Category Archives: Library Life

Storytime Parachute

One of the perks of my new job as a library tech is that I get to do storytime twice a week with toddlers. The first one I did I was so nervous that I forgot the words to my first song! But I shrugged it off, and launched into the songs I hadn’t forgotten. Families came back, so I assumed they enjoyed themselves. Thanks in part to Jbrary (my favourite song I learned from them is featured at the end,) I have much improved.

Now that I’ve done quite a few, and have memorized a few dozen songs and rhymes, I’m experimenting with different ideas to keep storytime fresh. Last year, I bought a ukulele and am learning a few songs so, hopefully, soon I’ll be brave enough to play it for the kids. (Though I did play Jingle Bells on it for our Christmas event, and Ten in the Bed that same day as it’s only the “G” chord.)

My latest prop is my storytime parachute. I remember parachutes from when I was a kid, and I loved them. So I decided that it would be a cool thing to have in my storytime, and for two sessions I have added it to the last three rhymes and songs.

My parachute is 10×10 feet and fits perfectly in our storytime barn. (Yes, it’s a barn. And it’s AWESOME.) I found a few blogs where I could pull ideas and gain advice on how to use the chute, so I thought I’d share them here:

READ SING PLAY Adventures in early literacy – this is a fantastic blog with lots of great advice. It’s written by Kendra Lu Jones, who’s a children’s librarian in Tacoma.

STORYTIME KATIE – Katie is a Chicago early literacy librarian and has many great ideas.

So, this is me with my chute just before storytime. To keep things fresh and predictable, I’ll use it on Thursdays at my 10:30 AM storytime.

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Also, as promised, my favourite Jbrary song that I sing every storytime because it always gets laughs and now my regulars all know the song. I sing the first version, and then after tell the parents about the … dreaded second version. The parents get a laugh about it, but I have a suspicion that they don’t believe me. Although, last week at babytime when we did Raffi’s Spider on the Floor as a tickle song I changed the words at the end to wishing the spider, not our children, were dead. They laughed at that, and then more so when I told them I softened it up for them.

Library Research

Working in a library, I sometimes get asked by students to help with research. My favourite is a four-year-old who comes in regularly, and asks to help with her research which is usually something that she has become curious about that week. Today, it was if bears ever come into Richmond (to the best of my searching, it appears not).

Her other questions were why the dinosaurs were so big, and why they went extinct. We chatted a bit about different theories, and then she ran off to read Nick Bland’s A Very Cranky Bear that I had recommended to her.

While she was reading, her mom told me that friends of hers were telling her that teachers would one day dislike all the questions that her daughter would no doubt ask them. “Teacher’s don’t like to be asked things they have to admit they don’t know,” the mom said.

Having worked as a creative writing teacher, I can recall being asked many strange things (it was easier to ask me then it was to look things up, my students would say). I used those opportunities to teach my students about research, and how to find the answers they wanted without resorting to using me like Google.

In response to the mom, I told her that any teacher worth their salt will see her daughter’s curiosity and be thrilled at the potential. Though what kind of teacher she has early on will determine if she stays inquisitive – creativity and curiosity can both be killed easily with ridicule and a dismissive attitude.  And yes, those teachers are out there, too.

PechaKucha 12 at the Richmond Public Library

On October 1st, I participated in PechaKucha Night at the Richmond Public Library. A PechaKucha is a talk that is 20 slides that you can talk to for 20 seconds.

The 12th volume of PechaKucha, entitled “Words Words Words,” took place on Thursday, October 1, 2015 and was hosted by the Richmond Public Library (Brighouse main branch). Words Words Words uncovered the influence words have on readers, writers, and communities. Volume 12 featured creative and professional practitioners in journalism, communications, literature, poetry and art.

What You Do Matters

Canada Day. The beginning of summer.
Canada Day. The beginning of summer.

It’s been a long while since I last posted, and has this summer been filled with many transitions. Each time I thought, “I should blog this change,” something else occurred and I decided it best to wait. Then it was something else, and something else. It got me thinking about the importance of not giving up when things don’t seem to be going the way you planned. Or when Life kicks you so hard, that you give up on it for awhile in order to regain the strength to carry on.

Conan - well into recovery.
Conan – well into recovery.

Nothing so dramatic has happened to me. Unless you consider the beginning of the summer, shortly after my last post, when my dog, Conan, developed digestion issues. For those of you who don’t know, Conan is a 15-year old Shih Tzu that I’ve had since he was six-months old. Last Christmas he developed chronic liver disease, and unfortunately the medication he’s on (best of its kind) is slowing it down but not stopping it. Without going into detail, the issues he was having meant he couldn’t stop himself from making messes – every hour on the hour. Like clockwork. I was informed that I had to consider his quality of life vs. my need for him here.

 

At this same time I was starting a new job at the Richmond Public Library as a student Library Tech. It was a steep learning curve, and without the required sleep (I was up every hour to help my boy) it was even steeper. The first couple weeks into July were rough, and I was worried about being labeled “That guy who yawns all the time.”

With both Conan’s and my quality of life being affected, I had one final option (after much research): to try Conan on canned food that was easier to digest. If that wasn’t going to work, it was time to say goodbye.

Thank the Heavens that it did not come to that. The soft food helped immediately – and also on the advice of my research (notice I don’t say vet) I added a tablespoon of fresh pumpkin. (Which I now freeze in quantities of tablespoons.) His digestion issues disappeared, he started gaining weight again, and his energy returned. That also meant he was sleeping through the night, and so was I.

 

 

Add to this that I also had commitments to a creative writing program at UBC through the Writing Centre, a writing workshop at the Surrey Public Library, and I was one of the mentors at the Vancouver Public Library’s Bookcamp, and this was a very busy summer.

As I wrote, during all this I was beginning a new job at the Richmond Public Library. I must admit that I was nervous at first, because if it turned out I couldn’t do it then it meant my effort at returning to school was a bust. It was not unlike the feelings I get with exercise, or with writing. All these voices pop into my head from those well-meaning adults from my childhood who told me not to try, don’t risk failure, and accept that I’m just not capable of “that.” Following the advice that I give my students – I ignored those voices (what the Artist’s Way calls “The Censor”) and persevered. After all, I have exercised to the point where my body has changed shape and my writing has been published in three novels. Fear does not triumph over me.

 

One of the many programs I ran at RPL this summer.
One of the many programs I ran at RPL this summer.

 

It’s now been eight weeks at this new job and I am unbelievably happy. My coworkers are amazing people, my bosses are wonderful, the patrons who use the library are inspiring. I’m running writing classes for middle grade and teens – offering something to the community that will become a positive influence in children at that age when they need it most. And how does this new job affect the rest of my goals?

It makes me look forward to returning to school in a couple weeks – with the determination that I can succeed. I come home and want to exercise, because I know that (especially being a man) that breaking the stereotype of what a library tech is supposed to be is important. And all of this inspires me to create – and write – in that same way that I get to inspire all these new faces in my life.

What we do matters. What *you* do, matters. From advocating for that animal in your life that has no voice, to the every day act of being the best version of yourself. You don’t know who is listening, who is watching, and who is realizing that if you can do it so can they. You’ve changed lives today – whether you know it or not. And that makes you awesome!

Student created story from the Vancouver Public Library's Bookcamp.
Student created story from the Vancouver Public Library’s Bookcamp.

Chocolate & Chat

These are some photos from kc dyer’s and my “Chocolate and Chat”, the second of a series of events we have planned throughout the Lower Mainland. It was a beautiful sunny day, and instead of setting up shop inside the bookstore we greeted people on the streets outside of the Edgemont Village Kidsbooks location.

 

It was a fun day, and to those of you who stopped by (either to this event or the one on the Thursday before at Vancouver Kidsbooks) I’d like to say thanks. If you missed these two events, stay tuned for four more coming up at various Chapters locations!

It was a fun day, and to those of you who stopped by (either to this event or the one on the Thursday before at Vancouver Kidsbooks) I’d like to say thanks. If you missed these two events, stay tuned for four more coming up at various Chapters locations!