Thursday, September 30, 2010

Road Trip Thursday - Day Two

We started our first day of driving by eating unattractive (my fault) but very tasty (again, my fault) blueberry muffins in anticipation of our destination - Maine, which produces 98% of the low-bush blueberries in our nation. Who knew?

As we drove, learned about state symbols (moose, pine tree, honeybee) and a little state history and culture (23rd state, entered the union in 1820, big on seafood).

Next we read the Caldecott Award-winning book Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey, who lived many years in Maine and set several of his books there.

Finally, we visited the kids page of which offers many resources to help learn about the history and culture of the state.

Join us next week as we tackle the Empire State!

Photo public domain, via Wikipedia

Friday, September 24, 2010

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, September 25 - October 2

All italicized, quoted passages are courtesy of the American Library Association (ALA) web site.

"Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.

"The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings......A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others."

Attached is a list of children's titles that are the most challenged every year and/or have been challenged within the past ten years. Many of these are on display in the department. We encourage you to check one out, read it, and decide for yourself. For more information on banned and challenged books, please visit

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What the heck does "KTB" stand for???

KTB = Kids Talk Books. It's a book discussion and activity group that started over 20 years ago. Its first incarnation, led by former head of the department, Maureen Lok, was a summer program where she and the kids met weekly to, well, talk about books! It grew in popularity and about a dozen or so years ago I extended it into the school year, meeting one Friday evening per month after the library closes for the day.

KTB is a little different from traditional book groups in that no specific titles need to be read for the meetings (but some knowledge of or interest in the monthly topic always makes things more fun). In October, it's "Kids On Strike!" Kids, if you think you have it hard because you have to make your bed every day*, wait till you discover the true history of children at work, real-life stories of kid inventors and entrepreneurs, and novels about get-rich schemes gone wrong....

All of the info is below. I hope that you (and a friend) will join us!

Grades 4-6
7:00-9:00 pm, unless noted otherwise
Please bring your library card and a beverage
Begins the first of each month, and may be done in person or by calling 610.688.7092 x210.
October 15: "Kids On Strike!"
November 5: "Gaga for Graphics"
December 28, 3:00-5:00 pm: "Book Bingo"

*I still do not make my bed every day. Don't tell your parents.

Road Trip Thursday - Day One

And they're off! Day One of Road Trip Thursday found our fearless and energetic travelers ready to hit the road. But before we could, we had to lay down some road rules.

First, Miss Angela is the driver, and you should always be respectful of the person driving.

Secondly, we can only drive 500 miles in a day. Anything more and Miss Angela's eyes start to go buggy.

Finally, when deciding on our destinations and activities, we must work together. Road-tripping with a group is all about sharing the decision-making.

Maine Seacoast
Aiming for Maine!

After visiting our reference section and checking out some atlases, our travelers chose a few states they'd like to visit over the course of the next 8 weeks, including: Maine, Ohio, Florida, and Alabama.

So, we'll be heading toward Maine next week, with stops in some New England states along the way. We'll see the sights, talk about the local culture and history, and certainly taste some regional flavors.

Until next time!

Photo courtesy of Fundamentaldan via Creative Commons License 2.5

I Have Ants in My Pants and I Just Want to...


All of the above! The question I am most asked in my role as story teller for our youngest patrons is, "Is it ok if my 2 year old (1 year old, 3 year old...) doesn't sit still in story time?" Fear not. Your mover and shaker is moving, shaking, and absorbing in their own way. My stories, songs, and rhymes are part of their adventure. Their experience should be positive, age appropriate, and fun. Your child's life-long love of books, reading, and the library can flourish here at Tredyffrin Library's Children's Department. Even with this live/let live vibe, a loose order generally prevails in my story times, creating a positive learning experience for all.

So, let's dance!
AND, let's read!

Carla Vastine

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let's Talk Early Literacy

It's not too soon! Learning to read and write is essential to school success. Children who are proficient readers are usually the most successful learners. The Public Library Association's ( "Every Child Ready to Read" Program explains that children who are read to from an early age have more advanced language skills, a larger vocabulary, and a greater interest in books at age 4. At this age, a child's interest in reading is an important predictor of later reading achievement.

It needs to be fun and interactive! In promoting early literacy in 2 and 3 year olds, the "Dialogic Reading" or the "Hear and Say" method is very effective. With Dialogic Reading, adults help tell the story. The adult becomes the questioner, the listener , and the audience. Research has shown the children can jump ahead several months in learning after only a few weeks of Dialogic Reading. How to do it?

When reading aloud, ask "what" questions:
-Ask open -ended questions about the pictures and if your child does not know what to say about a picture, say something and have your child repeat it
-As your child gets used to open -ended questions, ask your child to say more
-Expand on what your child says keeping the expansions short and simple, have your child repeat your longer phrases
-Ask general questions to help your child say more such as "What do you see on this page?", "What is happening here?", "What else do you see?"
-Relate the story to your child's own experiences
-Add description to the story
-Help your child as needed
-Praise and encourage
-Follow your child's interest
-Have fun with your child! Your excitement and enthusiasm is contagious!

Please join us for storytimes:
Wee Ones (Birth to 15 months) Mondays 9:30 to 10:15am
Toddlers (16 months to 2 1/2 years old) Tuesday, Thursday or Friday 9:30 to 10:15am
Threes, More or Less (2 1/2 to 3 1/2) Tuesday or Friday, 10:30 to 11:15am
Family Storytime (5 and under) Mondays and Thursdays, 10:30 to 11am

Call us about registrations. Adults included in all of the above programs.

Carla Vastine

Monday, September 20, 2010

PAWS for Reading

One new program in the children's department this fall is PAWS for Reading, where kids read aloud to a therapy pet to improve their reading and communication skills.

Reading to well-trained, gentle therapy pets in a one-on-one setting is a great way for emerging or struggling readers to gain confidence.

The program is aimed at children ages 5-12, but all independent readers are welcome.

PAWS for Reading will be offered at Tredyffrin Public Library on the following Saturday mornings:

September 25
October 9
October 23
November 6
November 20
December 11

Call 610-688-7092, ext. 210 or stop by the children's desk to make your appointment today!

Friday, September 17, 2010

PreK and Kindergarten Story Time: We All Have Tales

As part of an overall travel and multiciltural theme in the department this fall , including our "Road Trip Thursdays" program (see Angela's post) and our "AMERICA: A Nation if Immigrants" display, my fall story time theme for the PreK and Kindergarten group will be "We All Have Tales."

Each week in story time (details below), I'll read two folk or fairy tales from a different area of the world. The tales will be supplemented by crafts, songs, DVD clips, games, and/or snacks, depending upon the subject of the week. Story time parents will also be given a list of our favorite folk and fairy tales and web resources for further reading outside of class. On Tuesday, October 26, during Halloween week, story time participants are encouraged to wear a mask or costume that reflects a particular fairy tale, folk tale, or culture (their own or one in which they're interested) for photos and a parade through the library.

I look forward to greeting you all with a hearty ahn nyeong, assalaam o aleykum, bonjour, ciao, hallo, hola, konnichi wa, namaste, nei ho, ni hao, privet, sat sri akal, shalom, vanakkam, or xin chao!

Michele :-)

PreK and Kindergarten Story Time
Ages 4-5 (able to participate independently from adults)
September 21-November 16, 2010
Tuesdays, 2:00-2:45 pm
Register in person or by calling 610.688.7092 x210
Space is limited to 25 participants

Hidden Classic #2: Frog & Toad Together

“‘I cannot remember any of the things that were on my list of things to do. I will just have to sit here and do nothing,’ said Toad.” It is this kind of silly, subtle humor that combines with the sweetness of true friendship to make the Newbery Honor book Frog and Toad Together so appealing.

The second volume in author-illustrator Arnold Lobel’s classic Frog and Toad series, this book consists of five episodes that explore the adventures and practical education of Frog and Toad, who learn lessons about patience or restraint in everyday situations, like waiting for seeds to grow or knowing you should stop eating cookies but not being able to.

(And we've all been there, right? No? Just me?)

Originally published in 1972, the art may seem a little simple and dated to modern children, but Lobel’s simple line drawings filled in with watercolor browns, greens and grays perfectly complement his stories. 20-point typeface and plenty of white space make the story visually approachable for new readers, while the narrative introduces increasingly complex vocabulary words and themes, including what it means to be brave and the importance of sharing the spotlight.

Appropriate for preschoolers and younger elementary school children, even adults will enjoy these tales.

Check it out on Library Thing

Meet Joy!

The Tredyffrin Library Children's Department is happy to introduce our very newest staff member - Miss Joy!

Miss Joy will be conducting two of our storytimes on Monday mornings - Wee Ones and Family Storytime. As you may know, Wee Ones is for babies up to 15 months and their caregivers, and Family Storytime is a mixed-age storytime for children 5 and under and their caregivers. There is no registration required for either of these programs - just walk right in!

I was able to catch up with Miss Joy today and ask her a few questions about life, literature, and lunch. Here's the low-down:

So tell me a little bit about your background.

I've been teaching piano for over ten years, I've been teaching pre-school music for as long as I've been a mom. (Almost as long. Pretty close.) And I've been reading voraciously since I was... since I learned how.

What are some of your favorite children's books or authors?

I like Oliver Jeffers - I love his stuff. Lucy Cousins, the Maisy books. David Weisner, LOVE his art. Maurice Sendak - big fan. I could go on and on if I were browsing the stacks...

You play several instruments, do you not?

Sure do! I play the piano, guitar, ukulele, and sing. And I'm a big fan of the shaker eggs and the rhythm sticks.

Finally, if you could take a famous person (living or dead) to lunch, who would you pick and why?

I would probably go out to lunch with Mozart, because he seems like he would be as fun as all of his music.

Road Trip Thursday

One new program that Tredyffrin Library is offering to kids this fall is Road Trip Thursday - an exploration of the 50 states, as discovered through a make-believe road trip. Buckled securely into their imaginary seats are fearless kids in grades 1-5. Behind the pretend steering wheel is Miss Angela.
(Trust me. The best way to drive with Miss Angela is when she is pretend-driving.)

This week, before we load up our car, we'll review our budget, get a quick refresher course in map-reading (since our pretend car has no GPS), decide where we want to go, and then look for books and websites where we can find information about the destination we've picked.
If there's any time left, we might play a road-tripping game, since our pretend car is just like Miss Angela's real car and has no DVD player. Or CD player. Or tape player. (Or air conditioning or clock, if we're being honest.)
Interested? Call 610-688-7092, ext. 210 to register, or sign up on the clipboard at the children's desk the next time you visit us.
Photo by Suzanne Widrick. And no, this is not actually Angela's real car.

Hidden Classic #1: Freddy the Detective

Welcome to "Hidden Classics," a review series that will focus on children's books from the 20th century that you might have forgotten about or missed reading entirely. Each entry in the series will tell you a bit about the book/series and its author, and will recommend both a read-aloud age level and a read-alone age level. If you have any suggestions for "Hidden Classics," feel free to add them to the Comments section below. Happy reading!

Today's entry is the funny, humane, and altogether delightful Freddy the Detective by Walter R. Brooks. It's actually part of a series of Freddy's adventures, written between 1928 and 1958. Brooks was a staff writer for The New Yorker, and contributed stories to The Saturday Evening Post, Atlantic Monthly, and Esquire. His short story "Ed Takes the Pledge" was the basis for the 1950s TV show Mr. Ed. The Freddy series went out of print in the 1960s but was brought back into print in the 1990s due to overwhelming requests from Freddy fans. Freddy even has a newsletter, an annual convention, a book of poetry, and several fan sites. The best is the one run by the Friends of Freddy: (check out the gallery of Freddy's disguises).

Freddy is the "smallest and cleverest" of the animals on Bean Farm, a fictional place set near Syracuse in upstate New York. The animals at Bean Farm are famous for their ability to talk and read, but, unlike most children's books, the author acknowledges that talking animals are unusual, and a lot of the humor comes from this. Freddy is somewhat of a Renaissance pig: in the novels, he becomes a cowboy, an explorer, a politician, a publisher, a poet, a magician, a banker, a campaign manager, a pilot, and (my favorite) a detective.

In Freddy the Detective, our hero goes crazy for Sherlock Holmes and decides to start his own detective business. Beginning with the disappearance of a toy train which the rats steal to ride safely back and forth from their holes to the feedbox, he solves a series of very mysterious cases in which all of the animals become involved. What I love about Freddy is that he always has good intentions but, like all of us, he sometimes stumbles: "But Freddy really had no ideas at all. There was no good using force; he had tried that, and all he had got out of it was a broken tooth that sent his family into fits of laughter whenever he smiled. Anyway, detectives seldom used force; they used guile. He went back to his library and got comfortable and tried to think up some guile to use on the rats. And as usual when he lay perfectly still and concentrated for a short time, he fell asleep." Yes, he is a bit lazy, messy, and sometimes fearful, but he's a loyal friend and a first-rate detective. Go, Freddy!

Freddy the Detective
by Walter R. Brooks
published by Overlook Press, 1998
264 pages (but with illustrations and very large print)
Recommended read-aloud ages: 5+
Recommended read-alone ages: 8+

Praise for Freddy:
"Pure fun from beginning to end." ~ The Horn Book
"There's a richness to the world of Bean Farm and a strong moral code that is timeless." ~ The Los Angeles Times
"They are the American version of the great English classics, such as the Pooh books or The Wind in the Willows." ~ The New York Times Book Review
"Freddy the Pig is back. Hooray!" ~ The Philadelphia Daily News
"Freddy is simply one of the greatest characters in children's literature!" ~ School Library Journal

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Welcome, Tredyffrin Kids!

Hello, friends! You've found the blog of the Tredyffrin Public Library Children's Department. This is super-good news for you if you:

a) use our library
b) happen to be - or belong to - someone under 13 years old
c) were looking for a blog with stars in the background
d) just selected any or all of the above

What can you expect from this blog? Well, a lot of lists. I can't help it. I make lists. But I know you're probably more interested in what kind of stuff will be on these lists. Fair enough. In list form, here's what you'll find on this blog:

1. Book reviews and virtual displays, created by your very own Tredyffrin Public Librarians

2. Program details - including dates, times, and registration information. Sometimes, we'll even link to a handy flyer - like this one!

3. Links to free electronic resources, including websites to help with school projects, book recommendations, and more!

4. Bright colors. (I like them.)

And there'll be more, no doubt, but I figure that's a good start for now. We'll talk again soon.

Signing off - Angela

Photo by Michele Bolay