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!

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.

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.

Parents and Children Get Together to Talk about Books

The New York Council for the Humanities’ Together—Book Talk for Kids and Parents program provides funding for libraries to create a welcoming forum for families to come together to talk about books. Each of the six 90-minute Together sessions is co-facilitated by a public librarian and a humanities scholar from the local community. The sessions explore key themes in American life such as courage, freedom, and what it means to be American.

According to Erika Halstead, the Program Officer for the New York Council for the Humanities, six libraries in Suffolk County have received a grant to host a Together—Book Talk for Kids and Parents program:

• Brentwood Public Library (fall 2008)

• Floyd Memorial Library (spring 2009)

• South Huntington Public Library (fall 2009, fall 2010)

• Emma S. Clark Memorial Library (spring 2010)

• Rogers Memorial Library (spring 2011)

• Northport-East Northport Public Library (fall 2011)

This summer, Brentwood Public Library is hosting a Family Reading and Discussion Program through a Together extension grant. I stopped by on Wednesday night, July 13th to participate in the discussion. Myrna and her collaborator Yolanda, a teacher at Southeast Elementary School, are pictured here with the featured books The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles.

The Together program is a wonderful opportunity for families to spend time together talking about ideas and experiences and it all starts with a book as a catalyst. It is great to hear a parent share their experiences and hear a child say, “Mom, I never knew that happened.” And kids have lots of ideas and experiences to share that they may not have even considered talking about until we bring them in a group and encourage them to share. It’s a great way to bring everyone together to read and talk and hopefully the reading and conversations will continue at home. – Myrna, Children’s Librarian at Brentwood Public Library

Check back with the blog in the fall for the latest from the Northport-East Northport Public Library, who will be partnering on the Together project with Heather Forest, storyteller and speaker at the September 14th SCLS program “The Magic of Words.”

Would you like to offer the Together program at your library? The deadline for spring 2012 applications is December 1, 2011.

Spectrum Scholar from Suffolk Makes a Splash in New Orleans

Darla, a librarian trainee at the Half Hollow Hills Public Libray, is here in New Orleans at her first ALA conference as a 2010-2011 Spectrum Scholar. I caught up with Darla at last night’s Spectrum Professional Options Fair at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street.

“This is just like speed-dating,” Darla laughed.

Darla was right: The Grand Ballroom was set up with tables representing various divisions of ALA, professional organizations, and OCLC, the fair’s sponsor. I was staffing the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) table along with ALSC president Mary Fellows and ALSC Membership/Marketing Specialist Dan Rude. Spectrum Scholars sought out tables of interest to network and learn more about proffessional opportunities.

Darla, who is a student at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at Queens College, still works at the Northport Public Library where she got her start as a page in the Youth Services Department. “Doris gave me so many conference tips on the plane ride down,” Darla said. I told Darla that when I was a trainee at Northport I was particulalry overwhelmed by my new role as reader’s advisor, and I kept recommending Sharon Creech to everyone who walked in the door. “I’m the same way with Neil Gaiman!” Darla confessed. Darla tackles this challenge by reading books off the new book carts at both of her libraries.

Darla left the ALSC table with a committee volunteer form in hand and encouragement from Mary Fellows to fill it out “multiple times.” Whether you are able to attend conferences or not, there are ways to get involved with ALA, and a little bit of perserverance always helps.

Northport Wins YSS Award

The Northport-East Northport Public Library has been awarded the 2011 Pied Piper Award from the Youth Services Section (YSS) of the New York Library Association. This honor recognizes excellence in library programming and promotional materials targeted to the young people in New York State. In partnership with the Suffolk County Farm and Education Center, children’s librarians Liz and Janet developed an exhibit guide, bibliography and supporting materials for the Down on the Farm Museum Cove exhibit and program series. The library’s Community Services Department took these materials and turned them into documents that are both visually stunning and age appropriate.
Congratulations to the staff of the Northport-East Northport Library on this successful collaboration!