Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Inspired by the World Series

In our small, Atlanta office, you might be surprised to learn that there is a fair amount of variety when it comes to baseball fandom. Of course, we are largely dominated by (heartbroken and wistful) Braves fans, but the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants, among a few others, are also represented. As we are all painfully aware, none of our teams will be playing in this year's World Series, but we have decided to rise above for the sake of highlighting some rather wonderful baseball books. So if you've caught baseball fever in celebration of the 112th World Series, read on!

Dad, Jackie, and Me
by Myron Uhlberg
illustrated by Colin Bootman
It is the summer of 1947 and a highly charged baseball season is underway in New York. Jackie Robinson is the new first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers—and the first black player in Major League Baseball. A young boy shares the excitement of Robinson's rookie season with his deaf father. Finally one day the father delivers some big news: they are going to Ebbets Field to watch Jackie play in person!

Sliding Into Home
by Dori Hillestad Butler
It's not fair! Thirteen-year-old Joelle Cunningham is passionate about baseball. She loves to watch it, read about it, and, most of all, play it. But when her family moves from Minneapolis to the small town of Greendale, Iowa, she quickly discovers that there are strict rules preventing her from playing on the school baseball team. Author Dori Butler has created a high-spirited, indomitable character that young girls will admire and root for in this story of frustrated ambition and ultimate triumph.

Stumptown Kid
by Carol Gorman & Ron J. Findley
Twelve-year-old Charlie Nebraska wants two things he can't get: to make the local Wildcats Baseball team and to have life to return to the way it was before his father died two years earlier in the Korean War. Then Charlie meets Luther Peale, a former Negro Baseball League player, and the two strike up a friendship that is challenged by some of the small town's residents. This dramatic and moving story set int he days of the Negro Leagues illustrates the true meanings of friendship, prejudice, and heroism.

Dugout Rivals
by Fred Bowen
Jake Daley loves baseball. He loves playing for the Red Sox in the Woodside baseball league. He loves playing short stop. Most of all, he loves to win. When newcomer Adam joins the team and showcases his outstanding skills by winning game after game, Jake begins to wonder if he or the other players even matter. It's only when Jake learns of Babe Ruth and the 1927 Yankees that he realizes even the best players rely on the talent of their teammates.

The Golden Glove
by Fred Bowen
Without his lucky glove, Jamie doesn't believe in his ability to lead his baseball team to victory. After losing his special glove before the season's opening game, he is disappointed in his performance with the glove he had to borrow. But with the help of a sporting goods store owner and former minor league player, Jamie learns that faith in oneself is the most important equipment for any game.

The Kid Coach
by Fred Bowen
Baseball season is underway, and Coach Skelly has just quit. When Scott and his teammates can't find an adult to coach the team, it looks as if the Tigers' season might be over before it really begins. But then the players have an idea: what if one of them became coach? They learn about leadership and discover unique and unrecognized talents among their own friends.

Perfect Game
by Fred Bowen
Isaac is determined to pitch a perfect game: no hits, no runs, no walks, and no errors. If he does, he's sure to make the summer all-star team. But Isaac keeps losing his cool on the mound; he just can't get his head back in the game. Then he meets a very interesting Unified Sports basketball player who gets him thinking in a different way about the whole idea of "perfect."

Playoff Dreams
by Fred Bowen
Brendan is one of the best players in the league, but no matter how hard he tries, he can't make his team win. After an unexpected event and learning the story of Cubs player and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Brendan realizes that it's the love of the game that makes the experience a success.

T.J.'s Secret Pitch
by Fred Bowen
T.J. is smaller than his teammates and his pitches just don't have the power to get the batters out. When he learns about 1940s player Rip Sewell, he may have found a solution. But will his teammates give T. J. a chance to prove that he can be a pitcher? And will T. J.'s secret pitch help lead his team to victory?

Throwing Heat
by Fred Bowen
Last season, Jack’s pitches were the fastest around, and he could always rely on them to strike out his opponents. But now he’s playing in a new middle school league, where the distance between the pitching rubber and the catcher’s mitt is a lot greater. Jack keeps throwing heat but he can’t get seem to get balls into the strike zone. When a local college baseball coach offers to help him, Jack doesn't listen at first, but with the season on the line, he realizes the coach was right. Is it too late to change his game plan?

Winners Take All
by Fred Bowen
In order to win an important baseball game, twelve-year-old Kyle claims to have made a difficult catch, which he actually dropped. The attention he receives is not enough to silence his conscience. When Kyle learns of Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, a pitcher whose reputation for honesty was so great that umpires would ask him to make calls during games, he realizes that being a hero is only worthwhile if you have earned it.

Look for these books and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

5 Steps to Establishing a Successful Library Dog Program

We at Peachtree love to learn about different ways people promote and encourage literacy among children. Having recently published  Lisa Papp's picture book Madeline Finn and the Library Dog—the story of a reluctant reader who develops a love of reading with the help of a beautiful and patient library dog—we were inspired to learn more and help spread the word about these fantastic programs!

R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) is the foremost organization in the country that coordinates library dog programs. They started out in 1999 as the first comprehensive literacy program built around the idea of reading to dogs, and they now have more than 3,000 teams throughout the world working to help readers gain confidence in their reading with the help of a furry friend. This week, we spoke to R.E.A.D. executive director Kathy Klotz to ask her for some pointers on establishing these library dog programs in your library. 
She gave 5 steps that she believes are important in making sure your program is successful:

Photo from Gloria Laube, librarydogs.com
1. Make sure to utilize only therapy animal team volunteers who have been screened, trained, licensed and insured.
Not just an employee’s dog, not a service dog, not a friendly neighborhood pet that someone knows of. You want dogs who have been carefully screened and trained for this kind of work, to assure the health and safety of your patrons.

(You can join an ITA affiliate group or another animal-assisted therapy group near you to ensure that you have qualified volunteers.)

2. Hold an initial meeting with the therapy dog volunteers to clarify the procedures and expectations for both sides of the equation—library personnel and volunteers.

This is crucial—you need to establish where in the library the animal interactions will best be located, the logistics (time, day, frequency, length of sessions), and how to handle the scheduling (sign-ups or drop-ins?). Will you be setting up a special theme and display for the days the dogs visit? It’s vitally important for everyone to know who will be responsible for what, to make sure you all understand one another.
Photo from Pete, librarydogs.com 

3. Publicize your new program well in advance.

Give your patrons plenty of time to hear about the program, both to encourage kids to attend and to
forewarn those who may need to avoid coming during those times due to risk of allergy. Use fun posters, your library newsletter, PSAs, any resources you may have.

4. Make sure your personnel and your volunteers are clear on the way you want your program to work. Be ready to do some fine-tuning.

It can take awhile for everyone to find their groove. How will you handle crowd control and interruptions? Are the chosen spots—not private, but reasonably free of noise and traffic—working out? Are the chosen days and times appropriate for the traffic in your children’s library? There are endless things that may come up to surprise you all, and flexibility will help everyone keep improving your program.

Photo from Gloria Laub, librarydogs.com

5. Keep up the ongoing communication with your therapy animal volunteers.

We all want the best for the children and families who visit your library. The volunteers want to be on your team, and they will want you on theirs, as well. The library can get very busy, as you know, but it’s important for someone on the staff to be keeping one eye on the dog interactions in case they need help (freedom from interruptions, overbearing parents, too many interested kids at once, etc.) Any small misunderstandings or difficulties can easily be smoothed away when library staff maintains clear and frequent communication with the therapy teams who work with you.

If you are interested in learning more about these programs and establishing one at your library, check out the R.E.A.D. website for more information! And go to librarydogs.com for more adorable photos and great information about library dogs!