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Though the holiday of Thanksgiving is over for this year, my “Happy Thanks Reading” display in the Children’s section of my library is still up. And I’m finding it’s one I wish to share, as I spent a lot of time thinking over the words that accompany the display. They are simple words, but it took a long time to try to encompass everything I meant by the coined phrase. Below I’ve put up several images of the words, as well as images of the display itself, which consists of blank book templates which children (and other visitors) are invited to fill out with the book titles and authors for which they are thankful. Thank the universe for books!
Today, on an unseasonably warm Thursday late afternoon, we celebrated Diwali (belatedly) at the library by making Rangoli (designs) right outside the library, in a courtyard near the Children’s Entrance. Children (and their grown-ups) enjoyed making Rangoli by using sidewalk chalk to outline designs and drawings, and then filled up the spaces with colored sand, to make the colors really pop! They seemed to love that sensory 1, 2 experience, of the difference in feel of the chalk and the sand, and some did color mixing exploration as well.
One young entrepreneur, having mixed some of each color of sand into what he termed Rainbow Sand, tried hawking it at 10 dollars a bowl, but eventually the price was lowered to half a dollar and then just given away, as he discovered the nature of supply and demand. A true New York experience!
While the kids learned just a bit about the nature of Diwali and what the Rangoli signified, and were given sample pictures of Rangoli to look at for inspiration, this was more of a process-oriented creative program rather than an end-goal oriented one. And this showed in how and what the kids made: these were modern interpretations of the ancient art of Rangoli, besides the more traditional designs of peacocks, geometric flowers and lamps, kids created a pokeball, a dinosaur, a kid playing baseball, a rainbow and some freeform abstract art.
Recently, I had the honor of being asked for my thoughts on the We Need Diverse Books campaign and on related topics. The askers, Estelle and Magan, from the Rather Be Reading blog, were conducting an ongoing series of posts devoted to diversity, called Dive into Diversity, and as part of this, they decided to interview several librarians for their ideas and opinions about WNDB. I thank them for their astute questions which encouraged me to delve more closely into my thoughts about the need for books about diverse characters, especially for those written by authors who represent that same diversity. Below I have copied my portion of Estelle’s post as featured in their blog:
On what’s changed since the WNDB campaign became “mainstream”: When I first got into librarianship, if I brought up the need for diversity in YA or kidlit, I’d get uncomfortable silences on listservs and in conversations. Only a few brave souls would answer. There was a deafening silence from the rest. Now that the WNDB campaign is more “mainstream,” many more people are willing to at least listen to the need for diversity.
(Diverse) books and authors you’ve been recommending: Grace Lin, Zetta Elliott, Jacqueline Woodson, Neesha Meminger, Yuyi Morales, Uma Krishnaswami, Mitali Perkins, Janine Macbeth, Misako Rocks, books published by Lee & Low press, Corduroy, the list goes on and on and on!
Patrons and their quest for change: Young parents of color…are keenly aware that they didn’t get to see themselves accurately and genuinely reflected in books as they were growing up, but that they want their kids to have this important connection to literature, in a visceral way. This generation of parents of color are already clamoring for books that represent their lives, their realities, so that they can share these with their children.
On what needs to happen next: …this push for diversity is mistaken as needing to be fulfilled by getting already well-known mainstream white writers to write diverse characters into their books. Don’t get me wrong; this trend is definitely a step in the right direction, for the most part. But what would be WAY more heartening is to see publishers taking chances on a LARGE number of first-time writers of color, to allow the diverse stories to be told through diverse authorial voices.
Note: The original blog post in which the above appears is called Say Hi To a Few Librarians: Dive into Diversity. I also encourage you to check out the rest of their Dive into Diversity challenge, which went from January through December of 2015, and which provides lots of great food for thought as we close out 2015. I also want to give a shout out to Emma at Miss Print, for introducing me via the interwebs to Estelle! :)
This evening, a father came by the children’s desk, just to reminisce and to thank the library. He indicated a group of children and said, “It makes me so happy to see children at the library, using the library.” Needless to say, this made me happy. And so it goes.
This evening whilst working the late shift at the Children’s Desk, a young father came and asked me for what I first heard as the Aqua Kid (a book for kids, he said it was). After we established that I initially misheard him, and that what he actually said was Awkward Kid, I looked it up, to no avail. “Hmm,” we both thought. Upon seeing the one record that I did find, called simply Awkward, he said no, that was not it, but, you know, he could say for sure that the word “kid” was definitely in the title, and the other word was something like awkward, but maybe a similar word, not necessarily awkward? And that it’s a very popular series?
That was it. I snapped my fingers and asked, “Is it Diary of a Wimpy Kid” that you are looking for? Yes, he cried, and we shared a good laugh. Unfortunately all the Wimpy Kid books were checked out at the moment, but I was able to show him one of the books in the Big Nate series, which he happily took to read out loud to his daughter.
Next time I hope he lets me put Wimpy Kid (aka Awkward Kid) on hold for his daughter!
This boy, let’s call him A, came in a few weeks ago, totally new to the country~ he had just emigrated from Yemen. I talked to him for a bit, found out that he had only arrived the day before, (!), and was utterly discombulated, but seemed to be doing okay, all things considered. I spoke to him the (very) few phrases I know in Arabic, and he seemed more surprised than anything that this American accented Indian looking person would know any Arabic. I hoped that I didn’t scare him!
Well, that fear was assuaged today when he came to my desk looking for a book which, unfortunately was currently checked out. I used Google Translate to assure him that we could get the book for him pretty quickly. Felt good.
As April is National Poetry Month, we are doing some cool poetical activities for teens at my library.
For example, we have an ongoing Book Spine Poetry Contest, (hosted by yours truly!), wherein teens make Book Spine poems, take pics of them, and email them in to enter the contest!
Here’s my display advertising that:
In addition, today, we just did a DIY Magnetic Poetry Kit program today, wherein teens got to make their own magnetic poetry as well as decorate uber-cool tins to keep their marvelous words. Behold some of their creations below!
Calling all bookish folks:
Do you have favorite, go-to books that you immediately turn to when recommending books for third and fourth graders? I’m compiling a recommended books list for my library, and thought it would be fun to learn the favorites of other library people (and bookish folk) to better inform my selections.
- Frindle by Andrew Clements
- the Fudge series by Judy Blume
- The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami
- The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng
- Dumpling Days by Grace Lin
- Matilda by Roald Dahl
- Half Magic by Edward Eager
- Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw
- Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
- The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
- The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling
A few that I often rely on are listed above, (in no particular order), but I look forward to refreshing my repertoire with your tried-and-true suggestions!
The Village Voice voted BPL’s Central Library the best in New York! Woo hoo! It’s a great feeling to have had the opportunity to be part of this great place!
See link for more!
Today at the library we celebrated a mashup (a Monster Diya Mash?) of the upcoming Diwali and Halloween holidays! The materials used were sidewalk chalk and colored sand, to make Rangoli as well as general Halloweeny spookiness.
Fun was had by all who participated. ( Not to mention the requisite colored-sand-and-chalk-streaked hands)!
P.S. You will notice that our astute Diwalloween witch – a true collaborative creation of the teens, kids, and librarians – loves BOOKS! Don’t be scared. She has a heart of gold.(Or at least, of pink.)