Heather Forest visits Nesconset

On Thursday, August 25th, Heather Forest performed in the community room of the Smithtown Library’s Nesconset Branch to an appreciative audience of children and parents. According to Christine Dengel, children’s librarian trainee at the Smithtown Library, Heather got the audience participating right from the get go. “Everyone was basically a storyteller,” Christine reported, and then went on to say the following:

Heather incorporates various musical instruments into all of her stories, so they can be appreciated as ballads.  In one moment she’ll be singing and strumming her guitar, and then she’ll immediately shift gears and her voice becomes one of the characters in the story.   The audience laughed every time Heather imitated the squeaking mouse.  This was especially true for the circular tales like The Turnip and The Little Red Hen, which can become tedious in their repetition.  Not true with Heather; she brought them both to life with music and humor.   Even those of us who cannot sing were able to join in the music.  We’d clap to keep the rhythm, so we were the percussion instruments.  Then of course everyone clapped at the end because it was a fantastic performance.

To learn from this internationally known storyteller firsthand, join us on September 14th for Heather’s presentation The Magic of Words: A Storytelling Skills Workshop at SCLS. The program begins promptly at 9:30am.


Every Child Ready to Read

On Wednesday, October 26th at 10:00am, SCLS Youth Services will host a meeting for children’s services staff focusing on the Every Child Ready to Read 2nd Edition. Whether you are new to the ECRR program or have been implementing its principals for years, all Suffolk Library staff members are welcome to join us at the session to learn new ways to incorporate ECRR into your daily interactions with parents and caregivers. Jeanne McDermott of the Amagansett Free Library will be on hand to discuss her experience with the ECRR program from her work as an intern at the Brooklyn Public Library.  

Back in April, ALSC offered a webinar called Supporting Early Literacy Through Language-Rich Library Environments with presenter Saroj Ghoting. One suggestion from the Minneapolis Public Library is to create early literacy games (pictured to the right) and placing them in your children’s area. The exercises are accompanied by a one page sheet describing why the game is beneficial to young children. They are easy to create with any desktop publishing software, magnetic paper, and a cookie sheet, and can be rotated throughout the year.

Kristine Casper also participated in the April 21st webinar and had this to say about it:

So often we think of the competencies of Every Child Ready to Read from the programming perspective. This presentation incorporated them into the physical space, making me rethink the way we have utilized the open areas of the department.  It had a lot of ideas, not just for places with a lot of space and budgets, but also for those with limited space.  I liked when she said just start with one idea – one end cap. 

The recording of the Supporting Early Literacy Through Language-Rich Library Environments is available online, and may be beneficial to watch in conjunction with attending the children’s librarians meeting on October 26th.  


What’s New for Back to School

Are your usual back to school stories all checked out? Are your displays looking picked over? Try directing your patrons to Live-brary for Kids, where the latest school stories will be featured for the next two weeks. Here are some of my favorite school stories this year:

Argus by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Andrea Wesson. This is the kindest, funniest book about inclusion and tolerance I’ve ever seen, and the best part is: it’s not obviously about either. Young readers will be too busy laughing at the zany dragon and the “clueless” teacher to know they’re learning how to be good classroom citizens.

Brave New Pond by Jennifer L. Holm*, illustrated by Matthew Holm. Okay, this one’s not published until September, but it’s never too early to build excitement (and hold queues) for a second volume in a great new graphic novel series. In this installment, Squish is hoping the first day of a new school year will give him a fresh start – no more detention!  

Eddie Gets Ready For School by David Milgrim. Eddie’s got big ideas about what to wear and take to school, but mom has other opinions. This story, told in a running check list, is a hilarious look at how a preschooler and mother can meet in the middle on morning decisions.

What’s your favorite school story?

*Don’t forget to register for Lit-Fest, where you can meet Jennifer Holm in person!

iPads Replace Desktop Computers at North Shore Public Library

As the children’s game computers at the North Shore Public Library (NSPL) get older and begin to expire, Lori, the Children’s Department Manager, is turning to mobile technology to replace them. The children she sees as young as three years old are gravitating towards their parent’s smart phones, not desktop machines they may not have even seen before. When Lori encountered a young boy using an iPad to communicate with his parent due to his disability, the wheels began turning in her mind. The money she budgeted for game computers could be used to purchase iPads and apps.

“The apps I’ve selected for the iPads range from as little as $.99 to $7.99 each,” Lori says. This is cheaper than buying computer software, and much easier to install and update. The reviews in Children’s Technology Review are “spot on,” Lori says, and she almost exclusively buys the apps they recommend. She steers clear of free apps, which often start out as “free” but then ask for payment for enticing features.

The iPads are checked out to patrons on their library cards at the main circulation desk, and then the iPads can be used anywhere in the library. A policy is written that parents read the first time they check out an iPad. Tom Donlon, the Technology Librarian at NSPL, has embraced the project and set up a number of helpful features. The iPads are synced to one another. If Lori purchases an app on one iPad, the others are updated with the same app within seconds. The iPads have an electronic tether on them, and at any time staff can see where an iPad is in the building. If the device is taken out of the library, a screen appears that says: Please return to the North Shore Public Library.

The iPads are ready to launch this week. Last Friday, Lori was testing them with kids and teens in the library. Immediately the children’s game computer stations emptied out – the kids clearly preferred the iPads. Eventually the stations for desktop computers can be removed and the space can be utilized in fresh ways.

In case there is a queue for the 8 iPads – perhaps after storytime – NSPL has purchased Playaway Views that kids can use in the library while they are waiting. Florence, a children’s librarian at NSPL, has specifically purchased the high quality “book-movies” produced by Weston Woods which are available from Playaway.

The Adult Department at NSPL will also be circulating iPads to adults. Those iPads will have internet capability (the ones in the children’s room do not.) This project is truly a collaborative effort between all the departments of the library.

What is “The Unbound Experience?”

is a symposium for Suffolk County Public Library staff interested in new ideas for working with non-print materials.  This event will take place at SCLS on Friday, September 9, 2011 from 9:30am – 1:00pm. The line-up of presenters includes:

Ruckus Media

Rick Richter: Why one man walked away from traditional publishing to form an independent  family entertainment company.


Andrea Eshelman: Do people learn more effectively by reading or by listening? Hear the results of a new study.


Ron Richards, VP of External Relations for Graphicly and Co-founder of iFanboy: Enjoys combining his computer skills with his love of comics and frequently asks himself “What would Scott Summers do?”


T.J. Waters: How traditional author events can morph into customized eBook events. 

*Playaway will also be demonstrating the Playaway View at an exhibitor’s booth in the auditorium.

Continue the Discussion

On September 23rd at 10am, participants of The Unbound Experience will be gathering to Continue the Discussion at SCLS. Please join us and come prepared to discuss any of the following: Googled by Ken Auletta, The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and/or the article The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet.”

Watering Hole Tales

If you hear a bell ringing at the Babylon Village Pool on Wednesday afternoons, it’s not the Ice Cream Man – it’s a librarian from the Babylon Public Library ready to share some stories by the pool! I joined Ann G. as she read a selection of books to children taking a break from the water. Ann had a crowd of almost 30 children listening attentively to books such as When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore. I was grateful to Ann for the opportunity to read the last story of the day, A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Ann greeted many of the children by their names, and one girl immediately asked her mom if they could stop at the library to make a craft and pick up some books after swimming.

Over the years, the crowd for poolside tales has ranged from a few children to a large-sized crowd. One afternoon Ann B. was even asked to read to a birthday party celebrating at the pool (cake was included!) On the day I accompanied Ann G., some older boys were listening from the back row. One tween turned to his friend and said, “This reminds me of when I was four.” Ah, memories!

Back at the library, the children’s room is decorated for the theme “A Reading Safari,” including a gigantic tiger and these handmade treasures created by Karin. In case you can’t get to the Bronx Zoo for free Wednesdays, stop by the Babylon Library to read to these critters!