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Diverse Award Winning Books for Kids

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

If you would like a list of good reads with a huge range of styles, topics and diverse characters, the children’s book award winners list is where it’s at!  Every year, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, gives out the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott awards, as well as a long list of other medal winners, honor books, lifetime achievement awards, and even best audio books and videos.

After the recent controversy of the “all-white Oscars,” it’s great to see recognition for literature that is inclusive of different races, cultures and economic statuses, showing both challenges and opportunities. Let’s start with the top dog of children’s book awards, the Newbery Medal, given to the most distinguished American children’s book of the year. Started in 1922, the Newbery was “the first children’s book award in the world,” according to ALSC. This year, the Newbery committee deviated from the common path of recognizing a longer work for older children.  Matt de la Pena’s picture book, Last Stop on Market Street, won with a mere 32 pages of sparse (but memorable) text.

In the story, young CJ boards a city bus with his Nana, and along the way he has many questions for her. “Nana, how come we don’t got a car?” and, seeing some teens listening to music on devices, “Sure wish I had one of those.”  But Nana’s responses help CJ see the world and the people around him, appreciating where he is right at that moment.  De la Pena said in an interview with BookPage, “My favorite reaction is when I go to underprivileged schools and diverse students take ownership of the story. The book feels validating to them.”  Colorful illustrations by Christian Robinson also won the book a Caldecott Honor for artistic merit, as well as a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.

Another Caldecott Honor book caught my eye when it came out this year. Trombone Shorty, written by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews himself, with pictures by Bryan Coillier, is a fantastic picture book autobiography. Troy teaches himself to play the instrument he happened to find, a trombone, and then is discovered when Bo Diddley brings him onstage during the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Collier’s vibrant art emulates the sound of trombones, bands, music and joy, in the tradition of Treme, making the book an inspiration for any budding musicians. Collier also received the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for the most outstanding African American illustrator of a book for children.

Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina and illustrated by Angela Dominguez won awards in two categories of the Pure Belpre Awards for best works portraying, affirming and celebrating the Latino cultural experience.  This is a sweet story about a girl learning to communicate with her grandmother who had been living far away, where parrots lived in the palm trees. The two find it is slow going at first, with each trying to teach the other a few words in Spanish or English.  Mia can see that Abuela misses her old home, so she asks her mother to buy a parrot from the pet store to cheer her up.  The parrot, named Mango, learns both English and Spanish along with them and helps Abuela practice during the day while Mia is at school.

Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls won a Schneider Family Book Award for artistic expression of the disability experience with their picture book biography of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah.  In Emmanuel’s Dream, young readers see Emmanuel’s struggle growing up in West Africa with only one leg. Most children with disabilities did not attend school or find jobs.  But “Emmanuel hopped to school and back, two miles each way, on one leg, by himself.”  He taught himself to ride a bicycle and even found a job in a big city.  After receiving a bike from the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Emmanuel trained and then he began riding all over Ghana, promoting the idea that disabled people can succeed.  His story is one of amazing perseverance, and his activism helped change the way disabled people are treated in Ghana.

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle, winner of the Pura Belpre Author Award and a Sibert Honor for nonfiction, is a poetic memoir of the author’s childhood in L.A. before and during the Cold War.  Margarita’s mother was born in Cuba, a magical land Margarita visited and fell in love with as a young child. But later, there is only hate spewed about Cuba, from the government, teachers and her peers, as they practice hiding under desks during air-raid drills. Margarita’s poems cover so much territory — emotions and thoughts carried on the wing of her words as she traverses childhood and adolescence, as well as physically traveling the world and discovering the beauty of so many places.

Triple recognition for Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hammer is well deserved. Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes, this nonfiction Civil Rights Movement book is unique.  The text is written in Fannie Lou Hammer first person and set into poetry.  The power of the words comes from the real experiences of her life, like realizing that the students she had inspired had been murdered by the KKK.  “I cried like I lost my own sons.” The artwork accompanying each poem is a striking combination of paint and collage, winning a Caldecott Honor and the John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award.  It also won a Sibert Honor for best nonfiction.

Many other outstanding books for children and young adults were recognized with awards this year.  Take a look at the long list at www.ilovelibraries.org and check out some fantastic reads to start off the new year.

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Adults, For Kids, Mercury Column

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A New Year at the Library

By Grace Benedick, Youth Services Library Assistant

parents and toddlers at toddler wiggleworms storytime2016 marks the start of our second year in our expanded children’s space at Manhattan Public Library, and we are excited to offer many exciting programs this semester. January has already been a full month with Baby and Toddler Play Dates and Yoga Storytimes to fill the gap between our storytime sessions, and on January 25th our spring storytime session will begin.

If you have a little one 18 months or younger, try out our Baby Rhyme Time Storytime, on Monday mornings from 11 to 11:30 and on Thursday mornings from 9:30 to 10. Baby Rhyme Time is designed for infants and young toddlers with their parents or caregivers. We will sing nursery rhymes and silly songs with interactive actions for parent and baby, read short books together, and play with shakers and music.

Toddlers have three storytime opportunities each week. On Monday and Tuesday mornings we will have Toddler Wiggleworms from 9:30 to 10, and on Wednesday it will be from 11 to 11:30. Toddler Wiggleworms is an active storytime for toddlers, with picture books read by the librarian, choral readers read together by all the parents, lots of action rhymes, and music so your little wiggleworms can get all their wiggles out.

If your child is 3 or older, check out one of our Preschool Story Train storytimes. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we will have Preschool Story Train from 11 to 11:30, and on Wednesday mornings from 9:30 to 10. This is a lively story and music session very similar to Toddler Wiggleworms but with longer picture books, more complex action songs, and activities with directions to follow.

On Saturday mornings we will have Family Fun Storytime from 11 to 11:30, a storytime with great picture books, action songs, and music for all ages.

We’ll continue to collaborate with Sunset Zoo to bring you Zoofari Tails on the 4th Friday of each month. January’s Zoofari Tails program will be about possums and prairie dogs. We’ll have action songs and read funny picture books, including Janet Steven’s Great Fuzz Frenzy. We are also partnering with Flint Hills Discovery Center this year to host “exhibit preview” programs in the library. The first event is January 30 at 2:00, featuring “How People Make Things” with hands-on activities for kids in grades K-6. Kids can cut, mold, deform and assemble a project to take home.

Our Read with a Dog program will continue on the 2nd and 4th Sunday afternoons each month from 2-4 pm. This popular program allows children to practice their reading skills without pressure while reading aloud to a loveable therapy dog. In February, Read with a Dog will take place on the 14th and the 28th.

Join us in February for special events for older children, starting with Harry Potter Book Night on February 4th.  Celebrate this magical series by completing a scavenger hunt in the Children’s Room between 4 and 7. Children receive a “galleon” for each correct answer which they can exchange for small prizes our sweets shop.  Supplies for making wands and paper Hogwarts pets will also be available. Dress in costume, or come as a muggle!

dorkCelebrate Chinese New Year with us the following day with a party on February 5th from 2-3 pm. Kids in grades K-3 can come learn about the traditional celebrations of the Chinese New Year. We’ll read New Year’s stories, make paper dragons, and do a dragon dance. Then bring your tweens (4th-6th graders) on February 11th for a party featuring the Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. We’ll play games and decorate pens and journals, so kids can keep their own diaries. On February 24th, grades K-6th are invited to come to our Acting Out at the library event. We’ll play theatre games and act out skits in celebration of Shakespeare’s First Folio Exhibition coming to the Beach Museum in February.

Check the library website for more information on upcoming programming and events. If you have any questions regarding children’s and tween programs, please contact the Youth Services Department staff at kidstaff@mhklibrary.org or (785)776-4741 ext. 400.

 

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, library services, Mercury Column, News

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Amazing Superpower Graphic Novels that Pack a Punch…Without Any Superheroes

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

Ever since I discovered Renee Telgemeier’s graphic novel Smile and Hope Larson’s Chiggers, I’ve been scanning our new graphic novels for more great stories of girls growing up. This year brought some wonderful surprises.

deafoPicture book author and illustrator Cece Bell came out with a 200+ page graphic novel that blew my socks off. El Deafo has an intriguing cover with a bunny/girl soaring through clouds with her red cape and a harness contraption with cords to her bunny ears. With a title like El Deafo, I knew I had to read it. Cece is the main character, reinvented as a bunny person, showing us the author’s childhood through illustrations, dialogue and inner thoughts. When Cece gets meningitis and loses most of her hearing, she has to learn how to read lips because the hearing aid makes everyone sounds like they are speaking under water. When her family moves, Cece can no longer attend a special school with other hearing-impaired children, but she gets a “new, superpowerful, just-for-school hearing aid: The Phonic Ear.”

The illustrations of Cece with bunny ears emphasizes her hearing aid, which is a challenge for Cece but also becomes her superpower. When her teacher forgets to turn her microphone off, Cece can hear everything the teacher says…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom, and her new friends think it is awesome. Plus, Cece can use “the On/Off Switch of Awesomeness” to tune out her bossy friend, Laura. Cece’s trials of childhood are intensified by being different from her peers, but at the same time, they help her find her own voice and define the person she becomes.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson is the story of twelve-year-old Astrid coming of age, ala roller derby. When Astrid’s mother takes her and her best friend Nicole to a local roller derby bout for “an evening of cultural entertainment,” Astrid finds she has a new dream. She joins the Rosebuds junior derby team, but simultaneously deals with the realization that her best friend is growing in a different direction. While Nicole befriends mean girl Rachel through dance class, Astrid gets rolled over on the skating rink. Making new friends is tricky, and learning a new sport is tiresome, but Astrid keeps going despite naming this part of her life as her “black period.” Astrid makes mistakes, tries to fix them, still stinks at roller skating, but does not give up. You will love the determined “Asteroid” by the end of the book, and while Astrid’s story is not autobiographical, Jamieson is known as Winnie the Pow on her Portland, OR team, the Rose City Rollers.

mayThe brother/sister team of Jennifer and Matthew Holm has been a favorite of mine for a long time, with Babymouse and Squish coming to mind, but also Jennifer Holm’s historical fiction like Our Only May Amelia and Boston Jane. Veering in a new direction of realistic fiction, the talented pair recently published Sunny Side Up. The artwork in this graphic novel expresses humor and emotion, with help from Lark Pien who added the colors, and the story propels the reader through Sunshine Lewin’s strange summer vacation. Sunny was supposed to be able to take her best friend with her on the family vacation to the shore. But somehow she ends up on her own, spending the summer in her grandfather’s retirement community in Florida, so close to Disney World…yet so far. The story flashes between the present – getting settled at Grandpa’s, meeting his old lady friends, and making a new friend with the only other kid in the neighborhood – and the past – snippets of Sunny realizing something was wrong with her older brother Dale. Eventually, the reader finds out beloved brother Dale was developing a serious drug problem, and Sunny feels like she made things worse and was sent away for the summer because it was her fault.

This moving story will make readers laugh out loud, as well as tear up, at the ups and downs that come with being a kid stuck in the middle. A note from the Holms at the end relates a little about their personal experience in their family: “We had a close relative who had serious issues with substance abuse. As children, we were bystanders to this behavior and yet it affected our whole world…it was something that we felt we had to keep secret.” They wrote this book for kids like themselves, showing it is okay to talk to others and explain how they feel.

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, Mercury Column, Parents

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Notable November

by Brian Ingalsbe, Youth Services Library Assistant

October is already behind us, and our lives seem to get more eventful as the holidays draw near. Manhattan Public Library is no exception. Throughout the month of November, the Youth Services Department has a wide variety of programs and parties that will keep you on your toes!

Read with a Dog is one of the most engaging programs MPL has to offer – occurring Sundays, November 8th and 16th. At this event, children can sign up for a fifteen-minute time slot to read to a dog. All dogs are certified therapy dogs; they are eager and waiting to hear your favorite stories! Read with a Dog is a great program because it offers a lot of flexibility for all ages. What if your child doesn’t read? No problem! These dogs thrive on human contact and would love nothing more than to sit and keep your child company. Let’s be honest: is there anything more exciting than corgis in the library?

Fast forward to the week of November 16th. This is when the real excitement begins! Kansas Reads to Preschoolers (KRP) is a statewide event that celebrates a love of all things literacy. Every year, an esteemed board chooses a book, which is featured during this week-long celebration. This year’s winner – Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino – features a young llama, comparing his mother’s attributes to those of his close animal friends.

MPL will be endorsing this book at our regular storytimes throughout the week, by focusing on animal families and llamas. A FREE book will be given to children attending a storytime. The week will culminate with the wonderful Zoofari Tails storytime, a partnership between MPL and the Sunset Zoo, which will feature animal bio facts pertaining to llamas. Can you think of a better way to celebrate early literacy?

If KRP is not enough of a reason to come and visit the library, let me give you another: story quilts – courtesy of the Konza Prairie Quilter’s Guild – will be on display the same week as KRP. The guild’s theme, Cuddle Up in a Good Book, was chosen to commemorate the 2014 children’s expansion. Each quilt will feature children’s works in some capacity – including Dr. Seuss books, Harry Potter, Charlotte’s Web, and The Pokey Little Puppy, as well as some more traditional quilts with fabric and shapes inspired by children’s literature. I have not seen them for myself, but my sources have informed me that these quilts are absolutely stunning. Do not miss this wonderful opportunity.

The week of November 16th keeps its momentum moving forward until the very end of the week. As mentioned above, Zoofari Tails will be hosted Friday, November 20th. That same day, Youth Services staff will host a Holiday Card Crafts party. Children ages three to twelve will have an amazing time creating crafts and cards for the upcoming holiday season. The party is a come-and-go event beginning at noon – meaning you can craft till your heart’s content, or until 4:00, whichever comes first. If you have a teen – grades seven to twelve – we will be hosting a Holiday Pinterest Party on Saturday, November 21st. This party will be full of crafts and creations inspired from the near infinite number of Pinterest boards. Do you have the crafting ability to create a masterpiece? Come and find out!

As the week of November 16th comes to a close, MPL has one more event to keep your child occupied before Thanksgiving. The Youth Services Department will be hosting a kids’ movie marathon on Wednesday, November 25th. A movie for preschoolers will be shown beginning at 10:00, followed by a school-aged-appropriate movie at 2:00. Feel free to bring your own easy-to-clean-up snacks!

MPL is a great resource, and our staff is always ready to help you find your next great read, explore the online world, or answer any question you may have. You can contact the Youth Services Department staff at kidstaff@mhklibrary.org or (785)776-4741 ext. 125.

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Special Celebration for Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week 2015

Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week is an annual event that promotes reading to all Kansas children from birth to age five. Through the statewide program, parents, librarians and caregivers are encouraged to read the chosen title to every young child in Kansas during the week of November 15-21. This project is made possible by the State Library of Kansas and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

A copy of this year’s featured book, “Is Your Mama a Llama?” by Deborah Guarino, will be given to every preschooler who attends storytime at the Manhattan Public Library between November 15 and 21. Storytimes will be held Monday through Thursday at 9:30am and 11:00 am, and on Saturday at 11:00am. Visit the Manhattan Public Library’s online events calendar for more details.

As a special part of the celebration, quilts created by members of the Konza Prairie Quilters Guild will be displayed in the children’s library that week.  Each quilt was inspired by a children’s book, and the theme “Cuddle Up in a Good Book” was selected to honor the completion of the children’s library expansion project.

More information about Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week can be found on the Kansas State Library’s website https://kslib.info/prek.

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What’s Tween and Why Does It Matter?

Rachael Schmidtlein
Teen and Tween Services Coordinator

Across the far reaches of the Internet are articles, surveys, and studies about how to raise children to be reasonable, functioning human beings (some day). Children approach learning differently, and those approaches differ depending on their age, attentiveness, activity level, etc. New research is constantly being published to help parents and educators figure out how to increase literacy in children. This is a wonderful thing! A side effect of all of this research is that new age groups are constantly emerging.

The idea that a child is not, in fact, just a short adult is relatively new. Until 1836, no labor laws existed. The first children’s department within a library didn’t even come about until the Boston Public Library opened their children’s room in 1895, which was followed quickly by the practice of storytelling in the library.

Young adult literature and services were still slower coming. After World War I, children stopped going into the job market at the age of 14 (instead finishing school or even attending college). Libraries realized that by designating materials for teenagers, they could give them a sense of belonging and keep them engaged in continuous learning. In the 1990’s, libraries began dedicating services and librarians exclusively to teenagers.

A pattern, however, began to emerge. Children’s services were seeing a huge drop between the number of children using library programs and the number of teens using library programs. Even more troubling, children who were initially “reluctant readers” stopped reading entirely and would continue to have trouble in school. What was happening? Where did they go?

As most parents know, in grades 4-6, kids start get super busy. They become less easy to attract to library programs. Sports, religious activities, mountains of homework: the list just keeps going. To make the over-programmed juggling act more difficult, parents have to drive their children from place to place because kids can’t start driving until high school. We know that keeping preteens connected with reading is an important step in creating lifelong learners, especially for reluctant readers, but the question is how?

That’s where I come in! My name is Rachael Schmidtlein, and I am the new Tween and Teen Services Coordinator at the Manhattan Public Library. Our Youth Services staff at MPL has already been working on some awesome tween programs. At the Manhattan Public Library, we’ve defined a Tween as someone between the 4th and 6th grade. Every time we have an event that is specifically for tweens, we witness kids excited that they have a place to come just for them. Our programs may not seem like they are directly related to literature, but no matter if it’s a haunted library after hours, a holiday card craft or something equally as cool, we make sure that the tweens know that there are resources here for them to read and study on every subject imaginable.

Tweens are at the perfect age for library programming. They’re starting to get into the more complicated elements of their subjects at school, and the library offers them a fun, free place to explore those core learning elements, without the restrictions of state education standards. We often offer programs that are based in popular culture, like Doctor Who, and then we dig even deeper into the STEAM, science, technology, engineering, arts, and math components of the topic. This leads to some seriously creative and out-of-the-box thinking. Our tween programming is just beginning to take off, and we have a lot of ideas planned for the future! If you have any questions about tween or teen services at the Manhattan Public Library, you can email our staff at YA@mhklibrary.org.

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Finding Diversity in Reading

by Amber Keck, Youth Services Librarian

The artful act of reading is a beautiful thing to observe.  Different people have different motives and end goals when they participate in reading.  For some, it is done in order to gain knowledge and facts.  For others, reading is a pleasurable activity, meant to allow readers to indulge and escape.  For many, reading is a way to escape AND a way to gain knowledge.  Readers might find themselves engrossed in the story of a person living a life they will never have.  By reading about that character, readers can experience a life different from their own.  Reading diversely allows people to enter into a world that is not their past, present or future reality.  While they may not be able to understand the full experience of the character, they gain a bit of insight into a life.

The summer and fall of 2015 offered many new book releases that can help you diversify your reading.  Here are just a few picks for you to consider.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a journalist and educator, specializing in social, political and cultural issues in America.  His 2008 memoir, The Beautiful Struggle, revisited his childhood, growing up in a poor Baltimore neighborhood with a father determined to raise his son right.  Between the World and Me seeks to help readers understand race culture and the struggles that African-Americans face today and have faced in the past.  This book is written as a letter to his son, as Coates lays bare life as a black man in America.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Plus-sized teenager Willowdean is comfortable in her own body and not afraid to say it.  When she gets a crush on a boy and starts to lose her swagger, she decides to enter a local beauty pageant.  Author Julie Murphy takes the classic bildungsroman to a whole new level with this young adult novel.  With a character comfortable in her own skin, she sends a message to girls of all sizes, to embrace their inner beauty and outer beauty at the same time.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Award-winning author Jenny Lawson is not afraid to tell the truth about how she was raised and how her brain functions in the context of mental illness.  Her first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, stunned readers with its vulnerability and comfort in the truth of living with depression and anxiety.  In Furiously Happy, Lawson goes even further in an effort to help readers truly accept the “crazy” moments and the “normal” moments, to make them memorable and wonderful.  Lawson writes about mental illness in a fresh way that leaves readers crying and laughing.

Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is a TV writer, actress and creator of the The Mindy Project, a show in which she also stars.  Her first set of essays, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, gave readers a glimpse into the life of a young minority woman working in Hollywood.  Why Not Me? is a second set of personal essays, offering even more insight into finding success in television.  Kaling discusses her ongoing relationship with co-writer B.J. Novak, as well as America’s fixation on the weight of actresses.  Kaling’s wit and snark make her essays enjoyable, while her honesty and vulnerability keep her writing accessible.

These titles are just a few among many that can diversify your reading life.  The Manhattan Public Library staff would love to help you find your next great read.  Talk to a staff member today, or request a personalized reading list at the library or online.

 

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Fall Fun for Kids at the Library

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager
Looking for some fun activities for your kids this month? The library has planned some fun parties and events that will bring out your child’s creative juices and keep them begging to visit the library.

A Cardboard Creations Party on October 22 for kids in K-3rd grade will allow kids to see what happens when boxes meet their brains. There are so many possibilities when you have some paper towel tubes, boxes, tape and markers. We have no idea what they will dream up, but we’ll be ready with the camera. After making their cardboard creations, kids are invited to stick around and play with their new inventions, as well as a large cardboard playhouse and rocket ship. Don’t be surprised if this inspires new found fun at home with leftover tubes, cereal boxes and other bits and pieces from the recycling bin. For more ideas, kids can check out books from the Arts & Crafts section such as The Cardboard Box Book, Fun Things to Do with Cardboard Tubes or The Paper Playhouse.

Tweens in 4th-6th grade can register to attend our first ever “Tween After-Hours Party” on October 24 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. Has your child been wondering what it would be like to be in the library after it has closed and everyone’s gone home? This thrilling concept, along with the “Haunted Library” theme, will let kids see the library in a new light and keep them busy on a Saturday night (while Mom and Dad catch a relaxing dinner out). Activities led by library assistant Mr. Brian will include an ice-breaker game called “Wink Murder,” followed by a “Humans vs. Zombies” scavenger hunt around the library, (low level) Fear Factor challenges, and a spooky tale from Anthony Horowitz’s children’s book series “Horowitz Horror: Stories You’ll Wish You’d Never Read.” Also, there will be plenty of snacks! Register tweens for this event by visiting the library’s webpage at MHKlibrary.org on the Events for Tweens page.

Younger children are invited to come dressed in costume for our annual Halloween storytime on October 30, with sessions at 9:30 and 11:00. Fun stories will include Click, Clack, Boo! by Doreen Cronin and the classic tale The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, as well as action songs and rhymes. After storytime, children are invited to trick-or-treat at a couple of stations in the Children’s Room. Also, this year members of the Flint Hills Junior League will be in the atrium to give storytime trick-or-treaters a free book. What a great way to start the Halloween weekend!

Look for more programs this month on USD383’s “no school” days including a movie tomorrow afternoon, Minecraft gaming on Friday, plus the monthly Sunset Zoo visit for an animal-themed storytime on October 23. October is also the month for National Friends of the Library week, a great time to join our fabulous Friends group that funds our youth programs and events. Look for the link to Manhattan Library Association (MLA) or ask about it at our service desks.

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Using the Fall for Developing Early Literacy Skills

Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

As summer changes into fall, there are lots of opportunities to introduce literacy concepts to your child.  At Manhattan Public Library, we encourage parents and caregivers to embrace organic ways to instill a love of reading in children.  One of the important factors in a child’s learning to read is their enjoyment of the books and stories.  It is important to find stories that your children enjoy and look forward to reading with you.  In the Children’s Room, there are numerous books on leaves, hibernating animals and other aspects of fall. Here are a few books that you can read with your children, followed by any or all of the described activities.


Apples and Pumpkins
by Anne Rockwell

In Apples and Pumpkins, a little girl and her parents visit Comstock Farm, where they pick apples and pumpkins.  Visit an apple orchard and a pumpkin patch with your children.  Ask them questions about what they observe around them.  What does the air feel like? How many people do they think are there picking apples or pumpkins? Are they feeling happy?  When you get home, count how many apples were picked.  Have your children join you in making a special treat with the apples or carving the pumpkin.  Suggest that they call a friend or family member to tell them about the experience that they had.

Imitating activities from books gives deeper meaning to the story that your children are reading.  Retelling stories and experiences builds the concept of “beginning, middle and end.”

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

Leaf Man uses photos of leaves and other pieces of nature to tell the story of how leaves progress through the fall.  Take a nature walk with your children and have them take notes in a homemade or store-bought journal.  They can look for specific things or just simply observe the world around them.  Gather leaves and sticks to bring home.  Use the sticks to make letters on the sidewalk.  Try to find bits of letters or shapes in the veins of the leaves.   Make your own leaf man and exchange stories with your children about what your leaf man has done or will do.

As you observe nature, you will most likely use words that your children don’t yet know.  When children are exposed to a larger vocabulary, they tend to have greater reading success.  Don’t be afraid to use new words to describe the scenery around you.  Making letters out of real objects gives more depth to the letters themselves and emphasizes the fact that they form words and have meaning.

The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri

The Busy Little Squirrel follows a squirrel as he prepares for hibernation, gathering seeds, nuts and fruit.  Make your own “snack mix” with your children and try to form letters out of the pieces of food.  Have them help you cook a meal and talk about what you like to eat in the winter.  The more you talk with your children, the more they will learn about communication, words and stories.

Visit the Animals Neighborhood at the library to find non-fiction books on squirrels and other hibernating animals.  Consider reading non-fiction stories about the changing of the seasons, found in the Science & Nature Neighborhood of the Children’s Room.

Attending a storytime at MPL is a great way to get your child engaged with stories in different formats.  Storytellers coordinate activities during storytime that associate with the books being read.  Visit the website to see the current storytime schedule, or stop by the Children’s Room to pick up a schedule. Youth Services librarians are always willing to offer ideas to help your child develop early literacy skills, even starting from birth.

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Electronic Devices and Resources for Kids

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

Tired of your child making off with your iPad, tablet or phone?  Soon the library will have kids’ tablets available for check out, preloaded with fun and engaging learning apps for children as young as 3 years old. Playaway has come out with a new product called the Launchpad, a tablet created for libraries to circulate. While many tablets or devices for kids work fine at home, Launchpad touts durability and security as top qualities that make it possible for libraries to lend them out.

The library will eventually have 30 Launchpads available for check out this fall, each with a different theme and various apps for a target age group of 3-5 years, 5-7 years or 8-10 year olds.  The state library has also acquired some Launchpads for a “floating collection” throughout the state, which will be available through interlibrary loan to all libraries in Kansas.

“Beep Beep, Vroom Vroom” is the theme for a Launchpad that will be available at Manhattan Public Library. It includes apps for ages 3-5 for learning letters and numbers, exploring colors and solving puzzles with games featuring cars, trucks and other vehicles. The “Little Picasso” tablet for ages 5-7 encourages imagination and creativity with artistic games and stories.  For older kids, “Math Planet” will challenge their math skills as they explore the galaxy.

Science, reading, cooking, problem-solving and many other areas are covered in apps on different tablets, making each one unique and fun. You can place a request on a specific title if it is checked out.  Take one home for a week and see what the kids can do!

Library account holders also have access to two excellent online learning and literacy databases for kids: BookFlix and TumbleBooks.  Both resources are available through the library’s webpage with a valid library card number and password.

BookFlix is Scholastic’s read-along database with the wonderful Weston Woods video adaptations of popular children’s books.  You can choose “read-along” mode so the words will show up along with the video, highlighting each word as it is read.  They stay completely true to the storybooks, just enhancing the illustrations to create movement, and often well-known actors are the narrators.  “All the World” is favorite picture book of mine, and Scanlon’s poetic text is heightened with narration by Joanne Woodward and the perfect background music touches.  My kids’ favorite is Kate & Jim McMullan’s “I’m Dirty,” the muddy story of a busy backhoe, narrated by Steve Buscemi. Each of their high-quality videos is paired with a nonfiction book that relates to the topic. Kids can try out links to simple games related to story comprehension, a Meet the Author link, and more web pages that are approved by Scholastic.

TumbleBooks is similar to BookFlix and has been around for a while, with many of the local schools using it to enhance language arts and reading skill building.  It also has created videos by animating picture books but still retaining the book-like quality of the stories. You can let the story play in read aloud mode, or adjust the pacing to “manual” so your child can choose when to “turn the pages,” or even mute the narration so your child can read the story on his or her own.  Lots of popular titles are available including “Scaredy Squirrel,” “Mercy Watson” and all of Robert Munsch’s humorous stories narrated by the author. Longer chapter books are available for more advanced readers, including some classics such as “The Wind in the Willows.”  The interactive features make these literacy databases enjoyable for parents and children to view and play together.

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, library services, Mercury Column, News, Parents

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