Firefly season – Voting, summer reading challenges, nominating and more!

Children’s librarians across the state of Indiana know May as Firefly voting season. For the past five years, May has been the month that libraries have showcased the five nominated picture books through programs, displays and outreach, leading up to inviting their youngest patrons, ages 0-5 to vote on their favorite book to win the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. Like most things in 2020, this year the voting season for the Firefly Award will be different.

Voting for the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award has been extended until July 31
Libraries now have the opportunity to offer the Firefly program virtually and as a part of their summer reading programs. Libraries are welcome to showcase the Firefly program in whatever way they choose using the following resources:

Virtual Viewing: Patrons can view all five books through recorded videos available on the Indiana State Library’s Firefly website. The videos will be available until July 31, at which time they will be taken down.

Virtual Voting: After patrons have viewed the books, either in person, or through the recorded videos, they are welcome to use the online voting form to record the votes of any members of their household ages 0-5. An effort should be made to limit votes to one vote per child.

Program Guide: Every year the award committee collects craft ideas, activities, songs and rhymes to support each book. These are perfect for patrons to do while at home or for children’s librarians to use in virtual storytimes. The 2020 Program Guide is available for download here.

Libraries and childcare providers may collect votes in any manner of ways. They can encourage their customers to use the online form or they can collect votes themselves and email their tallies to Suzanne Walker at the Indiana State Library. Tallies will be accepted until July 31. If libraries choose to collect votes themselves they might do this through hands raised during a virtual storytime, phone calls, email or even snail mail.

In addition, libraries are encouraged to offer Firefly voting directly through their summer reading programs, either as a challenge in their online reading platform like Beanstack or READsquared, or as simply a task that patrons can complete for a prize or incentive. This is the first year that the Firefly deadline has been extended to coincide with summer reading. It is a great opportunity to engage the public in these quality picture books while at the same time providing virtual content for summer reading.

How to add the Firefly Award to your Beanstack Summer Reading Program
The Indiana State Library recognizes that Beanstack is just one option for tracking summer reading participation online. We offer these directions as a guide and perhaps as inspiration for any library who is using Beanstack or any other online summer reading platform. These directions are being included as a courtesy and should not be considered to be an endorsement of Beanstack or any other summer reading tool.

Creating a Beanstack Learning Track to feature the Firefly Award is a great way to get your young readers connected to this fantastic program! You’ll need a title, a description which you can copy from the Firefly Award website, badge details, patron details – where you can set age limitations for our 0-5 year old customers – and then you’ll add the activities. Each book can be a separate activity with a link URL to the video. The sixth activity of your learning track will be the link to the voting site. Beanstack has some helpful tools for learning how to build your program. Learning tracks are covered here.

For a step-by-step guide to adding the Firefly Award to your Beanstack Summer Reading Program download the Firefly Beanstack Activity Badge put together by the North Manchester Public Library. Alternatively, you could offer the Firefly as its own program. Directions for that are here.

New Facebook Group
The Firefly Award Committee has started a new Facebook group for any librarian or childcare provider who works with the Firefly Award. The purpose of the group is to share ideas and inspirations and to generally support each other and the book award. You can find the group by searching for “Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award.” Once you have located the group, click Join Group to request to join.

Nominating Titles for 2021
This summer, not only do we want you to keep the votes coming, we are also starting to collect nominations for the 2021 Firefly season. Nominations will be accepted from June 1-Oct. 1, 2020. We recognize that it may be difficult for libraries to access new picture books this year due to budget constraints. We encourage librarians who can to go ahead and nominate several titles.

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 Suzanne Walker. Include in your email: title, author, illustrator and publication date.

Criteria for book nominations are as follows:

  • Must be published by July 1 of the current year, or any time in the previous year and still be in print. Currently, this ranges from Jan. 1, 2019 to July 1, 2020.
  • 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 2021. More information on ballots and how to vote will be available in early 2021.

Watch for Fireflies
Finally, we are entering the outdoor evening firefly season in Indiana. According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Say’s firefly is one of the earliest emerging fireflies in Indiana and may be seen from early May through mid-July. What better tie in for the Firefly Award program than actual fireflies?

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

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