Exploration Station Review: Light and Heavy

Posted & filed under Blog, Early Literacy, Uncategorized, Youth & Teen.

Want to do some crafts at home, as well as explore some scientific principles? Here’s what we did at exploration station this week. You can join us on Thursdays at 11:30 for a new theme every week. This week was light and heavy. We read Balance the Birds, which is a great introduction to the scientific idea of weight, balance, and logic!

We did three activities. The first was a “Does it float?” station, which had two small bins filled half way with water. There was a wide variety of objects – all of which could be found in a house – cloth, pens, magnets, and more. Kids were able to explore whether or not they float, with caregivers asking questions along the way. It allowed kids to think through the idea of weight and how to apply it practically.

Some of our items for our “Does it Float?” Station

The second activity was to use an actual balancing scale. Many kids had not interacted with one before, and found it fascinating to see how directly weight impacted the scale. The fact that some bigger items were not always heavier was a main theme throughout the program.

The final program was to make a DIY scale. Kids used cups with a hole punched in it. They then used string or yarn to make a loop through the hole. They then connected the string to ends on a Popsicle stick. Kids were proud to be able to utilize scales themselves, and excited they could continue to play with weight at home.

Working on our DIY Scales

Join us on Thursdays for more Exploration Stations!

Program Recap: Weird and Wacky Sound Editing

Posted & filed under Blog, Uncategorized, Youth & Teen.

This month, we hosted an introductory sound editing program. This program is unique for many reasons. First, it engaged kids who were not as interested in other, traditional programs, and had a greater interest in music than other mediums. Kids were able to pick their own music, record their own voices, or they can use pre-downloaded audio that was pre-loaded. Second, it accessed a unique combination of traditional creativity combined with modern technology. Most kids had never explored these types of technology pieces, and it was done in a low pressure environment. Third, they were able to have something complicated and their own as a finished piece of audio that was all their own.

Sound Editing Effects

Attached is a list of the effects that we worked with. After briefly going over different effects and how to implement them, kids were able to use their own creativity and explore what they wanted. It was both polished and, indeed, wacky. Be sure to check out our upcoming programs for February! See you there!

Caldecott Club 2020 Voting Party

Posted & filed under Blog, Youth & Teen.

Hi! I’m Miss Eti, one of the Youth & Teen Services librarians. We hosted our highly anticipated Caldecott Club Party on Thursday, January 9 from 3:30-5:00 (and a bit beyond that) at Lincolnwood Library. Over the course of the past three months, we’ve explored twenty incredible picture books published in 2019, conducted picture walks through the books to examine the art with our artist eyes, and voted for our top 11 books that would go to our voting party. We had also developed as a community of readers, gaining new members of our Caldecott Club, who each added new insights to our discussions. It had all come down to this session where we’d choose THE best picture book of 2019. (If you’re new here and want to learn about our program, check out first blog post about Creating a Caldecott Community.)

The books we discussed were:

The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol 

Carl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman 

Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by LeUyen Pham 

Another by Christian Robinson 

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita 

At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre 

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña 

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal 

Saturday by Oge Mora

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson 

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

During this program series, different kids have attended a variety of sessions so it was pretty exciting to have most of our regular attendees – and some new friends – attend our culminating program. The wonderful thing about picture books is their accessibility for engagement, whether you’re a first timer at Caldecott Club or a longtime fan. 

We began our session by reviewing what the Caldecott award is, which is “most distinguished American picture book for children awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children.” Our group used their own language to determine what makes a Caldecott worthy book. Ms. Gaby offered multitasking support by keeping us on track with a timer that allotted five minutes per book. I urged her not to listen to me when I asked for more time – and we were pretty good at sticking to our plans. She also helped us with the slides so everyone could see the images of the books – and frequently went back and forth for the kids to spotlight things they noticed and lead us in close reading. Ms. Lisa, our newest Youth and Teen Services staff member, was also instrumental to the success of our program, managing so many new tasks during her first week with us. A huge thank you to Ms. Gaby and Ms. Lisa for all of their help at Caldecott Club!! We also had a special guest, pre-service teacher educator, Dr. Shira Roth, who kindly brought art giveaways for our Caldecott Club! 

We then jumped into our discussion. I started the conversation about each book with a quick booktalk/picture walk to ensure everyone was familiar with the books. (The summaries below are from the descriptions in our library catalog and the publisher’s pages.) During our discussion, I asked the kids to share what they liked about the art, starting with the positive things first, as per the CCBC Book Discussion Guidelines, and then share what didn’t work for them about the art.

The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol

Tiny creatures rampage through a forest collecting food for themselves only to discover that kindness and cooperation trump greed.

This book was one of our first books we discussed back in October, but our group remembered it fondly. Yu. shared that “the art is neat and nice and understandable.” Al. added that “it’s not one flat color. It has textures and lots of other colors.” M. expressed that “It’s really simple which gives it character.” C. thought that it had a good lesson. Em. shared that “maybe kids would like it so they would know how to not annoy their brothers and sisters,” which we connected to the criteria about recognition of a child audience. Ya. added to our discussion of the theme by saying, “the lesson is sharing is caring.” Ay. mused about the design of the little guys, saying, “it’s kind of creepy so it gives it a kind of scary tone to it, which I like, and at the same time, I don’t like it,” to which, S. added, “yeah they don’t have eyes.” Dan. suggested that maybe their acorn hats are covering their eyes. Dal. wrote on her evaluation that “I like how the little guys look.” L. shared that she liked when they work together. B. shared that he liked the backgrounds, while E. would have liked more color in the backgrounds. F. liked the cartoon style of The Little Guys. S. shared that “I like this book a lot because if you took away all the words, the picture would still tell the story,” which was a huge revelation for our group – and an essential part of evaluating picture books.

Carl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman

Carl is an earthworm. He spends his days happily tunneling in the soil until a field mouse asks him a simple question that stops him short: “Why?” Carl’s quest takes him on an adventure to meet all the animals of the forest, each of whom seems to know exactly what they were put on this earth to do, unlike the curious Carl. But it’s not until the world around him has changed that Carl begins to realize that everyone, no matter how small, makes a big difference just by being themselves.

Our group was really impressed by Deborah Freedman’s use of watercolors and colored pencil, which came up throughout our discussion. Da. shared “I can see that it’s made of watercolors because of the background. It’s just like an effective color.”  Several kids remarked on the design of the animals and how much they enjoyed them. S. pointed out that she liked “how the fox looks the same on every page,” which led us to talk about consistency of design as a hallmark of excellence. Mi. shared how she liked how the art bled to the edge of the page, which helped draw us into Carl’s world. K. shared how he appreciated how you could see the grass and dirt – and could see Carl everywhere. Yu. recognized that this book had a lot to teach us. 

Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by LeUyen Pham 

Once there was a river flowing through a forest. The river didn’t know it was capable of adventures until a big bear came along. But adventures aren’t any fun by yourself, and so enters Froggy, Turtles, Beaver, Racoons, and Duck. These very different animals take off downstream, but they didn’t know they needed one another until thankfully, the river came along.

Em. liked so many things like how the pages are colorful and you’re with the animals on the trip. This led us into a discussion about perspective, which LeUyen Pham does so well. Da. shared, “I can see their mood,” which helped us talk about the characters’ expressions in the art. K. shared, “I like how the turtle is many colors. I like how everything is unordinary. How all the animals hang out together. My favorite thing is how the book literally shows them in the water going fast.” C. shared, “I like how there’s different kinds of trees.” S. ruminated about the drawings, considering how they are nice and simple at the same time, declaring them “simply nice,” which provoked us to think about how art that looks simple took a lot of work to look almost effortless. F. shared that she liked how the pages are full of color with not a lot of white space. K. led us in a close read of the book, compelling us to return to the scene when the animals are at the brink of falling down the waterfall. C. declared that “it’s like VR (virtual reality),” which caused Mi. to add how she liked how the book’s orientation changes as we move forward. S. added that “I like how we can see what they see and we’re in their perspective.” It’s really incredible how kids’ ideas fuel each other’s insights.

Another by Christian Robinson 

A young girl and her cat take an imaginative journey into another world where they discover others like them.

K. instantly made a text-to-text connection to The Other Mother from Coraline, which provoked me to share how Another is also influenced by Alice in Wonderland. Em. shared how “the pictures are up and down. And you know what’s going to happen from future spreads in earlier ones like the colored balls,” leading us to talk about how predictions work in this book. Like Bear Came Along, this book also challenged our ideas of perspective – and took it to the next level. Our group had many questions about the world of the story. Da. shared how he was confused about how the girl woke up to discover the portal. Yu. shared that the light and noise of the portal could have woken her up. She shared that the pictures are very unique, which you don’t see it often, connecting Another to the criteria about books being individually distinct. Mi. shared that she loved the parallel selves scene. Ay. wondered about the imaginary world and how it worked – so we talked about how we had to suspend our disbelief to explore Another. K. offered a pragmatic solution: “Maybe she’s dreaming.” S. noticed that “there’s so much white space,” as a design feature of the story. 

After this book, I put in a movement break where we stretched up and down to get some of our wiggles out. Out of all the changes I made in this program, this was the best way I implemented. Yes, we did pretend to be the little guys reaching for the berry and then toppling over.

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita 

Aidan, a transgender boy, experiences complicated emotions as he and his parents prepare for the arrival of a new baby.

I started our discussion by sharing a picture of Kyle and Kaylani together. We had the opportunity to host Kyle at our library earlier this fall and he told us he was going to meet Kaylani for the first time – and our Caldecott Club was super invested in this meeting. Sa. liked the details in the art, which I shared was done digitally, although it feels like watercolors. F. shared how she liked “how the text matched the pictures and worked together well. The art gives people more information about what is going on.” We learned from Kyle how he left space for Kaylani to work her illustrator magic – and our kids noticed how effectively she applied her skills to tell this story. Sa. shared that she liked that you don’t find out the gender of the baby or what their name is. K. pointed out how Aidan is holding the baby at the end of the story, which was an effective choice for the final spread. L. shared how she liked the scene where they paint the baby’s room, which is also my favorite spread.

At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre

At the mountain’s base sits a cabin under an old hickory tree. And in that cabin lives a family–loving, weaving, cooking, and singing. The strength in their song sustains them through trials on the ground and in the sky, as they wait for their loved one, a pilot, to return from war.

Yu. shared how it’s a good book. She told us how around Veteran’s Day she shared it with her Social Studies teacher who read it to her class who really liked it. This led us to talk about how it’s individually distinct, unlike anything else we’ve read this year. Mi. pointed out how the family was connected to their family member in the plane. She was  curious to know more about Ola Mildred “Millie” Rexcoat, an Oglala Lakota pilot who inspired this book, so we made sure to read selections from the author’s note. 

The group was curious to know more about the airforce building that honored her. I want to make sure I share this information here that the Ellsworth Airfield Operations Building was renamed the “Millie Rexroat Building,” on Oct. 2, 2017. Em. wondered about how when they were praying if they could talk to their loved one. We talked about the family’s connection to their family member and their ancestors. This reminded me of a quote from an Cynsations interview with the author, Traci Sorell, who shared, “I hope [the book] sparks discussions about the contributions that Native people have made that go unnoticed. I also want to uplift how Native Nations honor those active duty military personnel and veterans regardless of how they are treated in the broader United States culture or by its federal government. Similarly, there is no separation between our lives here and the spirit world, all are connected. I love that Weshoyot’s art shows that so beautifully.” Fe. liked how the art zooms in the airplanes and goes closer, using comic panels to express these ideas. She also added “I like how they’re talking about weaving and then we see the airplane on the pattern.” We talked about how Weshoyot did her research about these traditional Cherokee weaving practices. B. shared how he liked the scene with the pilot in the air connected to her ancestors.

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña

When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with her papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she’s always known. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her.

Fe. began our discussion by sharing, “I like how it’s about love,” which really captured the essence of the theme. Em. liked how the conflict was solved at the end with Daisy Ramona and her family getting raspados. Sa. liked how the art showed the stores with actual names, which helped ground the story in reality. The group enjoyed the sense of movement and action in the pages. 

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal. Fry bread is food. It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate. Fry bread is time. It brings families together for meals and new memories. Fry bread is nation. It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond. Fry bread is us. It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.

Our group was very curious if Kevin and Juana talked to each other through the process of creating Fry Bread, as we’ve discussed how illustrators don’t often talk to authors. Sam. pointed out how she like how it has details in the characters like the tattoos, which I shared were Seminole symbols tattooed on the wrist.  K. shared that the art made him thoughtful. Our group was increasingly curious about how to make fry bread, which led us to examine the back-matter of the book, including the recipe that Kevin provided. This book definitely sparked our group’s interest in making fry bread, which then provided an important opportunity to talk about authenticity and respect. Our kids would love to invite Kevin to come join us at our library to talk about making Fry Bread, the book and food! This was an important opportunity to talk again about how Native people are here in our community. We all gushed about how much we love the baby in the “Fry Bread is You” spread. 

Saturday by Oge Mora 

When all of their special Saturday plans go awry, Ava and her mother still find a way to appreciate one another and their time together.

Al. shared how Saturday looks like it’s made out of paper, which led us to talk about how it’s made with collages made with acrylic paint, china markers, patterned paper, and old book clippings and then hand-lettered. Em. pointed out that the tickets are on the table at the beginning of the story. Dal. shared how she liked that it was a bit abstract. S. pointed out the effectiveness of the  park scene. C. pointed out how the book is also made of newspaper clippings. Sa. shared how she liked how detailed the book is that is made of words. I’d love to know more about the source material that Oge Mora used to create Saturday myself, which I know has hidden layers we’ve yet to uncover.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson 

Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.


Sa. immediately pointed out how she liked how Kadir Nelson’s illustrations look realistic, which led us all to obsess about how these oils on panel paintings are extraordinary. L. wondered how Kadir made the pictures look so good. Our special guest, Dr. Roth, responded, “Kadir Nelson is a genius.” Our group was particularly moved by the “The Unspeakable” spread with the cracked photographs. This is a painting of pictures of Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Westley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise Mcnair, the four young girls who were killed in the racially motivated 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham on September 15, 1963. There are so many moments within The Undefeated that readers return to again and again.  K. shared that “this book makes me feel strong.” He shared an illustration to express this feeling. What could be better than kids responding to picture books by making art?

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

A little girl’s daddy steps in to help her arrange her curly, coiling, wild hair into styles that allow her to be her natural, beautiful self.

Br. shared that he loved that the dad has cool hair too. Our group really like making connections between the Hair Love short film and the picture book. I’m so glad that we had a chance to watch it during our extra session when we made art based on the picture books. It’s clear they remembered a lot from the film. Bi. shared how everything is not empty in the backgrounds. Fe. shared how it’s related to My Papi has a Motorcycle since it’s about a daughter and father relationship. At the end of the program, Mi. shared with me that she loves that it’s about natural hair.

We had successfully discussed all eleven books and were ready to vote for their top 3 picture books. This was definitely a challenge for many kids who didn’t have one favorite – or had too many favorites. The struggle is real. Once they voted, they were tasked with completing an evaluation. When they completed the evaluation, they each received a prize bag. While I did the math with the ballots, Ms. Gaby and Ms. Lisa ran a raffle with the kids to give away a bunch of swag that Dr. Roth brought for us and some additional merch related to the books we studied. I really appreciate their willingness to help out with the raffle, which was no easy feat – and something I’m definitely changing for the future Caldecott Club since it made it a bit too chaotic at the end. But kids do so love prizes…

Finally, the math was complete and we were ready to announce our winners!

The Winner of our 2019 Mock Caldecott is….

The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol!

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The moment we revealed the winner…

Our Honor Books are:

Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by LeUyen Pham 

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita 

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña 

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Finally, our group received their well-deserved CaldeCookies as a delicious treat for their hard work!

Our group created this video to “make the call” to let Vera Brosgol know that they had chosen her book as our Mock Caldecott winner.

But wait, there’s more!

Please join us for our Caldecott Club Viewing Party at the library of the webcast of the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards on Monday, January 27 at 3:30pm, including the Newbery, Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Book Awards. We’ll provide predictions, refreshments, and raffle off Beekle and a signed copy of When Aidan Became a Brother! Everyone will receive a free 2019 Caldecott Award poster donated by Baker & Taylor. You can watch the webcast live that morning at 7am CST – but please keep the secrets before our group gets together.

Did you miss any of our sessions? Curious what happens in Caldecott Club? Want to know the brilliant things our kids said? Check out our recaps of each of the previous sessions!


Caldecott Club Session 1

Caldecott Club Session 2

Caldecott Club Session 3

Caldecott Club Session 4

Caldecott Club Session 5




Exploration Station Activities: Magnets

Posted & filed under Blog, Early Literacy, Uncategorized, Youth & Teen.

For our first exploration station of the new year, we looked at all the different things magnets can do! We did three activities after going over what a magnet is, focusing on what things are magnetic, and what they are.

Our first activity was Magnetic Sensory Painting. We used a paper plate, paper clips, magnet wands and paint. Using a magnet underneath the plate, kids could drag the paper clips to paint their own masterpiece!

Magnet Sensory Paintings
Magnet Sensory Painting

Our second activity was DIY magnets. Kids cut out letters, pictures, and used paper magnets to explore how they can use magnets in their own everyday life.

DIY Mangets

Our last activity was a magnet Sensory Bin, which is all about figuring out what is magnetic and what is not! Kids dug and explored through a bin to find the magnetic items and sorted them between magnetic and non-magnetic. This gave kids hands-on experience to deepen their understanding of magnetism, as well as promoted classification and sorting, an early math skill. What activities will we do next week? Visit us on Thursdays at 11:30am to find out!