Author Archive for Anne Wilmoth



Storytime Recap: Intergenerational Storytime at Emerson Point Assisted Living

by Anne Wilmoth on May 4th, 2018

In honor of National Children’s Book Week, a special storytime was held this week at Emerson Point Assisted Living.

Children of all ages came with their parents and arrayed themselves on the floor in the activities room. Behind them, care facility residents sat in a large half-circle of chairs.

We started with books, songs, and rhymes, focusing on classics that all ages were likely to know – we read oversized book versions of Little Red Hen and The Three Little Kittens, recited some nursery rhymes with the help of flannel board pictures, and sang “Old McDonald,” “The Grand Old Duke of York,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and others. Erin Moore, the activities director at Emerson Point, accompanied the singing on her guitar.

After enjoying stories together, snacks were laid out. A May basket craft incorporating watercolors and sparkly pipe cleaners was also available. Parents, children and residents mingled, chatted, and made connections as they felt comfortable – though there was no pressure to do so. Simply being together with community members in all phases of life offered social benefits to all in attendance.

Around the country, a handful of public libraries hold periodic storytimes at nursing home facilities. There are even several preschools located within the walls of an elder care facility. A 2017 documentary film, Present Perfect, explores one such intergenerational learning center. Filmmaker Evan Briggs points out how “generationally segregated” American society has become – a phenomenon the preschools and events like this week’s Intergenerational Storytime are trying to combat.

According to The Atlantic, “Numerous studies have linked social interaction with decreased loneliness, delayed mental decline, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of disease and death in elders. Socializing across generations has also been shown to increase the amount of smiling and conversation among older adults, according to one Japanese study from 2013.”

It was clear at ICPL’s Intergenerational Storytime that the Emerson Point residents found the children a source of joy, and the parents, too, were enthusiastic. One mother commented that without grandparents living nearby, this was a rare and valuable opportunity for her toddler to have meaningful interaction with the elderly. Residents, in turn, were already asking if the children could come back another time.

Votes Are In for the 2018 Children’s Choice Award!

by Anne Wilmoth on April 2nd, 2018

Throughout the month of March, ICPL’s young patrons in kindergarten through 6th grade cast their votes for the 2018 Children’s Choice Award. 

The Children’s Choice Award is the only national literary award given completely by children – children in select schools across the country choose the finalists in preliminary voting, after which all kids are invited to make their voice heard in selecting the best book for children published during the previous year.

143 votes were cast, and the winners, in each age category, were tabulated today. The breakdown:

K-2nd grade 

Thumbnail Billy Bloo is Stuck in Goo by Jennifer Hamburg; illustrated by Ross Burach – 14 votes

Thumbnail Pete With No Pants, written and illustrated by Rowboat Watkins – 14 votes

Thumbnail Books That Drive Kids Crazy: Did You Take the B from my _ook?, written and illustrated by Beck and Matt Stanton – 11 votes

Thumbnail This Book Will Not be Fun by Cirocco Dunlap; illustrated by Olivier Tallec – 10 votes

Thumbnail Poor Louie, written and illustrated by Tony Fucile – 7 votes

3rd-4th grade

Thumbnail 50 Wacky Things Animals Do by Tricia Martineau Wagner; illustrated by Carles Ballesteros – 18 votes

Thumbnail Thunder Underground by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Josee Masse – 10 votes 

Thumbnail Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander; illustrated by Ekua Holmes – 7 votes 

Thumbnail Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers; illustrated by Floyd Cooper – 6 votes 

Thumbnail Manjhi Moves a Mountain by Nancy Churnin; illustrated by Danny Popovici – 3 votes

5th-6th grade

Thumbnail Malala by Raphaelle Frier; illustrated by Aurelia Fronty – 18 votes 

Thumbnail The Losers Club by Andrew Clements –14 votes

Thumbnail This is Just a Test by Wendy Wan-Long Shang and Madelyn Rosenberg – 3 votes

Thumbnail Finding Mighty by Sheela Chari – 1 vote

Thumbnail Disaster Diaries: Spiders! by R. McGeddon – 0 votes

ICPL’s votes have now been officially submitted to Every Child a Reader, the organization that administers the Children’s Choice Award as well as other national literacy initiatives. When the winners are announced on May 7, ICPL’s patrons will have had a hand in selecting them!

The good news is, it’s not too late to vote! Individual kids can vote up to May 6 (instantly and without entering any personal information) by visiting http://everychildareader.net/choice/.

 

Kids: Vote at ICPL for the 2018 Children’s Choice Book Award!

by Anne Wilmoth on March 2nd, 2018

Kids, here’s your chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box: vote for the Children’s Choice Award in the ICPL Children’s Department throughout the month of March!

The Children’s Choice Award is the only national book award given only by children and teens. There are five books nominated (also chosen by kids in school libraries around the country) in each of three age group categories: kindergarten to second grade, third to fourth grade, and fifth to sixth grade.

Visit our voting booth and fill out the secret ballot for your age group category. The winners will be announced when voting ends everywhere on May 6!

For a full list of this year’s nominees, click here.

Kids can also vote online (instantly and without entering any personal information) by visiting http://everychildareader.net/vote/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Library “Shelfie” Day!

by Anne Wilmoth on January 24th, 2018

In 2014, the New York Public Library declared the fourth Wednesday in January to be National Library Shelfie Day – that’s a day dedicated to snapping selfies in front of library shelves, of course! Launching an Instagram campaign encouraging library users to post “shelfies” alongside the hashtag #libraryshelfie, NYPL hoped to reach tweens, teens, and young adults – those demographics for which the selfie seems to be omnipresent.

Well, I’m a late adopter of the smartphone and not totally comfortable with the selfie as a concept, but I do love libraries and books. And I realized this morning that in just one day of work as an Iowa City Public Library children’s librarian, I encountered numerous library shelves beyond the traditional downtown building. We are out in the community bringing the library to you! 

Here’s my #libraryshelfie on the bookmobile!

Find our current bookmobile schedule here.

The bookmobile is a “boutique” library service – we have limited space, so only the best books make it to the shelves here. Better yet, new and popular books that are perpetually checked out at the downtown building can often be found on the bookmobile!

Next I snapped a #libraryshelfie in front of our outreach collection at the Pheasant Ridge Neighborhood Center. The Neighborhood Center serves as a family resource center for the residents of the Pheasant Ridge Apartments, where a large portion of Iowa City’s immigrant and refugee population settles. The library maintains a collection here for residents to enjoy – and each month, we stop in and switch up the books on display, reshelve items, and ensure it’s looking tidy and inviting. Find out more about the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County here.

 

Then I went to Alexander Elementary School for storytime with the preschoolers there! Each month, ICPL children’s librarians visit over thirty-five preschools to extend their classroom curriculum with early literacy activities and encourage them to visit the library with their families. At some sites, students also visit the bookmobile and select books for their classroom.

After I shared books, flannel board stories, fingerplays, and musical instruments with these kids, I asked them to pose for a #libraryshelfie in front of their classroom library!

And then I was back at the downtown library for one last #libraryshelfie. Happy Library Shelfie Day! 

 

 

 

Family Traveling for the Holidays? Bring Along an Audiobook!

by Anne Wilmoth on November 8th, 2017

Each year, while traveling literally over the river and through the woods to southeastern Michigan for Thanksgiving, I’m determined that the family unity and togetherness will start the moment we back out of the driveway. Translation: no screens, kids. Instead, I cue up an audiobook I’ve carefully selected for family listening pleasure. It can be a challenge to find something that everyone is engaged by – but when I do, it makes the miles zip by. Some we’ve enjoyed recently:

Thumbnail The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, 2014

This was a hit with everyone in the car – my 55-year-old mother-in-law, my husband, my “tween” daughter and my 6-year-old. It moves fast, and it’s written in verse – who doesn’t enjoy listening to poetry read aloud? Those who are into sports will enjoy it, as it’s about a pair of basketball-star twins and their exploits on the court, but it has plenty for the non-sports-fan as well – it’s just as much about family relationships, loyalty, and coming-of-age.

 

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio, 2012

This book about a fifth-grader with a facial abnormality is an excellent bridge to a family discussion about inclusion and kindness. The life of the protagonist has been shaped by the reactions of others to his striking physical differences, despite being a totally “regular kid” on the inside, and now he’s about to start at a new middle school. Different actors narrate the sections of this book, which are told from the perspective of a variety of characters. The dialogue and situations feel very authentic, and the message hits home without being heavy-handed or precious. You’ll be ready to see the screen adaptation that comes out this month!

 

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When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, 2009

A one-of-a-kind historical sci-fi/mystery so suspenseful that you won’t want to press pause at a rest stop! Miranda tries to unravel who – or what – is behind the prophetic notes that keep appearing in her personal items. Other mysterious characters and unexplained events pop up, and there seems to be no earthly way all these intriguing but disparate elements could possibly be tied together by the end – but they are. Also, time travel, if you’re into that.

 

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Ghost by Jason Reynolds, 2016

Ghost is a gifted sprinter, and when he impulsively tries out for a local track team, a tough-love coach sees potential in him. But Ghost has to learn to control his anger to become a team player and succeed on the track. The audiobook is engagingly narrated by the author, who brings laugh-out-loud personality to the coach’s dialogue. This book was recently named the 2018 All Iowa Kids Read selection, so listening to it would be a great way for all your kids to participate at once.

 

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Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm, 2016

10-year-old Beans Curry cooks up schemes and gets into scrapes during one summer in Depression-era Key West. Adults will be fascinated by the historical details of how Key West was deliberately remade from an isolated and impoverished island community into a hot tourist attraction – this novel is based on true events – while kids will thrill to Beans’ wacky adventures and wonder what he’ll do next. Narrated by the author, fans of Holm’s popular Babymouse series will not be disappointed in this listening experience.

 

These audiobooks are available on CD at the library, or in digital, downloadable format via OverDrive. Happy listening, and happy, harmonious traveling this season!

 

Storytime Recap: Old and New

by Anne Wilmoth on August 1st, 2017

It all started when I was combing through the milk crate of flannel board stories in our back room, searching for something to share at my Monday toddler storytime.  I stumbled upon a “House That Jack Built” story so old that its accompanying story sheet had been typed on a genuine typewriter; even better, the story was typed on the back of a children’s room calendar from 1976!  I adore vintage paper ephemera, so my mind immediately began to race, imagining how I could create an entire storytime around this fascinating bit of library history.

Had my storytime been on a different day this week, I could have easily paired it with a pleasingly alliterative catchphrase: “Throwback img_0222Thursday” or “Flashback Friday.”  Even “Way Back Wednesday” might have worked in a pinch, right?  But alas, my storytime is on Monday each week, so I simply called it “Storytime: Old and New.”

I shared the 1976 “House That Jack Built” flannel board story, handing out the many flannel characters to my toddler attendees ahead of time, inviting them to come forward and place their piece on the flannel board when their character appeared in the story: the “man all tattered and torn,” the “cow with the crumpled horn” and the “priest all shaven and shorn” arrived on cue.  I paired this old flannel board story with a new one, that of Pete the Cat and his four groovy buttons, which is great for toddlers in that it’s colorful, involves repetitive singing and counting, and teaches the Buddhist principle of non-attachment.

I showed everyone the retro calendar I’d found and then showed them a picture of the children’s room in 1965, which I fo6d81bbe1ff985dee2cd794e1db607768-1und on ICPL’s Digital History Project.  Gratifyingly, the parents seemed as delighted as I was by these items.

I read an old book, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, and a brand-new one – Feathers and Hair: What Animals Wear by Jennifer Ward.  Children rang handbells and danced to an early ’70s hit, “ABC” by the Jackson 5.  Interspersed throughout were songs and fingerplays that I chose because of their nostalgia factor for my own childhood – I vividly remember singing “Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail” at the now-defunct Jack and Jill Preschool.

Despite the regretful lack of a catchy title, I think we had a blast (from the past) anyway!

Everything’s coming up roses in the Children’s Department…er, petunias, that is.

by Anne Wilmoth on July 7th, 2017

The fun was growing at Earth Friendly Friday on July 7!     img_0015

Children and parents “upcycled” tin cans by covering them with brightly-patterned tape.  Then they planted colorful petunias to enjoy on a windowsill or front porch all summer long.  Teaching children how to plant and care for their flower was Jenni Mettemeyer with Field to Family, an Iowa City organization that works to create a more local, healthy and sustainable regional food system.

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Exclamations of “That was fun!” and “This is beautiful!” were overheard.  Join us next Friday, July 14, from 1-2pm to learn about recycling with Iowimg_0004a City Recycling and Landfill representatives.

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Kids and Families: Earth Friendly Fridays start June 9!

by Anne Wilmoth on June 5th, 2017

We’ll be having lots of fun every Friday this summer – drop in between 1 and 2 p.m. each week for sustainability, conservation, and nature-themed activities for school-age children during a program called Earth-Friendly Fridays!img_0010

Our first week will be spent mixing up homemade suet and making “upcycled” bird feeders out of kitschy coffee mugs.  Later in the summer, we’ll make wildflower seed bombs, rock and bone necklaces, tee shirt tote bags, local food snacks, and much more.

Some special guests will join us from time to time, too!  You won’t want to miss Professor K.W. Therm and his Energy Extravaganza, for instance – plus Johnson County Master Gardener Jackie Wellborn will tell us how to save the honeybees.

Check out the full Earth Friendly Fridays calendar here.

 

 

 

Read to Get Ready for STEAM Fest!: Picture Book Biographies of STEAM Pioneers

by Anne Wilmoth on May 15th, 2017

There’s nothing I love more than a good picture book biography of a little-known historical figure; something that makes you let out a surprised “Huh!” when you turn the final page.

In honor of this week’s STEAM Festival for children (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) here are a handful of books on STEAM trailblazers that promise to fascinate the adult reading them aloud just as much as the child listening.

ThThumbnaile Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman

When Paul Erdos was four years old, he liked to amuse strangers by asking them their age, then announcing how many seconds they’d been alive, after just a moment of mental calculation.  Paul grew up into a brilliant but eccentric mathematician – “he didn’t fit into the world in a regular way” and needed his mother and friends to see to his basic needs – who traveled the world working with other mathematicians, doing math up to nineteen hours a day, and coming up with new kinds of math.  Numbers are sprinkled throughout this simply-told, charming story.

Thumbnail Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone

Society tried to thwart her at every turn, but the first female doctor in America (she graduated from medical school in 1849), wouldn’t be dissuaded.  In a situation that seems laughable today but was all to real in our country’s history, all the other tenants in the building where she opened her first practice were so horrified that they immediately moved out.  Today, more than half of all U.S. medical school students are women, thanks to Elizabeth Blackwell.

Thumbnail Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wellmark

Who wouldn’t be fascinated by trying to wrap their mind around the leap from the first computer to the sophisticated, lightning-fast information machine that we all now carry around in our pocket?  Women have been instrumental in computer technology since its inception, starting with Ada Byron Lovelace.  This thinker, tinkerer, and girl fascinated by numbers went on to write the algorithm that allowed her colleague’s Thinking Machine to work – making her the world’s first computer programmer.

Thumbnail Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis

The Ferris wheel, that mainstay of summer amusement parks across America, got its start at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., a mechanical engineer, won a contest seeking a design more spectacular than the Eiffel Tower, which had wowed attendees at the previous World’s Fair.  The fair committee thought his design couldn’t possibly work and refused to give him the money to build it.  George, despite being laughed out of most banks, eventually secured a loan and paid for the wheel himself; he and wife took the first ride.  The story of this feat of engineering and nostalgic piece of Americana is depicted in illustrations washed in blue and purple that evoke twilight at a state fair, alongside text bursting with fascinating bits of detail.

Thumbnail Balloons Over Brodway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

The little boy who designed a rope-and-pulley system so he could feed the family’s chickens while lying in bed grew up to become the entirely self-taught “father of American puppetry,” the man behind those giant character balloons that millions of people watch on TV every Thanksgiving.  When Tony Sarg came to America, he designed mechanical marionettes for a Macy’s window display.  Later, Macy’s asked him to come up with something more spectacular for the parade than live animals, which were frightening the children – and Tony Sarg’s innovative balloons have risen on Thanksgiving Day every year since 1928.

After finding some inspiration in these books, come down to ICPL’s STEAM Festival and do some problem-solving and discovery of your own!  The STEAM Festival takes place on Friday, May 19 from 9:30-2:30 and Saturday, May 20 from 10-4.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? celebrates 50 years!

by Anne Wilmoth on May 3rd, 2017

This week only, stop by the ICPL Chilimg_4509-1dren’s Department and bask in the rainbow glow of our homage to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, a children’s classic celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Eric Carle, already successful in the advertising industry, never planned a career in children’s books.  But Brown Bear‘s author, Bill Martin, Jr., spotted one of Carle’s advertisements featuring a red lobster in his distinctive collage style.  “The art was so striking,” said Martin, “that I knew instantly I had found the artist to illustrate my next book.”

After Brown Bear was published in 1967, Carle went on to write and illustrate over 70 more children’s books, many of which are similarly beloved by generations of readers.  Brown Bear has been translated into 31 languages and is a wonderful read-aloud for the very young, with its rhythmic text and bold animal illustrations.  (It was the first book I ever read aloud to my firstborn, when she was just four days old.)

If you want to chImage resulteck out the book, the library owns this beloved children’s favorite in English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and Braille, as well as a board book and “big book” format.  (Find it in the catalog.)  Once you’ve found your copy, you can also go on a scavenger hunt around the Children’s Department for all 11 hidden Brown Bear characters (get a special Eric Carle prize!) and make a Brown Bear stick puppet.

At toddler storytime on Tuesday, each child created one of these stick puppets.  The room was filled with a rainbow of horses, fish, frogs, cats, and birds!  We then told the Brown Bear story three ways simultaneously: with the book, with flannel board characters, and with puppets – children held up their animal when it appeared in the story.

Happily, this week is also Children’s Book Week, an annual celebration of books for kids and teens.  Children’s Book Week was launched in 1919 and is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country.  So we expanded our celebration at storytime to include another Eric Carle favorite, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which I told with puppets and giant story cards.  “I know this book!” one child excitedly whispered.

For more Brown Bear, check out the website of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for a video of Carle talking about Brown Bear, printable activity sheets, and a slideshow of fun facts about the book (a grey mouse and a pink elephant appear in the 1970 edition!).