Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Friendly Reminder About Internet Safety

We've posted on Kidding Around before about internet safety, but we felt it was time for a reminder about keeping kids safe online. Here again is our post about internet safety, with some additional links added at the bottom:

Now that school is underway, the phone is ringing off the hook and the computer is always in use. Whether for personal enjoyment or homework, the computer has become an everyday part of the typical American home. It can be a blessing as long as you know how to keep it safe for your children.

Check out the Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan's website for some great information and tips about internet safety as part of her 'Safeguarding Children' campaign to have every child grow up in a safe community.

You might also want to look at some internet safety software that blocks inappropriate content on computers and cell phones here, or check out the KidsHealth website to find out more about what you can do as parents to keep your child's internet experience safe.

Want to learn even more? Visit the PTA's website to access materials like their Internet Safety Checklist for Parents. The National Crime Prevention Council's website has helpful information about keeping girls safe online and a guide for parent's about social networking websites, as well as other information.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tools at the Library for your family's new school year!

A new school year is here and it's time to shift our thinking gears. Homework, science projects, after school activities, making sure your child finds an interest in reading and learning, keeping your child gain tools to succeed in all areas of life are the concerns of the day. Phew! No worries though because...

the library is the place (and website) to help you with your concerns.

So what to do when it's after dinner and your child mentions he needs help in (insert subject here)? Come to the library to utilize HelpNow, an online resource providing live tutoring and homework help between the hours of 3 - 11:55 pm. If you have a Des Plaines Library card, you can access HelpNow from home (in the comfort of pj's).

Have a report due on an lesser known explorer? Need an outline map of the United States? Who invented gum? Which Native American tribes reside in Illinois? Let us help you at the library or access one of the many children's online resources to help with attaining accurate information and photos for projects and homework assignments.

What about fun activities for the kids and family? We are your place for free (and learning) fun. Look at our online event calendar for the Sounds of Brazil program, the Chess Workshop series, the 2nd Annual Family Science Expo, Family Game Nights, Glow in the Dark juggling, crafts, storytimes and more!

How can your reader at home practice reading and have fun at the same time? Looking for another way to engage your child during your reading together time? Try our online literacy resources. Listen and read along with our animated storybooks, beginner reader books, chapter and nonfiction books on Tumblebook. You will also find a puzzle and games section as well as a section on language learning.
For children grades K - 3, try BookFlix, where classic video storybooks from Weston Woods and related nonfiction books from Scholastic are paired together, reinforcing early literacy skills and a love of knowledge.

What about Lexile scores and finding books within a score range. Visit NovelList to find book lists, award winner recommendations, a convenient feature to find similar books, book reviews, Lexile scores whenever possible, and a link to our catalog to check if the item is at the library.

As always, call or visit Youth Services and we can help you navigate all of these tools!
Keep checking back for more spotlights on tools for your family at the library.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to School Lunches

Since school has just gotten back in session it's important to remember how important nutritious lunches are. Of course, it helps when they taste great too! I asked some of the moms that work in the library to tell some of their go-to lunch secrets. All of them are concerned with nutrition, but every child has different likes and dislikes. Try some of their tips with you child.

Joanie's kids really wanted Yo-Go's, and since they started making some flavors without high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors and flavors, she's started getting them. She puts them in the freezer as a special cool treat for when they get home from school.

Heather's child will only eat a peanut butter sandwich, and only if it's in the shape of a heart. She's had some creative ways to combat her picky eater: bento boxes, making wrap sandwiches, and cutting veggies into fun shapes. Even though her child wouldn't fall for that last year she's hoping this year will be different.

Lynne's children are younger, so she's involved in making lunch for them at home. Her complaint is they never seem to like the same things at the same time. One thing they do like is to have their lunch be like a sampler plate. Lynn serves whole grain crackers, cheese, lean lunch meat, fresh fruit, veggies and dip. That way the kids can pick and choose what they would like to eat without Lynne having to prepare 4 different meals.

What other things can you do to make lunch special? Jazz up their lunches by having them pick out their own lunch bag. Occasionally do special things like put stickers inside, or write them a little note just to say hi. I still remember the notes my mom would leave in my lunch box. Courtney has a great idea from her childhood too. Make your children a theme lunch. Courtney remembers eating an "all orange" lunch: cheese sandwich, Cheetos (always the puffy ones), carrots, and a clementine.

The Youth Services Department has plenty of great books that will make packing school lunches a snap. Check out some of these titles the next time you're in the library!

Make and Eat Sandwiches & Snacks by Susannah Blake

Emeril's There's a Chef in My Family! by Emeril Lagasse

Cool Lunches to Make & Take by Lisa Wagner

Friday, August 20, 2010

Buzzing in My Ear

Recently I have been afraid to leave my house. I am worried about being attacked by one of the world's most deadly animals. In addition to being dangerous, they are extremely annoying. The horrible Aedes vexans may have vexed you and your loved ones too. The saliva she injects when she bites (and it is the female that sucks your blood) causes those miserable, red, itchy things we call mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes can be deadly because they can spread diseases such as West Nile Virus. Fortunately, the type that invaded our area recently, Aedes vexans, is a floodwater mosquito species. They are bothersome and prolific. They bite during the daytime and nighttime. Even though they are true nuisance mosquitoes, they do not seem to carry West Nile Virus.

All sorts of information about mosquitoes, including a fascinating (at least I thought so) video of the swimming behavior of larval mosquitoes can be found on the Northwest Mosquito Abatement District website. You can also find information about protecting yourself from mosquito bites.

My preferred method of protection is staying inside with a good book. One of my favorites is Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears. This West African tale won the Caldecott Award for illustration.

If you are interested in more factual information, check out

Mosquitoes: Hungry for Blood
(Bloodsuckers series)

(World of Insects series)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Parenting Books

Child Care Today
Will answers what is known about every aspect of child care and
includes the often hidden feelings and fears of parents.
J Parent Collection 362.7 LEA

Developing Quality Care for Young Children
Learn how to turn early care setting into magical places.
J Parent Collection 362.712 BEC

Imagine a Rainbow: a child's guide for soothing pain
This book introduces children to tools for soothing pain.
J Parent Collection 618.92 MIL

We Need to Talk: tough conversations with your kids
From sex to family values tackle any topic with sensitivity and smarts.
J Parent Collection 646.78 HEY

Growing Up With Your Children: 7 turning points in the lives of parents
Helps you find insights into the difficult but rewarding work
of becoming good parents.
J Parent Collection 649.1 CAR

Reading Together
Everything you need to know to raise a child who loves to read.
J Parent Collection 649.58 FRA

Simplicity Parenting
Gives parents the know how to use the extraordinary power of less
to raise calmer, happier, and more secure kids.
J Parent Collection 849.1 PAY

Friday, August 13, 2010

Things That Go Bump In the Night!

The "things" that go bump in the night are spooky stories. Spooky stories are very popular at the library. The last few weeks many children have come up to the desk looking for "scary stories". Well, scary stories are different for everyone. There are several classics that I booktalk to kids and then I teach them how they can find scary stories on the Youth Services floor.

The first is an oldie but a goodie. (I guess old might be a relative term. It was a popular book when I was a kid and remains popular today). Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz is a collection of stories from folklore that have been retold by the author. It contains stories to tell around a campfire or sleepover that have a "jump moment" that will make listeners jump with a scream, mysterious stories about ghosts that have returned to the world of the living, and some funny stories. The last story in the collection, "The Ghost With The Bloody Fingers," made me laugh when I read it. A hotel room is haunted by a ghost moaning "Bloody fingers! Bloody fingers!" He scares several hotel guests away until the third guest shuts him up with a very humorous remark. Be forewarned though- some of the drawings in the book are creepier than the stories, as you can see by the cover.

Mary Downing Hahn is another pick. Her novel Wait Till Helen Comes is about two siblings who aren't happy that their mom has remarried, not to mention that their new stepfather has a daughter named Heather. Molly and Michael don't get along well with Heather, who has become fixated on a grave in a nearby graveyard that has Heather's initials, H.E.H., on it. Eventually Molly realizes that the ghost of H.E.H. is trying to lure Heather away from their family. It's up to her to rescue Heather. This mysterious tale of a lonely spirit will have ghost story readers enthralled.

Mary Downing Hahn has a new book coming out this fall called The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall, a Gothic style ghost story about a vindictive ghost looking for revenge for her death. I know I can't wait to read it! Put a hold on a copy now.

Looking for other scary stories? We have lots available at the library! Kids can easily find spooky stories by looking for the genre sticker on the spines of the book. We've just gotten new stickers in that look like this so it's easy for them to find this genre. One last thing I tell kids, especially younger ones, is that it's make believe. If the book starts scaring you TOO MUCH, then it's okay to close the book. I wish someone had told me that when I was a kid- I would hide spooky books under the couch cushions because I didn't want to see them anymore! Happy Friday the 13th!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Looking for answers? So are we...

The massive oil spill on April 20th has presented each one of us with a lot of questions, many of them unanswerable... but it has also left a lot of us asking ourselves questions about our lifestyle and how we impact what is happening so very far away.

Here at the library, we are fortunate to have many 'green-centered' librarians on staff, who encourage the rest of us to recycle, reduce waste, and to think about how we can serve the public in a more environmentally friendly way. You may have noticed the many recycling bins that we provide for batteries, cell phones, eye glasses, computer discs, and many other things in addition to the regular plastic bag recycling bin in the lobby. In addition, two years ago, we replaced the plastic bags we used to give out with reusable bags that you can purchase for a dollar. These are the little things we do here at the library to make our world a greener place.

While we, as adults, can understand the impacts of a catastrophic oil spill such as the one on the Deepwater Horizon, children may not be able to understand both the pictures of hurt animals they see on the news and also the impact this may have on their future. If your kids are asking questions, they aren't alone... so why make them feel that way? We are all asking questions right now. The best thing to do is to seek out answers, and what better place to look than at the library. We may not have all of the answers about what is happening down in the gulf, but we can definitely help answer questions such as: How does this happen? What can we do to help? How do they get the oil out of the water? How do they save the animals? and much more.

Let us know how we can help you!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Save Money on Back-to-School Supplies

The start of a new school year is always full of excitement, anticipation, sometimes a little regret ... and shopping! Who can't remember the thrill of getting a new lunch bag, backpack, notebook, etc? But, for parents, all that gleaming newness comes with a price. And, let's face it, nothing seems to be cheap these days.

That's why we wanted to remind you that there's a way to save money this year by taking advantage of the Sales Tax Holiday the state of Illinois created for the first time this year. Starting today, Friday, August 6, the sales tax imposed on school supplies, clothing and footwear will be reduced by 5%. This reduction will be in effect for ten days, through Sunday, August 15. What this means in practical terms is that if you would normally pay 9.5% sales tax, for the next ten days you'll only pay 4.5%. And saving money is saving money any way you look at it!

Qualifying items include school clothing and uniforms (items costing less than $100), footwear (again, less than $100) and school supplies. For a complete list of what items do and do not qualify, please look here.

After you finish writing your shopping list for the 2010-11 school year, why not stop by the library and check out some books about going to school in other times or places. You'll find books like these at DPPL:

Book jacket for School In Grandma's Day by Valerie Weber

School In Grandma's Day by Valerie Weber

Book jacket for My School In The Rain Forest
My School In The Rain Forest by Margriet Ruurs

Book jacket of One Room School by Raymond Bial

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Great River Tug Fest

Tug-of-war is a great summertime game for kids, adults and states. That's right, there is an actual tug-of-war between states. This year the contest between Illinois and Iowa takes place on Saturday, August 14 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. during the 24th Annual Great River Tug Fest. This event features the only tug-of-war across the Mississippi River.

A 2,400-foot, 680-pound rope is stretched from Port Byron, Illinois to LeClaire, Iowa. The great state of Illinois is represented by ten teams of 20 brawny male pullers and 1 team of 25 determined female pullers who compete against teams from Iowa for bragging rights. The state with the most winning teams gets to take home the Alabaster Eagle trophy. I am happy to report that Illinois has 13 victories compared to 10 wins for Iowa.

The festival also includes a parade, 5K run/walk, carnival, live music, food and fireworks over the Mississippi River. Port Byron is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Des Plaines, so it is close enough for a day trip, or a weekend getaway.

If you go to cheer, let us know who wins. (I'm sure it will be Illinois). Here are some good books for the road:

The Dangerous Book for Boys

The Adventurous Book of Outdoor Games

Ripley's Believe It or Not: Fun and Games

The Mighty Mississippi