Our elementary library staff development meeting took place at the new Serra Mesa Public Library. Over 50 people were in attendance. We began the training with a reading of It Could Always be Worse by Margot Zemach (1976). What followed were easy to use ideas about how to share some of the best of the oldies but goodies that you may already have in your library. The list came from the NY Public Library List: 100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know.
Whether you have 15 minutes or even less, be sure to begin each story with an introduction and conclusion of sorts– title, author, illustrator– as well as some catch that will connect kids to the story. I used my recent travel experiences as a post reading example of how it could always be worse. (Note to self: Never say "it could always be worse out loud!)
Library Connection: Have kids write or draw about their “worse experiences.” Writers say that a good story takes an ordinary experience and gives it a problem, make the problem worse, and then make it worse again. If you do it one more time, you have a story.
Use this idea as a way to introduce a book while you check books in. Remember to push the cart on the floor, as kids frequently want what someone had last week. Place a sign on the cart that says, “Too Popular to Shelve!”
Other ideas included assigning areas of the library to students to pull books to the edge of shelves, or looking at shelves to make sure books weren’t lost in someone else’s neighborhood. You can also use the time to post a question kids can talk about or even have them locate an answer. From which book to which author, taking a few minutes at the beginning of the period allows time to get ready for checkout.
Finally, we ended with Goin' Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack (2001). The library is a place where everyone is special. So no matter what happens in our daily life, though it could always be worse, we must remember that each child who comes through our door deserves the best that we can give him or her. A room with books is a warehouse. Add a librarian and you have yourself a library.