Sam and Dave have dug a hole in my mind. At the risk of sounding like a heretic in the realm of children’s librarians, I’ll admit that I’ve not been a fan of Jon Klassen’s hat books. Grim humor is just not my thing. So with reluctance, and only after hearing all the buzz, I decided I did need to read Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. And my first reaction was bewilderment—“What happened there?” So I read it again. And again. And yet again. And then looked at the illustrations. And then looked at them some more. I shared it with my teenage daughter, who shared it with her friends. (“Freaky!” was their verdict, which was a compliment.) And somehow, it has grown on me. I still don’t really understand it. Neither does anyone else, I’ve learned. There are many theories about what it really means. But what did the dynamic duo of Barnett intend for it to mean? And will we ever find out where Sam and Dave really are? The ending is unnerving, and I keep turning it over in my mind. The spare text, subdued illustrations, and determined characters remind me a bit of The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson, though a bit grimmer. (Still, The Carrot Seed family is a bit harsh, too, don’t you think?) Will Sam and Dave achieve the same classic status? If you haven’t read it yet, get your hands on Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. And please…explain it to me!
P.S. Check out Barnett and Klassen’s other collaboration Extra Yarn, which I love. It’s sweetly satisfying and will always remind me of Iowa City’s Tree Huggers!
If you’ve been waiting for information about One Book Two Book, the annual celebration of children’s literature in the City of Literature, here’s the scoop—the date has changed! Traditionally held in January, the festival will be moving to March 6-8 in 2015. All events will be held in downtown Iowa City, based at the Sheraton Hotel.
Author and illustrator David LaRochelle will be visiting and sharing his work. He has written several picture books, including Moo!, It’s a Tiger, and The Best Pet of All, as well as a young adult novel, Absolutely, Postively Not. LaRochelle didn’t start out to be an author. As a child, he dreamed of becoming a balloon man or maybe a cartoonist like Charles Schulz. During college, his dreams shifted to becoming a Hallmark card illustrator, until he was told he didn’t draw well enough. He decided to become a teacher. While teaching elementary school, LaRochelle began writing for kids. With over 25 books published, LaRochelle now writes and illustrates full-time. Although he no longer teaches, he visits schools and libraries regularly to talk about his books. In his spare time, he is also a professional pumpkin carver, whose artistry has been featured on the Good Morning America show.
One Book Two Book will also feature additional authors, and the full line-up will be announced soon. Other activities will include special events to recognize local student authors, a children’s book fair, live entertainment, face painting, arts and crafts, and more. Kids will also get to meet other special guests—children’s book characters Frog & Toad, Martha from Martha Speaks, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Babymouse, and Geronimo Stilton. It will be a fun-filled weekend, so get out those brand new 2015 calendars and save the dates for One Book Two Book!
“3 weeks 2 sisters 1 car” Perfect for the holidays—the quintessential family road trip!
I’m not generally a fan of graphic novels, but author and illustrator Raina Telgemeier does a great job of convincing me to broaden my horizons. I just read her newest title, Sisters, which explores the complexity and humor of sibling rivalry and family relationships. Sisters evokes a universal familiarity. Who doesn’t remember the family road trip as the perfect time to fight and bond?
Telgemeier’s first autobiographical novel, Smile, continues to be incredibly popular. Booklist described it as “possibly the only universally embraced graphic novel on the planet.” Sisters continues Raina’s story, sharing how she and her sister Amara fight their way to common ground, against the backdrop of a family reunion, also filled with family fights and affections. Sisters left me with a smile and warm memories of my own sisters…and wishing for more. Perhaps Telgemeier will turn me into a graphic novel fan yet!
Sisters and Smile both have hold lists on them at the library, but they are worth the wait. (And the lists aren’t too long!) While you’re waiting, you could check out a couple of my other favorite sister books, touching picture books great for all ages: Big Sister, Little Sister by LeUyen Pham and Maple & Willow Together by Lori Nichols.
This week I get to see one of my sisters, and I’m excited to share Sisters with her. We can relate–it’s surprisingly like our story!
With November just around the corner, I am starting to think about FOOD! Holiday menus, edible gifts, cookie exchanges, hot chocolate…and Read to Feed!
Read to Feed is a library program that gives your family an opportunity to kick off the season with true holiday spirit—by giving! Join us in the Storytime Room on Wednesday, Nov. 12, anytime between 2-4 pm for stories, songs, activities, and snacks—and a food drive for The Crisis Center of Johnson County, hosted by The Iowa City Public Library and Rock & Read volunteers from RSVP, Elder Services, Inc. Did you know that one third of the people in households served by the Food Bank are children? Read to Feed gives kids a chance to show they care.
Take advantage of a no-school day (for students in the Iowa City Community School District) for some mid-week entertainment. Rock & Read volunteers will share some of their favorite books, and library staff will lead the group in campfire songs and chants. Throw in some fall snacks, and it’s sure to be a great time!
Drop in anytime and stay as long as you can! The only admission requested is a donation for The Iowa City Crisis Center, such as nonperishable food items or new children’s books. We invite you to join us—partnering together to feed the minds and bodies of Johnson County!
Librarians love picture books that are interactive and encourage kids to participate with the story, making it a more meaningful and memorable experience. I’ve recently had fun exploring a genre of picture books that take “interactive” to a whole new level, involving the reader as an integral character in the book. These books give the reader instructions to follow—physical activities that build the story—like an app in paper format!
One of the original books in this genre is The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, featuring Grover from Sesame Street. Readers are instructed to not turn the pages because Grover has heard about the monster at the end of the book and he’s scared. Or course, this just makes us turn the pages until we discover what kind of monster is at the end of the book—Grover himself! First published in 1971, this book stirs nostalgic memories for many parents.
The concept of including the reader as part of the story has become more popular with children’s pictures books in the past few years. Jump into this genre with these titles:
Press Here and Mix It Up by Herve Tullet—Learn about colors and design while playing with paint splotches in these two books.
Can You Make a Scary Face? By Jan Thomas—A bossy ladybug initiates a game of pretend.
Shout! Shout It Out! By Denise Fleming—Show off your knowledge of numbers, letters, colors, and more by shouting it out!
Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett—Embark on crazy escapades in an attempt to count monkeys.
Warning: Do Not Open This Book by Adam Lehrhaupt—Really? Who can follow that advice? But beware of letting the monkeys out!
On October 18, I’ll be featuring some of these titles during our family storytime. Join us to play a leading role in some favorite picture books!
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 wisdom of this age-old proverb becomes new in the recent research on the correlation of play and learning. Although playing is an important way children learn, it’s often overlooked. Professor Laurel Bongiorno says that playing and learning are intertwined, like a science lecture and a lab. “Play is the child’s lab,” she explains in her article 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play.
The Delta Center, an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Iowa, has been studying the importance of play with a project called Playing is Learning. They’ve identified eight skills that playing builds—creativity, self-regulation, spatial awareness, language, healthy bodies, number knowledge, social skills, and conceptual thinking. They’ve partnered with the Iowa Children’s Museum, connecting exhibits with research, focusing on the power of play. It’s all pulled together in the Game of Games, a deck of cards full of creative ways for parents and their children to play together.
We are excited to announce that the Delta Center is bringing a new edition of Playing is Learning to the Iowa City Public Library! They have studied how kids play at the Library and will link that to their research, creating activities that correspond. We expect a debut this fall. For more information on Playing Is Learning, visit www.playingislearning.org.
In the meantime, even as our children head back to school soon, let’s make sure they have time to play each day!
In just one month, the summer reading program starts at the Library! This year’s program, Fizz Boom Read, will put a spark in your summer plans! From June 1 through August 2, kids can earn prizes for the reading they do over the summer and also learn about science, the library, and their community with activities and programs. Fizz Boom Read will motivate kids to read, helping them maintain reading skills over the summer and have fun while doing it.
Get the whole family involved! There’s a summer reading program for any age. In fact, even babies and toddlers can play, with fun activities designed to stimulate language development. Teens can Spark a Reaction at the Library, and adults will Make the Library Your Laboratory in their science-themed programs.
We are grateful to our sponsors for providing prizes and support for the summer reading programs. Please join us in thanking the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation, Blank Park Zoo, Chick-fil-A, Daydreams Comics, Iowa Children’s Museum, Iowa City Parks and Recreation, McDonald’s, Noodles & Company, Hardees, and Westdale Bowling Center.
April is National Autism Awareness Month. According to the Autism Society, autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability. In fact, one child in every 68 will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
One year ago, the Iowa City Public Library started offering Sensory Storytimes, designed for children with autism spectrum disorders, sensory integration issues, or other developmental disabilities. Sensory Storytimes combine stories and songs with tactile activities and props to create sensory-rich experiences. Other details help create a safe and welcoming environment for kids and their families:
A visual schedule to help us transition from one activity to the next
A room free of distractions
The expectation that kids will talk and move during the program
Sharing the experience with other families that understand
Through the summer, Sensory Storytimes will be held on the first Saturday of each month at 1:30 pm, lasting about 30 minutes. Our next one is on May 3. To prepare for your visit, take a look at our “Child’s Introduction to the Library” social story, available at www.icpl.org/kids.
In planning for the next school year, the Library is looking for your input. If you have a child who would benefit from Sensory Storytimes, please let us know what times would work best for you and how else we can meet your needs at the Library. You can email your suggestions to me at Vickie-Pasicznyuk@icpl.org
At the Library, we are celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss! Perhaps the most well-known children’s author in history, Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904. His path to becoming an author began with his art. Always doodling, young Ted took only one art class, which he dropped after a reprimand from his teacher. Approaching art by his own rules, he began his career as a cartoonist. His first children’s book, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before it was finally published! Adopting the name Dr. Seuss, he wrote and illustrated 44 children’s books, forever changing the appeal of beginning readers for kids. Dr. Seuss is often connected with one of his title characters, The Cat in the Hat.
Seuss had his own private hat collection, with several hundred hats at one time. Twenty-six of them have been displayed at the New York Public Library and are now being exhibited across the country. His collection was the inspiration for The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year.
Join us in celebrating Dr. Seuss. On Thursday, Feb. 27, at 10:30 am, we’ll be having a Dr. Seuss storytime. Check out a book from the Dr. Seuss display in the Children’s Room. And make your own Seuss hat for our Children’s Art Display—What would your hat look like if you were Cat in the Hat?