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WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour (Part 6, New Jersey): Allentown Public Library, Monmouth County Library and an interview with Renee Fertig

Part 1 (Larry The Driver) – Part 2 (IL: Carol Stream, Science & Arts Academy, Avoca West, Anderson’s Bookshop) – Part 3 (IL: Peterson Elementary, River Woods, Media Escorts) – Part 4 (NC: Irving Park, New Garden Friends, Scuppernong) – Part 5 (NJ: Lincoln Elementary, Hillside Elementary, Books Bytes & Beyond) – Part 6 (NJ: Allentown Library, Monmouth Library) – Part 7 (NJ: Learning Community Charter School, WORD Bookstore, board gaming) – Part 8 (Wrap up + takeaways)

Visiting Allentown Public Library in Allentown, NJ. Photo: Renee Fertig.

In my previous post, I mentioned my worry that I wouldn’t be able to arrive at Allentown Public Library on time. There was heavy traffic during part of the route but happily, I arrived JUST in time; parents and children were already seated and were waiting for me.


Librarian Renee Fertig already had the kids doing crafts. In the photo below, check out these masks that Renee printed out from my website and assembled herself, for the children to color. She had cut out all the eye holes using an exacto knife, and bought the sticks at Home Depot. PLUS she printed out some of my coloring activity sheets as well:

There was even a Where Are My Books? cake!

Thanks so much to Renee for making me feel so welcome, and all her hard work in the decorations, crafts and other setup for my visit. She even presented me with a Where Are My Books? t-shirt like the one she made for herself: 

With Monmouth County librarian, Renee Fertig

And thanks also to Renee for organizing my Monmouth County Library visit as well! I had so much fun at both. As I signed books at Allentown Public Library, Renee even made ham sandwiches for both me and my driver; I ate mine in the car on the way to the next library.

Fun Photoshopped image that Renee sent me 🙂

Showing an early cover sketch for WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? at Monmouth County Library (Manalapan, NJ)

Renee was kind enough to answer a few questions for me as part of a new interviews series I’m doing as part of my For The Love Of Reading bonus page.

Q. What have you done at the library to help encourage young people to read more?

It became clear since the first day of working in the Children’s Department at the Monmouth County Library that I had been given a unique opportunity to help children develop good reading skills. At every reading, I try to enhance each new book with my storytime visitors being active participants and not just complacent learners. I believe that storytime isn’t just about reading books aloud – it’s much more.

Reading to a certified therapy dog

Early literacy enhances math concepts, history and science lessons. It also develops human relations and artistic literacy. At every reading, I try to I turn every storytime into an interactive adventure – allowing the kids to help me read stories by chanting rhymes, predicting plots , identifying characters to a variety of different poems, books and literature.

Vacation Reading Club Incentives

By building on children’s natural interests that reflect their diverse and multicultural society and involving the caregivers so they can reinforce early learning skills with their children at home we can foster a love of the library and reading for years to come.

Q. What advice do you have for parents to help encourage young people to read more?

In answer to this question, Renee put together this fun document.

Q. Please finish this sentence: “Libraries….”  

Q. What books have you recently enjoyed?

I am trying to catch up on Paper Towns by John Green and the Maze Runner series by James Dashner before the release of the movie version this summer. I love foodie books and I love desserts so after reading The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh will probably attempt the food recipes at the end of the book. And of course I read anything from the World of Debbie Ridpath Ohi!

Continued in Part 7…