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Welcome to Think Outside the Stacks. Well, 2016 has been quite the year. Thanks to all who filled out the poll. It was pretty close, but click rates tell me you're not finding each issue as interesting. I would rather give you the best stuff twice a month than reach to do it every week so I'll be back early in the new year with some fresh sources for you.  As always I love to hear feedback and suggestions for content at or @BethReads on Twitter. 

Low Prep, Low-Stress New Year's Eve Activities

In case you still need ideas:

New Year's Eve With Kid: Wishing Wall Activity(via Buggy and Buddy)
If you need a quick passive program for NYE then grab some sticky notes and let patrons share their wishes for a new year. Not only is it a cheap, easy, and colorful display but it's 100% editable as well. 

New Years Coloring Party Hats (via Totschooling)
Let the smaller ones color their own party hats with these free printables. 

Countdown Bags (via Organize and Decorate Everything)
Make some countdown bags for your children's area. You can count down the hours until you close, or from when you open until noon (whether you're doing New Years at Noon or not). I would fill some of the bags with books to read share, another with some left over prizes or cheap pencils, and one with some Dollar Tree noise makers. Just check your supply closet and see what you've got. Whoever happens to be in the area at the time can participate in opening the bag. 
New Year's Game Free Printable (via Alice and Lois)
You can use these cute year-in-review cards as a conversation starter for a group of teens, or put up some big sheets of paper with the questions on them and let teens add their answers. 

Libraries for All

Responding to Hate and Bias at School (via Teaching Tolerance)
We've already seen that libraries will not be immune to hate crimes and our administrations need to be ready to respond to them in a helpful and productive way. On a smaller level, many of you are already wondering how to handle inappropriate speech and graffiti in your youth area. Here are some concrete steps to take both before, during, and after an incident. 

Let's Be Bridge Builders (via Museum 2.0)
How can we reach out to our non-users and truly live up to "the library is for everyone"? Museum engagement expert Nina Simon has some places to start that would serve libraries well.

The Sun Will Still Rise Tomorrow: Responding to the Election (via Art Museum Teaching)
How staff at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum modified their curriculum to meet the needs of impacted students after the election.

Why My Child Doesn't Look Like They Have Special Needs (via The Jenny Evolution)
Just a reminder that we don't always know the challenges families are facing, especially in the public library. 
How to Make a Mini Paper City (via Todays Parent)
You could make this one something more by providing recycled boxes instead of just rolls, but my real vision for this is a community building project. Let children make their own house or favorite place and then combine them all into a unified community display. 

Teen Making

Yarn Letter Canvas (via Michaels) 
Ever since I saw the cover of The Sun is Also a Star I've been looking for a string art project for teens that was cheap and simple enough to work as a library program. I think this is it. You could probably use foam board instead of canvas to cut costs, but I haven't actually tried it. 

DIY Morse Code Bracelets (via Honestly WTF)
What teen wouldn't want to wear or give jewelry with a secret message coded in? You could get any kind of beads, although I think smaller beads appeal to teens. 

12 Days of Photoshop (via The Art of Ed)
If you have access to Photoshop or a similar photo editing program here are 12 challenges for your teens to familiarize themselves with different techniques. Encourage them to look for tutorials online for things they don't know how to do and/or provide a list of tutorial sites and other resources your library might have. 
Easy DIY Recycled Cardboard TV (via Hello Wonderful)
Give your elementary age kids a chance to write a story for "TV". This simple craft levels up by having the kids create a wordless story to fill the reels. 

Language, Reading, and Family Engagement

Family Advent To-Go Boxes (via Lynne Howard)
This church created to-go kits to help families celebrate Advent together and this is definitely an idea that libraries can modify. I'm thinking a box to distribute to families new in the area, families signing up for 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, kids moving up from children's to teen programs, or as part or whole of a Summer or Winter reading program. 

Babies' First Words Can be Predicted Based on Visual Attention (via Science Daily)
A new study has shown that babies' first words are linked to the number of times an object passes through their field of vision. This not only explains why my daughter's first word was "kitty" but also gives researchers insight into language learning in kids with speech delays or autism. 

Penguin and CBC Launch Award Honoring Anna Dewdney (via PW)
The Anna Dewdney Read Together Award will be given annually to a picture book, published in the U.S. during the five prior years that is an outstanding read-aloud and encourages compassion and empathy. No, I'm not crying, you're crying. 

Picture This Revised and Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition 
Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang is essential reading for anyone who wants to better understand visual storytelling and the book has been updated for its 25th anniversary. Time for a re-read.

The Playground Where Babies Learn to Talk (via The Atlantic)
A playground in Oakland CA features panels prompting conversations between children and caregivers. A great reminder to consider where in our community we can help encourage the 5 ECRR practices outside the library. Thanks to Jbrary for sharing this on Twitter. 


My 2016 YA Favorites

Instead of one featured book this week I have a list of my favorite Young Adult titles of the year. If your favorite isn't on here I probably haven't read it yet so feel free let me know I shouldn't miss it. Two-year-olds are hard on reading time!

In no particular order:
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon 
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig 
Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Lucy and Linh by Alice Pugh
Dark Horses by Cecily von Ziegesar 
Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw
Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo 
The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle 
Ghost by Jason Reynolds 
Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig 
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina 

Snow Monster Fun 

I Don't Think You're Ready for This Yeti (via Chickadee Lit)
While I admit to picking this largely on the title I haven't seen a yeti book list before and I think it would make a great winter program theme. Here is a paper plate yeti craft (via Arty Crafty Kids) and a Teachers Pay Teachers pack for Spaghetti with the Yeti

Just for Fun

Starving Stray Dog is Rescued and Taken to Pet-Friendly Restaurants in LA
She found an extremely cute little dog and soon realized he was both well behaved in restaurants and a foodie.The pictures speak for themselves. 

Kitten Escapes Cage to Play with Puppy Friend (Pop Sugar)

A little too true at the moment:

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