Meet Miss Erica, Children's Librarian at OPL's Rockridge Branch - and her rock collection.
One my favorite things about my job is chatting with children - I read a book for preschool teachers called Powerful Interactions that explains why this activity is not only joyful for me but also meaningful for them - and often helps me get to the heart of their library question, too.
Years ago, I noticed that kids often find rocks, and then forget about them when they are busy with other things - looking for books or coloring, for example. So I started saving whatever rocks I found around the room.
Now I have a collection of random rocks, so if a young patron is shy to talk to us, I can start by asking them if they want to play a quick game; I hand them two rocks: one for each hand, and ask them to show me which one is more rough,smooth, heavy, shiny, etc. Then I ask if they want to try two other rocks, and then I ask if they want to keep playing or if they have something they want to ask me.
Later, when I give them multiple books to choose from, I believe our initial rock activity gets them in the frame of mind to consider their reading choices as equally valid, judgement-free options, with the idea that different qualities in a book might appeal to different people.
Who knew that a simple rock collection can be such an incredibly valuable way into library connections and conversations.