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Spotlight on Literature

Content guide for fall 2020 continuing education "Spotlight on Literature" program.

Celebrating Youth Media Awards Webinar

Friday, November 20, 2020 from 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Krishna GradyJoin Krishna Grady, Head of Youth Services at the Darien Library (CT) and 2020 Newbery Award Chair, and April Mazza, MLS Consultant and 2017 Newbery Award Committee Member, for Book Award trivia (with prizes!) followed by conversation about the Newbery Medal, what topics are important in today’s literature for children, and what meaning do book awards hold now and in the future.

Krishna Grady is the Head of Youth Services at the Darien (CT) Library. Raised by books, the child of a librarian was destined to end up in the stacks. She loves a good musical and can often be found singing in the library. She also loves a nice cardigan and a cat.

This webinar will be recorded. If you can't make the live session, register anyway and we will send you a link to the recording.


Book Discussion Guidelines

It's important to follow agreed upon guidelines when discussion books (or other media) to help you communicate with others and to understand and hear different points of views as well. We will follow the CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center) Discussion Guidelines as they are excellent guidelines to follow and are used for many established youth literature awards. Another wonderful resource is "Thom’s Rules of Order: Ten Tips for Good Book Discussion" written by Thom Bathelmess for the Horn Book in 2014. Thom would later go on to chair the 2017 Newbery Medal Committee (of which April Mazza was a member).  You may also want to read "From the Chair: Universality in Times of Uncertainty", an insightful piece also in the Horn Book written by our webinar presenter, Krishna Grady, in July 2020.

Literary Celebrations

why celebrate books? display ideas, social media marketing, program activities, encourages reading.

Read Across America, sponsored by the National Education Association, is the nation’s largest celebration of reading. Read Across America has gone from one day in March to a year-round program focusing on “motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources that are about everyone, for everyone”.

Their website includes loads of helpful resources on planning an event with both virtual and physically distant ideas, tips for guest readers, and a promotional toolkit. There you will find media plans, sample PSA and letters, presentations, announcements, Social media tags, and logos. There is also a section on finding free or low-cost books, free audiobooks, and video read alouds. The monthly calendar features a theme, books with teaching resources for elementary, middle grade, and teens, and other dates and celebrations with related reading and other activities. In addition to Read Across America  information the site also includes related reading resources such as recommended books, a summer reading guide, tips for reading and inspiring reading, and tools for parents.

Each April, the Academy of American Poets offers activities, initiatives, and resources for National Poetry Month so that anyone can join in online and at home and—hopefully—find comfort, resilience, and connection throughout the month of April and beyond. National Poetry Month was launched by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996 to remind the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K–12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, and, of course, poets, marking poetry's important place in our lives.

The website has many free resources highlighting ways to celebrate National Poetry Month online and at home, ways to celebrate National Poetry Month in the virtual classroom, and where to find virtual poetry readings and events. You can also request or download the official National Poetry Month poster, sign up for Poem-a-Day and enjoy a free daily poem in your inbox, share a #pocketpoem on Poem in Your Pocket Day, and follow the thousands of celebrations taking place on social media.


Children's Day/Book Day, also known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día), is a celebration of children, families, and reading held annually on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of advocating literacy for every child regardless of linguistic and cultural background. The goals of the program are to celebrate children and connect them to the world of learning through books, stories and libraries; nurture cognitive and literacy development in ways that honor and embrace a child’s home language and culture; introduce families to community resources that provide opportunities for learning through multiple literacies; and recognize and respect culture, heritage and language as powerful tools for strengthening families and communities.

On the Día website under “free program downloads” be sure to scroll all the way down for all the resources including a press kit with downloadable images for social media, booklists, downloadable posters, a resource guide with program models, best practices, activities and coloring sheets. The Bookclub lesson kits for ages 4-12 include discussion questions and activities for small & large groups as well as a family activity. Check out the “Action” tab which is a clearinghouse of multicultural resources for youth service librarians. Includes advocacy, action steps, professional development, and more.

Children’s Book Week, a program of the Children’s Book Council, is the annual celebration of children’s books and reading. Established in 1919, it is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country, now celebrating its 101st anniversary with over 1,300 participating schools, libraries and bookstores in all 50 states. Book week usually takes place in May but in 2020 a Fall celebration in November was added.

On the site you will find lots of resources such as an educator kit, coloring pages, videos, and information for home, school, and libraries joining the celebration. There is an annual poster that can either be ordered for purchase or downloaded at no cost. A selection of free bookmark/activity sheets can also be downloaded at no cost. Press release templates, logos, and more promotional materials are under “Media Tools”.

Rainbow Book Month™ is a nationwide celebration of the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, genderqueer, queer, intersex, agender, and asexual community.  As of 2020, GLBT Book Month™ has been renamed Rainbow Book Month™, in coordination with the Rainbow Round Table's name change in 2019. Rainbow Book Month™ is an initiative of the American Library Association, and is coordinated through its Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services and the Rainbow Round Table.

To help celebrate, there are customizable publicity materials on the website including a press release template, Letter-to-the-Editor template, PSA scripts, and Rainbow Book Month social media graphics. The LGBTQIA+ Book Awards and Bibliographies from ALA serve to recognize the very best in contemporary literature and serve as invaluable tools for building quality LGBTQIA+ collections. The site also features “Tools for Library Workers” holding book discussions or other programming in honor of Rainbow Book Month. Authors, publishers, school districts, reading organizations, and even the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund have put time and effort into creating reading guides specifically for book discussions. ALA has also created several resources around best practices for community-informed programming. You can also purchase posters and bookmarks from ALA Graphics.

The Library of Congress National Book Festival is an annual literary event that brings together best-selling authors, poets and illustrators with thousands of readers for book talks, panel discussions, book signings and other engaging activities. Over the course of its 20-year history, the Festival has become one of the most prominent literary events in the nation.

There are author stages, videos, a televised special event, and merchandise to purchase. Free resources include family friendly activities, programming for schools, children and teens at home, a learning guide, and a downloadable poster. You can also download previous years’ poster from the Poster Gallery for a colorful and unique display.

No stranger to library workers, Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read and is observed during the last week of September. Each year, librarians, booksellers, teachers and countless others take this opportunity to highlight the importance of intellectual freedom and remind us not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

To bring awareness to the issue of censorship there are a variety of resources you can use to observe Banned Books Week including promotional tools such as graphics, templates, and posters as well loads of print and digital resources, many of them free. Additional information is available for students, educators, booksellers, and creators. You can also find and add events to the calendar. For an active approach you and/or members of your community can create short videos reading from banned books or talking about censorship.

Read for the Record is an annual fall campaign engaging over 2 million participants and aims to increase awareness about the critical importance and impact of early literacy. Sharing high-quality picture books with young children is at the core of Jumpstart’s mission. Each year, Jumpstart selects a campaign book that fosters language and social-emotional development, honors the diversity in our world, has a strong narrative, and appeals to young children. That book is read across the country and around the world by adults and young readers on Read for the Record day.

The site informs on how to participate, including how to record reading from the event day. Activity sheets and several other resources are available in English and Spanish. Promo materials include social media tools, flyers, customizable posters, bookmarks, and a handout for families – all free to download.