Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fresh Picks! December

As 2014 comes to a close, we thought we'd go out with a bang and have a slew of new books, especially picture books, for you. We'd love to share some of our favorites:

Henny by Elizabeth Rose Stanton. Simon & Schuster. 2014. 

 Henny isn't like any other chicken. Henny has arms.

As a chicken, having arms instead of wings brings many challenges. Henny struggles with being different from her other chicken pals, but soon finds all the wonderful things her arms allow her to do.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. Candlewick Press, 2014. 

When Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen team up magic happens. Their newest book is no exception. Sam and Dave are on a mission to find something spectacular. When looking for something spectacular the obvious course of action is to dig a hole. They dig, dig, dig, and find... nothing. But that doesn't stop them from having a spectacular day.

Tea with Grandpa by Barney Saltzberg. Roaring Brook Press, 2014.

Especially this time of year, the distance between family members can be difficult. Saltzberg shows how this family spends time together with a little help from their computers, making the distance seem not so far.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. Little, Brown and Company, 2014.

Beekle's story begins in a far away place where imaginary friends are created. Many nights Beekle waits for some special child to imagine him. Night after night of waiting, Beekle decides to do the unimaginable and go to the real world to find a friend.

We are looking forward to reading with you in 2015!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tech Tuesday: Hopscotch- Coding for Tweens

Welcome back to Tech Tuesday! I love trying out different graphical coding platforms and my latest coding adventure has been with the coding app, Hopscotch. I've discussed using Scratch Jr. before (another coding app), but Hopscotch is a different program for youth that is geared towards older children, specifically 8-12 year olds, otherwise known as tweens.

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Hopscotch can be downloaded for free here for the Apple iPad. This app has won plenty of noted awards, such as the 2013 Parent's Choice Award for mobile apps and a 2014 KAPi Award winner for Best Educational Technology. So why is Hopscotch so awesome?

As Tech Crunch puts it, "Hopscotch’s special sauce is to be mobile device focused. Its graphical programming language has been specifically designed for use on the iPad". The app focuses on making coding easier by using graphical elements that kids can drag and drop to build programs. The program is basically just like Scratch and Scratch Jr. in concept and functionality, but Hopscotch is just for iPads. Common Sense Media has reviewed the app positively, pointing out that,"Kids get the support they need to create programs and build confidence before they encounter the intricacies of coding". You can watch a short YouTube video here demonstrating how to build in the app.

I personally love the fun graphics in Hopscotch and think that the cute creatures and cheery, bright colors in the app will be especially appealing to those kids who are not as interested in the more industrial look of other graphical coding programs. Another favorite feature of Hopscotch is the ability to program actions to be activated by different events on the iPad, like shaking the iPad. An example of how this could work is that a child could program a bear to jump up and down whenever the iPad is shaken! The open-ended nature of the app is wonderful and allows children to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills while also practicing their tech skills and even fine motor skills for those children not adept at using a touch screen.

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This app is another great stepping stone to building greater digital literacy and a wonderful in-between program for kids wanting to move on to more complicated programming platforms or even to a real programming language such as Python. As PC Mag says, " ...even though Hopscotch isn't "real" programming and the programs themselves can't run outside the iPad, kids wind up learning programming concepts such as conditions, loops, branching, and variables.".

Interested in trying out Hopscotch but don't have an iPad or in need of some extra help? Stop by the library and use one of our iPads or ask for the Emerging Technologies Librarian, Nicole (that's me!).

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Kids in grades 3-6, if you love exploring with technology, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming Creation Station programs that will begin in 2015. In February and April the library will be hosting Creation Station programs after school that will be tech-focused, creative and super fun!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cooking With Kids

We are looking forward to Thanksgiving! One of our favorite days of the year is spent gathering with good company and of course, gobbling up yummy food. As hectic as preparing for the holidays can be, we thought we could take a few extra moments to make cooking together a fun new learning experience for your wee ones. Who knows, maybe you will start a new tradition!

This video from Cook Smarts introduces parents and families to cooking together with children, and lays out the many benefits of incorporating little chefs into the kitchen. Learning to follow directions, growing their vocabulary, and building hand-eye coordination all help lay an important foundation of learning. 


If you are just starting out in your cooking adventures, this article from Food Network is a worthy read: Cooking With Kids Without Going Insane. Taking simple steps before you start the cooking process can pay off in a big way to help alleviate headaches. Need a little more convincing? Babble shares ten skills children learn when you cook with them in this informative slideshow.

Childhood 101 shares some helpful tips, like pre-measuring ingredients, and some kid-friendly recipes here. Head over to Mess For Less,  Two Daloo, and Simple Bites to get a variety of recipes and tips to keep your rolling pin busy.
Even Buzzfeed is getting on the band wagon of cooking with the kids with these 21 recipes. 

With all of the warm rolls and mashed taters you will encounter over the holidays, why not include the kids in making a sweet hostess gift like homemade butter? Apartment Therapy shares an easy to follow recipe for your sous chef.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and looking forward to hearing your cooking stories. 

Gobble, gobble, 
Katie and Abby

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fresh Picks! November

Can you believe it’s already November?! Here are some new books to cozy up with as the weather gets colder:

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes. By Nicola Davies. Illustrated by Emily Sutton. Candlewick Press, 2014.
Image from Amazon
Image from The New York Times

Did you know that there are creatures so tiny that millions of them can fit on an ant’s antenna? Using facts such as these to introduce the topic, Davies creatively makes the concept of microbes easily understandable. Tiny Creatures is a simple, concise, and beautifully illustrated look into a microscopic world all around us. With easy-to-relate-to analogies, comparisons, and retro-ish illustrations, Tiny Creatures is a fun, and informative book for learning about our world’s hardest workers. 

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters. By Oliver Jeffers. Philomel Books, 2014.

Much more than your average alphabet book! From an Astronaut who’s afraid of heights, a hole that goes on Forever, to an Owl that rides onward on the back of an octopus, Jeffers' humorous and delightful mini-narratives make for a fun, surprising and exciting alphabet experience. 

Quest. By Aaron Becker. Candlewick Press, 2014.

The journey continues! An imaginative, and adventure-packed sequel to the Caldecott Honor book, Journey. This wordless picture book takes readers into a fast-paced, thrilling fantasyland. “Becker creates a visual narrative that is clear enough for children to decipher but complex enough to reward multiple readings.” –School Library Journal  

Sisters. By Raina Telgemeier. Scholastic, 2014.

A companion to Telgemeier’s #1 New York Times bestselling, and award-winning graphic novel, Smile. Telgemeier once again creates a relatable, and funny story for young adults. As Raina heads out for a family road trip from California to Colorado, she experiences an eventful trip with her mother, sister, and younger brother. A great story about families, but especially sisters.

Spirit’s Key. By Edith Cohen. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014.

 After Spirit's dog, Sky, mysteriously dies, a strange sickness spreads throughout her town killing its people and dogs. Everyone on the island blames the wild dogs, thought to possess dangerous spirits. Everyone except Spirit. A race against time, Spirit must solve the mystery to save the island before it's too late. With themes of belonging, doing what is right, and overcoming loss, Cohn's debut novel is like no other.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tech Tuesday: ScratchJr- Coding for Kindergarteners

 Welcome back to Tech Tuesday! We love to explore new technologies and apps here at the library, especially when they are a creation from the always awesome MIT Media Lab. ScratchJr is a free iPad app made possible through a collaboration between the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, and the Playful Invention Company. They expect to release an Android version late in 2014 and a web-based version in 2015.
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 The ScratchJr project raised funds earlier this year on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter and also received funding from the National Science Foundation, Code-to-Learn Foundation, Lego Foundation and BT.

We have held Scratch programs here in the past for the tweens and although a wonderful and fun educational tool, Scratch original was more challenging than expected for some of the younger participants. ScratchJr uses the same idea of teaching an introductory programming language via graphical programming blocks, but in a more simple and visual format. This new app enables young children, specifically children ages 5-7 that would have struggled with the original Scratch, to create their own interactive stories, games and more. Children can snap together brightly colored blocks to make their characters jump, sing or dance as well as edit these characters in the paint editor and use pictures of themselves or friends in their projects.

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You may be wondering "why would coding be a valuable skill for a kindergartener?". Well, coding or computer programming is truly a new type of literacy. Think of it as a type of writing- it enables you to express ideas and organize your thoughts. 

This sort of coding can also be a wonderful stepping stone to more complicated computer science concepts. It also provides a great foundation for young learners who are growing up in a time when digital literacies are more and more important to grasp. wrote, "One incredible feat that ScratchJr accomplishes is reaching an audience who largely cannot read, giving them a considerable head start on critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills." 

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If you'd like to know more about the research and work put into creating ScratchJr you can read an interesting interview Forbes conducted with Mitchel Resnick, one of the creators of ScratchJr, here.

ScratchJr is rich with educational opportunity and I encourage you to check it out today! reports that some schools are already using ScratchJr in kindergarten classrooms. If you don't have an iPad, stop by the library anytime during our regular hours to check out an iPad for usage inside of the library. We'd be glad to show you ScratchJr and help you and your little one start coding!
Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.
Launched in July for iPads, the app, which is offered free of charge, is already in use in Kindergarten classrooms at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.  Teachers across the nation are encouraged to sign up for a ScratchJr Pilot Research Program. - See more at:
Launched in July for iPads, the app, which is offered free of charge, is already in use in Kindergarten classrooms at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.  Teachers across the nation are encouraged to sign up for a ScratchJr Pilot Research Program. - See more at:

Launched in July for iPads, the app, which is offered free of charge, is already in use in Kindergarten classrooms at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.  Teachers across the nation are encouraged to sign up for a ScratchJr Pilot Research Program. - See more at:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Books That Will Fright and Delight!

We have selected our favorite books for this creepy season! We hope you enjoy our suggestions.

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage. Kathy Dawson Books, 2014.

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Miss Mo LoBeau may be the most charming southern detective I have encountered! This book is the sequel to Turnage's Three Times Lucky, Mo's introductory story and equally amazing book. Mo is one half of the Desperado Detective Agency, along with her pal Dale. Together they tackle a possibly haunted inn, the new kid in town, and all the other every day problems a sixth-grade has to deal with. This book is so spectacular, I could not put it down!

The Game of Shadows by HervĂ© Tullet.  Phaidon Press Limited, 2013.

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This time of year leads us to think about what may be hiding in the shadows. Tullet's board book takes an interesting look at light and dark, and invites readers to play with the pages! Grab a flashlight, shut the curtains, and investigate the wonderful cut-outs that adorn each page. You may find that some shadows are worth exploring.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara. Square Fish, 2008.

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When a young girl moves into the big house at the edge of town, she discovers a spooky problem: her house is haunted! She takes a witty and unexpected tactic to deal with her specters. Her approach will have younger readers delighted with this ghost story.

Guys Read: Thriller edited by Jon Scieszka. Walden Pond Press, 2011.

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Jon Scieszka is the founder of Guys Read, a group that encourages boys to read. In the second book of the Guys Read library, Scieszka has compiled ten stories that will make you squirm and shriek until the very end. 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. HarperCollins, 2008.

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This Newbery award winner begins with a murder, and ends with readers wanting more. Nobody Owens, or Bod for short, is orphaned and taken in by the inhabitants of the local graveyard. His new ghostly family teach him the way of the world, both now and as it was during their own lives. Bod has to try and make his way in the human world and leave the ghosts of his past behind. This book is now available as a graphic novel, as well.


If you are looking for some spooky series to read, we have you covered! Take your pick of over 70 Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine, the Creepover series by P.J. Night, or the Poison Apple books. Ask your librarian for more recommendations.

If you are looking for spooktacular ways to celebrate the season, we will be hosting several programs!

Trail Tale:
The Grafton-Midview Public Library and the Lorain County Metroparks are collaborating to bring you a new way to share reading and nature with your families!
All week long you can find pages from Click, Clack, Boo: A Tricky Treat by Doreen Cronin along the Beech-Maple Trail at Indian Hollow Reservation to read while you hike. Once you finish the hike, head to the Grafton-Midview Public Library and tell your librarians your favorite part of the story for a prize. Registration is not required.

If you would like to get extra wear out of your costumes, we will be hosting a Spooky Stroll to hike and read the Trail Tale at Indian Hollow from 1-2 PM on Saturday, October 25th.

The Great Pup-kin:
Join GMPL for a howlin' good time at this 4th annual event. Bring your dog in a costume for a chance to win doggone good prizes. Dog rescue groups promoting National Dog Adoption month. Adoptable dogs will be available. Meet your new best friend. Professional photographer Laura Bower will be on hand to take pictures during this event. Door Prizes, doggy goody bags and much more. Registration is required.

Monster Mash:
*Please note: we will not be having our regularly scheduled storytimes the week of Halloween. Join us on Wednesday, October 29th from 6:30-7:30 PM for a fun-filled night of stories, games, and creepy snacks. We'll monster mash at this Halloween bash. Coming in costumes would be wise, you don't want to be caught without a disguise! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fresh Picks! October

Happy October! Here are some of our current new and favorite books:

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox. Schwartz & Wade, 2014. 
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Based on a true story, Elizabeth the elephant seal isn't like any other seal. Instead of the enjoying ocean life like most of her species, Elizabeth prefers the sweet, shallow waters of the Avon River in New Zealand. Despite the people of Christchurch's efforts to send her home, Elizabeth knows exactly where she belongs. 

Recipe for Adventure: Naples! by Giada De Laurentiis. Penguin, 2013. 
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In the first title of De Laurentii's series, readers will discover a world of food and adventure. After being transported to different cities around the world, Alfie and Emilia find themselves in Naples, helping a boy named Marco shop for the best ingredients for the city's upcoming pizza fest contest. Not only do Alfie and Emilia get a taste of Italy, but a look into how food plays an important role in the feeling of home.

Mix It Up! By Hervé Tullet. Chronicle Books, 2014.
Image from Goodreads
An interactive journey full of color! Follow the artist's simple instructions and watch as colors appear, mix, splatter, and disappear. A wonderful book for deepening an understanding of color. 

Extraordinary Warren: A Super Chicken. By Sarah Dillard. Aladdin, 2014.

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 After becoming bored with mundane chicken life, Warren wants more! All he does is peck, peep, and eat boring chicken feed. Warren leaves his quiet farm to discover what makes him special, with some help from friends along the way. The simple text, speech balloons, and illustrations make Warren's story a blend between picture book and chapter book. A great pick for children beginning to read independently.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tech Tuesday: Kuddle- A Photo Sharing App for Kids

Welcome to Tech Tuesday! Tech Tuesday is a new blog series here on where we will share great apps for kids and families, tips for online safety and responsible digital citizenship, and give the scoop on awesome new devices!

Today we will be sharing an app with you- Kuddle, a wonderful social media app that allows children to share photos in a safe, parental-controlled online environment.

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The New York Times blog Bits recently discussed Kuddle, posing the question, " Parents can childproof their homes by covering the electric sockets, adding parental controls on the cable box and putting a padlock on the liquor cabinet. Is it possible to do the same for the web?". You can read their article here.

Kuddle attempts to provide a more "child-proofed" experience by creating a safer photo-sharing alternative to Instagram for the 13 and under crowd. Designed specifically for children, Kuddle allows parents to monitor what their children publish and keeps access to content restricted. Kuddle requires parental approval to sign up as well.

Kuddle is free, just like Instagram but differs in that there are no hashtags or comments allowed. And if you like the picture, your “like” shows up anonymously, so that kids are less likely to get caught up in cyber-bullying issues. described Kuddle as "an Instagram with training wheels" which is an easy, accurate description. Techcrunch writes that Kuddle, "...sees this app as the first step in a larger vision for the company which will focus on helping parents make better choices when it comes to their kids’ mobile usage, possibly through subscription services".

We encourage you to download Kuddle and share it with your family today! It's a great way to safely share photos with friends and also teach your kids about how to be a responsible social media user. 

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fresh Picks! September

Happy September! Here are some of our current favorite books:

Turtle Island by Kevin Sherry. Dial, 2014.
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Turtle, the star of this story, is indeed as big as an island. Even giant turtles get lonely sometimes, however. One day Turtle comes across a group of animals that have been shipwrecked and offers to use his shell to make a home for the animals. Once they are settled, the animals begin to miss their own families and decide to set off and leave Turtle alone once again. The story does have a happy ending, but you'll have to read it to find out more.

Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrup. Scholastic Press, 2014.

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Davey is vacationing with his family in the Florida Keys and wakes up early morning feeling quite bored and decides to head out to explore.   His morning adventure quickly turns dangerous as Davey finds himself unintentionally drifting off to sea at the mercy of a school of tiger sharks.  How will Davey survive?  He didn’t leave a note, so how will his family ever find him?  Author Michael Northrup provides the answers in short, suspenseful chapters.  Surrounded by Sharks is a thrilling page-turner, perfect for reluctant readers and anyone interested in stories of survival.  

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin. Flash Point, 2012.

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Steve Sheinkin’s latest offering explores the race to build the first atomic bomb during the Second World War.  Readers will learn about this intense race through the stories of brilliant physicists, secret missions, and spy rings.   Sheinkin reveals a host of intriguing characters and side notes as he informs readers about this tumultuous chapter in history.  While the conclusion is already written in history, Sheinkin presents this material in such an engaging manner that readers will likely find themselves looking for even more answers and details on this topic.

Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell. Running Press Kids, 2014.

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Still holding on to the last bits of summer?  Bethany Crandell offers teens the true summer experience through the realistic voice of Cricket Montgomery who is forced into summer camp by her father.  Find out what happens as Cricket finds herself out of her comfort zone as she is volunteered to supervise a pack of special needs tweens all summer long.  This book is a light, but moving read that is filled with plenty of humor and romance and will likely leave readers craving their next summer break.