Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 year in review (or, Mostly We Moved a Lot of Stuff)

What a year it's been! I want to share with you a few of the highlights - but what to choose?? There were so very many magical moments in 2013.

We kicked off 2013 with a wonderfully successful Winter Reading Club: Chill Out and Read! And it's sure to be another fun winter of reading when this year's program: Reading is a Breeze! kicks off on January 4.

As the months rolled by, we learned robotics in the LEGO WeDo programs, where kids built functional robotics projects, we had an Art Attack, we sang with Ac*Rock, we became better babysitters, we challenged our Chess Mates, and practiced our PoetryPlay with a visit from poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

Then things heated up with Have Book, Will Travel, our 2013 Summer Reading Club. Over 2000 kids participated and 60 awesome teen volunteers made it an awesome summer with our Around the World in 80 Minutes (or less) kickoff and our Radio Disney Dance Party to celebrate! Thanks, guys.
Fall brought us LEGO Build a Reader storytimes, Polish and Hispanic Heritage Month events, Veterans Day letter writing, Kids Get Crafty, and Family Science Expo. I am out of breath (and my fingers ache from typing).

On top of the multitudes of fun stuff you may have noticed a few cosmetic changes happening on the 2nd floor of the library in recent months. Your 2nd floor self-check is still here, but in a different spot, and it's sharing a wall with the video screen that tells you about all the great programs we have going on. The parenting collection has made a leap across the room to be with our homeschooling and curriculum materials (I think it was lonely). The Chicago Bears Friend-Ship, a long-time fixture on the kids floor, has gone into dry dock. Our collection of music CDs is freeing itself from the too-high-for-kids furniture it currently lives in to be shelved with other media and at a much more browse-able level and in a place where it may grow.

Most of these minor changes are in preparation for some BIG changes to come. In 2014 we plan to increase the size of our program room. That's right! The place where for years you have come for storytime, for crafts, for games, for Wild Times, for so many good times is about to get super-sized! We are going to bust out a wall and get some much needed space. It may mean that things are a little out-of-sorts for a while, but rest assured the end result will be so much greater in so many ways!

We have had such a wonderful year, and we feel blessed to have spent it with you. If you're not here, you're missing out!

Best wishes to you and your family for a wild and wonderful 2014.

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Embarrassing (and not so embarrassing) Musical Heritage

Lately I’ve been revisiting my embarrassing musical heritage. We all have one. It’s the music you grew up listening to that hasn’t aged well, but still evokes fond feelings from your childhood. Your friends chuckle when the tracks comes up on your playlist, but you love them, so they stay.

Working with preschoolers, I am keenly in tune with the children’s music segment of my embarrassing musical heritage. How about you? Do you remember the music your parents played for you as a child?

In the late 80’s early 90’s, my parents were big on children’s folk. Some of it I still consider top quality music. Diss Burl Ives? Them's fightin' words.

Other CDs are hard to sit through despite nostalgia. Red Grammer’s excessive use of the drum machine in Teaching Peace comes to mind. But yet, I still sing his heart warming “I think you’re wonderful” whenever words alone will not adequately convey the sentiment.

Some albums are still popular. 37 years after the release of Singable Songs for the Very Young, toddlers are still dancing to Raffi. In 2009 Sesame Street re-released a collection of old school gems for their 40th anniversary. Kids can still learn their multiplication tables to Schoolhouse Rock.

Many older CDs have been loved into oblivion, (no one seems to own John Mccutcheon's Howjadoo anymore), but others are still available in the wider library system. You can put them on hold from home, and have them delivered to Des Plaines Public Library for pickup. Click here to start your search.

All embarrassment aside, I am grateful to my parents for seeking out music that would help me learn and grow. Did you know that when you and your child sing along to your favorite songs, you are helping your child learn to break words into syllables? By enjoying music together, you are setting your child up for success in school! Now that's something to sing about.

Here are some titles from my musical heritage. What about yours?

Friday, December 13, 2013

What Grandparents Do Best

The Ultimate Guide to Grandmas & Grandpas

Grandparents really are "grand" because of all the wonderful things they do for their grandkids.
And, no doubt, your family holiday celebrations will not be complete without visiting, calling or even Skyping Grandma and Grandpa! To add to your family's time together, why not share a few funny books that tell exactly what grandma and grandpa mean to your kids, or what their favorite names are for them, and what it's like to visit grandma and grandpa's house this season:

When You Visit Grandma and Grandpa

Grandparents are the Greatest Because..

The Ultimate Guide to Grandmas and Grandpas 

What Grandmas/Grandpas Do Best

I Call My Grandma Nana

I Call My Grandpa Papa 

40 Uses for a Grandpa

41 Uses for a Grandma

 How to Babysit a Grandpa

Friday, December 6, 2013

It's the Holiday Season!

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.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Handmade Holidays

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

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Remembering John F. Kennedy

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 8, 2013

Family Reading Night - Read Together in Cozy Comfort!

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

Storytimes, Crafting, and Game Nights -- Oh My!

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

Someone New (and tacos, too)

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

Friday, October 18, 2013

Red, White and Blue Pride: Polish American Heritage Month

In ethnically diverse Des Plaines, it's not hard to find Polish foods, the red and white flag displayed in a home or business or hear the Polish language around town and at our library!

Polish American Heritage Month celebrates the history, pride and culture of Polish Americans. Find out where you can go around town to Explore Polish culture and find some perogi, kielbasa or even paczki!

While there are many contributions and achievements of Polish Americans, this year marks the 234th anniversary of the death of General Casimir Pulaski, who volunteered his service to this country upon learning from Benjamin Franklin about a young nations' struggle for independence. He assisted George Washington in a number of victorious battles in the Revolutionary War and is known as "the father of American cavalry." Congress in 1929 passed a resolution to honor his heroism and to honor Polish American Heritage by designating October 11 as General Casimir Pulaski Memorial Day in our nation.

Come visit the library and see a display of handcrafted items from Poland, digital photos of the poppy crafts created at our Polish American Heritage craft program and browse through our Polish language collections for adults and children. Youth Services has a growing collection of Polish language movies, music and books for children and also a parent collection which is highlighted below.  Have a younger child? Consider joining us the first three weeks of most months for Dual Language (Polish/English) storytimes to hear rhymes, poetry, traditional songs and stories in both languages. Witamy!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Eeek! Halloween is Coming!

It's so hard to believe it's already October 11th. Doesn't it just feel like kids just went back to school? Now as the weather is crisp and cold in the morning and leaves are changing color, that means it's time to turn our thoughts to our spookiest holiday, Halloween.

We have tons of materials at the library to get your ready for Halloween. We've got stories to put you in the spirit, how-to books on making your own costume or perfecting pumpkin carving, and DVDs of Halloween classics like It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

This year we discovered something amazing. Are you familiar with Freegal? Freegal is our awesome digital music service. All you need is your Des Plaines Public Library card and you can get 3 free songs to download and keep each week. That's right--after you download them, they're yours forever! This year we discovered that Freegal has Halloween music--perfect to get those spooky sounds and tunes to help you set the atmosphere at your Halloween party at school or home. Once you're in Freegal, try searching for Halloween or Halloween sounds to get results, then explore from there.

Of course, we have Halloween CDs at the library too, but if you've come to the library at the last minute looking for these items before you know that they've all been checked out. Halloween (and holidays in general) move fast at the library, making Freegal a perfect option for you.

Feel free to stop by the Youth Services desk and ask us more about Freegal. Visit Freegal by clicking on the link here http://dppl.freegalmusic.com/homes/index or view some of the spooky selections.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Puppet Shows at Home

Last week during Family Storytime, several parents had the opportunity to share a special one-on-one learning experience with their children. As parents read simple fairy tales, their kids listened and acted out the story out with a set of finger puppets. The resulting interactions were simply  delightful!

If you are wondering how to do puppet plays at home, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose a simple story from a favorite book, tell one from memory, or make one up.
  2. Set up a simple cardboard box stage, or just use a small table.
  3. Use a flashlight for a spotlight and add sound effects with simple objects if you wish
  4. Look for puppet characters among your kids' stuffed animals. Or grab a pair of colorful socks or gloves, large kitchen spoons or utensils. Give them a face, some yarn hair, and you're ready to start. A small handout of a few puppet-making ideas is available at the YS desk.
  5. Give your puppets interesting voices, and actions. Move them with as much variety as possible.
  6. Basic rules for puppet actors:
    • Face the audience or the puppet that is talking.
    • Only one puppet talks at a time.
    • Puppets do not hit other puppets.
  7. REPEAT the story letting your children be the puppeteers!

If you would like more information on how to make puppets, stages and props,or story scripts for your play, check out these clever library books.  

                                                            Make your Own Puppets & Puppet Theaters

Friday, September 27, 2013

Family Science Expo 2013

Science fun for all ages will fill the library on Saturday, September 28 from noon until 4 p.m. Visitors of all ages will be able to explore science in many different forms. This hands-on expo features interactive exhibits from many Chicago-area science organizations. Here are links to our exhibitors:

American Chemical Society Chicago Section

American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Chicago Section

Braino Institute of Brainology

Civil Air Patrol, Illinois Wing

Des Plaines Science Prodigies

Gateway Traveler Information System

IEEE Women In Engineering, Chicago Chapter

Illinois Section American Society of Civil Engineers

Optical Society of Chicago

Society of Women Engineers

Special thanks to Village Bank & Trust, our partner in the 5th Annual Family Science Expo.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

How do I get them to read?

Need help motivating your child to read? Bring them into the library and sign them up for the Reading Patch Club! Kids will earn colorful patches for reading the kind of books they like best (e.g. adventure stories, animal stories, sports stories, etc.)

Kids get to pick their own books in the genre, as well as check out some of our favorite titles on an accompanying book list. It’s a reading incentive and a book recommendation all in one!

Is your child just learning to read? You are in luck! This fall we unveiled seven new patches for children in preschool through second grade. Check them out! Click on an image to see a preview of the reading list for that patch.

Give your budding bibliophile another reason to read. Sign up for the Patch Club today!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hispanic Heritage is Des Plaines’ Heritage, So Let’s Party!

17% of Des Plainesians described themselves as Hispanic or Latino in the 2010 US Census*, and in 2012 over 30% of the children enrolled in District 62 schools spoke Spanish at home. With such a strong Latino presence in our community, Hispanic heritage is our heritage. So why not celebrate it?

Hispanic American Heritage Month runs from September 15th through October 15th. Here are some great ways to share the riches of Latino culture with your kids:

Love guacamole? Why not branch out with other scrumptious Mexican or Latin American dishes? Our Latin American cookbooks make it easy to try new recipes with your kids. Bring the party to your kitchen; check one out today!

Papel picado, piñatas, Guatemalan weaving – Latin American handicrafts may serve as the inspiration for tons of fun craft projects for you and your kids! Check out one of our Latin American craft books, and get out the glue sticks! You don’t have to tell them it’s educational.

Take your child to Latin America without leaving your armchair. Read a book! Stop by our Hispanic American Heritage Month display for great stories set in Latin America, or featuring Latino characters in the U.S. Our display also includes non-fiction titles like the craft and cookbooks mentioned above.

Party at the library! We will be celebrating with these fun events. Bring the whole family!

Dual Language Storytime - September 23, 6:30pm
Enjoy stories and songs in two languages.

Hispanic Heritage Music Night T - October 7, 6:30pm
Sing and dance to music from across Latin America.

Hispanic Heritage Drop in Craft - October 14, 5:30-7:30pm Stop by and create something beautiful from Latin America

Family Loteria (Mexican Bingo) - October 19, 2:00 – 3:00pm
Learn to play Loteria, a traditional Mexican bingo game. You could win a prize!

Cultural understanding is one of the most beautiful gifts you can give to your child, and it’s fun! Come celebrate the gifts Des Plaines has received from Latino culture.

P.S. Coming soon to your library! Stay tuned for more opportunities to celebrate the diverse cultures in our community. Polish American Heritage Month is in October.

**District 62 Home Language Survey 3011/2012 school year.

Photo Credit: Andy Castro, Flickr.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Leaves on Your Medical Family Tree

When I was young, I often had a school assignment to create a family tree. It was a good excuse for my grandparents to help me with my homework.

Creating a medical family tree, or a family health history, for your child could be an even more important project for grandparents to help with. It could mean a longer and healthier life for your children (or yourself). Collecting medical information about your family can help identify whether you have higher risk for some diseases. That knowledge can help in looking for early warning signs of disease, and allow for steps to reduce the risk of disease.

As you consider your approach to this research, remember that some people are reluctant to share health information, even with their own family. You may want to thoughtfully plan who you want to include, what you want to ask, and when would be the best time to ask.

Here are some websites with reliable health information that might help you through the process.
Compiling Your Medical Family Tree, from the Mayo Clinic, provides information on gathering information.

My Family Health Portrait  is a tool from the Surgeon General that will allow you to enter and save information that you can update over time.
Family History Fact Sheet describes drawing a family tree called a "pedigree". The information is  provided by National Society of Genetic Counselors.
So the next time you invite relatives to a family event, you will be ready to start your medical family tree. The information you gather could benefit your family through the generations.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Train's Coming! All Aboard!

All Aboard!

What can a family do for weekend fun now that the pools are closed and the kids are boarding the school bus? Why not take a train ride to a destination-- real or imaginary!

Although Des Plaines is known for its many freight trains, we are fortunate to live in a town with a Metra Train Station for commuters. Special  $7 fares are available for the entire Saturday-Sunday weekend! You can travel downtown and back again, or head out to explore a different northwestern suburb.

Better yet, the library offers a Museum Pass discounted admission to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois, a truly amazing place with huge barns of locomotives and  passenger cars and a real two mile train ride.

If you cannot make the trip right now on either one, just get "on track" with some amazing train books and DVDs.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Radio Disney at Des Plaines Library

Congratulations to all of our Summer Reading Club participants! Over 2,000 children from birth - 6th grade (some 7-8th graders are also included in this count) registered for the club with over 16,896 hours read!

Have a 7th- 12th grader working on summer reading assignments? Have the reading count by joining the Teen Summer Reading Club (continues until Saturday August 31st). Read 4 books or 20 hours and earn a $5.00 gift card and a chance to win an iPad mini. The Adult Summer Reading club also continues until Saturday August 31st. Every time you read a book, you can enter for a chance to win an iPad mini!

In celebration of all the summer reading in our community, join us for our end of Summer Celebration event- a dance party with Radio Disney! Kick back and relax with ice cream and lemonade while the kids dance, play games and more!

Radio Disney End of Summer Celebration
Friday,  August 23
6:30 - 8 pm
on Library Plaza
Limited seating, bring your own chairs if you like

Generously funded by NorthShore University HealthSystem, Friends of the Library and Sam's Club

Friday, August 9, 2013

Have Book Will Travel . . . Reading Patch Bingo

Completing activities to earn our Summer Reading Club patch allows every child to learn by doing.
Reading Patch Bingo cards are still available in the Youth Services Department. To play, complete two rows of activities. Turn your completed card in by August 30 to receive your patch.
Since each child is unique, we included a range of activities to appeal to a variety of learning styles.
For the singer in your family, check out a CD and sing along. Try Ozomatli Presents Ozokidz. The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) named it to the Notable Children's Recordings list.
Dancers will love our last Reading Club event for the summer, the Radio Disney celebration August 23. The whole family can dance and sing along on the plaza.
The chef in your house can make an recipe from one of our international cookbooks. There are lots of pictures and easy recipes in the International Cookbook for Kids.
Making a paper airplane is fun, as our Teen Advisory Board learned at their recent lock-in at the library. If you want to work on your technique, check out The Kids' Guide to Paper Airplanes.
These are just a few of the 25 different squares that you can choose for your 10 activities as you enjoy the last few days of summer.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Free Family Fun

No cash to travel? No problem! Here are some free activities your family can enjoy this summer.

Family fun is important. I’ll never forget the day that a friend gave my family free passes to a carnival. It had been a hot and angsty summer in our house full of teenage girls, but by the second shrieking roller coaster ride, the tension had melted away like an ice cube on the pavement.

You don't need a roller coaster to rejuvenate. The key to family fun is a low pressure situation and something to laugh about. Here are some activities with minimal cost and stress, to get your family laughing this summer:

Take a family bike ride. Check out the Des Plaines River Trail at Algonquin and Campground Rd. for peaceful, traffic-free ride through the forest. Click here for a map.

Rock out to Radio Disney at the Library’s free Dance Party on Friday, August 23rd, from 6:30 to 8pm. Click here for more details.

Get crafty. This can be as simple as coloring together or as complicated as paper mache. Check out the library's craft books in the 745 Dewey range for ideas.

Watch an outdoor movie. The Des Plaines Park District will show Cinderella in the Lake Park Memorial Pavilion on Friday, August 9th, at dusk. Click here for more details.

Drop everything and play. One day my dad came home from work with a playground ball, marched us out to a park, and taught us to play kick ball. 20 years later, I still remember it. Need inspiration? Find a new game in one of the library's outdoor activity books. Click here for a list.

Hold a family game night. Play your favorite board game, or keep each other guessing with charades. Even the little ones can act out simple phrases like “Daddy mowing the lawn.” Let the hilarity ensue!

Read aloud together. It's a great bonding experience, and a good way to get the kids ready for school. Here are some funny family read-aloud titles that appeal to boys and girls of all ages and parents too. Read a chapter every night and laugh yourself to sleep.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Have Book Will Travel . . . to Peoria

Yes, you and your family can play in Peoria. I know that is not quite how the saying goes, but there are lots of fun activities for families. Besides, Peoria is close enough for a quick weekend vacation. Here are some destinations to consider.

The Caterpillar Visitors Center is a fantastic new facility on the riverfront, and it has nothing to do with butterflies. There are interactive displays and exhibits for all ages, and lots of photo opportunities with giant construction and mining equipment. Admission is very affordable, but the center is closed on Sundays

Wildlife Prairie State Park is a 2,000 acre zoological park that is home to 50 animal species that are native to Illinois. Animals such as bison, wolves, cougars, and sandhill crane can be seen in a natural landscape.

Wheels O' Time Museum features displays of vintage and classic autos, gas engines, fire engines, airplanes, tractors, musical instruments, juke boxes, toys, and dolls. There are many hands-on displays that make it fun to learn about the past.

Be sure to check the museum websites for updated information, and peoria.org for lots of other ideas.
Here are some books you might want to take along for the ride.

Earthmovers by Linda Williams

Old Cars by Melissa Abramovitz
Illinois, the Prairie State by Rennay Craats
Leave a comment about your adventures if you visit Peoria, and have a great trip.

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's A Butterfly's Life

Summer is the time to appreciate…butterflies!  If you haven't seen many winged beauties yet, and want your kids to learn everything about them, take the family on a field trip to a butterfly garden!

Happily, there are four such special exhibits in the area this summer where, for a small admission fee, you can see hundreds of butterflies native to Illinois and the Midwest or even exotic ones from around the world. In Chicago, the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum  maintains 500 butterflies of a dozen different species. On the North Shore, in the Butterflies and Blooms tent at the Chicago Botanic Garden you can watch exotic butterflies from Asia, South America, and Africa emerge from chrysalises to feed on flower nectar. In the western suburbs, the Butterflies! is an annual exhibit at Brookfield Zoo, and Peck Farm in Geneva, Illinois hosts the Butterfly House.

  (Reminder: Chicago Botanic Garden and Brookfield Zoo also offer discounted admission to the main park through our Museum Pass Program.)

But,where are two of the best blooming places to see butterflies flying free? Your neighborhood parks and your own backyard! Why not make it a summer and fall family project to build a simple butterfly feeder or plant new flowers to attract more butterflies, and watch them come to you! Finally, on sizzling hot days, why not cool off at the library, enjoying the amazing color photographs in our exciting butterfly books (J 595. 789).