What I’ve Been Up To (Because It Clearly Hasn’t Been Blogging)

I’ve missed blogging! I keep adding blog ideas to Evernote, but haven’t had the time to sit down and blog about anything. That changes now. I have lots of posts that are in process or scheduled for the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

But what have I been doing while I haven’t been blogging? Here are a few highlights and hopefully interesting links until my next post:

  • I presented to my CALLI cohort about tough conversations and how to have them. I worked on a team with two wonderful women and I thought our presentation was awesome. I will be sharing more about the presentation and what I learned in an upcoming post!
  • I presented on toddler storytime at the CLEL Conference. CLEL is an organization I’m so lucky to be involved with. Being on the Steering Committee has been so full of learning and fun–I’m sad that my tenure is almost over! The conference was amazing. If you’re ever able to get to Colorado in September for professional development I highly, HIGHLY recommend it.
  • Inspired by Abby the Librarian’s excellent post, my department has been getting into local schools and giving booktalks to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Coming soon: how we did it, how it’s been going (spoiler alert: AWESOME), and books I’ve booktalked.
  • Reading lots of awesome books. Look for more This Book is My Jam segments coming soon.
  • We had so many awesome summer reading programs! While it’s a bit late, I’m planning on blogging about a few of them very soon.
  • Preparing for my last CALLI session. I’m so sad about this, but happy at the same time. It’s really been a phenomenal year, full of growth. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about my leadership style, and I feel like it’s had a deep impact on me. It’s been so fun getting to know all of the amazing people in my CALLI cohort, and I’m sad I won’t get the excuse to see them as often. Look for more posts with wrap-ups of my time on CALLI coming soon.

So that’s a little taste of what I’ve been up to. Busy, excited about libraries, and working on cool stuff. I’ll be sharing about all of it very soon!

More Managment Books To Read

In my last post, I talked about Trustology, a management book I read (and loved!) for my leadership program. After reading Trustology, my group presented on it to the rest of the CALLI cohort during a webinar. Everyone else was also put into groups to present on other management books. There were so many interesting sounding management books, I wanted toshare them here. Here are the books the other groups presented on during the webinar:

leading from the frontLeading From the Front: No Excuse Leadership Tactics for Women by Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch. This book is written by two former Marines and details how women can work on their leadership skills. They argue that women haven’t been taught the skills to be leaders, and say that their time in the Marines makes them uniquely qualified to help women gain these skills. In their presentation, the group that talked about this book shared a lot of the anecdotes from the book, which were really interesting. I’m a little hesitant about the gendered nature of it all (it sounds like the women are saying the reason they are better leaders is because they succeeded in a male-dominated field), but I’m willing to give it a read and see if I’m wrong.

influencerInfluencer by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Marxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzer. This book sounded incredibly detailed and the group that talked about it had a lot of ground to cover. This is the book to go to for practical advice to take you step-by-step through how you can become an influencer. It seemed like the kind of book that leaves you with actionable, useful information to put into practice. I also liked that it specifically talked about how to manage change–this is such a huge thing in libraries, as they are changing all the time. Learning how to help teams navigate change is a necessity for a library leader.

tribal leadershipTribal Leadership by David Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright. This is a book about working with the natural groups that come together in workplaces and using them to get things done and to create an amazing workplace culture. It offers a way to look at workplace culture–is it more like Dunder Mifflin in The Office? Or is it like Apple when it was creating the iPhone? By understanding the different stages of tribal culture in a workplace, the book argues that you can improve your workplace environment and move into a higher performing workplace. I liked the emphasis that this book placed on understanding workplace culture and using that to build a better workplace.

start with whyStart with Why by Simon Sinek. A book about how great leaders–leaders who inspire–are leaders who create a passion for what they are selling and start from there. They are leaders who have thought of the purpose of their companies, rather than just the product. This is an interesting idea, and definitely applicable to libraries, which really do have to sell the purpose of the library to people on a regular basis. One thing the group that presented on this mentioned was that it felt more like a marketing book than a management book, so depending on what you’re looking for in a management book, this may or may not work for you.

The great thing (in theory) about this exercise was that you got to hear about 4 different management books while only reading the one you presented on. In reality, I just ended up adding all of these to my to-read list because they all sounded so interesting. But there are worse problems to have then wanting to read a bunch of interesting-sounding management books!

I Resolve to Rock in 2015!

It might be a little late for New Year’s resolutions, but I really liked Storytime Underground’s call to resolve to rock in 2015 and wanted to take a little time to think about, and then blog about, my professional goals for the year.

Resolve-to-Rock-meme-image1. Presume good intentions from others. I haven’t blogged about CALLI much lately, which is mostly because it slows down in November and December due to the holiday season. But in January we will be meeting to discuss leadership books we’ve been reading and to share what we’ve learned. I plan on writing a longer post about the fabulous book I read, Trustology, but one major takeaway I got from the book was that you need to presume good intentions from people. This is especially hard to do with people you might have had difficult relationships with in the past. This is both a personal and professional goal for me. It’s something I strive to do naturally, but this is the year I’m going to make sure I’m intentional about it, and give the people around me permission to call me out if they see that I am not presuming good intentions.

2. Finish our department’s weeding project. We’re planning a room redesign, and before that happens we want to be well weeded. The biggest area to be weeded is the nonfiction section. I’m halfway through the 600’s right now (my section is 500-999). It’s going slowly, but it’s amazing how much better the shelves look. I’m excited to keep going with it.

3. Be intentional about adding new songs and rhymes to my storytime repertoire. I have a lot of favorite songs and rhymes I use over and over again for baby and toddler storytime. I love those songs, and so do the babies and the toddlers, but I want to make sure I’m keeping it fresh for everyone. This year I’m going to seek out new songs, rhymes, (and books!), and try them out. It’s always fun to do new things and I want to make sure I don’t get bored or stuck in a storytime rut.

4. More school-aged programming! For our size and staff, our library has a really great amount of baby, toddler, and preschool programming. I’m really proud of the focus on early literacy, but I’d love for us to have more regular school-age programming during the school year.

5. Continue to grow and learn from CALLI. I’m so lucky to be part of the CAL Leadership Institute, and I can’t wait to continue my professional development in the program. I think 2015 will be a year of great learning and growing for me because of my participation in CALLI.

6. Have more fun with my work. This is a professional goal for me every year. Finding joy and fun in what I do is incredibly important to me, and one of the reasons I became a children’s librarian. And the more I focus on having fun, I think I’m both better at my job and happier with my life. Every year at my current job has been more fun than the last, and I want to continue that in 2015.

So those are my professional goals for 2015. What are yours? Also, be sure to check out Storytime Underground if you haven’t already and see what other awesome youth services librarians are resolving to do in 2015!

My Reading Goals for 2015

I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts about reading goals lately. Abby the Librarian’s post on the ALSC blog got me started thinking about what my reading goals for 2015 might be. In no particular order, here they are:

1. Not to make a Goodreads challenge for the year. This has been discussed both here and here. And I agree with both of these posts. While the Goodreads challenge pushes me to read more, it also stresses me out. I’m pretty competitive, especially with myself. When I see that I’m behind, I will read anything I can to catch up. This can mean shying away from longer, deeper reads in favor of shorter reads that will get my count up faster. That’s not really the point of reading. Or, at least, it’s not the type of reading I want to be doing in 2015.


photo credit: nxb via photopin cc

2. To re-read some of my favorite books. I really want to re-read all of Jane Austen, in chronological order, and watch the movie adaptations of her books as I read them. I also got a beautiful illustrated version of The Hobbit for Christmas 2013 that I haven’t had time to delve into yet. Re-reading is something I did all the time as a kid. It was part of the joy of reading. I haven’t done that as much as an adult. I want to do more of it in 2015.

3. To read some more classics. I absolutely loved Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House when I read it in college and have always meant to read more Cather. Maybe this is my year. I’d like to read at least a few canon books that I haven’t read before.

4. To read books by more diverse authors and about more diverse characters. I loved the #WeNeedDiverseBooks conversation that happened on Twitter this year and happily donated to the campaign. I want to intentionally seek out more authors and protagonists that are diverse in 2015.

5. To allow myself to go on reading tangents. This is another part of reading as a kid that I loved: I would read an author that I loved, or about a topic that I was interested in, and I would read nothing else for weeks or even months. I want to allow myself to go down these rabbit holes of reading again.

photo credit: oatsy40 via photopin cc

photo credit: oatsy40 via photopin cc

6. Read more books from my personal library. Working at a library and constantly being surrounded by shiny new books is so tempting. I bring home stacks of books and spend my time trying to read them. I don’t expect this to stop, but I’d also like to spend some time reading books I’ve owned for years and never gotten around to reading.

7. Feel less guilt about my reading. As a children’s librarian, I tend to feel guilty when I read an adult book or a teen book. This year I’m going to try to stop that. Reading is supposed to be pleasurable, after all, and I want to have the same joy in reading that I hope to help foster in the kids at the library. That means reading what I want to read when I want to read it. And enjoying it without feeling like I should be reading something else.

I’m hoping that these goals will help me have a fulfilled, and enjoyable, year of reading. Do you have any reading goals for 2015? I’d love to hear what they are!

My 10 Favorite Reads of 2014

Here are a couple of caveats about this list: It includes books written for children, teens, and adults, as well as fiction and nonfiction. It doesn’t include any picture books, because while I read (and love) a ton of them every year, I haven’t yet figured out a rating and reviewing system that makes keeping track of all of the ones I’ve read in a year easy for me. It doesn’t include only books published in 2014. It’s not written in any particular order. It doesn’t include books I re-read this year. If you click on the book cover, it will take you to my Goodreads review of the book. Without further ado, here are my 10 favorite books of 2014:

Brown Girl Dreaming1. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Beautifully written and deeply affecting, I absolutely adored this book. This was even more surprising to me because I am not normally a big fan of books written in verse. But this book felt perfect, and it’s one I hope will win big come Newbery time.

theageofinnocence2. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. This is a book that’s all about what’s happening under the surface. No one can say what they mean and there are deep, aching moments of misunderstanding and reading between the lines and ridiculous societal constraints that make you feel sad. I just lived in this book while reading it, and it made me want to go out and read everything Wharton ever wrote.

absolutely almost3. Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff. This is another book I hope gets recognized come Newbery time. Albie is just such a wonderful main character–so full of love and hope and good intentions. I read this back in July, but if I think about it too hard I can still start to tear up. Also, every parent of young children should go out immediately and read this book. Just perfection.

84 charring4. 84, Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff. One of those books that you want to recommend to every bibliophile you know the second you finish it. So full of charm and a love of books and a wonderful voice. Everyone that I have recommended it to has also loved it, and I’ve heard the movie is quite charming as well.

river of doubt5. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candace Millard. When I finished this, I realized I am in no way cut out for an adventure down the Amazon. I also realized why so many people cite Teddy Roosevelt as their favorite president. Reading about the larger-than-life man and his crazy journey down the The River of Doubt (which is also the best name for a river ever, in my opinion) was a joy. Candace Millard is one of my favorite nonfiction writers and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

the-observations6. The Observations by Jane Harris. A Gothic story full of madness and ghosts and mystery. It also managed to be both lovely and charming, due to the fresh, funny voice of the main character, Bessy.

family romanov7. The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming. This was both an excellent overview of what life was like for the last of the Romanovs and what it was like to be a peasant in imperial Russia. Fleming gets into the politics of the time in a way that is illuminating, but not overwhelming. It made me want to read more, more, more about the subject, which is the highest compliment I can give to a nonfiction book.

bad_feminist8. Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxanne Gay. Not only does this have a fabulous title, but it’s also a great read about what it means to be a feminist, or a bad feminist, in today’s world. Gay looks at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and more, and also delves deeply into pop-culture and how it informs our understanding of feminism. As someone who considers myself a feminist, but also likes some problematic things, I really enjoyed Gay’s message.

Jane Austen Cover to Cover9. Jane Austen Cover to Cover by Margaret C. Sullivan. This is a very last-minute addition to the list, as I only read it on December 31st, but it was just such an enjoyable book I have to share it. Looking at 200 years of Jane Austen’s covers shows you the trends of publishing at the time, and will make you want to go out and buy some of these beautiful books if you’re a Jane Austen fan. Lovely.

we are all completely10. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. Another book that just really stuck with me and that I want people to read so that we can talk about it. I love stories about stories and the infallibility of memory and how we perceive things versus how other people do. This book hit all of those marks and then some.

So those are my books! There are many more that could have made this list–it was a great reading year.

Things I Wish I’d Known: Toddler Storytime

Welcome to Things I Wish I’d Known, a semi-regular feature in which I talk about things I wish I’d known when I started my job as a children’s librarian.

It has been a long time since I last posted! I got sick, the holidays happened, life happened, and suddenly I realized that a post I wanted to post weeks ago hadn’t even been written yet. So, finally, I’m coming back to blogging and talking about what I wish I’d known when I started toddler storytimes. I also wrote about my toddler storytimes and what they look like here if you’re new to doing a toddler storytime or are just curious to see how different librarians run theirs.

I absolutely adore toddler storytime. It’s a great storytime to let loose and be as silly as you like, it always ends with a ton of toddler hugs that make my week, and it’s just filled with movement and singing and giggling. That being said, it took a while before I felt like I had a handle on toddler storytime. Toddlers are full of emotions, ups and downs, and a need to be moving all the time. This can make storytimes a roller coaster of an experience for everyone involved! Here’s what I wish I’d known when I started doing toddler storytimes:

photo credit: jessicafm via photopin cc

photo credit: jessicafm via photopin cc

1. Perfect behavior is never going to happen with toddlers–and that’s completely okay. Toddlers like to move. They are constantly exploring the world around them and like being up, touching things, looking at things, etc. all the time. This is what they are wired to do. Expecting toddlers to sit and listen quietly to a bunch of books is completely unrealistic and won’t make your storytimes fun for you, the parents, and the kiddos. That being said, it’s completely okay for you, the librarian, to set behavior expectations (a bit more on that later). As part of my opening spiel, I say “I know that toddlers need to move and we incorporate lots of movement during toddler storytime. We try to sit on our bottoms during the books. If that’s not happening today, that’s okay, just try to redirect toward the back of the room so that everyone can see the books.” This does a couple of things–it shows caregivers that I don’t expect that all kids in the storytime will be able to sit through the books. It lets caregivers of active toddlers know how they can help their kiddo have fun in storytime. And it lets my older toddlers, who can sit and listen throughout the stories, to be able to see and enjoy the books. I know everyone is soaking it up just by being in the room–this seems to work for me and help everyone have the best experience possible.

2. Toddlers need time to get used to new rhymes/songs. With babies, I mentioned that I try to keep my baby storytimes about 80% similar from week to week. With toddlers, I aim for more like 40-50%. I can do a lot more variety with toddlers, and try new songs and rhymes more often. But I do try to keep in mind that it can take a while for toddlers to catch on and get excited about new songs/rhymes. When I was a newbie at toddler storytime, I tried a fingerplay I found on a storytime blog called “Here’s a Cup.” The toddlers looked at me like I was crazy and did not seem to be into it at all. I thought it was a rhyme that just didn’t work for me. But then I tried it again. And again. And now it’s a favorite rhyme that we do often in toddler storytime and it always ends with lots of giggles. Toddlers like repetition just as much as babies do. They like singing songs they know and reciting rhymes they know. So if you think something looks like a fun thing to try in toddler storytime, but it doesn’t work the first time, I’d encourage you to try it for a couple of weeks in a row. Generally, that gives everyone time to learn it and you can better gauge if something will truly work for you or not.

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Storytime Picks of the Month: November

In this monthly feature, I pick my favorite storytime reads of the month–one from my baby storytime, one from toddler storytime, and one from preschool storytime.

Baby Storytime Pick: the-babies-on-the-bus-coverThe Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz. This is one of my favorites to use in baby storytime. I love Katz’s illustrations for babies–they are big, clear, bright, and colorful. I also love that it’s a diverse group of babies. And I love to use a book I can sing. This one has some silly changes the the original song which makes it fun, but there are still the old standbys that keep it familiar. If I had any quibble with this book in the context of baby storytime, it would be that it is a little long. I’ve actually not had to shorten it too much, although occasionally I just end on the page where the babies fall fast asleep. But because it’s a song, it usually holds my babies’ attention all the way through.

Toddler Storytime Pick: oh noOh, No! by Candace Fleming. Speaking of books that are longer than I would usually pick for a specific age range, this book might be just a touch too long for a lot of toddler groups. But I love it and use it anyway. I find that the rhythmic language and beautiful illustrations keep my toddlers engaged, and it’s fun to make all of the animal noises and yell, “Oh, no!” together. I’m not sure why, but I’ve actually never used this book with preschoolers–I need to change that posthaste. It’s just a really great picture book with really wonderful illustrations that work. A couple of things: I usually have a backup for this book when I’m reading it in toddler time. If the energy is too high for a longer read, I will put it away to use next time. And I always read this one first, to keep everyone’s attention. But it really is one of my favorites, and one that I come back to again and again.

Preschool Storytime Pick: little mouseThe Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. I had so many great books to choose from for preschool storytime this month, but this pick (from a food themed storytime) was my favorite, mostly because of the reaction from my kiddos. When I was holding it up, a boy who’d obviously read it at home many times was telling everyone about how they eat the strawberry before the bear comes. And one little girl interjected: “And then the bear comes and eats the mouse! There will be blood!” This gruesomeness injected into such a sweet book made me laugh and made all of the kids very curious about what was actually going to happen. I’m pretty sure the little girl was sad that there wasn’t any blood in this one. Also, our storytime collection version of this is a big book, which is always fun to use in storytime–the kids are always a bit dazzled by big books. Those were my picks from the month of November! I’m starting to wonder if I should change this feature to a weekly one–there are so many great books that I’d like to talk about that I don’t get to when only picking once a month.