Lego Club | Read with Me, Sign with Me | Scene on ALSC-L: An American Girl® in the Big Apple | Tween Lock-In! | Thinking Ahead--Banned Books Week 2013
A Slightly Different Lego® Club
There's nothing like when a tween boy approaches you and says, “I think the library should have a Lego Appreciation Club, and I'm going to be the president. This is what I think we should do.” And now Madison (Ohio) Public Library has a Lego Club almost exactly as this tween envisioned.
The Lego Club program is open to all Lego aficionados kindergarten and older; and once a month approximately thirty children, ranging from kindergarten through sixth grade, boys and girls, come to talk Lego. Their grown-ups struggle behind them with boxes—cardboard or plastic—cradling their child's most recent Lego creation. This club doesn't get together with huge vats of Legos to build something for an hour and then take it apart. With this group, it's all about sharing, appreciating, and creating.
The first part of the club meeting is moderated by the tween who originated the idea. He asks for volunteers to bring their creations forward and talk about them. Everyone is welcome to bring in whatever he/she would like to share. It could be a Lego kit finally put together. It could be something completely original built with parts from multiple Lego kits. More often than not, the previous month's “build off” creations are displayed. It's each child's interpretation of a broad theme or topic, and what these children create is amazing.
It's no problem if the children don't want to talk in public. Mostly Lego Club is kids walking around talking to other kids one-on-one about what they each brought. Everyone appreciates the others' creativity and skill and the time that went into each creation, no matter how simple or elaborate. And in the final moments of the meetings, new build off topics are chosen.
What does the librarian do in the room during Lego Club? Mostly it's yelling out, “Did someone lose a Lego head? I just found one on the floor,” or something similar. Occasionally it's keeping the peace if there is anyone whose enthusiasm for Legos overwhelms anyone else in the room. But really the group regulates itself. Adults who have the opportunity to be in attendance are frequently awed and inspired by what these kids do and their willingness to share their knowledge with others.—Shawn D. Walsh, Emerging Services and Technologies Librarian, and Melanie A. Lyttle is the Head of Public Services, at Madison (Ohio) Public Library
Read with Me, Sign with Me - Inclusive storytimes for children and families
Librarians are very familiar with the mantra of Every Child Ready to Read by now, but “Talk, Sing, Read, Write, and Play” may not work well for parents whose child is deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH). Many D/HH families have limited information about how to best nurture their child’s language development during the critical period between birth and 3-years-old when language acquisition is booming. Furthermore, it becomes increasingly confusing for these parents when their child starts school and begins to learn more signs than they know. The growing communication gap leaves parents uncertain of what their child is trying to tell them. For this reason, Memphis (Tenn.) Public Library & Information Center’s (MPL&IC) Read with Me, Sign with Me is as much a program for parents as it is for children.
How it began
While on the reference desk, librarian Susan Penn met Sonia Howley, director of the Deaf Family Literacy Academy (DFLA.) The goals of the academy are to improve reading skills of D/HH children and teach their parents to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL). Howley wondered if we could provide a special storytime for D/HH families if DFLA provided interpreters. That conversation between Penn and Howley grew into Read with Me, Sign with Me. The early literacy goals of our two organizations overlap beautifully. The storytime definitely seemed do-able, especially with the support of volunteer ASL interpreters and DFLA mentors who encouraged parents to attend.
In October of 2011, MPL&IC entered into its initial partnership with DFLA to provide three sign-augmented storytimes at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. The collaboration with DFLA provides the library with a ready-made network for serving an underserved population and with deaf educators and mentors from whom to learn about the unique literacy needs of this population. Conversely, the library provides the public place where diverse groups can come together and storytime experts who can help make literacy an engaging activity for the whole family. In Read with Me, Sign with Me, children and parents remain together instead of attending simultaneous but different programs. Parents learn alongside their children with the primary goal of becoming better communicators and parents.
Library staff takes care to blend literacy activities with materials that DFLA staff members feel are appropriate for their audience. For instance, one book considered for inclusion in storytime was Pat Hutchins’ The Doorbell Rang. It’s a lovely book, but many D/HH households use a flashing light instead of a doorbell to signal that someone is at the door. To make the book more true-to-life for our D/HH attendees, program staff constructed a closed circuit light bulb gizmo, worthy of any science fair, that could be activated to light when “the doorbell rang.” The audience got to see the doorbell “ring,” and the hearing audience benefitted from the usual storytime dramatic verbal “rrrrring!”
Read with Me, Sign with Me is geared toward young children but open to all. Family style programming, where older siblings can work with younger siblings alongside parents, has proven to be workable for both staff and families. Dramatic play might involve older siblings helping younger ones to act out verbs or one of the stories using hats or props. Each thematic program includes reading at least two books, an instructive sign moment spent practicing new signs from the stories, and active elements, like acting out one of the stories. Everyone assists with the crafts, which provide a hands-on reminder of the program. Craft time also offers the parents a chance to informally chat with other parents in attendance.
Through the Read with Me, Sign with Me program, parents learn to sign to communicate with their children, and to learn new vocabulary words to stretch their own signed vocabularies. Parents also learn tips at each session for helping their older D/HH child with reading, along with general parenting tips that are mentioned informally in the course of the session. One of the unexpected positive results has been the opportunity for D/HH children to play with/do crafts with hearing children. The parents—and apparently the children—really enjoy the chance to mingle and play in a comfortable setting. Parents mentioned that the sessions made them feel more competent and like they are doing everything they can for their child.
The ALSC Light the Way Grant has allowed MPL&IC to continue and expand our Read with Me, Sign with Me programs to a monthly offering that continues through the present. We are planning to continue the series indefinitely. The families we have been serving through this grant are becoming more and more comfortable coming to and using the library. Read with Me, Sign with Me produces lots of smiles, silent applause (think “jazz hands”), and encouragement of one another among the group. Children no longer feel shy about getting up in front of the group to participate in a game or demonstrate a sign or act out a part. There is a real community feeling. It is very gratifying to see people, who might have avoided the “hearing library,” realize that it is their library too—thanks to Read with Me, Sign with Me.—Mary Seratt, Memphis (Tenn.) Public Library & Information Center
A Tween Lock-In at the Library
You know someone, perhaps someone at your library, who has done a lock-in for high school kids. Maybe you even helped for some or all of the event. But would you spend 12 hours with a bunch of 4th-8th graders? We did, and by the end of that time, we were in MUCH better shape than the kids!
Between fifty-five and sixty-five tweens arrive at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night. The parents are told to expect their children will NOT sleep anytime before the adults return the following morning at 7:30 a.m. to collect them. The rules: the tweens must bring a flashlight and wear sneakers. It starts with two crazy adults. Then the equally insane library director arrives about 11:30 p.m. Then an alarming awake public services librarian arrives at midnight. In the end, four adults are still wide awake at 7:30 Saturday morning while parents pick up bleary-eyed children who are practically dead on their feet. How did it happen that only a handful of children sleep for a few hours or even a few minutes? We're not quite sure but we suspect it has something do with...
--Playing worm tag outside for an hour soon after the tweens are dropped off.
--An hour or so of flashlight tag in the darkened library.
--Lots of pizza and sugary drinks.
--Playing videogames with your friends as long as you wanted from midnight until 7:30 a.m.
--Running around and playing tag or some funhouse version of Capture the Flag for as long as you want.
–Voluntarily cleaning the entire library of random piles of books and messy shelves of tipped over materials.
--Tweens making it a tradition that 5:45 AM is a good time to do a Conga line through the library.
--Playing Minute-to-Win-It games or having a pillow fight with balloons instead of actual pillows.
--Board games and puzzles scattered around.
--Comfy chairs for just sitting and talking with your friends.
--Or it's the simple fact that no one is going to tell you to go to sleep.
Apparently in the permission slip the parents sign in order to have their tweens attend the event, we should specify that even though they get their offspring back at 7:30 Saturday morning, the tweens are completely useless for the rest of Saturday and sometimes into Sunday morning. The tweens wear themselves out, and for the most part their parents loved having a weekend practically without kids. It is a win-win situation for everyone!--Melanie A. Lyttle, head of public services, and Shawn D. Walsh, emerging services and technologies librarian, Madison (Ohio) Public Library. Both can stay awake for 12 hours with tweens who also don't sleep!
Thinking Ahead - Banned Books Week | September 22−28, 2013
2012 Banned Books Week is a distant memory at this point, but it's never too early to start planning for next September. The ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee's post on the ALSC blog wrapping up Banned Books Week 2012 shares some creative and fun ideas that might spark your creativity for 2013.
Banned Books Week 2012 marked the 30th anniversary of the yearly celebration of the freedom to read. To commemorate the milestone anniversary, ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom coordinated the 50 State Salute to Banned Books Week. The salute features videos from each state demonstrating how they celebrate the freedom to read. Check these videos out
to jumpstart your plans for Banned Books Week 2013.