Lisa C.'s blog

Children's Book Week, Then and Now

2014Children'sBookWeek_thenTo celebrate Children’s Book Week this year, we’re reflecting on some of the favorite books we read as kids. We may not remember all the details of stories read decades ago, but there are images, passages, and feelings that have stuck with us through the years. Interesting to note that many of the titles we chose as our favorite childhood reads, are books that were first published before we were born. So who turned us on to these memorable stories? A parent? A teacher? A librarian? Do you find any of your childhood favorites among the ones we feature here?

2014ChildrensBookWeek_now

My Side of the Mountain initially interested me because I always loved nature and animals. While reading it, I remember feeling empowered and inspired to imagine that I, just a child, could live in the wilderness on my own. – Kathy

Harriet in Harriet the Spy seemed real to me - not as chirpily cheerful or melodramatically tragic as many other child characters in books I was reading. She didn't always say or do the right thing, and she was nosy and selfish - but she mostly redeemed herself in the end. I could relate to her imperfections! – Ellen

I loved the Little House series because of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s descriptions of pioneer life and the warmth of her family. My grandparents lived on a rustic farm with cows, pigs, chickens, and a protective border collie named Shep. The Little House books kept me connected to my grandparents on that farm, even though I lived in a city far away. - Mary

As a young girl who loved animals, but especially horses, Black Beauty became one of my all-time favorite books. A fictional autobiographical memoir told from the point of view of a horse, the story describes Black Beauty's difficulties and experiences with humans, who often failed to recognize the unconditional love and loyalty that he was so willing to share. This book gave me a sense of responsibility, respect and compassion for all living creatures. I found it sad, hopeful, and in the end, comforting. – Janet

Ballet Shoes was an oasis for me as a young ballet student. Each of the young protagonists (Pauline, Petrova, and Posy) were able to follow their passions, with the support of a collection of knowledgeable and caring adults who understood the importance of having Big Dreams. The urban London setting was thrilling - and the European characters inhabiting the book made me eager to reach out and explore the world. I can’t help but think this book planted the seed for all the wonderful experiences I’ve had in life, thus far. I’ve travelled overseas, performed professionally in the theater, and now support the Big Dreams of my own children (which currently include being superhero millionaires who do charity work)! – Christina

As a child, I loved camping with my family and spending time by the water. The idea of suddenly finding myself alone on an island was both thrilling and terrifying. I admired Karana’s courage and tenacity and wondered if I could have managed to survive on my own as she had. Island of the Blue Dolphins also gives a personal perspective on living in and out of sync with the ebb and flow of nature. As an adult, I have experienced several island camping adventures, satisfying my desire to enjoy time by the water. But I was content that I did not have to hunt any further than my backpack to find my own food. – Lisa

Watership Down is a mixture of the best elements from The Wind in the Willows and The Odyssey. Since reading it at age 11, I haven't been able to look at hedges, meadows or overgrown alleyways without wondering what sort of tiny, cosmic dramas are unfolding beyond our vision. Truly inspiring. (Because of Watership Down, I got a cool looking rabbit on my arm as my first tattoo when I was 21.) – Josh

I read Little Women several times between the ages of 9 -11 . Growing up with lots of cousins, most of whom were female, I found it easy to identify with Jo March and her family. Plus, the story has some sadness, romance and drama! This book made me an avid reader. – Pat.

I think the idea of private spaces with little adult interference, like the ones in The Secret Garden or The Boxcar Children, is super appealing to kids. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house in the country with lots of land and tree cover perfect for creating little hideouts. So the idea of discovering and cultivating a secret garden was both relatable and compelling to me. – Aubrey

Give Children Words to Love...

ISBN: 
0394950100

“Poetry is a rhythmical piece of writing that leaves the reader feeling that life is a little richer than before, a little more full of wonder, beauty, or just plain delight.” - Aileen Fisher

Poet Aileen Fisher was the second person to receive the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children presented by the National Council of Teachers of English to a living American poet in recognition of their work. The award was first given in 1977. But before then and certainly ever since, teachers have recognized that poetry is a marvelous form of literature to share with new readers, reluctant readers, budding writers, and, well – everyone! Like songs, poetry is meant to be shared aloud. The rhyme, rhythm and repetition that are characteristic of poetry help children hear the different sounds of language.

“Research and experience tell us that children are most likely to be successful in reading and writing a word if they’ve had repeated experiences with hearing and saying the individual sounds in the word,” notes teacher Babs Hajdusiewicz, author of Phonics through Poetry. Poetry is an invitation to play with language, to relish the different sounds and meanings words make, and to pause and reflect on how something looks or sounds or feels. Invite your child to experience the joy of poetry and its descriptive power. You can find a wide variety of award winning poets and notable collections of poetry for children in the Library.

And join us for Storyhour Extravaganza this month, when we celebrate some of the first poems a child learns: Mother Goose rhymes. While you’re in the library you might like to listen to some Mother Goose rhymes on the iPad in the Children’s Department. (The Mother Goose on the Loose app, which can be downloaded for free through iTunes, also lets you play with Mother Goose characters and tell your own stories.) You can also pick up one of our handy pre-printed poems for your pocket - and as poet Eloise Greenfield recommends: “Give children words to love, to grow on.”

HiKoo

Things That Go

ISBN: 
9780061958090

I anticipated needing to learn many new things as a new parent, but when the time came, I was wholly unprepared to engage in “truck talk” with my toddler. Whether my inadequacy was due to having grown up in an area that did not have combines rolling down the highway, slowing traffic for miles, or the fact that my own interest in vehicles has never expanded much beyond whether it’s green or blue – I needed to get up to speed fast to help satisfy my son’s thirst for knowledge on all “things that go.”

Fortunately, MCPL Children’s Services offers a wonderful variety of books and DVDs to meet the demand for information on this topic. We can help you find the right nonfiction book the next time you need help distinguishing a bulldozer from a compactor (See Cool Construction Vehicles by Bobby Kalman), or want to satisfy curiosity about what's inside a fire truck. In the meantime, here are a few new picturebooks to share with your young fans of cars and trucks...

And The Cars Go

TootToot

Go, Go, Go, Stop!

Night Light

 Alphabet Trucks

Testing, Testing, Testing...

ISBN: 
9780689845154

It’s test time again for Indiana students. Children in grades 3-8 are taking the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus (ISTEP+) tests to measure student achievement in the subject areas of English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science (Grades 4 and 6), and Social Studies (Grades 5 and 7). This seasonal event - and the recent news that teachers and parents in Chicago decided to boycott the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, an annual test for Illinois students in third through eighth grade - brought to mind the book: The Report Card by Andrew Clements.

Clements is one of my favorite authors. He writes thoughtfully about school-age students, the issues they face, their relationships with each other and with their teachers. And many of his books pose a “what if” question that make for marvelous discussion opportunities.  In The Report Card, it’s 5th grader Nora who ponders:  what if students just all refused to take tests? What if they intentionally answered all the questions incorrectly?   Read more »

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

ISBN: 
9780061730764

Kadir Nelson“Painting historical American subjects pushes me to learn more about who I am, where I come from, and the role my ancestors played in helping form our country.” – Kadir Nelson, author and illustrator of Heart and Soul.

Kadir Nelson’s work brings history alive for students today. In the Prologue to Heart and Soul he notes that young people won’t always have the chance to speak with the people who lived through the Civil Rights Movement, or who played baseball for a league that no longer exists. So he documents the stories from these people, vividly portrays them, so that they will be known and remembered, learned and absorbed by future generations.

"Heart and Soul is not only the story of my family, but an intimate introduction to American history that I hope will remind readers of our extraordinary story and inspire them to learn more about America as I have done – by exploring their unique family stories and their connection to the American story."

Find Heart and Soul and other outstanding  books by Kadir Nelson through the Library’s catalog. See Kadir Nelson’s website to learn more about him and his art. Visit the African American History Month website from the Library of Congress to discover more about the remarkable people and events that connect us all.

WearetheShipbyKNelson

Show Me a Story! (Why Picture Books Matter)

ISBN: 
9780763635060

“Before they read words, children are reading pictures. In picture books, the illustrations work in concert with the text in a way that is unique among art forms.”

In the forward to Show Me a Story! Why Picture Books Matter: Conversations with 21 of the World’s Most Celebrated Illustrators, award-winning author and illustrator David Wiesner explains why we celebrate National Picture Book Month in November (actually, MCPL Children’s Services Librarians celebrate them year-round! Here’s more from Wiesner about why we love picturebooks…): Read more »

Smart Searching with Grolier Online

Grolier Online logoThere is so much information available through the Internet the challenge these days -- especially for kids -- is knowing where and how to search.  And for students still learning how to evaluate information and discern a reliable source from one that is suspect, starting a search with a reputable research tool like Grolier Online gives them a way to focus their search and get trusted  information tailored to their reading level and information need.

Read more »

Big Library Read features Nancy Clancy eBook

ISBN: 
9780062082947

It’s always hard to say goodbye at a story’s end to characters you’ve grown fond of and enjoyed spending time with. That’s one of the great joys of series books and why they appeal to readers of all ages: you don’t have to say goodbye; you can look forward to meeting up with familiar characters in the next book.

Books in a series are especially popular with transitional readers, children moving beyond beginner reader chapter books but who are not quite ready for longer novels. Having background knowledge of a character or setting aids readers who are still developing their fluency and comprehension skills. Think Nancy Drew stories. After reading a couple, you know that she is an adventurous girl with sparkly blue eyes who has a plump cousin and a kind housekeeper. Eventually, you are able to skim the familiar descriptions and devote your energy to deciphering the plot. Knowing that they already enjoy reading about a certain character also helps motivate transitional readers to continue reading. And regular reading practice is one of the best ways to build reading skills.

For all these reasons, it’s good news for fans of Fancy Nancy that author Jane O’Connor has continued to offer new stories featuring the flamboyant young girl who enjoys sprinkling her wardrobe with sparkly accessories and her vocabulary with dazzling words. The character who was first introduced in 2006 in picturebook format with appeal to preschoolers, and progressed to beginner reader format books with an early elementary aged audience, now appears in first chapter books aimed at transitional readers in grades 2-3.

In these latest stories, Fancy Nancy has morphed into Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth with a pink trenchcoat and a rhinestone studded magnifying glass. Always on the lookout for mysteries to solve, Nancy and her friend Bree have designed their own business cards (Partners in Crime: N & B) as well as their own secret code for safely exchanging messages. And while attempting to solve the Mystery of the Missing Marble, Nancy Clancy pauses to ponder: What would Nancy Drew do?  Whether or not they are familiar with Nancy Clancy’s mentor, Nancy Clancy fans will delight in hunting for clues and deciphering codes with the new Super Sleuth on the block.

The other good news for aficionados of Fancy Nancy Clancy is that Overdrive has designated Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth as the featured title for its current Big Library Read program. From September 16th – 30th Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth - Book 1 will be available in both eBook and audiobook formats for anyone wanting to read it – no waiting, no holds! Find the title in the library catalog, or go directly to Indiana Digital Media and log in with your library card to claim your copy. As Nancy Clancy would say: Stupendous! Magnificent! And double ooh la la!

Show Us Your Library Card!

Librarians with MCPL Library Cards

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month. Of course, you can get a library card any time of the year, but in September, back-to-school season, we like to remind that a library card is an essential school tool. Just as important as having a notebook, folder and pen in your backpack, is having a library card tucked in your pocket. Best of all, library cards are free to Monroe County residents of all ages!

In addition to giving you the ability to borrow books, movies and music, your library card provides you with access to a number of electronic resources the library has purchased especially for Monroe County residents to use. Some of these resources are designed for kids.  To access them from outside the library, you will be prompted to enter your library card number. It’s a simple step to gain entry to a wealth of authoritative information and images to suit your needs. You can find a complete list of electronic resources on our A-Z Research Tools page. Some e-resources and downloadable options of special interest to school-age children include:

  • Grolier Online – for information about states, countries, current events and more
  • Indiana Digital Media – to download ebooks and audiobooks, including titles for kids
  • Freegal – to download music. Once downloaded, songs are yours to keep

LibraryCardpromoYour library card makes these reputable resources available to you around the clock. We love that you can access these resources even when our physical doors are closed for the night. But even more, we love to see young children come in to the library with their families – with library card in hand.  How many places can children go where they are welcome to pull items from the shelves, look through them and choose which ones they would like to take home? We are continually delighted to observe children claim their books or movies and then proudly walk up to the self-check machine and check them out to take home and enjoy. We see how empowered they are by this, the confidence it instills, and we know it helps launch them on their journey of life-long learning.

So next time you are in the library – show us your library card! We’d love to hear what you like about it, and how you use it most. And in September and October, children who show us their library cards will receive a special sticker and bookmark – and a chance to shout “Hooray! I used my library card today!”

 

Learning Right From Wrong with the Brief Thief

ISBN: 
9781592701315

We often get requests for books that help teach children about proper rules of behavior – everything from sharing to telling the truth. While we frequently turn to our nonfiction collection for titles designed to teach children about specific subjects or topics, often picture books more powerfully portray the importance of doing the right thing.

The use of humor is one reason the messages in picture books can have a greater impact with children. And you can’t get much funnier with preschoolers (or even the K-2 crowd) than the word underpants – not to mention the word poo. (Please, don’t mention it!) The picturebook Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier uses both words in a span of a few pages while reminding readers that it’s not right to take things that don’t belong to you.

You see, poor Leon the Lizard finds himself without a necessary item after relieving himself. He notices an old pair of underpants hanging from a nearby tree branch and uses them to “finish his business.” As he discards the underpants behind a bush, a voice calls to him. It claims to be Leon’s conscience: “The little voice you hear inside your head whenever you get up to something naughty.” The voice continues: “… Since when are we allowed to touch other people’s things? What do they teach you in school, anyway?”

Leon never learns the real identity of his conscience, but readers will be amused to learn that the voice belongs to a rabbit who had been using the underpants to complete his superhero costume. We don’t learn his superhero name, but I’m guessing that it’s Superego.

Recommended for ages 3-8.

 

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