Sensory Storytimes

I read a Star Tribune article a while back about libraries in Minnesota starting sensory storytimes for children on the Autism Spectrum. Many of the components, like having a schedule for storytime and plenty of “wiggle time” make sense for all storytimes. I make sure to include action rhymes, fingerplays and songs, and we always have free play after storytime, I think I should work on incorporating more action into my storytime.

While I’m not sure my library can open early for these special storytimes like some libraries are doing, it is certainly something to consider! I’d like to go to more Autism training before starting something official at my library though. Actually, that would probably be a good idea in general…

Does your library include special programs for those on the spectrum? Or special programs of a different kind?


My Favorite Audio Books: Not Adult Ficiton

Since my car rides are so long I generally listen to adult fiction or nonfiction, as they are usually longer. But sometimes I like to switch it up. These are my favorite children’s, middle grade and YA audiobooks.

kid audiobook

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale

Unless you’ve lived under a rock since 1991 (can you believe Sorcerer’s Stone came out 25 years ago!), you know the general outline of the Harry Potter series. Jim Dale does a marvelous job of narrating Harry’s adventures. I listen to Harry Potter all the time. It’s a great distraction while running on the treadmill.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, narrated by Tara Sands

This audiobook takes listening to the next level. It isn’t just someone reading the books, but every time Ulysses is about to begin a heroic, superhero feat, music swells to accompany the task. When Ulysses gets sucked up by the vacuum cleaner, he knows all is lost. But! Something amazing happens and he is reborn from the vacuum cleaner with amazing abilities. Namely, the ability to fly, heroic strength and poetry. Flora is changed too. The pessimistic reader of “Terrible Things Can Happen to You” learns to hope.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, narrated by Morven Christie, Lucy Gaskell

I don’t even know where to begin describing this book. There are so many great details and plot twists that I don’t want to inadvertently spoil. So I’m going to cheat and copy the Goodreads blurb.

“I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine – and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France – an Allied Invasion of Two.”

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, narrated by Rebecca Lowman, Sunil Malhotra

Eleanor is different from everybody Park knows. Sure, her clothes are strange and there are whisperings about her family, but there is something else about her. Something special. And so begins their Romeo and Juliet romance. Full of heartbreak, honesty and passion, Eleanor and Park will truly make you feel.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, narrated by David Tennant

You may have seen the 2010 movie How to Train Your Dragon, but did you know it’s a book? The series follows Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (also called Hiccup the Useless by some) on his quest to become a hero. While the print version is wonderful, and has humorous illustrations, the audio version is narrated by David Tennant (of Dr. Who and Harry Potter Fame) and filled with music, accents, and dragonese.

2015-2016 Maud Hart Lovelace Award

The Maud Hart Lovelace Award is a children’s choice award in Minnesota. Named after the creator of the beloved Betsy, Tacy and Tib series. What is unique of about this award is that every book must be available in paperback by February 1st of the selection year. We see several “best of” and awards in the library world, but almost all of those lists include only brand new books, and are often have holds lists miles long, and all children in the state of Minnesota in grades 3-8 can vote.


This year’s nominees are:

Division I (grades 3-5)

Division II (grades 6-8)

I’m going to read as many as I can before voting in the spring. I’ll cross them off the list and link reviews when I’ve read the books.

My Favorite Audio Books: Adult Fiction

I drive almost an hour to work each day, and most times those drives are accompanied by an audio book. Since I’ve listened to such a variety of audiobooks, I thought I’d list my favorites, starting with adult fiction.

adult fiction audiobook collage

Her Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen, narrated by Katherine Kellgren.

Her Royal Spyness follows Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 34th in line for the throne, in 1930s England. Despite being a royal, Georgianna is utterly broke. When the Queen asks Georgie to subtly spy on her playboy son David and his new friend, the awful Wallis Simpson, Georgie immediately agrees. Now she has a place to stay away from her domineering sister in law, and good food and company. Along the way, Georgie discovers a dead Frenchman in her bathtub and it is up to her to prove her and her family’s innocence. Each book in the series follows Georgie’s adventures trying to find a job, a place to call home, and most importantly, love. I listened to the first three books and I find I cannot read them. I need Katherine Kellgren’s narration, and hear her portrayals of the characters; otherwise, it’s just not the same.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, narrated by Laura Hamilton

It’s 1999 and Lincoln O’Neill took a job as “Internet Security Office” at the local newspaper. His job isn’t nearly as glamorous as his title implies. Basically, Lincoln reads the staff’s emails when they are flagged for using certain work inappropriate words. When Lincoln comes across a series of messages between two coworkers and friends, Jennifer Scribner-Snyder and Beth Fremont, Lincoln knows he should write his report as usual, but there’s something different about these emails. As they keep showing up in Lincoln’s mailbox, and Lincoln continues to read, he finds himself falling in love with Beth. But how can he strike up a conversation with her, without her hating him?

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, narrated by Susan Lyons, Anna Bentink, Steven Crossley, Alex Tregear, Andrew Wincott, Owen Lindsay

“…I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn’t have met, and who didn’t like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other.”

Louise Clark abruptly finds herself jobless when the cafe she’s worked at forever suddenly closes. Will Traynor suddenly finds himself paralyzed when hit by a motorcycle while crossing the street. Despite growing up in vastly different worlds, the two come together, form an incredible bond, and change each others lives forever.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler, narrated by Jenna Lamia

We all know about F. Scott Fitzgerald and his most famous novel, The Great Gatsby, but do you know his wife? Z tells the story of Zelda and Scott, the quintessential couple of the Lost Generation, through Zelda’s eyes. At first everything is new and exciting and glamorous, but eventually, the party must end. And who is Zelda? Is she Scott’s wife? Is she an artist? Is she a mother? Who can say. Fowler brings us a fictionalized biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, told in what I hope, is an accurate portrayal.

The Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig, mostly narrated by Kate Reading (The Temptation of the Night Jasmine narrated by Justine Eyre is not nearly as good)

The Pink Carnation series tells multiple stories. First, there is Eloise Kelly, history PhD candidate from Harvard, off on a research quest in England. Her topic, spies in 18th and 19th century England sounds fascinating, but is awfully hard to research (spies not being known for keeping documents), and she is just about to give up when she stumbles upon an absolute treasure trove of information. Too bad it also comes with a grouchy, territorial, if handsome, Englishman. Second, there are the historic spies. Lots of spies. French spies, English spies, Irish spies, spies who just like to spy.

While the series is generally considered romance, and are fun, fluffy reads, Willig’s research is excellent. She actually was as Harvard History PhD.

Little House in the Library

I read and re-read the Little House books, and then discovered the Rose books and the Caroline books and the Charlotte books and the Martha books. I visited the Little House in the Big Woods with my family when I was in elementary school (it’s about an hour away), toured Walnut Grove with my mother daughter book club in middle school, and made a detour to visit the DeSmet house in South Dakota a few years ago after a wedding.

When the Pioneer Girl craze hit, I knew our library had to jump on the Laura Ingalls Wilder train. In case you didn’t know, Pioneer Girl is Wilder’s memoir with footnotes and annotations by Pamela Smith Hill. Luckily I live in a state where Wilder lived (by the Banks of Plum Creek takes place in MN for those who did not know), and the Collection Manager at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in agreed to come to my library to discuss Wilder’s time in Minnesota.

The books originated as a memoir, but the publishers in the 1930s felt the market was not open to the memoir, so Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane rewrote the memoir into children’s books. The children’s books are slightly fictionalized versions of Wilder’s life, and we learned some interesting tidbits. For example, when the Ingalls traveled from Lake Pepin they stayed in a dugout and some of the memories from that time in a dugout find their way into On the Banks of Plum Creek. We also learned that the Ingalls family stopped at a brewery on their way to Iowa (probably Schells in New Ulm for all you Minnesotans out there), but that was cut because they felt it was not appropriate for children. Also, the entire time in Burr Oak, Iowa is cut from the series because the time spent in Iowa was generally depressing–the hotel business did not work out and a little brother Charles Frederick Ingalls was born and died.

The program was incredibly successful, some of our attendees even met Wilder!

Story and Craft Hour: Leaf Art

November’s Story and Craft Hour focused on leaves. My inspiration are these pins I found on Pinterest. Attendees and I went outside to collect leaves for our projects, and then we sat down for a story. I read Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert. While an interesting story, and I usually love Ehlert’s illustrations, this story did not keep the children’s attention. I think Fall is not Easy would be a better choice if I do this again next year. Also, October would probably be a better month. The leaves are all hard and crunchy now, so my visions of cute little leaf animals did not quite turn out.


My little artists were also very particular and distraught that their pictures did not look like the examples and their leaf rubbings did not look like real leaves. I tried to show them that my leaf rubbings did not actually look like real leaves either, but their frustration remained. Perhaps this activity is too advanced for the age group. While there were many hiccups in this program it was a great learning experience, and I hope to improve upon it next fall.

Paper vs E-Book

According to CTV Television Network and BookNet Canada, print book sales in Canada are skyrocketing.  paperbacks made up 55% of sales, hardcovers made 25% and only 17% of sales consisted of ebooks. I can’t speak for our library system, but I have so many patrons comment that they like having the physical book in hand. Often times they say it self deprecatingly, like “I’m such an oddball, I like having the real book,” or “Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but nothing beats turning the pages.” Apparently these patrons are not the odd person out!

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues, especially as so many schools get rid of textbooks in favor of electronic versions. Which, I also find interesting, as many articles state that information retention rates are much lower when reading an ebook vs reading the print version. According to Scientific American,  “modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way.”