STEM Storytimes Workshop at NPL, October 2013

I recently attended the  Science and Math for Everyone!  Exploring Science and Math Concepts through Storytimes workshop at the Naperville Public Library.  The workshop was presented by Saroj Ghoting, an early childhood literacy consultant and author of two books published by ALA.  This was a fantastic workshop and probably one of the best I’ve been to in a very long time!  Saroj was a great speaker and I walked away bursting with so many ideas and new ways to incorporate STEM into preschool storytimes.  The challenge with incorporating STEM in the early childhood ages is that these kids are not yet in school and don’t have much exposure to science and math.  What this workshop helped me with was learn new ways of looking at storytime activities to incorporate those elements beyond counting or naming animals.  I can’t wait to read her books!


ALA Annual Convention 2013 in Chicago!

This was my first time attending the ALA Annual Conference and while overwhelming at times, it was so much fun!  I am so glad to have had the opportunity to go and hope to have tons of ideas from the sessions.

It was also Madness on Michigan Ave. and Metra as I walked with the hundreds of people attending the Bulls rally at Grant Park…but so exciting!

My focus on sessions was centered on youth services. I got to talk with librarians of all types of libraries and from across the country and even met one from England and another from Canada!  It is comforting to know we all deal with the same situations and also interesting to hear how others deal with the good and bad.

Friday, June 28th

Breaking Out:  Veronica Roth and Debut Authors from the Class of 2k13 Discuss Their Upcoming Books

Friday, I went to a great author panel of debut young adult authors which included Veronica Roth of Divergent fame.  I got to meet and sit with Mindy McGinnis, who wrote Not a Drop to Drink about a post-apocalyptic world in which water is scarce in cities.  I also talked briefly with author Jennifer McGowan who wrote the historical fiction novel, Maid of Secrets and Tamera Wissinger who wrote a novel in verse called Gone Fishing.  They were a high energy and engaging panel of speakers.  These authors have also garnered several good and excellent reviews from Publishers Weekly and four starred Kirkus reviews. The Junior Library Guild also picked two Class of 2k13 books for its spring catalogue.

Additional authors in the panel were:

  • K.A. Barson, 45 POUNDS, MORE OR LESS (YA Contemporary)
  • Caela Carter, ME, HIM THEM AND IT (YA Contemporary)
  • Debra Driza MILA 2.0 (YA Sci/fi)
  • Geoffrey Girard PROJECT CAIN (YA Techno-thriller)
  • Polly Holyoke THE NEPTUNE PROJECT (MG Sci/fi)
  • Lydia Kang CONTROL (YA Sci/fi)
  • Stephanie Kuehn CHARM & STRANGE (YA Literary Thriller)
  • Demitria Lunetta IN THE AFTER (YA Post-Apocalyptic)
  • Nicole McInnes BRIANNA ON THE BRINK (YA Contemporary)
  • Kate Karyus Quinn ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE (YA Literary Horror)
  • Tara Sullivan GOLDEN BOY (MG Contemporary)
  • Cristin Terrill ALL OUR YESTERDAYS (YA Sci/fi)

Opening General Session 

The opening session included speeches from ALA President Maureen Sullivan.  She gave several awards and talked briefly about the focus of the conference.  Following was Mayor Rahm Emanuel who spoke about the importance of libraries to children and the education system.  Finally, speaker Steven Levitt talked about the ideas he presents in his books, Think Like a Freak and Freakanomics.

Following the General Session was the opening of the Exhibit Floor.  I found myself at the beginning of the entrance and involuntarily participated in what some of us dubbed, “The Running of the Librarians.”  It was simply spectacular to see all the big publishers, their booths, freebies and ARCS along with the smaller presses and vendors.  Great exhibits overall a ton of fun. I had so much swag!!

Saturday, June 29th

I attended 3 sessions this day as well as walked more of the exhibit floor.  I also stopped into the Association for Library Service to Children 101 meeting.

What Hot in STEAM Education:  How Using ECRR2 Supports Literacy, Common Core and School Success. 

This session was a mix of librarians from schools and public libraries.  The  majority was a conversation from Dr. Judy Cheatham, VP of Literacy Services for Reading is Fundamental.  She was excellent and gave a very interesting presentation about the gaps in education systems and literacy, gave statistics on demographics and reviewed the many individual factors that encompass reading skills.  Her presentation definitely has motivated me to learn more about how we as public and youth librarians can help children gain better literacy skills to supplement their schooling.  I also liked her inclusion of the A in STEAM–the arts!  We often are so focused on the analytical side of STEAM education, but often let the importance of creative play and artistic expression go awry.  Additional presenters talked briefly about how they implement early literacy and STEAM programs for very young children in their library.   Read more about Reading is Fundamental.

Arts 2.0:  Libraries, Arts, and Technology

An excellent program presented by Heather Moorefield-Lang, an education and social sciences librarian at Virginia Tech Libraries.  She shows us how different forms of art including IPad apps and websites can be used in conjunction with creativity.  She covered collaborative art, music, readers theatre, improv and the visual arts, then pointed out how STEAM education can be used together with any of these artistic techniques.  During the presentation I found myself thinking of ways we already offer children participatory artistic expression and ways to improve programming to incorporate more of these elements. Some free websites to check out include:

Tuesday, July 2nd

I attended the closing general session where ALA President Maureen Sullivan introduced the 2013-14 ALA President Barbara K. Stripling and introduced new Division Presidents.  The keynote speaker was Octavia Spencer, best known for her role in the move The Help.  She was great!  I got to briefly meet her after and received a signed copy of her new book for children called Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit which comes out in October.

NIU 33rd Annual Children’s Literature Conference

I attended the NIU 33rd Annual Children’s Literature Conference on Friday, March 15th.  This was my first time attending this conference and it was a great place to have face-to-face time with the authors.  I really enjoyed meeting the authors.  The theme this year was “Make ’em Laugh: Motivating Readers with Humor.”

Carolyn Crimi, author of books such as Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, Dear Tabby, and Pugs in a Bug.  She spoke on the importance of bringing humor into the classroom and teaching.  Her blog is  Henry is adorable and Pugs in a Bug is perfect for a preschool age storytime.

David Lubar, author of over 30 books including Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, and the Weenies short story series.  His books Hidden Talents and Flip were both chosen as ALA Best Books for Young Adults Awards.  His website is  Love his funny stories.  His short stories are great for reluctant readers and his chapter books are great for kids who may want something different than sports.

Tom Angleberger is the NY Times bestselling author of the Origami Yoda series.  He even showed the group how to make an Origami Yoda.  Other books include Fake Mustache and Horton Halfpott.  His website is  His books are great for beginning readers and any kid that likes Star Wars will love these.

Lisa Yee won the Sid Fleishman Humor Award in 2005 for her debut novel Millicent Min, Girl Genius, which was also selected for the IRA/CBC Children’s Choice List.  Visit her website at  Her books are perfect for girls who may want to read about realistic fiction and are not into fantasy or romance.  Boys may like Millicent too even though the main character is a girl, because the humor is fun.

I attended two breakout sessions.  The local author panel featured Sallie Wolf, Jenny Meyerhoff and Allan Woodrow.  All three spoke about getting their start as writers and about their upcoming publications.  The Literature and the Common Core presentation made good points about how nonfiction picture books can be used during storytimes and classroom lessons.

Summer Reading Workshop at Dominican University

I attended a continuing education workshop at Dominican University on October 11th called “Putting the Reading Back into Summer Reading.”  It was a great group of public and school librarians and I took away some great ideas and information.

The key topic we discussed was to make reading the focus of the program again and promote that books are the best.  Our ideas then stemmed from this main thought of bringing books and reading into the forefront of the program, building a culture of reading and making it more of a social activity.

The theme of course this year is, “Have Book, Will Travel.”  One creative idea I really liked was each summer reading participant gets a piece of a globe puzzle to decorate how he or she wishes.  This is then displayed with everyone’s pieces to put together the globe.  It creates not only a sense of accomplishment, but community.

  • Figure out what your library’s values and benefits of a summer reading program are and pick the purpose.  Is it for the kids?  Community?  Library?  To fill a learning gap?
  • Definitely partnering with the schools is essential.  Ideas like having a school library collection at the public library, or having a public library program at the school or opening up the school library for 2 hours a week could help with access issues.  Working with the school librarian to develop summer reading lists was key.
  • Putting teens and older children in charge of helping with the programs gives them ownership.  Creative ideas were to have the kids do 90 second video booktalks that are posted online or in the library.  Having a kids’ picks list or display.  Have kids do the display.
  • Do incentives really work?  Do they fit in line with your purpose?  Is your purpose numbers of participants or meaning behind the program? The only prize at the end being a book does put reading back into the focus instead of the prizes.
  • Don’t make the reading log or tracking complicated.  Have participants set their own goals and do away with the ‘minutes’ being the only calculator.  Those that set their own goal are more likely to exceed it. Everyone that participates wins!  Make this a community activity where everyone belongs.