Four Cs to Literacy

I wrote this little piece on early literacy for our library’s winter flyer, so I thought I’d share it here with all of you, too. Lucky you! These four C’s are fun, easy ways to support young children as they develop vital early literacy skills.

The giraffe has nothing to do with early literacy. She’s just awesome.



Get your little ones excited about reading by letting them help pick out the stories you share together. Talk to a children’s librarian for great book suggestions.


Turn every story into a conversation. Talking with your child about the books you share together builds their vocabulary and helps them learn to interpret text.


Make reading a regular part of your everyday routine whenever you can. Regularly sharing books with your child sends an important message: Reading is worth making time for.


Sharing stories together can be a wonderful bonding opportunity for you and your child, and helps them associate reading with positive memories and emotions.


Felts for the Artistically-Challenged

I’m rubbish at making felt stories. I’ve tried all the tips and followed all the guidelines, and my felt animals always come out looking like they’ve barely survived a shark attack. Not pretty.

I never thought I’d be able to make my own felt stories, until I discovered this!

laminatorThis $29.99 bad boy and the corresponding laminating sheets have made my felt story dreams come true!

I simply find colourful clip art images ( is one of my favourite resources), print them out in colour, and run them through the laminator. Then it’s just a matter of cutting out my laminated characters!


I attach a bit of self-sticking “hook and loop fastener” (aka no-name brand Velcro) to make everybody stick to the felt board. I bought mine in a roll at the dollar store.


I recently discovered that my library has a label maker, and it made my organization-loving heart skip a beat. I store all my felt stories in clear plastic sleeves for easy viewing, then label each sleeve with the label maker. When I’m feeling energetic I’ll even layer the characters in the order I’ll need them.


So, if you’re as rubbish at crafts and artistic pursuits as I am, fear not – you too can now make professional-looking stories that are long-lasting and will survive the occasional trip inside a toddler’s mouth.

Multicultural Day Event – June 27

Summer in Canada is short – typically three blessed months of blue skies and sunshine. After a long, dreary winter, Canadians are ready to celebrate, and summer is chock-full of special days and events.

This weekend we celebrated Multicultural Day with a special event at the library. We had musicians from Guatemala, an exhibit of traditional clothes from Nepal, folk dancers from El Salvador and Bulgaria, a fashion show of modern First Nations fashion, a local chamber choir, an a presentation of folk stories in Salish, Swahili, Farsi, Gaelic and English!

Throughout the library atrium different groups set up tables showcasing their cultural backgrounds, including Wales, Finland, Nepal, and more.

As the host of the event, the library put together a little display showcasing some of the ways we celebrate multiculturalism.


For the children’s display I gathered a few picture books from our multilingual collection, to showcase the diversity of our collection.

PicMonkey Collage

Unfortunately people sometimes think that the library only carries English material, and don’t realize that we actually offer materials in 10+ different language across the system!

It was exciting to see people’s eyes light up as they recognized their native language displayed on the table.

We also made sure to showcase the diversity of programs and services available at the library – we’re more than just books, you know! This might be a little out of date, though – I can’t think of the last time we had fax reference questions….


It was a blazing hot day, and the library atrium can be uncomfortably reminiscent of a hot house, but it was still a great day at the library.


Wearing my heart on my (t-shirt) sleeve….

A short but sweet post to show off my latest book-themed purchases.

I am a proud librarian and book nerd, and I can’t miss an opportunity to showcase my passions through fashion.

charlotteI recently picked up this wonderful Charlotte‘s Web t-shirt from book’mark, the gift shop managed by the Friends of the Vancouver Public Library. It’s soft, light and absolutely adorable, and I am very much in love with it. I loved it so much in fact that I had to go back and pick up this Madeline t-shirt. The women’s sizes do run rather small, so I went for the Extra Large in both, though I typically wear a Medium in t-shirts.

The book’mark shop manager informed me that they’ll be getting another shipment of t-shirts from Out of Print sometime soon, so I will be heading back in to see which titles I can add to my collection. They’re actually wonderful conversation starters, especially when working with children – kids are often delighted to see a book they’ve read featured on my t-shirt, and they are eager to tell me everything they know about the story. Graphic t-shirts can be a great way to break the ice when meeting new groups, and they can help dispel any lingering fears kids might have about scary, mean old librarians.madeline

All this aside, I am a nerd, and would probably wear these t-shirts anyway, even if I wasn’t a children’s librarian….

Welcome to Kindergarten – May 9, 2015

This week I attended a WTK at a local public Montessori elementary. The school had a bit of a unique WTK format in that children and caregivers were separated, with adults gathering in the library to listen to several presentations, and their children being looked after by their future kindergarten teacher in another room.

I set upselkirk1 a small display featuring some of my favourite children’s books, together with some pamphlets and brochures. Then I talked a bit about some ways that caregivers can inspire their children to become passionate life-long readers.

I mentioned the original “three Cs” , Choice, Cuddles, and Conversation, and added my own “C”, Consistency. I urged caregivers to make reading a regular part of their every day routines – reading consistently with children can help make reading feel as natural a part of their routine as brushing their teeth! Reading consistently can also help prevent children from associating reading strictly with school work or assignments, which can unfortunately turn many children away from books entirely.

Modelling is also an important part of raising confident readers – if children see their parents reading, and enjoying reading, it can help them view reading as a positive, valuable activity. Novels, cookbooks, magazines, newspapers, tablets, e-readers – it doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you do it regularly, you enjoy it, and you share that enjoyment with your kids!

Although it was only a brief presentation, it was still a great opportunity to connect with local teachers and teacher-librarians and meet parents in the community!

An afternoon on the desk in the Children’s Department

Because of the changes to the information services model at my library system, I don’t spend that much time on the reference desk anymore (most of my time is spent doing programming and outreach). The one opportunity I do get to sit out on the desk is when I pick up the occasional auxiliary shift at the Children’s Department at the Central branch, which still has a fully-staffed reference desk.


I love working the desk in the Children’s Department – you never know quite what to expect! To highlight this, I thought I’d share a few of the interactions I encountered during a recent four hour desk shift:

  • Several  international students from a local college looking for animated movies for an assignment.
  • A teacher looking for books on how to make paper airplanes.
  • Several parents looking for specific books (one of whom knew neither the title nor the author of the book they wanted, in which case Google is a saviour….)
  • A teacher looking for science books for elementary school students.
  • A teacher looking for French-language picture books.
  • An ECE student looking for picture books with same-sex parents.
  • A child looking for Minecraft books.
  • A parent looking for information books on trains.
  • An elementary school student looking for three books about Canadian explorers.
  • Another elementary school student looking for three books about the environment.
  • A child looking for music CDs.
  • Several parents looking for reading suggestions to offer their children.
  • A parent looking for Chinese-language children’s books.
  • A teen looking for the next volume in a manga series.
  • An adult patron looking for graphic novel versions of classic works of literature for a teenager.
  • Many, many small children looking for stamps!

UntitledThat’s one of the best parts of working as a children’s librarian – there’s so much variety, and never a dull moment.

If you’re wondering, these adorable little cartoon critters are the stars of the children’s section of our library website!