Only for the Fortunate Few? School Libraries in Chicago

From The Chicago Sun-Times: A beautiful new library opened last week in Humboldt Park for the 800 students of Daniel R. Cameron Elementary School. Puffy pillows await children for story time; new chairs sit at brand new tables, and shelves of books line the long, light-filled room. Quotes from children’s literature adorn the freshly painted walls. “Let the wild rumpus start!” reads one from Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.”

A very grateful Cameron community celebrated the opening with Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who praised the room as “absolutely amazing” and told children that libraries were her favorite place as a girl.

“You are fortunate now to have a library,” Byrd-Bennett said at Thursday’s festive ribbon-cutting. “We know you’re going to be successful because you have this precious resource.”

But still, 252 of the 527 Chicago Public Schools that are staffed by union teachers lack a librarian, and 18 more schools have just a part-time librarian, according to the Chicago Teachers Union. By CPS’ count of 658 schools, which includes charters, 517 schools have libraries, according to district spokesman Joel Hood, who did not provide a count of librarians.

Toronto Public Library Asked To Remove Hop On Pop For Encouraging Violence

Here's [PDF] the Materials Review Committee Reconsideration of Materials Summary for 2013 from the Toronto Public Libraries... It lists a complaint against Hop on Pop... Encourages children to use violence against their fathers: Remove from collection and issue an apology to fathers in the GTA and pay for damages resulting from the book. "The children are actually told not to hop on pop. "

Miami-Dade Children's Books Budget Cuts

This is a tragedy.

From The Miami Herald: Squeezed by tax cuts, Florida’s largest library system can’t buy nearly the number of children’s books it used to.

Countywide, Miami-Dade libraries budgeted about $90,000 for children’s books this year, a fraction of the $1.3 million the system spent in 2005 and about 60 percent below the $210,000 budget in place just three years ago.

Right-Wing French Politician Protests Childrens Book "Everybody Get Naked"

Here's the story via Melville House about a three year old childrens book that is ruffling some French feathers.

In a country where the banning of books is rare and mostly unheard of, France has recently experienced a spate of attacks by its politicians on the most liberal of French children’s books. Right-wing and even mainstream politicians have begun calling for the censorship of certain books in a trend that seems to reflect that “the domestic political system in France is under strain”, as Olivia Snaije noted for Publishing Perspectives.

In the most public example, the leader of the UMP, France’s main opposition party (which was previously led by President Nicolas Sarkozy), Jean-François Copé, appeared on French TV holding a copy of Tous à Poil (Everybody Gets Naked). Surely one of the sweetest ideas for a children’s book, Tous à Poil is a story in which everyone, the baby, the babysitter, the neighbour, the teacher and even the CEO get naked. The book’s authors, Claire Franek and Marc Daniau, explained they had written it in in order to show:

“Real bodies in natural situations from a child’s everyday life to counter the numerous images of bodies, often undressed, altered by Photoshop or plastic surgery, that are shown in ads or on the covers of magazines.”

Librarian Who Struggled to Read as a Child Now Helps Others in Staten Island

From The New York Times:

Patricia Ann Kettles did not read her first book until she was 10. She knows what it is to struggle with the very act of reading, trying to make sense of words on a page long past an age when other children can polish off a thick Harry Potter or Twilight novel as quickly as a wedge of cake.

Now 40, at the library on Staten Island where she presides and where patrons know her fondly as “Miss Patty,” she talked recently about what it was like to be illiterate while others around her were devouring entire worlds.

“The family’s name for me is Patty Ann, and for the longest time when I wrote the name ‘Patricia,’ I thought I was writing ‘Patty Ann’ because I had memorized it,” she said. “I didn’t realize I was not writing my right name.”

Forced to repeat first grade and twice made to switch schools, she was so lost that she was in fourth grade before she conquered an entire book. “That was ‘Dear Mr. Henshaw,’ by Beverly Cleary,” Ms. Kettles said. “I remember, because I was so proud.”

Today she is the manager of the Port Richmond Library, which operates out of a stately brick edifice that Andrew Carnegie’s largess built a century ago on “one of the finest residence streets on Staten Island,” as the area was described in The Staten Islander of March 1905. There is a theater in the basement bestowed upon the library 74 years ago by the Work Projects Administration.

Last Week to Enter Lego Duplo Contest

**LAST WEEK** to enter your local public library for a chance to win $5,000 for their children's programs.

Click here to enter.

Contest ends 10/15. Check out the Lego/Duplo page on Facebook.

Librarians, Get Yer FREE Copies Here!!

Who could refuse? Workman Publishing, via Early Word is offering a FREE COPY of a new book by Chip Kidd, GO, an introduction to graphic design for kids, but also a wonderful primer for adults. Be one of the first 50 librarians or instructors to respond!

Do School Children Really Need Librarians?

Yes and no, according to your perspective.

City Limits, a NYC blog reports that earlier this summer, the Department of Education requested a variance from the state, asking official permission to offer fewer librarians in schools. While the DOE says it recognizes librarians' value, in the face of fiscal challenges and technological changes the department is looking for alternative ways to provide students with library services. In place of hiring certified librarians, schools could train teachers to offer the same services, bring in parent volunteers or have librarians circulate between schools.

Meanwhile, elementary schools are exempt from the regulation altogether. Some elementary school libraries are staffed by teachers or librarians without certification. Some even go without.

And from the librarians' POV: "The idea that a shelf full of a books somehow replaces a librarian is wrong," says Christian Zabriskie, Executive Director of Urban Librarians Unite, a professional group that supports librarianship in urban settings. "If I'm exploring things about, say, my sexuality, drug issues, health issues, I can't grab those books in front of my peers," he adds. Zabriskie's own middle school librarian had a significant impact on his life by supporting him when he was being bullied and teaching him how to stand up for others.

A Summer Reading Program and Its Discontents

Via Gawker a librarian who is sick to death of the same kid always having read the greatest number of books at the summer reading program.

Nine-year old Tyler Weaver calls himself “the king of the reading club” at Hudson Falls Public Library. But now it seems Hudson Falls (NY) Public Library Director Marie Gandron wants to end his five-year reign and have him dethroned. Tyler won the six-week-long “Dig into Reading” event by completing 63 books from June 24 to Aug. 3, averaging more than 10 a week.

He has consistently been the top reader since kindergarten, devouring a total of 373 books over the five contests, according to his mother, Katie.

“It feels great,” said Tyler, an intermediate scholar student at Hudson Falls School. “I think that was actually a record-breaking streak.”

Everyone is so proud of him. Everybody, it seems, but Gandron, who was surprised to learn Katie (his mom) notified a Post-Star reporter about her son being a longtime winner. During a phone call Tuesday to Gandron, the library director said Tyler “hogs” the contest every year and he should “step aside.” “Other kids quit because they can’t keep up,” Gandron said.

Gandron further told the reporter she planned to change the rules of the contest so that instead of giving prizes to the children who read the most books, she would draw names out of a hat and declare winners that way. She said she can’t now because Katie has come forward to the newspaper.

Gandron said she has an “attitude” about the contest because several years ago a little girl came in claiming she had read more than 200 books. Her mother backed her up, but it was discovered the girl was lying.

The ABC of It: Exhibit on Childrens Books at the NYPL

The great green room and the purple crayon are here; so are the wild things and the poky puppy, Charlotte’s web and Alice’s wonderland, the very hungry caterpillar and the stinky cheese man. It is a reunion of creatures, characters and creations, gathered from memories of childhood and parenthood, and celebrated in “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter,” a remarkably rich new exhibition at the New York Public Library.

Story and slide show from the New York Times.


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