Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Does Your Son Hate Reading?

Does your son hate to read? Mine does, or so he claims. I don't believe him. Even if I did believe him (which I don't), I wouldn't accept it. Instead, I look for ways to trick him into wanting to read.

One of my favorite strategies is to read the newspaper within earshot of my son. I don't read quietly. I frequently burst out with a shocked "I do not believe it!" or "You have got to be kidding me!" Before I know it, the newspaper has been ripped out of my hands so that my son can satisfy his curiosity.

Newspaper headline writers are professionals at grabbing the attention of their readers, and they are very skilled at their trade. I take advantage of their talent by enthusiastically reading their headlines out loud. For example, SUV nearly slams into elephant--in Oklahoma and Buffalo Grove teen calls cops after parents take away Xbox appeared in the Daily Herald recently. Two of my favorites from the Chicago Sun-Times include Ancient crocs ate dinosaurs and Judge makes boy give up Wii system to make bail.

All of these headlines caught my eye, and made it to my son's ear. What boy wouldn't want to know more? My son was interested enough to read the articles himself, even though he "hates" to read. He didn't even realize he had been outsmarted by his mother.

Encouraging a reluctant reader is challenging, but it can be done. Parents who model reading have a big influence on their children, so pick up something interesting to read and let your children watch you having fun.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's Snowing...

While my family celebrates, we spend most of December watching the movie and hoping for a 'White Christmas'. Whatever you celebrate, usually most of December, January, and February are spent doing the following: parents hoping and praying for a lack of snow to make easier commutes and less shoveling, and children hoping and praying for the opposite in the hopes that a snow day might be called.

Well, I am looking outside right now and with two days left, it looks promising, but we will see. In the meantime, I have compiled a list of a few books you can share with your family... grab some cups of hot cocoa and snuggle up under the blankets as you read along about some snowy situations.

Snow! Snow! Snow! by Lee Harper
Chaucer's First Winter by Stephen Krensky
Snow Day by Lester Laminack
Snowy Blowy Winter by Bob Raczka
Snow by Cynthia Rylant
All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle
Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Cookie Experience Trilogy, Post 3: Cookie Favorites

Keep up the Cookie Baking Spirit! Are you scheduled to bring cookies to many gatherings over the upcoming holidays? Perhaps as many as 10 dozen or more? Don't become overwhelmed. Tune in to the holiday music, preheat the oven, bring out your favorite cookie recipes, and remember, "tis the season to bake cookies!" Your children can join in the fun and help you. If you are looking for some new holiday cookie recipe ideas, here are a few of our favorites to consider trying.

Hershey Kiss Cookies (One of Judy's favorites)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
30 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
1/2 cup ground almonds, pecans or walnuts

1. Beat butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in medium bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add to butter mixture, beating well. If necessary refrigerate dough until firm enough to handle.
2. Remove wrappers from chocolate pieces. Heat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in ground nuts. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched lightly in center. Remove from oven; immediately press a chocolate piece into center of each cookie. Carefully remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Chocolate should be set before storing. About 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

Another favorite holiday cookie recipe of Judy's that can be found online is the classic Candy Cane Cookie recipe from Betty Crocker. Judy also recommends the Vegan Clementine Cookie. A delicious cookie recipe which is being shared for this post by the Vegetarian Librarian (Judy's daughter).

Vegan Clementine Cookies

7/8 cup vegan shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbs. vanilla
Egg Substitute, the equivalent of 2 eggs
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
the juice and zest of 2 clementine oranges
Combine dry ingredients in medium sized bowl, set aside. Cream shortening, vanilla and sugar with an electric hand mixer in large bowl. In separate bowl, use electric hand mixer to whip 3 tsp. of egg substitute with 4 tbs. of water until frothy. Add egg substitute mixture to shortening mixture. When combined, gradually add dry ingredients. Drop on ungreased cookie sheet by rounded teaspoons.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 - 14 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown. Cool on wire rack.

Combine ingredients for the glaze, adding extra powdered sugar if too thin. Dip tops in glaze and let set on wire rack. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Now for some favorites from Liz:

Rogaliki (literally meaning little horns because of the cookie's crescent shape)

1 cup milk, lukewarm
1 cup butter, melted
2 pkgs of dry yeast
1 egg
1 egg for egg wash
4 cups of flour
Jam filling (I like the solo brand almond or raspberry cake and pastry filling or thick jam)

Dissolve 2 pkg dry yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm milk. Let rest for 10 minutes. Sift flour into bowl. Add yeat mixture, remaining milk, 1 egg (beat with fork before adding), 1 cup of melted butter. Mix to form dough. Remove dough from bowl and divide up, shaping into 4 balls. Cover each part with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Take out one piece at a time and roll out into about 1/4" thick circle on floured surface. Start at the center and cut into eight triangles (like slicing a pie). At base of each triangle, place a teaspoonful of filling and roll up towards peak. Arrange on lightly greased baking sheet, bend the ends towards each other, to create the crescent shape. Take the remiaing egg and beat with fork. Brush rogaliki with egg. Allow to rest for dough to rise a little. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown. Yummy!

Pierniki (honey-spice cookies, similar to gingerbread cookies)
Recipe from: The Polish Country Kitchen Cookbook

Since the middle ages, the polish city of Torun has been famous for its baking of honey-spice cookies and cakes. Traditionally, the unbaked dough should rest for weeks to yield the most flavorful cookie. The dough would be prepared around the feasts of St. Andrew (November 29) or St. Lucy (December 13) and then baked on Christmas Day. Presently, this cookie is also popular for the feast of Saint Nicolas (December 6). There are many versions of the traditional recipe, some including ginger.

2 cups of flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
2 T butter
1 egg
3 T sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 egg yolk
30 whole almonds

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and set aside. In a large mixer, beat butter with egg, sugar, honey until blended. Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Cover and chill overnight. Next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a light floured surface, roll out half the dough at a time to 1/8 inch thickness. Keep remaining dough chilled. Cut with cookie cutters or a glass. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Lightly brush cookies with beaten egg yolk. Press 1 almond into center of each cookie. Bake 8-10 minutes. If desired, use a drinking straw to make a ¼ inch hole near the top of the cookies before baking. After baking and cooling, thread ribbon through the hole and tie a bow or make a loop for a tree ornament. Also, icing or glazes can be used for decorating these cookies. My favorite is Nutella!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Cookie Experience Trilogy, Post 2: Give the gift of cookies

Does thinking about holiday gift exchanges with family and friends make you wish that you could blink and gifts would be magically sitting right in front of your eyes just waiting to be delivered?

With today's economy making money tight for many right now, a good gift suggestion that costs little but is always received with much appreciation is homemade cookies! Taking the time to bake cookies for somebody to enjoy is a thoughtful, relatively inexpensive way to say "Happy Holidays."

One way to have fun while creating the cookies for gifts is to plan a party and invite an eager group of cookie bakers to attend.

A great book that gives suggestions on how to host a cookie party as well as providing good recipes and information on how to package cookies for gift giving is The Greatest Cookies Ever by Rose Dunnington. Two other excellent choices for recipes to try are Batter Up Kids : Delicious Desserts by Barbara Beery as well as Bake and Make Amazing Cookies by Elizabeth MacLeod.

A great website with recipes that kids can help with is The Best Christmas Cookie Recipes Ever.

Coming up soon in the third part of the Cookie Experience Trilogy we will share our favorite cookie recipes with you!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Festivals of Light

Every year from June to December, the hours of sunlight become fewer and fewer. The shortest day of the year, called the Winter Solstice, will be December 21st. Ancient peoples around the world were fearful of the winter cold, but they knew that the sun would slowly grow stronger after this wintery day. They celebrated the sun's gradual return by focusing the sun's rays, lighting huge bonfires, and placing lighted candles in trees. Is it any wonder that so many of the holidays we celebrate every December are also filled with lights?

Today, December 11th at sunset, Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins. Families use the center or shamash candle to light one additional candle on the menorah every night for eight nights, as they remember how their ancestors kept the temple flame burning for eight nights with only one day's oil. On December 13th, children in Sweden and Italy celebrate the Festival of St. Lucia. Young girls wearing lighted candle wreaths on their heads are led from house to house by star boys with lighted wands. Las Posadas begins December 16th and lasts nine days until Christmas Eve for families from Mexico. A family travelling in a posada or procession with lighted lanterns and candles knocks on doors to ask for room at the inn for Mary and Joseph.

When they are finally invited in, there is a community singing, and a celebration with food and pinatas. December 24th-25th most Christians around the world begin to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus by attending candlelit church services. Stars are placed on top of Christmas trees, and homes are decorated with multicolored lights. The holiday continues until January 6th, Three Kings' Day. In other countries, this celebration happens on January 7th-13th due to a different religious calendar. Kwanzaa, an African-American celebration from December 26th to December 31st is marked by lighting seven candles on a kinara to remind families of seven important principles or ideas that are part of their heritage from their African ancestors.

As families, we all have customs and traditions that have been handed down for many generations. Most of these holiday celebrations probably include lights in some way. Will you share the reasons for your holiday lights with your children, as well as those you have read about today? And please join us in the Storytime Room this Monday night December 14th at 7:00 pm to continue learning and celebrating in story and song these holiday Festivals of Light.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Cookie Experience Trilogy, Post 1: Teaching Values

One of many favorite Christmas memories has been baking with my mom and grandma. I can close my eyes and remember the warm kitchen, mixing and kneading doughs, and of course the sweet aroma of spices as the wait continues for the first bite. Every year, especially at Christmastime, we took the time to bake my favorites: of course sugar cookies (the decorating possibilities are endless) and also a mix of Polish cookies- jam filled, chrusty, poppyseed and kolaczki to name a few.

And so, when I first saw the cover of Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Rosenthal I had to take a peak...and I loved every bite or I should say page of it!

This book is a sweet surprise in that there are no recipes; instead the wonderful cookie is a means for defining the life lessons and values we teach and model for our children every day. Now, as a mother, I can definitely see how one simple and fun activity can lead to moments of understanding, moments of patience, generosity, cooperation, fairness and contentment. Yes, the cookie experience can really accomplish it all at any time of the year. This book leaves you with the sweet taste of many of your memories of cookies and sharing time together.

Perhaps it was the special memories of Amy Rosenthal's own holiday baking that naturally lead to Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons. A Christmas celebration that defines life's lessons of hope, to be charitable, perseverance, moderation and even frustration! A sugar cookie recipe is included. These books are beautiful with illustration, words and message.

So let's get started with those holiday memories of baking with your children- from the youngest to your teenager! Enjoy this Thumbprint cookie recipe from the book, FamilyFun's Cookies for Christmas.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

The holiday season has arrived in Des Plaines. The trees in downtown are draped in white lights, restaurants are decked out for the season and a small forest of trees has been placed in the center of Metropolitan Square. This weekend will be filled with music, merriment and maybe even an appearance by Santa. Friday evening Metropolitan Square will be filled with school children and families as they decorate the trees in the square and prepare for the tree lighting ceremony. For ideas on ornaments and garland to make with your family try Christmas Fun, Christmas Crafts, or Christmas Decorations Kids Can Make. Saturday and Sunday enjoy roasted chestnuts while on a horse drawn sleigh ride or munch on baked goods while waiting in line to see Santa at the Des Plaines Park District and Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce's Lake Wonderland . Don't miss our very own Singing Librarians put a special twist on 'Twas the Night Before Christmas at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Have a wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Sesame Street!

Have you ever forgotten the birthday of a friend? That's how I felt when I realized I had missed the anniversary of Sesame Street! Sesame Street turned 40 on November 10. Feel nostalgic and want to celebrate? Maybe your child is just starting to become interested in Big Bird? Here are some suggested titles to help you "get to Sesame Street."

For adults, check out Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis. 123 Sesame Street, A Celebration by Louise Gikow is another option. Both titles give you information about how the show began, with 123 Sesame Street taking you behind the scenes as to how the muppets are made, how they move, and how they speak.

For children I'd suggest that you check out the CD section. We have some great Sesame Street music that would be perfect to move along and dance to. I just discovered Sesame Street Playground. It's has music from the different international versions of Sesame Street. You can listen to the USA version of Elmo's Song, and then listen to the China version of Rubber Duckie. Or what about the CD Silly Songs? With songs like "I'm Proud to Be a Cow" and "The Transylvania Polka" this would be a great CD to listen to in the car!

When I was a kid one of my favorite books was The Monster At the End of This Book by Jon Stone. It features Grover pleading with readers not to keep turning the pages of the book because with each turn of the page you get closer to the end, and at the end of the book is a monster! The funny part is finding out who's waiting at the end of the book.

Who is your favorite Sesame Street character? Click on comments to let us know. Meanwhile, stop by the second floor information desk and we'd be happy to suggest other books, CDs, and DVDs for your family.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Benefits of Music

Have you ever sat in on a storytime or library visit and wondered what was going on? During a storytime, not only is the performer reading stories, but usually music and movement are involved. If you have ever been to one of our summertime 'Wild Times' programs, you will have seen how much music influences the children who attend. Music is helpful for little children especially because it helps teach syllables and aides in speech development.

There is a great article, Tuning Into the Benefits of Music Education, that explains how experiencing music with your children is not only beneficial in their musical aptitude, but also can help get children ready for reading and benefit other areas of their education.

To help with this, the 24-hour TV network, Sprout, has introduced a three-hour morning music fun program that includes the Wiggles. Now, before you roll your eyes and scream "If I have to listen to one more song about hot potatoes or fruit salad....!", think about how much those songs will help your child as they grow and go into school. A little pain on your part, a lot of gain for your children.

Remember to have fun with your kids - dance around the room... enjoy yourself!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Parenting Books

Zach and His Dog
Story of bonding, love and loss for children to share together.
J Parent Collection 155.937 MEA

1001 T.I.P.S.

A delightful collection of ideas, insights and inspiration for mothers, from mothers:timely insights and parenting strategies.
J Parent Collection 296.74 ONE

The Smart Step-Family
Seven steps to a healthy family.
J Parent Collection 306.874 DEA

Eco-Friendly Families
Guide your family to greener living with activities that engage and inspire...from toddlers to teens.
J Parent Collection 333.72 COR

My Mom's Having a Baby!
Information answers to all sorts of questions a big sister or brother-to-be might have.
J Parent Collection 612.6 BUT

Food Fights
Winning the nutritional challenge of parenthood armed with insight, humor and a bottle of ketchup.
J Parent Collection 613.2083 JAN

How to Keep Your Child Safe
A parent's guide to protecting their children.
J Parent Collection 613.6 LEE

Smart But Scattered
The revolutionary "Executive Skills" approach to helping kids reach their potential.
J Parent Collection 649.1 DAW

The Science of Parenting
Practical guidance on sleep, crying, play and building emotional well-being for life.
J Parent Collection 649.1 SUN

Childhood Unbound
Saving our kids' best selves--confident parenting in a world of change.
J Parent Collection 649.1 TAF

Mommy Calls
Answers to parents' top 101 questions about babies and toddlers.
J Parent Collection 649.122 REM

Toilet Training for Individuals with Autism or Other Developmental Issues
A comprehensive guide for parents and teachers.
J Parent Collection 649.620874 WHE

Stop the Screaming
How to turn angry conflict with your child into postive communication.
J Parent Collection 649.64 PIC

Friday, November 20, 2009

Passport to Thanksgiving

In the fall of 1621, 90 Wampanoag men and 52 English people gathered together to eat; that shared harvest meal evolved into Thanksgiving.

This holiday time is a great opportunity to visit the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian. You can use your Des Plaines Library card to check out a Museum Adventure Pass for free admission. An easy 25 minute drive will get you to this cozy museum in Evanston.

The museum has five permanent galleries highlighting Native Americans from different regions of North America. There are lots of games to play, as well as touching tables for kinesthetic learning. During a recent visit I ground corn, wove a rug, and sat in a wigwam. I also visited the gift shop and the library.

During my visit I was particularly interested in learning about the Algonquin, Chippewa, and Iroquois. I wanted to learn about these groups because our local middle schools have the same names. Did you know that one of these groups is also called Ojibwe or Anishinabe? Check out The Ojibwe to find out the which one it is.

For an entertaining book to read with your child, you might try Iktomi and the Coyote. This trickster tale with audience participation is fun to share.

Have a happy Keepunumuk (time of harvest in the Wampanoag language)!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thank You!

A big heartfelt thanks to all of you who participated in our Veteran's Day card writing activity. With your help, we collected over 130 letters for Veterans and Soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Look at how the letters stretch from the preschool boat to the poetry corner!

If you didn't make it, but still want to help, you can collect items to be sent to our soldiers overseas. They are collected in the lobby of the library all year, and include: lip balm, pocket-size Kleenex tissues, silly string, fruit roll ups, and much more. For an entire "Soldier's Wish List", stop by the collection bin on the first floor of the library and pick up a flyer.

Do you know someone who is currently serving overseas and would like a care package? You can fill out the name and address of a relative or friend in the armed services and submit it to the Des Plaines VFW through the collection box. Then, when the packages are put together and sent, one will be send in your family member or friend. Donations are also accepted at the VFW Post to pay for shipping the items to the soldiers. You can e-mail vnvetsteve@comcast.net for more information or call 847-296-9878.

Thanks again to all who participated! As someone who has had a loved one overseas during the holiday season, I know how much they appreciate all the love and support we can send. Remember to give thanks for their service every Veteran's Day and again next week on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holidays Around the World

According to the Webster's International Dictionary, 'a holiday is a day on which one is exempt from one's usual labor or vocational activity.' In fact, the word Holiday is derived from 'holy - day', a day to offer prayer or celebrate a religious event. In ancient times, holy days were established to thank the gods for such events as the start of a new year, the coming of spring, and the ripening of the harvest.

Each holiday is observed in its own special way. It may call for joyous feasting, solemn fasting, or some other means of expression. Whatever the celebration, holidays are anticipated eagerly, remembered fondly, and celebrated differently by country or region. A program . There are 193 holidays celebrated throughout the world! Some of the major holidays celebrated are listed below.

Thanksgiving is a day set aside each year for giving thanks to God for blessing received. Families and friends gather together in feasting and prayer. The fourth Thursday of November in each year observed as Thanksgiving in U.S. and Canada. For more information, click here.

Christmas is a Christian holiday observed on December 25th for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. On this day, many people go to church where they participate in religious services.
For more information, click here.

Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast Lights of Feast Dedication. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means dedication. The Hanukkah holiday begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (approximately December) and last eight days. See Hanukkah Activities for children for more information.

Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday that begins on December 26 and lasts for seven days. The word Kwanzaa means first fruits in Kiswahill, an East African Language. See Kwanzaa Fun for Kids for more information.

New Years Day is a day to greet the new year with hope and happiness. For more information click here.

Kidworks Touring Theatre Co. will perform the holiday traditions program, Holidays Around the World, on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 2 p.m. at the Des Plaines Public Library. Please join us for a great program!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bringing the World to Kids

National Geography Awareness Week is November 15 through 21.

The desire to learn about where we are in the world begins as early as age 2. Children learning about places and those places shaping their environment is an ongoing process.

The library is the place to come to further increase geography knowledge. We have many resources available to help you in your efforts to add to your child's awareness of the world. Books, atlases, dvd's, cd-rom's in our collection to check out. Databases that are available to library cardholders to explore.

Stop by the 2nd floor Information Desk and ask one of the YS desk staff to assist you in locating resources.

While you are online at home, try looking at the My Wonderful World or the Geography Games for Kids webpages.

Learning about Geography and the world begins at home! Great Explorations await!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Caudill Club Blog

You may have noticed a new blog listed on the library's home page called Caudill Club - For readers in 4th through 8th grade. This is an online book club for children who are reading books nominated for the 2010 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award. This award is given annually to the book receiving the most votes from the children in Illinois who have read at least three of the nominated titles.

Some of our local schools promote this award in their buildings; however, not all do so. That's why in 2003 we started a Caudill Club for students who don't have one at their school. It's evolved over that time from a monthly book discussion group to what is now an online community of readers. We've designed it to operate like a social networking site, where children can share their opinions about the books with one another -- but one that is completely safe for them.

Here at the library, we ask that children fill out a Feedback Form for each book they read. Everyone who submits at least three feedback forms will be eligible to vote for their favorite title in February. As an added incentive, each reader who reads at least ten of the books (and submits feedback) will receive a copy of the winning book to keep. The comments children make on these forms are then published so that everyone can read a variety of opinions about each book. Take a look at some of the comments yourself. You'll get a kick out of them, I promise!

Let me emphasize again that this is completely save for your child! All comments and feedback are submitted directly to me. I then publish them, making sure that the only way a child is identified is by their first name and last initial. Any other information collected is for our record-keeping purposes only.

Take a look at the blog and let us know what you think. Also, if your child has posted to it, let us know how they like it...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yay! Storytime is Here

Join us for Toddler storytimes on Thursdays, November 12, and 19th at 10:30 am and for Preschool storytimes Tuesdays, November 10, 17, and 24th at 10:30 am.

In case you want to put on a storytime at home, here are some of the fun things we did at this week's storytime:

We read the book, The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri which emphasized the pre-reading skill of Narrative Skills. Narrative Skills is the ability to describe things and events, and to tell stories. This skill will help your child understand that stories have a beginning, middle and an end. Later on, this skill will also help your child as he/she learns to write.

Another book to share is I Went Walking by Sue Williams. Invite your child to pat his/her knees whenever you read the line, "I went walking." This story introduces many names of animals, builing your child's vocabulary. One way to increase your child's exposure to language is to "narrate" your day by simply saying out loud what you are doing while doing it. Be patient and encouraging by leaving time for your child to "answer" so that they are learning narrative skills aswell.

After reading a story, pick yourselves up and move to the following rhymes:

Tick-tock, tick-tock, (stand straight up and move from side to side)
I’m a little cuckoo clock.
Tick-tock, tick-tock,
Now I’m striking one o’clock. (hold up 1 finger )
Cuckoo! (take a bow and say, "Cuckoo!")
Repeat the rhyme for two o'clock (say cuckoo twice) and three o'clock.

Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Head and shoulders, knees and toes.
Knees and toes, knees and toes.
Head and shoulders, knees and toes,
Eyes, ears, mouth and nose.

Check out the Wiggleworms Love You CD by Old Town School of Folk Music and listen to the song Mary Had a Little Lamb. Use multicolored scarfs for movement actions.

See you in storytime!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Are We There Yet?

Now that November is here, that means the holiday season will be here before we know it. And for a lot of us that means traveling to visit family.

Car rides full of "He's on my side!", She hit me!", and "Moooooooommmmmmm!" can be more exhausted than the act of traveling itself. Need something to distract and entertain the kids, and save your sanity?

Try audiobooks! I love audiobooks. They're perfect for making a long drive seem shorter. Trust me- just like a kid, I start to get antsy after being in the car for too long.

Get the kids involved in the story. Make guesses about what you think might happen. Ask them questions about who their favorite character is and why. What did they like best? Do they think the ending should be different?

Get several different titles so if the family isn't getting into one story, you can switch to another. Some titles that would be great for families of all ages are:

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has the cures for such common children's diseases as Won't-Put-Away-Toys-itis, Answerbackism, and Fighter-Quarrelitis.

Three Tales of My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Adventures begin when Elmer Elevator runs off with an alley cat to an island to rescue a flying dragon.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
A story about Despereaux who is a tiny mouse with enourmous ears, the princess that he loves, the servant girl who desires to be a princess, and a rat determined to bring them all to ruin.

The BFG by Roald Dahl
BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant. It's up to him and Sophie ( a little girl) to save the world from giants who love to eat children.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The first book in a series, Percy Jackson discovers he's the son of Poseidon, God of the Sea and becomes involved in a quest to prevent a war between the gods.

Savvy by Ingrid Law
In Mibs Beaumont's family, children receive their "savvy"--a magical power unique to each member. When her dad is in an accident she goes to rescue him believing her soon to emerge savvy will save him.

Do you have any favorites that your children enjoy listening to in the car? Please post them in the comments section. Meanwhile when you're traveling to Grandmother's house give one of these, or one of our other audiobooks a try. I bet you'll end up being entertained too!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Safe and Happy Halloween

Halloween is a fun time for kids, but it is also an important time to be extra watchful for possible safety hazards so that your children will have a fun and safe Halloween. Here some tips to make your family's Halloween safe:

Costume Safety:
-costumes should be short enough so that your child won’t trip and fall.
-select ones made of flame retardant material.
-face paint should be nontoxic and hypoallergenic.
-masks should fit securely and allow your child to see well.
-knives, swords and other props should be made of a totally flexible material.
-if it is a cold night, make sure that costumes are large enough for warm clothes.
-add some reflective tape or bright colors to the costume or bag to make your child visible in the dark.

Trick-or-Treating Safety:
-adults should go with children under the age of twelve.
-carry a flashlight and walk on the sidewalks of well lit streets.
-choose well-lit houses in familiar neighborhoods only.
-older children should trick-or-treat in large groups in well known neighborhoods.
-avoid taking shortcuts across backyards or alleys.
-drivers: follow traffic signals, rules of the road; drive slowly, watching for trick-or-treaters.

Safety Tips for Homeowners:
-prepare for trick-or-treaters by: lighting the house well, removing obstacles from the front yard, and restraining dogs and other animals.
-provide candy treats that are individually wrapped by the store.
-offer kids nonfood treats, such as stickers and erasers.

Candy Safety:
-instruct your children to bring all candy home before eating it, so that you can carefully inspect it.
-children shouldn't snack while they're out trick-or-treating, before parents have a chance to inspect the goodies.
-to prevent children from munching, give them a snack or light meal before they go. Don't send them out on an empty stomach.
-tell children not to accept and, especially, not to eat anything that isn't commercially wrapped.
-throw out candy or treats that are homemade, unwrapped or that appear to have been tampered with (pinholes in wrappers, torn wrappers, etc.).
-remove any potential choking hazards for small children (gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys).

For more information on how to have a safe Halloween, see :


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Holy BOB Books, Batman!

After a long hiatus, the BOB books are back, as well as a similar set of Dora the Explorer Phonics books.

For those of you who are not already familiar with the BOB books, and have not been asking for them all summer, BOB books are sets of 10 paperback books for emerging readers that focus on phonics skills.

Here is what their website says: Developed to guide your child gently through the earliest stages of reading, Bob Books were created to facilitate that ah-ha moment when letters first turn into words. By slowly introducing new letter sounds, using consistency, repetition and stories that fit short attention spans - your child will quickly find his or her own ah-ha moment. This is the magic of Bob Books.

If you have been waiting all summer for the return of the BOB books, wait no longer, they are here. Stop by the YS desk on the 2nd floor to ask for help locating them in our newly created Phonics Collection of Early Readers.