International Children’s Books

At Wednesday’s meeting of Children’s Department Managers at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Doris Gebel told us that part of her role as president of USBBY will be planning for 2013’s International Children’s Book Day. This event will be “hosted” by the United States and Ashley Bryan, recent winner of the Coretta Scott King Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, will be designing the poster. Doris also shared her concern that librarians, parents, and children may not gravitate to international books because the art or subject matter can be challenging to the sensibilities of our western culture. For example, a book like Duck, Death and Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch, translated by Catherine Chidgey, has been reviewed positively in four journals but is not making its way into many collections in Suffolk County. (We have this title in the SCLS office if you’d like to review it.)

Nonetheless, it’s a reality that if we do add these noteworthy titles, they may not fly off our shelves. (They might need a librarian like you to champion them!) If you find yourself forced to make a tough weeding decision over a book that was originally published in another country, please touch base with Doris at the Northport-East Northport library. She is looking into developing a deep collection of international books in her children’s department and may be able to accommodate a book that is not finding readers in your community.

Not sure how to find international books that your patrons may enjoy? Take a look at the recent SLJ article that highlights the Outstanding International Books of 2011.

After the meeting I opened my email and found the latest newsletter from Novelist featuring an interview with…can you guess? Doris Gebel! Take a look at the interview titled Best Practices: International Children’s Books.

Suffolk County Public Librarians!: Comment on this blog post by Friday and receive a free international book for your collection!


Just in Time for Veteran’s Day

The Northport-East Northport Public Library has added another Backpack Storytime to their collection, this one designed especially for military families. According to the library’s website:

Each Backpack Storytime contains 3-4 books on a particular theme, a music CD, manipulatives such as puppets and puzzles, and suggested enrichment activities.  Designed for children ages 3 and up, Backpack Storytimes circulate for seven days.  Families can borrow one at a time. (Read more about the Backpack Storytimes here.)

As Veteran’s Day approached, librarians Liz and Janet rushed to get the backpacks ready to circulate. They used free material they found on the Zero to Three website and, and books they found in Coming Together Around Military Families®, a kit designed by Zero to Three. Two-sided handouts include information that is hard to find elsewhere, such as specialized advice to parents who frequently relocate with babies and toddlers and families who have to renegotiate daily routines after a deployed parent returns home. 

“I was surprised at how much was out there,” Doris Gebel said.

Several of the items came to the library as a donation from the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester, NY in appreciation of the recognition the library gives to Veterans. The Library has created a U.S. Military Coupon Booklet in recognition of the nation’s military

Whether you are currently serving or have served in the U.S. Military (including the
Reserves and National Guard) you and your family members can obtain this coupon booklet. The booklet provides discount coupons for the Library Cafe, photocopies,
programs, bus trips, overdue fines, and other Library services. Just come to the Circulation Desk at either library building.

The coupon book and other military familiy-friendly inititaives were spear-headed by Michelle Vagner and the Community Services Library Staff. 

The Northport-East Northport Public Library received a Coming Together Around Military Families® kit from Dorinda Silver Williams at Zero to Three, and has kindly shared it with SCLS. If you work at a Suffolk library and would like to borrow the kit to review its contents (posters, handouts, and board books specially designed for military families) please contact the SCLS Youth Services office. If you have questions about the Backpack Storytimes, please contact the Youth and Parent Services department of the Northport-East Northport Library.

A Community Finds the Well of Stories Full

This morning at the Northport Library, Linda Sue Park inspired a room full of students from Northport and East Northport Middle Schools to read, write, and most importantly, re-write. When introducing herself as a writer, Linda feels like she really should say she’s a “re-writer,” since that’s what she spends most of her time doing. The published version of When My Name was Keoko was the 37th draft. “Imagine if your teachers asked you to write 37 drafts,” she teased the audience. Fortunately, none of the students fainted.

These students, after all, were well prepared by their teachers for the Newbery award-winning author’s presentation; the sixth graders had read Project Mulberry and the seventh graders read A Long Walk to Water.

Linda charmed her audience with photos from her childhood (she was very cute) along with photos of her son’s puppies (who are also very cute.) The slides she displayed of full grown silk worms? Not so cute! Linda explained how she called upon her nephew and father to grow silkworms to prepare her for writing Project Mulberry. Linda was just too grossed out to grow them in her own home. It became a sort of “family research project,” she joked.  

After Linda had all the students’ attention with the photos, she delved into a more serious discussion of her latest novel, A Long Walk to Water. Just recently released in paperback, this book based on a true story has been the topic of Linda’s student presentations around the country. Pictured on the screen above Linda is a photo of her taken with her friend, Salva. Salva was one of 3,800 Sudanese “Lost Boys” airlifted to the United States beginning in the mid 1990s. He was adopted by a family in Rochester, which is where the author now resides. Linda paired his story with one of a girl named Nya. Although Nya is fictional, she is a composite of real young women Linda’s husband interviewed in Sudan. Because families have to live far from water to avoid tribal warfare, many daughters walk up to eight hours a day to bring fresh water to their families. Today, volunteers like Salva are using modern equipment to build wells in villages all across southern Sudan, freeing up young men and women to attend school and become literate.

Did the middle school students in the audience walk away with a deeper appreciation for running water and the opportunity for a free education? I can’t say for sure, but I can report that they were attentive and responsive. The librarians and teachers in the Northport-East Northport community deserve kudos for forming a successful partnership that has been connecting students, books and authors at the public library for over twenty years.