Bright Ideas | August 2022

BPL Podcast for Kids | Book Giveway for NYC Students | An Audio-Enhanced StoryWalk®

A New Way to Bring Families Back to the Library: A Podcast for Kids!

Page Flippers Take on the WorldLast year, we at Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) heard about a call from PRX, one of the leading public radio creators and distributors in the nation. They were joining forces with Ready To Learn, an initiative from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), PBS, and the U.S. Department of Education that aims to develop content to help young children and their families succeed in school and life, and had put out a call for kids podcasts that introduced young listeners to the world of careers. That might not immediately strike you as a call that library professionals would respond to, but we accepted the challenge!

A group of children’s specialists and I put our heads together. During the pandemic, we’ve seen the growing need for virtual programming for children—and we’ve responded mostly with story times and other video-based programs. But kids podcasting is a growing industry; during the first six months of the pandemic, kids podcasts saw a 20% increase in listenership, with one in four kids in America tuning into shows, according to the media data firm Ipsos. Since we at BPL were already looking for ways to encourage kids and families to return to the library, we thought that creating a fun, educational podcast would be a unique way to remind our community that we are here for them in more ways than one! We developed our pitch and were surprised and honored to be one of six teams across the nation selected for PRX’s sixteen-week training course, and a recipient of $10,000 to make our idea a reality. 

After months of writing, recording, and editing, Page Flippers Take on the World was born, a wacky library show for kids ages four to ten. Each episode follows a different Brooklyn kid as they explore their interests, discover new books, and interview real experts working in the field they’re interested in. We were lucky to have a children’s librarian with musical talent on our team, and she composed original songs for the show. We also brought in more children’s specialists from across the library to create book lists, story time programs, and school-age activities so that educators and librarians can use our show in their classrooms and libraries.

We’re so excited to be able to bring the magic of the library to our young patrons in this new way. We hope you listen and enjoy the show, too! And write to us with ideas and questions at podcasts [at] bklynlibrary [dot] org. As we say at the end of every episode: Page Flippers, Unite!—Virginia Marshall, podcast associate, Brooklyn (NY) Public Library

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Our Kids Read and New York Public Library Partner

Our Kids Read logoOur Kids Read (OKR), a newly established foundation that donates diverse books to children, and The New York Public Library (NYPL) recently announced a new joint venture to donate more than 125,000 books to diverse groups of New York City public school students in grades K-12. A child's enjoyment of reading is the single biggest predictor of their future academic success, besting reading ability and external factors like socioeconomic status.

This book giveaway is part of a larger initiative by the library to donate 500,000 books to city residents, which is the centerpiece of its "Summer at the Library" program designed to engage young people throughout the summer break and help families build home libraries of their own.

Our Kids Read (OKR) has partnered with the NYPL to expand the reach of the giveaway program with plans to donate books to children at community events, public parks, and community centers. The first three OKR – NYPL book giveaway events were scheduled for the week of July 17 in Harlem at the DREAM Charter School, a table-top display of diverse children's booksthe Madison Square Boys and Girls Club, and Thomas Jefferson Park. Three thousand (3,000) books were expected to be distributed during these events. In addition to the giveaway, each event also featured storytellers, authors, performers, artists, and other entertainers to stimulate the attendees' excitement about books and reading.

Our Kids Read has begun to schedule additional book giveaways and celebrations for the 2022-2023 school year, beginning with a free book festival at PS 140 in the Bronx in September and an additional 40-50 giveaways over the course of the school year.

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An Audio-Enhanced StoryWalk®

Corona (CA) Public Library has been offering StoryWalks® since June 2021, merging literacy, physical activity, and family fun in a permanent outdoor installation. They recently partnered with LibraryCall to add a user-friendly, listen-along component of their StoryWalks® program. LibraryCall’s SoundTrack is a service that allows libraries, museums, and other institutions to offer a low-cost audio component to existing self-paced exhibits.

A video still (from Facebook) of two City of Corona Community Services staffers sharing information about the StoryWalk® program, standing at one of the story panels in Mountain Gate Park. Corona’s StoryWalk®, a permanent installation at Mountain Gate Park with bilingual panels that separate a storybook by pages along a park trail, features interactive elements and audio narration for listening to a story in both English and Spanish.

According to librarian Jennifer Bauserman, "Users can now listen to each monthly StoryWalk® by calling our StoryWalk® phone number and easily hearing each panel read aloud using their phone’s keypad. Our StoryWalk® installation encourages families to get outdoors and enjoy their local park and provides important educational and early literacy opportunities that will be enhanced using the StoryWalk® phone number.”

Corona Public Library’s August StoryWalk® features Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems and will kick off with a guided StoryWalk® led by a Park Ranger.

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