Please Vote for our Conversation Starter!

A couple of months ago, Marge Loch-Wouters suggested that she and I propose a Conversation Starter for ALA Annual 2016 on being intentional about managing our professional and personal time by saying “no” to opportunities.

Guess what, I said yes!

(Irony Meter Levels: Quite High)

Irony meter photo irony.gif

We’re pretty excited about sharing the strategies we’ve gathered through trial and error (lots of trial, lots of error) to manage our workloads, both at work in our library departments as well as our extracurricular professional obligations outside of our day jobs.

If this sounds like it would be of value to you, and if you’re an ALA member, please hop over to ALA Connect and vote for our session! You can find our program proposal here: You Say Yes, I Say No: Achieving ALL. THE. THINGS.

While you’re there, take a look at all the other proposals too. We have some pretty smart colleagues with great things to say!

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20 Years of Storytime

BugsPlanning

In January I posted this pic in Instagram with the caption “2016 = twenty years of planning storytime.”

In 1995 I graduated library school, and in early 1996 I landed my first library job and was given a weekly storytime, so that’s where I’m starting my official count. Unlike a lot of librarians, I had NO experience with storytime before I went to library school. So my children’s services class was the first chance I had to put together a storytime agenda.

Guess what?

It was pretty mediocre.

How do I know?

I still have it!

FirstStorytime

I look at this plan and I think of ALL THE THINGS I have learned about storytime, and kids, and presenting, and cognitive & physical development, and group dynamics, and early literacy, and children’s literature, and ten other things I am forgetting at the moment, over the thousand storytimes I have shared.

I would grade myself much more harshly than my professor did! :)

Out of this entire list, I would, maybe, keep The More We Get Together, Where’s My Teddy, and Teddy Bear Teddy Bear in a storytime I planned now. I put storytimes together in a completely different way. I look for different qualities in my rhymes and fingerplays. My time is more evenly balanced between books and activities. This doesn’t even feel like one of “my” storytimes!

I love that I can look back and see how far I’ve come. I can’t wait to do another 10 or 15 years of storytime and see where I end up!

What have you learned since you’ve started storytime? What’s different about your storytimes now?

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One Like One Book

The weekend of March 4-5 a meme floated around Twitter:

OnelikeOneBook

For every “like” on a tweet with that image, the poster would list one book. Any book. ANY book! There were no rules, so after putting about 100 books on hold from reading everyone else’s lists, I decided I’d like to post picture books, so I jumped in. This isn’t in any order, and isn’t even a personal best-of…I posted a mix of books from my childhood, titles that have impressed me, stories my kids loved…kind of shooting for a list of titles off the beaten path.

I wound up really liking the list so I thought I’d share it here, too, with the captions I wrote to go with each title. The images are mostly quick snaps from around the house, so they aren’t that great!

Trolley

1. Trolley, by Taniuchi. This was in my house as a kid & I remember REALLY PUZZLING over the tracks in the air.

CantSleep

2. Can’t Sleep, by Raschka. One of the most exquisitely paced picture books I’ve ever read. This is one book I really don’t read dialogically because I just want to present the text as written.

NinoWrestles

3. Niño Wrestles the World, by Morales. When I saw this book I knew the Bell Awards really were going to work!

PishPosh

4. Pish, Posh, said Hieronymous Bosch, by Willard/The Dillons. “In this vale of tears we must take what we’re sent / Feathery, leathery, lovely, or bent.”

BigMomma

5. Big Momma Makes the World, by Root/Oxenbury. A gentle, theologically-sound, female-centric Creation story.

UndoneFairyTale

6. An Undone Fairy Tale, by Lendler/Martin. My kids and I have read this dozens of times & we still laugh out loud.

WaterofLife

7. The Water of Life, by Rogasky/Hyman. Familiar tropes; fresh narrative; and a princess who knows what she wants.

MorePoemstoRead

8. More Poems to Read to the Very Young, sel Frank/ill Wilson. I still know half of these poems by heart; thanks Mom!

ToEverything

9. To Everything There Is a Season, by the Dillons. I gave this to each of my kids when they were babies.

Katy

10. Katy and the Big Snow, by Burton. Mike is OK but Katy is the best. I spent hours tracing her path on the maps.

PolarBearNight

11. Polar Bear Night, by Thompson/Savage. Utterly respectful child’s point-of-view with absolutely zero noisy grownup agenda.

NewYearsReunion

12. A New Year’s Reunion, by Li-Qiong Yu/Cheng-Liang Zhu. I am still devastated by the leave-taking in this story.

StinkyCheeseMan

13. The Stinky Cheese Man, by Scieszka/Smith. I was a bookseller when Stinky Cheese Man was published; we call books gamechangers but this really was.

ThreeQuestions

14. The Three Questions, by Muth. My pick for a graduation gift book over pretty much any of the cute ones!

Shadow

15. Shadow, by Lee. Suzy Lee is a gift to us all and she needs to create at least 73 more books.

Anansi

16. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock, by Kimmel/Stevens. Hands-down my fave story to tell; great read-aloud too.

Max

17. Max, by Graham. All of Graham’s families just shine out with their love for each other.

MeJane

18. Me…Jane, by McDonnell. A master class in writing a big story one well-crafted page turn at a time.

AlltheWorld

19. All the World, by Scanlon/Frazee. Reading aloud any two of these pages–ANY two–will make me verklempt.

BeNicetoSpiders

20. Be Nice to Spiders, by Graham. All her kids go through life with their eyebrows raised and their interest high.

SamandDave

21. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, by Barnett/Klassen. “The Golden Age of Picture Books” is never, ever over.

Sunbread

22. Sunbread, by Kleven. My 15 year old daughter and I have been reading this and making the recipe together for 12 years.

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2016 Resolutions

Nothing like getting your act together in time for the 75th day of the year! (nb Thursday night: I pinkie swear I wrote this Monday to post Tuesday, so much for getting my act together)

Rock

Last week I posted about last year’s goals, and primarily the realization that I had a stated goal (to stay on top of things) but what I was really hoping for was to meet an unstated goal (to work ahead of the curve). I’ve been thinking about THIS year, and I have to admit that “working ahead of the curve” still sounds really appealing. So I’m going to make that this year’s goal–now that I have some more tools and procedures in place, I do want to be able to plan ahead with trainings and schedules, and not always be working in a reactive mode. I’d like to feel a little more on top of events and use my checklists to be proactive about as many tasks as possible. That’s really a “process” goal–about HOW I want to get work done.

But I also have a “content” goal, about WHAT work I want to accomplish, and that’s to think even more deeply about our storytime competencies, and what rubrics I might be able to construct to go along with each one. All with an eye towards being able to be as precise as possible when teaching and mentoring storytime skills, to have possible strategies and potential exercises thought out ahead of time, so if and when staff identify a skill they’d like to improve, I’m ready with some ideas for how we can approach that learning.

We’ll see! There’s still 291 days to go!

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I Resolved to Rock in 2015 and I Did

…even if it wasn’t in the way that I had planned on.

Rock

I was feeling confident, early in 2015, that in completing my first year at my new job, I would be able to clear the time and space to “stay on top of things” in the year ahead.

Staying on top of the routine tasks, keeping on top of the to-do-list making so I don’t panic about what’s not on it, thinking ahead and being proactive instead of reactive with planning…There are 9 million different ways this could look, but I hope it looks like less anxiety about opening my email, more blog posts here, being able to plan farther ahead, having some time to think more deeply about storytime and training staff.

For the most part, I did stay on top of the essential tasks, I hit my deadlines, I worked on storytime training with my team, I stopped being quite so anxious about opening email; all great accomplishments. But I didn’t realize how much I would still be learning, in year two, about the job and about what routines and disciplines I needed to have in place to do the job as well as I wanted to. So I couldn’t be as proactive with planning as I wanted, or think as deeply about how to mentor, and certainly the hope for more blog posts was a bust!

Well, “staying on top of things” was a great goal anyway, and one I was able to meet, even if now I can look back and realize that what I REALLY meant by “staying on top of things” was “working ahead of the curve” which I couldn’t quite pull off yet. But with “staying on top of things” as my lens I was able to spend the year creating the tools that 14 months ago I still didn’t know I needed. Now I am going into this new year with an accurate daily checklist, a roadtested list-building & planner routine, and better ways to capture info while I am not at my desk. I have a lot more practice with routine supervisor tasks such as creating schedules and approving timecards so they take less time, and everyone in the district is getting used to our new storytime staffing plan which means fewer emails are coming in, and THAT takes less time. And we even hired a new librarian* who will be able to help with some ongoing programs and services I’ve never been able to prioritize as highly as I should have.

So yay 2015! It was another tough year but I learned a lot, and I’m even in a place now where I’m building my list of the final new-supervisor projects I want to finish before my 2-year anniversary in May. I’m still not sure what my 2016 Resolve to Rock** resolution will be, but come back next week to find out what I decide!

________________________________________________________________

*re: the new librarian

**re: other resolutions, find them at Storytime Underground!

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Happy FIFTH Birthday, Flannel Friday!

We are celebrating FIVE YEARS of Flannel Friday today! It is so awesome that we are still posting new storytime flannelboard and activity ideas every. single. week. And it’s totally the result of each and every one of you being an amazing contributor to this community, no matter how you do that, by writing, reading, sharing, advocating. Happy birthday!

Here’s my Party Set in honor of our celebration! It’s along the same lines as the Outer Space Set and the Under the Sea Set. I’m coming to really appreciate having lots of pieces on a theme that I can use in different ways with different books (and even different themes!) with different groups.

PartySet

This set has five party hats, five candles, five cupcakes, five balloons, and five presents.

For ideas on how I will use these pieces, check out the Outer Space Set post. I went with consistent colors so we could do some sorting, too. SORRY for my terrible photos:

PartySetbyColor

And! I kept going and made a cake so we could blow out candles:

CakeandCandles

ALSO, CupcakesNoFrosting

CupcakeswFrosting

Originally I made my cupcakes to be different flavors with different colored frosting, but then I realized I wanted my set to have a more consistent palette, so these are relegated to their own set now: Lemon, Red Velvet, Caramel, Chocolate, Vanilla. I don’t have anything in particular in mind for these but any Five Little Things rhyme would work!

If you’re a newer reader, you can check out the very first Flannel Friday post ever, or our very first round up, which was the brainchild of Anne at So Tomorrow. This first anniversary post has a little FF history if you’re interested!

We’ve done a LOT of celebrating:

In 2013 we did a couple things in honor of our 2nd anniversary: Sharon hosted a special round up full of Flannel Friday testimonials (mine is here) and Mollie, Amy, and Anne unveiled the Flannel Friday Community Map!

For our third birthday Anne invited us all to look back into our archives and pull out some favorites!

Year Four we held a Guest-Post-Palooza to celebrate Flannel Fridayers who are with us week after week but who don’t maintain blogs of their own. I was happy to host Gayle with her post The Best Gift!

And this year it was Mollie’s idea to hold a party-themed round up, which is over at her blog What Happens In Storytime!

As always…you can investigate the Flannel Friday Pinterest for hundreds of flannelboards, songs, games, and rhymes arranged by theme. Ask questions and brainstorm ideas in our Facebook group. Learn more about Flannel Friday at our website. Questions? Send them to the current Flannel Friday Fairy Godmother at flannelboardfriday @ gmail.

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*dusts* *vacuums* *fluffs pillows*

So it’s been another unintended hiatus for Mel’s Desk this winter, and as much as it has frustrated me, I wanted to be VERY conservative in planning a return to blogging. With as much time and mental space as it has taken to adjust to my supervisor job, I didn’t want to start posting again until I was confident I could keep the ball rolling. Now it may be that I’m about to jinx myself, but it does feel like I’m finally in a good spot to set aside regular time to write.

Mrs Doubtfire gif via AFI Tumblr

I’ll be working over the next couple of weeks to answer my comments and questions backlog, dust off the site and do some updates, and write as many drafts as I can.

I am going to TRY not post more than once a week until I have a healthy reserve of scheduled posts ready to go, hopefully to avoid more gaps going forward, BUT! I *will* also be here on Friday this week for Flannel Friday’s FIFTH BIRTHDAY PARTY. The round up will be a birthday extravaganza with birthday, cake, party, or any kind of celebration flannelboards, rhymes, or activities you would like to share. (FIFTH!!! BIRTHDAY!!!)

Thanks for sticking with me and Mel’s Desk all these years! I am really looking forward to the rest of 2016.

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2016 Bell Awards Announced Today!

CLEL-Bell-final

DEFINITELY had to drag the blog out of hibernation for the Bell Awards!

This is the third year for the CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards for Early Literacy, and the first that I was not chairing the Selection Committee. It has been an absolute thrill to watch Sarah Johnson and Stella Fowler, this year’s co-chairs, take over the leadership with aplomb and wisdom and discernment and grace and a full complement of organizational kung fu.

This year’s Selection Committee did a fabulous job reading and considering and talking and thinking and making extremely difficult decisions! I couldn’t be happier with their choices, so head on over to the CLEL website to see the final five titles AND grab their early literacy activity sheets! (PS: The CLEL site is best in Explorer or Chrome)

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Invitation to Join the Bell Awards Goodreads Discussion Group!

I am catching up on my Bell Awards posts! Last week I wrote about suggesting titles for the 2016 Awards, and today I’m reminding you that you can join the Bell Awards Goodreads Discussion group!

CLELBellLogo2_0

The Bell Awards were created to celebrate books that support the development of early literacy skills in children. One of our goals for the awards is to be able to use picture books as a way to create some space for professional conversation around early literacy skills and practices.

The Selection Committee periodically posts current nominated titles to the Goodreads group, and they’d love to hear what you think about the titles. What early literacy connections do you see in the books? How do they work in storytime? Your professional opinion matters–to the committee, but also to your colleagues and peers. Head on over!

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Flannel Friday Round Up October 16

I am so happy to be sitting on the couch in front of the hockey game putting links together for Flannel Friday. What a great way to start the weekend!

FlannelFriday(Web)

Nikki at Hey There Library has a SUPER version of Fall Is Not Easy. True Confession: I have read this dozens of times and it still makes me laugh out loud. If you haven’t added this flannelboard to your repertoire yet, WHAT are you waiting for?!

Today Miss Jaime’s Library Journeys includes a trip to another Flannel Friday post for inspiration! Jaime created her own version of Dotty the Dinosaur and includes a description of her narrated version as well as a full rhyme if you like to recite instead. Lots of great opportunities for predicting and discussing with this set!

Lisa’s contribution at Thrive After Three is another great addition to her Felt Board Table sets: this time it’s a Fairy Tale table! We have vertical felt boards at some of our libraries but I love how the horizontal table surface helps kids keep the felt pieces where they want them!

Didn’t get enough princesses and knights with Lisa’s post? Check out Shawn’s Royal Flannel Board Stories at Read Rhyme Sing! She shares both a Five Little Knights rhyme (and how they encounter a dragon puppet) and a short story called The King’s Cookie.

There was something in the air this week–since Kathryn ALSO had a royalty theme at Fun with Friends at Storytime! She added to her stash of “crown and jewel” posts with one inspired by LibrErin. Folks, if you need a Fairy Tale storytime you are practically all set with these three!

Thank you Lisa for hosting a guest Flannel Friday poster at Libraryland! Just look at how Nancy transformed a clock on the children’s room wall to a Hickory Dickory Dock tribute! Now I am want to think how we can celebrate other nursery rhymes like this. Thank you, Nancy, for joining us this week!

Anne at So Tomorrow uses bear puppets to adapt a flannelboard idea for the rhyme All Types of Bears. I love how she changed the rhyme, the media, AND the tune and made this her own!

Do you still need a monsters idea for Halloween? Carol shares an entire monsters storytime with a flannel song It’s Monsters Day AND a glove puppet version of Five Little Monsters Jumping on the Bed. Lots of stuff here, make sure you see the whole post at Program Palooza!

Storytime Katie is totally on a roll with her finger puppets, and this week is no exception. She has both fruit and veggie sets up, with links to possible song & rhyme ideas. brb going to squee over their adorableness some more.

And I got a start with a new set, Under the Sea (Part One)!

Thanks for visiting Flannel Friday!

Investigate the Flannel Friday Pinterest for hundreds of flannelboards, songs, games, and rhymes arranged by theme. Ask questions and brainstorm ideas in our Facebook group. Learn more about Flannel Friday at our website. Questions? Send them to the current Flannel Friday Fairy Godmother (me!) at flannelboardfriday @ gmail.

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