Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Star Readers

As a children’s and teen librarian I love helping kids find books for school. We get lots of requests, and the specifics of each one make them like little puzzles to solve.

Say, for instance, that a 3rd grade girl needs a book that has an Accelerated Reader (AR) test and is listed as a 6th grade reading level. When elementary school kids are ‘star readers’ it’s sometimes hard to find a book that is challenging enough but also appropriate in content. In these cases, one of my first suggestions is to take a look at nonfiction. There are so many great nonfiction books out there about all sorts of fun stuff! The specific vocabulary they use and the more complex ideas make them a fantastic choice for kids who are reading at high levels.

Here are some examples.

er vets ER Vets: Life in an Animal Emergency Room
by Donna Jackson
88 pages
AR level 8.1


Escape Escape: The story of the great Houdini
by Sid Fleischman
207 pages
AR level 6.6
project seahorse Project Seahorse
by Pamela Turner
51 pages
AR level 6.6
no pretty pictures No Pretty Pictures: a child of war
by Anita Lobel
190 pages
AR level 5.0
american plague An American Plague:The true and terrifying story of the yellow fever epidemic of 1793
by Jim Murphy
165 pages
AR level 9.0

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Purrfect Picture Books

September is Happy Cat Month. Celebrate with these purrfect reads!

skippyjohn Skippyjon Jones is the star of several wild picture books full of adventure. This adorable Siamese cat thinks he’s a chihuahua. You’ll love reading about all his imaginary adventures in ‘old Mexico’ and other exotic locations.


the night world The Night World, by Mordicai Gerstein, is a new book featuring a cat named Sylvie. Sylvie invites her boy outside in the strange world of night so they can see something amazing. You’ll love the pictures in this one and marvel at how the darkness of night is portrayed by this talented artist.
hello kitty If you love Hello Kitty the library has plenty of books for you to enjoy. Hello Kitty and her friends have mysteries to solve, parties to throw, and places to visit.
pete the cat buttons Really, everything about Pete the Cat is groovy, not just his buttons. Some of Pete’s adventures, created by James Dean, work great for read-alouds where everyone joins in at the repeating parts. Other Pete the Cat stories are written just for new readers to practice their skills, and laugh some too!
 hero cat Hero Cat, by Eileen Spinelli, is such a sweet story about a mama cat who saves her kittens. Kids love this book because the mama cat is so brave and smart. I have known adults who cried at the happy ending.

These are just a few picture books for cat lovers, there are lots of chapter books and non-fiction books too.
What’s your favorite cat book?


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Frog on a Log?

Some say cats are bossy animals, and in this new book by Kes Gray and Jim Field we certainly get that impression.
frog on a log

Frog on a Log starts with cat’s stern instruction; “Hey, Frog! Sit on a log!” The rest of the book is a conversation between cat and frog about who sits where. We learn that cats sit on mats, goats sit on coats, puffins sit on muffins, and snakes sit on cakes. The cat knows all of this and lectures frog saying, “It’s not about being comfortable, it’s about doing the right thing.”

These silly rhymes (and super silly pictures) make us smile, but they also help little brains understand how words are related to each other. When you play with the rhymes in books you’re working on an important early literacy skill, phonological awareness. So read this one together and laugh as you learn!

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Scratchboard Art

Scratchboard art is created by scratching lines onto a specially coated piece of paper or cardboard to reveal the colors underneath — like magic!  At the Georgetown branch library recently, we experimented with a couple of different types of scratchboard, as well as different scratching tools, and then created our own scratchboards with paper and crayons.

IMG_2311 (3)     Scratchboard Art

Beth Krommes is a children’s book illustrator who works with scratchboard to create AMAZING artwork for children’s books. Check out some of her books to see her illustrations in detail — like the Caldecott-award-winning title, The House in the Night, picture below.  They are beautiful!


Why not give this art form a try?  It’s scratch-tastic!



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Last week I was looking though a pile of well reviewed illustrated books for kids. These were books that might be good enough to merit the Caldecott Medal in 2016. As you can imagine, mostly the pile contained picture books and some poetry books with a few non-fiction books thrown in too. Then there was this one!

roller girl

Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson, is a 239 page graphic novel about a fifth grader named Astrid. After watching her first roller derby bout she’s fired up to join derby camp in the summer and meet her hero, Rainbow Bite. There’s just as much action in this book as you’d expect from a book about roller derby but there’s lots of preteen drama too. There are new friends and old friends and mothers who don’t understand. Everything about his book was engaging and fun. Oh, and educational! I learned how scoring works in a roller derby bout and what different positions do for the team.

What makes this book even greater is knowing that the woman who wrote the story and made all the great illustrations is also a roller girl! You can visit her website here to learn a little more about her writing, drawing, and skating.


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Dream Big With Books

“Dream Big With Books” sounds like a cheesy summer reading program slogan, but it’s true!

beautiful lego

Take this book, for instance. Beautiful Lego, by Mike Doyle, is a 267 page book filled with LEGO block creations by artists from around the world. Most of our libraries have it in their adult book sections. The LEGO models you find in this book are complex and no instructions are given. This book is kind of for grown-ups, but that doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t enjoy it too. There’s something powerful about kids getting their hands on an adult book related to their interests. For me, it was photography. I loved taking pictures and I dreamed of being really good at it some day. I discovered photography magazines when I was about nine years old. I didn’t understand most of what was written in the articles, but I did understand that there were tools and skills out there that, when combined with talent, could make some amazing images! I’m so glad I had a public library where I could explore more than just the kids’ section. Every child needs the chance to Dream Big!


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Construction Zone


Most anyone visiting the Main Library this summer has seen the construction of the new Ash Brokerage Building on Wayne Street. My boys love to watch the cranes and they think the cement mixers are pretty cool too.

As a librarian and mom it’s fun to match their current interests with books. Here are a few great picks!

cranes wow city c is for construction
sidewalk trucks construction workers
sky scrapers cement mixers whose hat

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