Thursday, January 12, 2012


Ahem. I officially declare this blog on hiatus. Alas. I have all kinds of ideas about things to write, but for now at least, there's no time. These days much of my energy is goes to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and others.

I hope to revive this blog again soon. Wonderful things are happening!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Why do kids need library cards?

Recently I posed a simple question to friends, colleagues, and co-workers: Why do first grade students need library cards?

You see, we're developing publicity materials for the Pima County Public Library's campaign to get every first grade child in our county a library card. Last year we gave out 5,600 cards, which was about 50%. This year we want to do better, thus the new publicity.

Anyway, the responses were immediate and WONDERFUL. I figured I'd share them here...

From Facebook friends:

Because opening wide the door of your imagination and curiosity is always more fun when you have your Very Own Key. --Eileen Tuuri

They feel special and important to have a library card. --Patti O'Brien

Get 'em hooked young. --Gene Spesard

It establishes al relationship between the child and the library. --Mary Monkoski

To teach responsibility and to initiate a love of reading and learning. --Leticia Lozano Garcia

Because some homes don't have or can't afford to buy books.... and to encourage reading for pleasure rather than always "for school." --Trish Drasnin

They can go to the library and check out books. Heaven! --Sherrie Baltes

So the kids make their parents take them to the library. "Mommy mommy take me to the library please!!!!!!" --Clarisa Barcelo

As soon as my kids could print their names (about age 4) I let them get a library card. It became a rite of passage for the younger ones, who saw the older ones with their very own cards - and didn't have to use mom's to check out books. --Malena Acosta

So the parents don't get assessed a late fee when we forget to return the child's book on time. :-) --Gina Anstey

Because too many of them don't have [school] libraries and library time in school any more! --Christine Dykgraaf

From Twitter:

[Having a card gives children] an early understanding of how we work and their role in borrowing books --@MegCanada

Having a library card - with their name/signature on it!! - makes 1st graders feel important and grown up. --@bphuettner

Because it is their "passport to the wonderful and quite unpredictable world of books!" - Mr. Dewey, The Pagemaster --@bel_hobbs

There is no better way than a library card to instill love of reading and sense of community responsibility/sharing. --@AZpress

Library card = access to entertainment & information of their choice. How often do kids have control over their world like that? --@sangofairy

Responses from PCPL children’s librarians

The library card is FREE.

Having a card reinforces a first grade child's pride in their new reading skills.

The library has free books, music, and movies for every interest.

Reading makes your brain bigger!

The library card is good at 27 libraries all over Pima County, plus the Bookmobile.

The whole family is welcome at the library.

Free computers (children's card provides higher security access to internet).

Online access to live homework help, and high quality information for children's school projects.

You can find out how to protect yourself from zombies.

Good readers do better in school.

Books are friends forever.

You'll be as cool as your friends or family who already have one.

You'll have something to put in your wallet.

To be like big brother/sister.

To learn about cool things.

A library card gives you access to books when the school library is closed (evenings, holidays and summer vacation time).

From teachers (I saved the best for last!):

I encourage parents to take their children to the public library because they enjoy choosing their own books, and it sparks their interest in learning to read. --Teacher from Drachman Elementary School

If a parent were to ask me why their child should get a library card I would have to tell them because the love and passion for reading happens at a very young age. As a child I remember that my first joys of reading came from picture books. If we can get children excited about books at an early age they are more likely to continue reading as adults for enjoyment...this will make them much smarter individuals and help them become more efficient learners in higher grades. Individuals that read have a larger vocabulary and can articulate much better than those who do not. Being an efficient reader will ensure that your child will excel in other areas of school because reading bridges all those subjects together. --Teacher from Oyama Elementary School

I tell parents many things but the first thing I say is that a library card allows a child to have access to books at their reading level at any given time during their development. They don't have to wait to become fluent readers to enjoy great books, the library has a great selection for any reading level. This will encourage their child to enjoy reading as they progress in their development. Another reason is that the library gives a child control over their book choices. They don't just have to read what I assign or books their parents buy. They choose, they control their adventures! --Teacher from Maldonado Elementary School

To have a larger variety of books to choose from more than [the school] library selection. --Teacher at Tucson Hebrew Academy

One of the best reasons for a child to have their own library card is, in my opinion, to give them the excitement and sense of ownership over their own reading. All teachers know that if you can get a child excited about reading the skills follow almost effortlessly but, let's face it, reading is hard when you first start learning! Getting their own library card and being able to choose books from so many available gets the kids excited about trying it out.

When the reading is their own idea, no one has to remind them to practice. The value of excitement in reading will follow them all the way through their education, giving them innate knowledge of facts, grammar, spelling, and a zillion concepts and ideas. It's almost too good to be free! --Teacher at Agua Caliente School

* so that their parents can check out books
* so that they can come and play on the computers
* so they can look at BIG pictures
--Principal of Tucson Academy of Leadership & Arts

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our First Grade Card Campaign

One of my largest projects during the school year is to coordinate the library's efforts to get all the first graders in the county signed up for library cards. 2008-2009 was another successful campaign!

482 classrooms participated, out of 646 possible in the whole county (up 13%)

282 classrooms sent us applications (up 11%)

5,569 students either got cards or reported that they had cards (up 26%)

158 classrooms were eligible for grand prize drawing (up 82%)

More information on the campaign can be found at my library's website:

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Come to the Tucson Festival of Books!

The Arizona Daily Star interviewed me and Steve about our book last Wednesday for an article in today's paper. Danielle did a great job, and Fred took some lovely photos!

Article "Librarian/writer's Harry Potter knowledge is voluminous"

Steve's talk and our booksigning: Sunday, March 15th at 2:30pm, Catalina Ballroom of the University of Arizona Student Union

Signed copies of the book available at: Kids Center, 1725 N Swan Rd, Tucson, AZ

Tucson Festival of Books

List of exhibitors in attendance

Come to the Book Festival next weekend! Karen Cushman (Catherine Called Birdy), Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted), Richard Peck (A Long Way from Chicago), Charles de Lint (Widdershins), J.A. Jance (Cruel Intent), Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), Luis Alberto Urrea (Hummingbird's Daughter), Richard Shelton (Crossing the Yard), Gregory McNamee (Moveable Feasts), and over 350 more authors and illustrators will be speaking and signing their books.

Other friends speaking, storytelling, and/or signing: Marge Pellegrino, Martin Rivera, Lynn Bevill, and Liz Danforth.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Flash coolness at the Newseum website

Jen just sent me a link to the Newseum's webpage where you can see the day's front pages WORLDWIDE. To quote Jen, "Oooooooooh!"

What's the top news in LA? What is Phoenix's banner compared to Tucson's? What do newspapers look like in Italy, or South Africa? Mouseover the city on the map and the front page appears on the right. I love how easy it is to browse the news coverage!

Too bad it won't work on my iPhone.

Rock Band Tournament pictures

We've posted the photos from the countywide Rock Band Tournament on our Flickr account, and it looks like it was huge fun!

First Place: Holistic Bumblebee (Nanini branch)
Second Place: The Delusions (Flowing Wells branch)
Third Place: Three Dudes and a Chick (Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr. branch)

Friday, November 21, 2008

You must watch this (Story Town performance)

Waking Beauty Performance at Story Town 2008

Some more of the best of libraries!

I just watched this video of PCPL staff dramatizing the picture book Waking Beauty by Leah Wilcox from last weekend's Story Town, and I'm still chuckling!

The Waking Beauty Players:
Sleeping Beauty: Deanna (South Tucson Library)
Prince Charming: Aaron (El Pueblo Library)
Fairies: Thania (Valencia Library), Maya (Santa Rosa Library), and Fabiana
Narrator: Lupita (Mission Library)
Filmed by Steve Shull

Please do yourself a favor and watch this. You will have a good feeling inside all day.

P.S. The wind noise dies down fairly quickly.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Library Afterschool Program Recognized by White House

This morning at the White House, Pima County Public Library's afterschool program called Word Journeys was recognized as one of the top 15 programs in the nation, awarding the us the prestigious Coming Up Taller award. Program Director Marge Pellegrino and one of the program's teen volunteers from Amphi High School attended the awards ceremony and received the award from First Lady Laura Bush.

Marge and I have known about this since July and it has been a little bubble of joy for both of us -- and very hard to keep secret!

Word Journeys hires teens from Amphi High School to mentor elementary school children afterschool during the school year. Each week the high school students help plan a workshop based on a picture book story that includes, writing, art, and oral interpretation, and includes explorations of the library and its treasures.

For the last two years children and teens from Tucson's Somali Bantu refugee families have been included in the program, children who were born in the refugee camps and had known nothing else. Their English skills have improved so dramatically that fourth-grader Hawa told me she bravely defended Obama's tax policies when her school teacher told the class that Obama would raise everyone's taxes. She was very proud to have voted in the library's recent "Kids Vote" election.

Local coverage:
Other coverage
Coming Up Taller is an initiative of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, along with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities to showcase cultural excellence and enhance the availability of out-of-school arts and humanities programs to children.

Update: Marge just called, and they were interviewed after the ceremony by the local affiliate for Fox News! So cool. A representative of one of our recent funders was also there, someone from the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

And here (above) is the first ceremony photograph!

More to come, I'm sure.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Voting coolness

Our library had a contest where anyone under 17 could make a 3-minute video encouraging people to vote. The deadline was election day, and we got nine entries. Three of them are amazing. Take a look! "Why Vote" Video Contest.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Riikka's new book is out! In Finland (alas not U.S.)

Well, on a cheerier note, my friend Riikka tells me her new book is out in Finland, the sequel to her first story, Nokikätkön ritarit ja Kuuhiisi, or The Knights of the Sooty Nook and the Moon Troll. The new book's title is Vaahteratuvan väki ja vaarallinen peto, I have no idea what that is in English. Yet. Riikka tells me that a copy is on its way.

So, to celebrate I scanned the picture she drew of Arrow when she was here last March.

A plot summary and list of chapters for Riikka's first book can be read here.

UPDATE: I posted about Riikka's new book on my other blog by mistake! Here's the link: