Discover Your Inner Explorer in Queens

I recently paid a visit to the Children’s Library Discovery Center at Queens Library in Jamaica, NY. This center is a state-of-the-art, interactive library that is also part museum, part classroom, and part playground. Visitors are greeted with a large, colorful map of Queens on the entranceway floor. All the library branches are depicted as well as the sights (and sounds!) of the one of the most diverse places on the planet. In Flushing, for example, you can hear the crowds at the baseball game as you (respectfully) step on the Mets symbol. The sounds of birds singing can be heard in nearby Flushing Meadows Park.  

Emphasizing early literacy skills is an integral part of the library’s mission. The Center features a multisensory early childhood area with hands-on toys, games, and learning tools to encourage early literacy skills. In addition to books, the Center has a mini Cyber Center featuring touch-screen computers with special programs emphasizing pre-reading skills. A favorite station is the Fish Phone – a payphone-style telephone kids can use to talk to the fish living in the Center’s aquarium.

Older kids (grades 1-6) have much to explore in the Center as well, and they often do as part of class visits and field trips. Microsoft surface tables, books, exhibits, special programs, and of course, librarians, encourage kids to find their inner explorer. Digital microscopes are on hand to take a closer look at the world around them, or themselves. “The kids love examining their hair,” one staff person said.

Even the signage in the stacks has participatory elements. This shelf marker pulls out to reveal an eye-catching image and an inviting question about electricity. Another sign by the insect books was multidimensional and showcased colorful butterflies.

Perhaps best of all is the 21st century twist on a traditional art: digital storytelling. Families can use the Center as a place to record audio narration and incorporate it with video, text, and music.

Would you like to learn more about the Children’s Library Discovery Center at Queens Library? Pay them a visit in person or online. Admission is free, and the Center is open whenever the library is open.

Feel Like Saving Some Money?

The New York Library Association and American Library Association have partnered to offer a discounted joint membership to NYLA and ALA for library school students. You may now become a member of both organizations for $35.oo total.

This rate is only the beginning of the savings you’ll enjoy as a member of NYLA and ALA. Both organizations offer discounted conference fees and merchandise to members. With the 2012 Spring Conference of the Youth Services Section of NYLA coming to Long Island on Friday, March 23rd, 2012, this is the perfect time to join NYLA. Members save $35 on the registration fee for the YSS conference – the cost of the joint membership!  

“YSS is a great section of NYLA,” says Director of the Hauppauge Public Library and NYLA President Matt Bollerman. “Year after year they put on a tremendous Spring Conference and also provide great events at the Annual Conference. By joining NYLA, and YSS, one can get involved and make connections to others in the field. I have always found that meeting others who do similar work helps me become better at what I do each day.”

To take advantage of this offer, visit NYLA online to download the membership application. Early Bird registration for the YSS conference ends February 25th. Visit NYLA online today for the YSS conference brochure.

Families Read Together at Northport

“We’re listening to sounds of the thirties,” Lisa announced as the group settled into their seats.  With that, the last session of the Together Book Club began.

You may remember back in July when I visited the Brentwood Public Library to sit in on their Together Book Talk for Kids and Parents. Now the Northport-East Northport library is finishing up the six week parent/child book group that is funded by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Children’s librarian Lisa Herskowitz co-hosted the series with local scholar and storyteller, Heather Forest.

The themes of the weekly discussions were Being American, Courage and Freedom. Pictured here is a soap carving that participant Liam B made. He was inspired by reading The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo, one of the six featured titles. That was Liam’s favorite book because it “had good details.” He, like all the other children who participated, got to keep a copy of their favorite book that was used in the six week program.

The title the group discussed this week was The Friendship by Mildred D. Taylor, the 1988 Coretta Scott King award winner.

“In stories we often learn from the wise man, but we also learn from the fool,” Heather said. “We don’t see the best of human nature (in this book), but we do see the palette of possibility.”

Under the thoughtful discussion leadership of Lisa and Heather, the group explored topics such as the book’s examination of racism in the 1930’s and the author’s ability to capture a rural, southern accent on paper. Regarding the vernacular, one young participant noted: “It’s not like a New Yorker’s kind of talk.”

The evening ended with a “Turn and Talk” – an exchange of ideas between parent child partners. Lisa asked the ten parent/child pairs (and most of the children were boys) to discuss how the six week experience “changed their feelings about reading, books, and each other.” While I couldn’t hear what was being exhanged in the “Turn and Talk,” I could see that it was heartfelt.

Interested in hosting a Together Book Talk for Kids and Parents at your library? The next application deadline for the grant is May 15, 2012.

2012 Mock Caldecott Results

This morning, 37 librarians discussed a short list of outstanding pictures books at the 2012 Suffolk County Mock Caldecott Discussion. When the ballots were counted, both groups had selected Grandpa Green by Lane Smith as the winner. Group 1 selected Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage as an honor book, and group 2 chose A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka. Judy Zuckerman of the Brooklyn Public Library took a train from Atlantic Terminal in the wee hours of the morning to join us and share her experience as Chair of the 2011 Caldecott Committee and member of the 2005 Caldecott committee.

“What a terrific, well-prepared group they were!” Judy said about the librarians in attendance.

Peter Ward, director of the Lindenhurst Memorial Library, observed the program and was equally impressed with the participants. “You’ve got the stars of children’s services interacting with the up and coming blue chips,” he commented. (See Peter’s unique announcement of the Mock Caldecott winners here.)

The discussion leaders – Danielle Carey, Julie Delaney, Christine Dengel, and Kelly Sheridan did a great job selecting the books and facilitating the discussion groups. Many thanks to the librarians who stepped up to introduce the 8 discussion titles:

A Ball for Daisy; Chris Raschka
Brother Sun, Sister Moon; written by Katherine Paterson; illustrated by Pamela Dalton
Grandpa Green; Lane Smith
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans; Kadir Nelson
The House Baba Built; the text as told to Libby Koponen; illustrated by Ed Young
Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat; Philip C.  Stead
The Man in the Moon; Laura Geringer Books, editor; illustrated by William Joyce
Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage

To tune in to the ALA Youth Media Awards presentation on January 23, 2012, visit the ALA website.