Tag Archives: summer reading

Baby animals and snow cones: the best summer reading party ever!

[Note from Anna: this was in my drafts folder for like 7,302 years or since August but whatever. Enjoy this late Summer Reading post….]

That’s right: BABY ANIMALS and SNOW CONES. These are the two things we had at our Teen Summer Reading Kick-off party this year. Do I have the best job or do I have the best job?!

Renata had the idea to have a petting zoo at our kick-off party and I jumped at the chance. After permission from our director – who was totally on board because who doesn’t like baby animals? – we booked Farm Visits. They will bring an assortment of baby animals from their farm in southwest Mass. and let your patrons hold, pet, and cuddle them! Farm Visits was amazing. They set up and tore down quickly and educated the over 100 teens, parents, and children (more on the kids later) about how to interact with adorable creatures. They brought a baby goat in a diaper, a pig, bunnies, chicks, and baby ducks. It was a huge success but there were a few hiccups. Here’s the breakdown:

Cost: $375 for an hour

Booking: We booked in February for the visit at the end of June. They were really easy to book via email. Because I’m a garbage millennial, I hate having to call people to book programs.

baby goats

The flyers we handed out at school visits and plastered all over the library.

Promotion: Renata and I talked about this at all of the summer reading school visits we did. We talked to about 800 students and talked about the program constantly in the teen room. We also had information up on the website and did some promotion through our library’s email list. I made the flyer in Canva like I do almost everything else because it’s my crutch.

Preparation: Mostly it was promotion once we had settled on a date and made flyers/signs. There was very little prep related to the animals. We did work really hard on our other summer reading items like making the flyers, reading logs, buying all the prizes, and raffle tickets.

Bumps in the road: PARENTS OF SMALL CHILDREN. It was very difficult to explain to parents that this was a program just for teens entering grades 6 – 12. I realize that it seems like a program geared toward small kids, but everyone likes baby animals! Our Children’s Room decided not to book them out of some concerns, but I think it would make a great program for any age. Many parents were miffed that their elementary aged kids – who are very advanced readers, thank you very much – weren’t really allowed. Except. That we did let them in because it’s hard to say “no” to people in the moment. Some also didn’t understand the need for teens only programs or why the presence of little kids at a teen program may make said teen program less fun. Don’t you remember being a teen, parents?

The other problem was just crowd control. We could only send out teens in groups of 20-25 to meet the animals so we had to last minute improvise a group system. Renata gamely grabbed some stamps and made groups. Next time, we should probably do timed tickets so people spend less time waiting around for their turn. We also did door prizes and we could do door prizes throughout the program rather than at the end.


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Summer Reading aka the most magical time of the year

Ok, so when I say “magical” I really mean SUPER BUSY. It’s great because I swear all of our books get checked out over the summer, I see so many more teens reading and so many more just in the library in general, and it’s . . . summer. Winter isn’t crushing our souls and in New England, we’ve got to take advantage of the warmth while we can. We get like 4 months. Then misery.

But summer reading this year is extra busy because my coworker Rebecca is leaving to take an assistant director job (sad!) and because I got engaged (happy!). Between solo teen room-ing and potential wedding planning, my professional and personal life just got a bit more crazy. It’s ok! I will make it!

If you want to see what my library is doing for summer reading this year, take a look! We’re not going with the sports theme but doing “magic” instead as per teens’ requests and we’re doing a BINGO board for prizes instead of a more traditional prize program. Teens get a prize for every row and entry to the grand prize drawing – some Kindle Fires – if they complete the whole thing!

Magic Summer-2

We’re also doing really fun programs like more D&D – spoiler alert: the kids love it and middle school boys are murderous monsters – craft programs, using our BreakoutEDU box to create a Harry Potter adventure* and more!

What else is happening? Lots of new staff, Doug and I visited Montreal for a few days, Pokemon Go has taken over the library, and I’m still writing at WWAC. Here’s some recent articles about learning to try new things aka gaming and how much I hate summer reading lists.

This summer is going to be crazy what with being short staffed and planning a wedding so I’m not even going to try to lie and say I’ll be better about posting. There’s a lot happening. So I guess I’ll just see you when I see you?

Don’t walk into traffic trying to catch any Pokemon, friends. It’s a dangerous world.

*I should really start writing that….

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PLA Highlights

I’m back from Denver with a miserable head cold – yippee! Apparently, cold + mountain altitude + flying at . . . plane altitude = Head Cold of Death with Fluid in Ears as Bonus. So while I’m not feeling the greatest right now, I really did have a wonderful time at PLA. I was able to attend some really helpful sessions and see and reconnect with some librarians.

Here are some quick and dirty (hehe) highlights of the conference:

-Downers’ Grove, Illinois’ documentary film class series for teens was really inspiring and I’d love to recreate it at MHL but they spent a LOT of money on filmmaking equipment. Maybe that’s something to think about for the future.

-One program was entitled something like, “How Two Libraries Quit Summer Reading, and You Can Too!” and it was awesome. They didn’t really quit – you just can’t really quit summer reading – but they did change their programs drastically. One library, Park City, UT, went to a more creative and self-directed program and the Nashville Public Library created one program with a point system for kids, teens, and adults that included activities and goals. Both were really interesting approaches and I’d love to incorporate elements of both at my library. One signup and program for all ages?! Yes please! And I love how Park City had patrons create their own reading goals. My coworker Rebecca and I are thinking of moving to a summer reading bingo board with prize suggestions from the teens. They want the “swaggiest” bookmarks*, candy, and Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. We can do that!

-Another awesome idea I’d love to incorporate at my library is to convince the school system to either  give out library card applications to new students as part of their school registration or just share the school records with us and let us give library cards to everyone at school. Another great idea is to have students’ I.D. cards be their public library cards. It would be so amazing and make it a lot easier for kids to access books from the public library. Right now they are supposed to show I.D. to get books and get a card, and they have to physically come into the library to get that card. Some libraries, like Haverhill in our consortium, have an online sign up for a card. I’d love that. It can be really hard for kids and parents to physically come to the library but if they already had cards or we just mailed them to them after applying online, they could still access a ton of our resources without leaving their house!

-Ok, so by far my favorite session was the very last one I attended called “Dragons in the Library: Tabletop Gaming and the Public Library” and it was so great. Obviously, it was totally right up my alley but it was fascinating. The Fresno library system created a tabletop gaming convention at the library and ran D&D games, hosted game premiers, and had a ton of people. Over 300 people over two days! It was just really fun to hear about how this library and others were using gaming in their programs. I asked a question about D&D one shot adventures – I’m going to be hosting a game for teens next month and they are super excited – and got lots of suggestions and helpful ideas. Basically, librarians who game – whether tabletop, video, roleplaying or whatever – are my new favorite people.

Denver was a cool city as well. I have been to the Rockies but hadn’t spent much time in downtown Denver and it was nice! Though, there are a lot of oversized things which make you feel like you’re in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! See giant blue bear:


And giant dustpan:


I wonder what it all means….

While I was traveling and out there I read A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab which I really enjoyed. I’m sort of on a fantasy kick right now – wait, am I ever NOT reading a ton of fantasy? – and am also reading N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. I’m also listening to The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey but honestly, I liked the book better when it was by Laini Taylor! SICK LIBRARIAN BURN. kanye

That’s all for now. I’m going to take some Sudafed.

*Is “swaggiest” a word? Unknown. What does it mean? Cool . . . I think? I’m not sure. I’m getting old.

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Summer reads and new projects

Last year's summer reading.

Last year’s summer reading with last summer’s haircut.

Generally, I support people making their own summer reading decisions. I’m fairly against prescribed summer reading lists but these are books that I think you should read because you would like them. Plus, you are all adults and I can’t actually tell you what to do. But if you do want recommendations here are some I’ve been thinking about lately:

Girl at War by Sara Novic – I’m not finished with this yet, but it’s pretty great so far. It follows young girl, Ana Juric, from her life in Croatia during the Croatian Civil War in 1991 and then in the U.S. right after the September 11 attacks. It is as sad as expected but the writing is great.

Lumberjanes and Wicked + Divine comics – These are pretty different from each other but they are both going to be adapted so you should read the source material first. Or not – you do you. I’m trying to be less judgmental about that.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche – This is just really good and I can highly recommend the audiobook. The narrator has a beautiful voice. So read it.

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin – You should read this because it’s a sort of unknown, but important story about black sailors in WWII who were tried and convicted of mutiny for refusing to load ammunition – a job pretty much only given to black sailors – without any ammunition training. Did I mention their white superior officers made best on which units could load bombs the fastest? And they only refused to load ammunition after an accident at their base that killed about 300 people? It’s a fascinating, infuriating, and important story.

You should also probably re-read a childhood book that you loved or an adult book you loved. I haven’t read The Time Traveler’s Wife in a few years and I’m probably overdue for a day of gross sobbing. Read a classic; read a book by an author you’ve never read; read a book by someone who is completely different than you; read a book that makes you say, “This is my life.” Read, read, read. Let me know what I should be reading, too.

In other news, I’m excited to start my stint as a member of the YALSA Research Journal Advisory Board starting this summer. I’m not totally clear on what we will be working on but I’m excited to start committee work. I’d love to translate my experience on this committee to other YALSA committees someday like a book selection committee. Maybe someday I’ll be on the Printz committee and you can get super mad at all of our choices. FUN.

I have started writing for Women Write About Comics. I had a tiny news post up the other day and longer articles and essays will be up this month. You can follow that link to see the article and read my obnoxious bio at the bottom. I’m so excited about it and all the women who write for the site are smart, articulate, and amazing. I’ll probably be linking there a lot from now on, so get used to that.

With the YALSA board, WWAC, and my YALSA Hub blog manager application still floating around out there it’s shaping up to be a really busy next couple of years. But busy is good! And these are all personal and professional things that I really care about. I will try to still post on a weekly basis, but if you haven’t heard from me send me a note!


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Hello friends! Summer has unofficially started, are your summer reading plans set? We are good to go at MHL and are doing the collaborative theme of superheroes this year. I’m excited because superheroes can be great and there are lots of fun crafts and activities to do. One of the most exciting things we have planned for the year is our VolunTeen program which will be putting together a “Superhero Training Day/Academy” for little kids. A few libraries like the Plaistow Library in NH have done similar events with a superhero photobooth, obstacle courses, and more. It should be fun, even if Clare and I don’t have it totally fleshed out yet!

Other than that I’ve been hanging out with my mom:

We could look better but who cares.

We could look better but who cares.

I mentioned that I applied to write for Women Write About Comics and it’s happening! I’ll have two posts in June. I’ll let you know when they will be up so you can read them. In the meantime, here are two of my favorite most current posts:

Fail Better: How Nerd Insecurity Becomes Abuse by Jo Fu

Literal Dehumanization: Erasure of the Black Face in Hollywood by Jamie Kingston

It’s really a great website and if you’re interested in any part of geek/nerd culture (comics, movies, books, TV, games) you should definitely check it out. There is so much great talent writing there and I’m really happy to join the team.

Mini book review before you go:

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King – Can A.S. King write anything that’s bad? I don’t think so. This is one of my new favorite dystopias. Some might describe it as a Handmaid’s Tale for YAs. In the sense that through a hilarious and odd event – the drinking of petrified bat dust* mixed into a beer – Glory sees a future that is openly hostile to women, I can see the comparison. Glory sees a number of states pass laws that forbid women from working outside the home at all ushering in a second Civil War, kidnappings, breeding camps, laws that don’t allow single mothers to collect child support from fathers, and generally a hellish future for women and girls. Sadly, as I was reading this I kept thinking how NOT far-fetched this one. Like dystopias about future (or current) water wars, it hits pretty close to home. Along with the visions of the future, there is Glory learning to deal with the suicide of her mother and deciding whether or not a bad friend is worth having if it’s your only one. Really, really great.

And a travel suggestion before you go, too: If you’re in the Northshore area, check out the Stickwork installation by Patrick Dougherty and PEM in Salem. It’s really cool. It’s neat to stand in the twig houses and see them as the best club headquarters any child could wish for.

One of the four or five big twig houses with rando for scale.

One of the four or five big twig houses with random guy for scale.

Until next time, sweet friends.

*Yes, petrified bat dust. It makes sense in the book…

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