2016 Goodreads Challenge Update

2016 Goodreads Challenge

It was really hard for me to set my Goodreads challenge this year. In 2015, I pledged to read 50 books, and I was able to surpass that pretty easily, but this year, I wondered if I should set a lower goal so that I could reread more books (I do not count rereads in my Goodreads challenge). I ended up sticking with 50 because it seems like a decent number of books for a librarian; however, I also decided to keep a Word document of every single book that I read this year, which includes things that I don’t count towards my Goodreads challenge, including: picture books, early readers, books I didn’t finish, and rereads. According to Goodreads, I’ve read 10 books so far and am 6 books ahead of schedule. According to Microsoft Word, I’ve read 29 books so far this year. Hmmm…

Anyway, here’s the Goodreads books:

The Sword of Summer –> Can you believe that this is the first Rick Riordan book that I’ve read? I tried picking up The Red Pyramid a few years back, but didn’t get more than a few chapters into it. I’ve always been curious as to Riordan’s appeal, and I do love me some Norse mythology, so I picked this one up. Despite thinking that it could have been edited down to less pages, I really enjoyed it! I absolutely love the characters and world building, and I can totally see why kids/tweens/teens/adults are into these stories. I may pick up another Riordan book before the year’s out! (Maybe.)

A Thousand Pieces of You & Ten Thousand Skies Above You –> I kept seeing these books on Tumblr, so I checked them out to see if they were actually good or if the Tumblr crowd was just reblogging them due to their pretty covers (you can never be sure with the Tumblr crowd). While I can’t speak for the rest of Tumblr, I think these books are good. They’re a very unique blend of sci fi (which isn’t my absolute favorite genre) and historical fiction. The characters are fully developed and you really do grow to love them. I also loved the world building. I couldn’t wait to see where they’d end up next and how they’d all be connected in that world. So, yeah, two very high thumbs up from me. (And it doesn’t hurt that the covers are pretty.)

Baba Yaga’s Assistant –> We have A LOT of graphic novel fans at my library, so I spent this month trying to catch up on some great graphic novels that I heard about but never got around to reading. This one was recommended to me by a coworker. I liked it. It was an interesting spin on Baba Yaga, and I really loved the protagonist.

Meet the Bigfeet –> This is an early chapter book that I stumbled upon while helping a young reader find a chapter book to read. I don’t know why I didn’t know about it before, seeing as it’s written by BOB SHEA, but every librarian misses a book here and there. I thought this one was a great book for the early chapter book crowd. (Side note: I probably shouldn’t count early chapter books towards my Goodreads challenge, but eh…)

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword –> This is another graphic novel series that I heard a lot about over the years but never got around to reading until recently. I really loved the sense of family in this one and how it blended with elements of fantasy.

Monstrous –> I picked this one up because I saw the review for the second installment and I thought the cover (of both books) looked cool. It started out as a slow read for me, and I almost put it down, but I kept reading and ended up really liking it. I love that it’s a retelling of Frankenstein and that it has a very girl power vibe to it.

Zita the Spacegirl –> Another graphic novel. I don’t really have much to say about this one.

Awkward –> Last graphic novel! I picked this one up because I thought it could be a good one to recommend to Raina Telgemeier fans. I tried book talking it to one girl and was unsuccessful in convincing her to check it out, but I will continue trying because I think it does have high kid appeal and a pretty cool story.

The Siren –> This one was such a disappointment!!! The writing style was awesome as ever and the characters and world building were amazing, but the romance fell flat (they went on two dates and considered themselves in love) and the book was 90 percent pining from afar.

Minecraft Crafts

Minecraft Crafts

Did you know that back in the summer of 2014, when my coworker and I first started offering a Minecraft program, we initially planned to offer Minecraft crafts along with the computer game? We had thought that kids would naturally migrate between playing on the computer and doing a fun craft. And we were so. dead. wrong.

(Granted, we had also thought that offering the program once a week every other week would be sufficient. We were dead wrong there too.)

For the past two years, I have more or less kept the Minecraft craft idea on the back burner. Kids just weren’t interested in crafts when there was Minecraft on the computer in front of them.

But then I thought…hey, what if I offered this program on a different day and time than our usual Minecraft program? And what if I advertised the program as being just crafts with no computers at all?

Well, it turns out that kids are interested in Minecraft crafts. (Just as long as there’s no computer to distract them.)

Here’s what I did:

Paper Folding Minecraft

Paper Folding Minecraft Creeper:

Supplies:

Template
Scissors
Tape

Children cut out the template, fold in the appropriate areas, then tape it all together. This was a slightly time consuming and a little bit difficult craft. Most kids did just fine, but there were a few kids who really needed help with this one.

P.S. You’ll notice that I have glue sticks in the picture. Glue sticks don’t work so well. Use tape.

Duct Tape Minecraft

Minecraft Creeper Wristband:

Supplies:

Bright green duct tape (pre-cut)
Permanent markers
Velcro

I had all the duct tape pre-cut so that kids wouldn’t have to use adult scissors. To make the wristband, kids placed one piece of duct tape on top of another piece of duct tape. They then used permanent marker to draw their designs. Lastly, they added velcro to the ends of the wrist band (one piece of velcro on one side, and the other on the other side).

This one was slightly easier, though some kids did have trouble handling the duct tape.

Coloring

Minecraft Coloring Pages:

I added this at the last minute when I realized that both of the other crafts are more for older kids, and I wanted to have something that young kids could do too. I did have a few 3 and 4-year-olds show up to the program, so it was nice to have this available for them.

Family Storytime: Jan 2016

I haven’t been posting many storytime plans on here lately. This is mostly because I usually only do 1 storytime a month (sometimes 2, but usually just the one). It’s also because I no longer do themes unless it’s a special occasion. Still, I’d like to post some storytimes, so here’s what I did in January.

P.S. This storytime doesn’t have a theme, but if it did have a theme, the theme would be, “Awesome books I discovered through Jbrary’s 2015 Favorite Storytime Picture Books post.”

Storytime Books
Books:

Welcome Home, Bear by Il Sung Na
The Fly by Petr Horacek
Fish Jam by Kylie Howarth
Nose to Toes, You are Yummy! by Tim Harrington
Pepper & Poe by Frann Preston-Gannon

Activities:

Along with my usual rhyme cube, we also danced to Jumping and Counting by Jim Gill, sang “Where is Bear” with bear finger puppets, and sang “Shoo Fly” with shoo fly props. The words to “Where is Bear” and “Shoo Fly” are below:

Bear Puppets

Where is Bear?
To the Tune of Where is Thumbkin

[start with hands behind your back]
Where is bear? Where is bear?
[bring one hand, then the other in front of you]
Here I am. Here I am.
How are you today, bear?
Very tired, thank you.
Go to sleep. Go to sleep.
[lower fingers as if bear is sleeping]

Instruct children to count to three then yell, “Wake up, bear!” Repeat rhyme.

Credit: Storytime Katie

Shoo Flies
Shoo Fly (Don’t Bother Me)

[pass out shoo flies and have children wave them around while you sing]

Shoo fly! Don’t bother me!
Shoo fly! Don’t bother me!Shoo fly! Don’t bother me!
I below to somebody.

Oh no! The fly landed on your knee! Where’s your knee? Shoo fly!

Repeat. Choose different body parts such as feet, hands, shoulders, nose, and head.

Credit: Mel’s Desk

How It Went:

This was such a fun storytime! My preschool group especially loved the books; three kids came up to me after storytime to tell me how much they liked them, and one child asked if I could read all of the books again at the next storytime!

My family group also loved it! I’m so glad that I picked really short stories because the average age of the family group was probably 2.5 (if you don’t include the parents’ ages, of course). Despite their young age, the kids were really into the books and loved the extension activities!

The other thing that I noticed about this storytime plan is that it had a good variety of interactive and get up and wiggle stuff, as well as let’s sit quietly stuff. I’ve been noticing that there are two types of storytime kids: those who want to bounce around the whole time, and those who want to sit quietly and listen. I’ve been trying to make sure I have something for both kinds of kids, and this one really worked well.

Toddler Art — January 2016

Do you ever have a program where you hope you WON’T get a huge crowd? That was this month’s Toddler Art for me. I had two very fun crafts planned, but both crafts required prep work that took way too long. Seriously. I started prepping for these crafts in NOVEMBER all the way up to the day before the program. And even with all of that prep time, I only had 61 crafts prepped instead of my usual 75.

So I really wanted small crowds for this one, and the library gods heard me because I only had 23 toddlers with their adults. Hooray!

Yep, the bigger day cares and preschools were a no show again. But, considering that we just got back from the holidays, and considering it’s freezing outside, that’s to be expected. I also haven’t gotten around to sending out my letters about a special Toddler Art time for them, so that might be part of it too.

Anyway, here are the crafts:

Pipe Cleaner Fireworks

Fireworks

Materials:

  • Pipe cleaners twisted together (I did 5 each)
  • Paper plates (for paint)
  • Paint (I did 3 colors per plate)
  • White cardstock

Instructions:

  • Children dip pipe cleaners in paint.
  • Children stamp pipe cleaners on paper to make firework design.

I loved watching kids get creative with this one. Many stamped their pipe cleaners the way I demonstrated, but some started using the tips and handle to paint. One little boy made sure that the ends of the pipe cleaner were one color and the center another to make a two-toned firework!

Mitten Suncatchers

Mitten

Materials:

  • Mitten Outline (used from last year’s mitten die cuts)
  • Contact Paper
  • Tissue Paper
  • Yarn

Instructions:

  • Children place tissue paper and yarn on sticky side of contact paper
  • Can be hung on windows if desired

This was the craft that took forever to prep! Contact paper crafts are a huge hit with moms because they’re completely mess free, but contact paper is cumbersome when you’re prepping these crafts. The craft was a huge hit, but I’m probably going to wait a long time before I do a contact paper craft again.

 

Resolve to Rock! — 2016

Resolve-to-Rock-meme-image-300x300

Woohoo! It is January, which means it’s time to Resolve to Rock!

I missed last year’s RtoR, but my unofficial goal for 2015 was to have a better work/life balance. Which I mostly accomplished, with the exception of how I really need to get better at NOT checking my work e-mail on my days off. But. You know. Baby steps.

So, for this year’s RtoR, instead of listing goals or resolutions, I’m going to ask and answer some questions that I found on a blog that I literally just stumbled upon:

What do I want my year to be?

Enthusiastic.

I want to do everything I can to get the general public enthusiastic about my library in particular and libraries in general. This is a tough one because, for every library-supporter, there are at least 2 more who feel the library’s not necessary. But I will talk up our services as much as possible. I will greet people who come into paradise the library and enthusiastically help them. I will tell parents about our custom collections. I will tell random people about our online resources. I will tell kids about our Minecraft program and Lego Club and the fact that they can check out robots if they really want.

I want to remind myself and my coworkers to be enthusiastic about what we do. Which, honestly, this is an easier one because we are a pretty giddy and supportive and creative bunch in general. But I think we also all have moments where we’re feeling stressed or nervous over a program or service because it’s SO MUCH WORK, or maybe we feel bummed about something that didn’t turn out how we hoped. But we are awesome, and our library is awesome, and our career is awesome, and we all know this, but I will remind anyone who forgets it.

I want to continue to be enthusiastic about books! Last year was such a good reading year for me, and while I’m currently not all that enthused about the reading prospects for this year, I want to prove myself wrong by reading widely.

What do I want more of?

Books! Pop-up and passive programs! Makerspace stuff for kids! New ideas! New collaborations! Smiles! Professional development! Blog posts! Reference transactions! Interactive, motion-based storytimes! Technology! Remembering to bring healthy snacks to work, because I need to eat, damnit, and Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t qualify as real food! Minecraft kids filling me in on what happened in Minecraft on days when I don’t do Minecraft! Book promotion! Apps! Twitter! Flannelboards! Conferences! Dancing! Leadership opportunities! Mellow mornings and afternoons! Busy mornings and afternoons! Art! Music! Etc!

What do I want less of?

Stress. Anxiety. Feeling unsure of oneself. Miscommunication. Forgetting exactly how awesome librarianship is. Cheap book bindings.

What are the three things I want to accomplish?

  1. Summer Reading.
    I’m on the committee this year, and it’s been fun so far. I want it to continue to be fun and to continue to be a great learning experience, and I ultimately want the Summer Reading Program to be a success. (Don’t we all?)
  2. Start New Projects.
    I’m being purposely vague here, but I’m in the planning stage of a few projects that I hope to implement when Summer Reading is over. It’s very exciting, and I hope I’m able to get them off the ground and maintain them!
  3. Share More Ideas on This Ol’ Blog
    One of my goals last year was to blog more, and I kind of failed at that? Maybe? I don’t know. I didn’t exactly count my blog posts. This is a tricky goal because, while I love blogging, I don’t always have time for it. But I really want to blog! And I want to share not just what I’m doing, but what my coworkers are doing, because, seriously, I work with some really awesome people.

How do I want the year to feel?

Empowering and comforting. Like a big group hug from all your favorite people.

I think I can accomplish this by: focusing on the good, learning from the bad, reminding people (and myself) that they are awesome, maintaining a work/life balance because sometimes I just need to forget about work and take a bubble bath, you know?

How do I want to arrive at the beginning of 2017?

Rocked gif

woo hoo

What I Read in 2015

What I Read 2015 Header

It is mid-December as I type this, and I am currently 49 books into my 50 books reading goal for the year (this count does not include rereads, picture books, or early readers). I’m smack dab in the middle of Winter by Marissa Meyer and will be picking up Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. And with several days off of work for the upcoming holidays, I am fairly confident that I will reach, and possibly surpass, my 50 book goal for the year.

2015 was a FANTASTIC reading year for me! I can’t even tell you how many times I found myself so completely absorbed in a book that I lost track of time and space and sorta forgot who I was for a bit. This usually doesn’t happen to me very often, but there was just something about this year. Maybe it was a good year for books in general. Or maybe I’m just getting better at finding stuff that I like. Or maybe the planets and stars just aligned in such a way that all Tauruses had a good reading year. I don’t know. But I do know that I had so many feels about so many books, that I just have to talk about them. So here’s an end of year reading survey. Be careful; it’s long.

Continue reading

Toddler Art — December 2015

Yep, I’m still doing Toddler Art! In October, I had 3 or 4 daycare/preschools show up along with all the families, and it was super fun chaos. But I think all the people ended up scaring the daycares/preschools away because they haven’t been back since. I’m planning to send out letters to those daycares/preschools, inviting them to a special Toddler Time session just for them. Fingers crossed it works out well!

In the meantime, December’s crafts were a HUGE, HUGE hit! I had a snowflake theme, and the toddlers/preschoolers all wanted to make several of each snowflake. Moms were walking out of the program room with paper plates laden with snowflakes and big smiles on their faces. It was so much fun! So here’s what we did:

Q-tip Painted Snowflakes

Painted Snowflakes

Materials:

  • Paper snowflakes (made by gluing together several strips of blue paper)
  • White paint
  • Q-tips

Instructions:

  • Children dip the Q-tips into white paint and decorate to their heart’s content.

*The kids had a lot of fun adapting this craft. There was one little boy who cut up (or I guess his mom did) the Q-tips and used them as a way to decorate the snowflake (the white paint acting as glue). And several kids painted their snowflakes white then rushed over to the other tables to use glitter to decorate.

Colorful Snowflakes

Colorful Snowflakes

Materials:

  • Popsicle stick snowflakes (made beforehand with hot glue)
  • Pom poms
  • Colorful pasta
  • Glitter
  • Glue
  • Markers

Instructions:

  • Children decorate snowflakes using colorful stuff.

*I had at least one mom ask me why I didn’t make these into ornaments. I had figured that many Christmas-celebrating parents would want these as ornaments, but I was purposely trying to avoid the whole Christmas thing out of respect for those who don’t celebrate it (this was not advertised as a Christmas Toddler Art, after all). I also figured that it would be very easy for grown-ups to add string or yarn to these when they get home, so I figured that those who’d want to use them as ornaments would still be able to do so. …Just…you know, at home. : )

**I was mildly worried that some of the toddlers would try to eat the pasta, but none did.

Overall, it was a very, very fun Toddler Art! A bit messy though…I still have to sweep up some glitter that got away from the tables. Thankfully our program is intended for messy crafts.