Tag Archives: advocacy toolbox

Advocacy Toolbox: We Need Diverse Books

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have already educated yourself on the grassroots organization We Need Diverse Books. Today, we add this glorious campaign to the toolbox.


Take them out for daily use.


Advocacy Toolbox with watermark (1)


It has been over two years since the first #weneeddiversebooks tweet devoured our emotions and took over our intellectual capabilities. While many were already aware of the lack of diversity in kidlit, so few of us knew what to do. This team has come a long way (two anthologies being published in the next two years) and they have created a wealth of resources along the way. Be sure to head to the site and take in as much as your eyeballs will allow.


For starters:


  • Be sure to check out WNDB’s Tumblr for the Summer Reading Series 2016. Get these diverse books in the hands of your users!
  • Visit the FAQ! It is dense with well collected material regarding diversity in children’s literature.
  • Peruse this list featuring diverse books for toddlers!
  • Read your way through each of the roundtable discussions. Become a champion for diversity.

Advocacy Toolbox: Early Intervention and other Developmental Milestones Resources

HI all! This much delayed edition of Advocacy Toolbox is brought to you by a question I hadAdvocacy Toolbox with watermark (1) from a mom in a parent presentation recently. She was asking about speech delays – her daughter had one, she felt, and she was having trouble getting her child’s preschool to work with her to get her daughter evaluated. I referred her to the local free Early Intervention organization and she was happy to have another resource to try.


As youth librarians and early literacy advocates, we are experts in early literacy skills development and subsequently know quite a bit about how a young child’s brain develops. For some of our parents, however, that can translate into us being experts about all-things parenting related. I attended a focus group once, in which we were asking parents to use a new early literacy resource website, where we noticed something: parents don’t separate their parenting questions into separate “baskets.” It’s all one big basket, and into it goes every concern they have about their child: questions related to nutrition, discipline, learning, and more. So, naturally, when we answer questions about language and reading development it’s a natural progression for a parent to then ask a question about how their child is developing in other ways.


It’s easy to want to try and answer their questions but we know we can’t be all things to all patrons. So here’s where we do what librarians do best: connect them with resources that CAN answer their questions. Here are some I’ve compiled that might be useful for you:


Early Intervention: Most states offer this free service to parents of young children. The child can be evaluated for developmental delays, and if needed, get connected to services. Here’s a list of EI services by state.


Developmental Milestones: Often parents just need to be reassured that their child is developing on track. Here are some resources:

  • Learn the Signs: Act Early is the Center for Disease Control’s early milestones page. Includes milestones by age in months and printable and printed (free!) materials.
  • Zero to Three is an amazing resource with tons of information for parents on things like infant and child mental health, discipline, school readiness, and more.
  • You will have to wade past a few ads, but BabyCenter offers great information – categorized by baby, toddler or preschooler – about developmental milestones and more.
  • Your local children’s hospital – if you have one – may be a great resource for information about child development. Mine, the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, offers Babies 101 and Toddlers 101 to answer some basic questions.
  • PBS Parents offers sections on child development  up to age 8!
  • From the American Academy of Pediatrics comes HealthyChildren.org, which offers great “ages and stages” information.



Advocacy Toolbox- Why Reading Matters

Today’s addition to the Advocacy Toolbox is inspired by Bryce, who recently posted about a kick-ass early lit advocacy presentation she gave to elected officials!

The Advocacy Toolbox

The Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation provides the research supporting what we all already know: reading matters!

For example, did you know that:

If current trends hold true, 83%, or 6.6 million of these children, are at increased risk of dropping out of high school because they can’t read proficiently by fourth grade.

Wow. And how’s this to make someone sit up and take notice?


So check out this great resource!

Advocacy Toolbox: Screen Time and Media Mentorship

In this month’s installment of Advocacy Toolbox, I’d like to focus on a couple of hot topics: Advocacy Toolbox with watermark (1)screen time and media mentorship. I don’t know about you, but when people find out I’m a children’s librarian, they will involuntarily apologize for letting their child watch/play a game on their [phone/tv/ipad/other device]. I will kindly explain that I’m not the media police, and that they are probably ALSO reading their kid bedtime stories and talking to them, so no need to feel bad.


We are surrounded by technology, and libraries have an important role to play in helping parents understand the mixed messages they get around screen time. Is it never okay? If I accidentally slip on the rug and in an effort to stop my fall my hand happens to turn on the tv and my child sees 6 seconds of PBS, is he scarred for life? Am I never to have a moment’s peace if I can’t let my child play a game on my phone while I’m out to eat with friends? We can help provide answers and reassurance.


Personally, I advocate for “thoughtful” screen time. If you’re going to let your child engage with a screen, it’s best if a caring adult is there participating and engaging along with the child. Because children really learn best from face-to-face interaction. But the reality is that parents sometime just need to get dinner cooked, or a short break, and a screen can provide a needed diversion. As long as a screen doesn’t become the default mode of learning, and it’s used sparingly and thoughtfully, it’s unlikely any harm will come to the child. Oh, and before age 2? As little as possible.


Here are some excellent resources to add to your toolbox around the subject of screen time and media mentorship:


What the heck IS media mentorship, for pete’s sake? Here’s everything you ever wanted to know – and it’s all useful and amazing.  Basically, we, librarians, are mentoring the families who use our libraries when it comes to using media. We can provide information, reassurance, and recommendations. Someone in a webinar (maybe it was Cen Campbell?) reminded me that we do reader’s advisory, so why not app advisory, and I thought that was genius. Our parents look to us for recommendations for all the media they consume – and apps are one part – so why not help guide them to the best?


If you want to read more about screen time, check out Lisa Guernsey’s books. There’s a video of a presentation she gave on the ALSC Media Mentorship link above, also. I had the good fortune of hearing her speak a couple of years ago and she really helped shape the way I talk about screen time now.


Here’s the official scoop from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I don’t think they actually ever really said NO SCREEN TIME BEFORE AGE 2 PERIOD END OF STORY as has been widely reported but they do say:  “Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.”


ETA: They’ve just released this awesome “News Release” called “Beyond ‘turn it off’: How to advise families on media use.” Lots of valuable talking points here.


The Fred Rogers Center (remember our buddy Fred?) has a whole initiative around digital media and learning.  Also here are the “Key Messages of the NAEYC/Fred Rogers Center Position Statement on Technology and Interactive Media in Early Childhood Programs.”


Need some apps to recommend and don’t have time to try them all out yourself? Here are some places to start:


Want to learn how to best evaluate an app yourself? Scroll down this page from Little elit and they’ve got a great series of blog posts to guide you.


What resources have you added to your toolbox related to media mentorship and screen time? Please share!