Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The 2017 Printzbery is coming!

Next month, HVLA and School Library Journal's Someday My Printz Will Come are hosting our fifth mock awards event at LREI - Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School. We lovingly call our mock the Printzbery, coined two years ago when we added a Mock Newbery to our existing Mock Printz. At the close of that year’s event, everyone agreed that we wanted to have heard or participated in both discussions, so we joked that we should just have a Printzbery—a single discussion group that would consider Printz books, Newbery books, and those could-go-either-way books.

For this year's Printzbery, we have once again compiled a list of books separated into those three categories:

Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan
Makoons by Louise Erdrich
The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz
Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes
The Best Man by Richard Peck

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Vietnam: A History by Russell Freedman
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung

After lunch, which will be catered by Dig Inn, attendees will gather at our (mock) committee table to first vote down the list to 10 books. Discussion will kick off for each book with a "nominated" from someone at the table. Every year I've come away with fresh insights on books I've already given a lot of thought to, and I always leave excited to read the books I never got around to reading.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the day is the voting. I'll never tire of that moment when we finally crown a winner because I've never been disappointed with the result. I might walk in with a favorite, but occasionally someone points out some major issues with the book I've never considered before. The conversation allows us to get multiple takes on a single work, which means when we vote, we're all voting based on the same information, knowing perspectives outside of our own.

Are you interested in joining us this year? Go ahead and register now! Here are all the details:

WHO: All HVLA members and their book-loving friends/colleagues! HVLA membership is not a requirement. Please feel free to share this invite with anyone who would like to be a part of our mock committee.
WHEN: 11:30 am - 5:00 pm on Saturday, January 14, 2017 (Lunch and snacks will be served.)
WHERE: LREI - Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School, 40 Charlton Street


Do I need to have read all the books before the Printzbery?
It’s up to you. It’s way more fun if you’ve read the books, but also way more work, so attendees at all levels of readership are welcome.

I’m not an HVLA member, can I still come?
Yes, of course! Interested readers of all stripes are welcome. Please feel free to spread the word and share with any librarians, educators, and general book enthusiasts who might be interested.

Is there a registration fee?
Nope! This event is made possible through the support of the Hudson Valley Library Association, SLJ's Someday My Printz Will Come, and LREI - Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School.

I’ve never been to an HVLA book club meeting.
You’ll probably want to attend after this, but there is no prerequisite for the Printzbery. We'll start our 2017 reading in February. Keep an eye on the listserv for the dates and titles. You can also join our Goodreads group, where we post what we're reading and solicit suggestions for future book club reads.

Still have questions? Leave a comment or email me (jpiedmont [at] lrei [dot] org).

—Joy Piedmont, LREI

Monday, December 5, 2016

A recap of the December HVLA + NYCIST meeting

Since 2014 HVLA has partnered with NYCIST (New York Consortium of Independent School Technologists) to host meetings that bring our two groups together. Collaboration between librarians and technologists is increasingly vital for any school that wants to innovate and remain current with the constantly changing information and technological landscape. These meetings have been a wonderful way for our two departments to share and learn from each other outside of the busy school day. Our most recent joint meeting took place on December 1st at my school, LREI - Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School. Saber Khan, Director of Educational Technology at The Browning School and current NYCIST President asked our library and ed tech department invited us to host and we planned an a quasi-unconference style afternoon.

Before I give you an overview of the meeting, some background: Karyn Silverman, High School Librarian at LREI and I led a workshop called, "It's LIT: Librarians and Tech Integrators in the Future" at last January's NEIT (NYSAIS Education & Information Technology) Conference. Our goal was to have a productive brainstorming session to understand where we are now in order to map out the future. We came away from that hour with a Venn diagram of our roles in the education ecosystem of our schools.
The "beautiful" Venn diagram we created during "It's LIT" at NEIT16.
Those of us who attended this session felt like we had created a solid foundation for future conversations about collaboration between library and ed tech departments. This was the first thing that came to my mind to frame our conversations on December 1st.

The next step was to gauge what attending members wanted to discuss. In the RSVP we asked, "Librarians/Technologists what would you like to discuss with technologists/librarians?" We also wanted to know if anyone had stories of successful collaboration that they wished to share. Based on these answers, I created a word cloud to visualize our questions and ideas.
As it turns out, "research" was the word that bubbled up as the most cited topic for discussion. Using the word cloud, as well as the full responses from members, we came up with four main discussion topics that seemed to address the various interests of attendees: research, information/media literacy, STEAM and design thinking, and equipment (1:1, fixed resources, etc).

After some snacks and mingling, introductions and announcements, we broke out into four groups to discuss our main topics. I joined the information/media literacy group and we had a great conversation that generated ideas as well as questions and resources. Matthew Moran, Director of Technology and Innovation at Dwight School created a Google doc with our notes. Feel free to take a look, use and/or add resources.

Before we parted ways, we had a quick share to wrap up. Listening to each group, I was struck by how we all approached these topics with various professional experiences, but we were meeting on common ground because both librarians and technologists have roles to play in developing curricula and programs for these issues. As Sarah wrote last month, our departments are stronger when we learn together and from each other. Keep an eye out for future meetings with NYCIST and please invite your ed tech counterpart if they aren't already on the NYCIST listserv. The upcoming NEIT conference at the Mohonk Mountain House is also a great opportunity for professional development with fellow librarians and educational technologists from New York. 

—Joy Piedmont, LREI

Monday, November 28, 2016

Literary Events Around Town: December 2016

Even though literary goings-on might not be the first thing to come to mind when you think of December, here are actually some interesting events you might want to catch.

Books of Wonder (18 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011)
There are always so many amazing authors and events here but these ones especially caught my eye.

  • Meet R. L. Stine on Saturday, December 3rd - 1:00pm-3:00pm
  • Pop-Ups and Interactive Books Celebration on Saturday, December 10th - 1:00pm-3:00pm
  • December Picture Book Bonanza on Sunday, December 11th - 1:00pm-3:00pm
  • Fantastic Teen Reads on Friday, December 16th - 6:00-8:00pm (three authors including Neal Shusterman)

Barnes and Noble (Central Plaza, 2614 Central Park Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10710)
Chris Grabenstein presenting Home Sweet Motel at 6:00pm  (to be followed by the Harry Potter Magical Ball)

Children’s Books on Tour: NYC - Literary Networking Event on Thursday, December 1st 6:30-8:30 pm
Join the German Book Office of New York on December 1 at the Goethe Institut NYC (30 Irving Place, 4th floor) for a panel on translating children’s books, followed by a networking session.
  • Daniel Slager (Publisher and CEO of Milkweek Editions and renowned translator of German)
  • Emily Clement (Editor at Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, Inc.)
This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to Riky Stock (stock@newyork.gbo.org) by November 28, 2016.

Barnes and Noble, various locations, on Saturday, December 3rd - 9:00am on
Educator Holiday Shopping
Pre-K through 12 educators are invited to a special holiday shopping event --- just for you! Educators will receive a 25% discount on books, toys, games, movies, music and more. Plus, 10% off Café consumables and select NOOK® devices. 

Sarah Kresberg, Library Director
The Allen-Stevenson School

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A First Experience With a Writer-in-Residence

To be honest, I had never considered sponsoring a writer-in-residence before I attended the AISL conference in Florida a few years ago. One of the sessions was a writing workshop with the children’s author Adrian Fogelin. As I was going through the experience I kept thinking about how much the boys at my school would get out of attending a workshop like that. Further, I realized that teachers observing the workshop could take the ideas and implement them themselves in future years.  As happens with many big ideas at conferences, however, many of the details of this one got pushed to the back of my mind as I got on with the daily activities of being a school librarian. And yet, the seed had been planted.

Later that year I was fortunate enough to go to Columbus for the AASL conference. At a session about the Coretta Scott King Award, I heard talk about the poet and photographer Charles R. Smith Jr. Several people spoke with great enthusiasm about what an amazing presenter he was. Intrigued, I looked him up online and saw that not only did he do school visits, but he also gave writing workshops. The idea of a poet with dynamic presentation skills coming to my school to teach writing was irresistible. I had to look into it.

I’ll say it upfront; booking a writer-in-residence is no small undertaking. First, of all there is the issue of cost. I happen to have a healthy budget for visiting authors but even so, committing my entire author budget so that we could have three full days with Charles R. Smith, Jr. made me hesitate a little. In order to get a second opinion (and some much needed reassurance) I invited my department to join me for a Skype visit with Mr. Smith. On the video call we talked for about half an hour about what a visit to my school could look like. At the end of the call I got the thumbs up from my team and felt confident to proceed.

The next step was a flurry of emails with Gillian, Mr. Smith’s wife, since she handles his bookings. We negotiated the dates, fees and program, ending up with a commitment to teaching eight writing workshops, as well as four large group presentations. Once everything was locked in place we showed a video of Mr. Smith performing a poem and asked which teachers would like to have him teach a class. Before the video was even over, teachers were passing me notes (actual notes) asking to be involved! It was late winter and we had the main elements worked out in time for his visit in November.

Early October saw me working on the visit again, this time doing what proved to be the hardest thing of all; scheduling all those workshops and presentations. I had twelve events to schedule over a three day period and umpteen things I had to avoid if I didn’t want to mess stuff up for other people. I laid it all out with post-it notes which I kept moving until things ceased to be problematic. The next task was easy; sharing Mr. Smith’s poems with our boys during library class. My 4th and 5th graders especially loved his biography of Mohammed Ali that he tells in verse. They also got a kick out of Hoop Kings and, since chorus is very popular at our school, the poems about the Boys Choir of Harlem.

November 14, the long-awaited first day of the residency arrived and with it came a feeling of relief - our author showed up on time and, as evidenced by the first classes and presentations, was going to be great! His workshops were highly engaging and I say that with some authority as I actively participated in them five times! Most importantly, this was the kind of guy our boys could look up to. They soaked up his message of looking after mind, body and spirit and were riveted as he described his personal fitness goal of taking part in American Ninja Warrior as the Poet Ninja.
Our culminating event was a workshop for faculty. The residency was taking place during our annual Allen-Stevenson Book Week and the library traditionally organizes the faculty meeting that week. We could think of nothing we would want more for our teachers than a chance to experience the workshop for themselves. We regaled our faculty with prosecco and home-baked treats and then settled down to learn from Mr. Smith. At the end of the session Mr. Smith shared his teaching resources so that teachers could implement his lessons after he was gone. Given what has been happening in our country of late, many teachers were enamored of the idea of creating a book along the model of Mr. Smith’s book I am America.

With the residency over, we still had two more days of Book Week to run. Without doubt, extending the traditional one-day author visit to a three day residency added to our exhaustion by the end of the week. If we had to do it again, would we? If we find a writer that is a great fit for us again, absolutely!

Have you ever had a writer-in-residence? How did it work out? Do you have any tips to share? Would you do it again? Leave a post and let us all know.

Sarah Kresberg, Library Director
The Allen-Stevenson School 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Realizing a Different Sort of Bucket List: A Librarian Travels to England By Way of Narnia, Middle Earth and Wonderland

Every librarian has a literary bucket list: places they wish to visit because they are connected to a favorite book or author.  My list is nowhere near complete, though I did manage to make headway this past summer.  British children’s literature has a special significance for me; they are the pioneering classics that serve as touchstones for the genre as a whole today.   I was fortunate to spend two weeks examining the origins of the stories so many of us have grown to love.  The experience was a balance of structured didactic and self-directed exploration. 

The first week was spent as a participant of the Oxford Teacher Seminar, in a course entitled “Literature and the Fantastic.”  It was an analysis of the forefathers of fantasy fiction--Lewis Carroll, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien, as well as two of their modern successors, Philip Pullman and J. K. Rowling.  The course itself was relatively rigorous and informative, but the in vivo experience of walking down the streets and through the halls that these authors used to weave their stories added a new dimension to understanding their novels.  Indeed, to see the landmarks that figured imaginatively into their tales gave historical and contextually creative meaning to their works. The second week was spent in London experiencing various aspects of the cultural birthplace of notables such as J. M. Barrie, Michael Bond and Beatrix Potter, as well as sampling icons of British history relevant in children’s literature. 

Upon applying and being approved for a travel grant to undertake this study I quickly realized that, while I have read all of these stories, I was little prepared to optimize the opportunity before me.  In preparation I reread the titles I had not read in a long time including Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, the Chronicles of Narnia, both Lord of the Rings and His Dark Materials trilogies, selected titles from J. K. Rowling, Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter.  I was fortunate to find Mark J. West’s book A Children’s Literature Tour of Great Britain, which helped me to establish realistic goals for my two weeks from what could be an exhaustive exploration if one had unlimited time. Another serendipitous finding was Charlie Lovett’s NY Times article "Finding Alice's Wonderland in Oxford," which essentially provided me with a step-by-step guide for the Lewis Carroll portion of my trip.  Finally, in my prep work I discovered the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.  This was an invaluable resource for locating information about Dahl’s life as well as his writing process, which prepared me for my day trip to the author’s hometown, Great Missenden.  I left the museum with a treasure trove of ideas to share with my students for celebrating Dahl’s centennial anniversary.

Even though my luggage has long been unpacked, I continue my self-study of British children’s literature, by exploring women writers of fantasy, particularly E. Nesbit and Philippa Pearce. My long-term goal is to be able to add to my reader’s advisory repertoire of authors of different ethnicities and cultures dedicated to writing fantasy for children.  On a more personal note, I continue to indulge my childhood love for Dahl, the author that inspired my literary bucket list, as I read the latest biography, Love From Boy: Roald Dahl’s Letters to His Mother

Angela Perna
Librarian, St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Presentations and Resources from the Fall Meeting

What a terrific turn out we had for our Fall meeting last night on the theme of encouraging reading! I'll be posting any resources presenters share to this blog entry. I hope you all find something of use here.

Presentation: Allen-Stevenson Book Week Celebrations and Back to School Book Club

Monday, November 7, 2016

Partnering With the Technology Department

For several years, one of my workplace struggles has been how to integrate the library with the technology department. For starters, I couldn’t figure out what integration would look like for us. Also, I didn’t see, given our traditional modes of operating and the various personalities involved, how it would be possible, even if I did have the vision. The definition of integration means to put together parts or elements and combine them into a whole. Deep down I sensed that an integrated whole would be greater than the sum of its parts and that, if we could pull it off, it would be highly beneficial for our school community. With this in mind I began to wrestle with the dilemma.

My first step was to reach out to the HVLA listserv to find out which schools had already merged their library and technology departments. I phoned some of the librarians who responded to my question to see what I could learn. In the meantime, our two departments began to meet every other week. In all honesty, it was pretty awkward in the beginning, like a first date that never got any better. I blame this partly on the fact that we had no clear overall objective other than to ‘get closer’. Some weeks, people even forgot we had a meeting! Clearly, this was not a promising start. The following year the administration put the meeting on everyone’s schedule and this helped to solidify the expectation of attendance.

I realize now that what we needed were projects, a chance for us all to pull together! Opportunity knocked when the school decided to introduce a one to one laptop program and a learning management system in the same year. Suddenly our meetings had a purpose, as we began to plan together how to roll out these new initiatives to the faculty and the boys. Meanwhile we ran an event together on our professional day where we showcased tech tools, including library databases and ebooks.

The capacity of the team increased greatly when the technology department gained two extra people, both with Apple Genius experience. At around the same time, the library and technology departments  became neighbors. Previously, members of the technology department had been scattered around the school but with the advent of construction work in preparation for an expansion of the facility, they were relocated to our library classroom. What we lost in teaching space, we gained in collegiality and serendipitous conversations. The impact proximity had on our relationships really cannot be overstated.

Another benefit of the current construction and subsequent expansion of the school is that we will be turning the library into a Library Tech Commons. This will allow us to gain a tech office, a maker resource area,  and some new teaching spaces. As part of the planning process we had a series of meetings after school in which we developed a shared vision of this new Commons and deepened our connection further.

Our most recent venture is the launch of Tech Tuesdays, a monthly series of presentations/discussions with parents. As of yet we have only done one but it was a strong start. Our topic was Apps for Education: What Educational Tools Can Do For Your Boys. We started the meeting by doing a Kahoot so that parents could experience the excitement our boys always feel when they play. Next we showcased some tools we find really useful such as Ed Puzzle, Explain Everything and Kahn Academy. Parents shared some of their favorites too. We laid out chairs for about twenty parents but had more than fifty attend! Afterwards we built a webpage to share the minutes from the meeting for those who couldn’t attend and to bookmark all the tools. You can check it out here. Next week we have another Tech Tuesday which will be on the topic of screen time and that will be followed in December with a session on coding.

It’s fair to say that things are now going very well. We have plenty of items on the agenda at our meetings now and I always break the ice by bringing cookies from different part of the world. Some of us have started to attend conferences together and on Wednesday we are going on a night out to an escape room (after a few drinks!) We didn’t end up merging; we are still two departments but we are one library-tech team and it feels like this is just the beginning.

Have you experienced success in partnering with your technology department? It would be great if you could share any ideas or thoughts you have on the topic below. 

Sarah Kresberg, Library Director - The Allen-Stevenson School

Friday, October 28, 2016

Meet your new board members!

We are thrilled to welcome three new board members this fall! Their terms will run 2016-2018 and it's wonderful to have them on board (so to speak). 

Maria Falgoust (Vice President) is the Librarian at ISB, a Nursery–8th grade independent school in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. ISB offers French and Spanish language immersion programs as well as an International Baccalaureate curriculum which is reflected in the multilingual collection. Previously, Maria ran the elementary school library at the American Overseas School of Rome in Italy. In 2008-2010, Maria served as the vice-president of the HVLA. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts from the University of Washington, Seattle and a Masters of Library and Information Science degree from Long Island University (The Palmer School) with a School Media Specialist certificate. Maria loves traveling, cooking, reading and hiking.

Susannah Goldstein (Recording Secretary) is the school librarian at the Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice, a NYCDOE public school serving grades 6-12.  She graduated from Rutgers with her MLIS in 2013, following a decade in fundraising and volunteer management (and time off with children).  Before working at LGJ, Susannah worked in the Lower/Middle School library at Convent of the Sacred Heart.  Susannah is currently serving on Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult readers, and has reviewed YA literature for School Library Journal for several years.  Her entrée into HVLA was the fabulous book club, which she has been attending since grad school.  When Susannah is not working/ parenting/reading, she can be found knitting, baking, obsessing over pop culture, and sporadically tweeting via @SusInTheLibrary.  She lives in Riverdale with her husband, daughter, son, and cats Babka and Kugel.

Hannah Mermelstein (Treasurer) is in her sixth year as a librarian at Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights, where she works in the middle and upper school (4th-12th grade). She coordinates the Saint Ann's Mock Newbery Committee, a vibrant program with 30-40 students in grades 4-6 and a similar number of titles. Before her time at Saint Ann's Hannah worked with the NYPL, bringing mobile library service to Rikers Island and conducting "Daddy and Me" and "Mommy and Me" reading programs at several of the island's facilities. Hannah is a founder of Librarians and Archivists with Palestine, and spent many years doing human rights work and leading solidarity delegations in Palestine. She lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with her partner and 8-month-old daughter (as of 10/16), whose favorite books include I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt and Cyd Moore, and What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth.

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!