Monday, November 21, 2011

Recommended Books for the Holidays

I'm going to give you the most wonderful link to the 2011 Guide Book to Gift Books published by the Bulletin of the Center for Childrens' Books at the University of Illinois. It categorizes the books by grade/age and has a wide assortment of fiction and nonfiction from which to choose.

I'm also going to recommend just six books that I found to be different than the usual holiday fare that are new to our collection.

Brock Cole's "The Money We'll Save" is a hysterical story about a family who sends Pa to the grocery store to purchase just two eggs and a half pound of flour no more and no less as they were saving their money for Christmas. Pa gets persuaded by the chicken man to purchase a turkey poult (baby turkey) with the thought that it will make a lovely Christmas dinner. Pa brings it home and you can guess what happens next! Food disappears, turkey mess is everywhere, neighbors are complaining about the smell. Will the turkey make it until Christmas? Check it out and find out!

Tami Lehman-Wilzig has written an unusual Hanukkah story called, "Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles." Nathan's brother Jacob is autistic and is driving Nathan crazy by repeating "Hanukkah is coming! Hanukkah is coming!" Nathan understands that Jacob's brain is wired differently but it doesn't make it any easier to tolerate his behavior. The first day of Hanukkah arrives, the new neighbors join the festivities, the candles are lit, the blessings are said....and Jacob blows out the candle. Nathan is embarrassed in front of his new friend. How Nathan and his family handles the situation is really quite innovative and heart-warming.

"The Christmas Tree Ship" by Carol Crane is the story of two boys whose Grampa's holiday stories always include the story of Christmas Santa and the Christmas Tree ship that sailed from
Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Chicago every year. It tells of the story of the storm that drove the ship under the waves. Sad, yes, but it also tells how the captain's wife maintained that tradition in honor of her husband. Nice historical fiction based on fact.

Another unusual story, "The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood" by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, relates the story of an Episcopal priest's daughter's experiences during winter on the reservation. The mud is sticky, it's freezing outside, and Virginia's coat is too short and too tight. The reservation relies on donations of clothing but the priest's family is always the last to choose. This year's donations include a grey rabbit fur coat that Virginia would love to have but unfortunately another girl wants that coat. This is a story about selflessness and sacrifice...and the magic of Christmas!

"The Carpenter's Gift: A Christmas Tale About the Rockerfeller Center Tree" by David Rubel is the story of a family down on their luck. They cut down spruce trees to sell as Christmas trees and set up their stand next to a construction site in New York City . The men there see that Henry and his father need help and proceed to unload the truck. All the trees are sold and the workmen receive a tree as a thank you gift. Tin cans and newspaper stars decorate the tree and Henry, knowing that there will not be much of a Christmas at home, stares longingly at it and tucks away a lone pinecone from the tree. Home they go and the next morning they are awakened by trucks full of lumber. The workmen from the construction site have arrived to fix their house. But that's not the end of the'll have to read the book to find out the end! (Hint--what is that saying? Big trees from little acorns grow?)

"Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came to Be" by John Harris is the story of the composer of "Jingle Bells", James L. Pierpoint. A pastor of a integrated church in Savannah, Georgia, Pierpoint writes the song during a Thanksgiving heat wave. A fun story with some historical background included.

Monday, November 7, 2011

No K-2 til Feb.?! What are we going to do?

Now that story hour  is over for this year, you may be wondering what you can do with your children during that lag time between Halloween and National Freedom Day (February 1st). As you know, Kelly Joslin from Iron Oaks visited our Halloween storyhour (the children loved her!) and mentioned to the children some of the upcoming programs. 

The Turkey Talk takes place on Thursday, November 11 at 1-2:30 pm. To quote from their flyer, "It's turkey time! Come learn about the star of the season at Irons Oaks. We'll do the turkey dance, make some crafts, and go on a short hike in search of food that a wild turkey would enjoy." This is a great program for ages 4 to 8. Wow! Better hurry! You must register by November 9th! The cost is $5 if you register, $7 if you don't.

For your younger ones (2 1/2 to5 years old) , why not try "Little Naturalists: Seeds!" which takes place on Monday, November 21st at 9:45-11:00 am. Again, to quote the flyer,"Bring your budding naturalist to Irons Oaks to discover the sensational world of seeds. We'll actively explore our woodland, read a story, play a game, and create a unique piece of art." Cool! The cost for this program is $6 if you register, $9 if you don't.

If you're looking for a free program, it's back to the Homewood Library for Lego Club on November 10th at 6:30 pm and a special Holiday Lego Club on December 14th at a special time, 4:00-5:00 pm. And don't forget the library's free Family Holiday Craft Day coming on December 7th at 4:00-5:00 pm. Bring your whole family and create great pieces of art and wonderful memories. And finally:

Registration for February K-2 Storyhour on Wednesday or Thursday will begin on January 21st at the Youth Services desk.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's hard to believe that this week will be the end of this year's K-2 Storyhour. Our last class will be a Halloween Party, complete with a "haunting" of the library. You can's just a small Halloween parade throughout the library while in costume. (Bring your camera!) Then it's back to the meeting room for our special guest readers who will bring Halloween to life by stories and discussion.

This session's theme entitled "Community Leaders are Readers" was one of my favorites.  Our guest readers included Greg Weiss, speech and drama teacher (and storyteller supreme) at James Hart, Sammy Bacino, owner of racing pigeons which were released in the parking lot to the amazement of the children (it really was awesome!), Mayor Richard Hofeld who with the aid of Claire Schneider read the book "I'm Not", Fireman Bill Wright who instructed the children in fire safety. Kelly Joslyn from Irons Oaks will read the story "Be Nice to Spiders" to our Wednesday storyhour this week to illustrate just how useful these sometimes fearsome aracnids are. Pat Nivens, Park District Commissioner and thespian, will entertain the children with Halloween tales on Thursday. A big THANK YOU to all our guest readers who made this storyhour session so special! Oh, and Happy Halloween to you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween Apps and Crafts

With Halloween just about two weeks away, Halloween apps are in demand. Here's a few that you and your child may enjoy. One of my favorites is Cookie Doodle
for your iPhone or iPad, where kids can create Halloween cookies without the resultant flour/sugar/sprinkle deluge. Hallelujah! A bargain at 99 cents. Or try Halloween Stickers for your iPad where kids can drag an assortment of pumpkins and ghosts onto 5 different backgrounds--no fuss, no muss, no GooGone! Another 99 cents bargain. Dr. Seuss' What Was I Scared Of?iPad app tells the tale of a fearful boy who meets a mysterious pair of levitating pants (I know, so Dr. Seuss!). When he calls for help, the pants start to cry too. It seems they're both frightened of each other. Yes, 99 cents! Score! The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, the story of a square pumpkin trying to fit into a round pumpkin world, features the ability for the child to read it himself, have it read to him or autoplay where the pages are automatically turned. It is available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch also sports the features listed above with random animation. An additional sticker page makes this a good value at $2.99. Also compatible for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Scruffy Kitty is a heartwarming story about a stray kitty who finds a new home. Special Halloween decorations have been added to the house in the story along with pumpkins and ghosts. This is an interactive iPad app and another 99 cent bargain! Our favorite Berenstain Bears step out in Berenstain Bears Go on a Ghost Walk. This interactive iPhone and iPad book is a neat $2.99.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New, New Books for Fall

Welcome to my list of New, New, New books for Fall! Robots, aliens, ogres, ghosts, and shadow people predominate--preparing for Halloween already, I guess. Check these out and let me know what you think. I have two favs here. Can you guess which books they are?

Till Death Do Us Bark by Kate Klise--In this story told mostly through letters, Noah Breth's feuding children come to Ghastly, Illinois, to follow a trail of limericks to their inheritance, while Seymour tries to convince Iggy and Olive to let him keep Mr. Breth's dog.

The Ogre of Oglefort
by Eva Ibbotson--When the Hag of Dribble, an orphan boy, and a troll called Ulf are sent to rescue a princess from an ogre, it turns out to be far from the routine magical mission they expect.

The Girl Behind the Glass
by Jane Kelley--Moving from Brooklyn to a rental house in the country strains the relationship between eleven-year-old identical twins Hannah and Anna Zimmer, a situation made worse by the ghost of a girl who is trapped in the house because of problems with her own sister eighty years before.

Killer Pizza: The Slice
by Greg Taylor--Having passed the tests to become Monster Combat Officers, teens Toby, Annabel, and Strobe are sent on a secret mission to deliver to the Monster Protection Program a beautiful fourteen-year-old monster who wants to defect, regardless of the considerable dangers this poses.

The Fourth Stall
by Chris Rylander--Sixth-graders Mac and Vince operate a business charging schoolmates for protection from bullies and for help to negotiate conflicts peacefully, with amazing challenges and results.

The Midnight Gate by Helen Stringer--Twelve-year-old Belladonna Johnson, who lives with the ghosts of her parents, once again teams up with her classmate Steve, whose mother has suddenly disappeared, when they are given a dangerous assignment by a ghostly monk involving a return to the Dark Times.

The Empire of Gut and Bone by M.T. Anderson Brian and Gregory have come to New Norumbega for a reason — to convince the Norumbegans to intervene and save North America from invasion. But instead, the two boys find themselves caught up in both a rebellion and a murder mystery after one of the Norumbegan leaders is sent to sleep … permanently.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

back to school

It's back to school time! It seems the summer flew by. Our summer reading program was super successful, with 777 kids reading...wait for it....11,019 books! Did I just hear a gasp? Oh, that was me... but isn't that unbelievable? Congratulations to all you ragin' readers out there and their parents!

Now here are some books that will ease the transition from summer fun to school excitement:

This book expands upon the ten rules you should know before you go to school. Cute and funny!

Louise the Big Cheese is determined to make the grade in school this year and that means straight A's. But she's stuck with the toughest teacher ever. Will Louise make the grade?

On the first day of the new school year, the Berenstain cubs are reminded that "though school is a challenge, it can also be fun."

Amelia Bedelia is ready to learn, but it's the class that gets a lesson in reading, writing, and ridiculousness! Pull back the flaps to peek at Amelia Bedelia's school day.

Hudson, who loves to make things but hates going to school, fails a spelling test and meets with a special teacher, who discovers Hudson has a very different way of learning things.


Simon the rabbit does not want to go to his first day of school, but by the time his mother comes to take him home, he is having such a good time that he does not want to leave.

Summer is over and Tortoise must summon the courage to go back to school.

Being new in school is never easy for monsters except in Transylvania where all the schoolchildren are monsters too. Funny graphic novel!

Monica has the chance of a lifetime: she's been asked to ride with her friends in a parade! But the problem is, the parade is for the Rock Creek football team, and they're Pine Tree Middle School's rivals in the big game. How can she support her school and her friends from Rock Creek, and still ride in the parade?

When thirteen-year-old David Greenberg's best friend makes the start of middle school even worse than he feared it could be, David becomes friends with Penny, who shares his love of television shows and posts one of their skits on YouTube, making them wildly popular--online, at least.

Each morning, student Ron Faster hurries to Harvey N. Trouble School, where he encounters such staff members as science teacher Ms. Roxanne Pebbles, music instructor Mrs. Doremi Fasollatido, and the resigning janitor Mr. Iquit.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

3:15 app by Patrick Carmen

Patrick Carmen has created an app that contains three short 15 minute scary stories that kids can experience by reading, watching a short video or listening as the story is narrated. Carmen hopes it will bring kids to reading, using the tools that they consider essential today. Readers will find the story filled with interactive clues that they can use to unlock more content on the website. Sounds similar to 39 Clues, doesn't it?
Check it out! By the way, this is really scary and is appropriate for 4th graders and above.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Easy Peasy Spring Craft

Doesn't this look inviting? What an easy craft to make your grandmother, aunt, mother or even a sick relative! You'll find the instructions here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Parents and Reading

I am a member of the Illinois Reading Council and receive their journal. In the Spring 2011, Volume 39, Number 2 issue, there's an article titled "Parent Involvement in Reading" by Laurie Elish-Piper that lists 12 things parents can do to bring reading to their children. Here is a brief synopsis of her recommendations for children in K-5:

1. Set aside a family reading time each day or at least several times per week.

2. Give books or magazines as gifts for birthdays, holidays or other important celebrations.


4. Audio books provide a great way for families to listen to books while driving or relaxing.

5. Institute a 15-minute late-night reading routine at your home.

6. Most elementary age children enjoy reading series books with familiar characters.
(Think Judy Moody, Stink, Captain Underpants, Magic Treehouse, Geronimo Stilton, even Harry Potter.)

7. Play word games together to build your children's interest in words. (Piper suggests Scrabble Flash, Blurt, Bananagrams, and Apple to Apple Junior.)

8. Encourage your children to become aware and interested in vocabulary words around them. (Ms. Sarah uses a Word of the Day in her preschool storyhour.)

9. Stash books where your children will be--in the car, in their bedrooms, and even in the bathroom.

10.BE A READING ROLE MODEL. (Again, my emphasis.)

11. Read comics, jokes, riddles, and puns together.

12. Plan a book swap with your neighbors, friends, or other family members who have children the same age as yours.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Six iPad/iPhone Apps for Kids - Newborns/Toddlers (Review)

Yes, more apps!

I was tooling around YouTube the other day and came across a video of recommendations of children's apps for different age groups which featured reading skills that I thought you might find interesting. Here it is!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

K-2 Storyhour

Last week we had a program based on dental hygiene in our K-2 Storyhour. Students from the Prairie State Dental Hygiene program gave an awesome presentation on brushing, flossing, brushing your tongue and all around oral hygiene. I was so proud of the creative questions the children asked. One boy asked what other alternatives there were to mint toothpaste and toothpastes that contained dyes, as he cannot have either. Another asked about brushing your tongue. So proud of my K-2'ers and the dental hygienists!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Free Children's Cognitive Worksheets and Websites

After reading the article "Cramming for Kindergarten Tests" by Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah in the February 14th edition of the Chicago Tribune, I was shocked at how competitive enrollment at the Chicago magnet schools had become. Who knew a parent would consider hiring a tutor for their preschooler? There are many websites that provide the cognitive learning experiences that were detailed in the article.

I found worksheets for preschool and elementary grades at TSL Books. Com. What's great about this site is that you can choose grade level and skill level. It includes preschool skills such as coloring the word "red" with a red crayon or more advanced skills such as geometry reviews for fifth graders. Lots of options here. is a fun website where a child can learn cognitive or life skills in Playland, learn English or math skills in Studyland, play Sudoku, smart games or brain games in Gameland, read various books in Storyland, or dance in Danceland and sing in Musicland. The graphics are charming and voices funny and I can see where a child would enjoy his experience there. Kidsland also provides the parents with a report card to chart your child's progress.

At you'll find a variety of worksheets including phonics and some that work with fine motor skills. Again, lots of options here.

These are just three sites I found by searching by "kids cognitive learning". There were many more. I hope this encourages you to take that first step to enriching your child's education. You'll also find it fun and one wild ride!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More Apps For You!

Here are a few websites that list parent approved apps: Parents weigh in on various apps. Love their slogan: We play all the iPhone, iPad and Android apps so you don't have to. Mom recommends great apps for travel.
Lex Friedman, a frequent contributor to MacWorld, weighs in with his recommendations. Love that his kids started saying "dub-a-you", imitating an annoying voiceover artist. Made me laugh!

By the way, this is a screen of Pocket Frogs, another recommended app.

Monday, January 17, 2011

E-Book Apps for Children's Books

Wow, exciting things are happening in the world of literature! I spent a day last week working with an iPad. I found a couple of picture books to download with the help of the Library Services staff. Each of the books had their own charm. In "Emma Loves Pink" by Piret Raud, a little girl with a charming British accent narrates a story of a little rabbit named Emma who only loves pink until she receives a gift from bashful friend. You can view a portion of the book here.

My favorite story was "A Present for Milo" by Mike Austin. In this story, a cat chases a mouse only to arrive at his birthday party. In this short book, there is a total of 125 animations that you can activate by touching the screen. To view a portion of this book, click here.

In some instances, your child will have the option to hear the books read in another language, have the narrator's voice quieted so they can read without assistance, and, as we've seen, have some books become interactive. There are a few free books available on the iTunes page if you'd like to try it out first and are available for iPad or iPhone.

Oh, and don't forget, you may also download ebooks from our new Tumblebooks, too.