Monday, February 17, 2014

Washington's Birthday

Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States. Many Americans refer to the holiday as Presidents' Day as a way of honoring all past presidents. Contrary to popular belief, neither Congress nor any President has ever officially changed the name of the holiday to "Presidents' Day."

Another very important American President shares a February birthday with Washington, Abraham Lincoln. President's Day is a wonderful time to learn about America's past and celebrate the achievements and contributions made by Washington, Lincoln and other American Presidents. 

You can learn more about the history of Washington's Birthday at the National Archives website .  The History Channel has a webpage with facts about the holiday. 

To aide in your exploration of American Presidency, some stellar books are available to read and study. These books will entertain you with interesting facts, educate you with important historical bits and dazzle you with fun, expertly-rendered illustrations.

President's Day by Anne Rockwell (Harper Collins, 2007).  In this picture book perfectly suited for the preschool through first grade set, students put on a school play with American Presidents and then vote for their own class president. A great primer for young learners!

Abe Lincoln's Dream by Lane Smith (Roaring Book Press, 2012). Lane Smith, a Caldecott award-winning author and illustrator, provides a taste of American history complete with wonderful illustrations and some laughs in this picture book. Inspired by Abraham Lincoln's dream life, Abe Lincoln's Dream shows what happens after a little girl on a tour of the White House meets the troubled and restless ghost of the 16th president in the Lincoln bedroom.

Barack Obama : Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes ( Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008).  The moving story of our 44th President told by Coretta Scott King Award winner Nikki Grimes. This title is beautifully illustrated and a great choice for early school-age students interested in our current President.

George Washington's Teeth by Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2003). This story told in rhyme depicts George Washingtons's lifelong struggle with bad teeth using his own diary entries and other non-fiction sources to construct the book's timeline. A fun route to learning more about the nation's first President and his notoriously horrible teeth!

First Mothers by Beverly Gherman (Clarion Books, 2012). In a celebration of the women behind the famous Presidents who have lived in the White House, author Beverly Gherman provides readers with plenty of fun facts about the famous first mothers and their sons. A good choice for school-age students interested in the family background of America's leaders.

Stop into the library and grab one of these awesome books to take home with you today!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Love is in the air!

We are getting ready for Valentine's Day here at GMPL!  Amid the school parties and sugar highs, we wanted to give kids a few other reasons to love Valentine's Day. Kids can celebrate the power of friendship with these special, heart-warming books:

Up first is Friends: True stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships by Catherine Thimmesh (HMH Books for Young Readers)

This beautiful book shows odd pairs of animals displaying affection for each other.  Each picture is accompanied by a sweet little poem and a brief history of the animals shown. Your heart will grow three sizes just looking at these pictures.

"Friends can be different-
with stripes on their face;
or friends can have 
to touch and embrace...
but it doesn't matter- 
not in the end-
because deep where it counts,
one knows a true friend."

Thimmesh, C. (2011). Friends: The Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

 Another book that shows how far friends will go to be together is Eric Carle's latest, Friends (Philomel). 

Using his trademark collage art work, Carle lets the true beauty of friendship shine in this book.  After his friend moves away, the boy in our story takes action and journeys great lengths to be reunited with his friend.  After learning that the book was inspired by Carle's own relationship with his wife, I love it even more!

My favorite book of love and friendship has got to be Sandra Boynton's Your Personal Penguin (Workman Publishing).  

This super quirky board book brings a smile to my face every time I read it.  In case you thought this book couldn't get any sweeter, you were wrong.  Davy Jones, of The Monkees, used the words from this book to record this awesome song.

This Valentine's Day, nothing would be sweeter than sharing books you love with your little ones.

Monday, February 3, 2014

February is African American History Month

February is African American History Month in the United States, a celebration that first began as a special week in 1925 and was later expanded to an entire month of recognition of African American contributions in 1976. In the words of President Gerald R. Ford, African American History Month is a time for Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since 1976, each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations in February. Each year, a theme is chosen for this celebration. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History chooses the annual theme and the 2014 national theme is "Civil Rights in America." 

There is truly an abundance of great educational resources on the web for children to learn about African American History this month. 

Smithsonian Education Black History - A great teaching resource including a virtual history tour and various lessons focusing on important African American individuals throughout American history, such as Sojourner Truth and Ella Fitzgerald.

African American History Month - A government website that provides historical images, online exhibits and collections and teacher resources. Brought to you by various government institutions including The Library of Congress and The National Endowment for the Humanities.

Scholastic Culture and Change: Black History in America - Children can listen to jazz music, explore the Underground Railroad and meet famous African Americans with Scholastic's interactive timeline. 

Scholastic Cyberhunt: African Americans Who Changed Our Nation -  Click on the provided links to visit websites that will help you find the answers to the crossword puzzle while teaching you about important African Americans.

National Geographic Education: The Underground Railroad -  Experience the journey to freedom that many slaves braved in this interactive video that allows children to imagine themselves making important decisions as a slave in 1850s Maryland. 

PBS Kids African American World -  This great site PBS site, in association with National Public Radio (NPR), allows children to play games, make e-cards and read about African American children's interests in their "Kid Talk" section.

Multnomah County Public Library Homework Center: African American - You can find an extensive list of links and resources on the library's homework center site, including specific topics in African American history, such as civil rights and African colonization. History Resources - Search this government website just for kids for articles, games and videos about American history and important time periods and events, such as the Civil Rights Movement. 

Arty Factory African Masks- Get creative with your African American history! Learn about African masks on this fun site and then design your own mask.  

Common Sense Media: African American Experience Movies - Check out this list of great movies that span a variety of ages and topics addressing the African American experience for another way to learn this month. 

Of course, there are plenty of amazing books available for children and teens to read and learn about African American history. 

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards - These awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. 

2014 Coretta Scott King Award Winner

Reading Rockers: Favorite Books for Black History Month -  A list of themed books that address African American history as well as universal children's experiences. Suggested age levels provided. 

PBS : Books that Bring the Black Experience to Life - A list for parents to refer to which highlights stellar books for children of all ages. These titles help readers to appreciate black history and focus on both historical accounts of African American life as well as contemporary perspectives. 

A highlighted book for toddlers from the PBS booklist.

Take some time this month to stop into the library and pick up a book to share with your family about African American history. We have many books that will be on display in the Children's Department all month just waiting for you to take home! Be sure to visit some of the above websites and perhaps have a family movie night watching one of the great suggestions from Common Sense Media. You have an entire month ahead of you to share, learn and appreciate the contributions that African Americans have made to this country!