There's nothing I love more than spending an evening at home with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate while the cold December winds blow outside. Even though I was born and raised in Chicago, I'm still not used to the chilly winters here in the Midwest! However, I don't mind braving the cold if it means I can have some wintery fun with loved ones. Luckily for me, Des Plaines has some wonderful family friendly activities planned for the month of December. Read on to find out more!
Friday, December 6 (today!) is Des Plaines' annual tree lighting event, Holiday on the Square. Located in downtown Des Plaines' Metropolitan Square, this festive gathering includes tree decorating, a visit from Santa, musical entertainment, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire! The fun begins at 4:00 pm. For more information on Holiday on the Square, click here.
The Des Plaines Park District will host their annual Winter Wonderland celebration at the Frisbie Senior Center on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8. The free family festival features kids' crafts, bingo, face painting, model train displays, and much more. You can even catch a staff member from the Des Plaines Public Library at a very special storytime! For more information on Winter Wonderland, click here.
Looking for a way to give to others during the holiday season? The Des Plaines Public Library is here to help! The Mitten Tree Project collects new hats, gloves, mittens, and scarves for those in our community who are in need. Items will be collected at the Des Plaines Public Library through Friday, December 13.
And last but certainly not least, don't forget to stop by the library! Our Winter Magic Show on Sunday, December 22 is sure to delight kids of all ages. Looking for a way to get crafty? Attend our Bling in the New Year program on Friday, December 27. We'll be making all kinds of holiday accessories, including hair clips and head bands. And whether you celebrate Kwanzaa or Christmas (or you just wrapped up your Hanukkah festivities), we have something for everyone in our special holiday book collection. Click here to browse some of my favorite winter reads.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Friday, November 29, 2013
Families have feasted, Hanukkah is here, Christmas lights are strung -- Holiday season has officially begun. And although 5:00 am shopping is fun for some, making your holidays homemade can be even more rewarding.
You don't have to knit a sweater or make lavender scented soap to add something homemade to your holidays -- it's the little things -- the traditions you create -- that will make your holidays most memorable. So designated a day (an hour, fifteen minutes, any amount of time you can find) to creating with your kids. A time when you don't worry (much) about the mess or crafting something Martha Stewart Living worthy. Just create -- even if it is as simple as making hot chocolate together (and sipping it while you read a book out-loud).
It really is the little things.
Worried about a glitter accident in the living room? Bring the family to the library's Kids Get Crafty program on December 14th, and craft with them.
And be sure to check-out the Youth Services display case in December -- it's packed full of holiday crafting, creating, and cooking books. Here are a few of the titles included:
I Wanna Make Gifts by Clea Hantman
Cool Holiday Treats by Pam Price
Crafts to Make in the Winter by Kathy Ross
Friday, November 22, 2013
November 22 is a sad anniversary in our country's history, but it presents a great starting point for intergenerational conversations. For starters, ask family members who were alive in 1963 what they remember about that day. Your child may be surprised to learn that Walter Cronkite announced the news on black-and-white television, long before news was spread via the internet.
Today we can find all sorts of information in the internet, including a copy of John. F. Kennedy's 8th grade report card. His teacher commented that his "poor effort" in Latin resulted in a grade of 55. Your child may remind you for years that even presidents get bad grades, so think carefully before you go to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum website to find the report card, recordings of JFK's well-known speeches and a wealth of fascinating information.
The Des Plaines Public Library also has lots of interesting information about our 35th president. These are some books that I recommend.
The Brothers Kennedy: John, Robert, Edward by Kathleen Krull is approachable for young children. Krull is an award-winning biographer. Amy Bates illustrated the book with watercolor, gouache and pencil.
Kennedy's Last Days: The Assassination That Defined a Generation by Bill O'Reilly was adapted for children from the author's book for adults. The chapters are short, and there are photographs on nearly every page.
"The President Has Been Shot!": The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson is on my to-read list. Publishers Weekly named it to their list of Best Children's Books for 2013.
Countdown by Deborah Wiles is a documentary novel that your family could read aloud together. The story is about a girl growing up in 1962, but it also includes clippings, photos and speeches from the time of the Cuban missile crisis.
Poems to Learn by Heart is a wonderful collection of poems selected by Caroline Kennedy, JFK's only daughter (and our new ambassador to Japan). There are great poems that can be memorized, but are also great to read aloud. The Cremation of Sam McGee is my favorite, because I actually did memorize it when I was in eighth grade.
I hope these books help your family enjoy some interesting conversations. If you memorize one of the poems, please come the library to recite it for me.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Not all apps are created equal. As a parent and as my oldest daughter says, "library mama", I look for apps that are easy to navigate, have a learning component and utilize their imaginations. Take a look at these apps (for target age 2 through K+) from our family iPad (and my husbands Android phone):
Toca Boca Doctor, Toca Boca House, Toca Boca Train...
8 out of 10 times these are the ones my 5 year old and 2 year old must start with. You'll find unique characters and catchy music in a wordless environment that focus on your child's imagination. In Toca Boca House, everyday chores like vacuuming, hanging up pictures and even putting the groceries away are enjoyable interactions thanks to the cheering and celebration given after each task is completed. Fix broken bones, tap our germs and pull out splinters in Toca Boca Doctor. I will admit to playing these alongside my daughters in delight! There are plenty of interests to choose from such as trains, tea party, band, hair salon, and even cars. Try the free versions first.
Free Apps: LEGO Creationary, LEGO App4+
My husband who fondly remembers playing with LEGOs for hours at a time, found these free LEGO apps and my 5 year old approves. In LEGO Creationary, a single player or group of players rolls the dice and guessing what object is being built before time runs out. While this can get borring quickly for adults, the kids love it! Build your own vehicle and move to a destination to achieve points and unlock additional levels.
Look for future additional information on apps on specific topics and in the meantime share with us the apps your youngest can't have enough time to play with!
Friday, November 8, 2013
Looking for a way to schedule some togetherness into your family life? It's so important to emphasize reading as a habit in your household. You want your kids to identify reading as a fun and relaxing activity...because it can be! And reading together as a family can be a really lovely way to spend an evening.
For several years now, the Des Plaines Public Library has participated in Family Reading Night, a project of State Librarian Jesse White and the Illinois Center for the Book. This year's Family Reading Night is Thursday, November 21, and here's how you can participate:
Visit the library any time between now and Thursday, November 21 to pick up a Family Reading Night tote bag (while supplies last) at the Youth Services desk on the 2nd floor. Inside the tote bag you will find instant hot chocolate for four, a bag of microwave popcorn to share, bookmarks, and stickers in support of Family Reading Night. When you pick up your family bag (one bag per family), you will be able to select up to three read-aloud favorites from a special collection of stories picked fresh just for this occasion. Already read all the favorites we've selected? Go ahead and roam the stacks of thousands of wonderful books we have all for the taking. Don't forget to check all of your books out on your library card and return them on or before your due date, but the tote bag, hot chocolate, popcorn, bookmarks, and stickers are yours to keep.
Then, of course, make it a habit. Do you read together at breakfast? While shopping at the grocery store? For a little while after school? After dinner? Before bedtime? Whatever time works for you, make sure you put some reading into your day. Just 20 minutes a day will encourage a love of reading and encourage a habit that will offer a lifetime of reading rewards. Let Des Plaines be a city that reads to its kids...every day.
Friday, November 1, 2013
Ready for a fall packed full of fun? The Youth Services Department has added loads of storytime programs (in English, Spanish and Polish -- oh my!) to the calendar. The first three weeks of November and December will be filled with stories, silly songs, wacky rhymes, crafts, music, and more!
Stop by the Youth Services Department to pick-up a November/December storytime calendar, or take a look at all our monthly programs for children and families online. And if you need a (little) break from all the books -- we’ve added more Family Game Nights to the calendar, too.
We’d love to see you at the library, but if you can’t make it to one of our programs -- stop in to check-out books for an at home storytime. Here are a few new book recommendations (and some silly songs* to get you dancing):
Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin
Bone by Bone by Sara Levine
Lo Que No Sabe Pupeta by Javier Mardel
*To use Freegal, you will need a Des Plaines Public Library Card.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Hi there, I’m Emme -- the latest addition to the Youth Services Department.
I’ve been working in libraries for over a decade (so long that my oldest son told his teacher I was a “longtime library ninja”). I don’t, unfortunately, have any serious karate moves -- but I still like the title. Here are a few (other) things you should know about me:
I regularly wore fairy wings as a child (I still own a pair).
I think libraries are as magical (incredible, fantastic, wondrous!) as Hogwarts.
I adore Maira Kalman.
I think Doctor Seuss is a genius.
I won a taco eating contest in college.
I never get tired of blowing bubbles.
Don’t know who Maira Kalman is? Checkout one of her awesomely illustrated books from the library.
Craving a taco? Check out my favorite recipe for tacos al pastor in Fiesta at Rick’s.
Want to see my bubble blowing in action, pick-up a ticket for the library’s Time for Twos!