111. Happy Coincidences and Disaster Averted

Yesterday, we had a Computer Deconstruction program scheduled at the library to be run by TechShop.

I found out fifteen minutes before the program was to start that they weren’t coming.

That was the potential disaster.  Here are all the happy coincidences:

  1. This is the only TechShop program that doesn’t use their fancy equipment.  For this one, they do bring lots of screwdrivers and automatic screwdrivers.  They also bring old computers.  But this one was not dependent on their equipment.  I looked in our supply cabinet, and we did have two toolboxes with lots of screwdrivers.  We had been collecting broken electronics from the staff for months and even had a laptop computer and a notebook computer.
  2. I’ve seen this program done twice before.  I knew that mainly the facilitators cheer the kids on and encourage them to figure out how to get the machines apart.
  3. For some reason my co-worker Amanda was scheduled to host the program with me.  (Usually we only have one host scheduled when a performer is coming.)  So I didn’t have to scramble to get some help.  The two of us together could run the program!
  4. One of the mothers of the kids who came happened to have an old computer in her car!
  5. If I had found out they weren’t coming sooner, I might have been tempted to cancel.  As it was, the kids were arriving — and we did the program.

And it was awesome!

I love this program because I love watching the kids figure out how the things are put together and succeed in taking them apart.  It’s empowering!

(In fact, I like to tell the story that it was because of this very program that I dared to look up youtube videos and take apart my own film scanner and fix it!)

Here’s a girl working on a printer:


And here’s how the printer ended up:


Thanks to all those happy coincidences and awesome kids, the program was a huge success!

We think we’ll probably plan to do one on our own next summer!


109. Playfully Touching Lives

I love my job!  Today I ran Family Math Games — a program where I have a bunch of board games and card games for all ages that promote math skills.  I only ask that at least one parent plays with the kids.  The program was my idea, and today I had 41 people in that room happily playing games — parents and kids playing together.

This fills my heart with happiness.  Once upon a time, I taught college math.  Then, so many of the students saw me as their adversary, since I wrote and graded the tests.  This way of teaching is so much more wonderful!

And my job is filled with things like this.  On Monday, I’m going to attempt to teach kids Scratch programming — but I’m planning to do so just by letting them mess around with it, play.

On Wednesday, Tech Shop is coming for a Computer Deconstruction program.  They’re going to bring tools and old computers, and the kids will take them apart and find out what’s inside.  It was from attending this program that I was brave enough to take a screwdriver to my film scanner — and I actually fixed it!  During that program, it’s so much fun to see the kids’ curiosity and confidence increase as they go.

And storytimes are about learning through fun, too.  Listening to stories lays the groundwork for learning to read — and it’s completely fun, not painful at all.

Can you tell?  I so love my job.  Because I get to touch lives by encouraging kids to play!

I am truly blessed!



102. Family Math Games

I’m proud of our Family Math Games program at the library, because it was my idea to make lots of games available to families, one Saturday a month, and ask only that at least one parent plays with their kids.

And it just makes me happy when it works!

Today I had ten different groups of parents and children playing together.  The kids were learning, and everyone was having fun.

Few things make me happier than hearing a parent teach their kid a concept playfully and lovingly.  I heard kids practicing counting and strategy.  I saw a little girl happily driving a pink car to grandma’s house using shape cards.  I saw older kids helping younger kids figure something out.

Their smiling faces when they brought a game back and looked for a new one made my day.

It was beautiful and reminded me that I really do have an awesome job.

It also reminded me of when our family used to regularly play Monopoly Jr. together after dinner most evenings.  It was so fun to get to see a roomful of other families having that same experience.

And it was slightly sweeter because my youngest is about to move out and start his adult life on the other side of the country.  This is a good thing — He has grown up and is spreading his wings.  But it makes me happy that I can take something our family did that was great for our young kids and spread it to other families.  Even the ones who already would be playing games with their kids have new games here to try out.


98. Booktalking

It’s booktalking season!

My co-worker and I are talking to all the kids in 6 elementary schools close to our library.  Today we talked to 700 children, Kindergarten through 6th grade.  We tell them about the summer reading program — how to win the coupon book and about all the programs and performances we have going on at the library this summer.

Then we tell them about books we think they will enjoy.

Neither of us felt prepared at the start of the week.  But it’s turning out we don’t even have to repeat books between different grades, we have so many good books to choose from.

Booktalking is exhausting.  But it’s exciting, too, to get to reach that many kids.

It’s so wonderful when they come up to us in the library and say, “You came to my school!” and they ask for a book we told them about.

90. Story Time at Old Town Square

The first two weeks we tried, the weather didn’t cooperate, but on Tuesday this week the weather was lovely and we had a huge crowd of parents, grandparents, and kids at Old Town Square in Fairfax for Storytime.

I haven’t done a storytime in more than a month.  This is going to change in coming weeks, since one of my staff just retired.  But having a little time off from it reminds me just how much fun it is to read books to small children.

And I get to do this on my job!


82. Seussathon!

Today’s Dr. Seuss’s Birthday!  I’m proud of our annual Seussathon at the City of Fairfax Regional Library.  And I just love carrying it out!

The idea was mine — spend the whole day reading Dr. Seuss books in the children’s area — and ask customers and staff members to sign up to do so.

Then my co-worker added to the idea by putting on Seussian activities in the meeting room in the afternoon — including Hopping on “Pop” — bubble wrap — and playing with Oobleck (cornstarch solution) and making Daisyhead Maisie headbands and things like that.  She also ordered Seuss bookmarks and temporary tattoos and bags, as well as Cat in the Hat hats for readers and Thing One and Thing Two headbands for kids.

One of the fun things is how great the readers are!  We had kids participating, staff members and patrons — all of whom were wonderful readers.

I personally took a turn when I noticed we didn’t have anyone available.  Let’s see, today I read <em>Fox in Socks</em>, <em>The Sneetches and Other Stories</em>, <em>Horton Hatches the Egg</em>, <em>The Foot Book</em>, <em>The Butter Battle Book</em>, <em>One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish</em>, <em>Green Eggs and Ham</em>, and <em>The Cat in the Hat</em>.  (And I didn’t think I’d been out there very much!)

Oh, and some of the children I got to read to were completely adorable!  They weren’t necessarily the usual story time crowd.  And unfailingly a joy to read to.

And don’t tell, but before the library opened, I sang a few songs from <em>The Cat in the Hat Songbook</em>.

It’s the sort of day that, looking back, definitely makes me smile.

I do have the best job.

80. What’s New in Children’s Books?

This afternoon I gave a talk at the library for a group of teachers on “What’s New in Children’s Books?”  It was so much fun to have an interested audience!  I went over the latest award winners and told about some new books I’m excited about and let them take Advance Reader Copies away with them.

It feels so good to share something I’m passionate and knowledgeable about with a group of interested people!