Friday, September 16, 2016

How to program for calm, confident and caring

Talk to the Animals on Tuesdays!

September brings the beginning of a new story time session and for our little branch, a brand new program.  I've had this in my brain-works for two years.  I was inspired by a visit to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC. The Museum has the cutest station for caring for animals.  My brain instantly flashed COMPASSION, EMPATHY, KINDNESS, let's bring this to a Family Program.  

And here we are...Talk to the Animals is our newest addition to programs and my heart is happy.  We need this kindness, nurturing program now NOW more than ever in my 28 years of children's library service.

The branch has new puppets, (thank you Mrs W), all Folkmanis puppets because they are the very best.  We have feeding bowls, baby bottles, eye droppers and baby blankets.  We're awaiting a scale and two stethoscopes.   

The puppets have their own little beds inside of a book cubby.  It really is too cute.  The book cubby folds in half and closes after the families leave.  Everything goes in the cubby. (translation = easy clean-up!)  We even have multiple copies of books in the cubby to read with our soft, snuggly, adorable animals.

Raising readers...both toddlers and animals, all in one program!  Honestly...who says that little puppy can't read?  Animals read and talk in most of the books on my library shelves! 

Now here's a funny thing...I'm walking my walk...feeling all special about the fancy new puppets and how the kids will love them...and aren't we all on trend with social/emotional development/mentoring when a conversation with a colleague opened my eyes to..... Mutt-i-grees!  
Ha!  Of course!  Mutt-i-grees  

" Developed by the NSAL’s Pet Savers Foundation in collaboration with Yale University School of the 21st Century and funded by the Cesar Millan Foundation, the goal of the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum is to enable children to grow up to be calm, confident, and caring. It has been implemented in thousands of schools across the country and Canada."

They have an established curriculum for libraries and schools.  Humbled and informed in less than one minute!  No trusted librarian would miss the opportunity to connect with success - so I emailed for their curriculum and now we are indeed even cooler than we were before!  Collaboration is always the key.   Does it get any better than this for a partner in children's programs?  

We're presenting a modified program for families with children of all ages.  Our outline looks like this: 

         1. Welcome to Talk to the animals (please find a puppet friend to sit with you today)
         2.  Read a book
         3.  Share some Mutt-i-grees' goodness
         4.  Flannel story or song  
         5.  Social time. Care for your animal: snuggle, sing, play, read to your animal
         6.  Return your snuggly friend to the cubby and we all sing the goodbye song

Six simple steps.  30 minutes.  Steps 1 and 5 have instrumental music playing to make everyone more comfortable.  (Amazingly, some adults have a hard time playing pretend in a group setting...really?!  I wonder what they have to say about me when they leave?!!)

Here are some of the flannels we're planning to share, they link to their blog posting.

Developing and piloting a new program is something I adore.  Bringing "my baby" to a colleague to "take it live" is something I need to work on.  #trueconfession  
Miss Laurie presents Talk to the Animals on Tuesdays!  Miss Laurie is our science and animal "go to specialist" and she's the person who knew about Mutt-i-grees.  You see, it was meant to be.  The snuggly animal puppets are in very capable, confident, caring and kind hands.  Yep.  It's all good.  

P.S. (piper script)  So many new friends in the library now.  I'm beginning to feel old.

A boy's best friend



Sunday, August 21, 2016

BookFace! Yes, BookFace!

Three Cheers for Teen Volunteers!

About 4 years ago I posted my first "BookFace" on Piper Loves the Library.  I thought I would make it a quarterly mini-series.  A simple easy post that was all about fun and reading trends.  But some ideas just barely come together and then flop.  (see for yourself!)
Well, with #SummerReadingPrograms wrapping up I felt the need to take some photos of our teen volunteers.  Yet the teen volunteers suddenly went all "too cool for photos".  Hmmm...I had an answer for that.  BookFace revival!  And they were willing! (Silent victory...I needed to walk the cool walk to get the photos)

They were willing to sit in front of the stacks...all "library like"! 

We have the best teens!  We do.  

 Not only do they volunteer to help with children's programs...they read!

And that my friends, is How It Went Down...which happens to be one of my favorite summer reads.  

My heartfelt thanks for the wonderfully kind, generously patient and tremendously talented teens that rocked our summer.  You brought many smiles to the little kids and to the staff as well.  We appreciate you and the time you give to making this, your library something special.  We could not have survived Summer Reading Programs without you. Thank you.

~ mrs breen 

Art Gallery in the Library

Summer Art and A Saturday Social

Summer Art Programs...I adore them!  This year we were all about the self-portrait.  I had a purpose and a plan.  Let's build self esteem.  Let's think about who we are and what is important to us. What do we love?  Let's express that with color and design.


If you follow our blog you know that Piper and I work in an amazingly diverse community.  And if you follow the nightly news, you know that the world has been very unsettled this year.  When there is a crisis in the world we have books at the ready in our little library.  We know that our library families are connected across the globe with their extended families.  We pay attention. 

 I was inspired by pinterest to try self-portraits on black paper and ...WOW!  I think the kids rocked it!

When our art groups met, we talked about all the things that make us who we are.  Maybe we love basketball, or do we show that in our self-portrait?  Maybe swimming is important or you love the ocean.  Can we show that with color?  Do we have goals or dreams and how can we include them in the self-portrait?

I can not even begin to tell you how much I love these masterpieces.  Being part of  self-discovery conversations and witness to creative concentration was quite incredible.  

On Saturday, August 6th, our little library hosted a Saturday Social with lemonade, cookies and summer art projects on display.  The self-portraits were the central part of this exhibit.  

We are every color in our library.  This is important to recognize...every beautiful color.  We do our best to reduce prejudice by reaching out across town to build all inclusive children's programs.  Our volunteers, our families and our friends come from all backgrounds.  We encourage multicultural lives in programming, making fun friendships with people who come from different backgrounds, different countries, different faiths.  It's important to me. It's important to our children and their future.

 Every portrait tells a story.  Amen

peace ~ Piper and Jane

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pikachu, Pikachu, why can't we find you?

Oh yes we did!  Pokemon fandom fun!

Tonight at Prime Time with Piper and Mrs Breen we discovered that Pikacho was hiding  in our Story Time room.  Piper is quite proud that our library is a gym/Poke stop...but honestly...we turn off all devices for story time and yet....there he was behind the green house.

Here's the full photo of the flannel board with little mouse:

When the pajama-clad children arrived with their parents Pikachu was completely hidden behind the green house and little mouse was worried. He missed his friend. Here's the simple story I created. 

"Little Mouse loves his neighborhood and his neighborhood loves him.  He visits his friends often and sometimes he's a little late coming home. And we have to go looking for him.  This morning Little Mouse and Pikachu went out to play...but someone forgot to come home today.  

Hmmm.  Pikachu, Pikachu, why can't we find you?  Do you think he's hiding?  Perhaps behind one of the houses?  Which one shall we check?  Ahh, yes, the pirate house.  Oh, not there.  Pikachu, Pikachu, why can't we find you? (and so on)"

This game is a big matter who and where.  We have an adorable duck hiding behind a truck. It will also link you to Little Mouse (the original!)  Check it out.

P.S. (Piper Script)  Shhhh...I have Jane's phone, playing Pokemon Go right now! Shhhhh!


Saturday, July 30, 2016

How to Host A Drive-in Movie Night

Pinterest to Program!

Alrighty then...we're back!  Just that like that!  

We've wanted to do this program, in the library, for more than two years and alas, we made it happen.  SO. MUCH. FUN.  I mean it.  You need to do this for the cute factor alone.

I pinned this idea to my pinterest page ages ago.  Promoted the idea in a department meeting in January and by July our kids were zooming around the program room. O.M.Goodness!

My plan began with boxes, supplies and a movie.  

Paper plate tires from Target
Volunteers cut out yellow construction paper headlights/taillights before the program
Assortment of stickers
Blue paper and white chalk for you license plate (obviously I have a Vanity Plate! JANE12 )
Mounting squares to stick on tires and lights
Big red paper for front of car and sticky spray to make it stay (this was done before program)

I decided on a movie ahead of time.  Corduroy.  20 minutes.  Perfection.  A wonderfully retro movie that I adore with just the right amount of suspense for all ages..  Kids were ages 3-5 with siblings on both sides of that.  Parents were assorted ages!  

Boxes came from everywhere.  You know, it takes a village!  Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, our local Family Resource Center and our branch manager. We had plenty of boxes.

Twenty minutes of car building...parents really enjoyed helping with this.  One table featured tire installation!

Headlights and detailing on two other tables.  

License plates were of your own design on the backside of the car.  White chalk on blue rectangles.  

Eventually we all pulled into parking places.  Some even backed in!  The sun set in the story time room and the movie began. (please take a note here: my colleague, Joe, saved the day on the movie with tech set up while I ran off for refreshments.  I owe him big.  My advice - set up the tech FIRST to be sure all systems are go.  Remember this and thank me later!)  

We had a great time and sent our beautiful families home with sporty new cars...oh, and one MONSTER car!  Indeed!  

FYI: This is an easy program.  There are a few things I would change or tweak when I do it again.

Show two movies: one 20 minutes and one 10 minutes with refreshments in between.  Our kids ate in their cars - easy clean up. 

Have teen volunteers prep the boxes with the color paper and license plate.  I also fortified the back of each car with book tape.  Teens could do that too.  Car prep was time consuming.

Warm up aka settle down the crowd with a song once they're in their cars...tell it as a story..."okay, here we are at the drive-in...I think there's a cool song on the radio...quick, quick...turn on your radios!  Can you hear it???"...Steve's Songs - Drivin' In My Car would be excellent here!  

I offered chalk in many colors if anyone wanted to draw on their cars, some did.

I asked parents to sign photo release forms - they all did!

Let your director know you did a really amazing program. (hopefully she's reading this)

Eat ice cream after clean up! You deserve it.  

Oh, I also handed over all of my leftover supplies to Miss Dee.  She's hosting the program at our Main Library and no doubt she will tweak it before it makes it to Bailey!  Have fun my friends.  (original idea credit was Christina Ho on Pinterest)

Piper says hello.  We hope to return to weekly blog posts soon. We miss our Flannel Friday friends.   #librariestransform #summerreadingisExhausting.  

Thanks for stopping by.  

peace ~ piper and jane  


Friday, April 15, 2016

Cookie Monster! Elmo! Gothca!!

National Library Week fun!

Click! We gotcha!  What can I say?  Get Caught Reading is more fun with monsters!   Cookie Monster...Elmo and surprise!  What?  There's Big Bird!  What!  Big Bird!

This post is a follow-up to the initial idea of providing a photo opportunity and photo bomb surprise at the library for National Library Week.  You can connect to that post here.

This idea will go down in the books as a big hit!  Staff took the photos on the patrons' own phones.  Patrons emailed their photos to me.  We did ask parents to sign photo release forms.  It's all good.

Lots of laughing, smiling, giggling.  Everyone wanted in.  Some serious, some so sweet...
.. and some wanted Cookie Monster to eat!

I'll be displaying the photos around the library to keep the excitement alive.  It's a great day at the library when the conversation is about reading with your children. 

Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Elmo will visit your library...if you come pick them up and return them.  We're in West Hartford, CT.  And we're good with sharing!  Bring your library card.

We'll get many more photos tomorrow because I'm the #Saturdaylibrarian.  Looking forward to it.  Stop by and smile!

 P.S.(Piper Script) This little lady has the right need a puppy with a monster!  Read with Piper!  
~ xo

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring into the new books

Look! Look! Denise Fleming has a new book!

Twenty-eight years of children's librarianship and I would like you to know that Denise Fleming is one author who never ever disappoints in children's picture books. (25 years of children's books)  She hits the mark again and again with her words and her amazing art.  Her books have been quietly demonstrating diversity before the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign began. I only point this out because she is an accomplished, smart woman, author, illustrator, artist who is way ahead of the trends.  Actually, she's trend-less.  She writes and creates from a love of color, nature, children and kindness. And just so you know - all four of those come in all colors!

Her book trailer is absolutely adorable, please click here.  You don't want to miss this book. I'll purchase multiple copies for my little branch library. Ms Fleming is a featured author on our summer reading lists.  This new title is perfectly timed.  Yay and thank you!

For the inside scoop on Denise Fleming and more on her new book which hits the stands tomorrow,  take a look at Dylan Teut's fabulous interview with Ms Fleming on his blog, Mile High Reading
Please check out her creative website click here
And don't miss Denise Fleming Studio on FaceBook.

P.S. (Piper Script):  Colors, clothing and a best friend DOG!!  You know I love it!   

published 1991

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Flannel Friday Chick Week! Cheep, Cheep, Cheep!

Here a chick, there a chick...

Chicks, listen up! Shake a tail feather!  It's chick week.  We're loud! And plentiful!  Birds of a feather...and all that!!

Lucy Cousins book, Count with Maisy, Cheep, Cheep, Cheep! inspired chickens in every story time this week.  

My plan: a white hen with blue dots, like Maisy has!
My flannel supply: green or pink with white dots. Bummer. Balk! Balk! Balk!  I really wanted a blue and white mama hen named Dottie!

Plan B:
Pull out the flannels in all the colors I "was feelin" and start from there.  And that's how I have a blue hen with paisley patterning. The baby chicks are rather traditional.  They probably get fancy feathers later!

Count with Maisy has flaps to lift and chicks to place on the flannel board now.  Participation heaven.  A chick week "must have" is Chicken Little.  I adore telling this story


And we added the book The Cow who Clucked from one of my most favorite author/illustrators, Denise Fleming.  I love reading aloud the moment when the cow is ultimately defeated and ..."and she headed for the barn" I hold that page for a few extra beats.  Drama!  You gotta know when to hold 'em!  The next page is equally as dramatic...don't say a word for about 8 seconds!

Our Yoga for 2 attendees had time to make their very own Chicken Little.  I have this saying...color like you mean it...and using the oil pastels surely gets a lot of pigment on the paper.  Satisfying color, much more fun than markers.  One of the little Yoga chicks wanted to make her Chicken Little ((((crazy))))  I think she succeeded!  This is my "kinda" art!

P.S. (Piper Script): Jane's Chicken Little story telling rendition is pretty shout-out ((((Crazy)))).  "Oh my goodness, oh my gracious...the sky is for your lives!!!"