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).

Friday, July 12, 2013

Exploring Irish Culture

Taking your children to visit the land of their ancestors can be expensive. Fortunately, if your heritage is Irish, this is a great weekend to explore your culture without the cost of a plane ticket.

The 2013 Irish Fest is July 12-14 at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago. This festival features music, dance and family activities to explore Irish culture. Admission is a mere fraction of the cost of flying to Ireland.

Recently I learned that July 12 is a major holiday in Northern Ireland. That day is Orangemen's Day which commemorates the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. I also learned that people in in Ireland eat bacon and cabbage to celebrate St. Patrick's day, not the corned beef we eat here. Of course I learned those facts, and many others at the library.

Check out these resources to help you with your explorations.

Foods of Ireland by Barbara Sheen is a great book for learning more about Irish culture through its food.

Ireland by Colleen Sexton is a great introduction for young readers.

Ireland by Melanie Waldron provides a broad overview of the country for slightly older readers.

Irish is one of the languages you can learn online through Our Mango Languages database.

Slán leat. Goodbye for now.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Exploring Polish Culture

Living in Chicagoland, there is a unique connection to Polish culture for many and in fact Poles have been a part of this country's history with important contributions and influence. This area is home to the largest population of Polish ethnicity (over 1 million people) outside of Poland and as such, learning and experiencing Polish culture is promising. Perhaps you noticed the statue in front of the Adler Planetarium of Copernicus, the Polish astronomer who identified a heliocentric model of the solar system. Perhaps your child learned about the American Revolutionary War general Casimir Pulaski in March or even had the day off school. Perhaps you tasted a paczek on Fat Thursday from one of many Polish bakeries or perhaps you know that October is Polish American Heritage month. The Polish culture is closer than you think! For more ways to experience Polish culture, try out this list of places to visit.

Places to visit in Des Plaines
Visit the library to explore both adult and children collections that include books, music and dvds. Drop in for Dual Language Storytimes in Polish/English in the months of September through April. Join us on July 10th for Explore Poland, geared towards families with children  ages 2-8. Come early for free tickets to the program.

Take a look at the Des Plaines Park district  offering Polish cultural programs for children.

Interested in your child attending a Polish Language School? Starting this Fall, Des Plaines will be home to the Polish language school of Feliksa Konarskiego at the Parish of St. Stevens.
Head over to Shop n Save and explore the selection of meats and prepared hot foods in the deli as well as desserts in the bakery and also an isle dedicated to Polish food. Nearby in Mount Prospect (On Golf Road) is Wally's market.

Visit the Polish Museum of America in one of the oldest Polish areas in chicagoland. It features permanent and visiting exhibits of art, history and culture of Poland and of the Polish American community. In the neighborhood are restaurants and other headquarters of Polish associations

Looking for theater, annual Polish film festival, concerts, Christmas specials, children's events and more? Chances are they will be held at the Copernicus Center. The Copernicus foundation also sponsor's Taste of Polonia, the largest Polish fest in the US.

Some noteworthy events throughout the year
  • May: Polish Constitution Parade (downtown) and Polish Fest (Copernicus Center)
  • July: Try perogi from Kasia's Deli (booth #12) at the Taste of Chicago
  • September: Taste of Polonia (Labor Day Weekend at Copernicus Center) 
Do you have a great place to experience Polish culture or others? Where do you like to go to experience a bit of home, history and culture? Share with us!