Monthly Archives: October 2012

Homemade Halloween

I can only remember one Halloween costume my mom bought for me growing up.  I think I was in third grade and wanted to be a mermaid – she bought the prefab fish tail and skimpy bikini top as a set (I wore a pink leotard underneath to make it child-appropriate and to protect me from the Midwest October chill).

But generally mom my helped us “make” our Halloween costumes. This does not mean that she was a crafty person. When I was an Indian in my 6th grade production of Peter Pan my mom was furiously hand-stitching my costume the night before dress rehearsal since we didn’t have a sewing machine. But she was inventive.

The picture below was taken around age 3 I think (maybe 4?). I was a fairy princess . My mom made my costume using a shiny leotard we already owned (and that my sister & I fought over during dress up for years to come), a tutu skirt, and purchased tiara and wings. My sister was a pumpkin but when she saw my wings became insanely jealous and our family compromised by making her a fairy pumpkin.

Several years later – one of two of my Maid Marion outfits (back-to-back years – one of them being the Maid Marion from the Disney cartoon movie with a pointy-eared hat). You are missing my wonderful princess hat that my mom did make me out of a stiff fabric you could iron together (it was fancy). (Note that my sister is not “an Indian” but Sacajawea because “she was pretty awesome”).

The primary costume piece (my dress) of my Maid Marion get-up was from a garage sale or second-hand store and our dress up basket. The dress would be re purposed several years later when my sister went as Jo March from Little Women and my mom ironed on a “scorch mark” to the back with a translucent black cloth.

Part of the reason these homemade or thrifted Halloween costumes were the best is that we used them (or pieces of them) all year round playing dress-up or in school plays. The purchased mermaid outfit languished in the bottom of the dress up chest while these pieces were fought over and cherished. Plus its fun to help imagine what your costume will look like with your mom.

Top Homemade Halloween Costumes from Literary Figures

1. Pippi Longstocking

2. Jo March

3. Maid Marion

4. Nancy Drew (my costume this year!)


Did you buy your costume or make it? What was your favorite Halloween costume ever?


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

I wish I were a children’s librarian…

I love working in an academic library. Visiting classes for information literacy sessions, assisting with research, helping with APA Style, this is my niche. But every once in a while I wish I was a children’s librarian purely because of the books.

Children’s books are the best. My sister and I grew up with a wide range of children’s books (many my friends have never heard of thanks to my English teacher mom and our good friends at the local independent bookstore). To this day my mom has an entire bookshelf devoted just to our children’s books that made it through the years and when visiting I love to sit and peruse the stories.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and it brings to mind some of my favorite books to read growing up.

Disclaimer: As a child (heck, as an adult) I was (am) a huge wimp. I read 3 Goosebumps books which my friends lent me. These included Go Eat Worms, The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, and The Phantom in the Auditorium. It was only recently I made the possible connection between these books and my long phobia of worms and birds =)

So my favorite Halloween books were not necessarily scary but definitely helped me get into the spirit of a holiday I adore.

1. The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat 

First, who doesn’t love this series of children’s books. Second, the drawings and the stories perfectly captured the spookiness of Halloween but with an ending that was reassuring to a child like me with a highly overactive imagination.

2. The Biggest Pumpkin Ever

A great Halloween story that is even less spooky than The Berenstain Bears. This story also teaches the value of teamwork and sharing and I think every kid can get behind the idea of growing a huge pumpkin.

3. The Rainbow Goblins

This is definitely a book most of my friends have never heard of and it was one of my absolute favorites growing up despite that fact that the goblins were pretty scary. The reason? The colors. The illustrations in this book are beyond practically anything I have ever appreciated in a kid’s book.

4. The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

Perfect for your scaredy cat who still loves the spirit of Halloween. Technically this is not a Halloween book but with its creepy forest walk and the giant pumpkin head it works well. Plus it has a lesson about letting your imagination run wild (who me?) and being brave.

Unfortunately all my childhood books  are several states over at my parent’s house. Maybe I’ll have to stop by the public library and peruse a few titles to help get me into the spirit of the month!


Author’s Note: I would definitely recommend these titles for the burgeoning All Hallows Read movement. I love this idea and it remind me of how my mom always turned holidays into another reason to give us books. For example, growing up she gave my sister and I art books on Valentine’s Day instead of candy or cakes (which we already had plenty of from school and friends). Now as adults we both have a lovely collection of art books.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Banned Books Week

I almost hate to write this post because I feel it is so obligatory for a librarian at this time of year. But I also love Banned Books Week and have since before I earned my MLIS. So here goes…

Banned Books Week was created 30 years ago by the American Library Association as a way to highlight the threat of censorship to libraries and schools and celebrate the “freedom to read.” People are often shocked that books are still being banned in America which demonstrates why celebrating BBW is still important 30 years later.

This year I created a display specific to my state – highlighting the challenges and bans that have occurred (as recorded by the ALA) since the 1950s. Several books have been banned/reclassified even since the turn of the century. Last year during my first BBW as an official librarian I had several students ask about Iowa but as a relatively new state resident I could not adequately answer their questions on the spot so I thought driving this issue closer to home might have more of an impact and I am proud to say that has proven to be true.  It was also interesting to read the reasoning for the bans/challenges in Iowa over time – language moved from being very religious to focusing more on “morals” which really is just code for religion but I think demonstrates some recognition that times have changed.

The other display in the library included the Top 10 List of 2011 Challenged Titles and a sampling of titles the library owns that have been challenged/ban across the country at some point. The flames are not a new idea (Google Image Search and Pinterest will yield several examples) but I am very pleased with my fire and it definitely grabs patrons’ attention.

Finally, I wanted to get the students, faculty, and staff more involved with Banned Books Week. So I decided to take an activity to them. It had to be simple enough that they could finish it within a few minutes otherwise turnout would be lackluster. I decided to give everyone a chance to share one of their favorite banned/challenged books so I printed out a line drawing of an open book and asked people to sign their names on one page and their favorite book on the other. We then displayed these in the campus break room so everyone could see and learn what titles are censored and how many people enjoy reading those books. So far Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee seem to the be most common.

I am very proud of how my campus community has participated and shown an interest in Banned Books Week this year. They seem engaged and a number of students have stopped me in the halls to ask why a certain book was banned (The Lorax? Detrimental for the forestry industry?) or why people want to ban books in general which opens a great (if brief) conversation into how libraries are supposed to be an equalizer in access to information and personal responsibility when it comes to reading habits for yourself and your family.


Libraryekeeper’s Top 5 Banned/Challenged Books

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

2. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

3. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling

4. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

5. The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized