Beyond pencils and stickers: Making the most of an Elementary School visit

Last week I had my first official school visit in my new location. I attended a local elementary school’s Reading Night event, where I was offered the opportunity to set up a table with library resources. I’ve done my fair share of sitting at booths for the library. Sometimes I feel a little bit like a vendor peddling my meager wares of free pencils and stickers while trying to give my “elevator pitch” about what the library offers. This time, I wanted to try something different, while still keeping things fairly casual and laid-back. I wanted to try to avoid Doing Too Much, as this sometimes tends to be my downfall. While talking with one of the higher-ups in my organization, she shared an idea from her YS days and now I’m sharing that with you.

It’s super simple and interactive with multi-purpose benefits. I had a giant pad of paper with the prompt “What are YOU reading?” and asked kids to add their favorite books or a book they are reading right now. Not only was it a good ice breaker, but it gave me insight into what the kids are actually reading–Harry Potter? Goosebumps? No surprise there, but I learned a few new titles, too.


My favorite part? The next day, I compiled the list and emailed it to my contact at the school, inviting them to share it back with the students and teachers or possibly print it in an upcoming newsletter for the families. I also plan to use the titles in a display next month, highlighting them as “Recommended Reads” from the students at that school. Like I said, super simple with multiple uses.

I liked that it put the power in the hands of the kids, rather than me coming in trying to be the all-knowing librarian with a list of books they “should” read. I’ll definitely do it again.

What’s your go-to school visit activity?


Great Graphic Novels for Teens

Part of what I love about my job is that I get to do a wide variety of stuff. This blog is mostly dedicated to preschool-age storytimes, but as the Youth Services Director for a fairly small library I do so much more than that! I plan all the programs and purchase all the books for ages 0-18, among the many other hats I wear.

When I took over the position, I inherited a wonderful partnership with the high school librarian, M. Together, we lead a monthly lunchtime book discussion club for teens at the school’s Library Media Center. I bring the pizza and copies of next month’s books, and M supplies the plates, napkins, and beverages. Together, we facilitate the discussion and decide what book to read each month.

After November’s meeting, M mentioned that one of the students requested we read a graphic novel sometime, and she asked if I would come up with a few that might work for an upcoming discussion. Only having read a few graphic novels myself, I wasn’t sure what to pick so I turned to my marvelous Facebook friends for advice. I was blown away by the amount of responses I got from fellow YS librarians, former classmates, friends, and relatives. Below (in no particular order) is a list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens, as recommended by some very trustworthy graphic novel enthusiasts. I don’t know about you, but my TBR list just got a whole lot bigger!

Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History by Trevor R. Getz and Liz Clarke

Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince

Black Hole by Charles Burns

Seconds: A Graphic Novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached

Blankets by Craig Thompson

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang

Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge

Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Trickster by Matt Dembicki

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, and Other Female Villains by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, illustrated by Rebecca Guay

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel, Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman

March: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell

The Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown

Smile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Nathan Hales Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Laika by Nick Abadzis