Kristal Petruzzi, Northwood ES Media Specialist, Instrumental in Winning 2014 Bookapalooza Program

CRESTVIEW, April 2, 2014 – Kristal Petruzzi, Northwood Elementary School’s Media and Art Integration Specialist, was instrumental in winning the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) 2014 Bookapalooza Program. 

The Bookaplaooza award includes a variety of materials from books to DVDs and audiobooks. These materials have been received at the ALSC office from publishers for selection committees to evaluate for awards and notables consideration.  To make room for the next year’s publications, Bookapalooza was created to infuse three collections with new materials for children age birth through age 14.  The ALSC selects three libraries each year to receive a Bookapalooza collection of materials to be used in a way that creatively enhances their library service to children and families.

The ALSC awarded the 2014 Bookapalooza Program to:  Talahi Community School, St. Cloud, Minnesota; North Shelby Library, Birmingham, Alabama; and Northwood Elementary School, Crestview, Florida.

“All of the recipients demonstrate great need for materials for their readers and also future readers who may not have access to library materials or patronize a library which has no funding to acquire materials,” said Nancy Baumann, grant administration committee chair.  “The committee is thrilled about the Bookapalooza materials finding their way into the hands of children who need reading materials.”

A certified media specialist, Petruzzi has been hard at work revitalizing the library and stocking the shelves with new, relevant books.  She was beyond thrilled when the mounds of new Bookapalooza materials arrived.

"We physically did not have enough books for every child to check out two books," she said.  "This will also allow us multicultural literature to fill our shelves, which I'm really excited about, and also some modern non-fiction.”

Plans for the materials include a visual arts program to expose students to illustrators within literature, and providing students the opportunity to learn more about the power of visual arts. Future plans also include extended library services to the day care housed within the school, as well as a neighboring K-12 special needs school.  

With the addition of a presentation and visual arts area featuring an interactive exhibit every month, Petruzzi set up a focal point in the library that incorporates artwork from local visual artists who have loaned or donated their pieces to the school.

Petruzzi's first order of business was finding out what types of books the students wanted to read, and then she started filling the shelves with student chosen books. "That helped me get the kids in here," she said.  "And then I started rearranging the library to make it more child-friendly."

She also converted a room into an art integration studio where the students can experience interactive exhibits with puzzles, find books on various types of art techniques, artists, and techniques, as well as pick up a brush and work on an actual canvas. Along with demonstrating visual arts, she also incorporates music into the media center; last month she showed the students how to make a diddley-bow and how many people during the Harlem Renaissance used this instrument during the early age of blues.

“Such projects make them lifelong learners and gets them excited to read to find out more, not just because they have to finish a project to earn a red dot, but because they are actively engaged,” said Petruzzi. Students respond to the hands-on activities by requesting more reading materials on the subjects, which Petruzzi has ready to circulate. "I feel like I'm igniting fires and breathing dreams within our library every day; it's a wonderful feeling to see how the power of reading can be ignited in students every day.”

ALSC, a division of the ALA, is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit ALSC’s website at www.ala.org/alsc.