Friday, July 24, 2015

Picture Book Celebration

Yesterday I had my Summer Picture Book Celebration. This was a repeat of a program I did last November for Picture Book Month (before I started my blog). Even though July isn't any kind of official picture book-themed month like November is, the library is always picture book-themed, right? We're the library--we're every kind of book themed. In all months! So why not?

When I originally planned this program back in November, I thought it would be fun if the kids got to hear "guests" from other departments in the library read their favorite picture books. All adults have a favorite picture book and the idea of different people's choices being diverse, in the same way that they are, was just so interesting to me. I loved the idea of a group of adults being different in many ways, yet all feeling enthusiastic about children's literature--sharing books they love with a newer generation, almost like sharing a family heirloom or a recipe. I imagined it like letting a group of kids in on a secret. I liked the idea of the "guests" explaining who they are and why their favorite was their favorite, and I secretly wanted their books to vary as much as possible.

This is big dreamin' because in real life, adults don't want to give a whole speech before reading a book, kids don't want to hear a whole speech before listening to a book, and people's favorites change as new books come out. Even my favorite picture books have changed over the years. So instead of a fantasy program where adults share bits of their childhood or their children's childhoods, I wound up with something else--the sharing of a bunch of fun, newer picture books! And really, that's even better! Showing the kids that a group of diverse adults can still discover and love newer picture books--that you're never too old to enjoy them--is awesome!

The first time I did this program I had 4 guest readers from around the library. Yesterday I had 3, which actually, was more manageable for the kids. I had representation from Circulation, Adult Reference, and Technical Services and the books read were The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli, Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, and The Peanut Butter Jam by Elizabeth Sussman Nassau.

After the three stories, the kids got a chance to make their own picture books. I put out these Publish Your Own Book Journals from Oriental Trading and bins of colored pencils (markers didn't work on the covers of these) and the kids went to town. Easy peasy! Let the creativity flow!

Turns out, this is more of a girl thing. And I'm pretty sure that was the case in November too. The girls got a lot out of it; they made nice books about things like horses, unicorns, dogs, flowers, and Frozen. The boys, both in November and yesterday, started off strong with books about crazy Three Little Pigs,evil chicken nuggets, and caterpillars who got sick of eating leaves, but then lost interest 10-minutes later and instead chatted loudly and poked each other with colored pencils, ignoring the books completely. That's just how they are at this age, I guess. That's ok though, they still enjoyed the stories, made their own books, and had fun!

What worked best: The variety of picture books was great. I really think it was nice for the kids to hear stories other than the usual ones that we, the children's librarians, tend to pick.

What worked least: For the boys, the book making craft just didn't cut it. Maybe the simplicity of just a blank book and colored pencils didn't inspire them the same way it did with the girls, I'm not totally sure. If I were to do it again, I'd put out different kinds of art supplies for the kids to work with (stickers, stamps, collage materials) in the hopes that it'd keep the attention of the both the girls and the boys for the duration of the program. But even so, it was nice to see the creative juices flowing in everyone, even if it was only for a short period of time with the boys.

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