Oh, the Thinks You Can Think

Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz


There are plenty of scary stories out there to keep you shivering beneath the blankets long after you've turned out the lights. But Raven's Gate, by Anthony Horowitz stands out for its great characters and ever mounting action and suspense. Fourteen-year-old orphan Matt Freeman is framed for a violent crime and given the choice of getting locked up or going into a reform program in the rural English town of Lesser Malling.
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Bark, George and other Stories for Dog Days

Join us this Wednesday, August 31, at 10 am in the Library Auditorium for Storyhour Extravaganza! Since the hot days of August are often described as the Dog Days of Summer, we're celebrating the end of this blistering season with a variety of stories about dogs - including my personal favorite: Bark, George by Jules Feiffer. George, a puppy, seems to have a duck stuck in his throat, or perhaps a cow, or a cat, because he keeps saying these other animal sounds instead of "bark." So, George's mom takes him to the vet who eventually gets to the bottom of George's troubles. Highly recommended for preschoolers to children in grade 2, this humorous story typically brings on a case of the giggles and is especially fun to tell with puppets!

We'll also show the film versions of Let's Get a Pup, Said Kate and Whistle for Willie. What's your favorite dog story? Let us know!

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

The importance of storytelling is beautifully emphasized in this 2010 Newbery Honor title, written and illustrated by Grace Lin, with the audiobook version narrated by actress Janet Song. Minli is the daughter of poor farmers who live in the barren land shadowed by Fruitless Mountain. She is inspired by the mystical folktales of her father, and the sadness of her mother, to try to improve their fortune by traveling to meet the Old Man of the Moon, a character in her father's stories. On the way she meets a talking fish and a dragon who can't fly, as well as other animals and people, both good and evil, who help her realize what good fortune really means. Highly recommended, either in print format (enjoy Lin's lovely illustrations!) or as an audiobook, for ages 8-12. Watch a book trailer and an interview with the author, and discover other books written and illustrated by Lin, such as Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!, a 2011 Geisel Honor Book, and picture books including Dim Sum for Everyone! and Fortune Cookie Fortunes.

Parents' Choice and the 4Cs of Learning

I've been following the Parents' Choice blog: Read More. Play More. Learn More recently via Twitter. The Parents' Choice Foundation was established in 1978 as a nonprofit guide to quality children's media and toys. You may have seen their round labels of recommendation on toys, but they also review books, audiobooks, DVDs, music, magazines, television shows, videogames, websites and software -- including mobile apps for kids. You can use their online product finder to search for their award winners by type of product, the age of the child for which the product is designed, and more.

But their blog caught my attention because the title echoes philosophies of Children's Services at Monroe County Public Library: reading is a key to learning, children learn through play, and learning is fun! Our Summer Reading Game is designed to promote these concepts, and now as children head back to school we find ourselves thinking more about essential skills and knowledge for children. Traditionally, essential skills have been described as the 3Rs: Reading, (w)Riting and (a)Rithmetic. But as a recent post to the Parents' Choice blog reminded, essential skills for the 21st Century include the 4Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
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From Phonics to Fluency

I recently attended a fascinating seminar on reading sponsored by the Monroe County Community School Corporation. The presenter was Dr. Timothy Rasinski, a professor at Kent State University who authored From Phonics to Fluency: Effective Teaching of Decoding and Reading Fluency in the Elementary School . The topic of the seminar was fluency in reading. While some school systems equate fluency with reading speed, Dr. Rasinski described it as a bridge between reading mechanics and comprehension. Children need to achieve accuracy in the surface or mechanical level of reading which includes phonics, spelling, and vocabulary to progress to the deep level where they make meaning. The link between the two is fluency. Fluent reading involves automaticity, or dealing with the mechanics of reading without stumbling and struggling. Fluency also requires prosody, the ability to read aloud or silently with proper phrasing and expression. Dr. Rasinski shared several methods that teachers and parents can use to help students improve their fluency. I was thrilled to hear that we public librarians have been promoting and supporting these activities at MCPL for years. His presentation focused on singing, poetry, and reader's theater.
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