Posts Tagged nature

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.

Posted in: Children's Dept, Mercury Column, News, Parents

Leave a Comment (0) →

It’s Gardening Time!

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

The tulips, redbuds, and forsythia of early spring have given way to lilacs, bridal wreath, and iris. It’s time to clean out the planting beds, wander home stores and nurseries, and browse catalogs in search of plants and design ideas to brighten your flowering garden spaces. Manhattan Public Library has a wealth of gardening books ready to inspire you with great ideas, from garden design and soil preparation to plant selections and garden structures.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Colorful, sturdy and easy-to-care-for, with long-lasting blooms perennials are the mainstays of the flower garden.  “Essential Perennials: The Complete Reference to 2700 Perennials for the Home Garden” by gardening experts Ruth Clausen and Thomas Christopher is a gorgeous book and a comprehensive A to Z guide for choosing, planting, tending, and enjoying perennials.

Other outstanding guides for perennials in your garden are: “Perennial Combinations: Stunning Combinations that Make Your Garden Look Fantastic Right from the Start” by C. Colston Burrell; “The Well-tended Perennial Garden” by Tracy DiSabato-Aust; and “The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden” by Roy Diblik.

Enthusiasts for the garden’s greatest perennial all-stars can find inspiration in books that focus on their favorite flowers, for example:  “Landscaping with Daylilies: A Comprehensive Guide for the Use of Daylilies in the Garden” by Oliver Billingslea; “Right Rose, Right Place: 359 Perfect Choices for Beds, Borders, Hedges and Screens, Containers, Fences, Trellises, and More” by Peter Schneider; and “A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts” by Kelly D. Norris.  (Note to iris lovers:  the annual Iris Day at the KSU Gardens, hosted by the Flint Hills Iris Society, will be next Sunday, Mother’s Day, May 10th.)      

For the ultimate in carefree gardening with a big payback, check out “Plantiful: Start Small, Grow Big with 150 Plants that Spread, Self-sow, and Overwinter” by Kristin Green.  Or create your own prairiescape with“Prairie-style Gardens: Capturing the Essence of the American Prairie Wherever You Live” by Lynn Steiner; “Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes” by Sally Wasowski; or “The American Meadow Garden” by John Greenlee.

Gardening space limited to your doorstep, balcony, windowsill, or hanging planter? “Small Space Garden Ideas” by Philippa Pearson is packed with creative, smart ideas to make even the tiniest garden space lush and full. Look for more ideas for tight garden spaces in “The Ultimate Book of Small Gardens” by Graham Rice, “Container Gardening” by Hank Jenkins, or “The Potted Garden” by Daria Price Bowman.

Embellishing your outdoor space can add dramatically to the beauty and impact of your gardening efforts.  For creative and inspired ideas, take a look at: “Handmade for the Garden : 75 Ingenious Ways to Enhance your Outdoor Space with DIY Tools, Pots, Supports, Embellishments, and More” by Susan Guagliumi; “Salvage Style for the Garden: Simple Outdoor Projects Using Reclaimed Treasures” by Marcianne Miller;  “The Well-decorated Garden: Making Outdoor Ornaments and Accents” by Laura Dover Doran; or “Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting and More” by Lorene Forkner.

Perhaps you’re more of a philosophical or armchair gardener?  One who applauds the effort and appreciates the outcomes, but, say, at a distance?  As an intellectual rather than a physical exercise?  Not a problem; the Library has you covered.

Onward and Upward in the Garden” by Katharine White is a collection of her classic essays originally written for the gardening column of The New Yorker magazine and now newly reissued, a book the publisher called a “sharp-eyed appreciation of the green world of growing things…and of the dreams that gardens inspire.”

Or check out “Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverley Nichols,” about which one reviewer wrote, “Be prepared for delight…you won’t want to put it down…and you may never look at gardens in the same way again.”

 

 

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News

Leave a Comment (0) →

National Geographic Society Resources – Food for the Mind

by Mary Newkirk, Adult Services Librarian

natgeoOn January 27, 1888 a group of thirty-three geographers, explorers, cartographers, teachers, and other professionals met at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC, to discuss organizing “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”  We know that group now as the National Geographic Society, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world. What began as a club for an elite group of academics and wealthy patrons interested in travel, has developed into a wealth of resources that reach over 600 million people monthly.

Manhattan Public Library patrons will find quite a number of National Geographic resources available at the library, ranging from books, ebooks, and videos to the iconic magazines.  A computer card catalog search for books shows a return of over 670 titles.  These are  divided between children’s books and adult books. Look for age-appropriate labeled books for children such as Prereaders – enchanting books for little ones just beginning their journey with books.  A quick glimpse shows beautifully illustrated books on the “Titanic”, “Saving Animal Babies”, “Race Day”, and “Dinosaurs” to name a few.  Every grade level can find something fun.

medicinalAdult books are also hugely varied… “Expeditions Atlas”, “Gypsies”, “Encyclopedia of Space”, “Medicinal Herbs”, “Tales of the Weird”, “Travel Gems”.  The incredible photographs are the real draw for perusing these books. In 1897, Alexander Graham Bell was elected president of the Society. He insisted on “pictures, and plenty of them….Leave science to others and give us a detail of living interest beautifully illustrated by photographs.” This was the beginning of their use of photography to show the common man the wonders of the world.

 

 

dawnAs I researched the books that our library offers to our patrons, I was surprised to find that a local Kansan is a prominent freelance photographer for National Geographic.  I was flipping through one of our newer books, “Dawn to Dark Photographs: The Magic of Light” and came upon a beautiful photo of fireflies taken in the Flint Hills by Jim Richardson. If you have ever dreamed of seeing your photos published, check out the FAQ’s on his website, www.jimrichardsonphotography.com.  He is very forthcoming about how to pursue your dream.

Most of us love to be entertained by great videos. Our library has 35 dvds that are fascinating looks at a myriad of subjects.  Try the set of programs called, “Thirty Years of National Geographic Specials for a great introduction to many of the topics the Society has covered. Climb Everest with the first Americans to conquer it, plunge into the incredible underwater world of explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and see animals of every kind in their natural habitats.  This is nature footage without editing, so your children may find it a bit raw as animals display their violence by fighting for their spot in the food chain.

 

warI have a profound appreciation for those who served in the Vietnam War after participating in this past Veteran’s Day Forum with the Flint Hills Veteran’s Coalition members. The National Geographic Society has produced “Brothers In War,” a video released last May about Charlie Company.  Reviewers on Amazon.com have praised this as the most authentic depiction of the hardships faced by young draftees in the Mekong Delta.  It is based on the book “The Boys of ‘67” by Andrew Wiest, which examines the experiences of a company from the only division in the Vietnam era to train and deploy together in similar fashion to WWII’s famous 101st Airborne Division. Of the 160 men, only 30 were not killed or injured by the time they came home in December 1967.  Wiest interviewed more than 50 officers and enlisted men of Charlie Company and had access to personal papers, collections of letters, a diary, an abundance of newspaper clippings, training notebooks, field manuals, condolence letters, and photographs from before, during, and after the conflict.

Additional titles of popular videos are: “In the Womb”, “Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West”, “Alien Deep”, “Titanic Revealed”, “Life in a Day”, and “Fundamentals of Photography.”

We subscribe to four different magazines published by the Society:  National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Little Kids, National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler.  I especially enjoy the latter for its peek into the best travel destinations, both domestic and international. These are available to be checked out for a week and enjoyed at home.

The library will be closed Monday, February 16, President’s Day, for an all-employee staff training.

 

Posted in: Adult Services, Mercury Column, News

Leave a Comment (0) →

Eagle Day at Milford Lake

untitledTomorrow,  January 17, 2015, head to Milford Lake State Park for their annual celebration of Eagle Days. View live eagles and see various programs on raptors of Kansas at the Milford Nature Center. Take a guided bus tour and view the Bald Eagles as they soar above Milford Lake or watch them as they sit in the tall cottonwood trees along the lake’s shore. Learn about nesting eagles in Kansas and watch the Live Eagle program. Bus tours for viewing will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the last tour at 3:30 p.m., departing from the Milford Nature Center parking lot. It’s all free! We are lucky to live in an area where these magnificent birds spend the winter and where we can get great views of them soaring above the Flint Hills, so take advantage of this great opportunity to learn more about our national bird! Check Facebook for more information!

eagle days

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

Leave a Comment (0) →

Celebrate National Geographic’s Birthday!

by Mary, Adult Services Librarian

natgeoThe National Geographic Society has been producing fascinating magazines, books, television programs and movies ever since their founding on January 27, 1888. On that day a group of 33 geographers, explorers, cartographers, teachers and other professionals met at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC, to discuss organizing “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”  The first National Geographic magazine was published nine months later in October 1888.  The Society is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world. What began as a club for an elite group of academics and wealthy patrons interested in travel, has developed into a multi-media outlet that reaches over 600 million people monthly.

Manhattan Public Library patrons will find quite a number of National Geographic’s publications available at our library ranging from books, ebooks,  videos to magazines.  A computer card catalog search for books shows a return of over 670 titles.  They are nearly equally divided between children’s books and adult books. Prereaders are enchanting books for little ones just beginning their journey with books.  A quick glimpse offers beautifully illustrated books on the Titanic, Saving Baby Animals, Race Day, and Dinosaurs to name a few.  Every grade level can find something fun.  Adult books are also hugely varied… Expeditions, Gypsies, Space, Medicinal Herbs, Tales of the Weird, Travel Gems

We have 35 dvd’s that are fascinating looks at a myriad of subjects.  Try the set of programs called, Thirty Years of National Geographic Specials for a great introduction to many of the topics they have covered.

geoWe subscribe to four different magazines published by the Society:  National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Little Kids, National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler.

 

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

Leave a Comment (0) →

First Day Hikes

 

First-Day-HikesIf you need to get out and get some fresh air after New Years Eve celebrations, head to Tuttle Creek State Park on January 1 at 10:30 for a “First Day Hike”. Meet at the park office and join a park ranger for a guided bird walk. Dress warmly–no pets, please! Bring binoculars, cameras or other birding items. Word has it that the eagles have returned for the winter, so come along to view these magnificent birds! There are often several species of ducks, geese and other birds to be seen as well!

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

Leave a Comment (0) →

Manhattan Tree Walks

treeThe days of early summer are a great time to take a self-guided tree walk in Manhattan City Park or on the KSU campus. Guides for both of these tree walks can be found online by going to www.riley.ksu.edu, then entering City Park Tree Walk or Campus Tree Walk in the search box.

Before or after your walk, learn to recognize trees and appreciate their beauty and strength with The Urban Tree Book: and Uncommon Field Guide for City and Town by Arthur Plotnik or the masterfully illustrated Sibley Guide to Trees  by Davod Allen Sibley. Both books are available from Manhattan Public Libraryi

 

Posted in: Adult Services

Leave a Comment (0) →

World Oceans Day

world oceans dayToday, in countries around the world, people are celebrating World Oceans Day with the theme “Together We Have the Power to Protect the Ocean”. This world-wide event was begun to bring awareness to the pollution of our oceans that many people around the world depend upon for their livelihoods as well as for recreation.

We in Manhattan live far from an ocean, but our actions can still affect the health of the world’s oceans. How can we help? Support clean energy and purchase sustainable seafood to avoid depleting natural fisheries. Seafood Watch provides recommendations for purchasing ocean-friendly seafood in stores or restaurants–download the app for free.

Have you noticed the fish emblem on many of our sewer drains in town? Those remind us not to dump chemicals, paint, or other toxins directly into the sewers. The sewers flow into our streams and rivers, eventually reaching the oceans and affecting the marine ecosystem. Find out how to dispose of hazardous waste safely with this information from the City of Manhattan.

To learn more about studying ocean life, check out the library copy of World Ocean Census: a Global Survey of Marine Life by Darlene Trew Crist, which chronicles the 10 year project to determine what creatures once lived in the oceans, what animals currently live there, and what does the future hold for them. “This book deals with the adventures and experiences of the Census of Marine Life and the process of gathering the data, revealing the stories behind the science. The authors detail the most fascinating findings and exciting discoveries — the thrills encountered and the difficulties overcome — all illustrated with fabulous images captured during the project’s explorations.”

We may not be able to celebrate World Oceans Day at a sunny beach with the waves lapping the shore, but we can do our part to keep our oceans clean, even from Kansas!

 

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, News

Leave a Comment (0) →

Go Outside and Play!

index (84)by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

Looking for affordable summer fun with benefits to last a lifetime? Go outside and connect with nature!  Exploring nature offers you healthy exercise and fresh air, and can strengthen your spiritual, intellectual, and family life.  Getting started as an amateur naturalist is easy with help from Manhattan Public Library.
Start with inspiration from The Practical Naturalist, an easy-to-browse beginner’s guide with stunning illustrations from publisher Dorling Kindersley, or The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors from Oxford University Press.  If you’re making this a family project, plan your summer activities using The National Wildlife Federation Book of Family Nature Activities: 50 Simple Projects and Activities in the Natural World by Page Chichester.  Another great nature study guide and activity planner is The Bumper Book of Nature: A User’s Guide to the Great Outdoors by Stephen Moss, a year-round guide that includes seasonal nature activities that appeal to all the senses, identification tips for everything from birdsong to lichens, and simple encouragements like, “Lie in the tall grass and look at the sky.”
While you’re looking at the sky, take time to study the clouds as they change and move and then learn what they tell us about the weather.  Find guidance and inspiration in The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, a delightful cloud identification guide and a surprise best-seller in Britain that offers plenty of helpful illustrations and surprising humor.  Another good read for cloudgazers is The Book of Clouds by John A. Day, which includes spectacular photographs, a cloud chart and weather forecasting information, and the author’s inspiring list of Ten Reasons to Look Up.  The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Weather by David Ludlum can help you interpret what you see.
Closer down to earth, learn to recognize trees and appreciate their beauty and strength with The Urban Tree Book: An Uncommon Field Guide for City and Town by Arthur Plotnik or the masterful Sibley Guide to Trees by David Allen Sibley.  For gorgeous and inspiring nature photography, treat yourself to Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by Nancy Hugo and Robert Llewellyn.  Use your new-found knowledge on a self-guided tree walk in Manhattan City Park or on the KSU campus.  Guides for both the City Park Tree Walk and the Campus Tree Walk can be found online by going to www.riley.ksu.edu, then entering City Park Tree Walk or Campus Tree Walk in the search box.
Study the creatures that creep, crawl, run, and fly with a wide selection of guidebooks at the library.  Go pond-watching with Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles in Kansas by Joseph T. Collins.  Identify mammals by their tracks and learn about their behavior from Mammal Tracks and Sign by Mark Elbroch or Behavior of North American Mammals by Mark Elbroch and Kurt Rinehart.  Learn more about birds in What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World by Jon Young, then go birding with the Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots by Bob Gress.
When you’re ready to go further afield and into the Flint Hills, check out the Field Guide to the North American Prairie by Stephen R. Jones or Kansas Geology: An Introduction to Landscapes, Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils to help you understand the ecology and terrain.  Then head out to Konza Prairie or beyond and take along Wildflowers and Grasses of Kansas by Michael Haddock or Kansas Prairie Wildflowers by K-State’s own Clenton Owensby to help you identify plants and grasses.
At the end of the long summer day, stargaze under the dark night sky.  The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide and Summer Stargazing: A Practical Guide for Recreational Astronomers, both by Terence Dickinson, can guide you to celestial wonders.  Kids can discover more from Night Sky and Planets, both from Scholastic Books and available in the library’s Children’s Room. To learn the mythology behind the constellations, check out A Walk through the Heavens: A Guide to Stars and Constellations and Their Legends by Milton D. Heifetz.  For more stargazing fun, go to Stellarium.org and have your own planetarium show on your home computer.  Type in coordinates to watch the night sky and see stars, planets, and satellites move as the night and day progress.  On June 30 at 2:00 p.m., join us at Manhattan Public Library for a fun program, Dream Big: Follow the Stars with cool games, stories, and activities for parents and kids K-6th grade.  Have a wonderful summer, Manhattan.

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column

Leave a Comment (1) →

Life on the Edge: Smithsonian’s Mountaineers

By Marcia Allen
Technical Services and Collections Manager

Dorling Kindersley Publishing has long enjoyed a respected reputation for high quality books, particularly those with beautiful photography and interactive layout.  Each title seems to be an engrossing, all-encompassing tour of its topic, one which treats the reader to a visual feast.   Local readers may well be familiar with the lovely Eyewitness books that so many children love, or the Eyewitness travel books for adults that do so much more than simply describe a destination.
Fairly new to the library is one of the nicest books I have seen in the last year.  Mountaineers, which was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, was written by Ed Douglas and polished by a team of consultants.  I invite you to browse this wonderful book; though you may have little interest in mountaineering, you will be stunned by the audacity and determination of the central characters.
There are excellent references to climbers of ancient times.  In 1991, for example, German hiker Helmut Simon was exploring the Italian-Austrian border with a friend.  To the dismay of the two men, they discovered a skull protruding from a shelf of ice.  They reported what they thought were recent remains of a lost hiker, but further research indicated the man to have lived during the Neolithic Age, some 5000 years earlier.  The man, called “Otzi the Iceman” by scientists, had died as the result of an arrow wound that caused massive internal bleeding.
The Japanese monk Kukai, born in 774, is one of the more unusual climbers mentioned in the book.  He ascended Mount Koya located near Osaka in 818 to begin work on a monastery designed for meditation.  Avid followers brought about a permanent Buddhist refuge that is still in use today.
Albert Frederick Mummery was an avid pioneer of alpinism during the 19th century.  Though dogged by childhood ailments, this determined Englishman climbed the Matterhorn at the age of eighteen and went on to espouse unguided climbing.  He even wrote a seminal memoir about climbing, entitled My Climbs in the Alps of Caucasus.  Like so many other enthusiasts of the sport, he disappeared during a climb, probably the victim of an avalanche.
Another equally famous climber, Charles Houston, is featured in the book.  Houston, a 20th century American physician, was involved with several climbs, among them two tries at scaling K2.  His failed attempts nearly caused his death, but they also brought about a greater good.  Houston wrote a book entitled Going Higher: Oxygen, Man and Mountains, that has been a valuable resource for other climbers, particularly on the subject of altitude sickness.
Women climbers are also prominently featured in this book.  Lucy Walker, for example, was the 19th century daughter of Francis Walker, a British advocate of the adventure of climbing.  Lucy suffered from rheumatism and sought relief from it by joining her father and brother in a trek through the Alps.  Taken by the beauty of her new sport, she went on to become the first woman to scale the Matterhorn.
Lest you think the book omits the most famous of the climbers, rest assured that George Mallory, Edmund Hillary, and Reinhold Messner are not forgotten.  Their stories, along with those of the many other successful , as well as tragic, climbers are highlighted by drawings,  photographs and maps that make each venture a treat for the reader.
Mountaineering gear featured in the book is absolutely fascinating.  The ergonomically designed 20th century crampons that replicate the shape of the foot are now standards for serious climbers.  But 16th century wood and rope boot attachments, designed to steady steps in the snow, are also pictured.  The climbing rope, another vital component of a successful ascent, is also explained.  Hawser ropes from the 17th century, as well as highly specialized ropes from the 21st century, are featured along a timeline that illustrates clever uses by famed explorers.
Beyond hiking up a couple of the Colorado Fourteeners with my family several years ago, I have never climbed a mountain.  Nor do I intend to.  But the breathtaking photographs and thrilling adventures stories will bring me back to this book again and again.  It’s that good.

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column

Leave a Comment (0) →