Stuck at home? Enriching activities to do with all ages from the Indiana Young Readers Center

Looking for extra activities to keep children busy? Explore some of these activities put together for you by the Indiana Young Readers Center, located in the Indiana State Library. Remember, children of all ages can benefit from play and reading. Keep your kids engaged with some of these resources.

Ages 0-5
Parents with very young children have a big challenge. Little children will not understand what is happening in relation to the current COVID-19 situation. They might sense the fear and anxiety in their parents and react to that by being cranky and unmanageable. Keep them engaged by trying some of the activities listed in our Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award Program Guides. We have three guides from 2018, 2019 and 2020 all chock-full of fun, developmentally-appropriate activities for little kids. Even if you don’t have the books listed in the guides, you can still do most of the activities.

For children ages 0-5 the best thing to do is to talk, sing, read, write and play with them. We know little kids can’t really write yet, so anything you can do to get them using their hands to work on fine motor skills is a good thing. Examples are block play, crafts, finger painting, playing with pots and pans and so much more.

Ages 6-9
Children in this age bracket are more independent and may be missing their friends and social connections. Involve them in planning out your day of activities. They can do so many things, and many of them independently. Have a game tournament. Start a reading challenge. Keep them involved in the world from inside your home by talking about nature. The Indiana Nature Conservancy has put together a guide for sharing with children to get them more connected to nature. Most of the activities in the guide can be done right at home.

This age group might enjoy many of the ideas in the aforementioned Firefly guides as well. The 2020 guide in particular has activities appropriate for older children on topics like Africa, optical illusions and pirates!

Ages 10 – 14
Even though your preteens might be the group most likely to tell you that they are bored, they are also developmentally ready for more mature thinking. They will have a better understanding of what is going on than little children and can brainstorm with you about how to spend the days in productive and balanced ways. Kids in this age group are often passionate about their interests and may be missing their friends.

Genealogy
The Indiana Young Readers Center has put together a genealogy program for children in this age group. Take this time to talk about family and the practice of genealogy. What is it anyway? Share family stories and history. Work through the program guide and learn about the kinds of documents that genealogists refer to when filling in their family trees. Do you have any documents in your home right now that you can examine?

Indiana History
If you are looking for more academic resources, take a look at this video about two of the murals located in the Indiana State Library. They discuss the history of Indiana Statehood. Talk to your school age students about how the United States was created. Who lived here when settlers arrived in Indiana? If you’d like to have a more robust conversation, take a look at the discussion questions that we use during our fourth grade field trips.

Still hungry for more history content? Explore the Indiana Historical Marker Program coordinated by the Indiana History Bureau. Every Indiana county has at least one marker. Choose an Indiana social studies standard for your student to work on. Fourth grade standards are especially relevant to Indiana history. Find a marker that relates to that standard. Take it further by researching a little more using Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections. This project could fill a whole morning and introduce your student to great online resources.

Keep a Journal – Good for all ages
Encourage children in all age groups to keep a journal about how they are feeling and what is going on around them. This is a historic time. Researchers in the future will be fascinated by primary resources like journals and diaries written by Hoosier children. Those future primary resources will not exist unless we create them now. Someday, your child could donate their journal to the Indiana State Library!

Letters About Literature  – Grades 4-12
Do your kids like reading and writing? Every year the Indiana State Library hosts a writing contest for students in grades 4-12 called Letters About Literature. Students write to an author, living or deceased, about a book that changed how they see themselves or how they understand the world around them. Students write to us every year about how books help them understand topics close to home like family and school or more sophisticated topics like racism and war. The contest for 2020 is closed, but students can always get a jump on working on their letter for next year. Visit the Letters About Literature website for more information about the contest. Your student could get published!

Ages 15-18
High schoolers are more likely to be able to fill their own time, however they may be in need of resources to help them with their existing school work. Be sure to get familiar with INSPIRE. INSPIRE is Indiana’s virtual online library, a collection of online academic databases and other information resources that can be accessed for free by Indiana residents. INSPIRE includes full-text magazine and journal articles, images, historic newspapers and much more. If students are frustrated about not finding sources for a paper or project, have them try INSPIRE.

Explore Old Journals
The Indiana Young Readers Center has put together a packet for teens interested in reading old diaries. Work through the packet to learn about the value of writing journals and researching old diaries. The diaries in the packet are written in cursive! Does your student know cursive? Take this time to teach your student the basics of cursive writing. Why is it important for students today to be able to read and write in cursive? Explore this question with your student. Fun fact: One of the diaries is from 1896 and the writer talks about playing euchre with her family!

Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections
Still looking for something to do? Take a look at some of the interesting things that the Indiana State Library has in our digital collections. From car racing to dogs to historic documents. We’ve got something for everyone:

Indianapolis 500, between 1926 and 1957
Artistic family tree (featuring President James Polk)
Pre-Photoshop trick photo postcard
Studio photos of Chow Chow dogs
South Shore Line broadsides featuring the “Workshop of America,” 1926
Miami Treaty of St. Mary’s, 1818
Preserved ivy taken from Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train 
Letter from D.P. Craig, a soldier with the 14th Indiana Regiment to his family, 1862
Awards given to African American WACs at Camp Atterbury, 1943
Women’s suffrage pamphlet with map, ca. 1915
Susan B. Anthony letter to Grace Julian Clarke, 1900-01-11 
Locks of hair presented to John. M Conyers (March 29, 1865)

In these unprecedented times, we hope these enriching activities will keep children of all ages engaged and busy.

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

“Wake Up, Woods” chosen as Indiana’s National Book Festival title

Every year, a list of books for children and youth representing the literary heritage of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands is distributed by the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book during the National Book Festival, which takes place annually in Washington D.C. Indiana’s selection is always by an Indiana author and usually includes other Indiana connections, like being set in Indiana or celebrating Indiana’s culture and heritage.

The 2020 National Book Festival selection from Indiana is “Wake Up, Woods” published by Rubber Ducky Press, written by Michael A. Homoya and Shane Gibson and illustrated by Gillian Harris.

“Wake Up, Woods” pairs informational text with clever verses to inform and delight the reader about plants native to North American forests. “Wake Up, Woods” is not only written and illustrated by Hoosiers, but each of the plants highlighted in the book are native to Indiana and can be found in the spring time in parks and preserves – and even in shade gardens around yards. Detailed illustrations, lilting verses and scientific explanations make “Wake Up, Woods” an important text for anyone wanting to wake up to the wonder around them when visiting the woods. This is an excellent nature book to share with young readers and is perfect for the classroom, or to tuck in a backpack before a hike.

Bloodroot, an Indiana native plant, is the first plant featured in “Wake Up, Woods.”

Adriane Doherty, owner of Rubber Ducky Press, said, “It is such an honor for Rubber Ducky Press to have ‘Wake Up, Woods’ selected by our state’s Indiana State Library’s Indiana Center for the Book to represent Indiana at the Library of Congress National Book Festival. We are so very proud of all the work done by the contributors and, especially, illustrator Gillian Harris and authors Michael A. Homoya and Shane Gibson. And, of course, none of this would have been possible without the drive and determination from the people of the Indiana Native Plant Society.”

The book came about through the diligent work of the Indiana Native Plant Society, whose dream it was have a picture book celebrating Indiana’s native plants in the springtime.

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

Get out! Exploring the Children of Indiana Nature Park and its website

Run into the woods! When I told Jonas, my four-year-old, we were going to a park he asked, “Are there slides?” We’ve taken many hiking trips in his lifetime, so I knew he wouldn’t be disappointed, but it’s common for children now to need entertainment planned. We met my two nieces, Grace and Melody, who frequent the park and, along with my daughter Finlea, set off onto the trails. We found an avenue of trees and I told them to, “Run! Run into the woods.” There were no plans, no expectations, no programs, no devices; just an invitation to run.

The Children of Indiana Nature Park was created as a Signature Project of Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration. It’s located in Centerville, near Richmond on the east side of the state. The park is divided by county to allow children of Indiana to claim a ceremonial deed to the park. Counties that have higher populations are bigger in size. This gift of nature is given to the children in Indiana to create a sense of ownership of the land around them and bring awareness to conserving and protecting our earth. Outside of the park, I recently gave deeds to a group of children I work with and they couldn’t wait to grab their parents’ phones to see their land in the park. When presenting to the group we talked about being good stewards of the land around us as a tribute to the park. We headed outside for a quiet moment. They joyfully ran and we sat on blankets and were silent for five minutes listening to all the nature that surrounded us.

We started our visit at the Cope Environmental Center. This new facility houses a classroom, offices, critters to meet, bird watching and space for meetings and events. The building was constructed using rigorous guidelines for green building and is working toward participation in the Living Building Challenge. We were greeted by executive director Traci Lewis who introduced us to all of the animals and provided a tour of the beautiful building. My favorite was the usage of trees dying from emerald ash borers. They trees were repurposed by a local volunteer to be included in the design. The traces of the damage are visible, bringing context to this invasive species.

My niece borrowed one of the backpacks before heading to the park site. Traci met us and shared more information about the original center. We headed into the woods at the sign for the Children’s Park. The magic and wonder in a tree lined trail captured the hearts of Jonas, Grace and Melody. They ran and giggled up and down the trail. Jonas found a piece of trash when we visited the park. When he picked it up he naively whispered, “I think it was bad guys.” I wore my daughter, Finlea, and walked further into the trail. The stretches of wild flowers were teaming with butterflies and bees. Finlea’s curiosity at 16 months is heightened outside. The open-ended appeal and natural visual stimulation is perfect for her brain development. The map below shows the division of counties and trails. Future trails will be ADA accessible. A personal note: I did not bring my stroller, but a stroller would navigate most of the trails.

If you’ve been in the Indiana Young Readers Center lately, you may have noticed the varying window displays each month. August’s displays highlighted books by Indiana authors about parks, trees and animals native to Indiana. There is also information about Indiana’s State Parks and Indiana Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. I created our August storytime, themed “Trees,” to highlight the park and provide deeds to the oldest participants. The deeds provide a great conversation starter for taking care of the Earth and a reminder to spend time outside. If you’re interested in any of the books on display or from our storytime, a list is provided below.

If a park isn’t nearby, there are a multitude of resources for children and educators alike located on the park’s website. I used the information on the site through two sets of eyes: an educator and a parent. I looked first as an educator and was dazzled by all of the resources. I was pleased at the connections to Indiana standards readily listed. The different agencies providing these did a phenomenal job of creating engaging lessons. I was most surprised at not just the quality, but the quantity of resources. I cannot emphasize enough the thoughtfulness to connecting nature in the classroom to Indiana Academic Standards.

My children are not school-aged yet, so they loved looking at the Animals and Plants on My Land section of the website and using the zoom-in features on the coordinate map. It has a helpful, Find Nature Near You feature that connects you to resources for nearby parks. It also gives practical tips for exploring nature in your own backyard. “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv, which explores the need for children to be outdoors, opens quoting a fourth-grader in San Diego, “I like to play indoors better ‘cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.” This sentiment is echoed in my experience with children in the classroom. When brainstorming for a journal prompt about spring and summer only two out twenty-three children mentioned an outdoor activity. As a parent, I often feel defeated when the first words out of my son’s mouth are, “Can I have the iPad?” I often self-justify his love for the device because learning is his favorite thing, and he does chose to watch educational videos. This park visit reminded me of my need as a parent to weight outdoor play over indoor conveniences. I was raised to play outside for hours, but I lived in a rural area with a stay-at-home mom. The ideas on the website are realistic for any working family.

I personally believe in the dangers of nature deficiency in children, but it’s difficult as a working parent of young children to navigate screen time with outdoor play. The teacher webinar in the Educational Resources tab on the website is worth 1 PGP and provides compelling research on the topic. It mentions the Oxford Junior Dictionary eliminating “natural world” words in favor of “digital” words. It cites a 2010 study by Solutions Journal referencing children’s abilities to “recognize over 1,000 corporate logos, but few can identify more than a handful of local plants and animals.” The message provided by both the park and website is loud and clear, “Get out! Get outside!” We finished our visit to the park, just my children and I, under the shade of a tree. We sprawled out and watched the butterflies dance in a patch of wildflowers. We listened, as any avid birder would, for the calls of birds we recognize. My children had no plans, no expectation, no programs, no devices, and no slide; we found ourselves delightfully free.

Nature books from the Indiana State Library:
By April Pulley Sayre: “Trout, Trout, Trout,” “Squirrels, Leap,”  “Trout Are Made of Trees,” “Bird, Bird, Bird,” “Woodpecker Wham!”
By Lola Shaefer: “Because of an Acorn,” “Lifetime”
By Helen Frost: “Step Gently Out”
By Christie Matheson: “Tap The Magic Tree,” a 2015 Firefly Award nominee.

The Peace of Wild Things

The post was written by Indiana Young Readers Center Program Coordinator Tara Stewart.

Homeschool fair at Indianapolis Public Library

On Sept. 14, 2019, the Indiana State Library and the Indianapolis Public Library are joining together, along with other partners, to present “Homeschoolers and Libraries: Partners in Learning.” This homeschool fair will run from 10 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. at the Indianapolis Public Library’s Central Library building located at 40 E. St. Clair Street. The event is free and open to the public.

Homeschooling families and all those interested in learning more about homeschooling are invited to attend this fair, the first of its kind presented by the Indianapolis Public Library. Registration is required. Interested families can click here to register. The first 250 families to register will receive a reusable shopping bag and a free book! Walk-in registration will also be available the day of the event.

The fair will include panel discussions, presentations on a variety of topics including technology as well as hand-on STEM activities. Kicking off the day will be Lilly scientist, Guy Hansen with his entertaining and informative science demonstration. Partners for the event also include WFYI, the Indiana Association of Home Educators and Kids Ink.

The Indiana State Library is excited to be a part of this event and will be involved in several presentations covering topics like digital collections, early literacy and library services for homeschoolers.

The program is made possible by Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.

Submitted by Suzanne Walker, Indiana Young Readers Center librarian at the Indiana State Library and director of the Indiana Center for the Book.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something… red?

This Olde English rhyme traditionally signifies a bride is preparing for her wedding day, but I’m not a bride. However, like a new marriage, I am in my first month at the Indiana State Library. As a mother of two young children, I am in love with the space where I spend my days. The Indiana Young Readers Center is a quiet, child-friendly room elegantly adorned with chandeliers juxtaposed against Clifford’s doghouse. It’s a space to explore books written by Indiana authors for children and teens, but there is much more to engage children. Allow me to make suggestions for your visit.

When you arrive you can meander through the Indiana Statehouse Education Center toward the grand staircase. Take a moment before walking to the second floor to appreciate the craftsmanship in this 1934 structure. After an elevator ride with a stroller, or a jaunt up the steps to the second floor, look for Garfield sitting on a bench. This bench draws you into the space. Now that you’ve found it, what is the Indiana Young Readers Center?

This man found something old in the IYRC. His eyes visibly widened and he proclaimed his excitement out loud when he found the collection of Garfield books he avidly read as a child. While we do have a collection of older books behind glass cases, young parents can also find stories reminiscent of when they fell in love with reading. You can sit to read a favorite book while your children wander the space.

These two toddlers found something new in the IYRC. There are many books, but there are also developmental toys and interactive exhibits. These two new friends were practicing their sharing skills. They crawled around the space and squealed with delight at the books on the shelves. They might not know yet that all of the books are written by Indiana authors, but they did enjoy the onomatopoeia usage in April Pulley Sayre’s books.

When visiting the Indiana Young Readers Center, many children want to take a book or two home. The Indiana State Library is not only home to the Evergreen system, but serves as an Evergreen library as well. The IYRC purchases two copies of each book, so one copy can be checked out. All residents of Indiana can get an Evergreen card from the Indiana State Library, which allows them to borrow materials from the IYRC.

The Indiana State Library is a beautiful home to valuable tools and materials for scholars and the general public alike. Nestled on the second floor, the Indiana Young Readers Center is a unique space encouraging Indiana’s children to appreciate something old, discover something new, joyfully borrow something and to find something… red.

The post was written by Indiana Young Readers Center Program Coordinator Tara Stewart.

Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award nominations needed

Did you find a great new picture book over the summer? Send it our way! The Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award is an initiative of the Indiana Center for the Book. This state award, administered by the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Committee, highlights picture books for young children. Picture books serve an important role in the first years of the life of a child. The purpose of this award is to encourage parents, caregivers and very young children to interact together with exceptional picture books.

Indiana library workers may nominate pictures book for the award from June through October 1 each year. What does that mean? That means that we need your nominations! Have you read a fun picture book in your storytime? Have a book that makes you laugh every time you read it? Noticed a popular picture book the kids are loving this summer?

If you work with youth in a library, either in a school or in a public library, you are eligible to nominate as many titles as you wish. Nominating is easy. Just send an email to the Indiana Center for the Book. Include in your email: title, author, illustrator and publication date.

Criteria for book nominations are as follows:

• Must be published by July 1st of the current year, or any time in the previous year and still be in print. currently, this ranges from Jan. 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019.
• Possess strong child appeal.
• Demonstrate three or more of the five practices of Every Child Ready to Read®: talking, singing, reading, writing and playing.
• Have artistic quality with text that supports the illustrations or a compelling narrative provided by illustrations.
• Diversity and inclusion are encouraged.

The nomination pool will be narrowed down to five titles by the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Committee by January 2020. Ballots will be released and votes will be accepted until early May. More information on ballots and how to vote will be available in early 2020.

For more information about the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award, visit our website.

This blog post was submitted by the Indiana Young Readers Center.

 

Which book will win the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award?

The race is on! There are five picture books nominated to win the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. Voting is happening now until May 15, 2019. Libraries all over Indiana are having storytimes, collecting votes from voting stations and making special visits to preschools and child centers to help determine which of the five titles will take home the prize.

The five books were chosen from a list of titles nominated in 2018 by librarians all over Indiana who work with children. A committee of librarians chose these five books from over 30 nominated titles, primarily because the books are really good at getting children to talk, sing, read, write and play.

  • “A Hippy Hoppy Toad” by Indiana author Peggy Archer is written completely in rhyme and gets children to bop along to the beat, while they wait to see where the hippy-hoppy toad will land next.
  • “Jabari Jumps” by Gaia Cornwall is perfect for reading aloud to a loved one, particularly someone who might be afraid of taking that giant leap off the tall, scary diving board.
  • “There’s a Monster in Your Book” by Tom Fletcher is ridiculously fun, and encourages play and interaction with the silly monster at every turn of the page.
  • “Hello Hello” by Brendan Wenzel introduces children to dozens of animals and encourages conversations about animals, unfamiliar words, and saying hello to new friends.
  • “Play This Book” by Jessica Young turns the reader into a one person band, and uses illustrations of instruments to boost fine motor skills in the hands of the children who reach out to play that enticing printed piano in the middle of the book.

Ruth Fraser, the branch manager at the Klondike Branch of the Tippecanoe County Public Library loves the Firefly Award. “I love that it encourages caregivers to engage with the youngest learners, and gives kids the opportunity to have a say in their favorite books. It teaches parents how to nurture the important voices of their children.” The ballot for the award can be found here. Votes can be turned into the Indiana Center for the Book until May 15.

The Indiana Center for the Book is hoping for a record number of votes for 2019, as this is the fifth year of the award. “Five is an important milestone for children, and an important one for us,” said Suzanne Walker, director of the Indiana Center for the Book. “At five children can do somersaults. They can use a fork and a spoon and they can even rattle off their name and address. Now that the award is five, I’m hoping that every children’s librarian in Indiana knows about it and will turn in votes from their community.”

The award will be announced on May 17, 2019. For more information, visit the Firefly website here.

This blog post was submitted by the Indiana Young Readers Center.

Lego Soldiers and Sailors Monument is installed at the Indiana State Library

The staff of the Indiana Young Readers Center are extremely excited to welcome Jeffrey Smythe’s Lego rendition of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument to the Indiana Young Readers Center just in time for the holidays. The monument will be on display at the Indiana State Library and free to see during regular business hours from now until Valentine’s Day.

From the diary of Suzanne Walker, director of the Indiana Center for the Book and Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian:

11/21/2018

Dear Diary:

After weeks of emails and planning and measuring, the day finally arrived! Jeffrey brought the Lego Monument to the ISL today! It was going to be a bustling day anyway, as the whole State Library was topsy turvy with holiday decorating. Every division came out to decorate the evergreen trees found in many corners of our building. I love the trees with glass cardinals and owls gracing their branches, and our Giving Tree near the front door is a nice addition for this year.

But no tree took longer to assemble than our Lego monument “tree.” Jeffrey showed up around 9 a.m. with the first panels and sections of the monument. He knew right away that he would not be able to get it in one car load, so we unloaded and he headed back to Greenwood for more.

Here’s Caitlyn – IYRC staff, and Joe and Jeffrey unloading the monument. Jeffrey even has Lady Victory in his arm! We made good use of the library’s many flatbed carts, although we had to jockey all day with other library staff who kept using them for the Christmas trees. I love this picture because you can see that inside the monument are Legos of many colors! Not only that… there are Duplos in there!

It took three trips in the car to get the monument to the library. It did not arrive all in one piece; rather it came in several carefully-packed sections.

We knew right away that we would definitely need the three 8-foot tables that we had allocated for the monument. Jeffrey was delighted with the space we had chosen – right in front of a window on the east side of the building. Black tablecloths were scrounged up and the real assembly began.

There is so much detail on the monument! The actual monument is full of statue groupings and bronze and limestone features. I loved reading this article about the artist for the actual monument. I’m sure Jeffrey read it too, as he researched for three months before even putting two bricks together. Jeffrey did his best, scaling down the monument to a 1:48 scale to accommodate Lego minifigures. That’s one inch of Legos for every 4 feet in real life.

There was a tricky moment when it was time to slide the steps in and attach them to the main center piece. We discovered that our tables are not exactly the same height! Thank goodness Jeffrey brought some extra bricks – actually some flat platform pieces of uniform color – to prop up the panels so everything could hook in correctly.

Here’s the water in one of the two pools. Jeffrey said he tried three different versions of the water before he was satisfied with how it looked. It looks good enough to swim in!

Caitlyn and I made the mistake of going to lunch and when we got back, the lights were on and everything! It was glorious! There were still hours of work ahead, as Jeffrey had to install all the corner sections and Joe went to work snapping in hundreds of flowers. There are about 50 minifigures that had to be installed as well, including Mickey, Minnie, E.T. and the Powerpuff Girls. We are writing up a seek-and-find for visitors who want a challenge.

Colleague Stephanie Smith looks on as Jeffrey puts the finishing touches on the monument. She literally gasped when she walked into the room. It is that breathtaking!

Around 3 p.m. we had the final bricks snapped in. By 4 p.m. we finished adjusting the stanchions and putting up our “Do Not Touch” signs and a little bit of information about Jeffrey. It’s just amazing. I hope lots of people can come and see the Lego Monument. It’s certainly been a great way to start the holiday season for me!

Submitted by Suzanne Walker, Indiana Young Readers Center librarian at the Indiana State Library and director of the Indiana Center for the Book.

Indiana Young Readers Center staff heads to the National Book Festival

Suzanne Walker and Caitlyn Stypa, staff of the Indiana Young Readers Center located in the Indiana State Library, attended the National Book Festival in Washington, D. C. on Sept. 1, 2018. This diary describes their time at the festival.

From the diary of Suzanne Walker, director of the Indiana Center for the Book and Indiana Young Readers Center librarian:

8/31/2018

Dear Diary:

Caitlyn and I had a very early start the day before the festival. I am not kidding when I say that I woke up at 4 a.m. Our flight was at 6:50 a.m. Yikes. I headed to Caitlyn’s house and woke up the neighborhood when her dog decided to wish me a very good morning repeatedly. We finally got on the road. I did miss my turn to go to the airport, which I’ve never done before. I blame the fact that Caitlyn and I were chatting. We chat a lot. All that being said, we arrived at the Indy airport and were on our way with no problem. Our flight was great.

Here we are at the D.C. airport getting ready to jump on the metro. Our first stop is the convention center to set up our booth!

Here is our booth for the National Book Festival. Indiana always tries to make a good showing at the festival. The festival is a free event with book sales, author talks and signings, multiple stages and lots of activities for visitors, including the Parade of the States. Each state shows up with their signature stamp and a book that they are highlighting. Visitors get a map of the USA and collect stamps from each state. The day is usually a blur of children pushing maps in our faces for us to stamp. This is both good and bad. The good part is that we can see a lot of people, but the bad part is it can become a bit repetitive. We are hoping that our unique decorations will make people ask us about our highlighted book, because what do lobsters have to do with Indiana? I’ll answer that later! Indiana always has great bookmarks to give away that are donated to us by Ball State University. This year was no different. We have thousands of bookmarks to give away.

Once our booth was ready, we had enough time to take in a museum before my evening meeting at the Library of Congress. We headed to the National Portrait Gallery and got to see the newest presidential portraits, a gallery of Native American portraits done by George Catlin and some more modern pieces including a map of the U.S. done in neon lights and television screens. I was really interested in the Catlin portraits because of the work we recently did on a new video describing the murals at the ISL. I was glad to see the Indy 500 represented in the modern neon map.

Caitlyn stayed at the National Portrait Gallery while I headed off to the Library of Congress for my meeting, which was primarily about Letters About Literature. It was all good stuff. Caitlyn and I met up after the meeting in an amazing location for two ISL employees to meet in D.C.

Clearly I was excited to find the Indiana Plaza. You can’t tell too much from this picture but it was HOT in D.C.

Our long day was topped off by dinner at Founding Farmers. We had a great time meeting up with old and new friends before we hit the hay to rest up before the National Book Festival tomorrow. Yawn. More tomorrow.

9/1/2018

Dear Diary:

Wow! What a great day we had at the National Book Festival! We started out with breakfast at the hotel and then did the quick walk over to the convention center. We were there by 8:30 a.m., with doors opening at 9 a.m. We said hello to lots of other states and had to run over to the Maine table to explain about the lobsters. Didn’t want any drama with a fellow state!

So here’s the story of why the Indiana booth was covered with Magic 8-Balls and lobsters: The book we chose to highlight in our booth this year was “Made You Up” by Francesca Zappia. Chessie, as we call her because we are now best friends, was only 19 when she wrote the book. She grew up in Indianapolis and is a dream to work with. The book is about a girl who has schizophrenia. She uses a Magic 8-Ball to help her decide what’s real and what’s not and lobsters also have a big role in the book.

And guess who showed up at our booth!? Chessie herself! Francesca was at our booth from 10 a.m to 12 p.m. signing books, bookmarks and helping us stamp maps. It was great to hang out with her and she loved the lobsters and Magic 8-Balls that decorated our booth. Did I mention that our decorations were drawn by an ISL staff member? True story! And they turned out great.

Here’s me and my good friend, Francesca Zappia.

People did ask about the lobsters. And we gave away all the “good stuff” by about 2 p.m. There are about 100,000 people who visit the National Book Festival each year, including Carl Harvey! Lots of Hoosiers also showed up at our table just to say hi and tell us where they are from. We talked a lot about the Indiana State Library and classic Indiana titles. We had a Magic 8-Ball that only answers one question: What Indiana classic should you read next? There are 20 possible answers in that thing! I got “Raintree County.” Caitlyn got “Princess Diaries.”

Here’s Caitlyn, stamping yet another map.

By 3 p.m. I was searching for an aspirin to help with the headache that was doomed to appear. Minnesota helped me out. We stamped more maps and at 5 p.m. we packed up our booth and heaved a sigh of relief. Another successful National Book Festival in the books (excuse the pun)!

After the festival we had dinner with representatives from Alaska, Wisconsin and Michigan. We swapped NBF stories and invited each other to see our representative state libraries. After dinner, Caitlyn and I might have gotten some gelato and then we definitely crashed. Good night!

9/2/2018

Dear Diary:

Caitlyn and I head back to Indy at 5 p.m. today. We have just enough time to see the National Mall and one museum before we head to the airport to get checked in for our flight. We had a great time representing Indiana at the National Book Festival!

Submitted by Suzanne Walker, Indiana Young Readers Center librarian at the Indiana State Library and director of the Indiana Center for the Book.

2018 Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award winner announced

Indiana Center for the Book Director Suzanne Walker has announced author Mac Barnett and illustrator Brian Biggs as the 2018 Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award winners for their book “Noisy Night.”

“I write for kids because I believe children are the most thoughtful, adventurous, intelligent readers there are. And so I’m particularly honored that our book has won the Firefly, an award bestowed by kids themselves,” Barnett said.

The Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award is an initiative of the Indiana Center for the Book to promote early childhood literacy in Indiana. The state award committee is made up of professionals in Indiana, including librarians, caregivers and project coordinators; all of whom are involved in early childhood development. The committee chooses five books each year for children ages zero to five to vote on with help from an adult.

Runners-up include “Hooray for Birds!” by Lucy Cousins, “Blocks” by Irene Dickson, “Spunky Little Monkey” by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson and “Everybunny Dance!” by Ellie Sandall.

“The coolest thing about this award is that it is voted on by Hoosier children,” Walker said. “It is really fun to see the young children try to decide which book out of five is their favorite.”

“I was fascinated to see how many votes ‘Noisy Night’ received at my library,” said Cathy Butcher, a librarian in Flora, Indiana. “We don’t have any apartment buildings in our little rural town, but this book really held the interest of our preschoolers.”

This is the fourth year of the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. This year, 54 Indiana counties submitted votes for the award and over 5,000 children, ages zero to five, voted. Votes were collected at public libraries as well as at daycares.

The nominated books are chosen for their ability to encourage parents and children to use the Every Child Ready to Read® practices of talking, singing, reading, writing and playing together. Caregivers can use the Firefly books as a quality go-to resource for having fun and learning with their young children.

Submitted by Suzanne Walker, Indiana Young Readers Center librarian at the Indiana State Library and director of the Indiana Center for the Book.