Oh, the Thinks You Can Think

Early Literacy at The Learn and Play Space

If you know a child who is 7 years old or younger, the Learn and Play Space in the Children's Department at your Monroe County Public Library is the perfect place to visit. Children and their adult caregivers may explore several learning stations that were designed to help build early literacy skills. Children grow vocabulary when they work puzzles and play with puppets. Imaginary play in the store and the kitchen builds narrative skills which help children make meaning of words when they begin to read. The letter wall is a great place to learn the names of the letters and to practice the sounds the letters make. The writing center is stocked with cards, paper, envelopes, and markers so children can write books, mail letters, and draw pictures. Trained supervisors are available during most open hours to guide learning experiences, play games, and provide craft materials. There is even a dedicated space that is reserved for infants who are not walking and their caregivers exclusively. This engaging space has been made possible by support from the Smithville Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Monroe County Public Library. Paper supplies for the writing center are received from the Reuse Center at the District.
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Meet Olivia at the Library


Olivia captured my heart the moment I opened her first book, more than ten years ago, and saw a trail of deselected items of clothing littering the floor as she squeezed into her just-right sailor dress. Whether she's taming lions or sailing on a gondola in Venice, Olivia always has the right outfit for any occasion.

While there are lots of opportunities to enjoy Olivia, including her television show on Nick Jr., the best way to get to know Olivia is through her series of picture books. In Olivia Forms a Band, discover Olivia's resourcefulness when she supplies her own music to a fireworks display. Revel in Olivia's amazing power of deduction when she solves the case in Olivia and the Missing Toy. Travel with Olivia by gondola in Olivia Goes to Venice. See astonishing feats of daring and imagination in Olivia Saves the Circus. Along the way you'll meet Olivia's delightful family including her little brothers William and Ian.
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First Snow in the Woods

While some Monroe County residents grumble about the deer that tread too closely to their homes or raid their gardens, I relish seeing the deer emerge from the woods that surround my home. My son recently reported that he had seen six deer of various sizes while he was playing in our front yard. They observed him cautiously for a moment before stepping quickly across the lawn, confident that his remote controlled car would not harm them!

It's a little easier to spot the deer now that most of the leaves have fallen from the trees. But if you don't have a chance to see deer right in your neighborhood, the picture book First Snow in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy features stunning color photographs that provide a vivid and intimate way to admire deer and other wildlife that live in the woods. The book also profiles the changing seasons as different animals describe how they prepare for the arrival of winter weather.
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Festival of Ghost Stories, Friday 10/28

Several of the Children's Librarians, members of the Bloomington Storytellers Guild, will be telling spooky stories at Bryan Park this Friday, 7-8:30 pm, as part of our annual Festival of Ghost Stories. Not intended for young children, this free event is a chance for older children, teens and adults to enjoy hearing some spine-tingling tales. So grab a lawn chair, or bring a blanket, and join us for some stories - and a couple songs - certain to give you the shivers!

(In case of rain, the event will be held indoors at the Main Library. We'll know by late afternoon, so give us a call at 349-3100, to check on the location.)

Dead End in Norvelt

Jack Gantos is one of my favorite authors, especially when I'm in the mood for a quirky, darkly funny read. Dead End in Norvelt is no exception - in fact, it had me laughing out loud in several places about the (fictional?) escapades of the protagonist, also named Jack Gantos! I wish I'd been witness to the real-life childhood of Gantos, to see exactly which of the characters and situations in this novel occurred exactly as he describes. So many favorite scenes - one where Jack is enlisted to dress as the Grim Reaper to determine whether an old person is dead or not, another when his nose bleeds AND he faints after seeing what he thinks is a woman stripping the skin off her arm with her teeth.

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Slightly Creepy Stories for Fall

The nights are growing chilly and the leaves are starting to turn. All of the apple and pumpkin books have been checked out at least once and soon the Halloween shelves will be bare. If you are looking for something slightly creepy to fit the season, you may have to dig a little deeper. We have two booklists to help you suss out books that will give you the shivers. Preschool and early elementary book lovers will enjoy selections from
The Not-Too-Scary Stories booklist. Older readers who have a high tolerance for terror should look for the Horror display and
booklist.
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Grolier Online and other Homework Help Tools

I live with a wonderful third grader. But on occasion, he forgets to tell me until late at night that he has a homework assignment due the next day. Now, I'm as big a fan of Google as anyone, but when I need to find information quickly from a trusted source at a reading level suitable for a third grader, or other school-age student, I am grateful to have access to Grolier Online.

Grolier Online is a multimedia encyclopedia that provides you with a wealth of information on a range of topics. Topics include links to related magazine articles and recommended web sites. And most topics include images and maps, when relevant. The Monroe County Public Library's subscription to Grolier Online includes the reference databases America the Beautiful for information on states, and Lands and People for information on countries around the world. MCPL card holders can access all the resources free from home by logging in with their library card number.

So the next time you are tempted to just "Google it," try Grolier Online instead! And take a look at the other Online Homework Help Resources we recommend, too.

Click Clack Moo: A Special Preview Performance

As a student of journalism, I am a true believer in the power of the written word. And, apparently, so are the cows in Doreen Cronin's hilarious picture book: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. When the cows discover a typewriter in their barn, they begin making demands of Farmer Brown. It's cold in the barn. They want electric blankets.

Ridiculous, thinks Farmer Brown, and he refuses their request. But then the cows refuse to give any more milk. And the hens join the cows in solidarity and refuse to give any more eggs. The duck is the barnyard mediator, shuffling typed messages back and forth between the farmer and the cows. But, it seems that even ducks have desires for creature comforts.
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I Don't Like to Read! (well, really, I do)


We are just starting our First Grade Tours here in MCPL Children's Services, and it motivated me to try to remember some of my own experiences in the first grade. One vivid memory is going on our first visit to the school library - I was so excited it was lucky I didn't toss my cookies! The thrill was tempered a little by the fact that I could hardly read - in fact, I was in the "lowest" reading group in my first grade class. (Not that the teacher told us which group was the lowest, of course - we just all knew.) I apparently told my mom of my frustration and fear about not reading well, and she told my teacher. Before I knew it, I was reading with the top group, and understanding what I read! I'm still not sure exactly what my teacher did, but apparently that extra bit of attention and encouragement, both at home and at school, made a huge difference. (It didn't hurt, either, that the top reading group had more interesting fare.) After thinking about this, I looked for a picture book that reflected a little of my experience.

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The Book of Songs & Rhymes with Beat Motions


Singing is one of the best activities children and caregivers can enjoy together. Singing promotes a love of music in young children and helps build early literacy skills by breaking words down into small pieces. The library is a great source of wonderful songs for early childhood in books, CDs, Books on CD, and DVDs. A particularly good source of engaging songs for preschool and young school-aged children are the materials by Dr. John Feierabend. Look for his books in the Parent-Teacher Resource Room. Adults who spend time with small children will love The Book of Songs & Rhymes with Beat Motions . Here you will find songs, rhymes, and games that encourage moving with the beat. These rhymes and songs have been passed along for generations and are full of magic and imagination. You will also find CDs of songs collected by Dr. Feierabend in the Children's Audio-Visual collection.

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