Friday, October 17, 2014

Barbie Zombies

So I'm no longer a Youth Librarian. Or a Librarian. And I don't live in Wisconsin anymore. But there's an old saying, "Once a Youth Librarian, Always a Youth Librarian." Ok not really, but there should be. Cause it's true. And sometimes you just have to share something very cool. (and they haven't taken away my blogging powers yet)

For teen crafts. Cause there are never enough good teen craft ideas.
I always see used Barbies at Good Will and Salvation Army. You could even put out a request among your patrons for old Barbies. You'd probably get donations. But hurry, cause this is a perfect pre-Halloween craft. Throw in the movie, Hocus Pocus with an awesome zombie in it and you've got a great program.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bookworms Tween Book Club in September

This post is brought to you by Katrina Dombrowsky, Youth Services Director for Columbus Public Library. 

The Bookworms Tween Book Club at the Columbus Public Library kicked off their school year with Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. Here's a photo gallery of their themed meeting; they were even able to Skype with the author for the full book discussion experience!

A picture puzzle that doubles as name cards. The kids had a blast solving the puzzle, which reads: "Knowledge not shared remains unknown. -Luigi L. Lemoncello"

 Dewey Decimal-themed snacks with "Lemoncello-ade"
Dewey Decimal snacks! I can't take complete credit for this one. My creative coworker Erin discovered a version of this and helped me make a shopping list. 000-099 General Knowledge (Smarties), 100-199 Philosophy & Psychology (Hugs), 200-299 Religion (Goldfish), 300-399 Social Sciences (Chocolate coins).

Read-alikes display.
We had a great conversation with author Chris Grabenstein. He shared pictures from the library that inspired his book, gave us some writing tips, and told us some insider information...Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library might be made into a movie!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Great Youth Stuff at WLA

What's that you say? You aren't registered for the best little state conference in the universe?

Today - yes Monday October 13 - is the last day for early bird registration.

To tempt you with the amazing- ness (nesses? ni? Natorum?) that are the youth offerings at WLA, may I present the short version of EVERY youth oriented program?

Great WLA Stuff
for Youth Librarians

Wednesday November 5
8:45-10 - Keynote
Richard Harwood
SLP Partnerships for Success
No Sensory Overload Library
12-1:30 - YSS luncheon
Karen Jensen, Teen Librarian Toolbox blog
Shake-it-up- School Age Programs
School/Public Library Partnerships
Caldecott Crash Course
Homegrown Youth Leadership
Making it Real: Common Core
Age Appropriate Storytimes
YA Lit: Good, Bad & Real Girls
WLA Business Meeting
Banned Books Read In
SLIS/SOIS Reunions
WLA Foundation Fundraiser

Thursday Nov 6
YSS Business/Board Meeting
8:45-10 – Keynote
Michael Johnson, Boys & Girls Club
Guerrilla Storytime Swap
Field Trip Adventures for Kids
Reach Out and Read
Avi – author luncheon
“Appy” Hour – Parenting & Kids apps
Booked for Lunch: School/Public Library
Burr/Worzalla Award – Kevin Henkes
Management Side Sucks My Soul
Awards and Honors Reception
NMRT Meet-up
Vendor/Librarian Bowling Tournament

Friday Nov 7
What Boys Want & Need from Library
Book Cycle – Summer Books for Kids
Books Across Cultures to Kids
Unstorytime – Preschool Programming
11:45-11:30 – President’s Luncheon

Ho-Chunk Oral History

Come mingle, come lead, come laugh, come dish, come learn and come prepared to rock the Dells with youth power. We're all waiting to see you!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Greatest STEAM Program Ever!

….well maybe not but it was super cool.
This post brought to you by Terry Ehle, Youth Services Coordinator at Lester Public Library.
I was very nervous about Fizz, Boom, Read as a scientist I am not, but my staff and I decided to dive in and go for it.  It turned out to be one of the best summer reading programs ever.  We had so much fun we decided to keep the science theme going by developing “Families with STEAM” as a way to continue science related exploration at our library.

Recently we held our first event – Treasure Hunters!  Participants were invited for a rousing read of “Pirate Treasure Hunt” by Jan Peck and given the opportunity to deck themselves out like pirates.  Then each family was given a map to enter the main area of the library where several obstacles and activities awaited them. 

  • Station 1 – Through the tape jungle to Cannon Ball Alley to build a catapult and shoot a cannon ball into a box (with a shark on it of course!)
  • Station 2 – Follow the rope through the cave to Telescope Table to make cardboard tube telescopes. Participants then used a compass (mini lesson provided) to look through the telescope to find a hidden object.
  • Station 3 – Over the stepping stones to create a glyph flag about their family which they hoisted up the mast using two pulleys attached to the ceiling.
  • Station 4- Over the snake infested waters to design and build a tinfoil boat. Once built, they were asked to predict how many pennies their boat could hold without sinking and then test it.
  • Station 5 – Walk the plank to find treasure.  Throughout the hunt we had hidden magic rocks made from baking soda, water and plastic gems.  Once they reached this station, they were able to drop their rocks into a large container of vinegar where it hissed, bubbled and released the treasure.
  • Station 6- Finally, participants followed a dotted tape line to the back of the library that led to a big X and treasure chest of books and snacks.

Did I mention that each station had a QR code that led participants to more information and other experiments they could try at home?

It was amazing, families LOVED IT!  We held the program on a Thursday night and 45 people attended. 

It wasn’t expensive; everything we used, except for the snacks, came from the story time closet with leftovers from the summer thrown in. The look on the kid’s faces when the treasure appeared from the rocks was priceless.  There were families with kids of all ages, including teens! It was chaotic, messy and a bit overwhelming and I could have used a volunteer at each station, but in the end, it was worth it!

Next month:  The Night Shift – an exploration of our nocturnal friends.

For more details about this program, please email Terry at

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Read On Wisconsin Titles for October

This post brought to you by Emily Townsend!


Over the past year, I've had a number of people ask about the who's and how's of Read On Wisconsin (ROW) monthly book selections. This month, I thought I'd offer a brief explanation of who chooses the ROW monthly titles.

The Read On Wisconsin titles are selected by a Literacy Advisory Committee (LAC). The committee members include teachers, librarians, and early childcare providers from around the state. Many are members of WEMTA or WLA. LAC members serve for a two-year term. This means we are welcoming new members and thanking outgoing members every year. The committee members are then divided into the five ROW age groups (see book list below for divisions), according to their interest and expertise. LAC members in each of the age groups work together to choose titles and write discussion questions for those titles. You probably know a ROW LAC member. Check out this year's committee by clicking here and the above link. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the LAC for their hard work and their exciting and engaging selections for the month of October. The Primary group selected two different books about trees -- definitely a topic of interest to the K-2 crowd this time of year. The Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers group selected a clever and fun book about costumes and identity in Matilda and Hans as well as a lovely board book about a grandmother and grandson harvesting berries.The Intermediate and Middle School groups chose lively and thoughtful selections that will get kids thinking outside of their regular experiences. Likewise, the high school group's choice of Maggot Moon, an alternative history fiction, will challenge students to reflect on their ideas about society, history, and ideology. You can find a complete list of this month's titles below. 

For updates, resources and activities throughout the month follow us on Twitter and Pinterest. As always, discussion questions for the books are available on our website and resources for the titles and authors can be found at

Here are the Read On Wisconsin titles for October:

Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Matilda and Hans by Yokococo. U.S. edition:  Templar / Candlewick Press, 2013.
Wild Berries by Julie Flett.  Simply Read Books, 2013.

Primary (K-2) Books
Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid. U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2013.
Chavela and the Magic Bubble by Monica Brown. Illustrated by Magaly Morales. Clarion, 2010.           

Intermediate (Grades 3-5) Books
Buffalo Bird Girl:  A Hidatsa Story by S.D. Nelson. Abrams, 2012.
Middle School Books
I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery by Cynthia Grady. Illustrated by Michele Wood.  Eerdmans, 2012.      
The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata. Illustrated by Julia Kuo. Atheneum, 2013.

High School Books
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner. Illustrated by Julian Crouch. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2013.

If you're interested in learning more about how the titles are selected, check out our Choosing Books page on our website or contact me at I'm happy to answer any questions.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

It's a Pigeon Party!

Brought to you by Esther Burns from the Marion Public Library.

Mo Willems is such a hit in our library with both the young readers—and their parents! We’ve done successful Elephant and Piggie parties here at Marion Public Library, and we’ve now had the opportunity to have a Pigeon Party!
As the children and parents entered, there was a sign in sheet, and also a drawing for a Pigeon book.  All of the graphics I used were taken from Mo Willems’ website:

We started out with the first book, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy.  Before the party, I made small “No!” signs using card stock and craft sticks, and the children used them to tell the Pigeon, “NO!”  They had so much fun with this!  After the book, we sang Stuart Scott’s “Dog in School,” which is always a hit.

The next book was Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late.  Poor Pigeon was getting a lot of “NO!” from the kids!  After the book, we sat down and made Pigeon puppets.  These were really easy- just a blue paper plate (found on, a round circle of white paper and a smaller round circle of black paper for the eye, a small square of orange paper cut in half for the beak, and a craft stick glued on the back.  As you can see, everyone had fun making their puppets!

After our craft, we read The Duckling Gets a Cookie?! I just love hearing the giggles that the Pigeon brings to the kids.  And what else is there to do after that book than eating milk and cookies!  Turns out this snack was a HUGE hit—who knew something so simple as milk and cookies could thrill so many kids!
We headed outside for our last book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!  Much to everyone’s excitement, there was an ACTUAL REAL LIFE SCHOOL BUS waiting for us outside!  Most of my kids were either of preschool  age or are homeschooled, so sitting on a bus was a thrill for them.  We read our book, and then each child had the chance to sit in the driver’s seat, and work the bus doors.  It was a BIG DEAL!

Mo Willems’ books are so fantastic that it is so easy to revolve a party around any of them.  Stay tuned, because I think a Knuffle Bunny party is in store soon!  

Monday, September 29, 2014

ASLC Great Websites for Kids

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, has added more sites to Great Websites for Kids, its online resource containing hundreds of links to exceptional websites for children.

The newly added sites are:

 Classics for Kids -  

 Kids in the House -  

 Learn. Genetics -  

 Learn. Genetics en EspaƱol -  

 Nourish Interactive in Spanish -   

 Sparky the Fire Dog –

Friday, September 26, 2014

WLA Conference

Win a free stay at the Madison Marriott West Hotel (home of the 2015 WLA Conference). Register by the early bird date of October 13, 2014 for this year’s WLA Annual Conference, at the Kalahari in the Wisconsin Dells, on November 4-7. Check for updates about programs, exhibits, and events on the WLA blog, Facebook or Twitter.  Latest news is about the WLA Award Winners!

To register and win a chance for the free hotel stay at the Marriott West Hotel, click on 

Nita Burke, Conference Publicity Co-Chair

Melissa Rader, Conference Publicity Co-Chair

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

From Emily Townsend, Librarian of Cooperative Children's Book Center at School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison:

Just a reminder to everyone that tonight, September 23, at 8:00-8:30 pm is the Twitter Chat with Pat Zietlow Miller, Wisconsin author of Sophie's Squash.

Librarians, patrons, parents, grandparent, teachers, kids: anyone is welcome to join us and ask a question. Remember use #SophiesSquashWI. Or, just follow the conversation at #SophiesSquashWI.

Here is a link to Pat reading Sophie's Squash for Read On Wisconsin to share with librarians, parents, teachers, and children across the state of Wisconsin:

Also, if you're interested in picture books, check out CCBC-net this month. The discussion topic is Reading Pictures!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Candidate Questions for YSS Elections

YSS Chair Elect Candidates
Leah Langby
Tell us about yourself: what you do, where you do it and how long you’ve been doing it?
I have been the Library Development and Youth Services Coordinator at the Indianhead Federated Library System for almost 10 years (and it took the first 5 to learn the name of my title by heart).  I work with librarians in the 10 counties in west-central Wisconsin to connect them with resources to serve youth, people who are traditionally underserved, and I also coordinate the continuing education efforts for our system.
Why do you want to be chair of the YSS board?
I am so impressed with the dedication and creativity of the youth services librarians in this state, and YSS as an organization has been doing some really exciting things in the past few years to be more supportive and inclusive of its membership.  I have been involved in WLA in a variety of capacities for the past 10 years, including serving as the chair of the Outreach Services Round Table and the Children’s Book Award committee, a mentor in the WeLead program, a member of the WeLead Task force, and a member of the YSS Board. After serving on the board for a couple of years and watching the excellent leadership of past chairs from close-up, I think I am ready for the challenge of chairing this section.  I’d love to continue YSS’s current trajectory.  I envision increasing the ways members can get involved in the organization in meaningful ways, and providing leadership and support on advocacy, practical ideas, and developing a community of practice to encourage each other to tackle challenging and important issues in the field.
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Anything with chocolate, as long as there are no marshmallows.

Jenny Wegener
Tell us about yourself: what you do, where you do it and how long you’ve been doing it?
I have been a Children’s Librarian for over 15 years.  I began my career at the Oak Creek Public Library (Milwaukee County) and during that time I was a YSS Director at Large and helped out with the YSS Newsletter.  After taking a short break to stay home with my two kids, I returned to the library world at the Pewaukee Public Library (Waukesha County).  I am now the Youth Services Department Head at Pewaukee.  I have also been active on the Rochester Public Library board (Lakeshores) in my hometown.  I have many responsibilities but the most important thing I do in my job is forge connections with children and families.  I am so very lucky to have a career that allows me to help create readers! 
Why do you want to be chair of the YSS board?
I would like to be Chair because it will give me a chance to give back and help support other librarians.  Children’s services can be a lonely job, especially in small libraries, when there might be only one person in Youth Services.  YSS has a special obligation to its members because we can be the “coworkers” small town library staff may need for inspiration, to hear about new developments, and discover fun and easy programming ideas.   As someone who has been “in the trenches” for a while I can empathize with my fellow librarians, listen to their needs, and work to provide useful tools for them to use. 
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Hmm, this is almost as hard as choosing a favorite author.  So much depends on time, location, and stress level.  Favorites would include: homemade vanilla, Chocolate Factory darkest chocolate, Kopp’s Macadamia Nut, Culver’s Caramel Cashew, and Uncle Harry’s Lemon Ice. 

YSS Director-at-Large Candidates
Kent Barnard
Tell us about yourself: what do you do, where do you do it and how long have you been doing it?
I’m the director of the Patterson Memorial Library, a wonderful little gem of a library in the small village of Wild Rose.  This is my third year as director.  The best part of my week is hosting Mr. Kent’s Storytime every Wednesday morning.  I’m happy to say my storytimes have evolved greatly since my days as a bookseller for both Borders and Barnes & Noble.
I incorporate early literacy skills and we now sing, do fingerplays, tell stories with the felt board (I use felt, not flannel – I’m kind of a felt snob!), we always count something and have a letter of the day.  I also have a partner and we do puppetry.  I’ve just started using a  flip chart for some of the songs, so the children can see the words as we sing.
My biggest challenge is getting teens into our library.  In our area, once they hit the teenage years they are extremely busy with sports, music, theater, and work!  This is one of the reasons I support YSS – learning from each other!  I look forward to hearing more ideas for teens involvement.
Why do you want to be part of the YSS Board?
As a man serving children, I know that there are very few men in youth services, I think a male viewpoint would prove to be valuable.  In my opinion, early literacy is the greatest gift you can give a child, I’m proud to be a part of ‘my kids’ learning.  The YSS is an important part of WLA.  I have learned a lot attending sessions hosted by YSS, and would like to help the board keep its direction and focus for the future. 
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
My initial answer is tutti-frutti – just because it’s fun to say – the truth, however, is that I love a really good vanilla bean, the kind with real vanilla beans in it.  I’ve never even seen tutti-frutti!

Esther Burns
Tell us about yourself: what do you do, where do you do it and how long have you been doing it?
My name is Esther Burns, and I have been Children’s Librarian at Marion Public Library in Marion, Wisconsin for two years.  I am in charge of all children’s programming, as well as maintaining and ordering materials for the children’s section of the library.  I run two reading programs a year- Summer and Winter, as well as a year-round playgroup on Wednesday mornings, and a Monday evening storytime.  I’m also our resident techie- I am our webmaster for the website and work with our local newspaper in promotion and marketing the library.
Why do you want to be part of the YSS Board?
I am passionate about Youth Services!  I absolutely love working as a Children’s Librarian.  It’s not just a job to me—it’s a total way of life.  I feel very strongly about the importance of early reading for children, and keeping that connection through the young adult years.  Keeping Youth Services librarians connected through this board is something that I would love to do—we are all here to support and help each other and it would be an honor for me to do that!
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Yikes!  Now THAT’S a hard question.  It depends on what kind of ice cream.  I love Cold Stone Creamery—their sweet cream flavor is THE BEST.  If I were to go to Dairy Queen, I’d probably get either a Peanut Buster Parfait or a Birthday Cake Blizzard.  For plain old ice cream, I love a birthday cake or blueberry cheesecake flavor.  Mmmm.  Ice cream.

Katherine Elchert
Tell us about yourself: what do you do, where do you do it and how long have you been doing it?
I'm lucky enough to be the Youth Services Manager at the Rice Lake Public Library. That means I'm in charge of everything from birth to 18 at the RLPL - from administration to collection development to outreach. I'm still pretty fresh to librarianship, as I graduated from UW-Madison SLIS in May 2013. So I've been at the Rice Lake Public Library for a little over a year!
Why do you want to be part of the YSS Board?
Who wouldn't want an excuse to hang out with some hilarious Children's and YA Librarians? On top of that, I'm really interested in becoming more connected with Wisconsin librarianship. Sometimes I get so focused on the RLPL, it's like I have tunnel vision. I'd love to be a part of the YSS board to ensure I stay connected to & involved with all Wisconsin libraries (not just my own)! 
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Somehow this is the hardest question for me? Anything with cherries or chocolate!
Susan Menk
Tell us about yourself: what do you do, where do you do it and how long have you been doing it?
My name is Susie Menk (Miss Susie to the kids at storytime J) and I have been working in the public library field for the past six and one-half years .  I started out as an Adult Reference Associate and then began my career in Youth Services about three years ago.  I have a bachelor’s degree in teaching and have always loved working with children.  After having been in the library field for several years I decided to pursue my MLIS degree. I am excited to report that I graduated in August of 2014 from UW Milwaukee!
Why do you want to be part of the YSS Board?
I am interested in being a part of the YSS Board, because one of my favorite activities is sharing programs and ideas with other librarians that are as enthusiastic as I am about sharing a love of reading with children and parents.  I love learning about what others are reading, what kind of children’s programming and activities they have tried, what programs or activities were successful and which weren’t,  and how others incorporate new ideas and technology into their programming.  I have been most interested in outreach.   In the last few months, I have gotten the opportunity to present some parenting tips and read aloud tips to groups at the local CESA 7 and Lakeshore CAP sites.  I am also on the Community Partnerships for Children Task Force for Manitowoc County and have had a chance to connect with others in the community to promote early literacy programming and activities during community events.
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
My favorite flavor of ice cream is peanut butter chocolate mixers from Culvers!  Yum, yum!

Ashley Thiem-Menning
Tell us about yourself: what do you do, where do you do it and how long have you been doing it?
I’m currently the Programming Librarian at the Kaukauna Public Library.  As the Programming Librarian, I am in charge of developing, marketing and executing youth, teen and adult programs.  I’m also in charge of collection management and ordering for my library and I help run the Friends organization.   I’ve been with the Kaukauna Public Library for the last two years, but I’ve been working in libraries since 2003.  In 2009, I started the first exclusive storytime for children on the autism spectrum in the state. I embrace innovation, collaboration and new practices and will turn just about anything into a Library program. 
Why do you want to be part of the YSS Board?
I would like to be part of the YSS board so that I can help connect youth librarians with innovative practices and support. 
Favorite flavor of ice cream?

Chocolate ice cream, preferably containing more Oreos than actual ice cream.