By Katy Searcy, Children’s Department
Looking for a great book to get your kids excited about reading? Do you have a picky reader who absolutely must only read one particular genre? Maybe you have a kid on your hands who just read the best book ever and needs something else that’s just as good. Sure, you could go to Goodreads, but sometimes their suggestions aren’t exactly what you’re looking for. You could also ask us, your friendly neighborhood librarians here at WCPL who are very familiar with our collection and would be more than happy to recommend you the perfect book. But admittedly, there are likely some gaps in our vast book knowledge, so here are five websites full of great book suggestions for kids.
Guys Read is a web-based literacy program founded by children’s author Jon Scieszka. Their mission is to encourage boys to become self-motivated, lifelong readers by helping them find books they’re interested in. This website has collected lists of books recommended by teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, parents, and other guys and grouped them into categories to make them easier to find. From “Creepy and Weird” to “For Little Guys” to “Robots” to “Classics That Actually Hold Up,” guys of all ages can find exactly what they’re looking for in a book, and if they find one they like, there are further recommended titles under each book suggestion.
Similar to Guys Read, A Mighty Girl prides themselves on having “the world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls,” and their impressive book section features over 2,000 girl-empowering books to choose from. Their best feature is easily the over 200 book categories available to explore, where books are grouped by character (from books, television, movies, and historical figures), genre, social issues, personal development, topic, and age.
The Best Children’s Books is curated by teachers who understand how important it is to find good books for children, and the books featured on this website are books that they use and recommend in their classrooms. For the most part, books recommended here are geared toward ages four through twelve. With blurbs describing how exactly books can be used, there is definitely more of a focus on classroom use, but this website could be an excellent resource for homeschooling families, teachers, or anyone needing a book for a particular report topic.
Bank Street College of Education Library excels at creating book lists. From “STEM” to “Back to School” to “Read Alouds for Children Twelve and Over,” there is a list on nearly any topic featuring a diverse array of characters and stories. If you have the time, I would definitely recommend browsing their Best Books of the Year list that features a whopping 600 titles broken down by age range.
Books & Authors is a database available through the library that provides recommended read-a-likes and an extensive selection of genres and authors to browse. You can even create lists of books you may come across that you want to save for later.
Once you’ve found a book to read, search our catalog for it and put it on hold, or give us a call for us to put it on hold for you. If we don’t have it in our collection, we can get most books from interlibrary loan. Now go forth and discover your new favorite book!
By Katy Searcy, Children’s Department
Here at WCPL, we host a variety of story times for young children: Snuggle Bug Lapsit Story Time for infants through eighteen months, Toddler Time for eighteen months to three years, and Preschool Story Time for three to five years. These story times are carefully planned and conducted by our children’s librarians using current early literacy research, and each story time is jam packed with fun and engaging age-appropriate stories, rhymes, songs, and aspects of play. And we absolutely LOVE story times! For me, story time is one of the highlights of my week, and I probably get way too excited about certain songs, rhymes, and books.
But why don’t I let you in on a little secret? As much as we love story times, we don’t do it because we love it so much or because that’s just what libraries are supposed to do. Actually, story times aren’t about us at all. Story times are all about YOU! Literacy begins at birth, and we know that it can be difficult to find time to figure out exactly what you’re supposed to do to help foster your child’s development. Hence, story times! We’re here to show you how you can introduce these early literacy skills to your little ones.
Still need convincing that story time is as awesome as I think it is? Luckily for you, I’ve listed several reasons why story time is important for children and parents.
- Songs and rhymes are a great way for children to hear the sounds of language. Singing slows down language and allows children to hear the smaller sounds and syllables of words, which helps children sound out words when they learn to read.
- Children learn how books work as they listen to stories being read to them. They learn how to hold a book and turn the pages. Even when babies play with board books in ways we find unconventional (chewing, pulling, pushing, etc.), they’re developing print awareness, a skill research has shown is an important part of a strong foundation for reading.
- Books, songs, and rhymes help develop children’s vocabulary. The language used in books, songs, and rhymes is richer and uses different words than we use in conversation.
- Children can learn and develop their communication skills by interacting with other children and by watching their parents interact with other adults.
- As children have fun in story time, they learn to enjoy books. Children are more likely to stick with learning to read, even if it’s difficult, if they find books enjoyable.
- Children are exposed to different cultures and countries during story time, which broadens their horizons and adds to background knowledge that helps them understand what they read as they get older.
- Sitting still and listening to books during story time boosts children’s listening skills and helps them increase their attention span.
- Story time is great way to meet new people and make new friends.
- I’ll admit that libraries can be intimidating to navigate sometimes, and many older kids—and even adults—struggle to find what they’re looking for, ask for help, and check out books. Exposing children to the library when they’re younger ensures that they will know how to use a library.
- Story time can be a great way to simply get out of the house. We don’t mind if you use us for a change of scenery.
So what are you waiting for? Come join us for story time!
Toddler Time (18 months to 3 years): Tuesdays, 10:00 am and 11:15 am
Preschool Story Time (3 to 5 years): Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10:00 am
Snuggle Bug Lapsit Story Time (birth to 18 months): Fridays, 10:00 am
By Katy Searcy, Children’s Department
Let’s talk about the Internet for a minute. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know what I would do without the Internet. We have access to information literally at our fingertips, and it’s absolutely fantastic. I love being able to find answers to the random questions zipping through my head. Of course, I don’t have to list off all the benefits of the Internet, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the dangers of the Internet either.
The Internet can be a scary place for anyone. There are creeps and weirdos galore, and who knows whether or not our information is really private? It’s tough enough for many adults to navigate, so it’s no wonder we receive lots of requests for books about Internet safety for kids. Kids use a variety of online services, from social media to games, and each one hosts its own safety concerns. Below are a few basic tips parents can be sure to implement no matter how their kids use the Internet, as well as a list of resources to use for talking about Internet safety with kids:
- Keep the computer in a high-traffic area of your home.
- Establish limits for which online sites kids can visit and for how long.
- Remember that the Internet is mobile, so make sure to monitor cell phones, gaming devices, and laptops.
- Surf the Internet with your children and let them show you what they like to do online.
- Know who is connecting with your children online and set rules for social media, instant messaging, email, online gaming, and using webcams.
- Continually talk with your children about online safety.
The following websites provide more in depth tips and suggestions for talking about Internet safety with children:
- A program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, NetSmartz Workshop provides interactive, age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safe online. This website features videos, games, presentations, and other activities for kids ages 5 through 17, as well as guides for parents and educators.
- PBS Parents is a great resource for information about all aspects of child development and early learning, and the “Children and Media” section is especially helpful for talking to kids about online safety. Featuring numerous articles and age-by-age tips for helping children and teens get the most out of media and technology, this website provides information for parents of children ages 3 through 18.
- Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization that provides information and advice to help parents navigate the issues surrounding raising children in the digital age. The website’s extensive FAQ section features questions from real parents that are broken down by age group or topic.
And finally, here’s a list of books we have here at WCPL about Internet safety and security for both kids and parents:
- “Berenstain Bears’ Computer Trouble” (part of 5 Minute Berenstain Bears Stories) (J E BERENSTAIN)
- Savvy Cyber Kids (J E HALPERT)
- What Does It Mean to be Safe? (J E DIORIO)
- Online Privacy (J 005.8 MAR)
- Safe Social Networking (J 006.754 LIN)
- The Smart Girl’s Guide to the Internet: How to Connect with Friends, Find What You Need, and Stay Safe Online (J 006.754083 CIN) American Girl nonfiction
- A Smart Kid’s Guide to Social Networking Online (J 006.754083 JAK)
- Information Insecurity: Privacy Under Siege (YA 323.448 JAN)
- iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know About Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing Up (004.678083 HOF)
- Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (302.2310835 PAL)
- It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (302.30285 BOY)
- How to Protect Your Children on the Internet: A Roadmap for Parents and Teachers (305.235 SMI)
- Cyber Self-Defense: Expert Advice to Avoid Online Predators, Identity Theft, and Cyberbullying (613.602854678 MOO)
By Katy Searcy, Children’s Department
At this point, we’ve all heard something about the wildly popular game Pokémon Go. You know, the game that has players falling off cliffs and running into oncoming traffic. The game that many players claim has improved their mental health. Maybe you know it as the game that finally got your kids off the couch and walking around outside. Either way, Pokémon Go really is a great way for people of all ages to spend some time in the great outdoors, especially as the weather changes. And we’re here to give you the basics and some tips on how to play (especially after helping numerous children catch pokemon at the library).
Pokémon Go was created by Niantic, Inc. as a way to get players out of the house and exploring their neighborhoods and cities. It’s similar to geocaching, but without finding physical objects. Pokémon are spawned based on the player’s geographic location, which is tracked through the GPS in the player’s smartphone. As you move, your avatar moves in the game, and the more you move, the better your chances for finding Pokémon.
Pokémon fall into different categories, or “types.” Each Pokémon is typically found in a location correlating to its type. For instance, Water Pokémon are found near bodies of water (ponds, rivers, lakes, oceans, etc.), Grass Pokémon and Bug Pokémon are in particularly grassy areas (parks, golf courses, nature trails, etc.), and Normal Pokémon can be found in residential areas. These Pokémon are more common in this area, although that doesn’t mean you won’t come across a different type. You can also hatch Pokémon from eggs collected from PokéStops, and in order to hatch them, you have to walk. Each egg hatches after a certain predetermined distance—2 km, 5 km, or 10 km—, and the greater the distance walked, the rarer the Pokémon hatched.
When you come upon a Pokémon, your phone will vibrate to let you know you found something. You tap on the Pokémon that appears on your screen, and from there, the app uses augmented reality through your phone’s camera, so it looks like the Pokémon is there in the real world. You’ll be prompted to “catch” it with a Poké Ball, and you throw the ball by swiping up on the screen with your finger to hit the Pokémon in the circle.
There are locations scattered around town called PokéStops and Gyms that are usually found either along nature trails, historic sites, churches, public buildings, and other interesting local locations. Stops are places players can visit to get supplies, and Gyms are for battling. The library is a PokéStop, and since we’re in a historic part of town, there are lots of Stops and Gyms around us. Lure modules can be placed at Stops, which lure Pokémon to the Stop for thirty minutes.
Once caught, you can make Pokémon stronger by powering them up or evolving them using the stardust and candy that you get when you catch a Pokémon. You can also transfer your Pokémon to get candy, which is especially helpful when you have lots of low CP, common Pokémon. The more Pokémon you catch, the more stardust and candy you get. When you’ve reached Level 5, you can battle other players’ Pokémon and train your Pokémon at Gyms.
The best spots to catch Pokémon are typically places that are heavily populated or where there are lots of active users, such as Cool Springs or downtown Franklin. PokéStops will give you more items, and you’ll find better Pokémon if you’re in a bigger area. Landmarks and other places of interest are good to try, too. You’ll find better and rarer Pokémon as your trainer level advances, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t catch anything amazing at first.
“What does all this have to do with the library, of all places?” you might be thinking. As I mentioned earlier, the Main Branch of WCPL in Franklin is a PokéStop itself, with tons of other Stops and a couple of Gyms within walking distance. It would be a great starting place for anyone wanting to walk around and catch Pokémon. Starting in the back of our parking lot, you could walk along Columbia Avenue towards downtown, picking up seven or eight Stops along the way. I’ve personally caught decent Pokémon—like Pinsirs and Scythers—in the library, and I’ve seen people catch Glooms, Arboks, and Wigglytuffs. We’ve also been known to drop Lures at some of our library events, so you never know what you might find here.
By Katy Searcy, Children’s Department
Comics and graphic novels. When I say those magic words, there are typically some pretty strong feelings evoked: I either receive rants and raves or wailing and gnashing of teeth. I’m here for those of you who may fall into the latter category. Maybe you hate them because you feel they aren’t “real” literature, because there’s absolutely no way cartoons can contain value. Maybe you hate them because your kid won’t read anything else. Or maybe you just hate them because you don’t know anything about them. So I’m here to provide you with a crash course in comics and graphic novels with the hope that hating them will no longer be your first reaction.
Comics vs. Graphic Novels: What’s the Difference?
Comic books are periodicals that contain a single story or a collection of stories, often featuring a continuing set of characters. Comic books are a form of sequential art, following a left-to-right, panel-to-panel reading convention and containing textual devices such as speech bubbles, captions, and onomatopoeia to convey dialogue, narration, and sound. Many American comic books involve adventure stories that incorporate elements of fantasy and science fiction. Superhero characters in comic books are especially popular. Some comic series have been merged into giant collections, like The Walking Dead, so they read more like a graphic novel.
A graphic novel is a book-length story that combines pictures and text. Graphic novels do resemble comic books, but they’re typically much longer than comic books with more serious subject matter. Many graphic novels do explore adult themes, but there are just as many graphic novels created specifically for children and young adults. Graphic novels are not necessarily novels—the format includes fictional stories, informational text, essays, reports, memoirs, biographies, and even poetry told using a combination of text and images following the panel-to-panel conventions of comics.
Where Does Manga Fit?
Manga are Japanese comics. The panels and text are read from right to left, and the reader turns the page in a right-to-left fashion as well. This can catch many readers off guard, but trust me, once you start, it’s easy to catch on. The art style of manga, however, differs drastically from its American counterpart. Manga characters are hyper-stylized, typically drawn with large eyes, small mouths, and giant heads of brightly colored hair. Emotions are exaggerated and can take over a character’s entire body.
Why Should We Read Them?
- The first reason is obvious: Comics and graphic novels are fun! Why should reading be boring and miserable? It shouldn’t. Letting kids read something fun of their choosing gives them a sense of initiative and responsibility towards their own reading, and they’re less likely to view reading as a chore.
- We live in a hyper-visual culture, and the visual sequences in comics and graphic novels just make sense to kids.
- Kids use complex reading strategies when comic books and graphic novels. Readers must rely on dialogue and visual cues to infer what is not explicitly stated by a narrator, and they develop multiple literacies through the combination of pictures and text.
- Comics and graphic novels are GREAT for reluctant readers. For kids who are intimidated by large amounts of text, the combination of text and images makes the book seem more accessible.
- Personally, I read them when I want a more immersive, inclusive reading experience. I’ve found that some stories are just told better through a visual medium.
Which Ones Should I Read?
I’m glad you asked. If you’d like to know more about comics as a genre, Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (call number YA 741.5 MACC) is a wonderful resource. Often used as a textbook in literature classes (I needed it a total of three times during my undergrad and graduate work. Three!), McCloud delves into nearly every historical and perceptual aspect of comics. As far as good comics and graphic novels to read, here is a basic list of some of my personal favorites for each age group that we have available here at WCPL.
Babymouse: Queen of the World! (J 741.5 HOL)
Squish: Super Amoeba (J 741.5 HOL)
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute (J 741.5 KRO)
Chi’s Sweet Home (J 741.5952 KON)
Zebrafish (J 741.5 EME)
Roller Girl (J 741.5973 JAM)
Amulet: The Stonekeeper (J 741.5973 KIB)
Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity (J 741.5973 ROM)
Brain Camp (J 741.5 KIM, 7th and 8th shelf)
Chiggers (YA F LAR)
Battling Boy (J 741.5 POP, 7th and 8th shelf)
Drama (YA F TEL)
In Real Life (YA F DOC)
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (YA F OMA)
This One Summer (YA F TAM)
Runaways (YA F VAU)
The Shadow Hero (YA F YAN)
Fun Home: An American Tragicomic (741.5973 PEC)
Over Easy (741.5973 PON)
Saga (741.5973 VAU)
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (92 CHA)
Blankets (F THO)
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud