Library Bonanza

Ready, Set, Program!

Fairy Good Tales: The Gingerbread Man

We just started a new program at our library to invoke the greater powers of classic folktales and fairytales. It is so important to give children these classic tales that have survived the ages. Let me tell you the ways:

  1. They are strong in rhythm, rhyme, and repetition
  2. They can teach lessons about actions and consequences
  3. Children learn the basic elements of stories including plot, theme, and character
  4. Knowing the original tale builds a platform for understanding & appreciating those uber delightful fractured tales

We also started this program because we wanted to provide an all ages, drop-in on Saturdays. Fairytales are perfect for all ages! They can be complex in theme if a listener wants them to be, they are full of action, and they have familiar characters that kids can latch on to.

I decided to start with The Gingerbread Man, cause, hey, why not? It tends to be for a younger age crowd so at least I wouldn’t loose  the little ones. As families came into the storytime room, children ages 2+ received a cut-out lanyard of an animal: a pig, a cow, a dog, and a horse. These were later used during a group participation of the Gingerbread Man where I had the kids stand up and run in place if their animal was trying to chase the Gingerbread Man.

Gingerbread Man lanyards

So, everyone had their lanyard and was settled into place and I began the storytime with describing why fairy tales are important for children. I also used a puppet which was a slight disaster cause I’m not so good at the whole duel personalities thing. Nutters the Squirrel, if you’re listening, you did a *ahem* spectacular job! After Nutters went away and didn’t come back I prepared to storytell the Gingerbread Man. Before I started I asked the children if anyone liked cookies. They all said a resounding “no!” and that was the end of the storytime……..So, after they said “duh, yes” I asked them what words describe cookies? Has anyone ever eaten a gingerbread cookies? I then jumped into the story.

Storytelling is kinda like the lazy person’s form of acting mixed with a healthy dose of improv. You don’t have to memorize all the lines, just get the jist of the storyline down, and some main phrases, and you good. For prep, I read several versions including…

If the story is a folktale or a longer fairy tale, you have to be considerate of the using the original source. In the case of the Gingerbread Man, each story went along the same lines with no real separation.

I storytold the original Gingerbread Man to a rapt audience. There’s something magical about looking a child in the eye and telling them a story. They become so invested and their imagination creates vivid images from the words you give them. It’s truly amazing. High fives everyone.

Colbert high five

Next, I had everyone stand up and we practiced running in place. Double the pleasure, double the fun because they’re getting their jiggles out and practicing for what’s to come next. I told the original again, only this time with audience participation. Whenever the Gingerbread Boy came across an animal, those that had the corresponding animal lanyard stood up and ran in place.

I then stepped into the fractured tale land. This was a toughy to choose because there are so many great ones. I decided to go with Laura Murray’s “The Gingerbread Man: Loose in the School” and Lisa Campbell Ernst’s “The Gingerbread Girl.”

In between these tales we did the Five Yummy Gingerbread with 5 felt cutouts. I arranged them on a plate and had 5 older volunteers up at the front. We practiced noming down on some cookies and then I read the rhyme. At the end, the volunteers grabbed a cookie from the plate and went at it. After the second fractured tale we did another action rhyme pretending to make gingerbread men. I finished off the storytime by telling the original with felt. (Thank you, Future Librarian Superhero for the simple yet incredibly useful how-to on how to make felt pieces and thank you Miss Mary Liberry for giving me the best how-to for decorating felt with puffy paint.)

We finished with three activities

  1. Make Your Own Gingerbread Boy or Girl – Template with crayons, pony beads, yarn, and buttons
  2. Gingerbread Glyph for older kids
  3. Sequencing cards & Character Cards


A great time overall and I look forward to the next fourth Saturday! And here are the rhymes I used:

Five Yummy Gingerbread

Five yummy gingerbread

Sitting on a plate

The first one said,

“Boy we smell so great!”

The second one said,

“There’s a chill in the air.”

The third one said,

“I see hungry children everywhere.”

The fourth said,

“I think we better run!”

The fifth one said,

“Here the children come!”

Then the children each grabbed one


The five yummy gingerbreads all turned into lunch.


Gingerbread Poem

Stir a bowl of gingerbread

Thick and spicy brown.

Roll it with a rolling pin

Roll it up and down.

With a cookie cutter,

Make some little men.

Put them in the oven

Until half past ten.

1 Comment »

One World, Many Stories: My Internship in Rural Indiana

My passion to be a youth services librarian has been permanently solidified after my internship at the Morgan County Public Library in Martinsville, Indiana. Although it was last summer (2011), I’m still reveling in the activities I undertook and the experiences that fueled my fire.

Last summer, I was given the power to run the programming at the surrounding 5 branches. The theme of the 2011 Collaborative Summer Library Program was “One World, Many Stories,” which emphasized international stories and programs. I developed, publicized, and ran 3 programs: Go Dutch, In to India, and Let’s Eat in Japan. Preparation in itself was an experience. The age recommendation for the programs was 5-12 so I had to consider accommodating a wide age range. For crafts and activities, I used several resources including online blogs, craft books, and suggestions from the Collaborative Summer Library Program. I was particularly proud of incorporating Staphorster Stipwerk (dotwork from Staphorster, see left) for the Dutch program and an exciting, interactive chopstick relay race where the kids grabbed cotton balls with chopsticks in one cup and raced to another cup. While the latter activity could have crumbled into disarray, I made the instructions simple, precise, and poignant. I even made them repeat the the rules after me. It was rewarding to see that a big group of children will listen to you if you talk to them in the right way–and if you have patience.

In addition to the crafts and activities, I also told a story for every program.  I utilized my storytelling instructor’s structure for preparation, allowing me to help remember, envision, and tell the stories.  I was also able to evaluate which stories are rich with tradition and interesting elements instead of full of fluff and forced morals. On top of the storytelling, I also read-aloud picture books which I practiced beforehand to avoid vocal stumbles.

Read-aloud storytime at the Waverly branch

So the programs were a success. Around 110 kids attended, each branch varying from 4 to 30 children. I also assisted and observed several other programs including a heavily attended lego program, a program on Mexico, baby time, and a wrap-up program. At the main branch I worked the reference desk and provided suggestions for reading catered to individual interests. Several questions centered around the early reader section. I decided to promote the Lexile Reading Levels for the collection as a guide for parents and library employees. About half of the books already had the levels–not consistent enough to rely upon. In addition to completing these labels, I created a nifty box to house the beginning reader books, the most commonly sought after early readers at MCPL.

Furthermore, I helped assist with the teen summer reading program kick-off. Interacting with the teens was so much fun.  Honestly, I can tolerate their angst, rowdiness, and confusion; rather, I admire their desire to be an individual, their passion to learn about the world, and their emergence into adulthood.

For the past few weeks, I have been helping the children’s librarian, Alyssa, weed the collection.  From my collection development class, we learned the value of weeding once per year so that MUSTIE books can be replaced (misleading, ugly, superseded, trivial, irrelevant, elsewhere).  However, this was not the case in the children’s department.

There were some pretty sad and ridiculous books I found including the entire technology section from the 1990s.  While some child may have accidentally picked seen Scottie Pippen in The NBA’s Top Ten Forwards in Basketball Today, it was probably time to ditch that book and several other sport’s statistics books from 1993.  While some craft books are hard to dispose of because the crafts are still relevant, I chose to weed craft books that weren’t as engaging as more recent craft books (superseded), or were in disrepair.  While I kept older books that filled specific niches, general craft books that fit my above deselection choices were taken out.  The weeding choices I made went to the librarian to determine if new books needed to be purchased to fill the ones that were leaving.  Fortunately, most of the craft books were already superseded by current books in the collection.

Before I finished my internship, I fulfilled my love of fun decorations and created a nature book display. It’s amazing how much time it takes to make a carefully selected around a theme and with literary valuable books.  For my selection, I used the reference book A to Zoo: Subject Access to Children’s Picture Books under the theme “nature” which provided an extensive selection.  However, the reference book was from 2007 so some of the books were older and not quite as attractive as the newer published material.  I also used several professional organizations including the Cooperative Children’s Book Center.  For newer material, I used booklists found on blogs of professionals in the field.

Overall, my internship was incredibly beneficial towards me becoming a librarian. I finally saw my programming come to fruition! I used my knowledge of the literature I’ve been reading for the past few years. I don’t usually get to drip over the newest Mo Willems book to my friends and family (I don’t see why not. Pigeons driving buses is incredibly relevant in our world today).

1 Comment »

Fabio: a Personal Narrative

For my final storytelling presentation, I told a personal narrative to delightfully responsive crowd. I hope you enjoy it as much as they:

Dark Needs at Midsummer’s Edge at a Retail Warehouse

It was a good year, 2004. The first same-sex marriage occurred. Britney Spears got married. Britney Spears got unmarried. A certain wardrobe malfunction happened at the Super Bowl. I was a junior in high school. While there were some exciting moments in 2004, my life would forever be changed when a certain bronze-skinned, bulging-chested man with cascading blonde hair momentarily came into my life. His name is F-A-B-I-O.

I was stuck in traffic going to the grocery store. Weezer (when they were good) was probably playing on my portable CD player. I could see four construction workers up ahead supervising one guy measuring a hole. Quality Illinois road work. My phone began to ring, I picked it up, flipped it open, pulled up the antenna, and heard that it was my good friend Panda on the other end.

“Hey, Panda. What’s up?”

“Kelsey. You need to come to Sam’s Club. Right. Now.” The urgency in her voice had a tinge of sarcasm.

“I guess I can come. I’m stuck in traffic, though.”
“Whatever you need to do, you need to get over here. Kelsey, Fabio’s here.”

Fabio?, I thought to myself. The model for romance novel covers? The I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-butter guy? The wet dream of all middle-aged housewives? That guy’s hilarious!

Regardless of how funny it was to imagine meeting Fabio, there was no way I could get over to Sam’s Club in time to gawk at him shopping. I expressed my dismay to Panda but she quickly replied that he would be there for another hour or so because he was promoting his clothing line. At Sam’s Club. Ah, how quickly the mighty fall, I thought later. But pity was the last thing on my mind and I told her I’d be over there as fast as my box on wheels could carry me.

I grabbed the wheel and spun it all the way to the left, looked both ways, then made a u-turn speeding out of that line of pathetic losers. I made it to Sam’s Club, flew out of my car, and scurried into the large retail warehouse. Past the toilet paper display and bulk kool-aid mix, there it was: the most beloved model’s clothing line creatively called “Fabio.”

Panda was waiting on the sidelines for me. Carefully avoiding the middle-aged women wearing sneakers and folded white socks, we both approached his clothing racks. There was faux fur-lined jean jackets, $100 tank tops, white pants—everything a 16-year-old girl could ever dream of. Except for Fabio. Where was Fabio?

Panda and I stood nervously peering around clothing racks to see where he was. Maybe he needed to get a pack of 10,000 sporks for his party later. Then, I felt a hand at the small of my back and heard in a deep, rolling voice: “I’ll be right with you ladies.” He walked away to attend to some other worldly matter and, of course, we started giggling.

He soon came back with a casual yet strong stride. Naturally, he was wearing a long black coat and brown distressed leather pants. His shoulders were wide as his chest puffed out like a rooster strutting amongst his hens. We were soon told to pose for a picture with this magnificent man. We stood beside him ready for the picture, but this was not enough for the number one romance novel model of all time. He unabashedly grabbed our shoulders and pulled us into him as if he’d done this before. Struggling to breathe, it was a little hard as I discreetly tilted my head upwards and pretended to faun over this man. I guess this made the photographer laugh which, in turn, made Fabio’s mysterious glare turn into a special sideways sexy smirk that only Panda and I got in our picture.

After I was released from Fabio’s bear hold, he concluded our meeting by personally signing a photo of himself for each of us. Don’t worry. There was a lot of white space so he didn’t have to sign over his chiseled pecs. He made sure of that.


Lemme Tell You a Story

Storytelling--IU Family Night

Last Friday, I storytold with another library science student and read books at Indiana University’s Sports and Rec Family Night. It was a wonderful night! I loved receiving the children’s feedback regarding my stories. It seemed like they enjoyed the Mayan folktale that I shared called Rosha and the Sun (quite different from the young adult story I shared with class called “A Night of Terror”). Commenting on storytelling outside the library, Christina (my storytelling teacher) mentioned that it’s always good to ask about the surroundings you will be given. For this experience, it was located in a gym but with a tent in one corner to give centrality and warmth to the storytelling.

Storytelling-IU Family Night

Speaking of children feedback, there were these two adorable twin brothers around the age of 6 who were super smart but didn’t express any creative thoughts. They were really in to talking, though. Really into talking. When we brought out a book called Edwina: the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct the two boys cried out “Dinosaurs are extinct. They’ve been extinct for like 300,000 years.” “No. Longer than that.” Another girl tried to defy them, but alas, loud, desperate, pleading voices always win. I tried “Criss cross applesauce, put your spoons in your bowl” but “We’re not 3, you know.”

I thought it was pretty cool that they decided to stay, though. They may have seemed like they were all about facts and raw data but they still craved story time.

In the end, I wish I had this last Friday:

Leave a comment »