Sunday, November 21, 2010

When Mocking Reading is a Good Thing

The 2011 Newbery Award winner will be announced on January 10, 2011. For the first time, Queens is joining libraries and schools across the country in speculating which book will be awarded this medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

The Mock Newbery titles selected by Queens Library include:

Out of My Mind
by Sharon Draper

The War to End All Wars
by Russell Freedman

The Waterseeker
by Kimberly Willis Holt

The Boneshaker
by Kate Milford

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth
by Lynne Rae Perkins

One Crazy Summer
by Rita Williams-Garcia

This is an enjoyable professional development opportunity to offer librarians serving youth. The process began early this year when the Children's Materials Specialist formed a small committee of interested children's librarians. Suggestions were gathered each month through email with two in-person meetings necessary to narrow and vote out titles.

We are holding our debut Mock Newbery event on a morning a few days before the official award winners are announced. As it does require much reading, participation is optional. There will be time to discuss each book, followed by a vote (as detailed in the Newbery Selection Manual)and finally the announcement of the winner and honor books.

All children's librarians participate in the Mock Caldecott as part of our regularly scheduled youth services meetings. These titles will be announced shortly!

Mock Newbery Resources:

Newbery Award terms & criteria
Don't be fooled by authors without American citizenship!

Lisa Van Drasek, librarian at Bank Street College of Education, holds a Mock Newbery each year with her students. She posted her selections back in September, along with more behind the mock process.

Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog featured on School Library Journal

Allen County Public Library chose an impressive reading list of twenty two titles for librarians to discuss, and also offers a more concise list for children in grades 3 -6 who are interested in participating.

Kings County Library System narrowed the field down to eight choices, and invites parents and children to join the discussion and voting.

Elizabeth Bird, children's librarian at New York Public Library, previous Newbery committee member, and blogger extraordinaire, speculates from time to time on what will be chosen for this award as well as the Caldecott.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Locally Drawn

Considering Brooklyn is home to the largest concentration of children's book illustrators on the planet, it must have been difficult to select only thirty four for the latest exhibit at Grand Army Plaza, "Drawn In Brooklyn." I took the opportunity to tour this Brooklyn Public Library show following a meeting this week and it was fantastic! I particularly love the promotional image chosen from Big Red Lollipop.

Curated by John Bemelmans Marciano (aka the grandson of Madeline creator Ludwig Bemelmans) the exhibit features original art from children's books as well as display cases revealing the creation process of a picture book, installations and short video interviews with many of the artists.

Notably two of the illustrators included were featured in the recently announced New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2010: Sophie Blackall and Peter Brown. Other featured illustrators include Bryan Collier, Brian Floca, Brett Helquist, Betsy Lewin, Brian Pinkney, Brian Selznicck, and Paul O. Zelinsky.

There's also exciting events scheduled with various illustrators like art workshops or a chance to meet and hear them read from their work.

During the tour it was shared how many of the artists noted the powerful influence of comics in developing their initial interest in drawing as children. Yet another reason to purchase graphic novels for the kids at your library!

"Drawn in Brooklyn" will be on display until January 23, 2011.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I have a bit of an obsession with cookbooks. Not only do I love to look at pretty pictures of food but also the inspiration of new techniques and ingredients. And all the better if the approach is seasonal, vegetarian or health minded. (Or from the Barefoot Contessa! I adore her.) It must be a cookbook time of year because I have in my pending request list at the library many a new title.

Among those in queue with ample programming ideas for school age children is Turkish Delights & Treasure Hunts: Delightful Treats & Games from Classic Children's Books.

Janet Brocket offers ideas inspired by Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables, the Borrowers, and the Chronicles of Narnia among others. The food inspired component could be a fun addition to a traditional book club, or a novel way to introduce many classic titles to youth.

There's also Candy Construction: How to Build Race Cars, Castles, and Other Cool Stuff out of Store-Bought Candy by Sharon Bowers.

Let candy be your new crafting material! Step by step instructions to create a chess set, spaceship, pyramid, woodland creatures, jewelry, as well as holiday ideas. The author claims that offering an alternative use for candy actually reduced the sugar consumption of her two young children. Use this resource to expand an existing Gingerbread House activity, or with a math, engineering and design bent for a hands on construction program.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Queens & Teens

Congratulations to my library system who was recently awarded the 2010 Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award for their "Queens Library for Teens" in Far Rockaway!

Those who work in public libraries are familiar with the challenge of balancing the energetic behavior of teens with the needs of other users. A few years ago, the situation at the Far Rockaway library was further exaggerated: the neighborhood is located on a peninsula isolated from the rest of New York City, with high unemployment due to the difficulty of commuting and local housing projects filled with gang activity. The library was a small yet highly used building without a separate space for young adults. With nowhere else in the community to gather, large groups of teens would congregate, disrupting and intimidating others with noise and horseplay. Expanding the current facility wasn't an option.

Rather than kicking out those most in need of a positive influence, Queens Library pursued grants to rent an empty storefront a few blocks away from the existing library and completely renovated the space, opening a building just for teens with specialized programs, technology, and collections.

Working with an interior design consultant who specializes in teen areas, a contemporary space along with 40 internet computers entices teens, with attendance averaging 120 each day. A recent addition is a sound studio, complete with a vocal booth, a recording computer and three computerized editing stations, funded by New York State Assembly members.

Some notable distinctions:

-staffing the library with youth counselors, not librarians. They provide service, referrals and act as positive role models, while librarians at the nearby branch offer traditional reference service. A licensed teacher and social worker are also available onsite.

-sign in upon entering. No gang signs or colors are permitted. If someone acts out, they are asked to leave, and if repeated will lose privileges for longer. There have been no incidents beyond this; teens want to use the space and respect the stated boundaries.

-after-school hours of service, from 2:30 - 6PM.

-specialized programming including pre-GED classes, Wii gaming, urban author visits, job readiness fairs, open mics, college fairs, computer skill workshops and more.

-no circulating collection. Due to the cost of duplicating collections and offering circulation staff, teens can browse magazines and online resources, and otherwise go to the regular library to borrow materials.

-relaxed rules. Food and cell phones are allowed and multiple teens can crowd around a computer.

In 2013, the Queens Library for Teens will be doubling in size in a newly constructed $19.3 million facility funded by Borough President Helen Marshall. More information on this initiative is available from School Library Journal, Library Journal as well as a video on NY1 featuring teen volunteers who mentor their peers.

And for even more reading on teens in Queens, visit the Queens Library Teen Challenge blog. The Coordinator of Teen Services has promised to donate $500 of her own coffee money to a charity of young adult librarians' choice if 10,000 teens register for Summer Reading 2011. Read it each Thursday to see the amount saved so far, along with ideas and thoughts on teen summer reading.