“Graphic” Non-Fiction

Program Desription:

They are definitely “graphics” but they definitely are not novels. Non-fiction in the graphic format is a growing trend and can engage readers who might reject other non-fiction. Two Rhode Island young adult librarians, Robin Lensing of Pawtucket Public Library and Ed Fuqua from Woonsocket Harris Public Library, discuss the advantages of adding non-fiction to your graphic collection. The program is sponsored by NERTCL.

Monday, 3:30-5 p.m.

Robin Lensing and Ed Fuqua

From left: Robin Lensing and Ed Fuqua

Lensing and Fuqua went through an extensive list of titles for non-fiction graphic novels that a library could add to its collection. I will post a link to the list here as soon as it is available on the NELA Web site.

Fuqua noted that the popularity of graphic novels is really huge right now. Public reception of graphic novels is greater now than it ever has in history. Every major publisher has a graphic novel in print.

While showing Beowulf by Gareth Hinds (Candlwick, 2007), Lensing said, “how hard is it to get kids interested in Beowulf?” If a kid needs to read Beowulf, the graphic novel may have more appeal than other versions.

On the other hand, Fuqua said the graphic version of the 9/11 Report gives faces to the people who died in the attack. It can bring it alive for kids.

Question from audience: Are these really graphic “novels”? Since they are non-fiction, should they be called “novels?”

It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction. The format is graphic novels, even if it is non-fiction.

But this raised the question of where you should shelve your graphic non-fiction.

“You should put things where you think your readers will find them,” Fuqua said.

Some titles are put in fiction, others are put in non-fiction.  It doesn’t matter to our patrons. It matters to librarians.

A person in the audience said her library puts all its graphic novels together. It doesn’t separate fiction from non-fiction.

Lensing, referring to a graphic novel about the Holocaust said, the benefit of putting it in non-fiction is that a child researching the Holocaust may come across the graphic novel.

Fuqua added that several titles on the list don’t have popular appeal. They may work better with non-fiction books.

Lensing also saw potential for working with these non-fiction graphic novels in school. What would be great, she said, if you’re working in a school is if you can get teachers to encourage students to write graphic novels. If they can see that graphic novels can be different than Spiderman, it may inspire them in a different direction.

NERTCL presents “Signing For Babies”

This past spring, I was fortunate to meet a patron who was teaching her 8-month-old sign language. Through this family I saw first hand how powerful this form of communication could be for both the parent and the child. Her daughter has mastered a range of the signs including “more,” “help,” “eat” and even “thank you.” Imagine having a baby sign “thank you” to you at the circulation desk after checking out her board books! I’m thrilled that NERTCL brought this session on signing for babies to this years conference.

American Sign Language (ASL) is the third most used language in the United States. With its own unique syntax and grammar ASL is its own language – distinct from spoken English. Presenter Mary Buckley delivered a fantastic program on the benefits of incorporating ASL in our baby and toddler programs. The benefits of teaching a baby sign language are huge. Not only does it allow parents an opportunity to find out what their baby wants before they are able to speak – it can actually reinforce a child’s language development. Exposure to a second language at a young age helps children learn other languages later in life. Research has found that children exposed to signs during their pre-talking stages have a larger vocabulary (~50 words greater) by the age of two. Children benefit from this active exposure to language and it is a great way for parents to bond with their children.

It’s easy for librarians to incorporate signing into our existing programming. Try using one or two signs to reinforce what is happening in a picture book. Many books for young children have repetition – use this to your advantage! One sign can go a long way in a repetitive story and it gives you plenty of chances to practice using the sign. Repetition can help give children a chance to see the pictures in the book, hear the words, and learn the signs. We try to bring a book to life through our voices and inflection – sign language gives you another opportunity to bring the story to life. If you are reading Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the sign for caterpillar can help make that story jump right out of the book! Using signs with books can also help children grasp vocabulary more quickly and help them to distinguish words. Buckley gave the example of how a sign can help children visually remember the difference between words that sound alike such as “red” (signed by pointing to the lips) and read (signed by using a finger to trace words on the opposite palm). Songs and fingerplays are also a natural way to introduce a sign. During the session Buckley taught us the correct ASL sign for spider – which is a lot easier for children (and adults) to form with their hands and use while singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

Recommended Titles
Sign with your Baby by Joseph Garcia
Dancing with Words: Signing for Hearing Children’s Literacy by Marilyn Daniels
Teach your Tot to Sign: The Parents’ Guide to American Sign Language by Stacy A. Thompson
“Signing Time” Board Book Series by Rachel Coleman & Emilie Brown

Top Books for Easy Signing
Does my Kangaroo have a Mother Too? By Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Excuse Me! A Little Book of Manners by Karen Katz
Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
The Little Old Lady that Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback
Say it, Sign It by Elaine Epstein

Mary Buckley’s Signs & Smiles has a wealth of information and links.
Michigan State University’s American Sign Language Browser is an online ASL dictionary.

Cambridge, Biddeford Bring the Joy of Books to Preschoolers in New England

In a wonderful program this morning on Outreach to Preschoolers, sponsored by NERTCL, Daryl Mark, Cambridge (MA) Public Library, spoke very eloquently about the residents of Cambridge and the needs they have the library can fill, and detailed the components, and success, of their Verizon eLiteracy grant. “Children need stories, and they need the joy of books,” said Mark, and this was the driving force behind a Verizon eLiteracy grant that brought books into preschools. Twice a month. Two staff members have extensive backgrounds in early childhood.

The program model was three books in thirty minutes, plus songs & fingerplays. A free paperback book was given to every child. Books read in storytime were left at the preschool for two weeks (had to make this work with the system). Puppets turned out to be real stars of this project. “I am not a puppet person,” said one librarian, who brought the bunny puppet. The kids sang rock a bye baby to the bunny, and developed a relationship with the bunny, which led to a storytime completed focuses on bunnies.

Librarians were also a resource to teachers, bringing materials for curriculum, and librarians attended a parent program to introduce the library to paarents. As this was a grant funded project, librarians journalled and used surveys to document the program. Scheduling was the biggest problem. Calling a day ahead to make sure it was still ok to come, was ok.

“At the library, I’m in control, but at the preschool you are not the most important thing – flexibility is really important!” said Mark. Whether the preschool teacher sat in on the storytime or not, made a difference. Teachers have a link and authority with the kids, and help with behavior and show support. Plus, librarians were modelling how to share books with the teachers. At one storytime where the kids were restless and Amy Newmark’s advice about a way to give the kids a sense of their own space: Colored dots (Avery labels!) Nametags also help. Asking teachers to help gets them involved and engaged.

Sometimes language was a barrier–31% of Cambridge residents do not have English as a first langauge. Building relationships was key. One result of the grant was teachers brought their kids to the library. Noted a wide dispartiy in reading comprehension of the preschools. Short, exciting, participatory, funny, and/or scary worked well, and stories with emotion (about friendship, about parents) worked really well.

“A lof kids are not getting books and stories the way they need them … and they NEED their stories, by golly!” enthused Vicky Smith, Biddeford (ME) Public Library. Their program grew out of an idea was spurred by a local resident who wanted to volunteer to read to children. When the volunteer petered out, recognized it was am important program to continue, and decided to close the children’s room on Thursday mornings to visit local preschools once a month.

New Century Grants from the State of ME of $10,000 started an outreach program called Bookshare in Biddeford ME. No money was used for staff; Smith pruchased extra picture books, bags to put them in, and a paperback book for every child to take home with a “Please come to the library with your child” letter for their parent. The letter stated that parents would not be held responsible for damaged books, and there was a very positive response to this clause. A library card drive component was unsuccessful, BUT they now see a lot of kids who wouldn’t normally come into the library.

Head Start and Regional Development Centers, as well as family day cares, were the targets for the service. The fantasy of a block of five day care visits from 9:30-12:30 one morning a week was just that – a fantasy! Staffing was also a bit of a challenge. Matching staff to the right venue was key. Getting the preschool teachers to participate was an educational experience, but very few o them go off to do something while we are there. Some of those family providers are so isolated, and being able to spend 5-10 minutes at the end of session, just to talk to the providers, is really really important for THEM.” advises if you decide to start a program of this sort, build time in, because the family providers really need it.

To see if the books were being used, Smith left books behind in the bag, placed very neatly, spine up. Asking the kids what books they liked in the interim helped prompt the providers that rereading is important. Nice messy bags were a good sign.

Curriculum support was an important component, and sometimes a challenge (books on dentistry!). The need for more duplicates was a surprise – 20-30 copies of pumpkin books, snow books, etc. It so simportant to be able to give them what they need at the time they need. Plus, you don’t have to replace them too often.

“We do it BETTER,” emphasized Smith, when talking about WHY this program was so important. She pointed out that many providers have “garbage” books, and we have the “good” books. And “we know how to share stories in ways that children are going to respond with joy and delight.”

Book list of hits:
We’re Going On a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly
Ginger by Charlotte Voake
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood
Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox
More, More, More said the Baby by Vera Williams
Charlie Parker PLayed BeBop by Chris Raschka
Mole Sisters by Roslyn Schwartz
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
Do Like Kyla by Angela Johnson
When Sophie Gets Angry–Really Really Angry by Molly Bang
Snip, Snap, What’s That? by Mara Bergman
Do Pigs Have Stripes?and others by Melanie Walsh
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
Hi, Pizza Man! by Virginia Walters
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

Favorites from Bookshare
Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Laurel Thompson
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Hidden Alphabet by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Lemons Are not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
The Handmade Alphabet by Laura Rankin
Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London

Hot Teen Titles

Dawn Higginson

Fantasy Titles –

  • Beastly by Alex Flinn – a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast
  • The princess and the Hound by Mette Harrison- fairytale and coming of age story
  • Blood Coven Series by Mari Mancusi- 3 books about vampires and vampire slayers
  • Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier – mystery, romance, fairytale, by a newAustralian author
  • Wicked Lovely by Melissa Mar- main character can see fairies, “urban fantasy”


  • The Boys next Store by Jennifer Echols – This girl is tired of being “one of the boys”
  • The Boyfriend League by Rachel Hawthorne – Very light but fun read
  • A Countess Below Stairs By Eva Ibbotson – a Russian princess becomes a maid – Historical
  • Bloom by Elizabeth Scott – Is it possible to be perfect?
  • General Winston’s Daughter by Sharon Shinn – Historical set in Arabia, good for book discussion

Alissa Lauzon


  • The Circle of Blood (3rd in series) by Alane Ferguson- fans of CSI will enjoy these books
  • Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle – Based in RI, crime
  • Edenville Owls by Robert B Parker- Sports, coming of age, high school read, suspense, based in MA
  • Gilda Joyce : The Ghost Sonata (3rd in Series) by Jennifer Allison- romance and mystery set in England, “regular girl” fiction
  • The Case of the Left-handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer- sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes so she has curiosity inbred
  • Snatched (1st in series) by Pete Hautman- middle school read, quick read, family issues multi-gendered


  • The Wall: growing up behind the iron curtain by Peter Sis – non-fiction graphic novel set between 1968-1989
  • Blood on the River: Jamestown 1607 by Elisa Carbone- based on historical facts, addreses relationship with natives
  • London Calling by Edward Bloor- time travel, “historical fantasy”
  • The Ever-After Bird by Ann Rinald- high school read, pre-civil war, slavery, and underground railroad, coming of age

Gretchen Hanley


  • Flash Point by Sneed B Collard- lumber mill town, environmental issues, arson
  • The Wolf by Steven Herrick- Set in the Australian outback, young girl deals with a physically abusive father,
  • The Killing Sea by Richard Lewis- Tsunami in Indonesia, survival, some proceeds from this books are going to survivors of the Tsunami
  • Peak by Roland Smith – 7th grade and up, son of mountain climbers, main character climbs buildings in NYC but he gets caught,
  • The Darwin Expedition by Diane Tullson- 2 high school seniors get stuck in a survival situation and learn about themselves, quick read, 6th grade and up
  • Pride of Baghdad by Brian K Vaughan – graphic novel, YA, pride of lions who escape from the zoo during bombing of Baghdad

Realistic Fiction

  • Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss- young girl deals with cancer and treatment, lasting friendship,
  • How to get Suspended and Influence People by Adam Selzer- Middle school read, 8th grade, story about a nerd who designs a project on puberty, very funny
  • What my girlfriend doesn’t know by Sonya Sones, verse format, 8th grade and up, formerly popular girl is outcast because of her boyfriend, funny
  • Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen- 12 year-old runs away from foster home and learns about life on the street, diary format
  • Rubber Houses by Ellen Yeomans- written in verse, girl deals with the loss of a sibling from cancer, powerful and edgy

Do it yourself Technology

Speaker- Deanna Gouzie youth services librarian at Baxter Memorial Library in Me.

MySpace for your library

A librarian may encounter resistance in setting up MySpace for their libraries

  • As librarians we need to model positive use of MySpace
  • Children have ways to circumvent filters to get to these social networking pages
  • Teens will look at library MySpace as opposed to a library website

Developmental assets – What teens needs to become functioning adults

  • Teens learn to communicate with peers, authors, and even politicians
  • They learn the correct boundaries

Why teens

  • Many teens dedicate time and imagination to create their pages, they are proud of their accomplishments
  • MySpace or other social networking sites are here to stay
  • Americans spend 12% of their time on MySpace
  • How to set up a MySpace
    • very simple if you keep it basic
    • http://www.myspace.com
    • It only takes a few minutes to activate your account
    • No need to write in HTML
    • Privacy is important – you can only see a person’s account if they allow you to be their friend.
    • You can also edit friends…or block someone
    • Top 5 – very important to teens
    • Pimp my MySpace…many sites that help you to design your site
    • Very empowering for teens and helps them master technology skill
    • just fill in the blanks to put in personal information

    Library Myspace pages give teens a safe place to explore and learn about literature.

Theresa Maturevich – Beverly Public Library in Ma.

Some uses for blogs in a library setting

  • Readers advisory – book reviews, recommendations, summer reading lists
  • Upcoming events- programing, pictures,
  • Movie and music reviews
  • News about library renovations
  • Subject specific blogs – most blogs are searchable by their tags
  • Communication between librarians
  • To host an entire library website…No HTML needed…
  • Can place a link to your blog directly to the library website

Setting up a Blog

  • easy to set one up – go to blogger.com or www.wordpress.com
  • make a user name and password
  • decide the purpose of you blog
  • then just start typing
  • You can add categories that allow others to search your blog
  • you can easily link words to any other webpage

Wiki – an editable webpage – that anyone can edit (but this can be controlled)

  • Also easy to set up
  • Can become very unorganized if pages are not thought out and set up initially
  • Can be private of public – can be just for staff
  • Password can help control those who may edit
  • Files or pictures can easily be attached
  • Can link to URL or other websites
  • Can use templates or just be a blank page

Many can be started for free. Of course, you get more bells and whistles when you pay. The good thing is that you can begin with a free site and upgrade when you feel the need.

Why create a blog or wiki instead of just a website?

  • There is more flexibility
  • Can easily allow the input of others
  • Can get immediate feedback from your readers
  • Cost…this type of communication can be started without cost…just the time involved
  • Anyone can write in this format…
  • Can be edited from anywhere that has a internet connection