How-to: Grand Poobah of the Holidays

Once again the holiday gift scramble is upon us. We are making our lists, checking them repeatedly and crossing off the expendables. As you go down your list and decide who gets re-gifted mugs, you may stumble upon those few people you dread shopping for this holiday.

What do you buy the person who has read everything? How do you know that they will actually read your gift? Fear not! I have a list to help satisfy all the worms in your life.

The Nerdy Bookworm
The Lord of the Rings, 50th Anniversary Edition
The Hobbit, hobbit-sized edition
eReader Covers
Out of Print Phone Case
Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary

The “I-Never-Have-Time-to-Read” Worm
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank
A gift membership to
Out of Print Tote Bag

The Well-Read Bookworm
An Ideal Bookshelf print
One of a kind book clutch
Out of Print T-shirt
A gift card to their favorite indie bookstore
Les Miserables scarf

Le Petit Ver
This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
Return to the Willows by Jacqueline Kelly
Reading Bean Bag/Pouf
Vintage book illustration blocks
Very Hungry Caterpillar Umbrella

The Adult Reluctant Bookworm
Batman: Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
World War Z by Max Brooks
Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D’Art by Christopher Moore
Flight, volume 1 by Kazu Kibuishi
The Walking Dead Compendium One by Robert Kirkman

The Hipster-worm
Out of Print Coasters
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
The Art Book: New Edition by Phaidon Press
Vintage/handmade book ends

After your have purchased all of your little wormies their goods, you have to make sure you wrap them up in pretty little packages. Place them under the tree, on the mantle, or hidden deep in the recesses of your closet which you are guarding like Smaug. Then on Christmas, make your grand entrance as though you are the Grand Poobah of the Holiday Season, confident in the knowledge that your gifts are far superior to the rest of your family.

That's you, the Grand Poobah of Holiday Gift Giving

That’s you, the Grand Poobah of Holiday Gift Giving

Armed with this knowledge, “Operation: Last Minute Holiday Scramble” should be a snap. Your giftees will squeal with delight at the sight of your perfectly picked presents and tales of your legendary gifting skills will be sung for decades to come.

I wish you all the best of luck this holiday season, I know that it can be a stressful time for anyone directly involved in the buying of presents! Remember to breathe, get plenty of sleep and don’t stress too much about the fact that you’re in charge of everyone’s happiness.

Robot, Zombie, Frankenstein Story Time

I really need to update this more, we do so many fun things at the library and I should document them! I have been so busy though! We lost one of our part-time employees and have been training a second, very time consuming.

In the midst of training, however, we had a wonderful story time featuring Robot Zombie Frankenstein by Annette Simon. I paired the book with The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara and If You’re A Monster and You Know It… by Ed Emberley. All three books were really great and the kids loved them, of course. I always know that any book about pirates, ninjas, robots, monsters (especially zombies) and aliens will do well at story time!

We started off story time by reading Robot Zombie Frankenstein. The kids really listened to this book. I think the combination of bright, vivid illustrations and easy to follow dialogue helped. We talked about what kinds of robots they would build if they had a chance and then I handed out an amazing activity pack from Annette Simon’s website.

Robot Zombie Fridge
“Mine can fly AND jump really high!” – Creator

The kids enjoyed doing the packets while I set up for the robot building craft. I had them sit at the table and read them The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot. They were a little wound up, but eventually calmed down enough to where they were listening well. I then gave them scrap paper (from past projects) and let them create a their own robot/monster/whatevers.

Robot Zombie Florist

When they had finished their craft, we rounded out the story time by dancing to If You’re a Monster and You Know It… and singing along. Fabulous story time, with fabulous books, by fabulous authors!

Robot Zombie War Machine
The book his robot is holding is titled “The Ancient War”

Attack of the Robots!

Spring Has Sprung Story Time

Before this nasty bit of hot weather, we had a few weeks of glorious spring weather. In celebration of the birds singing and the flowers blooming, I decided we would make spring tree boughs.

The kids loved the craft, especially since they got to use glue and “shiny things.” I thought the craft turned out wonderful, with each of the kids creating a different picture. A few of them made fields of sequin flowers, some made a single branch and a couple made an entire tree.

I chose two wonderful books about spring to read to the kids. The first one is called And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano. I have never read any of her other books, but this one has definitely gotten my attention!

It’s a beautiful book about a boy who plants a garden while there is still “brown” around. Brown grass. Brown leaves. Brown weather. He wonders why his garden isn’t growing throughout the seasons…

And Then It’s Spring…and it’s green all around.

I would definitely recommend this book. The prose is poignant and the illustrations are gorgeous. The story might hit home with adults a bit more than preschool children, but the kids were very attentive and asked questions about the illustrations. Any book that promotes discussion among pre-readers is ok in my book!

The second book that I read was It’s Spring by Samantha Berger. It is a board book, but the rhyming prose is just too cute. The kids had me read it to them twice! The second time they tried to say it with me, which I thought was adorable. The kids really liked the little rabbit and the rhyming goes something like:

” The robin told the rabbit…
The rabbit told the deer…
The deer told the duck…
Then all the birds began to sing
To tell the bears, “Wake up, it’s spring!”

Then it was on to the crafts. The kids sat at different tables and started creating their spring scenes!

The kids getting down to business with their pictures.

I just used some left over blue printer paper, crayons and each child had a small cup of sequins and pieces of tissue paper.

You can see in the picture that each of them created something unique and different! A few of the kids were a bit older and they always seem to try and replicate the example that I give them.

Though I always try to use glue sticks, the sequins don’t really work well with anything beside white glue. The younger kids were THRILLED to get to use the white glue and it was good practice for them since most will be going into kindergarten shortly.

Having a few older kids at this story time was great. They were a big help with the younger ones!

The table of older kids really liked the craft too. I let them do several pictures since they were getting so into it. The creativity of all the kids was really astounding! Even though I had just shown them a picture of a fairly mundane tree bough, their trees had curly branches, sequin birds and falling leaves.

One of the little girls picked out all the pink, clear and white sequins. Her entire tree branch matched the little pink dress she was wearing and when I asked her what her favorite color was she pointed to the pink sequin bird she had made.

I will definitely do this craft again! Maybe a Christmas tree?

After story time, the kids and their parents picked their books for the next two weeks. I always love to see the way the kids interact with their parents when choosing books. It’s wonderful to see the kids so excited to read!

May the 4th Be With You

It’s been a long time since I have been able to post! Been busy, busy, busy at the library.

The library has been busy gearing up for our Summer Reading Program and I have been planning all our events. We have some really great programs planned for all our patrons for the months of May-August and I am very pleased with the themes we have chosen.

One of the most exciting programs I have had was my May 4th Story Time! Since May 4th was “Star Wars Day,” I decided to show the younger generations some intergalactic fun. Our wonderful bookstore-next-door, The River Reader, donated an event kit for Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown and I pulled some of our juvenile Star Wars books for them to check out.

How cute is little Luke?

We started by talking a little bit about space. I asked them, “How many of you like to learn about space?” Every hand was in the air, so I continued with, “Would you want to live in space?”

A few of them said they would and described the kind of spaceship they would want to live in. Then I showed them the book we were going to be reading and a few of them knew Darth Vader already. The book isn’t a typical “story time” book and I had to interact with the kids quite a bit to keep them focused. The illustrations are adorable though, so I had the kids sit really close so that the cute details didn’t go unnoticed.

“He’s playing with Legos like I do!” – Story Time Attendee

The kids seemed to really enjoy the book, even though it wasn’t as much fun for me to read as say, Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door, and they had a lot of Star Wars related questions after we were done. When I had answered all their questions, we headed to make our crafts. I had pre-cut out Stormtrooper masks for the kids and I let them color them however they wanted.

“I want to be a Stormtrooper when I grow up!”

I also sent the kids home with copies of activities from the event kit.  The full PDF kit can be downloaded at Activity Kit for Darth Vader and Son. If you feel so inclined you can print off Yoda coloring pages for them to take home too.

All in all, the kids really enjoyed the story time. I would suggest trying to find another book to read a long with Darth Vader and Son if you want the kids to be a little more attentive. Some of the jokes are more for adults, but you don’t have to be a fan of Star Wars to enjoy this book.

“That wasn’t very nice of Greedo.” – Story Time Attendee

Follow @ChronicleBooks for more great reads!
Read more about the author at: Jeffrey Brown Comics

How To: Library Hunger Games

Recently, I held the “Hunger Games” at the library. I was incredibly excited to host a party for the book series that I loved and the kids were super amped as well. We decided to hold it the day before the movie was to be released, May 22. Most of the kids that showed up to compete in the games were planning on attending the midnight premiere and had read the entire series.

A few months in advance, I visited the Middle School to promote the event. I brought a tri-fold I had decorated with me and handed out lottery tickets I created.

I do one of these 2-3 times a year to promote programs (Spring, Summer, Fall).

The lottery tickets trickled in slowly over the months and I had a few kids pick up tickets they lost. All in all, I’m glad I took the board there a few months in advance. By allowing the kids to plan around the event, I ended up having more kids attend!

I held the event from 3:30-5:30 and I wish I would have had 15-30 more minutes. I had so much planned and getting a little behind caused some stress in the end. The kids still had a blast, but I felt like I was rushing through things and we still went over.

I had twelve (12) kids show up, so I divided them into groups of two by pulling their lottery tickets from a bowl. I assigned each group a District, starting with District 2 and ending with District 6. I then went over the rules for the games and told them what each of their Districts were responsible for.  They liked talking about each of their District’s and seemed to immediately have “District Pride.”

I had them sit around a large table with all kinds of craft supplies in the middle:

  • Beads

    The kids were given 20-25 minutes to create their token.

  • Feathers
  • String/Elastic string
  • Construction Paper
  • Pins
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Fabric squares
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Felt
  • Safety pins
  • Shiny things 🙂

The kids were then instructed to make a token to represent each of their Districts and that they would be allowed to wear it in the competition.

It was really neat to see all of the creativity of the kids. The boys from District 4 made fish inspired bracelets, the girls from District 5 made little lightning bolt pins and District 2 made rings with sequins as gemstones. Their explanation was “Well, we’re miners so we would probably find gems while we worked,” which I thought was brilliant.

After each of the kids had created their tokens, they sat in pairs around the table and we started the “Mental Challenge.” This consisted of trivia questions that were broken down into two categories:

Who Am I?” worth 4 pts

General Trivia” worth 2 pts

Each team was asked 5 questions (possible 14 pts), but they wanted to continue with all the trivia even after the fact. It was here that I spent too much time and ended up rushing. The kids were just having so much fun with the trivia that I didn’t want to blow over it.

After the “Mental Challenge,” I explained what their “Survival Challenge” would be. The object of this challenge was to protect the mockingjay eggs that had collected for food. I explained that they needed to build a structure that would hold the most mockingjay eggs, but that the tallest structure would win ten (10) bonus points.  I had a separate table of building supplies which included:

So many different designs!

  • Straws
  • Toilet paper/paper towel  tubes
  • Masking tape
  • Paper plates
  • Glue
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Styrofoam cups
  • Scrap computer paper
  • Scrap cardboard
  • Pipe cleaners
The kids came up with some really clever ways to hold their eggs. Some went for height + number of eggs, others just created holding pens:

District 2 using some engineering.

The building challenge proved to be easy for some, but others struggled with the construction of their structure. One of the Districts gave up half way through because they broke their tower (on purpose I believe). District 2 was actually made up of two girls who compete in a science/math/engineering challenge each year (Science Olympiad) and they were folding paper into triangles in order to provide more support for their overall structure! The participants all did a wonderful job and I was so proud of all their hard work. We listened to music while they worked and few of them were dancing around while building, it was a lot of fun.

District 4 trying to figure out what will work best.

After they all tried to put as many mockingjay eggs (plastic eggs)  on their structure as possible, we measured for height and totaled each one. The winning team had the shortest structure, but it held the most eggs. There was a bit of a disagreement about what the structure that won was, since a lot of them thought you HAD to build a tower. If you do something similar, I would suggest setting building parameters.

District 3 working on building the tallest structure.

After they built their structures, they needed to fend off some Tracker Jackers that were interested in their food supply. I purchased “throwing knives” (suction cup throwers) and used a Tic-Tac-Throw bean bag game we had in our basement. Instead of X’s and O’s, I taped on Tracker Jackers (X’s) and Nightlock Berries (O’s). The blank side had an image of a silver parachute. The object was to get as many parachutes as possible in 10 throws. If you had more than 4 nightlock berries turned, you died (poisoned) and received zero points. For each Tracker Jacker you turned, you lost one point. The kids had a blast trying to get all the parachutes turned! When all the Districts had gone, they got to try their hand at throwing knives. They aimed for a red plastic target and were awarded 10 points for every throw that stuck for a few seconds.

Don't ask me why the photo is all screwy, I don't know why I took it like this.

The Districts were pretty banged and bruised after foraging for eggs, fighting Tracker Jackers and competing against each other. They were sent to the triage unit, where they had to bandage up their teammates. Each team received two rolls of toilet paper, with which they had to heal their partner.

Wrapping up a hurt comrade.

The first team to heal all their partner’s injuries was awarded 15 points. Some of the kids really got into it, drawing stitches and blood stains on the toilet paper bandages.

Finally, their last challenge required a good amount of teamwork. For the “Team Challenge” they had to reassemble a picture of the mockingjay symbol.  To me, this was the most difficult challenge as I had printed the images in black and white. The kids soldiered through , however, and District 2 finished with a HUGE lead.

For the refreshments, I provided Sleep Syrup (red punch), Mellark Bakery Bread (cinnamon raisin bread), Capitol Cupcakes (chocolate cupcakes w/ orange icing), Cornucopia Feast (a cornucopia filled with candy) and Thirst Quenchers (bottled water).

Each participant was able to take home a “Silver Parachute” which was actually a gold lamp shade (I told them they were limited edition Capitol parachutes) with a goody bag attached. Inside the goody bag, they received a flare (glow stick), energy bites (Jolly Rancher),  Hob Voucher (free book coupon), a handful of misc. candy and a Hunger Games bookmark. I also had a table full of withdrawn YA books that I labeled “The Hob Book Exchange.” Each kid was able to take a free book with them as well.

The goody bags each participant was able to take home!

I thought the program went fabulously and the kids were all excited the next day at school. My mom told me that they were recounting to her the different challenges and how well they had done. I would call that a success!


Lets Paint! Story Time

Let’s Paint Story Time
Books:  Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh, Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth, Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson

  Activity: Flannel or construction paper mice as you read Mouse Paint

The templates for these are very simple.

Craft:  Have kids paint on butcher paper spread out on the table. Draw circle and label each with
the name of a paint color. Have kids match up the paint with its name. Print off a mouse on
white paper and let the kids paint it (fingerpaint)

Extra:  Show Mouse Paint movie from YouTube by hooking laptop up to the television


All About Me! Story Time

Self-esteem is the real magic wand that can form a child’s future. A child’s self-esteem affects every area of her existence, from friends she chooses, to how well she does academically in school, to what kind of job she gets, to even the person she chooses to marry.

STEPHANIE MARTSON, The Magic of Encouragement

Story time is suppose to be fun. Kids expect fun animal crafts and exciting songs about pirates, the whole horse ‘n’ pony show (so to speak). While I agree that 99% of story time’s should be exactly like this, I also feel that I have an obligation to teach children about more important issues. Issues like body image, nutrition and self-esteem are often overlooked because they don’t appear to be as much fun to plan. These issues will plague them into adulthood and I want them to remember that the library will always have the information to help them.

A few Wednesdays ago, I decided to have an “All About Me” story time. I searched the internet and came up with an idea for the kids to create name banners. I made these out of paper plates, construction paper and glitter.

They enjoyed making these.

We read a few different books, which they enjoyed because they got to tell me stories about themselves after each one. It even helped some of the kids who aren’t so talkative and tend to be a little shy.  Each of the kids enjoyed taking the banner home and they were showing it off to their parents after story time.

Books We Read:
Incredible Me!  by Kathi Appelt
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
Being Me by Julie Broski
For just one day by Laura Leuck

I also made them a handout that asked them questions about themselves. The handout had things like, “My favorite color is________.”, “If I was an animal I would be ____________.”, “The toy I love the most is ________.”

After I had read the stories we talked about what we liked about ourselves, what our favorite things are and why we like them. It was nice to hear some of the kids say that they really liked who they were!