Friday, October 26, 2007

Back to the Blog

Due to taking some time off and some minor computer problems, I haven't posted in over a month. Time passed much quicker than I realized!

Finally it feels like autumn instead of mid-summer and Halloween is less than a week away. I'm sure that in many homes the current topic of interest is "The Costume." I remember spending many long and often late hours sewing Halloween costumes - the most challenging was a rabbit coming out of a hat. In all of the excitement of Halloween, please don't forget about Halloween safety. I've listed some websites that parents might find useful
These tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics include information about costumes, pumpkin carving, home safety and trick-or-treating. The information is also available in Spanish.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission also lists safety tips along with a diagram showing the features of safe Halloween costumes.
Don't forget your pet this Halloween. The ASPCA gives ten tips for keeping your pet safe this Halloween.

Stop by your local library for a literary Halloween treat. Most public libraries have a collection of Halloween books for all ages. Some of my favorites are Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman, The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey, and Guess What? by Mem Fox.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Library Card Sign-up Month

September is Library Card Sign-up Month (as well as Fall Hat Month, National Coupon Month, Shameless Promotion Month, and many more).

While out shopping for back-to-school supplies be sure to stop by your local public library to get your child a library card if he or she doesn't already have one. (Many libraries do not have age limits so don't wait until your child is old enough for school to get one.)

Your library card entitles you to do much more than check out books, movies and music. It gives you access to information online in areas such as business, health, current events and genealogy. Students can do research for reports from home finding full text magazine articles and other information online. Need help with your search? Call your library's reference department. It's two a.m.? Many states offer 24/7 online reference help. Looking for a good novel to read? There's an online resource to help you find one. You can also check your library's catalog from home to see if they have the book and if it's available. If your library doesn't have it, in most cases your library can get it from another library. Just because your local library is small, don't assume it can't help you. Your library may refer your request to a larger library.

Libraries are becoming community centers offering not just traditional preschool story times and summer reading programs but also programs for babies, teens and grown-ups as well. Many libraries have computer labs and offer computer classes. Each library is as unique as the community it serves so be sure to see what your library has to offer. You may discover that you library is a great place for families to have fun!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kids Love a Mystery

Mysteries, Codes & Mazes on the Web


A.Pintura - Art Detective

Help A. Pintura identify a famous painting.

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis - Geo Mysteries with Rex the Dino Detective

Help Rex solve mysteries about rocks, minerals and fossils.

Federal Bureau of Investigation - Kids' Page

Learn about the FBI. Create a disguise for Agent Bobby Bureau so he can go undercover. Older kids can follow a case through the FBI lab.

4 2 Explore - Thematic Pathfinders for All Ages - Mystery

Explore various aspects of mysteries by visiting a wide variety of websites.

History Detectives - Kids

See if you can solve some history mysteries such as identifying objects, guessing the age of a house or identifying famous places in history.

MysteryNet's Kids Mysteries

Pay attention to the clues in the stories and solve some mysteries. Read mysteries written by the winners of the "Mysteries by Kids" contest. You can also read a scary story or learn a magic trick.

National Library of Medicine - Tox Mystery

Help Toxie the cat find hazards throughout the house. Additional sites for kids are listed under Parent Resources.

PlanetOzKids - Ace Detectives

Help four teens solve mysteries at this Australian website.


4 2 Explore - Thematic Pathfinders for All Ages - Codes, Ciphers and Secret Messages

Numerous websites about codes and ciphers are listed here.

National Security Agency - CryptoKids

Make your own secret codes. Play games that challenge you to crack some codes.


Discovery School - Puzzlemaker - Computer Generated Mazes

Make your own maze.

Free Printable Mazes for Kids

Scroll down to finds lots of mazes to print and solve.

Puzzle Choice - Online Games: 2D Maze and 3D Maze

2D Maze

3D Maze

Play online.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Easy Readers - One Size Does Not Fit All

Most libraries have a collection of books written specifically for beginning readers. They can vary in range from simple one word to a page titles to books with more sophisticated text and chapters. Often they are called "I Can Read" books or "Easy" readers. Easy readers are designed for new readers to read on their own and have a controlled vocabulary. These books are usually appropriate for children in kindergarten through second grade. They should not be confused with picture books which, even though many are easy, do not have a controlled vocabulary and thus may have words too difficult for independent reading. Picture books are intended to be read to a child though many older children enjoy them on their own. The pictures are an essential part of the story. In easy readers the pictures are meant to provide clues to the words.

Many publishers assign levels to their early readers. However, these levels can vary from publisher to publisher so it is important to look at each book to see if it is suitable for your child. For example, although they are listed as Level One books, Pizza for Sam by Mary Labatt and T-Rex Is Missing by Tomie DePaola have more text and dialogue than those in the first group of titles listed below. You know best what will work for your child. Although you want your new reader to be challenged, do not choose anything too difficult or your child will become frustrated. Often choosing an easier book along with a more difficult title will help. Successfully reading easier titles will build self-confidence. The more your child reads, the more proficient your child will become at reading. Your child will read more if it is an enjoyable experience. (My focus as a librarian is to encourage children to read for pleasure so that they will become lifelong readers!)

Books for a child just starting to read should have a simple sentence structure and a great deal of repetition such as:

Capucilli, Alyssa Satin: Biscuit Finds a Friend - Biscuit the puppy makes friends with a duckling who has wandered from his pond.

Coxe, Molly: Cat Traps - A cat looking for a snack sets some traps without success until its owner comes home.

Leonard, Marcia: I Like Mess - A little girl loves to make a mess but cleans it up for her parents only to make another one.

McPhail, David: Big Pig and Little Pig - Big Pig and Little Pig each build a pool but in very different ways.

Meister, Carl: When Tiny Was Tiny - Tiny's owner talks about what Tiny did when he was actually a tiny puppy.

Milgrim, David: See Pip Point - Otto the robot shares his balloon with Pip the mouse with unexpected consequences.

Books for those who have been reading for some time will not only have more words and sentences but also a more extensive plot. Some are divided into chapters.

Dewey, Ariane: Splash! - Two bears cause chaos while fishing at the river.

Marshall, Edward: Fox on Wheels - Fox has adventures babysitting, tree climbing and grocery shopping.

Minarik, Else Holmelund: A Kiss for Little Bear - Grandmother's kiss travels an unusual route until it finally makes its way to Little Bear.

Stadler, John: The Adventures of Snail at School - Snail runs errands for his teacher who has difficulty believing what makes him take so long.

Tidd, Louise Vitellaro: The Best Pet Yet - Jay goes to the pet store with his parents to choose the perfect pet.

Wiseman, B.: Morris the Moose - Morris tries to convince a cow she is a moose like him.

Books for children comfortable reading on their own will usually be divided into chapters, have more sophisticated wordplay and more complex plots.

Hoban, Julia: Buzby - Buzby's first job turns out to be a disaster but he manages to find one that suits him best.

Jensen, Patsy: Loose-Tooth Luke - Luke's friends suggest ways for him to loose his first tooth.

Krensky, Stephen: Lionel at Large - Lionel deals with vegetables, shots, snakes, and sleepovers.

Little, Jean: Emma's Yucky Brother - Emma learns about being a big sister when her family adopts Max.

McCully, Emily Arnold: Grandmas at Bat - Pip's grandmothers step up to the plate when her team's coach gets chicken pox.

Thomas, Shelley Moore: Good Night, Good Knight - The Good Knight takes care of three little dragons.

Some popular series for beginning readers are:

Cazet, Denys Minnie and Moo
Howe, James Pinky and Rex
Lobel, Arnold Frog and Toad
Parish, Peggy Amelia Bedelia
Rylant, Cynthia Henry and Mudge
Sharmat, Marjorie Weinman Nate the Great
Van Leeuwen, Jean Oliver and Amanda Pig

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

PBS Parents - A Great Web Site for Grownups

Many parents know that PBS Kids is a great web site for their preschoolers to play and learn. PBS also has a section, PBS Kids Go! , for older children. In addition there are sections for grownups, one for parents and one for teachers.

PBS Parents provides a wealth of information and is well worth exploring. (Most of the information is also available in Spanish.) One area of great value is the section on "Reading and Language" which includes information about developing early literacy skills as well as information to help children already learning to read.

For families raising multilingual children, there is an article "Learning Two Languages: Questions Parents Ask." In addition to numerous articles, there are useful tools such as the "Bookfinder" which lists age-appropriate read-alouds or suggests books for children to read on their own. There is also information about starting a book club which includes discussion guides. Use the "Activity Search" in the "Fun and Games" section to find different activities that address various skills such as creative thinking or math & numbers.

Parent Guides explore the following topics in depth: "Child Development," "Children and Media," "Creativity," "Early Math," "Going to School," "Raising Boys," "Reading and Language," "Talking with Kids," and "Birthday Parties." The "Issues and Advice" section provides information by experts on a wide variety of topics. "Inclusive Communities" section provides a great deal of information for parents of children with special needs.

PBS Parents is a great web site for grownups. Bookmark it!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Spring Books for Ages 2/3

The following is a list of books with spring themes for two- and three-year-olds.

Spring Things: Fran's Flower by Lisa Bruce, Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert and In the Rain with Baby Duck by Amy Hest.

Birds: Baby Bird by Joyce Dunbar, Little Bird by Saviour Pirotta and Will You Be My Friend? by Nancy Tafuri.

Chickens: Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker, Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins and Tippy-Toe Chick, Go! by George Shannon.

Colors: Cat's Colors by Jane Cabrera, Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh and The Deep Blue Sea by Audrey Wood.

Many of these titles have bright and bold illustrations. Lois Ehlert, Keith Baker, Jane Cabrera, Nancy Tafuri, and Ellen Stoll Walsh all have other books that would appeal to two- and three-year-olds.

Amy Hest has written several other books about Baby Duck. Rosie's Walk is a classic picture book. Pat Hutchins has written several other great books such as Good Night Owl! and The Surprise Party. Audrey Wood is also the author of The Napping House and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear.

You and you child will enjoy exploring other books by the authors on this list.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rhymes That Are New - Just For You!

One of the things I enjoy doing as a children's librarian is looking at the new books as they come in. It's always useful to know what's been added to the collection. Recently I found several that I would like to share with you.

Suse MacDonald has adapted Edward Lear's A Was Once an Apple Pie. One of the skills a child needs to develop before learning to read is "phonological awareness" which is the ability to hear distinct sounds within words. Reading or reciting rhymes to a young child will help that child understand that words are made up of separate sounds. This alphabet poem is full of wordplay such as

D was once a little dog,
doggy, moggy, oggy, noggy,
waggy, woggy, little dog!

MacDonald's delightful illustrations nicely complement the text.

Once I Ate a Pie is a book of poems about dogs written by Patricia MacLachlan (who won the Newbery Medal for Sarah Plain and Tall) and her daughter Emily MacLachlan Charest. This book will appeal to dog lovers of all ages for not only do the poems capture the essence of doggieness but the illustrations are outstanding. Various breeds of dogs are featured throughout the book. I loved this book and I have two cats!

No Boys Allowed: Poems about Brothers and Sisters is a collection compiled by John Micklos, Jr. The poems in this book feature a wide variety of sibling emotions. Parents will also appreciate these verses.

Two books that will appeal to older children are Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku by Paul B. Janeczko and Patrick Lewis and Tour America: A Journey Through Poems and Art by Diane Siebert. Wing Nuts is a humorous collection of poetry called senryu. Illustrator Stephen T. Johnson uses a variety of media to depict the famous American landmarks featured in Tour America (New Jersey, my home state, is represented by Lucy the Elephant).

April is National Poetry Month so celebrate it by browsing through your library's collection of poetry books. To get started go to 811 in the children's non-fiction section. Play rhymes and Mother Goose books can be found in 398.8.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Great Web Sites for Kids

While searching for information to post on this blog I rediscovered an old favorite. When the Internet was much younger and not yet a part of everyday life for many families, I often recommended ALSC's Great Web Sites for Kids. (ALSC is the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.) This list was originally created in 1997 (which is very long ago in "Internet years"). Many of the sites provide information for school assignments and others simply provide some online fun. They are divided into the following sections: animals, the arts, history & biography, literature & language, mathematics & computers, "reference desk," sciences, and social sciences. Kids can explore areas of interest such as dinosaurs or space or they can visit the Web Site of the Month.

This list is maintained and updated by the ALSC Great Web Sites Committee so not only are the sites worth visiting but the list is kept current. The appropriate age group or groups for each Web site is noted. For example, Cartoonster is appropriate for elementary and middle school age children and Storyline is appropriate for prekindergarten and elementary school age children. The list can be searched by intended audience as well as by keyword or URL so a parent can find all the Web sites suitable for each age group. Under "Selection Criteria" there is useful information for students and parents about evaluating Web sites. There is also a listing of "Sites for Parents, Caregivers, Teachers & Others."

Happy surfing!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Storytime Books

At the end of a story time session I like to hand out a list of the books that I read. The following books were read during Winter 2007 Toddler Time for 2 to 3 1/2-year-olds.

Pigs - Little Pink Pig by Pat Hutchins, Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore by David McPhail and Piggies by Don Wood

Sneezes and Sniffles - Farm Flu by Teresa Bateman, One Day in the Jungle by Colin West and How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon by Jane Yolen

Dinosaurs - If the Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most and Ten Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul Stickland

ABCs - ABC: A Child's First Alphabet by Alison Jay, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr., Flora McDonnell's ABC by Flora McDonnell, Hidden Alphabet by Laura Vaccaro Seeger and Max's ABC by Rosemary Wells

Try other books by these authors as well. Other favorites by Don and Audrey Wood are The Napping House and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. Jane Yolen has several How Do Dinosaurs ... books which are wonderfully illustrated by Mark Teague. Bernard Most is the author of The Cow That Went Oink and Z-Z-Zoink! These books are fun to read aloud.

I don't usually read five books for storytime since we have limited time but I didn't want to leave any of these out when I did the ABCs. The illustrations in both ABC: A Child's First Alphabet and Flora McDonnell's ABC are great. Max's ABC is a recent Max and Ruby story with Max very much being Max. The grown-ups as well as the children enjoyed Hidden Alphabet but the hit of all four of this week's ABC storytimes was definitely the classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!