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Families will learn, play during ICPL’s Messy Science Day

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 30th, 2014

Experimenting with science can be fun. It can also be messy. For one day, parents, you won’t be the ones cleaning it up. boy-microscope-post

Join the Iowa City Public Library from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 12, for Messy Science Day, a fun-filled family event with all sorts of science experiments.

Librarians will set up the lab on the City Plaza, leading participants through experiments that include the creation of chalk bombs and Mentos soda rockets.

Old clothing is encouraged. Everyone will get messy.

Messy Science Day is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Iowa City Public Library at (319) 356-5200.

Puzzles prepare preschoolers for learning

by Nancy Holland on June 23rd, 2014

PuzzlesFrom birth through the preschool years children learn mostly through play. Play is one of the practices that librarians encourage to enhance early literacy skills. For many years, the Children’s Room at ICPL has provided free access to a variety toys designed to enhance learning.

Simple wooden puzzles help children build skills they need to read, write and solve problems. Even before the age of two, children will show an interest in knobbed puzzles that are easy to grasp as they develop eye hand coordination. Manipulating puzzle pieces help develop the fine motor skills that little hands will need to grasp a pencil or crayon.

Puzzles also provide great opportunities for language development as you describe shapes, sizes and colors with your children.

Children do “learn” puzzles and always like the chance to try something new. If you have young children, consider borrowing a puzzle or toy for three weeks from our circulating toy ICPL.


by Karen Gordon on June 20th, 2014

Reading! Talking! Singing! Playing! Writing!

These 5 simple and fun skills are important in getting your child ready for school.


How do you go about this you ask? Asking your baby questions is good practice in talking. Keep questions short and simple. It’s important after you make a comment or ask a question that you wait 5 seconds for your baby to say or do something in response. This teaches your child that conversation works two ways and teaches your baby to listen to others and then respond.


Get your children talking! When children become storytellers, it boosts their reading comprehension and writing skills.
All of baby nose to toes 

All of Baby Nose to Toes by Victoria Adler.

Rhyming text celebrates everything about a beloved baby,  from eyes to toes.

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman.

An unobservant zookeeper is  followed home by all the animals he thinks he has left behind in the zoo.

the very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Follows the progress of a hungry little caterpillar as he eats  his way through a varied and very large quantity of food.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox.Ten little fingers and ten

Rhyming text compares babies born in different places and in different circumstances, but they all share ten little fingers and ten little toes.

Spot says goodnight Spot Says Goodnight by Eric Hill.

Spot has a busy day, and now he has to go to bed.


Here is a clever game to encourage questions:

Me Too

How to play: Have a conversation with your baby. Ask him/her a question and pause for an answer. Then provide a response.

Example: “Would you like to go outside?” Pause. “You would? Me, too! Let’s go outside.”

ICPL Announces Tweens on Tuesday Summer Program

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 3rd, 2014

Tweens, are you looking for something fun to do this summer? The Iowa City Public Library has you covered.

Tweens on Tuesday is a special program geared specifically to students in third through sixth grades. Held every Tuesday as part of the Summer Reading Program, Tweens on Tuesday promotes fun and learning for elementary students in the “in between” ages of summer programming.Tuesday

“We have a great lineup of summer activities, but some of the programs can feel a bit too young for older elementary students,” Children’s Librarian Katherine Habley says. “At the same time, these kids aren’t old enough for the Teen Summer Reading Program. Rather than have them feel left out, we decided to design a program specifically for them.”

Starting June 10 and continuing through July 29, each Tweens on Tuesday activity will be held in the Storytime Room beginning at 2 p.m. The following is a list of all Tweens on Tuesday events:

  • June 10: Hawk Eyes on Science — The zany scientists from the U of I department of Physics and Astronomy return with knock-your-socks off experiments with lasers, electricity, and 3D wonders.
  • June 17: Tween Yoga – Practice yoga with Dana Robinson of Sweet Feet Yoga.
  • June 24: Dangerous Decibels — This fun and interactive program will teach you about sound, how we hear, how we can damage our hearing, and how to prevent hearing loss.
  • July 1: Movie and Popcorn – Come to the Library for a special screening of “The Lego Movie.”
  • July 8: Altered Book Art – Join us as we get creative with books.
  • July 15: Lego Robots – Is there anything Legos can’t do?
  • July 22: Terrariums – Ever wanted to make your own terrarium? Mari will show you how!
  • July 29: Healthy Treats with Cathy Gehris – Everyone loves snacks, but not all treats are good for you. Join Cathy to learn more about choosing healthy treats that taste great and will keep you moving!

For more information, call the Library at (319) 356-5200.

New Technology in Children’s Room

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 2nd, 2014

The Iowa City Public Library’s introduced its newest piece of technology – an interactive touch table described as a table-sized iPad – to its youngest patrons today.Interactive Table

“The Ideum PLATFORM 55 is the final piece of the Children’s Room technology update,” Information Technology Coordinator Brent Palmer says. “It is an exciting piece of technology, but there isn’t that much ready-made software that would take advantage of its features.”

Palmer has contacted local software developers and student groups to build custom applications for ages six through 12 that are multi-touch, multi-player, and easy to operate. The vision for this table is that it will foster collaborative fun and exploration.

“On one level, the table will bring kids together in the Children’s Room but on another level, it will bring the community together as we determine what people want this technology to do,” Palmer says.

University of Iowa’s EPX Studio and indie developer Virtually Competent have already produced prototypes of custom apps for the table. Palmer is facilitating partnerships with groups and individuals, including a possible Hackathon with Iowa Tech Chicks and the Library’s CoderDojo group later this summer.

If you have an idea or want to help build something for the table, contact Brent Palmer at

ICPL, Summer of the Arts Annual Children’s Day Event June 7

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on May 29th, 2014

Children are invited to celebrate the arts during Children’s Day on Saturday, June 7.

This annual event, produced by the Iowa City Public Library with the Summer of the Arts during the Iowa Arts Festival, encourages kids’ creativity with an extensive lineup of hands-on activities to promote Fizz, Boom, Read – the 2014 Summer Reading Program for children.

More than a dozen booths will be set up on the City Plaza, with activities ranging from fiber art crafts and musical instruments to dinosaurs and magic. In case of rain, art activities will be held inside the Library.garden_3

Children also can enjoy live performances on the Family Stage. This year’s schedule is as follows:

  • 10 a.m.: The After School Specials Rock Concert by Shimek Elementary School BASP
  • 10:45 a.m. Eulenspiegel Puppets presents “Eulenspiegel’s Circus”
  • 11:45 a.m. Orchestra Iowa’s Pied Piper String Quartet Concert
  • 12:30 p.m. Craig Stevens, Magician
  • 1:30 p.m. City Circle Acting Company and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”
  • 1:45 p.m. Mrs. Hinky Dink’s Clown Magic Show
  • 2:30 p.m. Family Folk Machine Sing-Along

Children’s Day also is the official planting day for the Library’s Children’s Garden on the City Plaza. Kids are invited to help Scott Koepke, the education and outreach coordinator for New Pioneer Food Co-op’s Soilmates program, and Rachael Carlson, who works with the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, plant this year’s garden, which will include green beans, lettuce, and carrots.

All produce harvested from the Children’s Garden is donated to Table To Table, which provides food for the area’s hungry, homeless and at-risk population by partnering with nearly 30 organizations in Johnson County.

Children’s Day begins at 10 a.m. with activities concluding at 3 p.m.

For more information about Children’s Day, call the Iowa City Public Library at (319) 356-5200.

For more information about the Summer Reading Program, visit

For a complete schedule of the Iowa Arts Festival, visit

The Last Wild by Piers Torday

by Morgan Reeves on May 23rd, 2014
The Last Wild by Piers Torday Cover Image

Like many children, Kester Jaynes feels powerless, and without much choice in what goes on in his daily life. Kester’s situation is unique in that he is mute; he has no voice. He lives in a world where all of the useful animals and plants have died off due to “red eye,” a terrible plague. Only “varmints,” pigeons, rats, and cockroaches are left alive. Fear of the virus has led to a taboo against touching animals. Food has been replaced by the corrupt Facto corporation with a nutritional slime and the entire human population has been forced to live in cities for their own protection.

Six years ago Kester was kidnapped and brought to live in a home for troubled children, where he is told something is wrong with him. When he starts to hear voices, he thinks he has finally gone crazy. Reality though is even stranger, the voices turn out to belong to a cockroach and pigeons, who help him escape and bring him to a gathering spot of the last surviving animals. These are the last wild; the last living animals and they need Kester’s help. Their leader, a large stag, asks Kester to find them a cure. While Kester feels unprepared for the weight of such a task, he promises to try. He even has an idea of where to start, by finding his way back to his veterinarian father. But traveling with animals that society both covets and fears leads to some dangerous situations. As Kester is forced to make more and more decisions, his self-confidence grows. By the end he has found both his father and his voice, but tensions remain as the cure is not wanted by the food controlling Facto corporation.

Overall an imaginative take on a dystopian world that will strike a chord with kids who are starting to make their own choices.


by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on May 22nd, 2014

The Iowa City Public Library’s Children’s Summer Reading Program begins June 1.fizz, boom, read

Fizz, Boom, Read – the theme for this year’s program for babies and children through sixth-grade – merges reading with children’s natural curiosity in a combination designed to promote reading, creativity, and fun.

Beginning June 1, children can register for the Summer Reading Program at the Library or online at Each participant will receive a game card to track their progress in meeting summer reading goals.

The game card for babies and toddlers promotes early childhood literacy skills. Prizes – a stuffed animal and a board book – are awarded for every 10 activities completed. After the game card is finished, turn it in to be entered in the drawing for the grand prize: a $50 gift card to Prairie Lights.

Students in pre-school through sixth-grade also receive a game card when they register for Fizz, Boom, Read, with three levels of prizes – coupons from sponsors, a book, and a backpack – to keep participants motivated. Every student who turns in their completed game card will be entered in the grand prize drawing for a Kindle Fire.

Fizz, Boom, Read also has a Bonus Game Card for students who finish early and want to keep reading. Completing the game card will result in more entries for the grand prize.

In addition to the game cards, all summer reading program participants can attend weekly storytimes and special programs at the Library, including Tweens on Tuesday every Tuesday at 2 p.m. (crafts and fun for tween age kids beginning June 10); Little Beakers every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. (a special program for preschoolers beginning June 12); and Knowledge Seekers at 2 p.m. every Thursday, beginning June 12, for school-age children. A complete listing of programs can be found at and on the back each game card.

Fizz, Boom, Read continues through Aug. 2. For more information, call the Library at (319) 356-5200.


Children’s Day 2014

by Casey Lambert on May 13th, 2014

It’s that time of year again!  Our annual celebration and summer reading kick-off event, Children’s Day, is scheduled for Saturday June 7th.  This year, the library is sponsoring a few fun stops and booths for which we are still seeking volunteers: at Crazy Locks Hair Salon we will be spraying hair different bright colors, Silly Props for Photo Ops will entail helping children choose props for goofy photos and at Make your Mark in the City of Literature we will be providing chalk to sign and decorate one of our large bookmarks.

Aside from Library sponsored booths, Summer of the Arts (SOTA) is hosting a veritable smorgasbord of fun activities, events and crafts for children and families to enjoy.

Volunteer shifts are three hours long, one from 9-12 and another from 12-3. Please visit the SOTA website, linked below, for volunteer registration and for a full list of volunteer opportunities.


Early literacy begins with you

by Karen Gordon on May 6th, 2014

Baby Reading

Parents are kids’ first teachers.
From the time a child is born, home is where learning begins.

5 simple and fun things parents can do
to get their kids ready for school.
Reading! Talking! Singing! Playing! Writing!

Reading: Before your baby can read, she/he needs to be familiar with the written word. Your baby needs to look at words, play with books and watch you read. Research shows that kids who see their parents read will be readers too.

Read a variety of books to your children and talk about new words. As children increase their vocabularies, they also increase their reading comprehension.

Where is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz. “Where are baby’s hands? Under the   bubbles…where are baby’s eyes? under her hat!”


First 100 Animals. Published by Tiger Tales. With 100 animal photographs to look at and talk about, and 100 animal names to read and learn about, too.

This Little Chick by John Lawrence.
A litle chick shows that he can make the sounds of the animals in his neighborhood.


Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora.
A toddler plays peek-a-boo throughout the day.

Whose Baby am I? by John Butler.
The reader is asked to guess who the parent is for nine baby animals.


Activity: Point it out – Point out the pictures as you read. Describe them. Explain what they are.