The Right Book

by Stefanie

When I was growing up, it was just a given that my brother and I would be readers. My mom took us to the library once a week and set us loose in the stacks. I can’t think of a time when I ever questioned how much fun it is to read, or ever felt like reading was something I had to be coerced into doing.

Okay, maybe that’s not true. I was reading for fun at home. The books we were assigned to read in class – those were a different story. Particularly in high school and college, while I might have enjoyed some of the assigned novels to a certain extent, there just isn’t as much joy in reading The Great Gatsby or War & Peace for a grade. And I was an English major. I CHOSE to have reading assigned to me.

There’s just something extra special about getting to choose the books yourself, about coming to reading on your own terms.

 

One of the difficult and controversial aspects of working with children as a librarian is helping them locate books that are both appropriate and interesting for them. The controversy lies in those situations when the books a child is interested in might be considered by a parent of teacher to be inappropriate for them.

There are multiple reasons this could happen. One reason is based on reading levels. As kids are learning how to read and are growing as readers, their reading “level” grows with them. This level helps guide the child and their parents to books that will challenge them without pushing them too hard. This is certainly valuable from an educational standpoint. But as a librarian, I’m a little biased against reading levels. They are definitely a valuable resource, but they can also be relied on too heavily. If a kid wants to try to read a book that’s past their current skill level, what’s the worst thing that will happen? If it’s for a school assignment, it might not fit with the expectation for their class, and if it isn’t, they might attempt it and realize they’re not ready for it. But what’s the harm in trying? So many of the best experiences in life come from thinking outside the box everyone once in a while.

Another reason is the possible inappropriateness of the book’s content. This is slightly more complicated. As a parent myself, I fully understand and appreciate why a parent might choose to keep their child from reading books that contain certain themes or content that’s a little too “adult.” It’s up to every parent to make this decision for their families.

 

 

But as a librarian who was once a kid, I remember how magical it felt to be able to select my own books from the shelves and check them out without my mom second-guessing them. I’m sure if I had grabbed anything truly well beyond what I should be reading, she would have stepped in. And I’m also sure I was just wary enough of her reaction that I wouldn’t have pushed my luck too far. But this way, the library books I checked out got to be MY thing. I got to control it, and having a sense of agency is so important and so valuable for a child.

 

Many parents come to the library trying to figure out the conundrum of their child’s reading preferences, feeling totally overwhelmed. I would never suggest there’s an easy solution to this challenge, because there are as many reading challenges as there are children. However, as we try to get kids reading by rewarding them for doing it, I suggest taking a slightly different view of things. Instead of rewarding them for reading, make reading the reward. Let them pick out books of their own choice no matter how ridiculous or far-fetched them seem. Let them push boundaries a little bit. Maybe even let them think they’re getting away with reading by flashlight under the covers after bedtime. Give them a chance to make reading their extra special thing. And demonstrate how special it is by rewarding yourself with reading, as well. Show them how much you relish your time to just sit down and relax with a book, and maybe they’ll learn to do the same.

 

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Tinkering at the Library

by Stefanie


The libraries that we grew up with are gone.

A library in 2018, particularly a public library, if it continues to thrive, does so because it evolves and changes with the world around it. A library fifty years ago, or even twenty years ago, generally consisted of print media – books (obviously), magazines, newspapers – and the occasional story time. It might hold other resources and treasures, but the vast majority of library patrons came in for that print media, especially the books. And libraries will always (hopefully) be the best place to get a copy of the next book on your reading list.

But as technology, and even the way we read, has changed, libraries have come forward to fill a lot of creative gaps in ways you might never have thought of. Some of this comes in the form of lending a new range of materials, from DVDs to digital books and music to tablets and Kindles. Unique circulating collections, like our board games and Discovery Packs, are broadening what patrons can get out of the library.

But beyond this, libraries are also becoming more and more a place to DO things, in addition to checking out materials. They’ve developed into spaces for children and adults to make, to build, to create and imagine, and to just have a lot of fun. Here at the Belding Library, we are really excited about this (and frankly love having the chance to put together all of our makerspace kits and programs).

In the spirit of making, building, creating, imagining, and playing, we’re adding two new  children’s programs to our regular monthly schedule. One of them is our monthly STEAM Time. STEAM, if you’re not familiar, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. While it sounds very serious, what it means for us is experimenting using all of the parts of your brain while you play! While we love story time, and all the stories and singing and crafting it lets us do, STEAM Time will give our birth to five-year-old patrons a chance to learn in a slightly different way, while still getting to be silly! We’ll play games, build things, and experiment with sensory bins in a drop-in program the last Wednesday of the month at 10am, starting January 31st.

The elementary-aged kids get their own tinkering session in the form of our new Tinker Lab. Each month we’ll give the kids a surprise challenge along the lines of “Create something to protect you from a magician.” We will provide a pile of different materials for the kids to work with, and it’s up to them – either on teams or individually – to figure our how they want to solve the problem. This means figuring out the problem itself (what is it that actually needs to be fixed?), then creating a prototype solution they can test. The most important part is being willing to do some trial and error; tinkering is about testing, fixing weak spots, and trying again! Tinker Lab will be the fourth Saturday of the month at 10am, starting January 27th.

Additionally, while our Little Wigglers (birth-2 years) and Preschool Pals (3-5 years) start up again next week, we are also starting a monthly evening Family Story Time, for families who are unable to bring their kids to our daytime events, and for families who just can’t get enough of the library! This new story time will welcome all children – pre-K, and older children, as well – and their caregivers, and will include stories, songs, games, and crafts. Family Story Time will begin Monday, February 5 at 6pm. As for our “regular” story times, Little Wigglers will be every Monday at 10am starting January 15, and Preschool Pals will be every Wednesday at 10am starting January 17.

We are really excited to see what the kids come up with, and are working hard to find new ways to expand what our library provides to our Belding community. We hope to see you and your kiddos there!

 

Meet Stefanie

by Stefanie

As Britney mentioned in a previous post (here), there are several new faces at the Alvah N. Belding Library these days. I’m one of them. My name is Stefanie Reed, and I am the new Youth and Teen Librarian. So those of you who have kids or teens, or ARE kids or teens — you are likely to see me around a lot. I’ll be in the children’s area, giving story times and playing with Legos. And I’ll be in the teen section, coming up with crafts, brainstorming ideas for our new MakerSpace kits, or trying to resist the urge to check out every single new Young Adult novel that sounds awesome (which is most of them). Either way, I’m going to look really excited to be here.

I took the scenic route to becoming a librarian.

For a long time, I kept coming up with ideas that coincided with things I love but still didn’t quite fit. I wanted to be a teacher, but the classroom didn’t quite suit me. I majored in history, but only because I loved reading up on it. I wanted to write fiction (and still do), so I got my MFA in fiction writing, though it took me a while to find my voice. It was only after I finished that master’s degree, after I had a job writing training materials for software, that I had my “oh my gosh, why didn’t I think of this before?” moment. I then immediately enrolled in ANOTHER master’s program, this time in Library Science.

That’s when all the pieces clicked into place. I plugged away at the degree online, studying around my full time work schedule. I took courses on services and books for children and teens and thought, “Yes, this right here is my favorite thing.” Then at the end of my coursework, I spent a few months working in the teen department at my local library.

It was the coolest thing I had ever gotten to be a part of. I just knew I had made the right choice.

I am so excited to be the new librarian here, and about finding new ways to reach out to the infant through young adult patrons here, as well create new patrons out of as many Belding kids as possible. I’m looking forward to sharing my love of reading children’s, middle grade and YA books with the kids (and adults) of our community, as well as all the
other fun things we can enjoy together. This could include making whatever we can think of, from artwork to knitted scarves to robots. Or playing games, from Trivial Pursuit to Apples to Apples to Dungeons and Dragons. This could include any number of things that neither of us has thought of yet, but once we do… it’s going to be awesome, creative and fun for everyone. I’m excited to meet and get to know all of you. Please feel free to track me down with your program, club, or book ideas. I want to make this a children’s and teen space that belongs to all of us.

And in case you were wondering, here is a list of a few of my favorite children’s, middle grade and YA:

519by0nhlml-_sx331_bo1204203200_Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
418xpelsrrl-_sx332_bo1204203200_Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
61dbwxuoknl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
51rkaehccyl-_sx331_bo1204203200_This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
51fzgmsrnrl-_sx375_bo1204203200_The Arrival by Shaun Tan
61quopxsoul-_sx409_bo1204203200_Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
51qkj6eijfl-_sx452_bo1204203200_Robot Zombie Frankenstein! By Annette Simon
615eizrnrel-_sy498_bo1204203200_Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henke
51fxrxgd5bl-_sx310_bo1204203200_The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
51fwqbmjbvl-_sx334_bo1204203200_The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
51h0sd99b8l-_sx330_bo1204203200_Rules for Ghosting by A.J. Paquette
51gkt9arrll-_sx328_bo1204203200_Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
51maszxex8l-_sx317_bo1204203200_Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
512grttuoll-_sx342_bo1204203200_The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
61yixfnlvxl-_sx319_bo1204203200_Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
515ot2b3tanl-_sx338_bo1204203200_There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar
Pretty much anything by Louis Sachar