Archive for Children’s Dept

Time for a Hike

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

The Autumn CalfIt is time to get out and go for a hike! The library recently hosted a book reading and signing on Earth Day for Jill Haukos’ The Autumn Calf, which tells the story of a baby bison born on the Konza Prairie. Illustrator Joyce Mirhan Turley was also present to talk about the artwork for the picture book. Haukos has offered to give away free copies of The Autumn Calf to any teachers, libraries or schools who contact her; just e-mail konzaed@ksu.edu.

The story includes some information on the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, and it is the perfect introduction for kids to start learning more about the Konza, even visiting it to hike the trail. Lately, articles and facebook posts have highlighted how the Konza Prairie Biological Station’s trail is sometimes misused. Luckily, Haukos, who is the director of education there, says they are keeping the trail available for hikers, and they continue to educate the public about their rules and explain why it is so important to follow them.

We can all help by following any posted rules at outdoor sites, and by instilling those values in our kids or students, no matter where they are encountering nature. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics website, LNT.org, includes resources for promoting good habits when exploring nature, camping or hiking.

A number of new titles at the library will inspire children who seek to understand the world around them, to treat our environment with respect, and to learn from nature.

The New Ocean: The Fate of Life in a Changing Sea by Bryn Barnard describes the current state of the Earth’s waters, and how the changes in pollutants, climate, and people’s eating habits and use of technology within the ocean are affecting ocean life. The book’s succinct and understandable format covers six “sea dwellers,” and shows how they have changed and what consequences may come in the future. While jellyfish and blue-green algae thrive, some of the “losers” in this scenario are orcas, sea turtles, tuna and coral reefs…and ultimately, us.

Booklist Reviews notes that “Despite the unsettling statistics, including ocean acidification and dead zones, the evolutionary wonders on display will hopefully inspire readers to help protect this vulnerable, vital Earth system.” Rather than protecting our children from learning the disturbing facts, Barnard informs young readers and then calls on them to study science and nature to find new solutions.

In Wonderful Nature, Wonderful You, author Karin Ireland and illustrator Christopher Canyon, use each double page spread to feature two or more animals or parts of nature, and relate them to a child’s emotions or attitudes. In one set, Ireland focuses on the lion not always catching its dinner, and zebras moving until they find grass to graze on. She adds, “Life isn’t always fair. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you want them to. Don’t blame someone else, and don’t blame yourself, either. Just try again.” Children will gain some understanding by comparing their own experiences to those of animals and nature, knowing these shared experiences are a part of living and learning.

This book provides a great entry into exploring nature with kids in a thought-provoking way. An appendix adds activities for home or the classroom. A simple one is to release a child into a natural area and have them choose one object to study, and then complete these sentences about it: “I notice,” “I wonder,” and “It reminds me.” Every child’s story will be unique and meaningful to them.

For a truly harrowing adventure, both children and adults will appreciate Samantha Seiple’s Death on the River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Amazon Adventure. In 1913, Roosevelt was offered the high-risk opportunity to travel with the explorer Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon down an uncharted river in the Amazon, the River of Doubt. He jumped at the chance, and brought along his son Kermit as well.

In 190 pages, Seiple details the many challenges, dangers and life-threatening encounters with piranhas, malaria, poisoned arrows, and river rapids to name a few. Roosevelt’s charisma, loyalty and persistence add much to the tale, which includes quotes and stories from the diaries, letters, articles and lectures of T. R. and his son, as well as others from the Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition. Before his death in 1919, Roosevelt wrote to a friend, “I am an old man now, and I did have a murderous trip down South, but it was mighty interesting.” Teddy Roosevelt will never look the same to these kids when they study the 26th president.

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Good Reads for Young Naturalists and Outdoor Lovers

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

The Dog, RayEarly spring days of tree buds and hungry birds make me look for books that include the outdoors.  Here are some great new children’s books for nature lovers.

Applesauce Weather by award-winning poet Helen Frost is a gentle story made of poems that surround the reader like a soft fall breeze. Faith knows her Uncle Arthur will arrive when the first apple falls from the apple tree, but this year is different because Aunt Lucy is not there with him. Uncle Arthur seems to have lost his stories and his twinkle, but Faith is determined to help him find them both again.  Frost delicately shares this short story of family love and grief, of weather and trees and grass beneath your feet.  Applesauce Weather would be a perfect family read-aloud under a shady tree this spring.

For a page-turning adventure, try Linda Coggin’s The Dog, Ray.  When 12-year-old Daisy meets an unfortunate end, her soul is returned to earth for unfinished business. What makes things tricky is that she returns as a dog. As she makes new friends, she is adopted by a loving homeless boy who names her Ray and sticks with her through danger and uncertainty.  They travel many miles together, both searching for what they need, until Ray remembers less and less what she came for but fulfills her duty as a dog—to protect her family.

In Otherwise Known as Possum by Maria D. Laso, Possum Porter is a rough and tumble tomboy who soaks up country life with her best dog friend, Traveler, and her best human friend, Tully, by her side. But this story begins just after Momma has passed away, along with the new baby, leaving Possum at the mercy of the nosy Town Ladies who are apt to convince Daddy that “LizBetty” needs a proper education.  Shooting pecans from her slingshot while sitting under Momma’s tree, Possum notices, “The Town Ladies were back: It was them Traveler’d heard. They’d swooped onto the porch, all black wings and beady eyes like giant crows, beaks fixing to stick into our business. I considered taking a shot. After all, a crow is a crow, and I have dead-keen aim, on account of I am naturally gifted for such things.” Possum’s honest, rebellious voice is sure to strike a chord with many kids, as she navigates the social hierarchy of the one-room school house, loses friends, makes friends, and saves her daddy from a romance…with the teacher, no less!

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King is sort of a “boy and his dog” book, except that the critter Obe Devlin has found is not a dog. It is not a cat, possum, pig, or anything Obe has ever seen before. In fact, as Obe reached out to touch it for the first time, he felt it “was totally, unquestionably, certainly, worryingly not a dog.”  Obe is bullied by the kids in his neighborhood so he avoids them and instead spends time at Devlin Creek, pulling out the trash other people have dropped in. When he befriends the plastic-eating animal he names Marvin Gardens, Obe has even more reason to protect the Devlin land, and all of nature, from the pollution and urbanization threatening to take over.  Kids will find an unlikely heroic pair in Obe and Marvin.

Young scientists may also enjoy checking out the library’s Nature Discovery Pack, one of 20 backpacks kids can check out on various themes. The Nature pack includes books such as How Does a Seed Sprout, Nature Ranger, and Crinkleroot’s Guide to Giving Back to Nature. Each pack has media and activities, and this one comes with a Magic School Bus DVD, children’s binoculars and textured rubbing plates to create a nature art project.

Kids can join us during spring break this week for a Nature Storytime at 11:00 on Thursday, and ZooFari Tails Storytime at 10:00 on Friday.  Other events include kids’ yoga, CanTEEN, Chess Club and a free kids’ movie.  Check the library calendar for details.

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The House that Healed

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

Rise: How a House Built a FamilyNew to the library is a nonfiction book that speaks of unbelievable determination and courage.  Author Cara Brookins wrote the book to chronicle an experience she shared with her four children.  Rise: How a House Built a Family is an inspirational story that you won’t want to miss.

Brookins, the mother of three children, met and married a man who appeared to be an ideal partner.  He seemed to care deeply about her children, and the couple had another child sometime later.  But things began to go very badly.  Her husband scheduled and paid for a conference room for a presentation to which no one was invited.  He repeatedly threatened his wife with murder.  The children learned early to flee to their rooms and lock the doors to avoid irrational confrontations.  Fearing the increasingly frightening outbursts resulting from her husband’s schizophrenia and worried about her children’s safety, Cara filed for divorce.

The dissolution of her marriage left Cara with one troublesome problem: at some point soon, she and her children would have no place to live.  While the mother had a productive career, she didn’t have many resources and she also had a family for which to provide.  That’s when a seemingly impossible solution occurred to her.

Why not take out a small loan and begin building a house?  Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?  But her plans entailed much more thought.  She decided that she and the kids (ages 2-15) could do the actual building, if they had access to advice from building supply staff and if they studied YouTube videos that demonstrated techniques.

And so, the long process began.  She bought a small piece of land, and she and the kids began marking off rooms.  They ordered foundation materials and enlisted help from others.  This after-work and after-school project became a lasting commitment in which each had designated parts.  Their projected deadlines for completion were delayed by rainy weather, warping boards, defective plumbing and routine exhaustion, but they kept struggling to complete necessary steps.

And there were other unsettling setbacks.  Despite the finalization of the divorce, her husband continued to appear at the house the family would soon have to vacate and he would make eerie threats.  Several times, he stalked the family until the police were called.  A restraining order had little effect on his bizarre visits.

There were also other obstacles.  The youngest child, who was a two-year-old, had to be kept safe around the many dangers of the family’s construction zone.  The oldest son, a fifteen-year-old, lost his best friend in a car accident.  Cara had the pressures of her job that had to take precedence over the construction.

In fact, one of the lowest points occurred when Cara suffered a nasty puncture wound to her leg.  Shortly after that, she was struck by some falling lumber which left a serious gash over one eye.  Her son took her to the emergency room where the attending physician believed Cara to be the victim of domestic abuse.  When he told her his suspicions, she replied that she knew all about domestic abuse, but this instance certainly wasn’t such.

As the work continued, something remarkable began to happen.  Mom and kids, all pulling together, began to get past the abuse of earlier times.  In fact, they became quite independent.  Any time they stumbled upon a new home-building task, they did quick studies, and each developed special talents, whether that be putting up wall board, staining cabinetry or running water lines.  Perhaps the oldest son explained it best when he reflected that if you can build your own damn house, you can do anything.

Why read this book?  It’s a testament to individual fortitude you won’t want to miss.  Plus, the start-to-finish photographs of the project are unbelievable.   You’ll want to spend some time reading about this amazing mother and her equally determined children.

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Contemporary Immigration and Children’s Books

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

The JourneyThis year’s three-part TALK program (Talk About Literature in Kansas) at the library will focus on books about contemporary immigration. It is a timely topic that many adults struggle to understand more fully. When it comes to children, explaining what it means to be an immigrant or a refugee can be even more of a challenge. Reading one of these picture books together may help open communication.

Their Great Gift by John Coy tells a heartfelt story of a shared experience that rings true. Describing the unnamed family of the story, Coy writes, “They made mistakes and people laughed. Others didn’t understand how much they’d sacrificed.” This thin book is full of remarkable photographs of immigrants by Wing Young Huie. Each photo is striking and seems to have a story of its own.

In I am New Here, author/ illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien shows three children experiencing the lonely and confusing transition after leaving a country and a language behind. Maria, Jin and Fatimah show bravery and courage as they find ways to fit in at their new school.  In an interview, O’Brien says she “noticed there was a missing piece” when people seemed to think immigrant children came as “blank slates.” The truth is these children “bring with them full, complete, rich lives in which they have already accomplished so much and know so much.” In her book, she strives to bring out that richness and fullness.

Jose Manuel Mateo and Javier Martinez Pedro chose to create their book Migrant in the format of a codex. The book unfolds like an accordion and is read from top to bottom. The topic is heavy, describing a mother who must take her children and leave their country.  The detailed ink drawing is fascinating as it evolves from a happier time in Mexico to their new life in L. A.

Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng is also a somber tale of a father and his daughter traveling by various means – walking, riding atop a train or in the back of a truck. The unnamed setting is desolate and marked with homeless people, refugees, foxes and soldiers. The young girl’s voice is not distraught, though. She finds beauty in the clouds and friendship in the people she meets, but their traveling does not seem to have an end. This book could bring out questions from children for which we do not have many answers.

Mama’s Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat tackles another tough situation when Saya’s mother is imprisoned for being an illegal immigrant.  The mother sends Saya cassette tapes so she can listen to her mother’s voice, and Saya is moved to write a story of her own to try to change her situation.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna is a child’s view of leaving everything behind to escape to a new place, with illustrations that Kirkus Review describes as “playing dramatically and beautifully with light and shadow…to accentuate the family’s struggles.”

In the award-winning picture book My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald, the main character, nicknamed Cartwheel, has left her home country to be safe. But nothing feels right. “The food was strange. The animals and plants were strange. Even the wind felt strange,” so she invents an imaginary blanket of her old words and familiar things. This metaphor gives readers a sensory object — a warm, soft blanket that can cover Cartwheel with the things she loves and misses.

Similarly, The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart describes how new immigrant Isabel prefers to hang out in a special place she made from discarded cardboard boxes.  Here, she merges her love of and longing for her old language with the delight of learning new words and piecing them together.

For another positive outlook, try Jamie Lee Curtis’s new picture book, This is Me: A Story of Who We Are and Where We Came From. The rhyming text is perfect for younger children, and it may lead to an insightful activity where children try to decide what they would take with them if they had just one small suitcase to fill.

In furthering the topic of immigration, the TALK programs this February, March and April will invite interesting discussions of the adult novels Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros, Harbor by Lorraine Adams, and Typical American by Gish Jen. Extra copies of these titles are available at the library.

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Boredom Busting Books for Winter Break

By Grace Benedick, Youth Services Library Assistant

How to Code in 10 Easy LessonsWinter break is approaching and although the weather has been mild, the fact remains: winter break means kids cooped up at home. To help keep cabin-fever at bay, come to the library and stock up on some of these fun books with activities for the indoors.

If your kids are crafty, check out some titles from our Arts and Crafts Neighborhood. Given some duct tape and time, your child can make everything from bags to bracelets following the directions in “Sticky Fingers: DIY Duct Tape Projects” by Sophie Maletsky. They can learn the basics of fiber arts in “Knit, Hook, and Spin” by Laurie Carlson, which has sections on felting, knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving and even dyeing, with simple but fun projects. Noisemakers can use household materials to make musical instruments as outlined in “High-Tech DIY Projects with Musical Instruments” by Maggie Murphy. Fans of Star Wars or the Origami Yoda series will love “Art2-D2’s Guide to Folding and Doodling” by Tom Angleberger, which contains origami and drawing instructions for Star Wars characters.

If your kids are more artsy than crafty, they’ll love “Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media” by Susan Schwake, which is chock-full of projects and techniques for elementary-grade artists. Her other book, “Art Lab for Little Kids: 52 Playful Projects for Preschoolers!” will keep the little ones busy.

All the diligent LEGO builders can find inspiration in “The Lego Architect” by Tom Alphin, with photos of wonderful LEGO recreations of famous structures and instructions on making some of the simpler buildings. LEGO architects can challenge themselves with the house and vehicle instructions in “The LEGO Adventure Book” by Megan H. Rothrock or “Awesome LEGO Creations with Bricks You Already Have” by Sarah Dees, which has instructions for building everything a LEGO aficionado could want: houses, vehicles, furniture, plants, animals, and even LEGO versions of board games.

Kids can combine screen-time with education, while they learn their first computer coding language, building computer games with the instructions in “Coding in Scratch: Games Workbook” by Jon Woodcock. For older kids, there is “How to Code in 10 Easy Lessons” by Sean McManus, which also uses MIT’s Scratch website. Or they can learn to use and hack different kinds of code in “Top Secret: a Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing” by Paul B. Janeczko, with stories about the origin and uses of famous codes and samples of various codes for the reader to decipher.

Budding chefs will enjoy “The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids” by Ruby Roth. This cookbook has healthy and easy recipes for snacks and a few main dishes that older kids could make by themselves. Then, kids can turn the kitchen into a lab with “Exploring Kitchen Science” by the Exploratorium or “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids” by Liz Lee Heinecke, which both use household items and kitchen ingredients to explore scientific concepts through straightforward experiments.

For fans of picture puzzles, “Art Auction Mystery: Find the Fakes, Save the Sale!” by Anna Nilsen is an advance “look-and-find” book that asks the reader to help solve the mystery and find the forger by comparing images of the original paintings with images of fakes.

No matter what your children enjoy, they can find something at the library to pique their interest over winter break.

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Stimulate Your Brain with S.T.E.M.

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the WorldS.T.E.M. education is opening doors for young people by offering them different ways to learn about science, technology, engineering and math, and by seeing how those disciplines are incorporated into our every day lives, from our homes, our world, and beyond.  The library is the perfect place to explore S.T.E.M. ideas, no matter your age.

Here are some titles that could be starting points for introducing S.T.E.M. concepts through stories of real people. As ideas spark, children can wonder off through the subject “neighborhoods” in the Children’s Room and take home a pile of books to peruse later.

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark follows Lovelace from her childhood, estranged from her father Lord Byron and encouraged by her mother to learn mathematics, through her friendship with inventor Charles Babbage when Ada created the first computer program. Gorgeous illustrations by April Chu will keep young readers hooked, and they can continue reading about famous females in Women Who Launched the Computer Age by Laurie Calkhoven or Trailblazers: 33 Women in Science Who Changed the World by Rachel Swaby.

In Elizabeth Rusch’s Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World, kids learn how Tesla first came up with his idea for alternating currents, and how his invention was chosen above Thomas Edison’s for lighting the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Remember learning about the Fibonacci code? Joseph D’Agnese’s Blockhead is an intriguing picture book about Leonardo Fibonacci’s challenging life and his special discovery of number sequences in nature. Similarly, Paul Erdos’s unusual life is recounted in Deborah Heiligman’s The Boy Who Loved Math. “Uncle Paul” Erdos was strange and socially inept, yet he was beloved by many, and he furthered the study of mathematics in numerous areas.

More topics can be explored by identifying a child’s interests or passions, and using that as a springboard to learn more. This summer, we added four books from the Science of the Summer Olympics series. Check out titles like The Science Behind Swimming, Diving and Other Water Sports if you had a great time watching the Olympics as a family.

Kids who are into popular mainstream shows will appreciate the Batman Science series which explores the “real-world science and engineering” of Batman’s suits, vehicles and utility belt. The Max Axiom, Super Scientist graphic novel series presents S.T.E.M. topics through comic book adventures.

Hands-on kids will enjoy the many books with instructions and ideas for projects they can create themselves.  3-D Engineering: Design and Build Your Own Prototypes with 25 Projects provides enough instruction for kids to test strategies for building anything from bridges to alarms. Lego has produced a whole slew of big, exciting books full of ideas for new things to build, such as the Lego Adventure books. The books foster imaginative creations and experimenting with structures.

No one is too young to experience S.T.E.M.  Babies and toddlers have a natural curiosity that leads them to taste, touch, explore and experiment with everything around them.  While this can make childcare a little hectic, parents can easily encourage children by asking and answering questions, describing things to increase vocabulary, and allowing children to play safely with a variety of household items.  A new board book series called “Baby Loves” by Ruth Spiro captures the enthusiasm for S.T.E.M. In Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering, simple sentences and colorful, bright illustrations present questions and answers about things that fly – birds, airplanes, and a rocket. Andrea Beatty’s picture books — Ada Twist, Scientist, Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect – are also good introductions for younger listeners.

Experience S.T.E.M. at library programs, too! Every Tuesday, Chess Club for all ages and abilities meets on the first floor of the library, starting at 5:30.  It is run by the K-State Chess Club, and beginners are welcome.  S.T.E.M. Club for K-3rd graders meets on the second Thursday of the month from 4:00-5:00 in the Children’s Room.  This week, kids will find out if they really know the story of The Three Little Pigs. Activities include exploring various building materials, learning about their properties, and even building little houses to test against the big bad wolf. Later in the year, library staff will be incorporating Sphero robots into some programs for different ages. The library is a great resource for getting your kids excited about S.T.E.M.

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Babies Need Board Books

By Amber Johnson, Youth Services Library Assistant

ABC Alphabet FunAs babies grow into toddlers and begin exploring the world around them, books play a very important role.  Books offer an experience outside of their everyday world, as well as access to vocabulary and concepts that will be important as their language develops.  Not unlike other objects in their lives, babies interact with books by chewing on them and throwing them around.  Because of these developmentally appropriate actions, it is vital to offer sturdy books for them to play with.  Enter the board book.  A board book is made of thick paperboard.  The paperboard is used for the covers and the inside pages.  A board book is specially scored, folded and bound, unlike traditional hardback binding.  Board books are generally smaller than paperback or hardback picture books, making them easier for tiny hands to grasp.  Manhattan Public Library has a great selection of board books.  Here are a few that we might suggest starting with.

Touch and feel books: Even though they don’t yet have words to describe what they are experiencing, babies take in the world around them with all their senses.   Books that have different textures that the baby can feel only expands their view.  Putting books in their mouths is a developmentally appropriate action.  Having shiny and dull illustrations offers depth perception understanding.  Offer them books about animals that have pretend fur and scales.  Check out books with vehicles that are squishy and shiny.  The DK Touch and Feel series is a great series to start with when introducing your child to sensory books.

High contrast books: Some board books contain illustrations only in black and white.  The high contrast in color of these books is developmentally appropriate for younger babies.  When very young, babies can only take in illustrations or things around them when there is a stark difference in color value.  As they develop their eyesight, introducing books with bright colors is a great idea. Author Tana Hoban has many books with simple black and white illustrations.

Simple concept books: It is never too early to introduce simple learning concepts to babies.  Books that feature numbers, colors and the alphabet will help them begin their journey of learning.  Teaching shapes to children directly correlates to their learning of numbers and the alphabet.  These books also allow them to flip around in the book instead of reading it straight through.  A few good titles to consider are ABC Alphabet Fun and My Very First Book of Numbers.

Books with real photos: As is true for adults, it is important for babies to see themselves in books, as well as things and people that are different from them.  Many board books feature photos of babies expressing different emotions, or photos of real animals or toys.  When babies see real photos in the books they are reading, it makes it easier for them to identify objects and people in real life.  I See Me is a great example of a book that contains photos of babies on the move.

Nursery rhyme books: Reading books with rhymes helps children develop a sense of rhythm when reading.  Hearing similar sounds over and over gives meaning to the words themselves.  Books containing nursery rhymes allow parents to repeat the same rhymes over and over again, solidifying the rhythm and flow of the text. Manhattan Public Library offers collections such as The Real Mother Goose Board Book or books with just one rhyme as the text of the book, like Humpty Dumpty.

Manhattan Public Library has hundreds of board books available for checkout, including the aforementioned titles and series.  Library card holders have no limit as to the amount of books they can check out.  Youth Services staff are available to recommend more good titles and to talk more about early literacy skills and child development.

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And It’s Back to School Again

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

School's First Day of SchoolFor families with school age kids, this is the weekend when everything catches up to us. It’s time to clean up the room, set out the school supplies, get new shoes and a new haircut.  Time to try to get excitable summer-smitten kids to feel sleepy at 8 p.m.  School is here!

Along with the new duds and backpacks, kids might be carrying additional worries or trepidations as they enter school halls. Reading some of these books together might ease their stress and put a positive and humorous spin on the beginning of the school year.

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex (The True Meaning of Smekday) humorously covers the well-worn territory of first day nerves.  Of course, the children coming to school have a wide range of emotions and experiences, but what about the school itself? The new school is worried and excited, friendly and embarrassed, and finally kind of comfortable, too. Artwork by the most recent Caldecott Medal winner Matt de la Pena (Last Stop on Market Street) is a bonus.

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled is a treat for little learners who enjoy a bit of intellectual content in their picture books. Newbery Medal winner Lynne Rae Perkins introduces a boy and his canine best buddy as they experience running and playing together, as well as time apart during the school day. Although they are in different situations, both boy and dog learn important lessons. Readers will get just a taste of fascinating topics like molecules, infinity, and fractions through the eyes of Frank and Lucky.

Kindergarten is Cool by Linda Marshall will give those 5 and 6 year olds a better idea of what to expect when they walk into their first school classroom. For those just entering preschool, Bear’s Big Day by Salina Yoon addresses the paradox of wanting to be an independent big kid, but not ready to leave the toddler realm entirely. Need a gift for a teacher or a great story to volunteer to read to the class? Todd Parr’s simple text and bright illustrations in Teachers Rock! affirm all the ways teachers impact their students. It will be a favorite for Teacher Appreciation Week, too.

Older readers will find out how a bad school situation can get much worse in Mac Barnett’s second chapter book about the Terrible Two. Miles Murphy and Niles Sparks are best friends, and they are members of the Terrible Two pranksters club…the only two members.  When one of their school pranks goes too far, their annoying principal Mr. Barkin is relieved from duty, but in his place reigns the even more horrific new principal, Mr. Barkin’s father!  Filled with humor and funny illustrations, this will suit fans of Captain Underpants and Wimpy Kid. The Terrible Two and The Terrible Two Get Worse are available at the library, or as downloadable ebooks from the Sunflower eLibrary (Overdrive) and Hoopla, so you can read it anywhere you like.

Last but not least, don’t miss out on Gary Paulsen’s new novella for middle to upper elementary grades.  Paulsen (Hatchet, Mr. Tucket, Liar Liar) is a seasoned writer for kids and knows how to keep their attention with just the right touch of sarcasm and wit. In Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat, he throws six random students together in a bizarre situation that ultimately leads to new connections and friendships. Teachers will also love this book for its high level vocabulary, short length, and the opportunity for a class activity using the second half of the book – a one-act play retelling the story.

When you visit the library to check out new books, you’ll notice that back to school at the library means new, exciting programs for youth.  Look at the library’s events online to find out about STEM Club for K-3rd graders, Tween Club for 4th-6th graders, and CanTEEN for middle and high schoolers.  Homeschool Afternoons are back, as well as Read with a Dog Sundays, and nine Storytime options each week. Hundreds of kids participated in the Summer Reading program this year, 2,902 to be exact, and we hope you all will be back this fall!

 

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Why Adults Should Read Children’s Literature

By Gigi Holman, Adult Services Librarian

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris LessmoreI have recently come across a few opinion pieces about how adults shouldn’t read children’s literature. They say it is too easy, that we should leave it for the kids, or one columnist even went as far as to say that “…children’s literature doesn’t have the depth of language and character as literature that is written for grown-ups.” While there might be some truth to this observation, I am here to make the case that there is fantastic children’s literature, and adults should be reading it, too. Now, I am not saying that you should cross every adult book off of your reading list; I am arguing that you can have a healthy balance in your reading by sprinkling a few children’s books every once in a while. So without further ado, here is my list of reasons why you should read children’s literature with some excellent book and author suggestions.

1. Children’s literature provides a fantastic escape from reality. Most children’s authors can weave enticing stories with elements that are silly, funny, playful, historical, and magical. They can take us to a place where we can forget about all of the heavy issues that adulthood brings. For an experience such as this, give Roald Dahl a try. Even he has said that “A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men”.

2. Great stories come in small packages. Picture books can reach a wide audience. The stories, though short, have many layers and can be packed full of meaning. My most recent favorite is this year’s Newbery Award winner, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. This charmingly written story is about a boy and his grandma who, during a bus ride, learn to enjoy the people and sounds around them. Throughout the ride, the boy asks his grandma a series of questions, and each time she replies with an answer that points out the beauty in the everyday world. The ending is sweet and meaningful and reminds us about the joy of giving back to our community.
I also highly recommend The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, whose film version was awarded the best animated short film in the 84th Academy Awards. This imaginative story is a reminder that everyone’s life story matters.

3. Some stories become sweeter over time. Can you recall your favorite book from your childhood? Remember reading Charlotte’s Web, Make Way for Duckling, or the Goosebumps series? Try re-reading them. Sometimes the story can take on a whole new meaning as an adult.

4. The illustrations. There are some beautifully illustrated children’s books. You can get lost in the details of the art in some books. Exploring the Caldecott Award list, which offers awards for excellence in children’s book illustrations, can lead you to a wide variety of techniques in art. A few illustrators that I suggest you explore are Beth Krommes, who is a scratchboard artist; David Wiesner, whose illustrations reveal something new each time you read one of his stories; and Denise Fleming, who uses a technique called pulp painting to create her vibrant and colorful illustrations

5. Children’s literature can fit your schedule. Everyone is in a time crunch. Reading can sometimes be a chore instead of an enjoyable experience, but children’s books tend to be shorter. You have time to read a 200 page novel, right?

6. They help you connect with your kids. If you have young readers in your life, read books along with them. Reading books together can give you topics to share and talk about. And, kids who see adults reading are more likely to become readers themselves. There are so many benefits to reading with your kids.

Everyone can benefit from remembering what things look like from the perspective of a child, and reading children’s books helps us not forget that we were once silly, goofy, and playful too. In the end, no matter what you choose to read, come by the Manhattan Public Library and get lost in a good book.

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column, News, Parents, Young Adult Dept

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The Summer Reading List Begins

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

On your mark, get set…READ!  The library’s annual summer reading program has begun. Everyone, from babies to seniors, can participate by keeping track of reading and earning prizes or tickets for prize drawings. So, what is on your summer reading list?  Here are a few on mine:

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

The author of the Clementine series has written a very different kind of story, switching from her spunky, comedic, Ramona-like character Clementine, to what looks like a quiet, thoughtful, and likely sad tale about a boy and his pet fox.  Booklist gave this a starred review, saying “Pennypacker’s expert, evenhanded storytelling reveals stunning depth in a relatively small package.” It sounds like Pennypacker is able to switch gears with skill and finesse.

We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman

Freedman has won many awards for his nonfiction writing, and I have enjoyed several of them. I prefer my nonfiction to read like a novel, and Freedman’s well-researched accounts always deliver that element of storytelling. Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie were Hitler Youth who turned against Hitler, forming the White Rose opposition.  They sacrificed everything to work against the Nazis. Seems like a worthy and important read.

Soar by Joan Bauer

Bauer’s books are always worth a read, and this one sounds inspiring.  Jeremiah Lopper is a baseball fanatic, but he hasn’t been allowed to play since he had a heart transplant two years ago at the age of 10.  When he and his adoptive dad move to Hillcrest, Ohio, Jeremiah simply decides to find a baseball team to coach instead. Words reviewers used to describe this story are “motivating,” “triumphant,” “largehearted,” and “irrepressible.” I will grab this when I need some lifting up.

Forest of Wonders by Linda Sue Park

Another author veering off into new genre territory, Linda Sue Park has written the first in a fantasy series called Wing & Claw.  Previous books like A Long Walk to Water, Project Mulberry, and Newbery Medal-winning A Single Shard are realistic or even based on true stories.  Now she enters the realm of magic and talking animals. Raffa Santana is a young apothecary who seeks out a rare vine in the Forest of Wonders to create a cure for an injured bat. Unexpectedly, the bat not only recovers but also acquires the ability to speak. Gregor the Overlander comes to mind, and I am in.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Sometimes, I admit I judge books by their covers. When I saw this one with its intriguing gold-lettered message facing out, I had to read the cover. Then I had to quickly place a hold on the book. To top that off, Publisher’s Weekly mentions two favorite books of mine in its review of Wolf Hollow: “Echoing the tone and themes found in To Kill a Mockingbird and Summer of My German Soldier, this WWII story traces the unlikely friendship between a country girl and a shell-shocked veteran.” It is sure to be a good one.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

Well, I wouldn’t be much of a children’s librarian if this was not on my list, would I?  Coming out on July 31 (Harry’s birthday, of course), this play script features Harry’s middle child, Albus Serverus Potter. As expected, there is much news and a plethora of opinions about this “eighth story” in the Harry Potter series that was supposed to end with book seven.  We will see if the Harry Potter craze continues, and if it lives up to the hype. Not much chance I will see the play anytime soon, since it is in London and is sold out through May 2017.

Stop by the Children’s Room to sign up for summer reading, and let us know which books you are hoping to read under a shady tree this summer! While you’re here, check into our weekly clubs and storytimes, vote for a winner in the Tournament of Books, and register a teen to attend the “After Hours” party at the library this Saturday for an Iron Chef-inspired culinary competition. It’s sure to be hopping at the library with lots of good options for everyone.

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

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