Current Hours:
Mon, Tues, Thu: 10-4
Wed: 10-9 / Fri: 10-5 / Sat: 10-3
71 Monell Ave., Islip, NY
Ph: 631-581-5933
Fax: 631-581-8429

Current Hours:
Mon, Tues, Thu: 10-4
Wed: 10-9 / Fri: 10-5 / Sat: 11-3
71 Monell Ave., Islip, NY
Ph: 631-581-5933
Fax: 631-581-8429

Current Hours:
Mon, Tues, Thu: 10-4
Wed: 10-9 / Fri: 10-5 / Sat: 10-3
71 Monell Ave., Islip, NY
Ph: 631-581-5933
Fax: 631-581-8429

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Category Archives for Children

The Power of the Illustrated Book

It is said that “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In the case of books, illustrations enhance a story by pulling the reader into the world of the characters in an immediate and visceral fashion. Traditional picture books rely on the artwork to tell a good portion of their stories and children often love to spend time looking at or, depending on the complexity of the pictures (think Jan Brett), finding tiny details that reveal hidden jokes or clues, as well as correlations to or discrepancies between, the illustrations and the text.

Even popular books that are categorized as Juvenile Fiction can contain illustrations, most notably the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and its ilk. Graphic novels have enticed kids into reading history (The Nathan Hale series, for example) and realistic fiction that confronts difficult issues in a manageable way (El Deafo, Smile). Regular comic books with their broad range of topics will always have an audience, whether it’s made up of adults or children.

In recent years, many teachers and parents are discovering the merits of “Picture Books for Older Readers,” as many libraries call them, and what we refer to here at Islip Public Library as “Illustrated Books.” These are books which usually have, more or less, a full-page color illustration on each page, but also have either a large amount of text or complex subject matter that would not appeal to younger children. The visual aspect of an illustrated work can be a powerful medium for both storytelling and teaching, belying any suggestion that picture books are just for small children.

For instance, Patricia Polacco writes books that are highly autobiographical and appeal to younger readers, but she also draws upon memories of older relatives and friends to create works that illuminate parts of history (Pink and Say, The Butterfly, Tucky Jo and Little Heart). Using a personal point of view with pictures depicting those times creates an intimacy with that subject that can be far more illuminating than a history lesson from a textbook.

Unique works that are in unusual formats or handmade works of art from other countries depicting that region’s culture are also included within our collection (Drawing from the City by Tejubehan; Migrant by Jose Manuel Mateo). Teachers who are interested in reinforcing the Common Core standards that concern visual literacy – evaluating and integrating content with written text and assessing how a point of view shapes a work - would do well to consider books such as these. Many standardized tests have “DBQs” or document-based questions that very often include political cartoons of different eras that students are asked to interpret and write about. Reading and discussing an illustrated book is a step toward mastering this skill.

Also, English language learners can employ picture books. Reading illustrated works increases comprehension and vocabulary, and in the case of families, the opportunities to connect parents to children in a rich and rewarding way.

Some children’s authors have said that they have observed their books being utilized by middle and high school readers and see no reason to limit their audience to children of a certain age. “You can get different things from picture books depending on your age. An adult can read a whole other meaning into the book and readers of all ages can appreciate the poetry, the rhyme breaks, hidden rhyme schemes. The possibilities are infinite. ” says Jacqueline Woodson. She urges parents, or the adults who are the “gatekeepers” to what books a child has access to, to eliminate the stigma of reading picture books and consider the range of social issues and relevance of the story, as well as the complexity of the text and artwork.

Naturally, the book works best if the language and artwork blend well. Illustrator Chris Soentpiet says that reading deeply the text of a book he is working on is how he develops the ideas for his pictures. “One word, just one word, might inspire an entire painting. It’s about studying the word.”

The potential of these types of books is still evolving and will continue to do so in our current multimedia culture. They are poetry and portable art galleries. They contain insights and object lessons. And they are relevant for readers of any age.

The following “Illustrated Books” are some of my personal favorites:

A Boy and His Jaguar: By Alan Rabinowitz; pictures by Catia Chen

The renowned cat conservationist reflects on his early childhood struggles with a speech disorder, describing how he only spoke fluently when he was communicating with animals and how he resolved at a young age to find his voice to be their advocate.

Advice to the Little Girls: By Mark Twain; pictures by Vladimir Radunsky

The nineteenth-century American humorist, Mark Twain, offers alternatives to little girls who sass their teachers, hurl mud at their brothers, or covet their friends' expensive china dolls.

Cowboy and Octopus: By Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

Cowboy and Octopus maintain their friendship despite different opinions about things like beans and knock-knock jokes.

Amelia and Eleanor go for a Ride: By Pam Munoz Ryan; pictures by Brian Selznick

A fictionalized account of the night Amelia Earhart flew Eleanor Roosevelt over Washington, D.C. in an airplane.

Testing the Ice: By Sharon Robinson; pictures by Kadir Nelson

As a testament to his courage, Jackie Robinson's daughter shares memories of him, from his baseball career to the day he tests the ice for her, her brothers, and their friends.

Sparrow Girl: By Sara Pennypacker; pictures by Yoko Tanaka

When China's leader Mao Zedong declares a war on sparrows, Ming-Li cannot think of the sky without birds in it, and while her countrymen are killing the birds, she and her brother try to save as many as they can.

The Wall: Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain: By Peter Sis

In this powerful memoir, annotated Illustrations, maps and dreamscapes explore how the artist-author’s life was shaped while growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War.

My Uncle Emily: By Jane Yolen; pictures by Nancy Carpenter

In 1881 Amherst, Massachusetts, six-year-old Gilbert finds it both challenging and wonderful to spend time with his aunt, the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson, who lives next door.

Christmas in the Trenches: By John McCutcheon; pictures by Henri Sorensen

A World War I veteran tells his grandson of his experiences in 1914, when British and German soldiers declared a truce from fighting to celebrate Christmas together. A music CD is included.

For further picture book suggestions suitable for older readers try the Cooperative Children’s Book Center: https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu

Puzzle Play and Child Development

The Best Kind of Learning is the Kind that’s Wrapped Up in a Game.

While puzzles may seem like mere child’s play, researchers have discovered they are an important link in the cognitive development of young children. Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that children who play with puzzles between the ages of two and four develop better spatial and other important skills, including mathematical skills.

With almost 400 circulating puzzles available, the Islip Public Library is one of only a few libraries in Suffolk County that permits patrons to take up to five puzzles home for a week. Recently, the Library has expanded its puzzle lending policy to include out-of-district patrons, and renewals for an additional week for each puzzle checked out. In the supportive environment of their own homes, parents and children can play together to enrich a toddler’s learning capacity and other skills.

Additionally, there are more than 30 puzzles, from large-knob puzzles, to mix-and-match puzzles, to alphabet puzzles, and more, suitable for infants to kindergarteners for in-library play.

Psychologist Susan Levine, a professor at the University of Chicago and a leading expert on mathematics development in young children, believes that children who play with puzzles perform better on tasks that are indicators of future math skills. Parents who interact with their children during puzzle play further advance their children’s future skills in several different areas. Very young children can be guided by their parents, while pre-schoolers and kindergarteners enjoy putting puzzles together on their own.

Levine is the lead author of an academic paper studying children and parents as they engaged in puzzle play. For the research, 53 parent-child pairs from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds participated in a study in which researchers video-recorded parent-child interactions for 90-minute sessions that occurred every four months between children aged 26 to 46 months old. Researchers determined that children who play with puzzles at home improve future math-related skills.

​Other researchers have learned that puzzle play increases fine motor development in young children, skills that eventually help with handwriting, drawing and even playing a musical instrument. Manipulating both large and small pieces of puzzles into the proper place requires eye-hand coordination, a most important skill in child development.

Larger puzzles can be solved by two or more children, which in turn helps increase a child’s social skills. Solving puzzles as a group helps youngsters understand patience, teamwork and taking turns, according to an article on Huffington Post online. The Islip Public Library circulating puzzle collection includes a number of intricate layered puzzles, which are ideally suited for group puzzle solving.

​Research indicates that toddlers who work on puzzles often progress to jigsaw puzzles and larger floor-sized puzzles, which are available online and in toy stores at nominal cost. Crossword, game and logic puzzles challenge children and aid in their cognitive development. Some good sources of puzzles for all ages is Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Toys-Games-Toddler-Puzzles/zgbs/toys-and-games/196611011), and Lakeshore Education Products (http://products.lakeshorelearning.com/learning/Wooden-Puzzles). The website for Fine Wooden toys offers Melissa & Doug puzzles, which make a variety of interesting puzzles (http://www.finewoodentoys.com/). Very high-quality handmade solid wood puzzles are available for sale at Kidpuzzles (http://www.kidpuzzles.com/).

Best Sellers in Toddler Puzzles - amazon.com​

www.amazon.com
Discover the best Toddler Puzzles in Best Sellers. Find the top 100 most popular items in Amazon Toys & Games Best Sellers.

Fine Wooden Toys and Wooden Puzzles for Babies and Young ...

www.finewoodentoys.com
At Fine Wooden Toys we offer a beautiful and unique selection of hundreds of top-quality educational and developmental wooden toys, blocks and puzzles for babies ...

Wooden Puzzles - Lakeshore Learning Materials

products.lakeshorelearning.com
Wooden Puzzles found in: Lakeshore Preschool Puzzle Library with Rack, Wild Animals Puzzle Set, Big Knob First Puzzle Set, Chunky Puzzles Set...

Perhaps most importantly, puzzle play gives beginning learners a huge sense of accomplishment. Watching toddlers put the last piece into a puzzle is a wonderful sight. Puzzles are fun, educational toys that challenge young minds, and the Islip Public Library’s puzzle collection helps its youngest patrons achieve important skills.

Land of the Lost URL! Part 3

Great websites for kids that you probably never heard about. 

Interesting science and education websites that were suggested by Islip Public Library patrons.

Recently, a few of our local patrons let me know about a few sites that their children use, or they themselves visit. These cover a variety of subjects, and are well conceived and useful.

PREHISTORIC WILDLIFE

http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/index.html

This entertaining site has lots of animal profiles and information. It has almost every dinosaur and beast I could come up with! Sometimes the site tends to sensationalize the attributes of the animals a bit much, but it is child safe.

WILDKRATTS

http://pbskids.org/wildkratts/

This website is related to the popular PBS nature show for kids, Wildkratts. There are educational games, animal profiles and the ability to visit different habitats to find out about the different characteristics of animals.

MR. NUSSBAUM

http://mrnussbaum.com/

Featuring over 3,500 content pages, MrNussbaum.com is a great web site that has activities, games, information, videos and interactive learning arranged by grade. It is good for kids, teachers and parents. Beware, there is some advertising popping up on the page and it advertises for a membership as well, but the free content is very good.

TOY THEATER

http://www.toytheater.com/

This is a very exciting website that has many learning activities for children. Some of the best are designing a house, making spirals and the simple animation tool.

ABCYA

http://www.abcya.com/

What a terrific website with hundreds a charming learning games, organized by grade.

Here are two websites that were suggested to me by elementary school teachers. They have a plethora of activities and useful advice.

KINDERCRAZE

http://kindercraze.com/

KELLY’S KINDERGARTEN

http://kellyskindergarten.com/

AAAMATH

http://aaamath.com/

This website has practice exams for math learning and an exhaustive library of helping aids for students. It has a more thoughtful approach to math learning than most math websites.

DESERT USA

http://www.desertusa.com/

This site focuses on the habitat, ecology and biology of deserts in the United States. It has a wealth of information.

MINERALS

http://www.minerals.net/

An online guide to minerals, gemstones and geology, this is an enjoyable site for amateur geologists. Identify the rocks in your backyard!

ONE GEOLOGY

http://www.onegeology.org/extra/kids/home.html

This is a child friendly and enlightening site dealing with geology, paleontology and earth processes. I love this site because it uses child friendly cartoon characters to make hard to understand topics exciting.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC OCEAN LIFE

http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/ocean-life/

If you love sea-life and the ocean, this website has an abundance of high quality photos, videos and articles about new research being conducted about the ocean. The site is easy to navigate and has a very sophisticated look. To be expected, of course, this is National Geographic.

SIERRA CLUB

https://sierraclub.org/topics/children

The Sierra club is now the nation's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organizations, founded by the conservationist John Muir in 1892. This children’s site has articles dealing with conservation, the nations’ parks and parks system and other timely subjects.

Stay tuned for part four, where I will cover a few great museum websites from around the US.



Special Needs and the Library

11 Awesome Special Needs Services & Programs Available Through Your Library

A disability should not prevent anyone from using the services of the library. The challenges posed by physical or mental impairments can be daunting for both children and adults, but the services and programs offered by or accessed through the library can benefit and even enrich the lives of individuals who have special needs.

For instance, all children, including those on the autism spectrum, can use the library as an opportunity to develop public behavior skills, such as using a quiet tone of voice, staying out of restricted areas (such as offices), and refraining from running. For those with trouble speaking, asking for materials (or directions to specific areas of the library) is a way to put into practice pre-rehearsed scripts. Also, for those new to the library universe, learning and deciphering the Dewey Decimal system can give anyone a feeling of accomplishment!

The Library offers programs that are inclusive and can integrate children of varying abilities into the wider community. The upcoming program given by certified special education teacher Lisa Joy Walters, “A Circle of Friends”, is specifically designed for children with developmental delays, those along the autism spectrum and other special needs (Monday, July 11 and Wednesday, August 3). We also have our frequent Caregiver and Me sign language program presented by Lisamarie Curley that teaches children how to express themselves before they have verbal mastery (this summer’s theme is “Sports”), but these skills can be used for hearing-impaired children and their caregivers, too.

The Summer Reading Club is another opportunity for children with different ability levels to practice reading and speaking or writing about their books. Reading is important for every individual and should be expected of all children. We have a variety of wordless picture books and audiobooks, both fiction and non-fiction to support each person’s unique interest and capabilities, as well. Materials can be interloaned if we do not have them, and referrals provided for additional resources available to children and families. The Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library in New York City is Long Island’s resource for the National Library Service which provides free materials by free delivery to visually and/or physically handicapped people. Applications for this service are available at all Suffolk County libraries including the Islip Public Library. You can also call the Suffolk Cooperative Library System and ask for the Talking Books Department at 631-286-1600 to learn more about this free service.

In addition to visiting the Library this summer, the following are resources for recreational activities geared toward children with special needs:

Adler Center for Special Needs- offers Zumba-Yoga and fitness classes along with summer camp options for kids of all ages. http://www.miyjcc.org

Pump It Up in Plainview offers monthly sensory playtime for kids on the spectrum. Call (516) 575-2300 or go to their website calendar for the next date it’s given. (https://www.pumpitupparty.com/plainview-ny/)

Safari Adventure in Riverhead offers a “Sensitive Safari” at 9:00 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month. Call (631) 727-4386 for more information. www.thesafariadventure.com

K.I.D.S. Plus in Babylon offers a variety of sports programs, including martial arts. http://kidsplusinc.com/programs.

The Miracle League of Long Island (http://old.mllongisland.com) and League of YES in Babylon (www.leagueof yes.com) both offer baseball programs.

Pal-O-Mine Equestrian in Islandia (www.Pal-O-Mine.org) and Horseability at SUNY Old Westbury (www.horseability.org) offer therapeutic horseback riding.

Camp Kehilla (www.campkehilla.org) in Wheatley Heights and Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck (camppaquatuck.com) in Center Moriches have special needs programs for children with Asperger’s and ADHD as well as physical disabilities.

Children's Graphic Novels

The New Stars of Children’s Graphic Novels!

Graphic novels have come of age since I became a Librarian in 2007. As the technology to design and print them has developed, so has the artistic vision of many old and newer authors. Today, you can find graphic novels that are tailored to many different demographics. Being a rabid reader of comics and graphic novels in my youth, and being influenced with the ideas I found in them, I am sure that my life would be different (and dull) if I had not read Spiderman, The Hulk, The Adventures of Tin Tin and my two personal favorites from European authors, Lucky Luke and Asterix. As of late I am glad to see more acceptance of the genre by libraries and parents, and I am sure that Hollywood superhero movies and manga now play a large part in popularizing graphic novels of newer artists among kids.

If you have not had the chance to read some of the older adult modern classics of the genre like The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, Maus by Art Speigelman, and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, you may not be aware of the strides comics have made in the last two decades in terms of how they have pushed the boundaries of what can be done in the genre. The storytelling, artwork, and the presentation of many novels has improved greatly from the days of the corner store five cent comic book.

In the same way the novels above elevated the genre, there are also some very clever and exciting graphic novels now being written for children by a few talented authors. Here are a few of my favorites.

A little fact: He created The Sandman, one of the most intellectual and revolutionary series of children's graphic novels. Mr. Gaiman is a graphic novel “god”!

Why I like his work: Dark and mysterious in his work most of the time, Mr. Gaiman can take a morally ambiguous character like a ghost or Lucifer (yes, the devil) and really get us to like him!

A little fact: The illustrator for the Baby Mouse series is none other than her brother, Matthew Holm.

Why I like their work: Baby Mouse is a phenomenon! Girls like the assertive character that gets into everyday trouble. With Squish, Ms. Holm shows she can come up with more quirky characters that we love.

A little fact: He went to the University of California, Santa Barbara to earn a film degree. His graphic novel series Amulet feels like a sweeping Hollywood golden age epic.

Why I like his work: Dark and Light, Mr. Kibushi puts characters that seem to be from kids’ television shows and places them in situations from Star Wars or the Lord of the Rings.

A little fact: A Universal Studios movie based on his Lunch Lady series will star Amy Poehler.

Why I like his work: He’s funny. And Mr. Krosoczka makes me really like my school lunch lady.

A little fact: He illustrated many books for children, including The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron.

Why I like his work: Mr. Phelan is a master at making history come alive by relating the minutiae of the everyday lives of historical figures like Buster Keaton.

A little fact: She is married to Dave Roman, a great graphic novel writer and editor in his own right!

Why I like her work: Ms. Telgemaier is a modern voice that tells it like it is for girls and how it is to grow up in America today.

A little fact: If you are a Gen’Xer like I am, you may just remember Earthworm Jim, that marvel of marvels in the videogame world that Mr. TenNapel created.

Why I like his work: Mr. TenNapel’s work is fun! The characters are wacky and there is social commentary hidden in his novels.

I should also mention that the graphic novels El Deafo by Cece Bell, and Rollergirl by Victoria Jamieson won Newbery honors in 2015 and 2016 respectively. These are the first two graphic novels to win honors in the history of the award! If you want to read a good book, either one is a great introduction to the genre.

In the meantime, if you have a favorite children's graphic novel I did not mention, please leave a comment below!

Kindergarten Orientation Class of 2029 – Here We Come!

On Thursday, June 2, the Islip School district will be offering its Kindergarten orientation for the class of 2029 and then it’ll be back to school in September. As parents and caregivers, we all share in the hope that our children are prepared for their first year of school. There is still time to help your child have a more successful first year of formal education by checking out books that offer practical ideas to prepare them for Kindergarten. The internet also includes many websites that include practical ideas to help with this important goal.

Commonly emphasized points are:

  • Reading daily to your child. Your child learns new vocabulary, develops comprehension, practices listening, and learns to ask questions about the content. Ask your child to retell the story, predict what will happen, turn the pages, hold the book properly. Teachers can easily tell which children are being read to. Please note: The Islip Library offers a read-to-me program each summer. Children share 20 books with a caregiver, participate in contests, win prizes and are invited to attend our summer reading club party in early August.
  • Recognizing and identifying the following: shapes, most letters (upper and lower case), common colors, and numbers 1 – 5. Your child should be able to count from 1 – 10 and write his first name. Teachers expect to teach children the sounds of letters and how to write. You can teach your child all of the above while playing with your child. While sorting legos, shapes, colors and numbers can be reinforced. Playing with alphabet magnets on the refrigerator will help your child learn colors, letter shapes and counting.
  • Developing your child’s fine motor skills. Children need to be able to hold a pencil and write early on in their school experience. Make a bracelet by threading Cheerios onto a pipe cleaner. Mist houseplants using a spray bottle to exercise hand muscles. Use scissors to cut play dough. Color with crayons to practice drawing and writing.
  • Offering opportunities for independence. Encourage your children to use the bathroom and wash hands by themselves, set the table, open their own snacks and drink boxes, and hang up their coats. Regularly give three-step instructions, for instance, “Get your coat, put it on and then meet me by the front door.” Make sure they respond to their names and not just their nicknames.
  • Offer your child the opportunity to be social in social situations at the playground, the library, preschool, play dates and parties. With your help they will learn how to share, take turns, carry on a conversation without interrupting, learn to speak to adults and in class discussions, say please and thank you, and use language to communicate their needs.

9 Children’s Magazines Your Kids Should Read

I know, I know. You don’t want to hear another word about Common Core standards. However, it’s not going away anytime soon. Children’s magazines are a creative way to get your children, in grades K – 6, to read non-fiction and actually enjoy it. Starting them off early (infancy is not too soon) will get your child used to hearing and enjoying non-fiction and fiction as well. Children’s magazines include short articles and stories with loads of photographs and images. These elements aid your child in enjoying more of the content. With various topics, your child is certain to find a magazine that they can relate to. The Islip Public Library subscribes to 45 Children’s magazines with a variety of subjects. Children in grades K through grade 6 will find a magazine just right for their interest and level. Check out the Islip Library’s vast collection, borrow a few magazines and watch your child become a better reader. The Islip Library also accepts magazines as a valid reading option during summer reading club. Magazine subscriptions make great gifts. Everyone loves to get mail. What better way to encourage your child to read than to subscribe to magazines and receive them in the mail regularly.

American Girl bimonthly; for girls age 8 years and up, an appealing, age-appropriate alternative to teen magazines, featuring advice, crafts, contests, puzzles, games, giggles and more.

Babybug Magazine 9 issues; begins a lifelong love of books for infants and toddlers age 6 months to 2 years; for babies who love to be read to and parents who love to read to them; filled with colorful pictures, simple rhymes and fun stories that babies and parents will delight in reading together over and over again.

Highlights for Children monthly; for children ages 6–12 years; this wholesome magazine helps children enjoy reading, learning and thinking; its many recurring features include Hidden Pictures, the Timbertoes and Puzzlemania, all of which aid the development of children’s creativity and inquisitiveness.

Jack and Jill Magazine 6 issues; ages 6–12 years; entertaining stories, interesting kid profiles, hands-on activities, recipes, crafts, artwork and more.

National Geographic Kids 10 issues; ages 6 years and up; a fact-filled, fast-paced magazine, combining articles, photos, facts and fun, to entertain and inspire readers to learn about their world with amazing information about animals, science, technology, archaeology, geography, and pop culture, plus jokes, games and activities.

National Geographic Little Kids Bimonthly; ages 3-6 years; “the magazine for young explorers”; full of learning and fun for today’s preschoolers and their parents; encourages a child’s appreciation of the natural world with lively photographs, engaging stories, and interactive picture games, each issue is created by noted educators at National Geographic; no advertising.

Ranger Rick 10 issues; for children ages 7 years and up; amazing facts, stunning photos and outdoor adventures that help kids sharpen reading skills and develop a deeper appreciation of nature; published by the National Wildlife Federation.

Sports Illustrated for Kids monthly; for sports fans ages 8–14 years; articles focus on the positive lessons from athletes and the world of sports, including goal setting, overcoming obstacles and challenges, striving to be one’s best, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle; also exciting action photography, performance and nutrition tips, and imaginative artwork.

Zoobooks 10 issues; for children ages 6–12 years; each issue looks at one of 60 different animals through photography, illustrations, diagrams and descriptions; also features activity pages.

(Magazine summaries written by Christopher Rutkowski).

Lost url

Land of the Lost URL! Part 1: Great Websites for Kids That You Probably Never Heard about

There’s a lot of garbage out there. Many websites for kids are filled with advertisements, and are sponsored by companies that want to sell you something. There is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes you want to find an activity for your kids that may be fun for them, will open their minds to a new subject, and may actually teach them something.

Then you’ve come to the right place. In this reoccurring blog I plan to showcase the best non-profit, educational, and government websites dedicated to entertaining and informing kids. Some of these sites are truly wonderful and many are unfairly overlooked. Hey, you can actually learn about something on the Internet!

U.S. Geologic Survey

This very nice looking website has all kinds of learning activities for kids relating to the U.S. and our outdoor environment. There are videos and animations, interactive activities and maps.

A really great section of this website is USGS KIDS, featuring Zot the Frog. It has coloring pages and games and is focused on grade school kids.

Another stand-out section of this site is Geology of National Parks in 3D that displays eye-popping 3D images and photographic tours of U.S. Park geology and natural history.

U.S. Department of Agriculture - USDA for Kids

Who knew? The Department of Agriculture has a site that presents their different services with activities for youth. There are many services to explore and they have Smokey the Bear!

One section that is out of the ordinary is Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory (AIPL) Kid's Corner. This is described as an educational resource where children can learn about cows, and the dairy industry through games and puzzles.

The Beetle Busters Freeze & Collect Game deals with the Asian Long-horned beetle. Kids earn points by freezing them.

MyPlate Blast-off Game is a fun learning experience where kids try to use food and physical activity to fuel a rocket.

Forest Service This is a pretty site featuring our natural forests with lots of things to do for the kiddies.

Junior Forest Rangers Become a Junior Forest Ranger and help to find new ways to enjoy the natural wonders of our nation.

Nature Watch Learn about the wonders of nature on this fun site.

FS NATURE LIVE This is a series of webcasts, webinars and online resources about many topics. A few that caught my eye were about Monarch Butterflies and another about Bees and pollination.

Web Rangers This is the National Park Service's site for kids of all ages. Sign up online and take part in some great activities. I recently signed up my son and we are having fun!

Sesame Street National Park Videos There are some nice videos here that have Elmo and other characters from Sesame Street presenting our National Parks.

Smithsonian

This site is incredible! It is filled with distinctive sections that may entertain you as much as your children. There are many areas to explore so I will only feature a few of my favorites.

Shutterbugs A game exhibiting our national zoos.

Smithsonian Postal Museum Like stamps? This is a site about our postal service, stamps and their history.

Expedition Insects An eBook all about insects.

Digging for Answers An amusing interactive game about paleontology, geology and archeology.

Interactive Dinosaur Tour This is an entertaining virtual museum with dinosaur fossils.

Prehistoric Climate Change See how scientists use fossils of leaves and flora to uncover clues to climate change

The Disaster Detector This game uses a fictitious island to teach kids on how we prepare for disasters and how we help disaster areas.

All these sites have to be experienced in order to see how wonderful they are. I hope you enjoy them. In the meantime, if you come across a website that you think I should feature leave a comment below!

How I Learned To Stop Resisting And Love My Audiobooks

I don’t remember how many times a child has come into the library looking for a specific book, and when told that there are no copies of the book left but we have the audio book, has uttered the dreaded words, “My teacher wants me to read a book.” Really.

So kids, parents and educators, here are a few reasons why an audiobook can be a valuable aid to literacy and comprehension. And why it may be “OK” after all to “listen” instead of “read”.

Argument #1: An audiobook is not “reading”. It is true that listening uses a different skill set and physically a different part of the brain. There is research that shows that listening may be a more direct communication path for the brain using language to form images, as opposed to reading, which is a learned process of decoding symbols to form images. After all, humans learned to speak first before writing was developed. Although listening may not be reading, nothing else can help a child learn pronunciation of words and comprehension of narrative like listening to a story. In fact there is research that the human mind retains stories and poetry better when it is read or spoken aloud. If you want a very high rate of retention, add in a visual aspect (as with a storyteller) and these retention rates approach 100%. After all, why are we so easily able to quote from movies we love?

Argument #2: We have no time to listen to an audiobook. I have heard this so many times from parents. The truth is you can listen to an audiobook while doing any number of tasks. For example, try cleaning your room while reading a book. Or putting away the laundry. Also, taking an audiobook along on a long car trip really helps to smooth the ride. You may only hear, “Are we there yet?” twenty times instead of hundreds! And you can theme your audiobooks to fit the trip. Going to Disneyworld? Take along our audiobooks from Disney movie adaptations or Kingdom Keepers.

Argument #3: I’m worried that my child won’t read anymore. This argument bothers me the most. In fact listening to audiobooks actually increases the amount people read by 50 to 100% because you can use time that was spent doing other tasks and turn it into “reading or listening” time. Also, being an avid listener and reader myself, there are many times I have gone on to read the book once I listened to the audio. And that included all the rest of the books in a series and other books by the same author. For example, I was introduced to the works of Natalie Babbitt when I listened to the great audiobook of her “Tuck Everlasting.” Also many great stories have been performed on audiobook with full cast adaptations which only makes the story more entertaining for kids that are reluctant readers. Some of my favorites are the BBC full cast recordings like Peter Pan and King Kong.

Argument #4: I don’t have a CD player. Audiobooks are now available on iPod, iPhone, Android and other cellphones. You can download digital versions for MP3 players and use them on e-readers like Kindle and Nook. You can also download many for free from the Suffolk County Library System with Overdrive and OneClick eAudio. There are also many audiobooks available for free on the internet, like LibriVox, Loyalbooks and Openculture. Remember if you need help with downloading any of these you can come to the library, pick up a handout for your device or ask a librarian for help.

So try an audiobook soon. They are fun and they may lead you in directions you never thought possible. The only thing you have to fear is that you may be spending more time listening than you ever thought possible!

Free Audiobook:

http://www.live-brary.com/moredownloads

http://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks

http://www.loyalbooks.com/

https://librivox.org/

Sources and more reading:

http://www.readingrockets.org/article/benefits-audiobooks-all-readers

http://www.highscope.org/file/NewsandInformation/Extensions/ExtVol26No3_ClassHints.pdf

http://espectacularkids.com/blog/en/benefits-to-listening-to-stories/#sthash.APx2Uong.dpuf

http://www.forbes.com/sites/olgakhazan/2011/09/12/is-listening-to-audio-books-really-the-same-as-reading/

http://dc.etsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2180&context=etd

http://wessonportfolio.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/46335801/Research%2520Article%25202.pdf

http://www.littleonesreadingresource.com/childrens-stories.html

http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/developing-reading-skills/literacy-benefits-listening

http://lifehacker.com/5965703/the-science-of-storytelling-why-telling-a-story-is-the-most-powerful-way-to-activate-our-brains

http://www.rachellegardner.com/5-reasons-to-consider-audiobooks/

A Different Kind Of Entertainment

​When borrowing a movie from the library, most people seem to want the latest blockbusters or something by way of children’s television shows to keep the troops busy while grown-ups take care of business. How about trying some family viewing that’s a little out of the ordinary when making your video selections?

Our Children’s department offers a large and varied collection of non-fiction videos, some of which will open your eyes to fresh experiences and fill you with a sense of wonder. Others will teach you a craft or skill you always wanted to learn. Yet more may explain something you’ve always questioned but never got an answer for, whether it concerns events or people in history, how something works, or what it’s like in places you’ve never been.

For instance, we have many DisneyNature, National Geographic, Eyewitness, and family-friendly PBS videos. Of special note are Mysteries of the Unseen World, a Blu-ray that reveals phenomena all around us that is invisible to the naked eye; Animal Odd Couples, which celebrates heart-warming friendships among different species; and visually stunning IMAX films that open our eyes to the glorious natural wonders of the Earth, such as Ring of Fire, Tropical Rain Forest, and Deep Blue Sea.

Are you interested in learning sign language, origami, or how to play the drums? Are you coaching children’s baseball, basketball, lacrosse or soccer and need some drills for practice? Are you an educator or home-schooling parent who would be helped by science, math, and history videos that teach and reinforce skills vital to the Common Core (our Schlessinger Media films even include booklets that aid in creating lesson plans)? Curious about the lives of the famous (or infamous)? We have DVDs that cover all of these subjects and more!

Short historical documentaries and biographies (10-15 minutes long) are also available at the end of each episode of George Lucas’s Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, a television series that covers Indy’s exploits from ten years old to young adulthood. He encounters revolutionaries, inventors, artists, writers, idealists, criminals, and other major historical figures while participating in world changing events. This special features option expands on topics and people Indy meets, and even includes an interactive timeline.

Also, as parents, we don’t always have the answers to child rearing dilemmas. Our Parenting Collection videos can come to the rescue! Notable experts have created films that cover a wide range of subjects, such as potty training, the vaccination debate, sleep solutions, child development, discipline, learning about and living with differently-abled family members, grieving, and divorce. Newly pregnant couples have access to resources that ease the transition from pregnancy into parenthood, including exercise and breastfeeding. Babies can learn about their world with our Baby Genius videos. Family vacations can be planned, and experienced with ease as well, by watching our Travel with Kids series.

Whether they are informing us about our world in an entertaining fashion or creating a way to share an “I didn’t know that!” moment with our families, non-fiction videos are a great alternative to the usual and the ordinary.

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