Thursday, March 20, 2014

Parent Hacks- Cooking with the Family

Ah, cooking. Cooking can be the most delightful of activities, or one of the most frustrating, depending on your expertise in the kitchen. If you are looking for some ways to introduce your children to cooking or perhaps learn some new recipes yourself, today's post is for you! We have compiled plenty of great book recommendations for you (available to take home from the library of course) in addition to some of our most favorite cooking blogs.

Recommended Non-Fiction Titles:

Cool USA Cooking Series by Alex Kuskowski. (Abdo Publishing, 2014).

Image from Abdo Publishing.
Our newest cooking series teaches kids to cook dishes from all across the United States. Each book focuses on a specific region of the country, outlining the individual states included in the region, and then provides various recipes for local cuisine. Recipes span from snacks, entrees to desserts and the titles provide basic cooking tips and a glossary of terms. Not only does this cooking series supply you with tasty meals, it also supplies a wonderful opportunity to explore other American cultures and histories other than your own. You could read a rowdy cowboy story and then whip up a batch of  "Arizona Beef Stew" from Cool Western Cooking. Or how about a jazzy story based in Chicago followed by a "Windy City Hot Dog" from Cool Midwestern Cooking.

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There are various other great cooking series available at the library that would make awesome starting points for young chefs. Try the You're the Chef series by Jennifer S. Larson (Millbrook Press, 2013). This cooking series is divided by types of meals, with titles such as Tasty Sandwiches and Yummy Soup and Salad Recipes. You'll find plenty of healthy recipes such as pita pockets filled with black beans and fresh vegetables or homemade veggie burgers.

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 The Super Simple series by Nancy Tuminelly (Abdo Publishing, 2013) is a good choice for the youngest of cooking connoisseurs. These recipes are quick, easy and require no baking so time spent in the kitchen is extra safe. Titles in this series include Super Simple Breakfasts and Super Simple Snacks.

Recommended Fiction Titles:

One way to make time in the kitchen more fun is by including cooking-related fiction stories. You can read one of these picture books together while you wait for your dinner to finish in the oven or while munching on the snack you just created.

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Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich. ( Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2012). Follow the famous Julia Child in Paris as she and her cat Minette venture on culinary adventures. Julia is quite the amazing cook, but Minette seems to prefer mouse and bird to Julia's meals. This story is filled with lots of French words and sophisticated cooking terms to explore! Great for kindergarten and early grade school students interested in Parisian fare.

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Soup Day by Melissa Iwai. ( Henry Holt, 2010). A good choice for the toddler and preschool set, this story follows a mother and daughter as they traverse the market purchasing the many vegetables needed to make soup. A recipe to make your own soup is included in the back of the book!

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Gazpacho for Nacho by Tracey Kyle. (Two Lions, 2014). Nacho loves to eat gazpacho for every meal of the day! Includes a recipe for gazpacho and Spanish glossary in the back of the book. Great for preschool and kindergarten students.

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. (Chronicle Books, 2005).  In an adorable twist, Little Pea cannot eat his vegetables until he eats up all of his candy! A great choice for picky eaters who may not enjoy their veggies. A story for kids of all ages.

Image from Chronicle Books.

Recommended Websites:

A Beautiful Mess: A very cool website created by two sisters with a huge expanse of yummy recipes to try out for family meals.

Six Sister's Stuff: This website is created by, you guessed it, six sisters who use the blog to keep in touch and share ideas. They have an amazing recipe index, complete with weekly menu plans to make your busy week easier.

Smitten Kitchen: An expansive website full of wit and tasty recipes from a NYC mom.

Big Girls Small Kitchen: Touted as a "guide to quarter-life cooking" this blog is accessible for all ages and even has recipes organized specifically for when you are low on time or money. 

We hope that you have a great time exploring the culinary world with your family! Be sure to stop into the library for more books to inspire your cooking adventures!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March is Youth Art Month!

Every year in March, we celebrate Youth Arts Month to celebrate art and raise awareness of the importance of art education.  The Arts and Crafts Materials Institute began Youth Arts Month in 1961 in the hopes that more and more children will be exposed to arts education and support for school art programs would continue to grow.
In 1984 the Arts and Crafts Materials Institute began the Council for Art Education to help advocate for Youth Arts Month and help provide funding for programs.  According to, the council currently includes The Arts and Crafts Materials Institute, National Art Education Association, the SHIP (a group of art materials exhibitors at the annual NAEA convention), and the General Foundation of Women's Clubs.

Why is art education important, you ask?  Art helps develop critical thinking, self-expression, problem solving, develops fine motor skills, tolerance, cultural awareness, creativity, and many more important skills.

If you're looking for arts and crafts ideas to do with your little ones, you have come to the right place!  We can't wait to share some of our favorite go-to sites and fun, artsy books with you.

  • Mamas Like Me has a special post for 31 days of art activities for March, but the site has an entire tab devoted to kids' crafts.
  • Spoonful, a Disney site, has craft ideas you can search by material used, age range, and type of craft.  
  • Hands On As We Grow has a wide variety of craft activities you can check out.  There is even a handy search tool on the right side of the web page that helps you filter ideas by topic and age.
  • Besides sharing a ton of art project ideas, TinkerLab has ideas for making a creative space and posts group challenges you can participate in from home. 
  • Growing a Jeweled Rose has a crazy amount of hands-on art activities that help develop sensory skills through open play and exploration.
  • Modern Parents Messy Kids' Make and Play Vault is a great resource for finding activities.  You can narrow down by outdoor play, sensory play, holidays, and more. 
  • MiniEco's crafty tutorials will leave you drooling!  These geometric crafts are simple, fun, and stunning. 
  • Venture over to MerMag to see crafts and creative projects that are sure to inspire you and your young ones.  We can't wait for her book, PLAYFUL: Toys and Crafts Made By Hand, to be released this fall!
  • Imagination Soup is one of my favorite resources for literacy and learning.  So many important skills can be learned through arts and crafts, so keep your eyes peeled for great ideas.
  • Library Makers shares creative ideas for learning through their CraftLab, NeedleReads, WonderWorks, and Toddler Art classes.  I love the book and music suggestions that pair really nicely with their art activities.
  • Handmade Charlotte shares DIY projects, ideas for family spaces, and yummy recipes. Don't forget that getting creative in the kitchen can provide some great art experiences.
  • Imagine Our Life inspires me so much!  Even though I won't be able to create half (okay, three-quarters) of the projects shared here, I still love to check them out.  If you like to create with felt, Stephanie is kind enough to share a lot of her patterns with you.
  • Sometimes I think I talk about No Time For Flashcards too much, but then I realize that's not possible.  You'll find book suggestions, activity ideas, as well as crafts for little learners.
  • Finally, Kiwi Crate offers monthly subscription that will bring a box of art and learning activities right to your door!  They are a huge hit in my family and I love to give them as gifts.  Kiwi Crate also shares great ideas for activities and learning experiences on their DIY Ideas page. 

Onto the books!

Since we shared so many resources with you we will highlight only three of our favorite books from our collection.  Keep in mind that we have many, many more that we would be glad to recommend.
  • A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin (2013, Knopf)is a biography of the artist.  Written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by the fabulous Melissa Sweet, this book follows Horace throughout his life and shows how he used art to break down barriers and heal himself after a war injury.  You may not usually think of art as therapy, but it is a powerful and personal way to help express your inner self.

  • Todd Oldham's book, Kid Made Modern (2009, AMMO Books), is chock-full of ideas to fill your year with art.  I am in love with the ideas shared in this book, but I also appreciate the summaries of supplies and the bits of history included.  

  • Another fantastic book of art is Margaret Peot's Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity (2011, Boyds Mills Press, Inc.).  Peot goes through the supplies you'll need to get creative and make your own inkblot art.  The book includes real-life 'Inkblot Heroes' and includes helpful tips to manipulate your projects. 

How can you get your kids involved in art education?  

  • The Firelands Association for the Visual Arts, or FAVA, is located in Oberlin. They have rotating displays and art classes for all age groups.  Keep your eye out for their special events as well.
  • The Stocker Arts Center at the Lorain County Community College has a great calendar of events to enjoy the arts through performances and educational activities. 
  • Don't forget the Lorain County Metroparks!  They offer events for kids to expand their knowledge of nature and science, and these events are sure to spark some creativity.
  • Take a field trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art! Admission is free and the experience of seeing such amazing art firsthand is priceless.  

We hope you are as inspired as we are to get today's youth engaged in art education.  What will you do to celebrate Youth Art Month?  We would love to see any projects.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Web Wednesday- Women's History Month

March is National Women's History Month and a wonderful opportunity to learn more about some of the amazing women who have influenced and shaped the world we know today in the United States of America.

The origins of Women's History Month began in the not so distant past. This special month began as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week."  In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month." Now instead of a mere week to celebrate American women and their important contributions, an entire month was allotted!  Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month.  Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” 

Each year a theme is chosen for Women's History Month and the 2014 theme is Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment. For more information on this year's theme and past themes, as well as past themes, check out the National Women's History Month Project website.

Women suffrage in Washington, D.C 1916-1918. Photo from the National Archives.!/geo:38.8901309454,-77.0502305031/zoom:15/dialog:5259002/tab:stories_tab_content/

Many government institutions, such as the Library of Congress, the National Park Service, and the Smithsonian Institution, come together to bring you interesting historical resources during this celebratory month. You can find pictures, like the one above, and plenty of other great resources such as videos and online exhibits, at the National Women's History Month official website.

Speaking of the National Park Service, did you know that there is a Women's Rights National Historic Park in New York? An interesting site within the Women's Rights National Historical Park is the Wesleyan Chapel, picture below. Built in 1843, the chapel was the site of the First Women's Rights Convention. Learn about it at the NPS website.

The Wesleyan Chapel.

The U.S. Census Bureau provides many facts regarding the past and present of women in the workplace, women's education and other facets of life in America. Did you know that there are 1.6 million female veterans in the United States according to a 2012 survey? Find more facts at the Bureau's website.

Infographic displaying women's-to'men's earnings in the U.S. from 1970-2012.

Do you have a Pinterest account? Well, so does the National Archives! Learn about the struggle many suffragists faced during their march towards equality while you pin here.

Finally, the American Library Association's Feminist Task Force, of the Social Responsibilities Round Table, compiles an annual annotated list of stellar, well-written and well-illustrated books that contain feminist content intended for young readers (ages birth through 18).  This list is known as the Amelia Bloomer List and you can find the 2013 selections as well as past years on the ALA website 
and on the Amelia Bloomer Project blog.

"Here Come the Girl Scouts! The Amazing, All-True Story of Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure " by Shana Corey. An ALA Amelia Bloomer selection.

Whether you have a little girl at home, are a young woman yourself or perhaps you aren't a woman at all, this is a wonderful month to dive into some amazing and inspiring American history and celebrate Women's History Month!