Books & Blocks

February 13th, 2014

Building towers was the focus of this week’s Books & Blocks program. We retold the fairy tale of Rapunzel, looked at Paul Zelinksky’s amazing illustrations, and then got busy building with wooden blocks, legos, and cardboard bricks.


Caldecott predictions 2014

January 2nd, 2014

What picture book illustrated by a U.S. citizen in 2013 will be chosen as the “most distinguished” picture book for children? We will hold our own mock Caldecott discussion just days before the official announcement is made. Though we have no way of knowing what books the committee with actually be discussing, we have gathered some favorites of the past year on our Pinterest board.

The shortlist of books we’ll discuss on Saturday, January 25, from 1:30-3:00 p.m. is below. The books will be on display in the youth area two weeks prior to the event for viewing.


If you can’t make it to the discussion, you can still vote! Check your choice below.



What we’re reading: from Tween ARC

November 14th, 2013

Wow, it’s November and the holidays are, as they say, right around the corner!  As usual, the 4th and 5th grade members of ARC (Advance Readers Club) have their say about some of the new books they’ve read:

Suzanne Selfors’ Imaginary Veterinary series continues to be popular.  ARC-ers enjoyed The Saquatch Escape

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and  were delighted to find book number 2 waiting on the arc shelves last month!

Here is what they have to say about The Lonely Lake Monster:

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Rohit says “I liked it a lot, I had a great time!”  His favorite character is “Ben Silverstein, because he has a cool hair cut.” He liked The sasquatch escape, too.

Elena also enjoyed The sasquatch escape and read The lonely lake monster in record time.  Her favorite character is Pearl “because she was funny and was a trouble.”  She says, “The beginning kept me wanting to read on.  The worst part was the end, because it came to an end.”  She would give a copy of this book to Zane but she wouldn’t give it to her best friend Elizabeth “because it isn’t her type of genre.”  Elena goes on to say that not only would she read it again, she’s looking forward to the next book: “I can’t wait till you get the third book “The Rain Dragon Rescue”, The Imaginary Veterinary Series.  I would like to also own the set.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to own them.”

Adithya is also a fan, though he’d make a few changes to the cover: “I’d put the leprechaun and Pearl on the cover” and would “add a lot more imaginary creatures.”  His favorite character was the “leprechaun, because he wasn’t mean and tricky like the other leprechaun.”  He would totally read another book by this author because “this was an exciting book.”

Rivon enthusiastically recommends The Lonely Lake Monster, too!

RC recommends:

The treasure hunters by James Patterson

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He liked the subject and finished it “because it was so interesting.”  His favorite character is Bick because he tells the story and can scuba dive and knows “other things that are cool like karate.”  After a rocky start, RC thought the best part of the book was the middle .

A mystery reviewer read Counting by 7′s  by Holly Goldberg Sloan over the summer.

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He picked it up because he thought it looked good.  His favorite character is Quang-ha’s mom “because she was generous.”  While it took a little for him to get into the book he did enjoy the middle.  This sad and funny book is getting some attention by the Newbery committee.

Lara’s gift by Annemarie O’Brien is another winner–especially for dog lovers, says another mystery reviewer.  She liked the whole book–beginning to end.

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The ARC-ers shared their favorite books and series at the last meeting:

Olivia’s favorite remains Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.

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Rhiannon recommends The Candymakers by Wendy Mass

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Rivon loved The third wheel by Jeff Kinney

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Abbie recommends The lightning thief by Rick Riordan:

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And…What we found in the sofa (and how it saved the world) by Henry Clark

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Bshara recommends  House of Hades by Rick Riordan

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and  Mission Unstoppable  by Dan Gutman

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 Rohit likes Titan’s Curse  by Rick Riordan

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Adithya recommends Pet War by Allan Woodrow

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Brendan enjoys the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz

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Angelina loves Pi in the sky by Wendy Mass

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and last, but not least, Sam recommends the 39 Clues Unstoppable series.  The first book is Nowhere to run by Jude Watson

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Stay tuned!  ARC meets next Thursday, November 21 at 4:00 in the Activity Center.  If you’re a 4th or 5th grader who loves to read and talk about books, drop by and check us out!





C is for Cloud

November 2nd, 2013

Look up in the sky, and what do you see? At a recent Wonderworks (our preschool science program) we explored clouds.  Children had fun guessing what shapes were in Charles Shaw’s classic, It Looked Like Spilt Milk.

Next we talked about different kinds of clouds, reading parts of Anne Rockwell’s Clouds in the Let’s Read and Find Out Science series.

In the weeks prior to the storytime, I took photographs of the sky at different times when I saw different clouds. Soon I had enough photographs to illustrate several different types of clouds that we would discuss: cirrus, cumulus, cumulonimbus and stratus. This was a great day for vocabulary — we talked about what a funny word cumulonimbus was, with the children repeating it several times. Hard c sounds and soft c sounds . . . c really is for cloud! This was a great exercise in observation skills, and I was able to tell the children that these were clouds they could see in the sky above them, because they were all Ohio skies in the photos.

Rhyme: Rain is Falling Down
Adapted from: Jane Cobb’s I’m a Little Teapot

Rain is falling down                          Flutter fingers downward
Splash!                                                 Tap floor with hand
Rain is falling down
Pitter patter, pitter patter
Rain is falling down
(repeat: falling lightly – just touch with fingers; falling hard –slap floor with whole hand)

We also read Dragon is Coming by Valeri Gorbachev and at the end talked about what each of the dragon’s attributes actually is; for example — the dragon’s roar is thunder, his fiery breath is lightning . . .

Next, we shook our rainstick style shakes to the song, “If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops . . . “

A few other outstanding picture books on clouds and the imagination are:

Sora and the Cloud=Sora to komo by Felicia Hoshino – a bilingual book in English and Japanese

Sector 7 by David Wiesner, a Caldecott honor

and The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola, which is also available as an e-book.

Hands on activities included making and playing with cloud dough (mix 1/2 cup baby oil with 4 cups of flour and voila! You have a sensory concoction that is crumbly and soft, yet sticks together when molded, like wet sand.)

and creating different kinds of clouds with cotton balls –

stretching them into long thin strips for cirrus clouds, fluffing them up to make cumulus clouds, and adding glitter to represent those water droplets getting so heavy that they are about to rain from the cumulonimbus clouds.

All Aboard! a few favorite picture books of 2013

September 30th, 2013

Fall is that time of year when all sorts of “best of the year” lists start appearing.  For picture book fans, talk swirls around what might win the Caldecott Award, the recognition given to the “most distinguished” American picture book of the year. In looking at some of these, we noticed a trend:

Hmmmm . . .

so, it’s All Aboard! for our next picture book discusion! Come to the October Picture book discussion on Saturday, October 5, from 2-3 p.m. Bring books to share or just come and listen. Feel free to bring a friend. Children ages 10 and up are welcome.

Saving Endangered Animals: Anna, Emma and the Condors

September 27th, 2013

The California Condor, the largest land bird in North America, is critically endangered. In 1982, there were only 22 condors in existence. With help from scientists like the ones in this film, the condor population is slowly recovering and being reintroduced into the wild. Anna, Emma and the Condors tells the story of how one family has dedicated their life to helping this animal to survive. Anna and Emma Parish’s father Chris is the Condor Field Project Supervisor with the Peregrine Fund. The film has breathtaking moments as a condor is released into the wild, gliding freely for the first time on thermals in the canyons of Northern Arizona. It also includes the more mundane details of life as a scientist, taking blood samples and providing food for the condors (remember, they are in the vulture family) who are recovering from lead poisoning. The girls help with many aspects of the condor recovery. This film won the 2013 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video.

To learn more about condors, try

Other kids have helped animals too. After the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Olivia helped birds. You can read her story:

If you are inspired and want to find ways to help animals or the environment in your own community, try these books:


Full STEAM Ahead!

August 22nd, 2013

Wonderworks is the Westerville Public Library’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) storytime for preschoolers. This week’s program featured tunnels, beginning with Ryan Ann Hunter’s Dig a Tunnel.


We introduced the idea of tunnels for transportation — tunnels that go through mountains or even under water. We talked about trains that go underground in big cities before watching the Tumblebook version of  Subway Ride by Heather Lynn Miller.

This colorful picture book features different underground trains from around the world: from the London Underground (the Tube!) to Stockholm’s T-bana. In the pages featuring the New York subway, the Tumblebook plays jazzy music referenced in the text.  You can play Tumblebooks at home, just visit the library website and have your library card handy.

You can also explore tunnels with your child at home. Save cardboard tubes from paper towels or wrapping paper to use as tunnels for trains and cars. Or use them to make your own marble run. We attached velcro to toilet paper rolls to create a marble run on the activity center wall (thanks to the LibraryMakers site for the idea!). Children love to crawl through tunnels, so save your cardboard boxes to make long tunnels.


Dig into Reading…but do it soon!

July 24th, 2013

Summer reading ends on July 31–the same day as our Alice in Wonderland wrap up party! Join us all day long for crafts and fun down the rabbit hole with Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and more!

It’s a Firefly Night!

July 1st, 2013

Playing outside in the Summer is fun – especially when fireflies are out. Get into the fun with these books and activities.

Read about fireflies, what they are and how they make their light.

Following your child’s natural curiosity is a great way to help her stay engaged when picking out books to read and gives you a way to “sneak” in everyday learning lessons that are fun and casual.

If you plan to catch and observe, this is a great time to talk about using a “gentle touch” and why it is important to release the insects after your observation session.

Then, pretend to catch fireflies in the day time and inside! Let your child collect several puff balls in a jar or cup. Using tongs or a long handled spoon is a fun way to move the pretend fireflies around the house or from container to container.

Extend this fine-motor skill activity by letting your child sort different colored puff balls in a muffin tin or allow him to group different numbers of puff balls by number.

On a warm summer evening, sit with your child outside and watch the fireflies. Talk about what you are seeing – are there any patterns? Do the fireflies tend to gather in specific areas?

You can even learn a rhyme about fireflies:

I caught a little firefly, I held it carefully (mimic catching and holding gently)
It tickled as it crawled around and lit its light for me. (tickle yourself and flash your hands)
I watched it for awhile and then I set it free! (mimic letting the firefly fly free)
My firefly flew around my yard happily! (fly around like a firefly)

Lastly, read a bedtime story about fireflies.




Dig into Summer Time Read Alouds

June 19th, 2013

Summer time is a great chance to read aloud from a chapter book with your child! Why read chapter books together?

  • Building Memory: When you break up a story over subsequent sittings, your child must hold the story in his mind and add to it in sections. This will help him build memory skills and develop the attention span he’ll need when he is reading longer books on his own.
  • Complex Stories: A longer story is often a more complex story with more vibrant characters and more detail about the setting or more depth to the action. Your child may enjoy delving more deeply into a book and it is something you can share with her.
  • Life Lessons: As your child matures as a reader, the themes he is reading about will mature also. When you start into a book together you experience the lessons in the book together, as well. How better to deal with more mature topics like bullying, death or bad guys than in an age appropriate book that allows you to stop the narrative and talk about these themes and your family’s values. Try to relate both happy and difficult experiences to your child’s own life. She’ll be developing empathy skills and understanding that the book she is reading represents real emotions and real experiences (even in a fantastical setting) that she also may experience in real life.
  • Vocabulary: Bigger books have more words and more words means more vocabulary! Stop when you hit a difficult word and explain it to your child.  Give words context–a cave is simply a hole in a hillside, but if you mention that caves are often dark and wet and may harbor bears then the word is given some real contextual meaning which may help the story make more sense. If you are stumped too, you now have a perfect reason to demonstrate how a dictionary works–learn something together!
  • Time Fillers: Bring your book with you to the beach, doctor’s visits or on long car rides.  A fifteen minute lull in your day is the perfect reason to read “just one more chapter.”

Can’t wait to dig into read alouds?  We have some great suggestions for books you and your child are bound to love.