Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to School Books

It's that magical time of year when the kiddos go back to school. For some of our younger friends, it may be the first time away from home. We'd like to share books to help relieve anxiety and get your youngsters pumped to go to school.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. Tanglewood Press, 2007.

Image from Amazon
When Chester Raccoon is nervous about starting school and being away from his mom, she fills him in on a family secret: the kissing hand. When she kisses Chester's hand, she assures him that she will be with him all day long, and soon school will be just as comfortable as home. This story is so sweet and could easily become a first day family reading tradition.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster. Hyperion, 2005.

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This book would be perfect for children who spend the day with grandparents or at day care. When a little girl is dropped off at Nanna and Poppy's house, while her parents are at work, she doesn't mind one bit! There are many fun things to do with Nanna and Poppy, but her favorite thing is to look through the 'Hello, Goodbye Window'. The window seems to be a magic portal that shows what's going to happen next, like the pizza delivery guy bringing dinner. This Caldecott book shares a sweet, simple story of a child dealing positively with separation.

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books, 2010.

Image from Amazon.
Wemberly is a big worrier. Little questions plague her and leave her feeling anxious, like if she will spill grape juice on her stuffed animal. Going to school for the first time is no different for Wemberly, in fact she is worried about this more than anything else. What if no one else brings a doll? What if no one has spots? What if the teacher is mean? Lucky for Wemberly, her very nice teacher introduces her to a new friend (who happens to have a doll with her) and she stops worrying quite so much.
Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah. Disney-Hyperion, 2010.

Image from Amazon.
These days we hear a lot about bullying and fighting in schools. This sweet picture book about two best friends shows exactly how such misunderstandings can happen. In this story, the sandwiches the girls bring for lunch end up causing so much turmoil they stop sitting together at lunch and playing together after school. They think the other's lunch is so gross, their dispute ends up causing a school-wide food fight! Being respectful of other cultures and their foods helps bring these two friends back together at the end.

If you are looking for a memento to give your child before he or she begins school, look no further. No Time For Flash Cards shares a simple photo flipbook that your child can easily tuck into a backpack or desk. When they are worried, they can flip through and see pictures of you together, or read a special message just for them.

Get out your cookie cutters and cupcake liners! We are huge fans of the adorable bento boxed lunch for the kiddos. There are so many amazing ideas out there, but we've narrowed it down to a few to get you started: Lunchbots shares a picture gallery with tons of inspiration; Parenting shares 21 ideas for those of you that have made one too many pbj; Keeley McGuire shares allergy friendly non-sandwich ideas;  Stuffed Suitcase shares 40 weeks of nut-free lunches; and finally more bento goodness at Bento Lunch. 

We hope you have a great start to this school year!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Behind The Scenes - August

The Summer Reading Program has ended. Our lunch program has concluded. The event calendar is bare for the next couple of weeks. 
So, just what exactly do we do at the library in August?

Professional Development

We strive to offer the best customer service we possibly can. We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful community, and our patrons make our jobs and lives a lot easier. Regardless of how awesome and easy-going our patrons may be, it is important to maintain our professional skills. Therefore, we use our down time to take web-based classes, complete training seminars and sharpen our reference skills. We (try to) catch up on reading the fantastic journals that come with our profession as well. Monthly journals such as American Libraries and School Library Journal are wonderful resources for book reviews and cutting library edge programming. As information fanatics, wanting to continue learning comes naturally to most librarians. 

We also have one day every August where the library closes and all staff members assemble (a lot like super heroes) for an entire day of training and engaging activities to help us continue to grow as a team. Below you can see my pile of journals to read, invoices and orders to submit, books to grade, and donated items to sift through. I'd like to say it only looks like this for dramatic photo staging, but that would be a lie.

My messy desk.

We strive to provide meaningful and interesting programs throughout the year. Our library program calendar is released quarterly, which means we have to complete planning at least four months in advance. Our next calendar will share information about September through December, but in order to meet the calendar deadline, we had to have all of these programs planned in May and June! The next deadline, for January through April, is quickly approaching. We are busy planning the fun activities and services we will offer in 2015, which is hard to believe! Planning also means contracting and scheduling with any outside performers or educators.

Cabinet full of planning materials.

Since we have so many wonderful things planned for the fall, we are busy turning our plans into a reality! We usually host about 5 or 6 storytimes a week, in addition to our other special programs. January through July of this year, the children's department has already hosted 176 programs! We love integrating Every Child Ready to Read early learning skills into our programs: reading, singing, playing, talking, and writing. We gather books and music, assemble craft materials, and create lesson plans to guide our classes. We also have to create flyers for all of our programs, upload them to the blog, edit the library website and visit school events to promote all of the cool programs!

Miss Nicole's awesome felt board in progress.
Gettin' It Done

We usually apply for at least one grant to help supplement library funding and hopefully make our dream projects come true. We have been very fortunate to receive funding from The Stocker Foundation for several years in a row. This year we have two very important projects we are working on completing:

1. Grow, Make, Play, and Learn! (GMPL!) is our way of offering hands-on programming at the library that encourages kids to engage in learning, while promoting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) learning objectives. We have 8 more GMPL! programs planned over the next few months.

2. Our second project focuses on working with incarcerated fathers at the Grafton Correctional Institution and the Grafton Reintegration Center. We are providing learning materials and books for reading rooms so visiting children have access to quality educational activities. We are also working on providing Every Child Ready to Read training to inmates and volunteer readers to share the importance of early literacy. This training will help to prepare them for sharing literacy and reading skills with their children once they are released. To encourage a stronger parental bond, we will be recording the fathers reading a story and sending a copy of the recording, along with a print copy of the book, to their children. Even though they are apart, these children can still enjoy hearing a bedtime story from Dad. The bulk of this project is being conducted this month.

  Bits & Bobs

 Summer Reading was such a successful time for the library. We broke our record for participation, as well as circulation. We are so pumped about this! Due to the popularity of our program and the amount of traffic our books have seen, we have decided to take some time to reorganize our shelves, clean them off, and make sure they are in order. We are working hard this month to provide a clean and welcoming place to be all year long.

We are also doing some re-organization of our staff here at the library since one our children's librarians, Miss Nicole, will be leaving us to take on a new position in the library. She will be the new Emerging Technologies Supervisor! Rest assured, she plans on coordinating with Miss Katie and the rest of the youth services team for fun, tech-oriented programming for our young patrons in the future! You haven't seen the last of her yet!

Cleaning and shelving in progress.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Fresh Picks! August

Welcome to the first post in a new monthly series, "Fresh Picks", where we will post about our favorite new books that we have added to the juvenile and young adult collections here at the library. Today we are highlighting some favorite juvenile fiction for a variety of ages that just hit our shelves this month!

Emily's Blue Period by Cathleen Daly Illustrations by Lisa Brown. Roaring Brook Press, 2014.

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This longer picture book is a lovely story depicting how young Emily learns to deal with her parent's divorce through art. She channels Picasso upon learning about his work in school, and hence embarks upon her own "blue period", the only color sufficient to depict her sadness over their split. The cathartic quality of creating art is celebrated in this book and makes for a wonderful discussion of divorce with young readers. I enjoyed this book not only because it shows how an artist affected one girl's life positively, but it also shows relateable and realistic situations, such as how helping her father pick out furniture for his new apartment becomes frustrating and emotional. 

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Mister Bud Wears the Cone by Carter Goodrich. Simon & Schuster, 2014. 

This hilarious picture book will entertain dog-lovers of all ages. If you have ever had a pet dog that had to wear a cone around it's head, you will laugh at this funny and often pathetic tale of Mister Bud's plight. Goodrich's story is pure fun and is perfect for a read-aloud thanks to the childlike musings of Mister Bud's furry companion, Zorro. 

My New Friend Is So Fun! by Mo Willems. Hyperion, 2014. 

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Willems is one of my favorite author/illustrators and basically anything he does is amazing. His new addition to the Elephant and Piggie series is no exception. Elephant and Piggie are the best of friends, just as Snake and Brian the Bat are best friends. But Brian and Piggie are spending time together now and Elephant and Snake are worried their BFFs are going to have too much fun together and ditch them! This book has Willems' signature humor while accurately capturing the panic one may experience when your best friend starts making new friends. A sweet ending will make readers smile.  

Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge. Albert Whitman & Co., 2012.

 Readers who aren't afraid of creepy stories: this book is for you! Set at the end of 
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 the 1800's, young Penelope is an orphan and has taken over the family's bestselling magazine, Penny Dreadful. Penelope's shocking stories are so thrilling and wildly popular, she hires an actor to masquerade as 'Montgomery Flinch', her pen name, to keep her identity a secret to the public. When patients at a local mental institution begin acting strangely every evening, at - you guessed it!- twelve minutes to midnight, the bewildered staff turns to the clueless Montgomery for help. Only Penelope can solve this case that could be right out of the pages of the Penny Dreadful, causing her to lurk in the shadows and risk her own safety. The twists and turns in this book will have you on the edge of your seat until the case is closed!

Friday, August 1, 2014

August is American Artist Appreciation Month

Do you love art? I do! Painting is one of my favorite hobbies and I love to visit art museums to gaze upon masterpieces. Many of us who appreciate art may be familiar with the works of famous European artists such as Picasso, Michelangelo or Monet, but not as learned when it comes to American artists. August is a special month for us to celebrate Americans who have dedicated their lives to creating art. There is a plethora of amazing American artwork and so many great resources for you and your family to explore!

The Penfield House Image from

One of the best ways to introduce your children to art is through up close and personal interaction with art! The state of Ohio has many wonderful public facilities that are perfect for a weekend visit. The Cleveland Museum of Art is world renowned and free! You even can view some of Cleveland's American painting and sculpture collection online here without having to trek downtown. Another great museum is the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. Butler also offers free admission. Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built two homes in Ohio that are open for public visitation. Schedule a tour of The Westcott House in Springfield, Ohio or reserve a weekend at The Penfield House in Lake County, Ohio.

You can search in the Google Art Project collections for American art for a more comprehensive look at various museum collections without ever having to leave your house. 

 "If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint."  Edward Hopper

Early Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper 
Image from the Whitney Museum of American Art

Yahoo has compiled 10 kid-friendly ways to celebrate American Artist Appreciation month. Suggestions such as sketching from nature in the style of John James Audubon, or designing a building based upon the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, are stellar ways to explore American creativity with your kids, no matter what their age.

Douglas's Squirrel by John James Audubon  Image from

The Artcyclopedia site provides an American Art index that allows you to browse by time period. You can learn where each artist has works housed and view pictures from image archives. 

For younger kids print out some art coloring pages depicting American art and artists from Enchanted Learning for an easy educational opportunity. 

Of course, you can visit the library for wonderful books highlighting the work of American artists. Check out Super Simple American Art: Fun and Easy Art from Around the World or Super Simple Native American Art: Fun and Easy Art from Around the World by Alex Kuskowski to get creative at home. Though not specifically focused on American art, older readers will be intrigued flipping through An Eye for an Eye: Focusing on Great Artists and Their Work from the National Gallery of Art. Reading about American artists in a biography format is another fun way to learn about American art. I recommend Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O' Keeffe Painted What She Pleased by Amy Novesky, a great picture book biography perfect for introducing O'Keeffe to young minds. 
We can't forget that comic books, though not considered fine art, display amazing artistic and creative talent too! You can read about the creators of Superman (who were from Cleveland, Ohio) in Boys of Steel: The Creator of Superman by Marc Tyler Nobleman.

Have fun celebrating American Artist Appreciation month! Happy creating!