JCPL Kids

by: 
Sarah, Golden Library

I love to play “pretend” games with kids, repurposing everyday objects for the purpose of creating new experiences. The capacity to use one’s imagination has increasingly been recognized as a vital skill that is honed in childhood. Time spent in imaginary play as a child translates into an adult capable of visionary thinking (like Steve Jobs!) 

Structured activities like music lessons and sports are valuable to children, but don’t forget to “schedule in” some time for your kids to spend powering simple objects with imaginary fuel.

Here’s an easy game that you can play at home with your kids to get those imaginations fired up: 

All you need is a scarf for each of you (any cloth or dish towel will also do.) Crumple the scarf up between your hands and tell your child that you are going to change this scarf into different objects with the power of your imagination. Encourage your child to scrunch up their scarf and follow along:

First, tell your child that the scarf has become a picnic blanket. Lay the scarf out on the ground and sit on top of it. Pretend to eat a picnic.

Next, scrunch up the scarf between your hands again. Tell your child that the scarf has now become a magic flying cape. Tie on the scarf as a cape and zoom around the room!

Scrunch that scarf up between your hands again for another transition. This time, tell your child that the scarf has now become a washcloth and it’s time for a bath. Pretend to fill up the bathtub, get inside and wash with your washcloth! Don’t forget to towel dry afterwards!

Scrunch up the scarf one last time and turn it into a blanket. Now it's time to act out getting pajamas on, brushing teeth and curling up under the blanket to sleep!

You can easily play many variations on this game at home using the most basic of objects. Next time, try playing the same game with a box or a stick as a prop!

Do you have any other great examples of pretend games that you already play at home? Please share them with us!

by: 
Mary, Kids and Families Outreach

Welcome to a new regular feature here on the JCPL Kids' Blog: the Ready to Read Reminder! Parents and caregivers, you know that learning to read begins at birth. Young children's brains are developing all the connections they need to be successful readers and we, the adults in their lives, can help them build those connections by doing simple things at home (or in the car, at the library, at daycare...wherever!). In this feature I'd like to share with you some of those simple ideas - many of which you may already be doing (but didn't necessarily know how they help a child get ready to read) - that help build the foundation for reading.

For this, our first post, I'd like to give you 5 words to remember. Just 5. Remember these 5 words, and that you should engage in these activities with your young child often, and you'll be an expert at helping your child get ready to read!

Here the are....(are you ready?)...drumroll please....

READ

TALK

SING

WRITE

PLAY

 

You can remember those 5 words, right? Of course you can. In future posts I'll elaborate on each of these words and why these activites are important, share with you some really cool stuff I've learned about babies brains and how reading develops, as well as give you some fun, simple activity ideas that help grow a reader.

And remember, the library is a GREAT place to visit with a growing reader! We've got  storytimes for all ages (even babies!) that are designed to help build early literacy skills, thousands of great books for kids of all ages to explore, and a literacy-rich environment with opportunities for learning and play! Our trained staff, too, is ready and willing to answer your questions and help you find the best books and media to take home! 

Stay tuned for next month's post! Just a reminder...

[photo via seandreilinger]

by: 
Sarah, Golden Library

Lately I've been a little bit dog obsessed! I've been ooh-ing and aww-ing over adorable puppies on Animal Planet's Too Cute and putting dog books out for my Staff Picks on the Children's Staff Picks display.

Why am I so into dogs these days? No, I didn't get a new puppy (though we do we have an adorable older dog at home.)

What I've been doing lately is I've been 'interviewing' some dogs (and their handlers from Pet Partners) for a new program at Golden: PAWS for Reading. No suits and ties at these interviews, just tail wags and licks all around! 

Starting in January, my new furry friends Minnie and Harvey will be coming to the library two Saturdays a month to read with kids! If you'd like to cuddle up with a dog and read, please register at the Children's Desk one week in advance of the program date. Children registering for this program need to be old enough to read on their own. Here's the schedule for 2014:

PAWS for Reading

11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Saturdays

Jan. 4 & 11

Feb. 1 & 8

March 1 & 8

April 5 & 12

May 3 & 10

June 7 & 14

 

If you're looking for some ideas for a great title to share with Harvey or Minnie, or just want a dog-gone great book to read, here are some of my absolute favorites:

Ball by Mary Sullivan

Dog Gone by Leeza Hernandez

Hopefully you'll have time to PAWS for a minute and check out one of these great reads!

by: 
Jennifer, Lakewood Library

Have you shared a song with your little one today? Are you worried that your Roseanne Barr voice will scar your child for life?!? I always tell parents who are nervous about singing to their baby two things. Number 1, don't worry about looking foolish. The more foolish the better! Kids eat up that sort of behavior from adults. And 2, kids are not American Idol judges. In fact, I think they are the best audience to sing in front of because they are often so overcome with excitement from hearing someone they love sing to them that they can't help themselves from falling into your arms while asking for an encore.

Sharing songs is more than just a fun way to bond with your child. Songs also help children develop many skills they will need to be successful readers. For instance, songs help kids learn the early literacy skill known as "phonological awareness" or (in more user-friendly terms) "play with sounds." Simply put, this means that kids who can hear the smaller sounds in words will be better at sounding out words as they learn to read.  Songs help them to master this skill by giving each syllable in each word a note of its own. So sing out loud and proud to help your child become a great reader!

Below are some of our favorite winter songs for you to share with your little one during the cold days ahead. These are better than hot chocolate because they contain no calories and you'll still feel all warm inside when you're done. Enjoy!

Dance Like Snowflakes (tune: "Are You Sleeping")

This is a fun song to do with props. Anything will do, a scarf, a towel, a sock, etc.

Dance like snowflakes,

Dance like snowflakes,

In the air, in the air,

Swirling, whirling snowflakes

Swirling, whirling snowflakes,

Everywhere, everywhere.

 

Boots and Parka, Scarf and Hat (tune: "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes")

Boots and parka, scarf and hat, scarf and hat.

Boots and parka, scarf and hat, scarf and hat.

In wintertime we dress like that!

Boots and parka, scarf and hat, scarf and hat!

 

I'm a Little Snowman (tune: "I'm a Little Teapot")

Get in touch with your creative silly side and make up fun gestures for each verse.

I'm a little snowman

Short and fat.

Here are my buttons

Here is my hat.

When the sun comes out

I cannot play.

Slowly I just melt away.

by: 
Sarah, Golden Library

As the Children's Librarian at the Golden Library, I often have parents approach me at weekly storytimes. Some ask me if it’s okay for their children to walk around during a baby or toddler storytime. Others are concerned that their child is unable to sit quietly and focus on the book that’s being read. 

If this has ever happened to you, I want to assure you that it’s normal and natural for your child to want to move around the room at storytime. Sitting still is a learned skill; therefore it is NOT natural for your child to know how to do this right away. It takes practice! Storytime can be a great place to practice sitting still and increasing attention span, but I want to assure you that your child is getting just as much from the storytime experience when they are moving around the room. 

The Every Child Ready to Read concept (which JCPL uses as a framework for all its storytime offerings) features five practices that encourage early literacy development: Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing and Playing. The beauty of these five practices is that they can be practiced anytime, anywhere, whether sitting still or on-the-go.

So, though it might not seem like your child is paying attention to what is going on up front at storytime, they are absorbing the benefits of storytime without being still. Try singing some of the songs or doing the rhymes at home with your child. You may be surprised at how well they are able to perform these activities without “paying attention” in the conventional sense!

If you’ve got one of those kids who loves to walk around at storytime, we’ve got a new program starting in January that is sure to be a hit with your little one. The Golden Library will be offering a new program using the Every Child Ready to Read framework: the Toddler Play Program

This program will use the 5 early literacy practices in a high-energy, movement-based program. We’ll talk and sing and play, practicing pre-reading skills along with gross and fine motor skills. Come have a blast with us! Here’s the schedule for the New Year:

Toddler Play Program

Fridays, 11:15 am

January 10

February  7

March 7

April 4

May 2

June 6

Registration is required. Register one week in advance at the Golden Children’s Information Desk or by phone.

 

by: 
Mary, Kids and Families Outreach

Children's librarians often act as their family and friends' personal librarian. We regularly get asked for book recommendations for children of various ages - and we LOVE it! Talking about kids' books is one of our favorite things to do. So, before you even have to ask, I've put together, with the help of some friends, a list of books that would make great holiday gifts for the children in your life. But because we can't read EVERY book that's out there (although we try), at the bottom of this list there are links to other 'best of' lists that will also help you make your book-buying choices.

NON-FICTION

Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How do we know what dinosaurs really looked like? by Catherine Thimmesh

For the true dinosaur aficionado in your life, this book explores the history of dinosaur exploration. Since we've never actually seen a dinosaur, how have scientists used the information they've found - bones, fossils, etc. - to re-create the look of a dinosaur?

Locomotive by Brian Floca 

Young train enthusiasts will love this richly illustrated story of traveling on one of the first steam trains from Omaha, Nebraska to San Francisco. They'll pore over the endpapers that explain how steam trains work (including a cross-section drawing) and provide historical context of the Transcontinental Railroad. They'll learn about all the different people who worked on the train and what their jobs were. They'll even learn how the bathroom worked - remember not to use it when the train is in the station!

Poems to Learn By Heart by Caroline Kennedy; illustrated by Jon J. Muth

This book is truly a keepsake. Jon J. Muth's ethereal watercolor illustrations set a perfect tone, and Kennedy has chosen a nice variety of poems - there's surely one or more to delight every reader. The poems are divided into several categories - including family, friendship and love, school, sports, and nonsense. There are both contemporary writers like Billy Collins and Nikki Giovanni and the likes of Shakespeare and Ogden Nash. I've already decided which poem I will learn by heart - Eve Merriam's "Catch a Little Rhyme," the last one in the book.

The Silver Moon: Lullabies and Cradle Songs by Jack Prelutsky

A collection of serene and lyrical poems, this book makes a perfect gift for a family with a new baby. What really makes this book stand out are the illustrations by Jui Ishida. Soft and deep, these loving images evoke a feeling of snuggling with the one who loves you most. - Marcy, Arvada Library

The Animal Book: A collection of the fastest, fiercest, toughest, cleverest, shyest- and most suprising- animals on earth by Steve Jenkins

Jenkins is a Colorado author/illustrator and creates his animals out of paper. They are TRULY amazing. He's organized this book not by type of animal, but by things like "defenses," "animal senses," "predators," and "animal extremes." There's so much fascinating information to pore over in this book - kids (and adults) will spend hours with it. 

 

BOARD BOOKS (MADE FOR HANDLING AND CHEWING!)

My First Touch-and-Trace ABC and My First Touch-and-Trace Count 123 by Tiger Tales

These books are a great way to start your baby or toddler on the road to reading and writing! The letters and numbers are indented, allowing the child to trace the shape with their finger. Learning the shapes of letters and numbers is one way literacy starts! 

Diggers Go by Steve Light

A variety of construction vehicles are shown, and, in bold print, we learn their noises and can make them ourselves! Did you know a dump truck goes: BEEPbeep BEEPbeep SCREEEECH RUUURRRUMP PA-LUMP? Making sounds like these help young children learn about language! There are two other books in this series: Trucks Go and Trains Go

 

PICTURE BOOKS

Green by Linda Vaccaro Seeger

I think my love of children’s books is derived from my love of art and this book is a work of art. You can get lost in the lush up-close illustrations that allow you to experience each new manifestation of green. Just follow the die-cuts from one scene to the next and enjoy the journey. - Marcy, Arvada Library

Journey by Aaron Becker

This is a stunning wordless picture that will spark a lot of conversation. Follow a girl through a magic door that she draws on her bedroom wall into a world full of adventure - including a dangerous encounter with a bird! - Jennifer, Lakewood Library

Mo's Mustache by Ben Clanton

This read aloud will have everyone laughing. Mo loves his mustache and feels very unique until all of his friends want one of their own. - Jennifer, Lakewood Library

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea

While the rainbow colors and sparkle on the cover may draw some young readers in - the story inside lives up to the cover's hype! Goat thinks the things he can do are pretty great, until Unicorn arrives and does something "greater." But just as Goat's ready to give up, he discovers that Unicorn actually thinks Goat is pretty great too. 

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

This story of Flora, who imitates a dancing Flamingo, doesn't have any words. But it doesn't need any - the beautiful lift-the-flap illustrations clearly tell the story of the budding friendship between the two pink-bedecked pals. 

Again! by Emily Gravett

Little Dragon wants Mama Dragon to read his bedtime story again. And again, and AGAIN! At first, she concedes, but when she falls asleep, little dragon reacts, well, the way a dragon would. Parents and young children will find this story pretty familiar. 

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger, a proper animal in a suit and hat, decides that he's tired of city life. It's time to GO WILD! But will he want to stay wild, especially after all the other (buttoned-up animal) city residents express their disapproval? Brown's graphic illustrations are as much fun as the story.

I Dare You Not to Yawn by Hélène Boudreau; illustrated by Serge Bloch

“Yawns are like colds, they spread.” Parents and kids alike will get a laugh out of this. During story time it even garnered a few yawns from my audience. Just remember DO NOT LET IT OUT! If they catch you yawning, they are going to send you to bed! - Marcy, Arvada Library

 

MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Playtpus Police Squad #1: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

In this story written in what adults will recognize as a noir style, follow along as newbie Detective Zengo, anxious to prove himself, and veteran Detective O'Malley crack the case of the missing teacher and a possible illegal fish trade. Bonus: this book is only #1 in a series!

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Know a kid who loves the library? Or puzzles? Or mysteries? They'll all love this tale, in which a group of kids compete to find their way out of a brand-new, state-of-the-art playground - um, library. The contest is run by the eccentric Mr. Lemoncello, a Willy-Wonka-esque character who has a few tricks up his sleeve. 

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by K.G. Campbell

When Ulysses the squirrel is accidentally sucked up into a vacuum cleaner, he develops the ability to write, understand humans, lift heavy things, and fly. Flora, who saves him and takes him home, believes he's now a superhero and must use his powers to vanquish evil. But perhaps there's a relationship that needs saving even more?

Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown

Young Roan Novachez is SURE he'll be accepted to Pilot Academy. He's disappointed when that doesn't happen, but when he gets a mysterious invitation to attend Jedi Academy, he decides that's a much better option than learning to be a farmer. Master Yoda takes a particular interest in Roan, and while it's rough going for a while (he CANNOT seem to manage to use the force to get that rock to float!) he soon feels like he's found the right place. Young fans of Star Wars will love this graphic novel series!

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman 

Dad goes to the corner store to pick up some milk for his kids' cereal (and his tea), but is a long time returning. What happened? Well, there are aliens, pirates, wumpires, and a hot-air-ballon-flying Stegosaurus involved. Fortunately, he managed not to lose the milk. Wait - did all of this REALLY happen? Brilliantly illustrated by Skottie Young, this tale by legendary writer Gaiman will make a great read-aloud and might spark some parental storytelling of your own!

MORE LISTS!

If none of these titles spark your (or your child's) fancy, DON'T DESPAIR! Here are some more "best of" lists with even more great suggestions!

Reading Rockets Holiday Buying Guide

School Library Journal's Best of 2013 (includes lists for non-fiction, picture books, apps, dvds, and more!)

New York Public Library's 100 Books for Reading and Sharing 2013

Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books of 2013

Happy holidays!

by: 
Marcy, Arvada Library

Last week, on the first night of the really cold temperatures, the Arvada library had our holiday open house. Coincidentally this was also the night of the tree lighting ceremony in the square and Old Towne Arvada's Lagniappe Celebration. (Put this event on your calendar for next year if you have never been!) There were free carriage rides, costumed carolers, and inside the Arvada Library was Santa. Excited children munched on gingerbread cookies and played with mounds of gingerbread scented play dough. It smelled divine! Many parents asked for my recipe - so even if you missed the open house, you can still get in on the gingerbread play dough fun! But remember to warn the kids...this play dough smells amazing, but tastes terrible.

Play dough even promotes early literacy in young children! Playing with play dough strengthens the small muscles in the hand. These are the same muscles that will enable a child to hold a pencil one day. It also encourages them to use their imagination. It may be a brown lump of dough, but they see a cookie, a snake, a bracelet and more!

Gingerbread Play Dough

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup water
In a medium saucepan whisk together dry ingredients. Next mix in the water and oil. Stir until a thick batter is formed. Cook the mixture over med-low heat until a thick dough forms. Turn out onto parchment paper and knead until smooth. Makes about 2 cups of dough.

Try other winter themed scents like peppermint, egg nog, hot chocolate, and fir tree!

 

by: 
Jennifer, Lakewood Library

Are you or do you know a kid 10 years or older who just loves to talk about books? Well then, you just gotta check out the Young Readers' Fun Club at the Lakewood Library! Much like adult books clubs, this group creates a list of books they would like to read and then assigns each book a month. On the third Tuesday of each month at 4p.m. the club meets to talk about the book of the month. But wait, the fun doesn't stop there! During club meetings kids also have fun making crafts and enjoying yummy snacks. There is no registration to attend. Just come on in and join the fun. All kids 10 years and older are welcome. Below are some of the upcoming books the club will be discussing.

December 17: Season of Gifts by Richard Peck

Relates the surprising gifts bestowed on twelve-year-old Bob Barnhart and his family, who have recently moved to a small Illinois town in 1958, by their larger-than-life neighbor, Mrs. Dowdel.

January 21: The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland

Hidden in the small town of Xanadu, Wyoming, there is a menagerie filled with mythical creatures like unicorns, dragons, and phoenixes. It's closely guarded. Tightly controlled. Top secret. And six griffin cubs have just escaped.

February 18: The Outcasts: Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan

Skandian outcasts Hal, Stig, and others do battle at sea against the Wolves and the Sharks, in the ultimate race across icy waters where not everyone thinks of the competition as play.

Join us!

 

by: 
Mary, Kids and Families Outreach

Super cold days like today make me think about comforting things - a big bowl of macaroni and cheese, a steaming mug of hot chocolate, and Ballet Shoes. 

Wait. WHAT was that last thing?

Ballet Shoes - A book by Noel Streatfeild I read over and over again as a kid, and still read at least once a year.  You know those books - the ones that, even though you've read them a gazillion times, you still pick them up from time to time because that familiarity is a comforting feeling.  Ballet Shoes, the story of Pauline (the acting prodigy), Posy (ballet dancer-to-be), and Petrova (who really just wants to fly aeroplanes, thankyouverymuch), and their struggle to survive in 40's London with their guardian, Sylvia, is one of my comfort books.

Another one is Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game. While I know whodunit, I still revisit this puzzle mystery regularly in order to spend time with Turtle and the rest of the quirky Sunset Towers residents. I like to follow along as they try to figure out how Sam Westing died, and if one of them is responsible. It's a mystery unlike any other I have ever read - and it should come as no surprise that it won the Newbery Medal in 1979.

I also pick up John D. Fitzgerald's The Great Brain every now and then. Fitzgerald's semi-autobiographical story of his life growing up in turn-of-the-century Utah focuses on his brother, Tom, aka "The Great Brain." Tom's really good at problem solving, but unfortunately, uses his skill primarily to swindle friends and neighbors out of money. I especially like the chapter in The Return of the Great Brain when his family gets the town's first indoor plumbing (which everyone is convinced will stink up the house) and Tom decides to charge the local kids to come in and take a look.  In fact, I loved these books so much that in grade school I won a contest to create a slogan for the school library (nerd alert!) with a drawing that included these two titles. My slogan? "A book a day keeps the lazies away." Winner!

I think I'll go home tonight and grab one of these comfort books off my shelf (I still have all my original tattered copies), fix myself a cup of hot chocolate, and warm up with some comfort reading. 

by: 
Mary, Kids and Families Outreach

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I hope everyone has a wonderful day filled with family, friends, fun, and, of course....FOOD! I've got a quick post for you today, as I've got a pie to finish. But I was thinking about how my sister and I, when we were younger, were able to help out with the festivities. Sure, there's the food preparation, and kids can certainly help out with some of that, but what I remember most from my youth was setting the table. This was our very important job - making the table pretty and special in honor of a special day. The centerpiece was always the most important part, and we used leaves, candles, nuts, fruit, and a variety of other objects to fancy things up. 

I took a look on pinterest (oh, how I love Pinterest!) and found some kid-friendly, easy-peasy centerpiece ideas that involve items that I think most folks would have on hand at home (because I know we'd all rather avoid the store today if at all possible!). Check 'em out, and set your young ones to work!

  • Thankful tree - branches in a jar with paper leaves on which everyone can write what they're thankful for!
  • Pear and clove centerpiece - send a message with lovely-smelling fruit and spice! 
  • Paper roll turkey (picture only) - write what you're thankful for on the feathers! 
  • Fall trees - more ideas on this blog!
  • Turkey vase (from a soda bottle) - this one's a little more labor intensive, but oh-so-cute! 

Enjoy! We're thankful for you!

[Picture via San Jose Library]

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