Friday, April 29, 2011

Tornado Safety

With the recent outbreak of devastating tornadoes that hit the South, your children might be wondering about tornadoes: how do they form, could this happen here, and what they should do during a tornado.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), here are some facts about tornadoes:
  • Peak season in the southern states is March to May
  • Peak season for northern states is late spring to early summer
  • Average speed is 30 MPH, but can vary between 0 and 70 MPH
  • The path of a tornado can reach over a mile wide and 50 miles longs
  • Come from strong, powerful thunderstorms
  • It's possible for every state to be affected by tornadoes

They also have information on their website about what to do before and during a tornado.

  • Pay attention to weather signs that indicate dangerous weather
  • Dark, usually greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • Large, dark, low-lying cloud
  • Loud roar (like a train)
  • Listen to radio or news--if they mention storms approaching be prepared to act fast. Have a plan in place so your children know what to do (There's a reason we practice tornado and fire drills.)


The FEMA website lists what to do depending on what you're in at the time. If you're in a building, go to the lowest level like a basement. If a basement isn't available go to an inside room on the lowest possible level. Stay away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Get under a table and protect your head and neck with your arms.

If you're outside or in a vehicle, try to get into the nearest building. If that's not possible lie flat in the lowest possible area around, like a ditch. Don't seek shelter under an overpass or bridge.

FEMA has more information available on their site about what to do after a disaster and helping a child coping with distress. Even children who haven't lived through the experience but seen it on TV might experience distress.

If your child would like to learn more about tornadoes, check out these books at our library:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Have Your Teen Volunteer This Summer!

Is your child in 7th-12th grade? Are they friendly and enjoy working with others? Then they might enjoy being a volunteer for our Summer Reading Club!

One of the reasons our Summer Reading Club is so successful is because of our wonderful teen volunteers. They help sign up children into the Club, hand out prizes, get supplies ready, and help out at programs.

In return they get a head start on their volunteer hours for the school year, a super cute volunteer t-shirt, chances to win prizes with the weekly raffle, and a volunteer party at the end of the Summer Reading Club!

Our Summer Reading Club Volunteer Applications just went out. If your teen is interested, please encourage them to come into the library and pick up an application to fill out. Applications are due by May 16th. We'd love for them to be part of our team!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Great Shakeout 2011

Earthquakes in Japan have been in the news lately, but did you know that April is Earthquake Preparedness Month here in Illinois? You have probably heard the saying "Stop, Drop and Roll" for fire, but for earthquakes you are supposed to "Drop, Cover and Hold On". This slogan is a reminder to "Drop" down to the floor, take "Cover" under a sturdy desk, table, or other furniture, and "Hold On" to the furniture item and be prepared to move with it until the shaking stops.

Next Thursday, April 28 at 10:15 a.m. is the 2011 Shakeout Drill. You and your family can plan what you will do now to prepare, so that if you are ever in an earthquake you will be able to protect yourself and then recover quickly.

When you register to participate in the drill at www.shakeout.org/centralus you can receive additional information about the drill and earthquake preparedness. For example, you can find a link to play Beat the Quake. (I didn't do so well, but it was fun to play.)

Young children might enjoy reading Earthquakes by Mari Schuh.

Earthquakes: The Science Behind Seismic Shocks and Tsunamis is an interesting book for older children.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Remembering the Early Days of Des Plaines

Who was here before we were here? As part of our "Work, Learn, Play, Remember" theme, we will be hosting a joint program with the Des Plaines History Center this Saturday, April 23. Register at the Youth Services desk or at dppl.org. We'll hear stories, learn a bit of history, AND make a mess fashioning our own arrowheads out of all natural materials!

Remebmer Des Plaines

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Importance of Keeping an Eye on Your Child

Although they rarely make national headlines, as people who work in the library system, we often hear the horror stories of what can happen when children are left in the library unattended.  But the truth is, it doesn't take leaving your child alone in the library for something awful to happen.  Recently, at Gail Borden Library in Elgin, a child walked away from a mom who was helping her other child.  It took an hour for police to find him, during which the library was in lock-down, but when they eventually picked him up, he had walked a mile away.

You can read more about it here, but the truth of the matter is... here at the library we keep policies about keeping children under 8 near you for a reason.  It isn't that we think this is an unsafe area in which to live, but accidents can happen anywhere.  There are sliding glass doors that move when there is motion, and although we do our best to keep an eye on the library, there are always moments where we are helping others and can't see every person or child that leaves the library.

We hope that you are understanding of our policies, but most of all, we hope that all children stay safe while they are in our library.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Remember the Civil War?

My children think I am old enough to remember the Civil War. For the record, I am not. However, I do know that the Civil War began exactly 150 years ago today. I am looking forward to learning more about this historic time period as we begin the Sesquicentennial. (I love fun words, don't you? In case you've forgotten, sesquicentennial means 150th anniversary.)

I was excited to discover the Illinois Civil War Sesquicentennial website. Since it represents the work of Save Illinois History and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the information is reliable and extensive. Downloadable articles and curriculum materials for teachers are included.

This online resource also has a comprehensive calendar of events related to the Civil War Sesquicentennial, including activities at the Lake County Discovery Museum. Free general admission passes are available for Des Plaines Public Library cardholders through the Museum Adventure Pass program.

One of the dates included in the website's detailed timeline is April 12, 1861. That is the day that Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. (That's how I knew that the Civil War began 150 years ago today.) The timeline extends through the end of the War in 1865, so there is plenty of time to explore.

You can also explore the books here at the library. Great Civil War Projects You Can Build Yourself has great projects for hands-on learning.

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Civil War Soldier! is a catchy name for a book. I was absolutely convinced of the truth of that title when I read that soldiers often brought their wives along to cook, wash clothes and take care of the sick.

I plan to learn more about this important time in our history throughout the Sesquicentennial. Let me know if you have any good resources to suggest.

Friday, April 8, 2011

April is National Autism Awareness Month

Did you know that April is National Autism Awareness Month? It was started in the 1970s to bring awareness to Autism.

The Autism Society defines autism as a "complex neurodevelopmental disability" that usual appears in a child's first 2 years. It affects their ability to interact and communicate with others. Autism is a "spectrum disorder" which means that it affects people differently and to different levels. Currently 1 in 110 Americans are being diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

You might not be aware that the Des Plaines Library has several resources for parents and caregivers needing information or support. We have a large collection of books for parents needing information or help dealing with particular issues relating to autism. The books are located within our Parenting Collection on the 2nd floor. Here are some selected titles from the collection: Visual Supports for People with Autism, The Official Autism 101 Manual, and Autism Heroes: Portraits of Families Meeting the Challenge.

Also in the Parenting Collection are adapted books for children on the spectrum. These are traditional books that have modified with picture communication added for children to have been understanding of what's happening in the story. The pages are laminated and in a binder to make it easier for them to hold, and there are textured foam "fluffers" that separate the pages to make it easier for them to turn the pages.

The library also maintain the Autism Resource Center, which is a wiki that the library started. This is a site for parents or caregivers where you can find links for local resources such as dentists, family support, or therapists. You can find the link to the wiki here.

Finally, the library runs a monthly program with Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy where trained therapy dogs help children work on motor skills, interaction, and communication. The children interact with the wonderful aides and dog handlers, while their parents get a chance to check out the library's collection.

If you are a parent of a child who has autism and want to suggest a book for our collection or an area resource for our wiki, please feel free to email us, call us at 847.376.2839, or stop by and talk to us at the 2nd floor information desk the next time you're in.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

National Poetry Month and Contest

Have you been in the library lately?  If so, you may have noticed colorful 81/2x11 sheets of paper adorning the walls of the 2nd floor.  It is our 2nd annual Poetry Scavenger Hunt funded by the Friends of the Library. 

This two part scavenger hunt asks children to find 24 poems scattered throughout the floor, followed by finding 12 poems specifically about subjects listed on the scavenger hunt list.  After finishing the first part, children are given a pen (with which to write their own poems) made out of 100% biodegradable materials, and they are given a matching notebook (with which to write their own poems) after finishing the second part.

Bring your kids in to participate today, and while you are here, check out the great poetry books we have in our poetry corner (you know... near the Poet Tree...).  They have all month to finish, so if they don't finish while you are here, come back anytime before the end of the month to find all of the poems!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools Anyone?

How many of you woke up this morning with toothpaste all over your face?  How many came downstairs at what you thought was the right time only to find out the clocks had been moved forward an hour or two?  Anyone told by their children they saw the school bus go by before it actually did?

Today is April Fools Day, A day that dates back to 1582 in France.  King Charles IX introduced the Georgian Calendar, moving the New Year from March 25-April1 (new year's week) to January 1.  Because the mail and telephone system were non-existent in those times, news traveled slowly and some people didn't find out about the change for several years, and some refused to make the change, continuing to celebrate on April 1st.  Those who continued to celebrate were labeled "fools" and jokes were played on them; invitations to fake parties were sent, they were sent on "fool's errands", all kinds of practical jokes were played.

In that tradition, we still celebrate April Fool's Day in the united states, mostly with kids playing tricks on their parents.  More information can be found here about April Fool's Day and how it is celebrated in other countries, but we also have lots of joke books and April Fool's Day books in the collection.  Stop in and check one out, but be careful.... you don't want to give your kids ammunition for next year!