Mabel the Table, the Children’s Room’s interactive touch table made her debut at the beginning of the summer and has gotten lots of use since then. The library recently teamed up with Dev/Iowa Bootcamp to produce some new games for Mabel. Part of the U of I’s entrepreneurial efforts, the Bootcamp is an intensive nine-week hands-on program where participants learn web development skills and industry practices. As part of the program, members of the community can pitch a project to have the bootcampers take them on as a client. We presented the idea of creating games for the interactive table in the children’s room and two students stepped forward. One game is called Hungry Dragon and allows several kids to play at the same time controlling their dragon to grab balls moving around in the center. The other is a creative painting game where kids can paint a picture and post it for others to see. If you are visiting the Children’s Room, have your kids give these local games a try and give us feedback. If you are a programmer or game developer and want to help us improve these games or create new ones, please contact me at the library.
Terri’s back to talk about some great biographies from musicians and sports heroes.
Last week on Talk of Iowa’s Horticulture Day, Charity Nebbe interviewed Ryan Adams, turf grass specialist, on the best time to reseed a lawn. Lawn and garden care is something I need to learn a lot about, being a newbie homeowner. Our garden spaces are in much need of attention and care as well, but where to start? Lucky for me, I have been immersed in our nonfiction catalog and have been getting to know where to find the books that will help me make my lawn and garden beautiful again.
To inform my lawn and garden needs this fall and next spring, I will be using a “Plant by Number” system, inspired by the numbers in ICPL’s nonfiction collection. The Dewey Decimal numbers will guide me to the best information in the library’s collection for each part of my lawn and garden planning. Keep reading for the best numbers for perennials, trees, and specialty gardening topics.
I was just perusing the most recent NYT Sunday Book Review, and I noticed that The Shortlist (brief reviews of current books on a specific topic) contains titles about ‘the mind.’ That is kind of exciting to me, because I am responsible for ordering books in the subject areas that would most likely contain books about the brain and thought processes. So, I went to order the books that had good reviews, and lo and behold, we already have them all! I must have been thinking ahead. Not only do we have them, but as I am writing this, four of the five books reviewed are on the shelf. Hot new books, ready for you, right now!
So, without further ado, I exhort you, thoughtful reader, to put on your thinking cap and come to the Library to check these books out–your mind will expand, you will build new neural pathways, and your brain will thank you!
Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Power of Self-Deception by Joseph T. Hamilton
History Lessons: A Memoir of Madness, Memory, and the Brain by Clifton Crais
Struck By Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel by Jason Padgett and Maureen Seaberg
Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self by Jennifer Ouellette
The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic by Jonathan Rottenberg
*edited to add that, by the time I published this, another book was checked out…so hurry!
I loved “Off the Leash: A Year at the Dog Park” by Matthew Gilbert. As a former dog park person and now a neighborhood dog walker, I found myself relating to so much of what Gilbert describes in his book. Everyone knows all of the dogs’ names and we refer to owners as Jack’s mom or Nellie’s mom. Eventually you get to know the other dog park peoples’ names and then their stories. Gilbert’s book is his story of his first year with Toby and how Toby helps him come out of his relatively introverted shell. Toby makes him make friendships with folks he would meet no where else but at the dog park. Gilbert, a television critic for The Boston Globe, wasn’t even a dog person until he and his husband, Tom, decided to get an absolutely gorgeous yellow Labrador puppy. Gilbert worked at home and soon learned that a puppy needed exercise, a lot of exercise, so much exercise that walking on the sidewalks just wasn’t enough for a very energetic puppy.
Gilbert, (actually Toby), finds Armory Park and then the dogs and their human companions at the park. At first he just lets Toby play and doesn’t interact with the others. But as anyone who goes to a dog park knows that if you come come to a park with a puppy others will be drawn to you like a magnet and want to talk. And talk leads to learning everyone’s names and eventually their stories. Gilbert aptly describes the dog park denizens, including an older gentleman, Saul, who doesn’t have a dog anymore but loves dogs and tries so hard to connect with the dogs and their owners. One of the most poignant parts of “Off the Leash” is when Saul no longer comes to the park. Saul was in the early states of Alzheimer’s and had a minor car accident and had to move in with his brother. The dog park people track down Saul’s brother and find out that he needs more care than his brother can give and that he is moved to a retirement home. There are other stories that tug at the heart. Stories of when a dog dies. The dog park family rallies around the companion and brings food and tells stories and witnesses with the bereaved about the loss.
At other times “Off the Leash” is laugh out loud funny; dog people have stories to tell and if you are at a park, you have time to hear their stories. You also learn who follows the rules, and who doesn’t, who joins in and who doesn’t, and how the dog park people use their dogs to express feelings they would never normally share with anyone else. Gilbert calls this sharing dog ventriloquism.
If you have a dog or had a dog or want a dog, you will enjoy “Off the Leash”. Your dog might too, Nellie did, I read numerous passages to her. She did not pass judgment, she is a dog, I did, I am am a dog park person.
Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, is almost here, so I thought I would share what books teens read this summer. For our Summer Reading Program, teens read five books in order to be entered into a prize drawing. The most read book was, unsurprisingly, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The book was already wildly popular, but the film adaptation starring Shailene Woodley, which came in June, put it over the top. If you haven’t read it yet, we’ve finally made it through the massive hold list and there are copies on the shelf as I type this. The second most read book was Divergent by Veronica Roth. Divergent also had a recent film adaptation (now available on DVD), which also starred Shailene Woodley (busy girl).
The Hunger Games was the third most read book, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was still going strong in 4th. I think a lot of teens (and adults) make a point of re-reading Harry Potter during the summer. Other stand out titles were Insurgent by Veronica Roth, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs.
What did you read this summer?
Do you have a child just learning to read? Congratulations! Your child is on the verge of exploring a whole new world! The path to becoming an independent reader can seem slow and arduous at times, but here are some tips to help your child stay the course and discover the joy of reading.
Let your child choose books he wants to read. This sounds simple, but so often we get derailed by two little words—“reading level.” Kids need to read “easy” books to build fluency and comprehension, so let them choose books below reading level. Just like practicing an instrument, reading an easy book or an old favorite will refine skills. Kids need to read what they’re interested in—even if it’s hard. So let them choose books above “reading level,” and they’ll tackle challenging vocabulary just because they care. And if they need help, you’ll be there to ease the way.
Which brings up the next tidbit of advice- kids need you to read to them. Don’t abandon reading aloud once your child begins reading. Your reading models skills they need—cadence, speed, inflection, pronunciation, vocabulary. Even more, your read-alouds remind them why they’re working so hard—for the love of story and information! So the next time they choose a book that’s above their reading level, help them meet the challenge—share the reading, model for them, and let them echo you.
The mechanics of learning to read can be hard work, but be careful about making it a “chore.” Your child’s motivation to read is a huge indicator of how accomplished he’ll become. And, let’s face it, how motivated are we by our chores? Beginning readers are encouraged to practice their skills at least 20 minutes a day, but it’s important to not become clock-watchers. Keeping track of time is fine, but shift the focus away from that in hopes that your child will one day completely lose track of how long he’s been reading.
While your child is practicing, be a great listener. Don’t correct mistakes unless it changes the meaning. Help your child when he needs it. Be patient and nonjudgmental. Find fun and alternate ways your child can practice—with siblings or family pets, or even leading a stuffed animal storytime. Soon, you’ll discover that you’ve raised a reader!
The Iowa City Public Library will screen two documentaries about immigration in Iowa in September.
“Train to Nowhere: Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation” tells the story of the 11 bodies found inside a locked fright car in October of 2002. Part crime story, part immigration perspective, “Train to Nowhere” offers an honest and compassionate look at the deaths of undocumented immigrants, taking viewers from the streets of southern Texas to the hills of a Guatemalan farm to Denison, the small Iowa town where the bodies were discovered.
“A Little Salsa on the Prairie: The Changing Character of Perry, Iowa” drew hundreds of viewers when it premiered in Perry and Des Moines October of 2006. The 55-minute film explores the significant change that began in Perry in the early 1990s when the complexion of a once predominantly white community shifted dramatically when an influx of Latino workers moved in to work at the local meat packing plant.
“Train to Nowhere: Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation” will be screened on Thursday, Sept. 4.
“A Little Salsa on the Prairie: The Changing Character of Perry, Iowa” will be shown on Wednesday, Sept. 17.
Both documentaries will air at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A.
This presentation is co-sponsored by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights. The documentaries are free and open to the public.
August 26th is National Dog Day, and to celebrate we have two new displays on the 2nd floor. There is a photo display of ICPL Staff Dogs and book display of with all kinds of dog books:
The Search for WondLa has been on my “To Read” list for awhile now, since it was published in 2010. But having learned a valuable lesson in series anticipation from Harry Potter, I put off starting this trilogy until the last book was published. This May the final book was published, The Battle for WondLa, and the time was ripe to start this series.
DiTerlizzi has mixed a good bit of science fiction into his fantasy to create a fascinating world. Eva Nine is a human girl being cared for and trained by Muthr, a humanoid, multifunctional robot. They live in an isolated Sanctuary with no contact with other humans. Eva longs to go outside and venture into the real world, but up until now Muthr has prevented this, deeming it safer to stay inside. But when their home comes under attack from an outside force, Eva is forced to flee on her own. Outside, her encyclopedic Omnidroid cannot identify any of the strange creatures she encounters. Feeling increasingly unprepared for life on the surface, Eva is captured by the strange hunter Besteel, but is able to escape and free his other captives at the same time. Thus, she has made her first friends, Rovender Kitt, a tall blue alien, and Otto, an enormous water bear.
Rovender has some news for Eva, instead of being on Earth as she had assumed, they are on a planet known as Orbona. To help make sense of this new world, she insists on rescuing Muthr from the ruins of their home. Reunited, the group sets off in search of other humans using Eva’s most prized possesion, a photo of a girl, robot and book with only the letters “Wond L a” still visible. Along their journey they encounter both kindness and cruelty from the natives. Eva and Muthr soon realize that they are oddities that no one has seen before, and thus valued for their rarity. The mystery of their origins is left unanswered for most of the book, with the only tantalizing hints coming at the end. Told in four parts with short chapters, this a fairly quick read accompanied by DiTerlizzi’s sylistic illustrations. An interesting tale that leaves you wanting to more, a demand that can gladly met by the sequel, A Hero for WondLa.