Oh, the Thinks You Can Think

Grolier Online and other Homework Help Tools

I live with a wonderful third grader. But on occasion, he forgets to tell me until late at night that he has a homework assignment due the next day. Now, I'm as big a fan of Google as anyone, but when I need to find information quickly from a trusted source at a reading level suitable for a third grader, or other school-age student, I am grateful to have access to Grolier Online.

Grolier Online is a multimedia encyclopedia that provides you with a wealth of information on a range of topics. Topics include links to related magazine articles and recommended web sites. And most topics include images and maps, when relevant. The Monroe County Public Library's subscription to Grolier Online includes the reference databases America the Beautiful for information on states, and Lands and People for information on countries around the world. MCPL card holders can access all the resources free from home by logging in with their library card number.

So the next time you are tempted to just "Google it," try Grolier Online instead! And take a look at the other Online Homework Help Resources we recommend, too.

Click Clack Moo: A Special Preview Performance

As a student of journalism, I am a true believer in the power of the written word. And, apparently, so are the cows in Doreen Cronin's hilarious picture book: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. When the cows discover a typewriter in their barn, they begin making demands of Farmer Brown. It's cold in the barn. They want electric blankets.

Ridiculous, thinks Farmer Brown, and he refuses their request. But then the cows refuse to give any more milk. And the hens join the cows in solidarity and refuse to give any more eggs. The duck is the barnyard mediator, shuffling typed messages back and forth between the farmer and the cows. But, it seems that even ducks have desires for creature comforts.
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I Don't Like to Read! (well, really, I do)


We are just starting our First Grade Tours here in MCPL Children's Services, and it motivated me to try to remember some of my own experiences in the first grade. One vivid memory is going on our first visit to the school library - I was so excited it was lucky I didn't toss my cookies! The thrill was tempered a little by the fact that I could hardly read - in fact, I was in the "lowest" reading group in my first grade class. (Not that the teacher told us which group was the lowest, of course - we just all knew.) I apparently told my mom of my frustration and fear about not reading well, and she told my teacher. Before I knew it, I was reading with the top group, and understanding what I read! I'm still not sure exactly what my teacher did, but apparently that extra bit of attention and encouragement, both at home and at school, made a huge difference. (It didn't hurt, either, that the top reading group had more interesting fare.) After thinking about this, I looked for a picture book that reflected a little of my experience.

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The Book of Songs & Rhymes with Beat Motions


Singing is one of the best activities children and caregivers can enjoy together. Singing promotes a love of music in young children and helps build early literacy skills by breaking words down into small pieces. The library is a great source of wonderful songs for early childhood in books, CDs, Books on CD, and DVDs. A particularly good source of engaging songs for preschool and young school-aged children are the materials by Dr. John Feierabend. Look for his books in the Parent-Teacher Resource Room. Adults who spend time with small children will love The Book of Songs & Rhymes with Beat Motions . Here you will find songs, rhymes, and games that encourage moving with the beat. These rhymes and songs have been passed along for generations and are full of magic and imagination. You will also find CDs of songs collected by Dr. Feierabend in the Children's Audio-Visual collection.

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: A Civil War Hero

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. This isn't an anniversary to "celebrate", but such a pivotal conflict in our nation's history is certainly one to commemorate and learn more about through the amazing stories told by the people involved. Sarah Edmonds was one of those people.

In the picturebook biography Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, A Civil War Hero,
we learn that when she was just 16, Sarah disguised herself as a man and ran away from her home in Canada to escape an arranged marriage. She came to the United States and assumed the name Frank Thompson. When the call came in Michigan for young men to join the Union army, "Frank" wanted to sign up as a way to thank the country she had been living in for the last three years. While the other soldiers teased Frank about her small feet, no one ever guessed that Frank was actually a woman.
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Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz


There are plenty of scary stories out there to keep you shivering beneath the blankets long after you've turned out the lights. But Raven's Gate, by Anthony Horowitz stands out for its great characters and ever mounting action and suspense. Fourteen-year-old orphan Matt Freeman is framed for a violent crime and given the choice of getting locked up or going into a reform program in the rural English town of Lesser Malling.
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Bark, George and other Stories for Dog Days

Join us this Wednesday, August 31, at 10 am in the Library Auditorium for Storyhour Extravaganza! Since the hot days of August are often described as the Dog Days of Summer, we're celebrating the end of this blistering season with a variety of stories about dogs - including my personal favorite: Bark, George by Jules Feiffer. George, a puppy, seems to have a duck stuck in his throat, or perhaps a cow, or a cat, because he keeps saying these other animal sounds instead of "bark." So, George's mom takes him to the vet who eventually gets to the bottom of George's troubles. Highly recommended for preschoolers to children in grade 2, this humorous story typically brings on a case of the giggles and is especially fun to tell with puppets!

We'll also show the film versions of Let's Get a Pup, Said Kate and Whistle for Willie. What's your favorite dog story? Let us know!

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

The importance of storytelling is beautifully emphasized in this 2010 Newbery Honor title, written and illustrated by Grace Lin, with the audiobook version narrated by actress Janet Song. Minli is the daughter of poor farmers who live in the barren land shadowed by Fruitless Mountain. She is inspired by the mystical folktales of her father, and the sadness of her mother, to try to improve their fortune by traveling to meet the Old Man of the Moon, a character in her father's stories. On the way she meets a talking fish and a dragon who can't fly, as well as other animals and people, both good and evil, who help her realize what good fortune really means. Highly recommended, either in print format (enjoy Lin's lovely illustrations!) or as an audiobook, for ages 8-12. Watch a book trailer and an interview with the author, and discover other books written and illustrated by Lin, such as Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!, a 2011 Geisel Honor Book, and picture books including Dim Sum for Everyone! and Fortune Cookie Fortunes.

Parents' Choice and the 4Cs of Learning

I've been following the Parents' Choice blog: Read More. Play More. Learn More recently via Twitter. The Parents' Choice Foundation was established in 1978 as a nonprofit guide to quality children's media and toys. You may have seen their round labels of recommendation on toys, but they also review books, audiobooks, DVDs, music, magazines, television shows, videogames, websites and software -- including mobile apps for kids. You can use their online product finder to search for their award winners by type of product, the age of the child for which the product is designed, and more.

But their blog caught my attention because the title echoes philosophies of Children's Services at Monroe County Public Library: reading is a key to learning, children learn through play, and learning is fun! Our Summer Reading Game is designed to promote these concepts, and now as children head back to school we find ourselves thinking more about essential skills and knowledge for children. Traditionally, essential skills have been described as the 3Rs: Reading, (w)Riting and (a)Rithmetic. But as a recent post to the Parents' Choice blog reminded, essential skills for the 21st Century include the 4Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
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From Phonics to Fluency

I recently attended a fascinating seminar on reading sponsored by the Monroe County Community School Corporation. The presenter was Dr. Timothy Rasinski, a professor at Kent State University who authored From Phonics to Fluency: Effective Teaching of Decoding and Reading Fluency in the Elementary School . The topic of the seminar was fluency in reading. While some school systems equate fluency with reading speed, Dr. Rasinski described it as a bridge between reading mechanics and comprehension. Children need to achieve accuracy in the surface or mechanical level of reading which includes phonics, spelling, and vocabulary to progress to the deep level where they make meaning. The link between the two is fluency. Fluent reading involves automaticity, or dealing with the mechanics of reading without stumbling and struggling. Fluency also requires prosody, the ability to read aloud or silently with proper phrasing and expression. Dr. Rasinski shared several methods that teachers and parents can use to help students improve their fluency. I was thrilled to hear that we public librarians have been promoting and supporting these activities at MCPL for years. His presentation focused on singing, poetry, and reader's theater.
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