Caldecott Club Voting Party 2021

Posted & filed under Blog, Book Discussions, Early Literacy, Youth & Teen.

Welcome back to our 2021 Caldecott Club! I’m Miss Eti, one of the Youth & Teen Services librarians at Lincolnwood Library. We have come full circle during this, our 4th Caldecott Club, inspired by the fantastic program that Brian Wilson created at Evanston Public Library in 2016. This year we are hosting a collaborative virtual Caldecott Club WITH Mr. Brian and Evanston Public Library. We have been learning so much about how to host this program virtually – and it’s been so fun to join together across our community to geek out about gorgeous picture books!

We met together on Zoom on January 19, 2021 with a group of wonderful readers, their families, and friends to talk about all things picture books. We designed this program to be open to kids from around 1st grade through 8th grade and up because picture books are for everybody and everyone can learn from each other. I’ve tried to recap their brilliance in this post. (You can read the recaps from Session #1 here, Session #2 here, and Session #3 here.) We reached the culmination of our hard work picture walking and evaluating picture books for months: The Voting Party! We were joined by our program buddy, Ann, and our Evanston Library buddy, Laura. We also were joined by a special guest, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blogger, author, and librarian, Julie Danielson!

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.” Mr. Brian, as usual, revealed the books we’d discuss and helped get us excited! He also encouraged us to listen to each other and approach each book with an open mind. We then jumped into our discussion. We 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 from the publishers’ pages.) During our discussion, we 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. A reoccurring theme throughout our discussion that the kids brought up was comparing the books to each other, which is a helpful strategy for all committees.

Our essential questions were:

  • What did you like about the art?
  • How well did the art express the themes/ideas/story? 
  • Why should it win our Caldecott Club Award? 
  • What could have been done better? Why shouldn’t it win our Caldecott Club Award?

Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat


Iris loves to push the elevator buttons in her apartment building, but when it’s time to share the fun with a new member of the family, she’s pretty put out. That is, until the sudden appearance of a mysterious new button opens up entire realms of possibility, places where she can escape and explore on her own. But when she’s forced to choose between going at it alone or letting her little brother tag along, Iris finds that sharing a discovery with the people you love can be the most wonderful experience of all.

Brian led our discussion about Lift. He started with a fantastic booktalk to recap Iris’s whirlwind adventures with the magical elevator button. He pointed out the unique features of the art in the comic-book style, the evocative facial expressions and body language, the use of humor, the dramatic page turns and double-page spreads, and use of perspective.

One reader shared how the art showed the girl’s emotions and how mad she got each time she didn’t get to press the button. Mr. Brian affirmed, “you could feel what she was feeling.” M. shared, “I love Lift because it’s drawn super well with all the little details.. and how every time [she] goes to a different place…” This led us into a discussion of the medium of Lift, which is usually found on the copyright page, but not in this book. The art is so fantastic and seems like it could be oil painting. We looked back at our notes and determined that it was made using Photoshop and Procreate. I have linked a video from Politics & Prose with Minh Lê and Dan Santat where Dan shows his process illustrating the book, including many of the things he changed between drafts (yay for the magical places inspirations)! A. shared that “every page has a special detail.” It was interesting how the comic book style worked for some readers and others did not prefer the format. Readers did share how they liked how it really showed emotion. L., shared, “I like it just fine. I actually love it. It’s one of my favorites.”

The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey

When is an old truck something more? On a small, bustling farm, a resilient and steadfast pickup works tirelessly alongside the family that lives there, and becomes a part of the dreams and ambitions of the family’s young daughter. After long days and years of hard work leave the old truck rusting in the weeds, it’s time for the girl to roll up her sleeves. Soon she is running her own busy farm, and in the midst of all the repairing and restoring, it may be time to bring her faithful childhood companion back to life.

Julie led our discussion about The Old Truck. She shared an excellent booktalk about the little girl growing up on the farm with the old truck as the constant in her life, and eventually she fixes up the old truck. Julie pointed out how it’s made with a mixture of traditional stamps and digital art, the limited color palette, simple shapes and patterns that express big ideas about working hard and family, inspired by the women in the creators’ family who worked really hard. Julie also pointed out how the truck stays in the same place in each spread. Y. shared that “this story is kind of unique. Most people end up buying different vehicles, but they keep this one, like it’s just as special as their family.” S. added, “I like how you could see the time passing.” R. said, “it’s kind of interesting to see how she grows up on every page.” M. added, “I really liked how the whole stamp thing. It looked really cool and I loved the color scheme – and I could see myself painting my walls using it.” Jules helped us think critically about the use of earth tones to convey meaning in The Old Truck – and how fitting it was for the themes of the story. Lu. shared how when we flipped through the book, it felt like a movie seeing the truck in the same place with everything changing. (10 points to us for making digital versions of the books available!)

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption–a bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade.

Water is the first medicine.
It affects and connects us all . . .

When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth
And poison her people’s water, one young water protector
Takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource. 

I (Eti) led the discussion for We are Water Protectors. I reminded our group that it was illustrated by Michaela Goade, using watercolors, which is absolutely fitting and perfect for this book. I talked about how this book focuses on our relationship to water, and when the black snake/oil pipeline threatens the water, plants, animals, and people, the Indigenous-led resistance movement rises up to speak up and protect the water, which continues on today. H. shared, “I like this book because it teaches people how to treat the environment.” La. added, “I liked the watercolors. It really showed nature. I also liked why it was written and explained what was happening and why it’s bad.” You know I love good back-matter, too, my friend. Y. shared, “What I like about this is that they’re fighting for their water, just like some people right now during COVID, who don’t have water which is why they’re suffering so much.” (This powerful comment shows how incredible both this young reader is – and this gorgeous book that provokes this thoughtful comment. I can’t help but be reminded about the vital importance of access to clean water in Indian Country.) M. shared her favorite spreads when people are in a circle, declaring, “We stand/with our songs/and our drums./We are still here. She also really liked the spread that shows the negative impact of the pipeline on the wildlife, recognizing the creativity to express it.

The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho, illustrated by Jess X. Snow

A breathtaking picture book featuring a Korean girl and her haenyeo (free diving) grandmother about intergenerational bonds, finding courage in the face of fear, and connecting with our natural world. Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. The haenyeo dive off the coast of Jeju Island to pluck treasures from the sea–generations of Korean women have done so for centuries. To Dayeon, the haenyeo are as strong and graceful as mermaids. To give her strength, Dayeon eats Grandma’s abalone porridge. She practices holding her breath while they do the dishes. And when Grandma suits up for her next dive, Dayeon grabs her suit, flippers, and goggles. A scary memory of the sea keeps Dayeon clinging to the shore, but with Grandma’s guidance, Dayeon comes to appreciate the ocean’s many gifts.

Julie led our discussion about The Ocean Calls. Julie talked about how Dayeon overcomes her fear of diving to join her grandmother, who is a haenyeo. Julie pointed out how the art was made digitally, pointing out the textures throughout the book, the mermaid imagery, playful perspectives, and magical purple. Julie also pointed out that Jess X. Snow worked really hard to accurately represent the haenyeo women in their culture. H. shared, “when they draw the ocean, if I were to do that, I would draw a straight line, but they drew waves, which is kind of cool.” Y. shared that he liked how Dayeon overcame her fear. M. shared how much she liked the backgrounds and surroundings with the colors, especially the ocean and the field. Lu. commented, “the ocean looks so real, you can almost feel it.” Julie talked about how the medium was really effective to express these ideas. Another reader added, “I like the way they draw everything. It makes it look super realistic and shows the expressions. Everything looks really fitting to the story.” B. shared, “I really like that they made the shadows into mermaid shapes. Also, I love mermaids. They’re one of my favorite things.” Julie shared that there’s a lot of mermaid imagery since the haenyeo are, as the author’s note states, “fondly known as Korea’s granny mermaids” and also “Indigenous marine biologists.” H. shared, “I think it should win since Dayeon had a fear of the water … and she went through it bravely and it tells the reader that fear is just another reason why you should try harder to do the things you’re afraid of.”

Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki 

Cover of Our Little Kitchen

In this lively, rousing picture book from Caldecott Honoree Jillian Tamaki, a crew of resourceful neighbors comes together to prepare a meal for their community. With a garden full of produce, a joyfully chaotic kitchen, and a friendly meal shared at the table, Our Little Kitchen is a celebration of full bellies and looking out for one another. Bonus materials include recipes and an author’s note about the volunteering experience that inspired the book.

Ann led our discussion of Our Little Kitchen. She shared a fantastic booktalk about community kitchen bringing everyone together. She pointed out how it was drawn with nib pens and colored digitally, with a comics art style. She also pointed out how the book uses onomatopoeia to visually show the sounds, immersing you in the kitchen noises and smells, with a mixture of realism and surrealism. Ms. Ann also pointed out the excellent author’s note and recipe endpapers. Y. shared, “I like how in the end, the kid says, ‘Ok, time to clean up!'” H. shared how she liked the use of onomatopoeia “to show the reader what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.” A. shared that she’s learning about onomatopoeia in school for writing, which is such a great personal connection. B. shared how she liked how there’s so much detail on all the pages. She also noticed the shape and size of the text. S. shared that she liked it because she likes graphic novels and also likes to cook and bake. R. pointed out how the book starts out quiet, gets loud and then gets quiet again. Ann pointed out how the use of white space helps communicate in the book. J. shared, “This is my favorite book. I like how the art is like a comic book.” Ann modeled a fantastic text-to-text comparison to reflect on the comics features between Our Little Kitchen and Lift. L. shared that the comics features felt stronger in Lift but liked Our Little Kitchen better because of the drawing style that feels like a page of well-drawn doodles. H. shared that “they’re making food to help people who don’t have it, so that’s nice to know . . . so it’s kind that they’re helping others.”

Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

Captain Swashby loves the sea, his oldest friend. And he loves his life by the sea just as it is: salty and sandy and serene. One day, much to Swashby’s chagrin, a young girl and her granny commandeer the empty house next door. All Swashby wants is for his new neighbors to GO AWAY and take their ruckus with them. When Swashby begins to leave notes in the sand for his noisy neighbors, however, the beach interferes with the messages that are getting across. Could it be that the captain’s oldest friend, the sea, knows what Swashby needs even better than he knows himself?

Laura led our discussion of Swashby and the Sea. She framed it as a story of “eventual friendship,” which is such a perfect way of putting it. Laura helped point out how the art shows how the sea is another character in the book. She shared how the expressions are larger than life, especially noticing the character’s eyes, noting the muted colors to convey it’s a beach story. H. shared how she liked how it’s an unlikely friendship story, appreciating how the girl never gives up and keeps coming back. B. added how it’s funny and liked how the ocean didn’t wash all the letters out, but made different words from the letters. L. declared that, “it should be first. It’s a good book – it’s about friendship – and I’m all about friendship. And it’s very funny too.” Y. shared that it’s also a favorite, and like The Ocean Calls, the girl went into the ocean even though she didn’t want to.


After we had walked through each book in a whirlwind of color and conversation, we were ready to vote for the winner of our 2021 Caldecott Club. This year, since we met virtually, I created a google form for people to vote for their first, second, and third choice. (If you’re interested in the technical details, I downloaded the results into an spreadsheet, calculated the number (1st place gets 3 points, 2 gets 2, and 3rd place gets 1) and then added up the totals. I then was able to screenshare to show how we got our results for full transparency. Finally, the math was complete and we were ready to announce our winners!

The Winner of our Evanston Public Library and Lincolnwood Library 2021 Mock Caldecott is….

Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat


Our group selected 3 Honor Books:

Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki

Cover of Our Little Kitchen

Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

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The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey

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But wait, there’s more!

We will have a live Youth Media Awards Viewing Party on Zoom on Monday, January 25 at 8:00am CST! You can even get a special Grab & Go Kit in Lincolnwood Library’s Great Green Box. Register here.

Then, in the evening, we’ll meet up together at our regular Caldecott Club time (Monday, January 25 at 7pm CST) to watch selections from the Youth Media Awards webcast and react to the winners.


You can put Caldecott Club books on hold at our libraries here.

I have created a RESOURCE GUIDE with activities, videos, podcasts, program kit supplies, handouts, and more to share the sources we’ve used and continue the learning! We hope it will be useful for you to explore these books at home!

Thank you to everyone who joined us for Caldecott Club! Thank you so much to Mr. Brian for this incredible collaboration! Thank you so much to Ann and Laura for being our awesome buddies and facilitators. Thank. you to our special guest, Julie Danielson, for joining our Caldecott Club community, leading two discussions, and sharing your notable picture book expertise! And of course, thank you to our friends, families, and young readers who are our Caldecott Club!

Author & Illustrator Visit with Alicia D. Williams & Jacqueline Alcántara

Posted & filed under Blog, Book Discussions, Early Literacy, Youth & Teen.

We are so grateful to host author Alicia D. Williams & illustrator Jacqueline Alcántara of Jump at the Sun: The True-Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston, at an interactive presentation about the art and craft of making books, including a live drawing demonstration and a drawing activity. This event was offered in partnership with Winnetka-Northfield Public Library on January 14, 2021.

You can purchase your own copy of Jump at the Sun from our local independent bookstore partner, the Book Stall!

Jacqueline and Alicia prepared a wonderful multi-faceted event for our libraries that had our group engaged throughout the entire program!

It began with Alicia sharing an outstanding and captivating read aloud of Jump at the Sun: The True-Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston that demonstrated her incredible skill as a storyteller, performer, and writer. (Seriously, I hope that they produce an audiobook of Jump at the Sun and hire Alicia as the narrator, with Live Oak Media producing it to help bring Zora’s story to life.) Alicia shared the beginning of the story with us – and left us intrigued to find out more. (Make sure to check out the recording to watch for yourself!) As Alicia pointed out, make sure to look for the wonderful hats and animals throughout the book.

Jacqueline then led us in a drawing activity to learn how to draw Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox in motion. You can see the finished illustration below and then our group’s creations! It was so helpful to have Jacqueline break down each step of the creation of these characters into smaller pieces. (And the good thing about the recording is that you can watch it and pause it if you want more time with your drawing, too.) I love when grown-ups and kids can draw together. Everyone did a fantastic job! Feel free to share your Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit drawings with us!

Alicia then shared a captivating folktale about Brer Rabbit getting thrown in the briar patch that had us all laughing out loud throughout the tale. Honestly, I could listen to Alicia tell stories all day. (Make sure to check out the recording only available for the next two weeks to watch for yourself. You don’t want to miss it.)

Finally, Jacqueline and Alicia kindly took questions from our audience. Our group had great questions about research, the art process, favorite animals, and more. It made me see the book in new ways after learning how Jacqueline “played compositionally with Zora, the sun and the horizon.” Alicia shared how she used jumping at the sun to create structure for the courageous moments when Zora jumped. As Alicia shared, make sure to check out the fantastic back-matter in Jump at the Sun. There was so much to learn from these creators! (I also just learned that you can buy beautiful original edition prints from Jump at the Sun from Jacqueline Alcántara!)

And of course, the time went by so quickly while we were having fun. Thank you to Anny from Winnetka-Northfield Public Library for collaborating on this event! Thank you to our program buddy Ann for all of your help!

Thank you SO much to Alicia D. Williams & Jacqueline Alcántara for visiting our virtual library and sharing your beautiful book with our communities! It was such a pleasure to host you – and we look forward to having you visit again in the future. We highly recommend inviting Alicia and Jacqueline to your school or library for an unforgettable visit!

You can check out the additional resources we’ve curated below to continue learning and sharing!

Program Recording

A recording of our author visit will be available here for 2 weeks (until February 3, 2021) after the program to watch and enjoy at your convenience.

Grab & Go Kit

Lincolnwood Library created Grab & Go Kits to celebrate these wonderful authors and their beautiful book! You can get them while supplies last from our Great Green Box outside the library. As always, they are free and available for everyone. You can also use the resources in this post to make your own kit. Here are some of our suggestions we included in the Kit to explore the book’s themes.

Create your own stories with the DIY Storytelling Discs.

Make your own book. Use the first page for our drawing/writing activity.

Watch the Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun documentary on Kanopy.

Get your own copy of Jump at the Sun: The True-Life Tale of Unstoppable StorycatcherZora Neale Hurston from The Book Stall.

Interview a family member or friend, facilitated by a library staff member for My Lincolnwood Story.

Have fun with the Jump at the Sun Coloring Sheet.

Learning Resources

We have collected lots of resources to prepare for our visit and learn more. Check them out below:

Alicia D. William’s Website

Jacqueline Alcántara’s Website

Interview with Alicia D. Williams & Jacqueline Alcántara with Mr. Schu

The Picture Book Buzz – Interview with Alicia D. Williams

Book Website (Simon & Schuster)

Publisher’s Weekly Review

Kirkus Review

Alicia D. Williams MFAC ’13 celebrates oral storytelling tradition in new picture book

Politics & Prose Live Event on Thursday, January 14, 2021 – 10 a.m.

Alicia D Williams & Jacqueline Alcántara in conversation with Vanessa Brantley-Newton on Jan 30, 2021 at 11:00 AM ET (Park Road Books)

Teaching Guides/Coloring Sheets

Jump at the Sun Coloring Sheet

Alicia D. Williams – 2020 Newbery Honor Reaction

Meet the Author: Alicia D. Williams

Alicia D. Williams – Path to Publication The Yarn Podcast Series

Meet Jacqueline Alcántara (Voyage Chicago)

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #576: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Jacqueline Alcántara

The Field: An Interview with Baptiste Paul & Jacqueline Alcántara (This Picture Book Life)

Check In on your Neighbors (Obama Foundation #OFCareChallenge art by Jacqueline Alcántara)

Upcoming Projects

I know we’re excited about the books that these incredible creators will publish in the future. Start counting down now for these amazing books!

Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress by Alicia D. Williams & illustrated by April Harrison (Publication Date: June 01, 2021)

Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara (Publication Date: April 06, 2021)

Host Your Own Movie Night (Staycation Kit)

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

Our librarians have created a Movie Night Staycation Kit to help you host your own movie night at home with your family and create new, special memories together.  You can put DVDs or Blu-rays on hold to pick up through curbside pick-up. You can access movies with no waiting using Kanopy and Hoopla. You can also check out a Roku from our Library of Things to access Netflix. You can find animated adaptations of picture books on Hoopla and Tumblebooks to host a literary film festival.

Lincolnwood residents can sign up for our Movie Night Staycation Kit (pictured above) that includes a popcorn, cocoa, a DIY puzzle, & movie lists for the whole family. Fill out this form to request a kit – while supplies last. One kit per family, please.

Everyone can use the resources in this post to host their own family movie nights. You could even host a watch party on Zoom with friends and family!

Hosting a Movie Night

You can apply print and visual literacy strategies with young people during and after watching movies together. Here are some suggested questions to discuss:

Discussion Questions

What was your favorite part of the movie?

Which character is your favorite?

What did you notice? What do you wonder?

What did this movie remind you of (ex: other films, books, stories, toys)?

What is something new you learned?

Would you recommend this movie to a friend? Why or why not?

Move Night Extension Activities

Imaginative Play 

Encourage young people to create their own interpretations of films you’ve watched through playing pretend, LEGO creations, craft, art, and/or film responses, and extending the story with their own ideas. 

Movie Review 

You can create your own movie reviews, whether it’s an essay, a 3-panel comic, or a picture inspired by the film. Submit your review to the library via email to and we’ll share your recommendations. 

Make Your Own Puzzle 

You can continue the family time by working together to color your own puzzles in the style of your choice. Feel free to share pictures of your finished products with us! 

Game Break

Take a break from the movie to play a board game such as the ever-popular Exploding Kittens, Telestrations, Super Fight, Meow, Uno, Suspend, or Fluxx. You can see a full list of suggested games at

Dietary Information

Hot Cocoa


Family Movie Night Suggestions 

Our librarians have curated a collection of movies that can be fun for the whole family to watch together. From old favorites to modern classics to hidden gems, we hope you will find something everyone will enjoy. These films are general suggestions from our librarians. They may appeal to younger or older viewers. You can use resources like Common Sense Media to learn more about them and determine what is the best fit for your family. You can also always call or email our librarians to get personalized recommendations just for you. We’ll even create a movie bundle for you! You can also put DVDs we own on hold here.


The Cat in Paris 

Kedi: The Cats of an Ancient City 

Quill: The Life of A Guide Dog 

Storm Boy 


A Dog’s Courage 

All Dogs Go To Heaven 


Charlotte’s Web 



Imagine That 

L.M. Montgomery’s Anne Of Green Gables 

Maya The Bee Movie 

Racing Stripes 



A Wrinkle in Time 

Because of Winn-Dixie


Black Panther 

Book of Life

Born in China


Charlotte’s Web


Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Free Willy

The Great Gilly Hopkins

Howl’s Moving Castle 

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kubo and the Two Strings



Monkey Kingdom


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

The Tale of Despereaux



The Baby-Sitters Club 

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting

The Dragon Prince 


Mary Poppins Returns 

Over the Moon 

The Secret Lives of Pets 

Which movies or shows would you recommend to host a fun family movie night? Feel free to share your suggestions with us!


We are eager to get feedback from our community about our Grab & Go Kits! Each kit comes with a postcard with a QR code you can scan using a device with a camera that can lead you to a form to complete. You can also access the form here. We’d love to know what you think about the kits – and ways we can improve.

Caldecott Club 2021: Session #1

Posted & filed under Blog, Book Discussions, Early Literacy, Youth & Teen.

Welcome to our 2021 Caldecott Club! I’m Miss Eti, one of the Youth & Teen Services librarians at Lincolnwood Library. We have come full circle during this, our 4th Caldecott Club, inspired by the fantastic program that Brian Wilson created at Evanston Public Library in 2016. This year we are hosting a collaborative virtual Caldecott Club WITH Mr. Brian and Evanston Public Library. Things will be a bit different in our virtual program, but the joyful fun of exploring awesome books together will be the same. And now we have the opportunity to welcome people from across our community – and beyond – to celebrate beautiful picture books together!

We met together on Zoom on November 9 with a group of wonderful readers, their families, and friends to talk about all things picture books. We were even joined by friends in other states, including teachers and a library school student! We were joined by our program buddy, Ms. Ann, and our Evanston Library buddies, Laura and Louise.

We designed this program to be open to kids from around 1st grade through 8th grade because picture books are for everybody and everyone can learn from each other. I’ve tried to recap their brilliance in this post.

We began our program by reviewing what the Caldecott Award is. Mr. Brian shared how it is the award for the most distinguished American picture book for children, given out each year by the Association for Library Service to Children. He pointed out last year’s Caldecott medal winner, The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Kwame Alexander, as well as the Honor books, Bear Came Along, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, written by Richard T. Morris, Double Bass Blues, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, written by Andrea J. Loney, & Going Down Home With Daddy, illustrated by Daniel Minter, written by Kelly Starling Lyon. Thank you to Curt Leppert at Baker & Taylor who has shared print posters with us in years past – and provided this graphic for us to use this year. You can find it in our resources.

Mr. Brian then talked about the criteria for evaluating picture books. Shoutout to Holly Jin at Skokie Public Library for sharing this resource with me in past years to make the evaluation language more accessible. Brian and I emailed the criteria handout to those who registered to print out or view during the program if they wanted to use it.

Once we established our criteria, we were ready to explore the books. Mr. Brian put the books in a cardboard box, so he could dramatically open it just like the grown-up committee does when books arrive in the mail.

The books we discussed in session 1 were:

A Girl like Me by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Nina Crews

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey

I guess this is the place I should put a spoiler alert for all the books we’re discussing…

Picture Walk

Rather than doing a formal read aloud of each book, we did picture walks. For the picture walk, we discussed each book’s visual features to examine the techniques the artists used and how they worked. Often we would prompt the group by asking them: How well does this book do what it’s trying to do? What did you notice? What does it make you wonder? How does this page make you feel? What makes this art distinguished? (Shout out to Megan Dowd Lambert’s Whole Book Approach. I highly recommend her book, Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking about What They See.)

We used a strategy that ended up working well last year in person: scanning in the books so everyone could see them. While we had our copies of the physical books (insert my soapbox about books as objects, case cover secrets, and the texture and smell of picture books), it was very helpful to have digital versions to share with the group. We also added to our usual picture walk toolbox by encouraging participants to share and listen in lots of ways. People could unmute themselves and talk, raise their hands, use the chat, and use the reactions – and people did all of these things throughout the program, so ended up having a rich discussion in many places at the same time.

A Girl like Me by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Nina Crews

I (Eti) began our discussion by sharing some of the behind-the-scenes details about Nina Crews’ process to make A Girl Like Me. According to Nina, she made “patterns, scanned hand-made textures and used vector shapes created in Photoshop and collaged these with my photographs.” I was able to share some process pictures including thumbnails, sketches, and photoshoots she did with real girls – and emphasize how these real kids are the stars of this book, with their names on the copyright page and facts about them at the end. It was also able to share it as an ebook directly from Hoopla, which you can borrow and read without any waiting.

We began our discussion about A Girl Like Me by talking about the crowds of people who tell the girl who is flying that she shouldn’t be. L & S said, “they look mad.” We talked about Nina Crews used silhouettes to personify the crowds of naysayers – and how the girls have the color and focus on the page. When we explored the spread about the girl in the flowing scarves and a cowgirl hat, another participant pointed out, “she looks confident and brave.” Another participant noticed how “the building is slanted away from us and she’s standing upright, so she’s almost popping out of the building.” Another reader pointed out, “isn’t there a saying, on top of the world?” which is really the perfect way to express the emotions you feel looking at this spread. When we explored the spread with the girl swimming, someone pointed out that “her face makes it look like she’s trying to be a fish.” Ms. Ann commented, “This one is my favorite — she looks like a beautiful mermaid!!” Someone else added, “she looks like a dolphin too, when you see pictures of dolphins jumping out of the water.”

When the girls find community in the real world, people pointed out how much fun they are having with the capes and hats – and there are no grown-ups. We talked about how when the girls come together in the real world, walking past tall buildings, Nina Crews composed the real world elements to still feel fantastical. When we talked about the spread of the girls looking up at the butterflies on the way to the ocean, people pointed out how butterflies symbolize freedom and “they can do what they want.” Y & Z shared, “They chose butterflies because Monarchs migrate which means they are free.” We talked about the finale at the beach where they are all exploring their own interests. Another reader pointed out the buildings in the background, where they have journeyed from, perhaps swimming or boating to the beach. We talked about Nina Crews’ use of different geometric shapes throughout the book and what they symbolize. L. shared that “I think she used the stars because they are having fun.”

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

Mr. Brian began his picture walk of I Am Every Good Thing by sharing that the boy on the cover is the illustrator, Gordon C. James’s, son, Gabriel. Gordon C. James shared in an NPR interview, “My son is autistic, and so he doesn’t often get asked to do things or asked to be the center of things…It was powerful to illustrate his child “looking like how I feel he sees himself and how we see him as his family.” Mr. Brian shared how it is a celebration of joyful Black boyhood. He shared how the boys are doing different things throughout the book with the oil painting art sometimes being realistic and sometimes being expressionistic to show the feelings and moods the boys are feeling. We talked about how much we love the cover and how it makes you feel – and the sensory experience of the textured gold lettering.

We talked about how Derrick Barnes dedicated the book to Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, EJ Bradford, Jordan Edwards, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, and Julian Mallory, who were Black young people who were killed, who come from families who love them and are unconditionally deserving of love and a future. Gordon dedicated the book “to my son, Gabriel, and all little brothers like him.”

Our journey began with the flying boy. A reader shared, “I really like this picture because he looks like flying – but it really looks realistic like a regular kid who happens to have wings on him.” D. pointed out that the “cape looks like feathers of a bird.” Y & Z shared, “he’s going fast.”

Mr. Brian then pointed out how the next spread of the boys playing in the snow is more realistic. Ms. Ann pointed out the shadows on the spread make it look like “like during real winter.” We then talked about the skateboarding boy and how he felt after falling down. L. shared, “You can’t give up right away because you’d never do it again and then you would think about it and maybe want to try again.” Another reader shared how they did that with their bike. Our group noticed how determined he looks. L. shared that “I like the sole of his shoe.” (I literally never noticed it until this kid pointed it out, which is amazing!) Mr. Brian pointed out how Gordon C. James’ art draws your eye to the shoe and makes it look real.

Mr. Brian then showed how the next spread is more fantastical with the boy looking into the microscope and the other exploring space. He drew our attention to how the art in the background reveals what the boys are looking at, mixing molecules and the cosmos. L & S shared that “it seems like the book is showing different jobs.”

We talked about how Gordon C. James hired models to inspire the kids throughout the book, which helps make it all feel real. The next spread returns to realism with the boy standing with his grandmother “looking at something intently,” according to Y & Z.

Mr. Brian asked about the emotions on the “coooooooool breeze” spread with people pointing out how happy and silly the boys look. They personify that perfect paper airplane metaphor with the joyful fun they are having. On the next spread, L & S pointed out that “he seems like a star himself.”Mr. Brian asked if we’d want to join the boys having fun in the pool, which we wholeheartedly agreed we’d love to do. He talked about how the colorful art expresses this joy. Mr. Brian talked about how the art expresses movement on the page where he’s playing basketball and baseball.

On the next spread, the kids shared how he looks “serious and calm” when “people are saying bad things to him.” Ms. Ann pointed out he looks “strong with the halo behind him.” Mr. Brian shared how the words hurt but he doesn’t let them defeat him.

Mr. Brain shared how amazed he is by the versatility in the art in showing so many different experiences and settings to convey the themes of the book. As Gordon C. James shared, “I wanted through the illustrations for these kids to feel empowered …I want them all to feel like they belong everywhere, like there are no limits to the places they should be, or the things that they can be. No part of this life — this full, amazing life — should be off limits to you just because of who you are.”

Mr. Brian talked about the double-page spread showing their ancestors and successful Black men who have come before them – with the confident boys at the front of the spread, looking directly at the reader, happy and proud. We admired the final spread of the boy who is very expressive, declaring, “I am worthy to be loved.”

Good news! You can participate in the Penguin Kids #IAmEveryGoodThingContest. Here are the details: “Do your kids have their own affirmations like the ones in the uplifting picture book? We want to see them! Submit a photo of your kid holding a sign that says “I Am…” followed by a positive adjective for a chance to win a custom portrait from Gordon C. James! There are two ways to enter: 1) Share your photos on Instagram using the hashtag #IAmEveryGoodThingContest 2) Submit using this link. The contest ends November 30 – but sharing affirmations is forever.

We then took a quick movement break to get our wiggles out. People could participate by doing jumping jacks or whatever they preferred to move a bit after sitting through two picture walks.

Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

Mr. Brian began the picture walk by asking us who likes graphic novels. Everyone’s hands went up. He shared how Minh Lê also loves graphic novels and wrote the amazing Green Lantern: Legacy graphic novel, which is illustrated by Andie Tong. (We’ll actually be discussing it at Books & Bites in the winter!) He shared that Dan Santat also loves graphic novels – and created Lift basically like a comic book brought to life. This is also a funny book, so he encouraged us to look for the comical expressions, body language, perspective, and camera angles!

Mr. Brian pointed out how Dan Santat shows motivation on the characters’ expressions and body language. We noticed how Iris is surprised by the baby pressing the button, then mad, and then green with envy. Then betrayal again! Mr. Brian shared how miserable everyone is after Iris presses all the buttons. He then pointed out how we’re looking up at Iris from the garbage can when she looking at the broken elevator button and what an innovative way it is to show perspective. (Is it just me or is the elevator repair man a Stan Lee cameo? Can we just make this canon?)

Mr. Brian showed the power of the dramatic page turn going from the button dinging and Iris traveling through the door. As A. pointed out, “welcome to Narnia.” Mr. Brian pointed out the realistic tiger in the jungle, connecting to the stuffed tiger in the real world. Ms. Ann pointed out, “The tiger has Iris’s name on its belly!! It must have been hers!” D. pointed out, “I think she wants to go back because she realizes the tiger is “her” tiger.” Mr. Brian showed how the art reveals how unhappy Iris is compared to how fun her sibling and babysitter are having – making it a hilarious sequence.

We had a great prediction suggesting that Iris would go to outer space. As Iris lifts off the floor, a reader pointed out that it looks like no gravity. After the dramatic page turn, Y & Z pointed out that “it looks like the International Space Station.” Ms. Laura pointed out, “that’s a magic button!”

Mr. Brian pointed out how Iris finally smiles after she has the lovely moment with her sibling reading Summit – and decides to bring them with her to the button. D. suggested, “There are snowflakes on the page with the cat as foreshadowing.” Ms. Ann added, “Kitty is going inside too!” (I’m here for a spin-off adventure with their cat…) A reader pointed out how the sibling was thinking about their story, Summit, which led them to their wintery imagined world. Laura added, “books take you places.” Mr. Brian pointed out how Iris is with her sibling at the final endpapers. We then had to share the case cover secret because it is glorious. We closed by asking everyone where would you want to go with a magic doorbell? Y & Z suggested Hogwarts. A. said, “to meet people.” Another reader said, “outer space since I want to be an astronaut when I grow up and I don’t really want to wait that long.”

Case cover secret!!

The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey

I (Eti) began our picture walk by talking about how this This Old Truck is created by brothers, Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey, who are co-author-illustrators. I talked a bit about the process how they created this book with over 250 handmade stamps, challenging themselves with limitations to provoke creativity. Jarrett and Jerome shared their process with Jules Danielson on her invaluable blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: “Once we had stamps, we’d use them to make prints with black ink on Bristol board. If an object appeared on multiple spreads, we’d use the same stamp but make multiple prints, so each appearance of the object in the book would be unique. That was a rule we gave ourselves. Another rule was to never use the same stamp twice on the same spread. So even though all those trees kind of look the same, each one got its own stamp with its own print.”

We began our picture walk by predicting the setting, considering that maybe it’s by a greenhouse or about nature or farmlands. We talked about how the story starts even before you get to the title page, cold open style. (L& S even pointed out, “in the first picture before the title page the mom was pregnant.” What careful artist eyes!) We thought about how the Pumphreys use limitations creatively, using only 8 colors and using them well.

We discussed how the old truck worked long. One reader suggested how it could drive things to the market. We noticed how the colors shifted between spreads, subtly showing how the seasons have changed, perhaps also showing the transition to harvest time. We talked about how the perspective changed as we look straight ahead at the barn, but the truck never moves throughout the book. Also, I love the chickens and they are my favorite.

We talked about the dramatic tone shift as the girl/truck dream and sail the world and go on adventures. We pondered whether the girl was dreaming of the truck or the truck was dreaming of the girl. It got very metaphysical and I’m here for it. Y & Z. pointed out the great use of personification. L & S shared, it’s “showing her love for the truck.”

We talked how the art shows the passage of time as the truck and the girl grow older – and learns how to take care of the farm and the tractor. We noticed how the weeds around the old truck are growing with each spread. We talked about the illustrators used whitespace to show us the truck covered in snow. L & S said, “the truck is covered in snow.” D. said, it “helps us know the truck is under there because the truck stayed in the same place.” Another reader shared “it kind of looks perfect because the snow is only on the roof and windows of the house.”

Our group shared some predictions for what the new farmer – the girl all grown up – would do with the truck. Some suggested she would sell it or take it somewhere or maybe broke it. Y & Z shared “she fixed it and made it better.” We pointed out how the “but she dreamed and persisted” spread works like comic panels to show the passage of time and the hard work she put into fixing the truck.

A reader suggested how she made the fixed truck her own, likely replacing things to make it like she wants it. In the finale, after the “vroooom!!”, we see our chicken friends again who are startled by the car noise. On the next spread, we see her daughter on the truck, showing the generations of perseverance and persistence and hard work taking care of the land. I then shared how this book is inspired by the incredible women in Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey’s life.


After we had walked through each book in a whirlwind of color and conversation, we were ready to ballot. This year, since we met virtually, I created a google form for people to vote for their first and second choice. (If you’re interested in the technical details, I downloaded the results into an spreadsheet, changed the 1s to 3s (since 1st place gets 3 points, 2 gets 2) and then added up the totals. I then was able to screenshare to show how we got our results for full transparency. While we were waiting for everyone to vote (and for me to do the maths), we played a read aloud of I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes & Gordon C. James.

And the Session 1 Winners Are…

Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey

Join Us Next Time!

Please join us for our next Caldecott Club session on December 7, 2020 from 7:00-8:15pm CST! I am also working on creating Caldecott Club Grab & Go Kits to pick up at Lincolnwood Library. Register for the program here and we’ll contact you to pick up your free Grab & Go Program Kit through our curbside pick-up. You can also access our digital Grab & Go Kit at

Since you’ve spent all this time reading this post, I’ll even let you know which books we’ll be discussing. You can even watch us share the reveals below:

  • We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade
  • The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho, illustrated by Jess X. Snow
  • Honeybee by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
  • You Matter by Christian Robinson


You can put Caldecott Club books on hold at our libraries here.

I have created a RESOURCE GUIDE with activities, videos, podcasts, program kit supplies, handouts, and more to share the sources we’ve used and continue the learning! We hope it will be useful for you to explore these books at home – and maybe even create your own Caldecott Club!

Thanks for sticking all the way through this post… I hope to see you next time at Caldecott Club!

 – Eti

Native American & Indigenous Heritage Month 2020

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

Join us in celebrating Native, Indigenous and First Nations voices this November, which is Native American Heritage Month, throughout our library. The fantastic video below, created by co-founders of Little Cheiis, Wade M. Adakai (Diné (Navajo) & Antonio Ramirez (Navajo/Hopi), offers the history and origins of Native American Heritage Month.

Last year we created several book and interactive displays in our Youth & Teen Services department for Native American Heritage Month. This year we’ve expanded our displays throughout our library across all genres and ages by Native and First Nations creators. There’s truly something for everybody – all year round! Visit us any time to borrow any of these fantastic books and take a copy of our resources. You can also use the links below to put books on hold to pick up at your convenience. They also make excellent gifts from your local indie bookshop.

Book Displays

Adult & Teen

For a full list of recommended adult books, click here.

For a full list of recommended teen books, click here.

We also have included resources and Change the Story infographics from Illuminatives in our display. You can learn more and take action here.

We have also added an invaluable resource to help advocate for more incredible, authentic books by Native creators to be published. The Diversity in Children’s books 2018 Infographic* shows the “percentage of books depicting characters from diverse backgrounds based on the 2018 publishing statistics compiled by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).” Please take a copy of the infographic postcard, which includes the infographic and resources to take action and learn more on the back. You can see the 2019 CCBC Diversity Statistics here.

Middle Grade

For a full list of recommended middle grade books, click here.

For a full list of recommended informational books, click here.

Picture Books

For a full list of recommended picture books, click here.

Listening Stations

This year we have innovated to create touchless listening stations where patrons can listen to incredible audiobooks/read alouds from Native creators. You can use a smartphone to scan the QR code on our signs, which takes you the readalong book in Hoopla to listen with your headphones.

You can create your own listening station at home (or in your classroom/library), too! You can listen while reading your copy of the print book or even while you do an activity from the activity guides. (Thank you to Lisa for making this beautiful signs.)

Listen to the award-winning readalong audiobook of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation) & illustrated by Frané Lessac on Hoopla! Read by Cherokee citizens Lauren Hummingbird, Agalisiga (Choogie) Mackey, Ryan Mackey, Traci Sorell, & Tonia Hogner-Weavel. You can listen here on Hoopla. You can access an incredible activity & discussion guide and coloring sheets here.

Listen to the readalong audiobook of the award-winning book, Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (Mekusukey band of the Seminole Nation), illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. Read by Kevin Noble Maillard. You can listen here on Hoopla. You can access an activity and discussion guide here.

Listen to the read aloud of We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom (Anishinabe/Métis and is a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians) and illustrated by Michaela Goade (member of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska). You can access an activity and discussion guide here.

We also have a Grab n’ Go Gratitude Jar activity that you can pick up in the Great Green Box or inside the library. It is inspired by ThankU: Poems of Gratitude, edited by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota, Mohegan, Muscokee Creek). You can read it right now without waiting on Hoopla! The Editor’s Note to Educators and Parents in ThankU is a valuable resource to discuss and focus on gratitude all year.

Digital Resources for Learning More about Native, Indigenous, and First Nations Peoples

We have compiled resources that we hope can be helpful. This is NOT an exhaustive or definitive list of resources, but a collection of tools and resources we have found useful and informative as we have been curating our display and continuously learning more. The descriptions are from their websites. We put together a paper brochure in our displays for patrons to take, explore, & share. We’ve adapted the handout to make it accessible online here.


Native Land

This is a resource for North Americans (and others) to find out more about local Indigenous territories and languages.

Reclaiming Native Truth

Reclaiming Native Truth is a national effort to foster cultural, social and policy change by empowering Native Americans to counter discrimination, invisibility and the dominant narratives that limit Native opportunity, access to justice, health and self-determination. Reclaiming Native Truth’s goal is to move hearts and minds toward greater respect, inclusion and social justice for Native Americans. It was co-designed and co-led by IllumiNative founder Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma) and Echo Hawk Consulting.

Native Knowledge 360°

Native Knowledge 360° (NK360°) from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian provides educators and students with new perspectives on Native American history and cultures. NK360° provides educational materials and teacher training that incorporate Native narratives, more comprehensive histories, and accurate information to enlighten and inform teaching and learning about Native America.

Molly of Denali (Teaching Resources Collection)

Informational text and Alaska Native culture form the basis of the groundbreaking Molly of Denali series and its educational resources. This collection offers videos, digital games, lessons, teaching tips, and activities so that educators can utilize the series in the classroom and home.

Living Nations, Living Words (signature project from Joy Harjo, 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States)

Each location marker reveals a Native Nations poet and features an image, biography, and a link to hear the poet recite and comment on an original poem. This body of work forms the foundation of a “Living Nations, Living Words” online collection in the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center.

Find & Evaluate Books

American Indians in Children’s Literature

Established in 2006 by Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) provides critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books. Dr. Jean Mendoza joined AICL as a co-editor in 2016.

Indigo’s Bookshelf: Voices of Native Youth

“Florida” Seminole & Miccosukee teens review books by and about Native peoples and comment on other news of interest to their communities.

American Indian Youth Literature Award

Awarded biennially, the AIYLA identifies and honors the very best writing and illustrations by and about Native Americans and Indigenous peoples of North America.

Teacher and Librarian Resources for Native American Children’s and Young Adult Books

Cynthia Leitich Smith, a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is a best-selling, award-winning children’s-YA writer, writing teacher, and the author-curator of the Native-centered Heartdrum imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books. This bibliography is compiled in hopes of improving education related to Native peoples and Nations. (Cynthia’s entire website is an invaluable resource.)

You can learn more about Heartdrum here! You know we’ll be ordering all the Heartdrum books (and raffling off ARCS we just received from the publisher!)! Check out the graphic below from Heartdrum to behold all the beautiful books coming in 2021. “Heartdrum is the first Native imprint at a major children’s publisher. In uplifting and centering Native voices, Heartdrum offers a wide variety of heartfelt, groundbreaking, and unexpected stories by Native creators. Heartdrum books place an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes.”


Empower Native Kids to Read by Aliyah Chavez (Kewa Pueblo) (Indian Country Today)

How Native Writers Talk Story: Honoring Authentic Voices in Books for Young People by ​​​​​​​Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek Nation) and Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation) (School Library Journal)

Native Perspectives: Books by, for, and about Indigenous People: Great Books by ​​​​​​​Kara Stewart (Sappony) (School Library Journal)

Unteaching the Native Narrative by Kara Stewart (Sappony) (School Library Journal)

“Readers are Realizing their Hunger for our Stories:” Native Literature for Kids and Teens by Kelly Jensen (Book Riot)

Cynthia Leitich Smith and Rosemary Brosnan Talk with Roger by Roger Sutton (Horn Book)


Native America Calling

Native America Calling is a live call-in program linking public radio stations, the Internet and listeners together in a thought-provoking national conversation about issues specific to Native communities.


Unreserved is the radio space for Indigenous community, culture, and conversation. Past host Rosanna Deerchild (O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation) & current host Falen Johnson (Mohawk and Tuscarora (Bear Clan) from Six Nations Grand River Territory) take you straight into Indigenous Canada, from Halifax to Haida Gwaii, from Shamattawa to Ottawa, introducing listeners to the storytellers, culture makers and community shakers from across the country.

All My Relations

All My Relations is a team of folks who care about representations, and how Native peoples are represented in mainstream media. Hosts Matika Wilbur (Tulalip and Swinomish) and Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation), delve into a different topic facing Native peoples today, bringing in guests from all over Indian Country to offer perspectives and stories.

This Land

Hosted by Rebecca Nagle, a citizen of Cherokee Nation. An 1839 assassination of a Cherokee leader and a 1999 murder case – two crimes nearly two centuries apart provide the backbone to a 2020 Supreme Court decision that determined the fate of five tribes and nearly half the land in Oklahoma.


Kīwew is a five-part podcast in which Governor General award-winning author David A. Robertson (Norway House Cree Nation) dives into his family’s history and mysteries as he discovers and connects with his Cree identity.

Learning Opportunities

NK360° Webinars: Giving Thanks: Telling More Complete Narratives About Thanksgiving (Native Knowledge 360° from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian)

Session 1 (11/10, 6pm CST): Engage with primary sources and artwork to grapple with the mythology of the “First Thanksgiving”. Teachers will identify how misrepresentations contribute to the false narratives around the First Thanksgiving and its participants.

Session 2 (11/17, 6pm CST): Learn about the food traditions practiced by different Native communities, as well as why some communities give thanks throughout the year. Teachers will then engage with suggested resources and discuss appropriate strategies they can use in their classrooms.

Black and Indigenous Storytelling as Counter-History (11/11 at 3pm CST)

For untold centuries, storytelling has been foundational to the ways Black and Indigenous people understand and connect to the world around them. However, knowledge systems upheld in academic settings continually disavow these narratives and those who hold them as valid sites of intellectual production. For BIPOC heritage professionals, storytelling taps into historically marginalized ways of knowing. It offers ways to reclaim and retell histories that often counter the harmful and one-sided narratives told about Black and Indigenous peoples through archaeology, museums, and heritage sites. In this webinar, we explore storytelling through artifacts, cultural landscapes, comics, graphic novels, and video games as a means of counter-history, illuminating new ways of imagining pasts, presents, and futures for Black and Indigenous people. Panelists will discuss how they engage storytelling as an intellectual entryway to interpretations of the material evidence of Black and Indigenous histories.

Rethinking Thanksgiving: History, Holidays, and Gratitude (11/12 at 12:30pm CST)

Award-winning authors Kate Messner and Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation) offer a thought-provoking author visit based on their books about the real history of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, the myth of the “First Thanksgiving,” and modern-day Native traditions of gratitude.

A Discussion of Contemporary Native Children’s Literature with Authors Traci Sorell and Carla Messinger (11/12 at 3pm CST)

Join Lee & Low Books as they discuss high-quality, #ownvoices and contemporary Native literature, classroom applications, and ways to make sure that you are teaching about modern Native history authentically and accurately in your relevant setting. Authors Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation), and Carla Messinger (Turtle Clan Lenape) will share their insights, experiences and knowledge about their writing processes, tips and strategies for selecting quality Native literature, and applicable classroom activities.

Our local library system, Chicago Public Library, is offering an incredible variety of Native American Heritage Month and beyond programs online from Finding Home: An Indigenous Perspective on Land, Language and Identity with Dr. Anton Treuer (11/10), Honoring Native Voices: A Book Talk with Librarian Cindy Hohl (11/14), Climate Activism with the Chicago Chapter of the International Indigenous Youth Council (12/2) and more!

We’d love to hear what you’ve learned and read during this month – and ways you plan to continue learning.

*Citation: Huyck, David and Sarah Park Dahlen. (2019 June 19). Diversity in Children’s Books 2018. blog. Created in consultation with Edith Campbell, Molly Beth Griffin, K. T. Horning, Debbie Reese, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, and Madeline Tyner, with statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Retrieved from

Program Review: Tips for Better Sleep

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

What would be the first thing you would do after a good night’s sleep? That was a question that was recently posed at our Early Literacy Event. Recently, Katie Guzan, a certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, gave a presentation on how both young children and their caregivers can get better sleep. It was beneficial for both kids and adults alike. Please enjoy some of these tips below, or check out more from Sleep Wise Consulting.

Discussing the impact of sleep props for young people

Discussing the importance of a bedtime routine!

Books & Bites, Jr. – Back to School

Posted & filed under Blog, Early Literacy.

Join us for our brand new book club, Books & Bites, Jr., specially designed for families to explore and share books together. Our first session will be about back to school. It will take place on Wednesday, September 16 at 6-7pm on Zoom! You can register here. No library required & all are welcome.

We have created FREE PROGRAM KITS that you can pick up at the library or schedule curbside pick-up. We have included our program hand-out, snacks, supplies for our craft, and of course, book swag. Feel free to give us a call at the library to reserve your kit, which supplies last. You can also pick up your kit after the event.

We will be discussing The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López, & Yasmin the Teacher by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly. You can borrow these books from our library or put them on hold in Overdrive.  You can also watch out the videos below before or after the program and continue the discussions with your children.

But, wait, there’s more!

Sign up for our next Books & Bites, Jr, when we’ll celebrate Superheroes on October 14 at 6pm!

We are also honored to welcome back Saadia Farqui to our virtual library on October 28 at 3:30pm and celebrate her middle-grade books, A Place at the Table (co-written by Laura Shovan) and A Thousand Questions! You can register here.

Additional Resources

Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices

The King of Kindergarten Crown Craft

The Day You Begin Lesson Plan

Meet Yasmin! Activities

Read Aloud Revival Podcast 

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!

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!

Early Literacy Activities: Exploring Textures and Senses

Posted & filed under Blog, Early Literacy, Uncategorized.

At our weekly Exploration Station: STEAM Play, which takes place every Thursday at 11:30am, we looked at textures and senses. We read a touch, play, and feel book about Food, which got kids excited about different feelings. It was a great way to get kids excited about the theme, and understand it, as so many kids explore food on a daily basis.

Our first activity was “Touch Painting.” Kids put on blindfolds. By taking away the sense of sight, kids could focus on the sense of feel (and touch), by painting. Kids were shocked at the new sensations, even though they had painted before. They were also surprised at what they could create without using sight.

Touch Painting

The second activity was called “What’s Inside?” Kids played with a bunch of different materials. We gave them a sheet with lots of different feel and texture words to help encourage them to describe the feelings they were experiencing. They then used blindfolds again to reach into the bags and see if they could identify the items in the bag, again using both senses and textures, as well as putting their vocabulary to use. Kids loved seeing the contrast between all of the different materials, and were excited to see how good their identification and explanation was throughout the game. Both activities kept kids coming back. We hope to see you there on Thursdays for new themes!

What’s Inside?