Category Archives: Early literacy

The Reading Promise


Here’s a new book to delight book-lovers:  The Reading Promise, by Alice Ozma.

This non-fiction book tells the story of Alice and her father, an elementary school librarian.  When Alicewas in the 4th grade, her father challenged her to see if they could read aloud at bedtime for 100 consecutive nights.  They liked it so much, they didn’t stop until she went to college!  It’s fun to find out how they managed to do that for so long, and why, and what difference it made to both of them; but this is basically a love poem to reading, and why Alice now believes that reading to children is essential.

We got this book in today; it should be ready to hit the shelves in just a few days.  Enjoy!                       –Mary Beth

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Family Values at the Library

It’s National Library Month.   Now, if you’re reading this, you likely think libraries are a good thing.  I myself think they’re essential to civilization as we know it. 

I am not exaggerating.  From Internet access and job-hunting help, to protecting civil liberties and keeping or starting children reading, libraries keep the wheels of society moving positively. 

Last night I got a new perspective on this.  I was sitting at the front desk, and I heard a low, menacing growl.  What now?  Wolves jumping out of the storybooks again?   My eyes jumped up to the puppet house, where I saw a young man on the floor, playing with an absolutely adorable toddler and our big sheepdog puppet.  The sheepdog advanced on the child, growling, until the little boy squealed, at which point the sheepdog engulfed the kid, madly kissing.  More peals of laughter.  Over and over, both of them in glee.

And that made me think (as well as smile).  Libraries, as well as all the other essential services they provide, actually do uphold (forgive the phrase) family values: the really basic ones.  Let’s say community values.  Specifically, sharing.

We buy resources as a community–books, CDs, movies, computers, internet access, a  library building, library staff–and then we share them.  Sometimes we have to wait before it’s our turn.  If we don’t take good care of the items, no one else gets to use them.   These very basic truths reflect the fact that we are a group.  We are in this together.  Our individual actions impact each other.  We learned this in kindergarten or before, but perhaps as adults we focus less on it. 

So the next time you come to the library, know that you are exercising excellent community values, and supporting civilization as we know it.  Not bad for a humble library.  And — happy National Library Month.
                   –Mary Beth

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Great opportunity for parents and toddlers

Do you have a 2 or 3-year-old?  Or do you know someone who does?

If so, we have a great opportunity for you.  Starting Friday, February 11 and running Fridays through June, Children’s Librarian Lisa Anderson is running a PlayBright group. 

PlayBright is a research-based program that teaches parents to use ordinary play to help their child gain preschool skills and reading readiness.  Each half-hour  (from 10:30 to 11:00 a.m.), bilingual playtime imparts skills in cooperation, sharing, communication, vocabulary, and techniques to help those little brains get ready to read–all in a fun, natural context of play.

The program is free; participants must commit to all attending all sessions and can reserve a spot by calling Lisa at 755-0760.

Tell your friends!  This is a great way to make a big difference in your child’s life.
                         –Mary Beth

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Filed under BPL services, Children's programs, Early literacy

Room to Read

Three Cups of Tea has been a bestseller for about a zillion years.  But there’s another book (that I actually like better) which is similar in its uplifting story and audacious mission. 

It’s called Leaving Microsoft to Save the World, by John Wood (and is available at your local library).  It’s the story of how the international charity Room to Read began its road to success—in the perfectly empty library of an elementary school in Nepal.

Room to Read is celebrating its 10th anniversary and its 10,000th library being built in developing nations.  Here’s an interesting video with founder John Wood.

http://money.cnn.com/video/news/2010/08/06/n_cc_room_to_read.cnnmoney/

http://www.roomtoread.org/Page.aspx?pid=183

Are you grateful to be able to read and to surrounded by great materials in every imaginable format?   Room to Read is one way to put your gratitude into action.  I’m so glad people like John Wood are out there doing what they’re doing for the world!
                 —Mary Beth

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Warming the cockles of my heart

I met a young man in the library last night.  Let’s call him Miguel.  He came up to the Information Desk with a shy smile, and asked if we might have any books about soccer.  “Books about how to play soccer, or stories with soccer in them?”  I asked.  “Stories,” he said.  “I need to practice my reading.”

Boy comes to library to practice his reading.  In the summertime.  Words to engage this reader’s heart.  I smiled beautifically.  “What grade at you going into, Miguel?”  I asked as I looked through the library catalogue.  “Seventh,” he said, “but I don’t read good.  My teacher says I read like third grade.”

I found him a few chapter books and had him read a paragraph.  “How many words are hard for you in that paragraph?”    “Three or four,” he said, slowly sounding them out.  “That’s just right,” I told him, “hard enough to make you learn new words.”   He grinned again and thanked me, looking at the boy playing soccer on the cover.

“Shall we get you a couple of books that will be easy for you, too?” I asked, thinking that maybe some confidence-building would also be useful, even if the content was a little babyish for him.  Miguel thought that was a great idea, so we found a couple more and he checked them out.

A couple of things struck me about  Miguel.  First, he might be a total mischief-maker elsewhere, but he has a grin that will get him far in this life.  Second, he has a presence unusual for his age;  if he was a bit shy, he didn’t appear to be ashamed of his current proficiency, or hesitant to ask for help. 

A lot has been written in the last years about helping boys become readers.  If you’re interested, one place to look is http://www.guysread.com/about/.   The popular blog “The Huffington Post” just this week had a post entitled Can fart jokes get boys reading? 

I guess meeting Miguel made me aware that for every motivated, vibrant brown-eyed cutie asking for help finding soccer books, there must be many others who need encouragement and coaxing and sustained attention to get a sense of the magic of books.  Maybe it takes a village to help a boy learn to read.  That’s a village I’d like to live in.
—– Mary Beth

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Happy Children’s Book Week!

There are some people out there who don’t pay attention to children’s books, and I pity them.  Some of the most beautiful books being published (in appearance and in message) are books for kids.  Every year there are one or two which I find so wonderful, I have to buy them for my personal library.  One of those is featured on this years’ poster:  Zen Ties, by Jon Muth.  (The panda’s name is Stillwater, and his nephew is Koo.)

A couple more to delight your heart and your eyes:  SkippyJon Jones, by Judith Schachner; and If you give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff.  Oh, and don’t miss Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems.  And then there’s….oh, just browse!  Browsing is such a lost art.  

And if you really want to celebrate Children’s Book Week, you know what to do: find a child, and read together.
                                                         –Mary Beth

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