Catherine Tong (seated at left), Bridget Kowalczyk (seated center), and Tiffany Bradford-Oldham (seated at right) speak about the speech and debate program they run at San José (Calif.) Public Library at the American Library Association's 2022 Annual Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C., on June 25. Photo by Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries.

Up for Debate

June 25, 2022

Since then, the library has offered six speech and debate series for grades 3–5 over Zoom, with each 12-week session focused on a different social justice topic, such as Black Lives Matter, anti-Asian sentiment, and climate change. Instructors from the program shared insights into their curriculum and success at “Inspiring the Next Generation to Champion … Continue reading Up for Debate


Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Fugitive Literacies

June 1, 2022

There is a long history of denying reading skills or access to particular groups, including incarcerated people, unpaid and low-wage workers, enslaved and colonized communities, and women. Ken Bigger, a new senior fellow in ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries, connects literacy to civic fluency in his research. Bigger raises this point: The prison … Continue reading Fugitive Literacies


From left: Molly Watson, youth services librarian at Cynthiana-Harrison County (Ky.) Public Library; Hank the Horse; and Hank's owner Tammi Regan of Equinox Stables.

Bookend: Back in the Saddle

January 3, 2022

Hank, a Tennessee Walker–breed rescue horse, moseyed on into his hometown library in September 2021 for an equine-themed storytime that included a scavenger hunt, coloring contest, and prizes. While there, Hank received his first library card, in observance of Library Card Sign-Up Month. “This [event] really brought us a lot of faces that we don’t … Continue reading Bookend: Back in the Saddle



Henderson County (Ky.) Public Library’s StoryWalk participants read a page from picture book Jonathan and His Mommy last summer.

Skip to the Next Page

June 1, 2021

“It’s important that [kids] move, it’s important that they read, it’s important that they get outside,” says Anguish, “especially in a pandemic when nothing is the norm anymore.” StoryWalks—outdoor paths that feature children’s book pages posted at a young reader’s height and take families on self-guided storytimes—are gaining traction in communities across the US and … Continue reading Skip to the Next Page


North Liberty (Iowa) Community Library Public Services Librarian Heidi Hartke (left) and Assistant Director Jennifer Jordebrek (center) record a podcast episode with Crystal Hall, director of programs at YPN (Young Parents Network).Photo: Melanie Harrison/North Liberty (Iowa) Community Library

A Podcast That Delivers

May 1, 2019

Many studies show that when parents get involved with early literacy, a child is better prepared for school—and life. That’s why North Liberty (Iowa) Community Library developed a monthly podcast aimed at busy, expecting families. Caregivers can learn about the literacy skills kids need to succeed—such as phonological awareness, letter knowledge, and print motivation—whenever and … Continue reading A Podcast That Delivers


Chicago Public Library STEAM Team First Assistant Librarian Alejandra Santana (left) reads to storytime attendees at Bubbleland laundromat.Photo: Chicago Public Library

Front-Loading Literacy

May 1, 2019

That’s why, in 1989, Chicago Public Library (CPL) Children’s Librarian Elizabeth McChesney (now CPL’s director of children’s services and family engagement) visited a local laundromat to introduce herself to families. How she responded to what she saw there would help change the landscape of children’s literacy initiatives for decades to come. “What I saw was … Continue reading Front-Loading Literacy


Abby Johnson

Summer Reading Reboot

May 1, 2017

It’s understandable. Summer is a busy time at the public library, and repeating a program saves work, even if it’s not the best thing for your youth participants or staff. Though your plans for summer reading are probably set, now is an opportune time to take inventory of what you’re doing, what is and isn’t … Continue reading Summer Reading Reboot


Ashley J. Cooksey

Partnerships Beyond Four Walls

January 3, 2017

Sometimes collaboration is accidental. I’ve had lessons that just happened to coordinate with the curriculum. For instance, our library at West Magnet Elementary in Batesville, Arkansas, was able to give students a “virtual field trip” via live stream to see President Barack Obama answering questions at DC Public Library’s Anacostia branch. Our 4th graders were … Continue reading Partnerships Beyond Four Walls


Barbara Prince and YuChieh Chien (standing, from left) assist students in writing their first-draft letters to famous Amys at the Garfield Park Lending Library in New Castle, Delaware.Photo: Sophia Hanson

Letters to (and From) Amy

July 27, 2016

Sophia Hanson, general manager of New Castle County Public Libraries, got the idea a few months back to start a letter-writing summer program for kids called “Letters to Amy,” inspired by Ezra Jack Keats’s 1968 picture book A Letter to Amy. Hanson decided to apply for a minigrant from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation—which offers … Continue reading Letters to (and From) Amy


Linda W. Braun

Using Design Thinking

May 31, 2016

What if I said that that’s not how that program—or any library program—should work? By running a program in that way you aren’t really supporting youth learning. Imagine instead if you: Start by asking youth to talk with one another, in small groups or in a full group, about what they like and don’t like … Continue reading Using Design Thinking


Jennifer Burek Pierce

All Ears This Summer

June 17, 2015

The transformation of enthusiasm into expertise on the ways that audiobooks cultivate young people’s literacy skills is of keen interest to Sharon Grover. Grover, head of youth services at Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, Wisconsin, says audiobooks can help children and teens build and sustain vocabulary. Grover notes that this is especially important during summer … Continue reading All Ears This Summer