Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Once Upon a Reader

My 'free' time for blogging became non-existent last February when I accepted an independent contractor position working as a project manager for a new "One Book" initiative in Minnesota.

When I took the position, there was a vague idea of what the program would look like, and how it would be formed, but other than that it was something completely new. It has been a wild ride!

I am so happy to finally be able to share the program, Once Upon a Reader: Minnesota Libraries Bring Young Children and Books Together. Each year, OUR will choose a book with a Minnesota connection and unite children all over the state with early-literacy based programming that revolves around that year's book.

My role in the project was about program development--what would the program look like and what would it offer? I advocated strongly for the book that was chosen by the steering committee for our first year--Moo! by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. Because David and Mike are both local to me, I knew that both of them would be great to work with, and Moo! had just won a Minnesota Book Award. I was excited to work with Moo! for a bunch of reasons: I loved it, I knew that it was popular and well-received, and it was less than six months old. I was really excited to create programming around a book that new! Part of the program includes getting a free copy of Moo! into the hands of every Head Start student in Minnesota. That's nearly 17,000 kids with a free book in their hands. How cool is that?!

My highlights from Once Upon a Reader:
  • Getting to call both David and Mike to tell them their book was chosen and invite them to be part of the project
  • All of the amazingly talented people I got to work with on the project
  • The original moo-sic that we commissioned for Moo!
  • The (moo-velous) Moo!-based puppet show that David and Mike wrote and developed
  • The custom Cow puppets we commissioned--she is one sassy bossy!
  • All of the cow puns
Watch the Moo-vie, listen to the Moo-sic (AWESOME FOR STORYTIME!), and watch the "Creation of Moo!" interviews here (really! Go do it).

One of the things that I was passionate about with the project was finding a way to provide high-quality programming that would be easy for ANY library in Minnesota to quickly implement. To make this happen, I created the concept of the Program Menu. Instead of a curriculum of ideas for libraries to adapt, they would have a 'menu' of fully realized programs that they could order from. The menu items range from a puppet show/author and illustrator visit (the "Traveling Trunk Show"), to the simple passive program, "Cow's Scavenger Hunt." Each program on the menu has detailed instructions, templates, signs, AND all the supplies that libraries need to do the program. Hopefully, with the range of options, any library in Minnesota--no matter their size or staffing reality--can easily take part in Once Upon a Reader. Whether or not this was a successful method remains to be seen, but I'm very proud of the programs I've created. You can find the Program Menu here.

And finally, even if you're not in MN, you can still take advantage of all the music, movies, and program ideas for your library. Lots of free downloads and activities on the page for parents and caregivers, here.

Thanks for looking, and for still reading after my long silence!


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