Ginny H.'s blog

Doodleville

There’s something special about the doodles Drew and her art club pals create - they come to life! The art club crew usually draft friendly characters, though Drew’s doodles are known to get into trouble, like the time they stole a hat out of a painting in the museum. But that was nothing compared to real trouble her newest doodle, Levi, created in Doodleville! With her monster on the loose destroying all of her friends’ creations, Drew feels hopeless. How will Drew ever be able to stop Levi from destroying everything in sight and hold onto her friendships!

With such an imaginative story and a wonderfully racially diverse group whose members display a variety of gender presentations, there's a lot to love about this book. It is the perfect read for fans of Chad Sell’s The Cardboard Kingdom, or Kirsten Gudsnuk’s Making Friends. Recommended ages 8+

Birdie and Me

Jack and her gender fluid brother, Birdie, are siblings who have to move in with their stoic and no-nonsense uncle after their eccentric uncle proves that he is not a good caretaker after their mother's sudden death. The constant upheaval, new scenery, school, and bullying in their new life throw them through a loop. Through grieving, confronting bullies, and confronting comfort zones -- Birdie, Jack, and both their uncles learn to love and accept each other for who they are. Together, the family creates a new sense of home together. 

Race to the Sun

Nizhoni Begay is a young Navajo girl. Her mom left their family when she was just a toddler, leaving Nizhoni, her dad, and her younger brother Mac on their own. Though she has aspirations to become famous and make something of herself, Nizhoni considers herself to be a pretty standard kid—until she begins to see monsters, that is. Things become more dire when Nizhoni sees her dad's new boss for what he truly is—a monster. When her dad disappears suddenly, she, her best friend Davery, and brother Mac must make a run for it. Through their journey to recover their father, Nizhoni and Mac discover their true identity as Monster Slayers.

All's Faire in Middle School

Reviewed by Kim B., Librarian

Imogene has always felt sure of herself and happy with her life as the daughter of Renaissance Faire workers. But when it’s time for her to stop homeschooling and attend middle school with other kids Imogene is suddenly not so sure. To Imogene, fitting in in a world of dragons, sword fighting, Queens and knights seemed like a piece of cake, but fitting in in middle school? It seemed impossible. All’s Faire in Middle School is a unique coming-of-age story filled with great lessons about being yourself, finding your true friends, and realizing that fitting in is just a matter of being confident in who you are. This book would be well fit with anyone starting middle school, starting school after homeschooling, or anyone looking for how they can fit in. Appropriate for ages 9+

 

Nature Journals and Binoculars

This week in our preschool arts program, Little Makers, we did two projects to help us celebrate and appreciate nature for Earth Day! First, we created nature journals by punching holes into paper and practiced our fine motor skills to string yarn through the holes. Then, we used markers to decorate and name our nature journals.

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The second project we worked on was a set of binoculars. We used recycled toilet paper rolls and secured our binoculars with glue. After the glue dried, we decorated each pair with words and drawings. Although the binoculars have no magnifying effect, with a little imagination it worked just fine! After completing the projects, our little makers were excited to give them a go!

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These projects not only helped us appreciate nature, but also centered on the early literacy practice of writing. By writing descriptions or drawing pictures of what they see in nature, a child is working on building the skills they need for writing and reading.

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Writing is like learning a code. Each letter has a meaning and those individual meanings strung together create a word. Did you know that when a child scribbles, they’re practicing writing? A shape may represent a letter or a mark on a piece of paper can represent a word. It may not look like words to us, but to the child it has meaning. It’s building their print awareness, which means knowing that print has meaning, and helping them build the skills they’ll need when they’re ready to read.

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Now that we have a trusty pair of binoculars and a brand new nature journal, why not play and build up some of our early literacy skills from Every Child Ready to Read’s five daily practices: reading, writing, singing, talking or playing? Ask your child to describe a bug they see! Is it fluffy or solid? What color is it? How many legs does it have? Make up a silly song about the bug! Another fun way to explore an early literacy skill is to draw a picture and label it. Have a child draw a picture of an animal and label the head, eyes, tail, arms, or paws. Make it a game, early literacy should be fun!

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To learn about other programs that build upon early literacy skills, check out our program and event page or come visit us!

Pasta Painting!

Here in the Children’s area, I have the privilege of working with caregivers, parents, and children almost every Tuesday at a program called Little Makers. This is an arts-based program where we strive to engage children and their caregivers with open-ended projects that support early literacy skills, an inquiry-based learning style and foster creativity. This week we did pasta painting and used pasta noodles in exchange for paint brushes!

Whether you’re using the noodles as a brush or using them as stamps, this is a exciting project to explore. It’s a great way to discover different materials and how they interacted with each other as well as incorporate everyday objects into your child’s play and literacy. We were ready to experiment and talk about the different shapes and textures of the pasta and had a variety of noodles including spaghetti, macaroni, fiore, and rotini.

In addition to building creativity, art is a great way to build early literacy skills. It can incorporate some of Every Child Ready to Read’s five daily practices: reading, writing, singing, talking or playing. While experimenting with our pasta paint technique, we combined early literacy practices by engaging in talk and play by asking open-ended questions such as: What are you drawing? What’s happening in your painting? Creating an abundant verbal atmosphere, while having fun, gives preschoolers an advantage for when they enter kindergarten.

 Early literacy shouldn’t be a chore, so make it fun! Bring out the markers, paint, and chalk. You are your child’s first and most important teacher and enjoying art together can help build the skills that lead up to reading. Come join us at Little Makers or ask us at the reference desk about other programs that incorporate early literacy skills!

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