105 Ways to Give a Book

Librarian Tip for the Carnival

In the interest of promoting the upcoming Carnival theme, I’m going to share tips over the next few days to get you in the mood. I’m also going to ask if some other blogs could mention it out there, especially the extension for submissions — Tuesday, November 27th, by 9:00 a.m. EST.

Today’s suggestions come from my role as a librarian and story time lady. They may help children’s librarians, sure, but the tips may also be useful for authors giving a reading or parents going in to read to a class. So here goes.

One of my daughter’s preschool teachers used to call the kids “my friends.” I liked that so much that I always use it now in story times. For instance, “You can sit closer. I like my friends to be able to see the books.” It feels much warmer than “you kids.” I also introduce myself as Miss Pam — I don’t know if that is a preschool thing, library thing, or southern thing, but I love it.

After trying several techniques for getting kids quiet to listen to the books — and I should note here that often my story times have from babies to five-year-olds — I’ve settled on singing more of my directions. Now, I don’t know if it relies on my sweet singing voice, but boy do they focus. I usually say, “Oh, we almost forgot to get ready to listen to the books.” Then I sing, sort of recitative-style, “Let’s get on our watching eyes, so we can see the pictures [motion ‘adjusting’ eyes]. Let’s get on our listening ears, so we can hear the story [motion ‘adjusting’ ears]. And let’s get on our quiet mouths, so everyone else can hear the story too [motion finger on mouth].” Then I start reading before I lose them. If they get too busy later, I’ll have them wiggle it out while sitting, and then go through the song again.

Know this: You cannot ask a question of preschoolers that involves simply raising their hands. They will raise their hands, but at least three of them will have to say something — have to. Just be prepared. For kindergarten through second grade, they can do the raising-hand thing, but they will leave them up forever in the hopes that maybe you will call on them to share their specific, partially on-topic story. Here’s what I say, “Raise your hand if you have a library card. Good. Now hands down.” If you are taking questions from this crowd, you don’t want to open up to comments. Because once one kid tells you about the snake he once saw, everyone is going to have to tell you their snake story. If I’m taking questions, I say, “Does anyone have any questions about the summer reading program? And remember, a question is something that needs an answer.” Then if I get a comment, I’ll say, “Well, that’s nice, but does anyone have a question that needs an answer?” It seems to send the message that I’m not looking for more comments, which keeps the room from exploding with personal stories.

As a reminder, I’ll be hosting the November Carnival of Children’s Literature. For this month I want a tip as a reader, writer, illustrator, reviewer, publisher, or editor of children’s literature. I want a lesson learned from a teacher, librarian, author, or parent with regards to kids’ lit. It doesn’t have to be a post that you did in November or October, though you may consider tweaking and re-posting an older entry to use; you can pick a post from any point this year. If you have something from last year, polish that baby up and repost it. The deadline for submission was Saturday, November 24th, but in all honesty, I’m not going to be pulling this puppy together until Tuesday morning, so you have until then, and I’ll post the Carnival on Wednesday, November 28th. Well, Wednesday-ish. Send your links through my email (see the Email MotherReader! button) or the Carnival site. I’d love to see some editors and publishers give us some ideas for getting a foot in the door. Some librarians share a special program that rocks. Some reviewers tell how to handle the mountain of books. Some authors address school visits or writer’s block. I know that we all have so much knowledge to share with each other, and I wanted to present one great big opportunity to do so.


Abby said...

Great tips! Can't wait for the Carnival!

Saints and Spinners said...

MR, you will be pleased to know that Mo Willems says the same thing about questions. And for some reason, when Mo Willems says, "'I want a pony' is interesting but it is not a question," it's funny.

I've been addressing my audience as "my friends" for some time now. I wish I had thought of it earlier. I like "Miss Pam," too, because it mixes friendly with formal.

This doesn't work for preschool audiences, but I loved it in Caddy Ever After when the teacher had 5 minutes of "Hot Gossip" (along the lines of "I want a pony") but had her class write out questions and comments afterward with the assurance that she'd read all of their bon mots.