Category Archives: Kids
By Margaret Brown, Technical Services Department
WCPLtn is excited about our new Playaway Launchpad learning tablets for kids. These sturdy devices are pre-loaded with ten ad-free, high-quality learning apps that are fun and educational, and support learning objectives in school curricula. With a 7” high-definition touch screen, external speakers, and a durable protective bumper, these devices are perfect for kids ages 3 to 10+. The app packs are grouped by subject area, grade level, theme, and age. Each tablet is a new adventure. The avatar builder lets students design their own personal explorer. Discovery Points reward game play and can be used to purchase virtual accessories. One-touch reset makes it easy to pass from one explorer to the next. And the informational console gives educators analytics about time spent on tablet. These tablets are 100% secure. There is no risk of exposure to unintended content. Browse our collection of Launchpad tablets, and pick out the ones that are perfect for your kids.
By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
Below is the annotated—and sanitized– version of a conversation that took place in my kitchen, once upon a time. (Verbatim content has been carefully edited for appropriateness on a family-oriented website.)
Child: “But Mooooooooooom, it’s summer. I don’t want to read books in the summer.”
Me (interspersed epithets redacted for decorum’s sake): “Are you kidding me with this? You are aware of what I do for a living, right?”
Child: “Reading is so boring.” (strategic eye roll by child inserted here.)
Me: “Okay, I don’t even know who you are. And don’t roll your eyes at me.”
Child: “OMG. I hate reading.”
Me: “Well, now you’re just being hurtful.”
Hence, my attempt to prevent another parent from hearing those vile sentiments is manifested below in a short-but-sweet list of summer reads for kids. In no particular order:
Pete The Cat’s Groovy Guide To Life by Kimberly and James Dean. Personally, I aspire to be as cool and laid-back as Pete, and to have just a fraction of his unparalleled fashion sense. In this charming new book, Pete makes a personal interpretation of his favorite famous inspirational and feel-good quotes. For instance, Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” and Pete distills that to “Go for it!” Books starring this brilliant blue feline generally range within a 1st-2nd grade reading level but are appropriate and enjoyable for readers of all ages.
10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle. Duck overboard! Well, ten of them, to be precise, accidentally tossed from a freighter out into the sea by a raging storm. Each one of them floats off on a journey to a different part of the big wide world, making friends with animals along the way. The tenth little duck gets the best ending of all. Carle’s signature cut-paper collage style, combined with a sweet story, makes for a lovely counting adventure. AR level 2.4.
13 Words by Lemony Snicket. Feeling a little triskaidekaphobic? (Yes, it’s a thing. Go look it up. Do I sound like somebody’s mother?) Let this whimsical and striking little adventure help you get over it, just as 13 words such as “haberdashery” and “panache” help the main character, a quirky blue bird, get over his despondency. AR level 3.5.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamilo. A precious tale by the Newbery award-winning author of The Tale of Despereaux and Flora and Ulysses. Edward, a remarkable yet arrogant rabbit, teaches us that even the coldest heart can learn to love, to endure loss, and to love again. The story alone soars from DiCamilo’s talent, but the stunning illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline take this book to another level of kid-lit. AR level 4.4
Spy School by Stuart Gibbs. Precocious 12-year-old Ben Ripley takes a “leave of absence” from his public middle school to attend the Central Intelligence Agency’s super-secret Espionage Academy, which is billed to the general population as an elite science school. This fast-paced, charming book is the first in a series, which continues with Spy Camp and Evil Spy School. AR level 5.3.
Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey. When siblings Dorrie and Marcus chase Moe, an ill-tempered mongoose (is that redundant?), into the custodian’s closet in their local public library, they discover something that many of you may already know; to wit, librarians are not a group to be trifled with. This secret cabal of blade-slinging, sword-swinging, karate-chopping, crime-stopping warrior librarians has a mission: protect those whose words get them into trouble, anywhere in the world and at any time in history. Dorrie and Marcus go on a fantastic adventure and make lots of new friends along the way, and the book ends with the door wide open to a sequel. AR level 5.8.
(Opinions, implied profanity, and suggested readings are solely those of the author and should not be considered a reflection on other WCPL employees. The author also does not advocate young patrons running into the janitor’s closet at the library. If your mongoose gets away from you, please ask an adult for assistance.)
By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
Let us now praise . . . Dear Old Dad! Yes, that fixer of bicycle chains and broken hearts. That guy, who ferried you and your giggly girlfriends to the skating rink or the mall, and reluctantly agreed to let you out of the car a little ways down the sidewalk so that you wouldn’t be seen climbing out of a very uncool Dadmobile. The fellow who coached your youth soccer team and took everyone out for ice cream afterward, rain or shine, win or lose. The man who escorted you down the aisle and tried valiantly not to let you or anyone else see the tears in his eyes. The one who will always be there for you, and for his grandchildren.
Here, in no particular order, are nine great books that celebrate Dad.
Tad And Dad by David Ezra Stein. Tad the Tadpole just loves spending every minute with his super cool awesome dad, including sharing his lily pad for sleeping. But when Tad begins to grow bigger, the lily pad starts to become a bit crowded. What to do? Caldecott Honor winner David Ezra Stein’s sweet story of familial love will amuse and delight, and may look a little bit like your own life.
Kevin And His Dad by Irene Smalls. This Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner chronicles a day Kevin and his father spend tidying the house, doing some repairs, playing ball, seeing a movie, having milkshakes, and just sharing each other’s company. It is a graceful and powerful celebration of the bond that exists between boys and their dads.
Dad and Pop: An Ode To Fathers and Stepfathers by Kelly Bennett. The protagonist of this story is a very lucky girl indeed. She has a father and a stepfather who are very different in many ways, but they share one trait without question: they both love her very much.
Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss. Horton the Elephant sat and sat on the egg Mayzie the Bird laid (and abandoned) because “I meant what I said and I said what I meant . . . An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!” Horton’s patience and love is rewarded a thousandfold by the creature that hatches out of the egg that he protected and nurtured. Pure magic!
How To Cheer Up Dad by Fred Koehler. Little Jumbo’s dad is having a bad day, and LJ has no idea why (hint: it’s LJ’s own mischief-making that is causing Dad’s consternation.) Fortunately he does know how to cheer Dad right up. Fred Koehler’s whimsical debut is a lovely tribute to fathers everywhere, and to their own high-octane Little Jumbos.
Dad Runs Away With The Circus by Etgar Keret. In this wildly imaginative picture book, Audrey and Zach’s father joins the circus, travels the world, and becomes a star. Dad’s message to Audrey and Zach: you’re never too old to follow your dreams. This is the debut children’s book by acclaimed Israeli writer Keret.
Rock On, Mom & Dad! (A Pete The Cat book) by James Dean. Pete’s mom and dad are total rock stars, as they do so much for him. But how can he show them how much he appreciates and loves them? His rockin’ surprise is a result of Pete discovering that it’s not what you do, but how you do it, that matters–as long as it’s from the heart.
My Dad The Magnificent by Kristy Parker. Seems like no matter how cool your dad is, there’s always someone whose dad is just a little bit cooler. When Buddy’s new friend Alex brags about his firefighter dad, Buddy can’t resist being drawn into the game of one-upsmanship and invents a new and increasingly exotic persona for his dad each day for a week. At the end of the story, Buddy realizes that his plain old dad is pretty magnificent, even if he wears a business suit instead of bunker pants.
The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman. More graphic short story than traditional children’s picture book, this witty and whimsical book by the author of Coraline explores what can happen when you want something so badly that you’re willing to trade your own father for it . . . and then what happens when Mom gets home and learns what you’ve done.
Thanks for reading. Happy Father’s Day to one and all—
(As always, the opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and in no way reflect upon the beliefs and principles of Williamson County Public Library, its employees, or their fathers.)
The WCPL Children’s Department and the Terrific, Fantastic, Very Good, Not Bad Suggested Summer Reading List
By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
Yeah, my humble apologies to Judith Viorst for so shamelessly ripping off her title like that.
Why should kids read during the summer? Because I said so. Because the experts said so. Because it’s fun. Because you can score some cool prizes from us, just for reading a few books, listening to a book on CD, and attending any (or all!) of the fabulous special programs we have at Main and all branches. (More about that in a minute.)
What should kids read during the summer? I’m so glad you asked. Start off in May with Faulkner, ease on into some Chaucer for June, and then progress to Tolstoy by July. (Yes, I’m kidding.) If you have an avid reader child at home, you really don’t even have to ask that question, because more than likely they already know what they want to read. It’s tempting to recoil in horror if your kid wants to plow through the popular ones such as Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series or Jeff Kinney’s wildly successful Diary Of A Wimpy Kid books. My personal un-favorites when my kids were younger were the Junie B. Jones books by the late Barbara Park. Junie B.’s atrocious grammar and obnoxious behavior pushed me to the outer limits of my patience every time I read them with my younger daughter, which was nightly for what seemed like a millennium but was really only a few months. (Disclaimer: my fellow University of Alabama alumna Barbara Park was a tremendously talented and wonderful human being and is greatly missed by the kiddie-lit world.) Whether you have a ravenous reader or a reluctant reader at home, the song remains the same: whatever it is, if it gets them engaged, go with it. However, if you still need some suggestions (and you’re still reading this blog, bless your heart), here are a few selections by staff members of the WCPL Children’s Department to get your summer started:
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli. AR level 1.0.
After swallowing a watermelon seed, a crocodile imagines disastrous results. Bold colors and whimsical writing make this a fun choice for the picture-book set.
The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers. AR level 2.8.
Henry loves to eat books and is on his way to becoming the smartest person in the world, until he starts feeling quite ill and decides maybe he could do something else with all those books he’s been (literally) devouring.
Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse. AR level 3.6.
A young girl anxiously awaits a rainstorm to bring relief from an oppressive summer drought.
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, And A Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. AR level 4.7.
The first book in a series chronicles the unforgettable summer that four spirited girls have with their widowed father in the Berkshires. A National Book Award winner.
Half Magic by Edward Eager. AR level 5.0.
Facing the prospect of another dull summer in the city, four children suddenly find themselves caught up in some extraordinary adventures after discovering a coin that grants wishes. This series continues in Magic By The Lake.
How Tia Lola Saved The Summer by Julia Alvarez. AR level 5.5.
Miguel is not thrilled that a family with three daughters will be living with them for the summer. Luckily, Miguel’s aunt has some tricks up her sleeve guaranteed to take this summer from worst to first.
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. AR level 5.5.
The first book in the phenomenal series, in which Harry Potter finds himself rescued from a grim and joyless life with his insufferable aunt, uncle, and cousin and transported to the fantastic wizarding world of Hogwarts.
The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan. AR level 7.0.
Fifteen-year-old Will reluctantly becomes an apprentice to the mysterious Ranger Halt and winds up protecting the entire kingdom from danger. This is the first book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series.
All these fabulous titles, and thousands more, are available to be checked out from Williamson County Public Library. Oh, and while you’re there (remember earlier when I mentioned cool prizes?) sign your child up to participate in the 2015 Summer Reading Program. It’s fun, it’s fabulous, it’s free. Happy reading!
** As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophies or principles of Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their parents, children, friends, or housepets.
By Lance Hickerson, Reference Assistant
- What if I need access to a good source of information like the World Book Encyclopedia?
- Is there an encyclopedia that plays to the level of younger students?
- Is there a place I can find games for children to play?
- Is there a place for phonics? I want my child to practice sounding out words and practicing phonics skills.
- Where can I go to get Homework Help?
Back to Top
No problem. Go to the free online source on the Kids Page from the Tennessee Library Association called TEL4U. Check out the Home Screen below which shows links to eBooks, Homework Helpers, Look it Up, Tennessee State History, and Games & Activities. This is especially for grades K – 5. (For older children notice the Teenagers link.) The easiest way to get into the World Book Encyclopedia is to click on Look It Up and then choose World Book Student. Enter a word or phrase to find articles on what interests you.
Back to Top
2. Is there an encyclopedia that plays to the level of younger students?
Younger students, K thru 2nd grade might enjoy getting to their age friendly Encyclopedia through eBooks and the Early World of Learning. To get to the Encyclopedia, Click on eBooks and open the first eBook called “Early World of Learning.”
The link opens into a delightful Early World of Learning page with things to Read, Play, Watch, and to Print & Do. These are full of information and of interest. And don’t miss clicking on the frog. But to get to the illustrated Encyclopedia, go to the bottom left of the Early World of Learning page and click on Worldbook Products.
Back to Top
Back to Top
From the TEL4U homepage click on eBooks. Then choose Starfall.com.
Back to Top
What’s in the databases for homework help?
B) The World Book Kids is a geat place to start. See info above on encyclopedias.
C) The Learning Express Library is very popular with adults, but it also has homework practice in math skills and reading comprehension for elementary students.
By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
One day several years ago, when my children were small, it occurred to me that perhaps I was letting them watch too much television. I had this particular epiphany after an episode of Teletubbies led me to idly speculate what sort of expensive pharmaceutical usage had led to the invention of the aforementioned pudgy nonsense-spouting creatures, and if the ensuing commercial success of the Teletubbies then enabled the program’s creators and producers to be able to afford more of whatever controlled substance had been instrumental in bringing Dipsy, Po, Laa Laa, and Tinky-Winky into existence. And then there’s Caillou. (Which translates to “small smooth pebble” in French. You’re welcome.) Do not get me started on that whiny, round-headed little twerp. * Even hearing his name all these years later makes me immediately start casting around for a sharp object. If an animated children’s television show inspires such sinister thoughts, it’s probably not a great idea to let your kid watch a ton of it.
I’ll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet—
And you know what I tell you is true.
He loved to watch his TV set
Almost as much as you.
I’ve always been a bookworm, and I read to my kids (okay, technically I suppose I was reading to my burgeoning midsection, but you know what I mean) even before they entered the world, but maybe it was time to step it up a notch from Eric Carle and Lucy Cousins to something a little loftier. Poetry? What a great idea!
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.
–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
So. Where to begin? At the library, of course, after a brief detour to the local ice cream parlor. (It’s merely a suggestion. If you prefer active culture frozen yogurt with organic mix-ins, go for it. Just don’t judge me.) Here we go–Shakespeare, Silverstein, Seuss. Nesbitt and Nash. Milne, Moore, Millay. Prelutsky and Poe. In case you’re wondering, and I really hope you aren’t, those beautiful, haunting verses created by Edgar Allan Poe may ignite a fire in your adult soul but are generally not appropriate for– or amusing to– your average preschooler. That old saw about knowing your audience definitely holds true when diving into the poetry pool with your child. In other words, if you decide to make a foray into poetry with your kiddo, don’t overthink it. Whether you choose The Giving Tree or Green Eggs and Ham, or something else entirely, enjoy the exploration of a new genre with your child. And . . .
When called by a panther/Don’t anther.
Suggested sources for children’s poetry, in no particular order:
- Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
- A Pizza the Size of the Sun by Jack Prelutsky
- The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash by Ogden Nash
- Shout! Little Poems That Roar by Brod Bagert
- Here’s a Little Poem collected by Jane Yolen
- Treasury of Poetry selected by Alistair Hedley
*Opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophy or preferences of the Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their families, friends, or pets.
By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department
When your best friend, when your ONLY friend, is dying, what else are you supposed to do other than make a wish for him to get better. So when Lottie finds a strange girl in her bedroom offering to take her to medicine that can cure anything, Lottie follows. She follows down through the roots of an apple tree into another world filled with magic, adventure, treachery, and the chance to save her best friend.
This debut novel contains a charm reminiscent of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It’s a fun surprising adventure about the realities and importance of friendship, with a little magic thrown in. The beginning is a bit heavy in descriptions that slow the pacing, and the author can get caught up in metaphors. However, Ormsbee has painted a world for us, and the writing is lush and vivid, and matches the “taste” of the story. The cast of characters are endearing, and well-rounded with each trying to work through issues (Lottie has to break through her innocent self-absorption, Oliver is painfully shy, etc.), and they complement each other as a whole. The ending perfectly sets up for a continuation of this story without leaving the reader on a cliff. Overall, it’s an optimistic, fun, magical book that I think older children, and adults, will all love. I hope there will be more.
Being Released April 2015
by Stacy Parish (Children’s Department) and Liz Arrambide (Children’s Department)
“I love Rick Riordan’s (pronounced RYER-den, rhymes with FIREmen, sort of) books! I have read his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, his Heroes of Olympus series, and his Kane Chronicles series. What other juvenile fiction books based on Greek, Roman and/or Norse Mythology are available?”
Well, we are just so very thrilled that you asked! Below is a suggested reading list compiled by the beautiful minds in the Children’s Department of the Main Branch of WCPL. You can also find some great recommendations at Amazon.com, and straight from the (Trojan) horse’s mouth at Rick Riordan’s website and blog at http://www.rickriordan.com.
Underworlds series by Tony Abbott (Greek)
- J F Abb
- In the first book in the series, The Battle Begins, Owen is just an average kid with an average life, until his best friend Dana disappears right before his eyes. Owen brings their friends Jon and Sydney into the loop, and they embark upon a mysterious, mythological search-and-rescue mission. AR level 3.6.
Loki’s Wolves by Kelley Armstrong (Norse) AR level 4.4.
Frostborn series by Lou Anders (Norse)
- J F And
- A millennium ago, Arthur Pendragon’s last surviving grandson led the survivors of Britain through a mystical gate to a land of bright magic and dark creatures. Now, a thousand years later, the descendants of those exiles face a threat that could destroy their peaceful, prosperous kingdom. AR 4.9.
The King of Ithaka by Tracy Barrett (Greek)
- J F Bar
- Sixteen-year-old Telemachos has a great life on his island home of Ithaka, which is ruled by his mother Penelopeia while Telemachos’ father Odysseus is away fighting the Trojan War. But Ithaka’s citizens are demanding a new king, and it is up to Telemachos, with only a vague and mysterious prophecy to guide him and his two best friends to accompany him, to find Odysseus and bring him home. AR level 5.5.
Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville (Greek) AR level 5.0.
The Mythic Misadventures series by Caroline Hennesy (Greek)
- J F Hen
- Pandy, aka Pandora Atheneus Andromaeche Helena, has a fantastic prop for a show-and-tell project at school. She knows the box that Zeus himself gave to her father must never ever be opened, but accidents happen, right? And now it’s up to Pandy to capture all seven evils that escaped from the box, or go down in history as the girl who ruined the world. This fun series begins with Pandora Gets Jealous. AR level 5.5.
The Last Girls of Pompeii by Katheryn Lasky (Rome)
- J F Las
- In the summer of AD 79 in the city of Pompeii are two girls named Julia and Sura who lead very different lives. When the girls learn of the plans their parents have for each of them, coupled with the impending eruption of Mount Vesuvius, they are forced to confront the true meaning of freedom. AR level 5.1.
Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub (Greek) AR level 4.5-5.5
The Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence (Rome)
- J F Law
- In the first book of this clever and engaging series, The Thieves of Ostia, amateur detective Flavia Gemina and her friends must solve the mystery of who beheaded the guard dog belonging to her neighbors (who are secretly Christians.) Although some of the descriptions of the violence that occurs may be too graphic for more sensitive readers, this book provides an intriguing glimpse into the customs, attitudes, and culture of the Holy Roman Empire. AR level 5.2.
The 13th Sign by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (Greek)
- J F Tub
- What if there were 13 zodiac signs instead of 12? And what if you accidentally unlocked the 13th one, Ophiuchus, and that infuriated the other signs? In this fast-paced book, Jalen does exactly that, and along with her best friend and her brother must battle in the streets of New Orleans to get the signs back where they belong. AR level 4.4.
Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka (Various eras/locations) AR 3.5-4.0.
- J F Sci
By Liz Arrambide, Children’s Librarian
Occasionally families ask us what books do we have to teach very young children how to read. Most of the books we carry are designed for older children. Megan Sheridan has written an excellent article on this blog explaining fun ways to teach basic early literacy skills.
For families that want to teach their young children (under age six) how to read there is an excellent book: “How to Teach Your Baby to Read: the gentle revolution” by Glenn Doman and Janet Doman. Glenn Doman and his research team started in the 1950’s to see what they could do to help children with brain injuries increase their capacity to learn. The researchers learned that their methods helped the children to learn to read. They were surprised to find that a brain damaged child could read at ages three and four when their peers could not.
The institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential began to theorize that very young children seem to be learning differently than children who are six years or older. A child learns language by being shown an object and then being told the name of the object. The team experimented and found that this type of learning can be extended to teaching a child to read. Very young children can learn that the sound ”ball”, a physical ball and the word “ball” all mean the same thing. Their in-depth research showed that this facility of the brain disappears at age six.
As a young mother, I was intrigued with this book. I tried their methods with my then two and half year old child. We had a lot of fun and she learned to read really well. When she started Kindergarten, she tested at a third grade reading level. I’ve tutored others in reading since then. It was much easier for my daughter to learn to read using this method. She didn’t have to be taught about “consonant blends” or the “er” sound etc. She didn’t go through these stages. For interested families, this revised edition offers a fun and easy way to teach very young children to read.