Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Fair Questions Answered! An interview with Greenlight Bookstore

For many years now, I've been working with Greenlight Bookstore on my book fairs and it's been a rewarding partnership. I love collaborating with them on book fair lists and I love supporting a local independent store. More of that, please! 

I find that working with an independent store means I get a lot of personal feedback and am able to create a unique book fair that truly reflects the interests and needs of my community. It also means that I've gotten to know Greenlight very well over the years and I thought it would be fun to hear from Hannah, the Offsite Sales and School Partnerships Manager, about book fairs. I put together a list of questions and she, very kindly, obliged. Thank you Hannah!

How does your store go about choosing the right books for each book fair? How do you select?

The process is different for every school we work with--which makes book fairs both a lot of fun and a unique challenge! Some schools have done a lot of fairs in the past and have a clear idea of what their students and families will want, and some have less experience and ask for more input from us. Often, schools will give us general guidelines--which themes they do (or don't) want, what price points they're looking for, titles or authors that their students love--and we'll build the specific list of titles from there. For schools with less information on past fairs, I base my choices on a combination of what's sold well at similar schools, what's popular in our store, and the titles (new and classic) that I love most.

What has a librarian done for a book fair that worked so well that you wish everyone would do it?

The librarians who run the most successful book fairs are, I think, the ones who really pay close attention to what their students get excited about, which of course changes from year to year and even week to week. I love it when I read through a list of requests and find titles that I've never even heard of; more often than not those books show up because a librarian has picked up on enthusiasm directly from their students, and those books almost always end up selling well at the fair. As much as possible, it's so helpful to let us know what your students love, even when it's an older or offbeat title that we might not have sold before.

What has a librarian done for a book fair that totally tanked (it happens to best of ideas!) that you wish no one would ever do?

I think the biggest mistake that librarians make is wishful thinking about which books will sell well. Sometimes I'll see librarians asking for the same titles year after year, even when no one has bought them in the past. It's important, I think, to find a balance between the books you want your students to read and the books they actually will read. It's great to challenge your students by providing books that they might not have thought of on their own, but also helpful to recognize when a particular book just seems unlikely to be a hit with students.

What’s the best thing a librarian can do to prepare his or her students and families for book fair?

Aside from the basics of publicizing the fair and talking with students about the kinds of books that will be available, I think it's really helpful to encourage families to take advantage of online ordering options. When families buy books online before a Greenlight fair, it ensures that they get the books they want and then on the day of the fair, all they have to do is pick them up at the school without worrying about payment. Nothing can replace browsing in person, but publicizing online ordering helps include families who might not otherwise be likely to participate in the fair and also cuts down on the day-of work for the volunteers or school staff who are coordinating the fair.

Give us your best book fair piece of advice!

To summarize: know your students! Know what they like and don't like, and what kinds of literary challenges they'll respond well to. Know who might forget to give a flyer to their parents or which families might appreciate a reminder about online ordering. It's our job as a bookstore to know titles and authors inside out, but because every school is so different, a librarian's knowledge of students, families, and school culture is the key piece to putting together a successful book fair.

-Karen, Williamsburg Northside School

Friday, October 14, 2016

Lit happenings

This is the post in which I tell you all about some literary happenings around town this month. BUT I just finished introducing a group of Grade 4 students to the Win the White House game and the sounds of their yells about the electoral collage are still ringing in my ears. Have you played that game yet? I recommend. It's a fabulous, fun way to introduce and support an election curriculum (and it can be customized for elementary, middle, or high school). There's something so very, very satisfying about helping kids understand big concepts without them noticing. I'm sneaky like that.

Onward! I admit I usually rely on you, my librarian peers, to tell me about fantastic literary events so please do chime in in the comments about all the fun literary things you're going to. Here's what I'm looking foward to doing/hearing about this month:

OpenHouseNY - October 15/16
Open HouseNY "provides audiences with unparalleled access to the extraordinary architecture of New York and to the people who help design, build, and preserve the city." Not all buildings are literary themed but many, many libraries are participating as open access sites. Check out the guide for all the site information and enjoy your behind-the-scenes tour! This event is such a fantastic way to explore all five boroughs.

BookFest@Bank Street - October 22
The big event of the month. The day will feature a keynote address by Pam Muñoz RyanPanelists include: Jorge AguirreJason Chin, Raúl Colón, Angela Dominguez, Rudy Gutierrez, Laurent Linn, Francoise Mouley, Christopher Myers, George O'Connor, Brian Pinkney, and Hervé Tullet.

Tickets are $80 and appear to be not sold out, which is crazy. Go get them!

Greenlight Bookstore Anniversary Celebration - October 22
How is it possible that there are two book events on the same day? Why are they doing this to us? 
"Greenlight celebrates its seventh year in Fort Greene with the annual birthday event, where they say thanks to everyone whose support keeps business growing by offering 20% off in the bookstore all day on Saturday and Sunday! Join them for a festive birthday weekend featuring decorations, giveaways and other surprises, and news about the new store."
Special note: Greenlight is my bookstore partner and you'll be hearing more about them in my next post.

October Picture Book Bonanza at Books of Wonder - October 30
There's another one of these on October 15 but you'll be at OpenHouseNY...
Books of Wonder always has fabulous events. Here's what they have to say about this one: "Join us for the second October Picture Book Bonanza, as we welcome SIX talented picture book creators to share their latest books with your young readers and listeners. TERRY and ERIC FANRITA MEADEREBECCA GIBBONJOHN DUVALL and KLAAS VERPLANCKE will bet at Books of Wonder to share their newest creations!

THE FAN BROTHERS for The Darkest Dark and The Night Gardener
RITA MEADE for Edward Gets Messy
KLAAS VERPLANCKE for Magritte's Apple"

There will also be amazing Halloween events all over town to enjoy. But that would be another post, wouldn't it?

Happy reading!


Friday, October 7, 2016

Librarian inspiration

Welcome back to school! Now that we’re in October and theoretically all settled in (Do you feel settled? I feel both like I’ve been back forever and just started…), I thought it would be a fine time to think about how we librarians inspire each other. Last year, fellow HVLA’er Kyle Lukoff sent a link to an article on gender disparity in picture books. One of the parents at his school was the author and Kyle not only came up with the last line of the piece but helped provide resources (with an assist from HVLA colleagues, of course!).
I was fascinated by the article and thought my 4th and 5th graders would be as well. With a lot of guidance (so, so many new vocabulary words!) my intrepid students followed me on a two month project.  Inspired by the pivotal 2011 study of picture books from Florida State University, the class spent over a month reading picture books, informational articles, and having discussions about gender bias in children's literature. The FSU study found a major disparity in gendered characters (with the vast majority being male) in picture books; we spent some time thinking and looking into this. 
Thanks to Kyle, we were able to make contact with journalist and editor Jennie Yabroff, whose Washington Post article "Why Are There So Few Girls in Picture Books?" was the jumping off point for our project. Jennie volunteered to answer questions from the students about her experiences writing and researching the topic. They class asked some incredible questions and were very inspired by her answers. UPDATE: Below please find the transcript of our Q&A!
In addition to inspiring the students, the project also introduced and expanded some key reading skills:
  • help students articulate characteristics of the text
  • uncover messages and theme
  • refine critical thinking skills
One of the most exciting and engaging parts of this project was using technology to redo popular picture books. Students selected a favorite book and used iPads to literally gender swap characters by changing names and pronouns. We then visited a Kindergarten class (who had also been doing a gender study) and read aloud both versions of the book. The 4th and 5th graders discovered that the younger children most enjoyed the books in which their own gender was reflected. This sparked fantastic conversations and awareness around representation.
As I often say, I don’t need my students to think like me, I just need them to think. This project gave my students opportunities and tools to look at picture books in a new way. It was a real privilege to hear their conversations and see their work. Inspiration from HVLA and Kyle made it happen!
Do you have any projects that have been inspired by other librarians? Please share!

-Karen, Williamsburg Northside Schools

UPDATE: Thank you to Jennie Yabroff for granting permission to share her Q&A!
Q&A with journalist Jennie Yabroff:
1.     How did you come up with the idea for the article?
I know I have a good idea when I have a question about something I’ve noticed in the world, and no one I talk to seems to have an answer. I started noticing that nearly all the characters in the books I was reading for my daughter were male, and it was actually hard to find books with female characters once I got past Olivia the pig and Lilly the mouse. I talked to other moms about it, and they said they’d noticed the same thing, but no one had any idea why. So I started calling people who write and publish children’s books, to see if I could get an answer.
2.     When did you figure out that more characters in picture books were male?
When I was pregnant, my friends all gave me their favorite children’s books as a baby shower present. I noticed pretty quickly that despite the fact that these were books picked out by women, for another woman to read to a baby girl, most of them, whether they were classics like “Are You My Mother” or new books like “Oh No, George,” featured male main characters.
3.     Do you like the books where you have to swap the genders?
Yes. I’ve found that there’s nothing inherently ‘male’ about these characters, and changing the gender does nothing to change the story. So I tend to just read books that I think are great already, and then swap the genders if I feel like I’ve read my daughter three books in a row with male main characters.
4.     Do you enjoy swapping the genders when you read?
I think it’s interesting, because I definitely notice my own gender assumptions. I am always curious, when I’m reading a new book, to see how many pages go by before the writer uses a gender pronoun, and if that changes my ideas about whether the character is male or female. But it’s also hard, because I have to pay attention and be careful to remember to change every he to she and every his to her!
5.     Has this affected your awareness of gender disparity in other media?
Definitely! It’s really pervasive. If it weren’t everywhere, I wouldn’t feel the need to be so vigilant with the books, but it does make me sad that in general, our culture seems to think stories about boys are more interesting or important than stories about girls.
6.     Do you feel bad for your daughter that you gender swap the books?
A friend told me my daughter was going to get really confused when she starts learning to read. I’m not really worried about that, but I do wonder if she will start correcting me every time I swap genders once she can recognize the words. I hope when that happens we can have conversations about why I’m changing the genders, and talk about whether it matters if the characters are boys or girls, and if that changes the story. I certainly don’t expect her to only read books about female characters, but I think it would be great if, as she gets older, she is aware of the issue – and, ideally, there will be more options for her in the future!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Goings On Around Town - May- June

As always there is lots going on at Books of Wonder. These events caught my eye

Launch Party for Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Sunday, May 15th, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Help Books of Wonder and authors SARAH WEEKS and GITA VARADARAJAN celebrate the launch of their newest novel for middle grade readers, Save Me a Seat, a delightful celebration of friendship in the face of adversity and difference.
Off-Site Launch Event for Draw the Line by Laurent Linn
Tuesday, May 17th, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Join Books of Wonder in celebrating the launch of LAURENT LINN's new book Draw the Line at the Society of Illustrators at 128 E 63rd St. (between Park and Lexington Avenues). LAURENT LINN will open the evening with a short presentation, followed by a book signing. There will be a cash bar and refreshments available.
The Raven King Tour
Sunday, May 22nd, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Join Books of Wonder as we welcome NY Times bestselling author MAGGIE STIEFVATER in conversation with her editor, NY Times bestselling author DAVID LEVITHAN for the release of the fourth and final book in The Raven Cycle, The Raven King!
Great Middle Grade Reads
Sunday, May 29th, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Get ready for some GREAT MIDDLE GRADE READS as FIVE fantastic authors present their latest tales of adventure with your young readers. GORDON KORMAN, DAN GUTMAN, JULIE SALAMON, ED MASESSA, and GAVIN BROWN will be here starting at 1pm and you won't want to miss a page!

A selection of events at various Barnes and Nobles

Barnes and Noble, Tribeca

Three Magic Balloons  Julianna Margulies

Tuesday May 17, 2016 4:00 PM This afternoon, we welcome actress Juliana Magulies. She'll be here to discuss her new book Three Magic Balloons. Priority seating with book purchase. This will be a wristband event. Please call the store for details

Barnes and Noble, 86th St

Friday June 10, 2016 7:00 PM Join us at 7:00PM for our Trivia Blast, created by Penguin Teen and Random House's First In Line, who will send one winner in every store advance reader's copies* of the most anticipated new teen books. *Advance reader's copies will be preselected by the publisher. #BFESTBUZZ 

Barnes and Noble, Tribeca
Matt de la Pena
Saturday June 11, 2016 11:30 AM  Special Instructions:Like us on Facebook for event updates. 

The Society of Illustrators is proud to announce a celebration of the Comic and Cartoon Art Annual! Opening Reception and Awards Presentation

Friday, June 17, 2016

Society of Illustrators
128 East 63 Street
New York, NY

Doors open at 6PM
Awards Ceremony at 7PM

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Participating in New York State's Charlotte Award

In the fall, many HVLA librarians and students had a blast predicting which book would win the Newbery medal. Part of the challenge for librarians was trying to figure out which books to put on the shortlist. I found this both engrossing and agonizing in equal parts! (Well, maybe not agonizing, but I did worry that we would completely overlook the winner and honor books). With the Charlotte Award, organized by the New York State Reading Association, this is not an issue, since a list of ten books is supplied for each age category. Charlotte fever is running high at A-S right now (pizza voting parties are next week) so I thought I would share a little about how and why we do it.

We offer the The Charlotte Award to boys in the 4th Grade and it has become an excellent stepping-stone to our Newbery Challenge program which we run for boys in Grades 5-7. The brilliant thing about the Charlotte Award is that the winner is chosen by children living in New York state, so when we have our celebration party we actually get to vote online.

NYSRA requires students to read at least six of the books in order to vote. I have to say I’m a little tougher on our boys since I ask them to read all ten books. This is because a number of the titles in the grades 3-5 age group are picture books. In addition, I introduce the award by reading one of the books aloud, enabling all of our boys get a star on the progress chart immediately.  

If I had to name a drawback to the Charlotte Award, I would say that although thought provoking, some more challenging titles would fit my student population better. That said, the fact that many of the books are quick, easy reads ensures very high participation. In addition, the selection is not always as up-to-date as it might be. For example, one of the books on the shortlist is El Deafo.
However the boys are enjoying nearly all of them, including books that they wouldn’t normally pick up.

One other thing to bear in mind is that the Charlotte Award only takes place every other year.This took me by surprise last year and I had to  scramble to find a replacement. Last year’s 4th grade proudly took part in South Dakota’s Prairie Pasque award! As out-of-state participants their votes didn’t actually count but the selection of books was great and with our usual system of incentives and quizzes in place, the program was just as popular.

I’m looking forward to our voting parties next week. The motivation that pizza provides cannot be overestimated and I think about three-quarters of the grade will be able to attend. Of course, we will be having that all-important conversation about which book merits the award and why, but we will also just be reveling in the fact that we have this shared reading experience. This morning I conducted a parent focus group to discuss the library. The reading challenge programs emerged as one of the things the parents appreciate the most. At the end of the day, building a community of readers is my central goal, and the Charlotte Award helps to get us there.

For more information about the Charlotte Award, check out their website.

Sarah Kresberg
Library Director, The Allen-Stevenson School

Sunday, March 13, 2016

2016 NYC Teen Author Festival — Happening!

Each day promises special YA treats, in locations throughout Manhattan and Jersey City.  Everyone's getting in on the fun — NYPL, Books of Wonder, McNally Jackson, WORD.

I just spent 20 minutes trying to summarize the best offerings of this week, without leaving out any great events....and it's impossible.

Then I thought about copying and pasting the entire schedule — because it's that good! You won't want to miss any of it! 

...But that would be an unwieldy blog post.

How about you visit the main schedule page, and look over the events — there's sure to be a few that interest you.

Discussions about Young Adult literature and stereotypes and social change and adult perspectives and influential music and personal essays and navigating being an author in a social-media-world.
Readers Theater with  authors!
...tons and tons of YA Authors!

and a performance by YA's best garage band, Tiger Beat (Libba Bray, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Barnabas Miller, Natalie Standiford)

Make a week of it!

alterrita. "Libba Bray and Tiger Beat cover "Dear Prudence." YouTube, 19 Mar 2009.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Resource Share — Did you know you have access to 100+ magazines?!

In a bit of a digression from school library news, this is a general celebration of our public library system and a specific resource-share from Brooklyn Public Library.

I’m currently obsessed with Brooklyn Public Library’s relatively recent digital offering of over 100 magazines via Flipster.

When I first read about this, I suspected it would be a long list of not-very-interesting, pretty-much-free-anyway magazines.
But then I looked into it… how wrong I was.

Horn Book! — School Library Journal!  The New Yorker! (cartoons included!)  Mother Jones and National Review!  The Atlantic!  Vogue!  People!  Time!  Real Simple… Rolling Stone... O Magazine… Consumer Reports… !

As well as children’s magazines like: Ask, Cricket, Cobblestone, Ladybug, Sports Illustrated Kids!

And so many more…

All of the most recent issues and a selection of past issues are available.

Once logged in with your BPL account, you can view a magazine in your browser or you can view on your device via the Flipster app for Android, iPhone or iPad.

Making this even more unbelievable, when using the Flipster app, your downloaded magazines can be read offline...on the subway, in the park, wherever!

Whether on a desktop/laptop or a smaller screen with the app, the Flipster interface is beautiful — easy to navigate, zoom, isolate an article, flip pages, and return to table of contents.

Ask Magazine April 2016 with Flipster

While exploring this tremendous resource, take a moment to appreciate the public library system we have here in New York.  
[Anyone who lives, works, attends school or owns property in New York State is entitled to library cards from New York Public, Brooklyn Public, and Queens Library!  That’s wild.]  

Back to school libraries.... 

Do you promote the public library in your school?
In addition to increasing access to titles and information, using the public libraries binds our students as citizens to the world beyond our schools — it’s an object lesson in how we benefit individually when we, as a group, invest in public resources.

How can we make our students and families more aware of the resources lying in wait for them — e-books, audiobooks, magazines, Bookflix, Tumblebooks — so perfect for home-use, subway-use, waiting-in-the-doctor’s-office-use, etc.?