Cream of the Crop

Last week I took a class for my never ending journey towards a certificate in Children’s Lit. Why this seems like a never ending journey is a story for another day. However, it was interesting to discuss the merits of the different youth literature awards and their purpose. For homework we all read books that won various awards or were honor books for their years. I read George by Alex Gino and The War that Saved My Life by Jennifer Brubaker Bradley.

As the only public librarian in the class, the instructor thought I’d have an advantage over the rest of the class in familiarity with the various awards. I did know more than the rest of the class, but I’m not sure why a public librarian knows about more awards than school librarians. I guess I understand knowing more categories than teachers, but even that’s a stretch.

Anyway, there are a lot more literary awards out there than I realized. And some seem redundant. There are two nonfiction awards. Why? And the Geisel Award for early readers seems very vague to me. But, maybe that’s just me.


Graphic Novels

Today I came across a post by Hennepin County Library and their staff’s thoughts on introductions to graphic novels. Since graphic novels are not my preferred genre, I figured my reading list and the recommended list would have one or two in common. Turns out, I’ve read far more great graphic novels than I realized! Granted, I read Skim and Stitches in grad school for class and I read Maus in 7th grade history. Still… I read them, so they count!

From this list I have read:

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Skim by Mariko Tamaki

Stitches by David Small

Maus by Art Spieglman

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi



Audio Books, and Why I Love Them

It’s no secret that I love audiobooks. I listen to one almost every day on my way to work and I always have a few Harry Potter books stored on my phone for those random times when the radio just won’t cut it. My husband and I drove up to my parents cabin for eelpout festival (only in Minnesota…) and found ourselves without familiar radio stations. Enter Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry Potter is great because we both love the books and can get into super detailed discussions regarding our favorite witches and wizards, but we can also get distracted and worry about maps and directions without losing our place or enjoyment in the book. However, given that we drove all around northern Minnesota, Harry Potter did not last the whole trip. Enter Looking for Alaska by John Green.

I figured my husband would enjoy it since he loves watching John Green’s youtube videos and enjoyed Paper Towns. And I was right! We haven’t finished it yet, so I can’t review it, but I can tell you it appeals to a wide(ish) audience and it is great for road trips. There is humor, depth, compassion for the characters, all while allowing the listener to tune out while establishing location and other important driving activities.

Anyway,  I have a point to this aside from telling you about how I pick my audiobooks when traveling with a certain someone. Many parents are under the impression that their children must read chapter books at their age level (no picture books allowed, but that’s another rant for another day), and they must READ them, not listen. However, there are so many benefits to listening to an audiobook! Denise Johnson lists in Reading Rockets the benefits of audiobooks. Benefits include, “introduce students to books above their reading level teach critical listening, introduce new genres that students might not otherwise consider, introduce new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales, sidestep unfamiliar dialects or accents, provide a bridge to important topics of discussion for parents and children who can listen together while commuting to sporting events, music lessons, or on vacations.”

Audiobooks have also proved useful in helping struggling readers and language learners. From my own person experience, when listening to books I’ve already read (Harry Potter is a great example again), I notice things I missed while reading. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the plot I forget to process what I read and can miss some great turns of phrase or foreshadowing or key points in character development.

I’m back and some background

I’m back to blogging! Hopefully this blogging business will stick this time… back in Louisiana, I had so much going on figuring out my first professional role, a new school system and a new state! Now that I’m established in my current position, I think I’ll have more time to blog about my library experiences. That, and I find library blogs incredibly helpful when looking for program and storytime ideas. Hopefully I’ll be able to help others as well!

But first, a little background, and then I’ll dive right into the catch up posts.

I went to college in Milwaukee, WI at Marquette University and majored in Journalism and Writing Intensive English, with a minor in History. I had dreams of becoming the next Carrie Bradshaw, then one summer I started an internship at a local library. The job posting described the internship as a communications position, where I’d help advertise library programs, instead, I worked as a typical library volunteer– shelving, holds lists, shelf reading etc– and I loved it! Especially when I worked in the children’s area. Once I went back to college (actually, I went to England for my semester abroad), I began researching library programs and graduate schools, which led me to Boston, three weeks after finishing undergrad.

While at Simmons College in Boston, I earned my Masters degree in Library Science with a focus in Youth Services. While in school I worked part time at a local high school, where I implemented skills and best practices I learned in school. Unfortunately I did not find a job in the area once I finished my Masters degree in August 2011, so I moved back home to Minnesota for a few months and worked at Pottery Barn. While Pottery Barn is not exactly related to Libraries I did learn a lot about customer service and working with the public… and I scored some awesome furniture…

Anyway, shortly after moving to Minnesota, I was offered, and accepted a school librarian position in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. So off I went, to basically build a library in a small, private, trilingual school. This position offered all sorts of new and exciting challenges, being new (no policy, no budget), and trilingual. Over the course of my time there I weeded and then expanded the collection in French, Spanish, Chinese and English, and created programming for students in preschool through 12th grade. I learned so much about storytimes and programming in this position, and while I loved my students, I’m a northerner to my core and I could no longer handle the heat and humidity, so back to Minnesota I went.

Back in Minnesota I served as a Reading Tutor for Minnesota ReadingCorps, a statewide AmeriCorps program. I served in a charter school where the student population was mostly Hmong and Karen immigrants, and approximately 90% of student received free or reduced lunch. Watching these students was both heartbreaking (some were homeless) and inspiring (they were so excited about school and learning!). After my year of service, I started a position as Branch Librarian in a smallish library in eastern Minnesota, about 15 miles from Wisconsin. As Branch Librarian I do a bit of everything, programming, reference, maintenance, and relationship building with the community. I love that I get to do a bit of everything in this position. Catching up on my adult reading has been so much fun!

Now that we’re all up to date, I have a series of posts highlighting my favorite programs, books and events from past positions.