Week 10: Informational books

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The books that we discussed in class and a couple others to think about as informational books:

  • Arato, Rona. 2013. The last train: a Holocaust story. Toronto, Ontario: Owlkids.
  • Beaty, Andrea, and David Roberts. 2016. Ada Twist, scientist. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.
  • Bryant, Jennifer, and Melissa Sweet. 2014. The right word: Roget and his thesaurus. Grand Rapids MI : Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
  • Gomi, Taro, and Amanda Mayer Stinchecum. 2009. Everyone poops. La Jolla, CA: Kane Miller.
  • Ellis, Deborah. 2012. Kids of Kabul: Living bravely through a never-ending war. Toronto : Groundwood Books.
  • McIntyre, Marina. 2015. National Theatre: All about theatre. United Kingdom : Walker Books.
  • Rosen, Michael, and Quentin Blake. 2011. Michael Rosen’s sad book. London: Walker.
  • Silverberg, Cory, and Fiona Smyth. 2015. Sex is a funny word. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press.
  • Sis, Petr. 2008. The wall: growing up behind the Iron Curtain. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Smith, David J., and Steve Adams. 2015. If: a mind-bending new way of looking at big ideas and numbers. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: New Frontier Publishing.
  • Vande Griek, Susan, and Karen Reczuch. 2012. Loon. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press.
  • Vermond, Kira, and Julie McLaughlin. 2014. Why we live where we live. Toronto; Berkeley, CA : Owlkids Books.

Guest speaker – Renee McGrath: “Be ready to serve”

Today we are talking with Renee McGrath, Youth Services Manager for the Nassau Library System. She is also a GSLIS alumna, an active member of YALSA and other local and national library organizations; for example, she is part of the Editorial Advisory Board at YALS. She has also done writing and presentations about different topics related to youth and public libraries. As you will discover in the podcast, a topic she is invested in is service in libraries to citizens on the autism spectrum and she has written about it.
For her contact information and a list of other Youth Services Consultants in New York’s Public Library Systems, check this page.
During the interview, Renee mentioned some resources that I collect here so you can visit them:

And now the conversation, hope you enjoy it!

Read aloud resources at Rosenthal/CUNY

So, as I commented in class, I was quite surprised that all these different resources were still in the shelves of Rosenthal while all of you are polishing your read aloud and booktalk activities. The resources in the syllabus are just a starting point, so I was hoping you were using your reference skills to explore other resources.

Here you have the list of books I brought to class: some books come from Education and others from LIS, so beware of the different approaches to the task. Also, some authors might be usual aspects and there are some surprises embedded in the links. Some of your classmates have chosen blogs that complement this selection, especially if you are having a hard time choosing a book:

For those of you who might feel a bit more adventurous, check this out.


Week 4: Podcasts


Hoffman, Heinrich. Der Struwwelpeter, 1917. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=465897


Randolph Caldecott. Public domain. https//commons.wikiemdia.org/w/index.php?curid=1577408












Podcast 1: Picturebooks, basic definition and history highlights

Podcast 2: Picturebooks as objects


Sources for exploration:

  • Nodelman, P. (1999). Decoding the images: Illustration and picture books. In Peter Hunt (ed.) Understanding children’s literature, 69-80.
  • Popova, M (n.d.) A Brief History of Children’s Picture Books and the Art of Visual Storytelling. Brainpickings.  Available at https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/02/24/childrens-picturebooks/
  • Sendak, M. (1988). Caldecott & Co: Notes on books and pictures. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
  • Reynolds, K. (2010). Radical children’s literature: Future visions and aesthetic transformations in juvenile fiction. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Especially pp.24-34.

8 questions to explore children’s materials from a librarian POV.


questionsFollowing you can find the questions that I will share with the guest speakers. The guest speakers are mainly librarians that work on collection development and since the course is focused on materials, try to focus your question on that area of children’s librarianship. Following you can find the final 8 questions. Some of the questions we discussed in class have become follow up or example questions for a general one. Let me know if you have any concerns about them


  1. Please, walk us through an average day in your job, how would you explain your job to the average person? Other than the average day, how do you prefer spending your days in the library? Any favourite activities?
  2. How do you stay current on different media trends among babies, children and their families?
  3. How much does the curriculum or your relationship with local schools influence your selections? How do you try to integrate local authors or local organizations in your work?
  4. What is your best technique for effective reader’s advisory for early readers? For example, how do you get to the needs of your young patrons? How do you work with parents?
    1. How do you introduce new materials in the library so families are aware and interested in using it?
    2. Any advice on dealing with a parent who finds a book that you selected offensive or inappropriate? Or how do you justify purchasing materials that you know might create some controversy?
  5. Is there any professional resources that you would highlight for future youth-focused librarians? Did resources come up in the interviewing process? How much did you know going in? How much did you learn on the job?
  6. Could you discuss some current or future trends you see in libraries? For example, what are some pros and cons you find when selecting materials that promote digital materials/reading?
  7. Highlight an insight, an opportunity, or a role model/mentor that inspired or helped in your career
  8. Overall, what would you say is the biggest challenge in your job? How do you deal with it? And the main reward of your position? What is one piece of advice you would like to share with future librarians?





Week 2: What is Childhood? A snowday post


By Hine, Lewis Wickes, 1874-1940, photographer. {Public domain} Wikimedia

Some of you might have heard of the new Disney show Newsies. What is interesting for us to consider and discuss is the historic event that the musical is based one, the strike that newsboys promoted in 1899, how they unionized and rebelled against media tycoons of the time, William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. Those were children who had to work, became political, and fought for their labour rights: a very different image from the idea of childhood that we tend to have nowadays. Hopefully after last week’s exercise, different constructions and experiences of childhood have become more relevant to your thinking about what a child is.

The questions that we tackle today in class are not easy and researchers still discuss and unpack these two concepts. For example, Ariès’s Centuries of Childhood (1960)  is considered a foundational work in the field of children’s history, although not the first one (George Henry Payne’s The Childhood in Human Progress (1916)). However, Ariès’ work is still both recommended and criticized nowadays, why? He pointed out that childhood was a concept that emerged after the middle ages, that period in someone’s life was less treasured, was not recognized or valued as a distinct phase of human existence. So, the difference between the experiences, the lives of adults and children were less distinct. Let’s not travel back to the 17th or 18th century, but just to the example I used to introduce this post. What is the different between an adult and a child when children do work, are political/politicized beings, and, for example, organize themselves to improve their livelihood? This example just points at the idea that childhood is a concept that depends very much on context: historical, geographical, political.
This discussion and a larger explorations of these questions is the topic of entire courses in disciplines such as Education, Literature, Sociology, or Childhood Studies. In this course, we will focus on it for two classes, but it will emerge on all out discussion. Because the materials we select for our libraries speak of and reflect how we (and those of the communities we serve) understand and construct children and childhood.
If you want to explore a resources that expands on some of the points here and connects them with the study of children’s literature, you can go here: Representing Childhood, a well-research project from the University of Pittsburgh that explores “the various ways in which people have imagined childhood over the centuries.” And to introduce youth in this discussion, see this enlighten discussion from Australian youth youtuber thisisnotHolly.

Some of you wrote on your posts about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I shared the text written in child friendly language because these rights are meant to be shared and discussed with children and teens. Some of you even expressed concern because the USA is the only country who has not ratified the convention. Why exactly? To be ratified, the Convention mainly needs to be supported by 2/3 of the Senate and the President. This has not yet happened because of an accumulation of different reasons, mainly connected to power and education: some groups see this text as potentially interfering with USA sovereignty; some parenting groups think it will mean that children could choose their own religion, would have a legally enforceable right to leisure, that will enforce certain expending in children’s welfare etc… You can check a fairly balanced discussion of this issue in this page from Amnesty International.

How would the Convention influence the status and lives of children in the USA? Well, a result of the lack of ratification is that these rights have not been systematically implemented. Although the only tool that the Convention has is periodic reporting for comparison and measure developments. What that would look like? These are some basic target points that are discussed  at length in the comparative reading for this week:

  • Poverty: USA 30th out of 34 OECD countries for child poverty (2010). Around 20% of children in the United States live in poverty (OECD average 13.3%)
  • Maternal Leave: USA only high-income country not to grant paid maternity leave, paternity leave?
  • Criminal Justice: USA sentences offenders under the age of 18 to life in prison without parole.

Beyond these overall points, some of you also highlighted the importance of article 17:

You have the right to get information that is important to your well-being, from radio, newspaper, books, computers and other sources. Adults should make sure that the information you are getting is not harmful, and help you find and understand the information you need.

Two texts, by Sacino and Koren, try to comment and explain further the implications of these article. Theoretically its spirit is “less about removing and more about the obligation of adults to create a good cultural climate, with good books, good libraries and good librarians” (Sacino 2012, p.68). This interpretation links to your third reading, the interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: Access to Library Resources and Services for Minors.

The second pair of readings introduce Growing Up NYC,a program that has at its core “introduce parents and caregivers to the many wonderful and valuable City services available to all New Yorkers” as well as collect data “to help City agencies make strategic, evidence-based investments in programs that promote health, development, and safety for children.” Interestingly, the press release i shared with you as a complementary readings for the program portal mentions teachers and healthcare givers, should it mention librarians too?

I have decided not to share the voluntary tasks, try to enjoy or stay safe in this snowday. However, I do not want to leave you without a thought for you to ponder about: Do children in the USA have the right to an education, healthcare and protection? Is this right protected by whom? And how?



Welcome 737 S2017 students!

This blog in combination with the classroom and the Twitter account conform the spaces where your learning for this class will happen. More concretely, here you will soon be able to access your classmates blogs, as well as resources and thoughts before and after class.

As you are in the process of creating or adapting your blog, I am in the process of capturing your blogs and adding resources that are more specific to 737 instead of 777 ad 739. So, visit it frequently and be patient while it grows.

For the first class, you had to choose and comment on a video that informs and expands your overall understanding of what a child is or what childhood is. Those videos needs to show children in a different moment of history or a different country. My examples were the following:

First video: A commentary from the History channel on the end of child labour and its connection to the beginning of considering the importance of children’s education to help them participate in a democratic society. It is also interesting to point that children were considered better labour because of their physicality and because it was more difficult for them to unionized.

Second video: A brief comparison about self-reliance in kids from Japan and Australia and how much this characteristic depends on how we see kids as a community and a society.