Tuesday, November 11, 2014


I had a fabulous time swooping into the Wisconsin Dells (Wisconsin's own little Las Vegas) this past week. I would highly reccommend that everyone go and check their state association out. While I love ALA, it's really lovely to go to a conference where the majority of people you meet are within driving distance. It's also really refreshing to see how many amazing things are happening in your very own state! We have some amazing people in Youth Services in Wisconsin. Go join the Youth Services Section if you're already a WLA member. If you're not, then definitely become one. If you don't live in Wisconsin, then just move here. Totally worth it, I swear.

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The safari-themed hotel really helped set my mood for the conference. For the record, I am not being sarcastic. I truly loved the outrageous hotel. I know people thought it was outlandish (it was) and over the top (absolutely), but I loved it. I loved the stupid lobby music, all the little shops, restaurants, and tourist trap places. I would go to the Dells on a monthly basis if I had the vacation time! So there.

I had the pleasure of presenting two different programs while at WLA. I was lucky enough to present with some of my favorite colleagues Linda and Sara. We decided to be as ridiculous as possible and Sara made up a Chuck Norris themed presentation. I'll include the slides because they're amazing. Unfortunately, you'll literally get nothing from the slides other than laughs. We did give really great information though and you can get all the info about our tours FIELD TRIP ADVENTURES! here  here and here. Sara is a genius with slide decks.

Next, I presented with two lovely women, Tiffany Meyer and Ann Hardginski, about preschool programming. We wanted to encourage people to break out of their storytime ruts, and try new things! Throughout the presentation we talked about a variety of different programs and our crowd had great questions. The slides are included below. If you have any questions about a specific program email me and I will forward it on to the right presenter.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Early Literacy Center- Mail Time Part 2

For part one of this post go on ahead over here.

Once our new and improved Play and Learn area had been up for about a week, I knew there was more we could be offering our patrons. While they absolutely loved the mailboxes and delivering letters, I realized they would also love WRITING letters to their favorite characters.

Our amazing aide made our bulletin board directing kids to ask for supplies at the desk. Since I'm a huge failure I unfortunately didn't take a picture of it. The kids just had to come to the desk and we'd give them a small piece of cardstock to write/draw their letter on. The project went well with a few people doing it the first few days. Kids would write their letters and "mail them" in our play mailbox. However, it wasn't the smash hit I was expecting.

Luckily, I work with a bunch of geniuses. Our teen librarian, Linda, suggested having the character write back to the letter writer. This quickly became one of the greatest and coolest things we've ever done.

We started posting the letters on our bulletin board with the attached responses. We had over 40 letters within 3 weeks. We had a core group of about 6 kids that came back at least once a week to see what their character had said back and to write another one. We also had adults checking the board each week because they thought the letters were hilarious. One mom told me that her kids had talked all week about who they were going to write their letter to. Another mom came up after we had taken the board down to request that we write a letter for her daughter who was very upset that Elsa hadn't written back to her. I wrote one really fast and her face lit up like I had given her a bowl of candy.

Seriously, if you have a bulletin board or wall space in your library then you should do this project. It's simple and fun, plus writing the letters back is an amazing job. Here are some of my favorites...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Early Literacy Center- Mail time! Part 1

We were very fortunate this year to receive a Community Foundation Grant to upgrade our Early Literacy Center. We purchased some big furniture pieces that we'll be rotating out quarterly. This will help keep the area new and exciting for our littlest patrons.

We decided to open our newly renovated area with one of our coolest purchases. A mailbox of course!

Kids love getting mail, and they love pretending to be a mail person even more. After visiting the Eau Clair library and seeing their great early literacy area and reading the great mailbox ideas over at Libraryland I knew we had to jump on the mail train. 

We made mailboxes for some of our favorite characters and wrote each of them a letter. This was my favorite part.

This has been a huge hit in our Play and Learn area. Kids can organize the mail, deliver the mail to their friends, and then mail the letters back in the mailbox. I've seen kids pretend to be a mail person for over 30 minutes. It's pretty awesome.

We've also added a writing component to our area, but I'll talk about that more in part 2!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hello Again!

Hello dear friend! I am so sorry that this blog has been abandoned over summer. Life has been a little crazy over in La Crosse.

Imagine this... but with children.
 I'm the guy in the yellow coat.

Our summer reading was a smashing success! We went prizeless this year, and you can read about it over on Marge's blog. TL:DR is that it was amazing. Kids loved it and so did the parents. Everyone should go prizeless next year, ok?


My name is now legally and officially Brooke Newberry. Isn't that the best last name for a children's librarian?! I am changing my name professionaly as well. Since no one knew how to spell or pronounce my maiden name I don't think this will cause too much heartache.

Storytime outlines (I have about 12 of them) will start going up next week, and then we will hopefully return to our regularly scheduled, slightly less sporadic, blogging. Thanks for sticking it out with me friends!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Play, Baby, Play! and other fun ALA adventures

Two weeks ago I was in Vegas for ALA Annual! It was a fabulous, hot, and humid time. While there I was able to attend a committee meeting, some great presentations, and even give a few myself. Since I can't figure out if my slides are actually available through ALA or not, I decided to go ahead and post them up here.

I was lucky enough to present with the fabulous Kendra of Read, Sing, Play. We are both extremely passionate about early literacy programming, storytimes, and cheap wine, so it was a perfect match for us to present together. We decided to do an IGNITE session where each slide advances every 15 seconds and we have 5 minutes total.

It was seriously one of the coolest things I've ever done. It's amazing how much information you can get out in 5 minutes! It also makes you realize how much people ramble in presentations when they don't need to (guilty).

I'm assuming the picture is a little blurry because of
 the manic energy we were putting out there. 

Here are all of our slides:

I also presented with the fabulous joint chiefs of Storytime Underground about storytime. We had a great crowd and they had some amazing things to share at the end of the presentation.

Four Guerrilla Storytimes happened at ALA as well. The wrap-ups can be found over at Storytime Underground. Everyone was amazing and I found like 10 new things that I want to start doing in storytime immediately.

The highlight of my conference was the Newbery-Caldecott Banquet. I was very fortunate to receive the Kate McClelland and Kathy Kransnieqicz Scholarship since this was my first ALA. The scholarship was sponsored by Random House so I was invited to sit at their fancy table at the banquet. I sat next to Clare Vanderpool, Matt De La Pena, and Markus Zusak! It was probably the coolest night of my life. I couldn't even look at Markus for like 75% of the banquet. They were all very lovely to me.

My biggest regret was that I didn't have enough free time to go and find Elvis. My dad is absolutely obsessed with him and I knew he would be slightly disappointed in me. As I was getting off the plane in Minneapolis, I heard a familiar voice behind me. It was ELVIS! He had followed me all the way back to Minnesota. He said he was coming to visit family and only impersonated in the winter usually, but I think it's because he knew I needed to tell my dad that I was successful in my search.

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