Monday, April 02, 2007

Libraries as Homeless Shelter

Everyone else is posting this article I guess I should as well.

Former Salt Lake City Assistant Director writes about the problems of the homeless at the library. Keep in mind when reading this article that it is not journalism and objective, but more of an opinion piece from a (former/retired) librarian. And the comments can be rather volatile.

America Gone Wrong:A Slashed Safety Net Turns Libraries Into Homeless Shelters

I'd always heard vaguely about libraries having a problem with the homeless. But I heard that fom the comfort of my nice suburban library where we very very very rarely encountered it. And I knew it academically from listserv discussions, articles, etc. And then I moved to an urban library. And I saw it everyday. And hearing about it and living it is different. These poor people tug at your heartstrings. And yet they can be disruptive. But they have no where else to go. And we're open to all. It's an impossible conundrum. Or at least it feels that way.

Space Storytime

I originally called this storytime "stars and moon storytime" but space works just as well. I used this storytime with preschoolers, and toddlers and both seemed to enjoy it. The books are all fairly short so I just read more of them to the older preschoolers. I used my standard format:
    Standard Storytime
  • opening song/introduction to topic
  • longest book
  • fingerplay
  • book
  • song/action rhyme
  • book or flannel board
  • fingerplay or song
  • closing song

Of course all of that is open to interpretation, and I usually also sing the ABCs, count up and down to 10, etc.
    Books I used:
  • I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay - a nice story about a boy who goes for a nighttime walk. There is one to two sentences on each page, with some (not too terribly corny) internal rhymes. It's a good size for storytime. Practice because some of the text wraps around pictures and you don't want to have to tilt your head in the middle of reading it.
  • Moon Plane by Peter McCarthy - A boy in his yard looks up to see a plane flying overhead. He imagines being on the plane and flying in it up to the moon. The pictures are pretty and have that washed out grey tone of dream world. It's a little abstract and I like the next one better.
  • Zoom! Zoom! I'm Off to the Moon! by Dan Yaccarino - A bright and colorful book where a boy goes off to the moon. It's fun. The kids liked it. With this one or the previous one, I always stop and ask the children if they think they'll go to the moon (hey commercial space travel is a reality, it's a big future, and who knows which of your children will grow up to be astronauts, plus I'm a scifi fan). Always encourage children to dream.
  • I'll Catch the Moon by Nina Crews - This is standard Crews, collages of real pictures show a girl who climbs up a ladder to catch the moon. There are cute moments and some fun word play. The pictures are great and the girl is non-caucasion showing some much needed diversity. The writing is somewhere between lyrical prose and just plain stilted, but I still like it for storytime.
  • The Sun is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch - I like to talk about some real astronomy facts, such as the sun is a star (this is amazing to four year-olds), and this book is a colorful reminder. It is a little more about the sun than the rest of space, and only has one night picture, but it is a cheerful friendly book.
  • Stars! Stars! Stars! by Bob Barner - My absolute favorite book for this storytime. My only complaint is that it is rather little. I wish it were bigger physically. I love to tell the kids that some of the stars we see are actually planets and if we were on another planet, Earth might look like a star. This book traces outward through the galaxy in bright simple pictures and easy rhymes. At the end is one page with all the planets on it. We do a review on this page. Of course Pluto (poor Pluto!) is listed as a planet. I just say Pluto and friends are the dwarf planets out there. It works okay. It is always good to sneak in some colorful true books (this one we have in Juvenile Easy with picture books, but other systems may have it in non-fiction).
  • See You Soon Moon by Donna Conrad - A boy going on a long car trip to his grandmother's bids farewell to the moon only to discover the moon comes along. Decent book, not overwhelmingly wonderful.
  • Papa Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle - I would be rather remiss if I left Eric Carle off this list. But I didn't actually use this book in storytime. It's a nice story of a child whose father tries to fetch her the moon and a nice way to talk about the phases of a moon. But the other books are more fun with the toddlers (in my opinion).

I did this storytime the day after the full moon and we talked about looking at space and stars. I like to think that I'm encouraging more than just reading, a love of learning through reading. It was a really fun storytime.

I used a lot from this website, especially the "we're flying to the moon" one. It was fun to add in our own verses and act them out about going to the moon. Don't forget Twinkle Twinkle Little Star though that is so slow, it always makes me sleepy.

We made our own galaxies. We had fun foam shapes (a big bag full of circles, ovals, squares, etc. in great colors) and some die-cutes of stars and a crescent moon. The children glued them on and colored in details. Perfect craft for the 2 year-olds. The foam shapes could be planets or asteroids or space ships, or whatever they wanted. It's about the process after all not the result.

I think I like this storytime because it is a little more factual than the usual storytime topic such as "frogs" (though I love those as well). I feel like I'm encouraging the natural curiousity of a child towards the world around them. Plus I get to share fun astronomical facts in my happy storytime voice. I'd love to hear if anyone else is doing anything similar.