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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 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

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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

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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.

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Audiobooks for the Whole Family

By Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

The use of audiobooks is on the rise for all ages, and Manhattan Public Library has a lot to offer, both digitally and in CD format.  With an MPL card, you can check out five physical audiobooks at one time.  After registering the card with the Sunflower eLibrary, you can check out five titles on digital format as well.  Digital audiobooks can be downloaded to any mobile device or tablet via the free Overdrive app.  For help with downloading digital audiobooks, view the tutorials online or speak with a librarian.

The physical and online collection include audiobooks for children and adults.  If your child wants to follow along with the text, MPL has book bags that include a picture book and the audiobook on CD.

Audiobooks offer many benefits to readers of all ages, including the introduction of new vocabulary, critical listening, and a model for good interpretive reading and reading aloud.  When listening to audiobooks, a person can “read” at a higher level than usual and connect with the story in a more visceral way.  Since summer is the season of vacations and long road trips, stop by the library and check out these recommended titles that your whole family will enjoy.

 Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale     If you are going to have a lot of listening time on your hands, this is the series to start with.  Jim Dale is the master of audiobook narration, using multiple voices to bring the characters to life.   If you are unfamiliar with the series, be advised that, as the series progresses, there tends to be more violence and mature content.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood, narrated by Katharine Kellgren     A teenaged Penelope Lumley is hired as a nanny for a family who just adopted three children who were raised by wolves. As she helps them adjust to human life, they come across many mysterious situations and have to problem-solve their way to safety and understanding.  Maryrose Wood’s writing is whimsical and hilarious, and Katherine Kellgren’s narration is filled with entertaining voices and the necessary animal sound here and there.

Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, narrated by Tim Curry     A 13-book series filled with quick wit and extraordinary circumstances, this series will have everyone rooting for the Baudelaire children as they endure through a. . . series of unfortunate events.  Parents can appreciate the puns and seemingly unbelievable events, while kids will appreciate the individual characters and their strengths.

The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, narrated by Stockard Channing     This classic series follows young Ramona Quimby through struggles with her family, school and just simply growing up.  Everyone will be entertained by her crazy antics and quite literal take on life.  Ramona learns life lessons in a way that is accessible to children and laughable to parents. Stockard Channing reads in a matter-of-fact way as Ramona faces life head-on with occasional confusion.

Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry, narrated by Jim Dale     A prequel to J.M. Barrie’s beloved Peter Pan, this series follows the adventures of Peter and his friends on the high seas.  Because the story is full of action and entertaining characters, each person in the family is sure to have a favorite villain or orphan boy in each of the storylines.

If you have younger children in your family who would like to follow along with the book, here are a few series that can be enjoyed by the parent-driver and child alike:

Henry and Mudge series and Annie and Snowball series by Cynthia Rylant     Cynthia Rylant has been writing early chapter books for kids for decades and still amazes readers with each publication.  The above series follow, respectively, a boy and his dog, and a girl and her rabbit.

Manhattan Public Library staff would love to help you find your next great audiobook.  Stop by any service desk to get a great recommendation for your road trip or other activity in need of a story in your ears.

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How to be a Great Storyteller

by Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

The act of storytelling is a big part of what makes us human. Nigerian writer Chris Abani told a TED audience “What we know about who we are comes from stories.” We share knowledge from generations past, explore meaning, delve into our own psyches, and generally figure out this thing called life by telling stories to each other. Stories are nothing less than essential.

I’m not telling you this in order to add pressure to your evening storytime routine, but I do hope to add some weight to it. Becoming a good storyteller is worth the effort and can add meaning and understanding to your child’s life. By reading and telling stories to your kids, you’re not only helping them learn to read, but also helping them learn to solve problems and develop empathy. Reading and telling stories makes us better people.

So, what does it take to be a good storyteller? Here are a few tips from WikiHow, the 6 by 6 Ready to Read program developed by the State Library of Kansas, and the story-telling experts in the children’s department at the Manhattan Public Library.

First, choose a story that will interest your child. Does your daughter love trucks? She will probably enjoy a picture book with trucks in it and having fun is important. In fact, fun is a serious part of this process. Log your fun on a nightly fun meter and track the enjoyment quotient over time to determine the success of your storytelling skills. (Just kidding. See, fun can hide anywhere!) For older children, select a chapter book and read one chapter each evening. Librarians can help if you need ideas and recommendations. We love recommending books; it’s one of our favorite things to do. Please never hesitate to ask.

Next, remember to read the story to yourself before you read it aloud. Think of it like reading a script. An actor can’t build drama in a scene if he doesn’t know where the story is going, right? Building anticipation for the next page will help keep your child interested. Knowing the story also helps you relax, which helps your child relax. And what if you’ve accidentally picked up a scary story, or one that doesn’t fit your parenting style? Take a few minutes to read the book first, to make sure things go smoothly.

Asking questions is also a good way to hold your child’s interest during the story. During library storytime, the storyteller will ask questions, such as “What does a frog sound like?” “Have you ever been to a lake?” “Do any of you like carrots?” You can ask questions about the action in the story, or ask your child to count objects on the page or look for colors.

As you’re reading, use your finger to follow along so your child can start associating print with sound and meaning. Point out the first letter in a word, sound it out, spell it, or ask your child to tell you a word that rhymes. This has more to do with the mechanics of reading, and starting early is a good idea. It isn’t necessary for you to sound out every word, just sprinkle in the learning when it feels right.

The library can help you identify the six skills your child should have by age six, so he is ready to start school. Just ask us the next time you visit, or check out the 6 by 6 Ready to Read resources on the KS State Library’s website You will find tips, plus links to fun rhymes and songs. Don’t worry: fun is always going to be part of the process.

Last, but certainly not least, use inflection and play with the sounds of the words anytime you tell a story. In essence, “do the voices.” Come up with character voices whenever possible. It will make all the difference. What does the frog sound like when he speaks? Give it your best shot, without a trace of self-consciousness, and you will do just fine.

However, as you well know, stories aren’t always about reading. Children love to hear stories from your own childhood. Tell tales of your adventures, real or imagined. Talk about your parents, siblings, and friends. Tell your child the story of her birth (kids never got tired of that one), and how you felt the first time you held her in your arms. Form your story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Then ask your child to tell a story of her own. Help her along by asking questions when she struggles, and let the magic unfold.a librarian reading to a group of children

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Reading is Your Superpower!

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

This summer, reading is your superpower! We are highlighting literacy and encouraging reading for all ages with our superhero summer reading program at the library.

Popular shows like Teen Titans Go, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ninjago have comic book series in our graphic novels neighborhood, along with many titles for the popular DC and Marvel characters.  Here are some more fun superhero books for kids:

The Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka has silly plot lines with the school lunch ladies saving the day using tools such as the mustard grappling hook, fish stick nunchucks, the spork phone, whisk whackers and the spatula-copter.  Watch Krosoczka’s TED talk to find out why lunch ladies and men are true heroes in our midst!

Sidekicks by Dan Santat is a longer stand-alone graphic novel with fabulous illustrations and an enticing story.  Captain Amazing is growing older and needs a new sidekick.  Unbeknownst to him, his pets decide to take on superhero personae and help him out.  With help from a former feline sidekick, the pet dog, hamster and chameleon learn some crime fighting skills, but will they be able to defeat an evil villain and save Captain Amazing? Prepare to have this book passed around among all your kids and their friends.

Squish by Jennifer and Matthew Holm features Squish the Amoeba as its main character. He is an ordinary amoeba, but he is inspired by his favorite comic book hero, Super Amoeba. While he may not be a superhero himself, somehow Squish and his best friend Pod end up finding courage to do the right thing, including saving their friend Peggy the Paramecium from the very hungry new kid in class.

These funny, action-packed graphic novels are a great fit for kids who say they don’t like to read.  It’s like sneaking spinach into the lasagna – they will enjoy reading, learn vocabulary words, and sharpen their skills for following both text and illustrations without complaining.  In fact, you might catch them trying to sneak in more reading time because they can’t wait to see what will happen next.

In our early chapter books row, there are plenty of exciting superhero books for kids at a second or third grade reading level. These chapter books are shorter, have larger text and still include frequent illustrations.  Stone Arch is a book publisher that has many options for this age group, including a series of DC Super Heroes chapter books that are 50-80 pages long with full color illustrations of favorite characters in action: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern.

Another fun option from this section is Captain Awesome by Stan Kirby.  Second-grader Eugene McGullicudy turns into an awesome super hero to solve crimes, protect his town and win the spelling bee.  Kids who like Captain Awesome will probably also enjoy Zapato Power by Jacqueline Jules, The Adventures of Jo Schmo by Greg Trine, and Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot books by Dav Pilkey, who also writes the ever popular series Captain Underpants.

Shannon Hale’s The Princess in Black is another great read with colorful illustrations by LeUyen Pham.  Princess Magnolia is a very proper princess taking tea with the Duchess Wigtower when her monster alarm rings.  She quickly excuses herself and does what princesses do not do: “Princesses do not stuff frilly pink dresses into broom closets…Princesses do not slide down secret chutes and high-jump castle walls,” but this princess has a secret. She is the Princess in Black, with a mask, cape, tall black boots and her tiara, of course.  Her job? Stopping the monsters who sneak up from Monster Land.  She is pretty good at it, and luckily book two in the series comes out this fall.

Super readers can still sign up for the library’s free summer reading program to earn coupons for free stuff around town and choose up to two free prize books to keep.  It is a fun way to encourage more reading for the whole family. More than 2,000 children and teenagers have already signed up, along with about 400 adults, and have logged more than 300,000 minutes of reading time!

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Summer of Heroes

Jessica Long, Children’s Library Assistant

Summer reading begins May 30 for all ages!

Every hero has a story, and you can discover them all at the library this summer. Super heroes will take over the library during summer reading with books, prizes, and programs for everyone from babies to adults.

Everyone is invited to kick off the summer on May 30th from 10:00-12:00 with activities for all ages. Magician Ken Garwick will perform in the auditorium at 11:00. Kids can try out their super hero moves in an obstacle course in the storytime room and conceal their identity by making masks in the arts and crafts neighborhood. Teens and adults can play a variety of board and card games in the Groesbeck Room. Come dressed as your favorite superhero and join our selfie photo contest that morning!

While you’re here for the kick off, be sure to sign up the whole family for summer reading. Keep track of the time you spend reading and listening to audio books to earn prizes like gift certificates to local businesses, free books and more.

Weekly storytimes and clubs for children, birth through sixth grade, will begin on June 1 and run through July 18.

The Power of Cute book cover

Baby Rhyme Time is designed for infants and young toddlers who will learn about their very own super power – being cute. In The Power of Cute by Charise Harper, they will discover a young protagonist who conquers a monster by making it undeniably adorable.

Move and Groove Toddler Storytime is geared toward older toddlers who want to get up and go. They’ll let their imaginations run wild with He Saves the Day by Marsha Hayles. This little boy can tackle anything – from daring flights to jungle adventures to fighting dragons – with a little help from mom.

Preschoolers can come to Move and Groove Preschool Storytime to hear about the adventures of an action figure who finds villains in his very own home. In Traction Man by Mini Grey, Traction Man and his owner make quite the team as they tackle mysteries like the Lost Wreck of the Sieve and the Mysterious Toes that steal the scrubbing brush.

Today I Will Fly book cover

Kindergarteners and first graders can join the Agents of Adventure Club. They will read a story and a non-fiction book each week, and then follow up with a craft. For the first week, agents will be studying a favorite super hero power – flight. In Today I Will Fly by Mo Willem, Piggie is determined to fly, but his elephant friend, Gerald, is skeptical. Kids will also learn the story of a real life hero in I Am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer.

Second and third graders will become Guardians of the Library this summer. For their club, origin stories of super heroes will be paired with biographies related to that hero’s secret identity. After hearing the story of Ironman, kids will learn about Nikola Tesla in Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World by Elizabeth Rusch.

Boys of Steel book cover

Fourth to sixth graders can join the Bionic Bevy of Bibliophiles. They will explore the history of comics with Boys of Steel: the Creators of Superman by Marc Nobleman. They will also recycle old comics into new wallets to take home.

In addition to the weekly programs, we will host special events throughout the summer. Check our webpage at for dates and times.


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A Playful Destination

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

kids climbing on furniture in children's room

The new layout of the Children’s Room has provided opportunity for more interactive features to engage children while they are at the library looking for books, learning about something new, or just playing. Having time to play and pretend is important to a child’s cognitive, social and emotional development, from early childhood on. With busy schedules and more structured activities, spending a few hours at the library can be the perfect time to encourage children’s freedom. They can choose from thousands of books to look through, play with different games or activities, or draw their parents into some free play as well.

Kids using the Beginning Readers and Early Chapter Books area are learning to read or becoming more confident readers. Some fun activities we have had on the magnet/dry erase board include Mad Libs with magnet words to fill in the blanks, and letter stencils to trace and spell. Now, kids can try out a Velcro rhyming tree by sticking leaves with rhyming words on the same branch. Finding fun ways to play with language and words gives kids another way to practice their reading.

In the Arts and Crafts Neighborhood, a craft project is always available at the table. We have used fun die-cut shapes for kids to create pictures, cards, door hangers, headbands and other take-home crafts. To celebrate spring, kids can glue cut-outs of the stages of a growing plant, from a seed under the soil to a tall, leafy stem.

This craft leads nicely into our Science and Nature area next door. One or two games or manipulatives are available at a table or from the Children’s Desk to encourage kids to build, experiment or test their science knowledge. For example, kids can build the “food chain” in order with Mega Bloks, or put together an intricate Lego machine from the Lego Crazy Action Contraptions Set.

Creativity abounds with children, and new outlets for their ideas are exciting. In another section, children are encouraged to create their own comics, using dry erase crayons on the Graphic Novels Neighborhood sign. Blank comic book panels encourage kids to draw and write a short comic strip. Some of our favorites have included librarian superheroes!

The gear wall in the Transportation area is a fun experiment for kids of all ages. Magnetic gears have to be connected to reach a pulley that will spin an airplane propeller high on the wall. Some skill is involved, since the gears tend to slip away if they are turning too fast. We’ve watched kids try different tactics until they get it going just right.

In the Geography space, a two-foot diameter globe with more than 1000 place names spins at just the right height for young knowledge seekers. Families who have moved here from abroad or visited places around the world love finding beloved spots on the globe, and sometimes kids just like to spin it and see where their fingers land. A unique feature is that the globe does not use conventional North American names for places, so Germany is Deutsche Land and China is Zhong Guo, giving children a chance to learn more about the world.

Our History area contains a large portion of the children’s nonfiction and is another great stop along the way. A bulletin board highlights historical facts or events, and a display case showcases special items. Currently, kids can view a collection of vintage model cars and trucks with amazing detail, on loan from Doug Schoning.

Slide down to the Animals Neighborhood to get a glimpse of a baby ball python, borrowed from Sunflower Pets. Our pet snake enjoys basking under the heat lamp, resting in a pool of water, or hanging out under her log. Earlier this winter, two Oriental fire-bellied toads occupied this space, and we hope to switch out with a new pet every few months.

The Fairy Tale and Folklore Neighborhood is a popular stop, with dress-up clothes to reenact stories or make up a new one. It is common to find moms, dads or grandparents sitting on the fairytale bench with a tiara or a wolf hat on their heads. Kids love to see their parents dressed up and playing along.

Putting on puppet shows is another favorite activity in our Early Literacy Center, along with magnet and felt board manipulatives and a variety of puzzles. A table dedicated to “6 By 6” early literacy skills includes fun activities for preschoolers revolving around a great children’s picture book. This month, it is Andy Rash’s “Are You a Horse?” with options to act out the story using puppets and stuffed animals, as well as “sewing” the letters for the word HORSE with mini lassoes.

Each area of the Children’s Room features wonderful collections of books to keep kids interested and coming back for more. We love seeing the library used, not just a stop on the way somewhere else, but a destination – a place to hang out for a while and spend some quality time together.

Posted in: Adult Services, Children's Dept, For Adults, For Kids, Mercury Column, News, Parents

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