Author Archive | Sharon Phillips

2017 Teen Video Challenge

New York State, as part of Summer Reading at New York Libraries, is once again participating in the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) sponsored 2017 Teen Video Challenge. Teens in New York State are invited to create a 30 to 90 second video with their unique interpretation of the 2017 CSLP teen slogan Build a Better World.  Winning videos will be used to help promote summer reading in each state and nationwide. The public library submitting the winning video for their teens will receive a $50 gift certificate from Upart. Teen video submissions are due to local public libraries by February 13, 2017. For full competition details and entry forms, and to view winning videos from previous years visit:

2016 Summer Reading at New York Libraries participation numbers

November 14, 2016 – New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries Bernard A. Margolis announced this week that 2.1 million children and teens throughout New York State participated in Summer Reading at New York Libraries at their local libraries during the summer of 2016.

Research has shown that children who continue to read during summer vacation perform better in the fall when school resumes.  Reading for simple summer enjoyment helps improve literacy skills while helping to prevent learning losses.

For more information on the positive value of summer reading programs see “The Importance of Summer Reading: Public Library Summer Reading Programs and Learning”.


Statewide participation levels  for 2016 Summer Reading at New York Libraries rose to 2.1 million from 1.99 million in 2015, a 5.86% increase. Five library systems reported increases of 15% and higher. Congratulations to these library systems and to all of the public library systems and libraries for a wonderful season of Summer Reading at New York Libraries!

Public library systems with 15% or higher increases in participation:

* Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System

* Finger Lakes Library System

* Pioneer Library System

* Queens Public Library

*Westchester Library System

Work is already underway for 2017 Summer Reading at New York State Libraries. This year’s slogan for all ages is  “Build a Better World.”  2017 also marks the 25th anniversary year for New York’s Summer Reading program. Check back often for news and updates on 2017 Summer Reading at New York Libraries happenings.

November is Picture Book month!

November is Picture Book Month and it’s an international literacy initiative that celebrates printed picture books. Picture books play an important role in childhood literacy. Often they are the first book experienced by a child, and the first book that a child reads on their own. Many people have fond memories of their first introduction to picture books.


2016 marks the 6th year for Picture Book Month, which was founded in 2010. Each day in November features a different theme to read about.  Celebrate and read a picture book on, which features a different picture book each day.



Student Mock Presidential Election

On November 8th, Americans everywhere will flock to their local pooling station to vote in the 2016 election.  And on November 1st, students can take to their computer and vote in the largest student mock presidential election ever.  By participating, students can vote for either Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or a third party candidate and see who kids would elect as our next president.  Registration is required to vote.

The site also has great resources for parents and teachers, including lesson plans on the election, the candidates, and the political process.  Also included are videos about past presidents from the first president, George Washington, all the way up to the 44th president, Barack Obama.

Kwame Alexander is the 2017 Summer Reading Champion!

Author and poet Kwame Alexander has been named the 2017 Collaborative Summer Library Program National Summer Reading Champion for the “Build a Better World” theme. Titles by  this author include Booked, The Crossover, Surf’s up, a picture book, and He Said She Said, a young adult novel.  He has received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Paterson Poetry Prize.

Kwame Alexander is very passionate about spreading his love for literature. He is a regular guest speaker at schools and conferences. He travels the world spreading his love for literature wherever he goes, including Singapore, Brazil, Italy, France, and Shanghai. Each year, Kwame leads a delegation of educators, writers, and activists to Ghana as a part of the LEAP for Ghana program, which is an international literacy program that he co-founded. The program builds libraries and provides literacy professional development for teachers.

Farmer’s Markets and Libraries

Farmer’s markets and libraries- an unexpected and yet perfect partnership. Both libraries and farmer’s markets strive to make the community a better place, so why not combine the two? There are many ways that the local farmer’s market can partner with the libraries in their communities. Many libraries play host to a farmer’s market during the summer months, allowing the two to benefit from each other. Of course, it is not always possible for the library to host the farmer’s market since the library may not have available space. In this case, the library can visit the local market. Check out this article, published by NYLA, to learn more about the partnership between farmer’s markets and libraries.


National Chemistry Week!

National Chemistry week is October 16-22nd! National Chemistry week promotes awareness of the importance of chemistry in our everyday lives. It is also a week for chemists and chemistry enthusiasts to help build an awareness of chemistry in their community. National Chemistry week is an annual event coordinated by the American Chemical Society. The event seeks to inspire new generations to develop a love for chemistry, and maybe even become a chemist one day. Find out more by visiting their Facebook page.


The New York state museum in Albany, NY will be hosting “Solving Mysteries Through Chemistry” on October 22nd, 10 am to 4 pm. The event is free and open to the public.


If you can’t make it to a live event, you can also have fun with chemistry at home by trying one of these fun and safe chemistry experiments!

Banned Books week 2016

September 25th to October 1st is Banned Books week – a week that celebrates the freedom we all have to read whatever we want along with open access to all types of information. It supports the right to express ourselves and our ideas freely, even if those ideas are unorthodox or unpopular. Banned Books week aims to draw attention to the potential issues associated with censorship.


All across the country many books- popular, classic, picture and other kinds of books- have been accused of being inappropriate. Many of these challenged books will go on to be “Banned” and possibly removed from shelves in schools and libraries. Here’s a small sampling:

  • Harry Potter(series), by J.K. Rowling
  • Captain Underpants(series), by Dav Pilkey
  • Goosebumps(series), by R.L. Stine
  • Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
  • And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
  • Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume

All of these books have one thing in common- they have been challenged as “inappropriate” books. And they are only a small representation of books that have been challenged. Check out this list of the 100 most often challenged books from 2000-2009. Some of the tittles may surprise you.


Many of us have read at least one book on the above top 100 list. Support the efforts of librarians, teachers, and community members by standing up for the freedom to read.  Find more information about ways to get involved and access promotional materials. You can also contact the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4226, or

The SICM gives away books at Summer Meals sites

This summer, two great programs joined forces in Schenectady. The Schenectady Inner City Ministry  hosted a summer book giveaway at different summer meal sites. During the summer, two SICM interns Traveled to two to three different summer meals sites to give new books to the children in attendance. This is not the first year that this program has been run; however this year was extra special thanks to a $5,000 grant from the New York Newspapers Foundation. This grant allowed SICM to purchase hundreds of new children’s books to give away.


It is important to provide these learning opportunities to children in the summer. It has been shown that children who have access to summer learning programs have better outcomes academically. They are more likely to graduate from high school and are better prepared for college. These programs also have a positive impact on a child’s self-esteem and confidence.  Equally important are Summer Meals programs , which provide children with nutritious meals during the summer. The two programs together ensure that children have a healthy, fun-filled summer.

Edge Features an article on Summer Learning and Public Libraries

The August 25th, 2016 issue of Edge featured a story on summer learning. This article highlights the importance of libraries as key leaders in closing the summer education gap in communities. Many libraries have expanded their summer programs to include a variety of academic and developmental areas. The article also covers the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) new report Public Libraries and Effective Summer Learning: Opportunities for Assessment, developed through the National Forum on Effective Summer Learning, and supported by funding from the IMLS.

New York State Library

Summer Reading at New York Libraries is funded in part through the Federal Library Services and Technology Act, with funds awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. The New York State Library is a program of the Office of Cultural Education in the New York State Education Department.