cigar smoking and beer guzzling, who has many friends to accompany her in her adventures. She could be invited into any home and not one person would be afraid of this crazy old witch. She might even be fun to have around for a Super Bowl Sunday party.

Last but not least. Harry Potter has a whole gaggle of witches that appear in and out of his life. Harry's own mother is a witch who was killed when he was very young. However, the one who gets mentioned here is Hermonine Granger. The smartest student at Hogworths and loyal friend to Harry. She always wants to obey the rule, like most good students, but finds that sometimes fighting "fire" with fire is the only option. Rowlings has taken the good witch, bad witch storyline to another level.

Of course, there are many other witches in literature. Is there one that has been left out here? More than likely, but in defense of this posting, these were the first witches that come to mind.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Celebrating Teen Read Week In The Un-dead Library

A teen librarian's job is one part inspiration, one part communication and a whole lot of motivation to lure teens into the library. It all adds up to having a great time while at work. What could be better? The icing on the cake has to be that working with teens gives veteran librarians a new perspective on the issues of the day. As Teen Read Week kicks off next week, October 16th, most YA librarians are thinking of programs that will "excite and wow" their young patrons. Ideas that revolve around Halloween, to the latest teen novels theme, such as Steampunk, Zombies or Vampires, are sure to surface to the top of the list. These ideas might entice some teens to come in but it's going along the lines of the same old same old. Perhaps a little twist is needed to spruce the celebration. A little technology, mixed with exploring the library, inside and out can guarantee an event the teens won't soon forget. It's time to invite your teens to the Un-dead Library.

To begin this wonderfully different program, choose a theme. Based on the genre that is most popular in novels these days and it fits well with the season, Vampires, Zombies and Witches works well for planning this program. If your library has the ability to allow teens to register themselves on-line through the library's website, then this is the perfect set up for starting the fun. After the registration on-line, it is mandatory for teens to complete a short on-line survey on what they know about Vampires, Zombies and Witches. These questions are based on books, myths or legends. When they have completed the survey, an invitation is printed out for each participant to come to the library BEFORE the day of the program to receive a special pass to the program that is reserved for VIPs. This is a clever yet harmless trick to get teens to come into the library during the week at the same time create a buzz of excitement that will lead up to the big event. Once they come into the library to confirm their "invitation" a helpful YA librarian will provide them with a list of items to bring to the program. These items should be easy to find and tie into the theme of the party in some way. One item on the list could be a strand of garlic.

On the day of the program, at the check in desk, where teens will receive name tags, the YA librarian will ask to see if the guest had brought in all the items on the list. If they have, as VIP status players they will receive two clues during the program that will allow them to solve questions or tasks during the games. If a guest did not bring in all the items, they may borrow from another guest or the librarian but they will not be able to receive any clues. They are virtually clueless on their quest for the night. This is where, librarians are going to have to suspend he rules of quietness for the evening and the use of cell phones. Once everyone has been checked in the game can begin.

Explain to all participants that the online survey and items that they were required to bring will aid them in passing through the un-dead library. Armed with their previous knowledge, and tools they will go through ten stations that will require them to look something up, make something, or perform an activity, such as reading a poem out loud. One of the outcomes of this program is to encourage teens to use all various types of resources from electronic to paper, to complete the tasks. The guest or team (this program works well with either individuals or teams competing) who completes all tasks first wins. Once everyone has completed the stations, everyone can regroup to find out the answers to each stations. As with any teen program, provide snacks and beverage as a way to "celebrate" the winners' achievements and thank all the teens for their participation.

This game is so much fun for the teens because it allows for the use different tools to complete a given tasks. Teens love to show their techie expertise and as YA librarians it essential that the opportunities to do this is provided. Its time to face reality, teens today will be facing a more digitized world then our generation. In order to prepare these young patrons for the "way" of the future, thinking outside the traditional library rules for a week is a good thing.

For a complete outline of how this program can be done, including the questions and stations activity, don't hesitate to email for further information.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Positive Library Story Time Experiences For Autistic Children

The library should be an open and inviting place for patrons of all shapes and sizes. On a given day, in libraries across America, people can walk, roll, or bring a canine helper to guide them through the library. All are welcome, even those who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This disorder covers a wide range of symptoms from flapping hands (self stimulation) to loud outbursts that are seen as unsocial behaviors. Perhaps the hardest hurdle of serving patrons with Autism is identifying them and knowing how to help them during their library visits.

One of the more popular programs that library offers are story times for toddlers and preschoolers. These programs offer wonderful ways to share the love of reading to a budding young group of readers. It also is a positive reinforcement for family literacy. For parents of autistic children the joy of story times may turn into tears of frustrations. This shouldn't be case because all children deserve the opportunity to find joy in reading and sharing a story. There is a simple solution for autistic children and that is to simply provide a special story time geared for their needs.

First to consider when planning a story time for autistic children is the setting. The room should be dimmed since some Autistic children experience sensory sensitivities. Bright lights may be disturbing to them as well as loud noises. Secondly, do not take their behaviors personally. For example, some children with this disorder may not be able to make eye contact with the person they are speaking to, others may not want to do something as simple as a high-five because they do not like human contact. These children may also rock themselves during a program and seem totally unaware of what is going on around them. In reality, they are drinking in every single word that is said. Librarians must also remember that short simple instructions along with the child's name is an effective method of getting an autistic child to follow the rules of the program. Keeping the group small if possible and invite parents/caregivers to stay for the program should also be considered when implementing the program.

When beginning a story time let children know what to expect for the duration of the program. Simple pictures that will can demonstrate the order of the activities will give these special students a sense of security. When each activity is finished the picture that demonstrates this will be taken down. For example, after the first story has ended, the librarian will go to the "schedule" and take down the picture that represents the librarian and children reading together. This is repeated throughout the program until the very end when all pictures have been taken down. simple songs can also help with the transition of the program. For example, singing to the tune of London Bridges, "First story is over now, over now, over now. First story is over now. Now we will dance." It's simple, it's a tune that everyone recognizes and the children respond positively to the instructions.

Choosing books and crafts for this program is no different then planning one for children without disabilities. One universal rule of reading to all children is if the reader is engaged in the book, the audience will be too. During quite sit down activities, such as listening to a story, allow a child who can not keep their hands still to hold a fidget toy. This can be anything from a small rubber ball to a small stuffed animal. By allowing the toys during he story, it may help some autistic children focus better on the story being told. '

Finally allow the children time for movement that engage the senses to some degree. One activity may include singing or playing a song while the children are encouraged to walk around the room with colorful ribbons. Of course, with adult supervision to keep them from bumping into each other.

This program can be rewarding for everyone involved. Especially for the youth services librarian who has discovered another group of youngsters to share with the joy of a good story. Could the job get any better?