Category: Children

Babies Need Words Every Day

By , December 31, 2015

Baby Reading

Did you know that your baby was born with the ability to tell the difference between many sounds and languages? By about six months of age, babies can tell similar languages apart. This means, communicating with your baby, in the language most comfortable to you, is essential to their growth and development.

You can surround your baby with words in a number of fun and exciting ways!

Attend a Nashville Public Library story time

We have Story Times specifically designed for our littlest library visitors.

Read to your baby every day

Reading with your baby exposes them to new concepts and words. On average, picture books contain 30 rare words per thousand whereas a typical adult/child conversation typically contains 9 rare words. It’s okay if your baby gets restless while reading; you can finish the book later. Nashville Public Library also provides a list of Baby Books to read to your baby that will be enjoyable for both of you. This list is available online and in the library. The Association for Library Service to Children also provides a list of Board Books (pdf) your child will enjoy.

Sing with your baby every day

Singing helps children hear the different sounds in words since it slows them down. Singing with your baby also helps you bond with them. It doesn’t matter to your child if you don’t think you have a great singing voice; they will love it anyway.

Talk with your baby every day

Talking with your baby exposes them to more words every day. The more words you use when talking with your baby, the more words he or she will know! As you go about your day, narrate what you are doing. Use “big” words when explaining different items, topics, and ideas. Examples of words that you could introduce to your child are eggplant, peculiar, or amphibian. These may seem advanced for young children, but you are adding to their vocabulary and giving them background knowledge, which will help them become successful readers.

Play with your baby every day

Play is serious business for children. They learn essential life skills, such as how to work with others, when they play. Playing with your child also allows him or her to put into practice the skills they are learning from you.

- Cassandra

Spooky Books: Not Just for Halloween

By , October 25, 2015

crankenstein

If you visit your local library this week and hope to find books about Halloween, chances are you will find many! Below is a list of books that are great for Halloween because they deal with monsters, vampires, and other creepy things, on a kids’ level. Don’t worry! Most aren’t creepy or scary, so most children will be enjoy.

Spooky Books

Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace
Oh, to be a ballerina! It’s a challenge for any little girl, but even more so if you happen to be a vampire like Vampirina. First of all, you have to find a class that meets at night. Then you have to figure out how to perfect your form when you can’t see yourself in the mirror? And then there’s wearing pink (not the most flattering of colors if you happen to be undead) and that nagging urge to take a little nip out of the other dancers. And worse of all STAGE FRIGHT!!!

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger
BEWARE OF CRANKENSTEIN! Who is Crankenstein? HE IS A MONSTER OF GRUMPINESS THAT NO ONE CAN DESTROY! MEHHRRRR !!! HE’S ALIVE! He may look like any ordinary boy, but when faced with a rainy day, a melting popsicle, or an early bedtime, one little boy transforms into a mumbling, grumbling Crankenstein. When Crankenstein meets his match in a fellow Crankenstein, the results could be catastrophic–or they could be just what he needs to brighten his day!

There’s Something in the Attic by Mercer Mayer (Miss Terri’s Favorite!)
That nightmare in the attic may look and sound scary, but it’s no match for a brave girl with a lasso! Nobody knows better than Mercer Mayer how to turn shivers into smiles, and children no longer need fear things that go bump in the night.

Monster Day at Work by Sarah Dyer
Little Monster spends a day at work with his father. First he has to dress and choose which tie to wear. Then he must travel with Dad and all the other commuters. At work he eats the cookies at the meeting, colors the graphs his father makes on the computer, goes to the cafeteria for lunch and even stops off for a drink on the way home. Monster thinks his father has it easy at work. Sarah Dyer’s highly entertaining portrayal of a child’s-eye view of the adult world of work is full of wit and charm and will be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Monster Needs Your Vote by Paul Czajak
Election season is here and Monster is ready to vote! But why cast your ballot when you can run for president instead? With speeches, debates, and a soapbox or two, Monster’s newest tale is a campaign encouraging kids to take a stand and fight for what they believe in.

Wolves in the Wall by Neil Gaiman (for older children)
There are sneaking, creeping, crumpling noises coming from inside the walls. Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of their house — and, as everybody says, if the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over. Her family doesn’t believe her. Then one day, the wolves come out. But it’s not all over. Instead, Lucy’s battle with the wolves is only just beginning.

Other Great Titles

Hoopla

Have you tried Hoopla yet? You can check out or stream movies, television shows, ebooks, and audiobooks. We have a great selection of Halloween titles – over 40 movies and 20 ebooks. The great thing about Hoopla is, unlike a physical library book that we have a certain number of copies, Hoopla items can be checked out by many people.

- Terri

Artober Books for Kids

By , October 19, 2015

Perhaps you’ve noticed the library has been a little more artsy lately. That’s because it’s Artober! Perhaps you haven’t noticed. That’s okay, too, there’s still plenty of time to get in on the library’s contribution to this annual city-wide celebration of the arts. In addition to special programs, take home a book that helps pique your child’s interest in art or artists.

For example:

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock

This illustrated story of Vasya Kandinsky’s abstract art is fascinating. The author explains the artist’s experience with Synesthesia – a neurological condition that caused him to actually hear the colors on the page.

A Splash of Red: the life and art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant

Horace Pippin knew he was an artist from a very early age, but he had to overcome many odds – including  a war injury – to be recognized for his first love: art. This is an inspirational (and colorful!) book about defeating adversity and following your dreams.

The Scraps Book: notes from a colorful life by Lois Ehlert

Lois Ehlert’s colorful books and simple text make her an early favorite of young readers. In this artistic memoir, the author and artist offers a glimpse into many of her past projects, and encourages budding artists.

Superman Origami: amazing folding projects featuring the Man of Steel by John Montroll

There is nothing new about Origami – the ancient art of paper folding, but don’t tell kids that. This art form is experiencing a resurgence, bolstered by how-tos like this book. (Click the title to see more cool Origami books!)

The Iridescence of Birds: a book about Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan

The early years of artist Henri Matisse are captured in this illustrated book depicting the life of a young artist in a small French town.

Get inspired! Here’s a list of all Artober events at the library!

Parents, Launch an Early Love of Learning and Technology

By , October 15, 2015

picture of a launchpad tabletLike many parents, I experience pangs of guilt when I can’t tear my kids away from screens. Sometimes I ease that guilt by telling myself they might be learning something while watching inane Minecraft videos on the laptop or playing Angry Birds on my phone for the umpteenth time. But now that the library has Launchpads, parents can be confident that tablet time is indeed educational.

Launchpads are durable, kid-friendly tablets, pre-loaded with educational apps. They’re available at every library location and you can borrow them (that’s right, you can take these home!) for two weeks at a time. The apps on each tablet are themed to different age levels and interests, and you can place holds on specific themes like “Wild for Words” or “Dragons, Monsters and Dinosaurs.”

Eager to try out the library’s fancy new tablets on my own test subjects, my two boys, I checked out the “Monkey See, Monkey Do!” Launchpad, recommended for ages 3-5.

two kids playing with Launchpad

Both boys loved being able to create their own avatars and then use those avatars to log in over the course of our checkout period. I appreciated the parent analysis screen, which tracked what games they enjoyed and excelled at.

launchpad dashboard

Launchpads come encased in durable rubber casing, which helps them to stand up to children’s enthusiastic “playing”. Each tablet is bundled with a charger and instructions in a handy carrying case. The tablet’s battery life seems to last a solid two hours before needing a charge.

As thrilled as I am for my boys to try out all the different themes and apps, I’m even more excited for what this means for Nashville’s children who don’t have access to technology at home. No peripheral software or other computers are needed—the Launchpad is self-contained and ready to use by anyone with a Nashville Public Library card.

Launchpads were purchased thanks to a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

Browse Launchpad Titles

Minecraft: Full STEAM Ahead

By , September 29, 2015

Minecraft Game Screenshot

Minecraft, a computer game where everything is made of blocks, is sweeping the nation. Everywhere you look you can find children playing the game, reading the books, or begging adults to buy them Minecraft merchandise at the store. There are many benefits to playing the game, and they can all be summed up in five letters – STEAM.

But wait, what is STEAM?

STEAM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art + Design, and Math.

How does STEAM apply to Minecraft?

Science: Players use their knowledge of materials to create different objects, tools, homes, or cities. For example, at the start of the game, players are automatically tasked with digging in order to find the material they need to create with – iron. Then, players smelt their iron – a process of placing iron ore into a forge, heating it up, and waiting for the final product: an ingot. Players can then make tools and other items out of their ingots.

Technology: Minecraft requires some kind of computer device whether it be a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, or a phone. You can access Minecraft anywhere! The benefit of playing Minecraft on different devices is that players learn new technological skills. Players become more adept at using keyboards and mice when playing on a computer. They can also develop their hand-eye coordination by playing on an Xbox or a tablet. Some advanced players may even become proficient at “hacking,” “modding,” or changing the code of the game.

Engineering: There are different game modes that children and young adults can play in, such as Sandbox style and Inventor style. In Sandbox style, players can create different environments and structures. In Inventor style, players can figure out how to build working objects, like elevators and cannons.

Art + Design: When children and young adults play Minecraft, they will likely spend hours creating the perfect design. They will decide on colors, sizes, placement, etc. for their blocks based on their mined items. Creating their world will help develop architectural skills as they put their blocks together and create different structures and equipment.

Math: Mathematics encompasses more than just using numbers to calculate amounts. It also incorporates logic and reasoning skills. Using logic and reasoning, players determine how to build their world inside Minecraft. Minecraft also helps players understand the concept of graphing because the Minecraft world operates through grids, and it helps them understand geometry using and creating different three-dimensional shapes.

Schools are beginning to acknowledge the many benefits of Minecraft, and the developers of the game have responded by offering a bundle pack available specifically to schools called MinecraftEDU. Some schools are even implementing Minecraft labs for students to use during the day to focus on and build STEAM skills. Dan Thalkar, a Los Angeles Charter School teacher, believes that Minecraft is successful in classrooms because you can use it for pretty much anything:

“If you want to use it for something for math or for science you can, either just by using the game itself or by modifying it.”1

 

Minecraft Handbooks for Kids (and Adults)

Minecraft Redstone Handbook

Minecraft Redstone Handbook

Minecraft Combat Handbook

Minecraft Combat Handbook

Minecraft Construction Handbook

Minecraft Construction Handbook

Minecraft Essential Handbook

Minecraft Essential Handbook

 

Minecraft Chapter Books Encourage Reading

The Skeletons Strike Back: an Unofficial Gamer's Adventure

The Skeletons Strike Back: an Unofficial Gamer’s Adventure

Last Stand on the Ocean Shore: an Unofficial Minecrafter's Adventure

Last Stand on the Ocean Shore: an Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure

Escape from the Overworld: an Unofficial Minecraft Gamer's Quest

Escape from the Overworld: an Unofficial Minecraft Gamer’s Quest

Battle for the Nether: an Unofficial Minecrafter's Adventure

Battle for the Nether: an Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure

Family Folk Tales: The Terrible Head

By , September 26, 2015


Listen to “The Terrible Head.” In this retelling of the myth of Perseus, a young man goes adventuring before fulfilling a prophesy.

Subscribe to Family Folk Tales

Imagination and Illustration

By , September 24, 2015

“All you need is your imagination…”  Christopher Myers

This year we are blessed with children’s books by two masters of illustration, Marvin Bileck and Christopher Myers, who provide glimpses into extraordinary, imaginary worlds. Check them out!

A Book 40 Years in the Making

By Trolley Past Thumbledon Bridge 
Illustrated by Marvin Bileck, words by Ashley Bryan and Marvin Bileck

Marvin Bileck illustrated one of my favorite childhood books, Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer. His colorful drawings are flights of visual fancy, filled with tiny characters and scenes that inhabit dream-like worlds. Partner him with Ashley Bryan, a consummate storyteller and poet, and you have a children’s book for the ages.

 

Blue cloth and story-thread weave together ten poems. An old woman embroiders these stories in a land reached by a bridge a “merry mile long” on a magical trolley, the landscape springing to life around her as she dreams.

The woman is at once a fate, a wind-witch and an old auntie who reels images from her spool and sets the world spinning; drawing out rabbits and baby does, hyenas and antelope. The pictures prance across the page, bits and pieces drawn into sharp focus, as others swirl faintly in the background.

The Story Behind the Story

By Trolley Past Thimbledon Bridge almost didn’t see the light of day.  The story behind the story is as fascinating as the book itself.

One of Bileck’s little drawings includes a cheeky dig (Who’s afraid of Virgina Woolf?) at the Virginia Woolf Estate.  Woolf’s Estate first commissioned the illustrations for a children’s story, Nurse Lugton’s Curtain, written by Virginia Woolf for her niece, Ann Stephen. The estate dropped the artist after a ten year wait.

Bryan and Bileck preserved these amazing illustrations, creating the text specifically for them. It’s been almost a 40-year process to see it through to publication.

Take Time to Enjoy

This is not a book to read quickly. My grandson and I spent a long time examining each page.  He was fascinated with spinning his own stories from the glorious pictures.

The poetry is great to read-aloud for any age group.  Although for me, the best experience was to share it with a child on my lap, lingering over each word and image.

The last few pages are filled with small drawings and an invitation to weave your own story…

We’ve circled back home

From the start to the end.

I took the first turn

Now it’s your turn, my friend.

 

 The Power of the Pen

My Pen
by Christopher Myers

This book is for anyone whose heart sings with a pen in hand and a blank piece of paper!

Christopher Myers invites us into his imaginary world where anything is possible…tap dancing on the sky, wearing satellite sneakers with computer laces and putting elephants in teacups. His pen can travel to faraway places, provide thrill rides, play hide and seek, and fully express love and fear.

 

Inspiring Art With Heart

Myers illustrations are suffused with emotional truth, where sparse pen and ink drawings touch deep chords of love and sadness. Several pictures pay tribute to Myers’ father, beloved children’s author Walter Dean Myers who died last year.

I love so much about this book! The end pages are mostly scribbles & splotches, and that feel achievable for anyone.  Ink get thrown around a lot.  Atmosphere and environment play an important part, as do family and friends. Pens can worry, and  faces can be renewed every morning. However, what I love most is the reminder that there are a million stories contained in every pen.

What wonderful possibilities!

Excuse me….I need a blank piece of paper!

 

Read Banned Children’s Books

By , September 21, 2015

Next week is Banned Books Week – a holiday with which you may not be familiar, but trust me, it’s big news around libraries. You see, libraries promote the Freedom to Read – read whatever you want, even if other people don’t like it. Just as importantly, don’t read whatever you don’t want! If you don’t like a book, that’s perfectly fine – just don’t tell anyone else they’re not allowed to read it.

There’s a lot to Banned Books Week, probably more than I can cover in a blog post written from the Children’s Department. For more information, feel free to read a Banned Books Week primer here. For parents, I encourage you to take away this: talk to your kids about what they’re reading! It is your right to monitor content and protect your children from things they’re not ready for. But you probably wouldn’t want someone else making rules for your child, so no one person should try to declare a book inappropriate for all. Ask what your kids are reading, and ask how they feel about it. Be involved, and be open-minded.

In honor of Banned Books Week, here are a few of the most challenged children’s books of the last 15 years, along with the reasons for the challenge, according to the American Library Association. Read them! Or don’t! Whatever you do, know that the choice is yours alone.

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Recommended for Pre-School – 2nd grade

An illustrated retelling of the true account from the Central Park Zoo: Two male penguins are tasked with hatching an abandoned egg and raising the baby penguin as their own. Reasons for challenge include: “anti-family,” “homosexuality,” “political viewpoint,” and “religious viewpoint.”

The Captain Underpants SeriesCaptain underpants, Book 1, by Dav Pilkey. Recommended for 3rd – 5th grade.

Fourth-graders George and Harold hypnotize their mean principal to become Captain Underpants – the superhero protagonist from the comic series the boys write. Reasons for challenge include: “offensive language,” “violence,” and “unsuited for age group.”

 

My Mom's Having a BabyMy Mom’s Having a Baby!: A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler. Recommended for Kindergarten – 4th grade.

A soon-to-be big sister takes a scientific look at a baby’s development, from conception to labor. Reasons for challenge include: “nudity,” “sex education,” “sexually explicit.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneThe Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling. Recommended for grades 4 and up.

Everyone’s favorite orphan-turned-boy-wizard makes a life for himself at Hogwarts School of Withcraft and Wizardry (this is admittedly the lamest description of this series ever, but how on earth do you condense all that magic into one sentence?! It would take actual magic!) Reasons for challenge include: “occult/Satanism.”

 

Scary Stories to tell in the DarkThe Scary Stories series, by Allen Schwartz. Recommended for grades 4 and up.

These adopted urban legend stories have been around and scaring readers since the 1980s, and have recently been reissued with new (tamer) illustrations. Reasons for challenge include: “occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence.”

 


Uncle Bobby's WeddingUncle Bobby’s Wedding
,
by Sarah S. Brannen. Recommended for Kindergarten – 2nd grade.

An illustrated tale describing Chloe’s insecurities surrounding being replaced by her uncle’s new spouse. As the story goes on, Chloe realizes that she’s not losing her Uncle Bobby, she’s gaining her Uncle Jamie. Reasons for challenge include: “homosexuality and unsuited to age group.”

 

Will you make an effort to read banned books? If you do, why not take a “shelfie” and share it on Social Media, #NPLbannedbooks. Posting before October 3rd (with the hashtag!) qualifies you to win Banned Books Week prizes from NPL!

 

The Children’s Books of Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate

By , September 4, 2015

Poet Laureate for All Ages

Juan Felipe HerreraPoetry is a powerful early literacy tool. It fosters children’s social and emotional development and can help children talk about their feelings in a new way.

According to newly-named U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, “poetry is one of the largest, most beautiful, most intimate and most effective ways of participating in public life.” In this post, I want to introduce you to some of Herrera’s work written specifically for children.

 

Beginnings

Born in California in 1948, Juan Felipe Herrera is the son of migrant workers. He came to a love of poetry via his parents’ stories and by his participation in his elementary school choir. As the first Latino to be named Poet Laureate, Herrera draws from his life and Mexican American culture, writing in both English and Spanish, sometimes in the same poem.

Family History Through Poetry

Calling the Doves/El canto de las palomas describes Herrera’s life traveling with his family as they moved throughout California as migrant workers. They traveled in an old army truck which his father later converted into a trailer, following the seasons: grape vines in the winter, melon, lettuce and broccoli in the spring.

Their downtime was filled with stories, singing, and poetry. The warmth and love in Herrera’s family is evident in his prose, and the illustrations by Elly Simmons are riotous, with elements of folk art.

Herrera’s beautiful book deservedly won an Ezra Jack Keats award in 1997.

 

The Upside Down Boy/El niño de cabana picks up where Calling the Doves ends. Juanito- as Herrera is then known- is 8 years old, and his parents have decided it is time that he go to school.

But Juanito is lost in a new language, a new school, and a world far removed from the countryside his family traveled. His teacher, Mrs. Sampson, is gentle and patient, however, and helps Juanito come out of his shell.

The Upside Down Boy, in fact, is dedicated to her, for inspiring Herrera to “believe in his own voice.”

 

 

 

 

Makerspaces for Kids

By , August 27, 2015

August is National Inventor’s Month. Celebrate by creating a “tinkering” space for your young children. Or bring your teens to one of the library’s great makerspaces, called Studio NPL.

Rachelle Doorley, of Tinkerlab (one of my favorite preschool tinkering sites), describes tinkering as “hands-on experiences, learning from failures, and unstructured time to explore and invent.”

As they tinker, kids work through a trial and error process in which they think about questions, test theories, brainstorm, research, and design. Don’t do it for them. Even if you know how it works, let the kids experiment and figure it out. Later, you can talk with them about what they learned.

 

Young Inventors Need Space

Setting up a Tinkering Space

If you are going to explore hands-on experiences, you need stuff to explore and tinker with.

For toddlers, take a look at this tinkering space from the blog A Mom with a Lesson Plan, inspired by the book Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by Dave Roberts.

For preschoolers, give them access to a wide range of materials. The blog Let the Children Play offers some good suggestions. Check out this tool space at Scholastic, with a worktable, shelves, and lots of jars for hardware. This project gets a little extreme–even mounting a computer on the side. Great idea, but it’s a little too Silicon Valley for my budget.

For those of us with slightly more limited means, a corner in a carport or basement works well, or even a re-purposed kids closet. Keep it simple with measuring tools, cutting tools, drawing tools, woodworking tools, and cans of hardware components along with fasteners, tape and glue.

Invite your family and friends to donate old tools and hardware from their junk drawers to your mini makerspace. Save coffee cans and tin cans for storage (make sure to tape over rough edges). You can also take apart small machines that are no longer working and save the parts for future explorations.

 

Young Inventors Need Ideas

 Do you need inspiration for things to build?

Check out these art and project websites for kids:

 

Inspiration for younger children at your library:

 

For inspiration for teens and youth at your library:

 

A Young Inventor’s Story

Caine’s Arcade

This clip shows how one boy’s tinkering inspired a community. His concept, Cain’s Arcade, was adopted by the Imagination Foundation, who now sponsors the annual Cardboard Challenge.

 

 

 

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