Like many people, I struggled with math throughout most of my education. I say “most” because I got very lucky in seventh grade when my mother found an awesome tutor for me. His name was Ken. He was math professor who took a three year sabbatical to write the “great American novel.”

Ken was a fantastic storyteller, and he used stories to explain math concepts to me. In the context of a good story, the concepts came alive. Under his engaging tutelage, my grade in algebra went from a D+ to an A in the course of several months. More importantly, for one glorious year, I loved math. I realized math is a language I could apply to problems in the real world. He showed me fractals, and encouraged me to doodle them in the margins of my homework when I got bored. He is the one and only person who ever said that I had a great mind for math.

Recently, however, with the push for better STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) a number of math teachers and mathematicians have been urging their colleagues to find new ways to explore this critical subject in the classroom.

Conrad Wolfram is a mathematician and founder of computerbasedmath.org. In his 2010 TedTalk, Conrad Wolfram, discussed why it’s important to rethink math education and how adapting it to computers is the future. If you think math is all about terrifying tests and endless calculation give this dynamic video a chance to show you that math is for everyone.

Here is a list of library materials that will get you and your family excited about math: Let’s Be Math-People!

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books-movies-1

To read or to watch? That is the question!

There’s a constant battle between book-lovers and movie-lovers about whether a book is better than the movie or vice versa. Personally, I prefer to watch the movie over reading the book (don’t tell any of my co-workers) because I’m more attracted to visuals instead of just reading about the story.

The listicle below is Part 1 of 2 about books you didn’t realize were actually movies, too. The great part is the Niles Public Library has many formats of the title for you to enjoy.

Check out these books, DVDs, Blu-rays, and Audiobooks at the Niles Public Library:

The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith (Babe): Book | DVD | Blu-ray

127 Hours by Aron Ralston: Book | DVD

The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings: Book | Blu-ray

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick: Book | DVD | Blu-ray

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TFiOSblog

This may shock some people, but The Fault in Our Stars, a romantic drama based on a book by YA author John Green, actually drew more viewers its opening weekend than a big sci-fi action summer blockbuster starring Tom Cruise. If you read one of the 7 million copies of The Fault in Our Stars that have been sold so far, if you’ve passed it on to a friend or relative, if you’ve run screaming across a room to embrace someone who you’ve discovered has also just read the book, if you’ve followed the progress of TFiOS from book to screen worrying that the filmmakers might cast the wrong Hazel or cut your favorite line, then you will hardly be surprised.

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Cassia1

We’re happy to announce the winners of our 16th annual poetry contest. We received more than 75 entries this year, and the competition was fierce; especially within the teen category.

All of our local public middle and high schools, as well as many local private schools were represented. Seven judges, including several staff members, read through the poems to select the winners. We were most impressed by the poets’ bravery in expressing their emotions. Our final decisions did not come easy, but reading the poems was a delight.

Visit the 3rd floor of the Library to view all winning poems in both the adult and teen categories. Teen winners are also displayed in the Teen Underground on the Lower Level. Booklets with all of the winning poems are available free to the public, and can be picked up at either display.

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Doctorwho_01

The much beloved British television series Doctor Who has been with us for 50 years. Debuting in 1963, this science fiction show about a time traveling alien ran for 26 seasons before ending in 1989. Reborn in 2005, the series is as popular as ever. The eighth season of the new series begins this fall, starring Peter Capaldi as the 12th version of the title character.

Originally conceived as a program to teach kids about science, Doctor Who has grown into an international geek culture juggernaut. In case you’ve never seen an episode, the lovably goofy and absurd Doctor looks human, but is really the last living Time Lord from the destroyed planet Gallifrey. He travels through both time and space in the TARDIS (a ship that looks like an old-fashioned British police emergency call box) but that is “bigger on the inside.” The Doctor looks great for his age (which fluctuates constantly from all that time travel, but is at least 1000 years) because any time his body is destroyed he simply regenerates in a new one. He loves earth and humans (and, hey, constant space and time travel must get lonely) so he is always recruiting a human companion or two to journey with him.

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TeenChoiceAwards

50 teens in grades 7-12 participated in our annual Teen Choice Award voting this spring. The votes have been counted, and your voices have been heard. In addition to creating fun “best of” lists, these results are actually very helpful when it comes to deciding what DVDs, CDs and games to order for our collection. Here are Niles teens’ current favorites:

Song
Guess what? Musical tastes are highly subjective, and Niles teens enjoy a diverse range of artists. Very few people can agree on a single song as their favorite. “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen was the clear winner, although some people choose Idina Menzel‘s version while others prefer Demi Lovato’s. At least no one voted for Adele Dazeem.

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NationalPoetryMonth

April showers bring May flowers…and also meter, verse and rhyme. Inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is held each April. The mission of this 30-day campaign is to promote poetry as a living art form, as well as remember our poetic heritage. Much of our oldest surviving literature — including epic works like The Odyssey, Beowulf, and Gilgamesh — are recorded in poetic verse. Likewise, today’s hip hop artists like Kendrick Lamar win praise for composing complex rhymes and delivering them with a melodic flow.

We celebrate National Poetry Month with a poetry-writing contest for teens and adults. Now in its sixteenth year, our 2014 contest runs through April 22 (which also happens to be Earth Day).

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divergent

Within the last decade, the Young Adult genre has skyrocketed in irrepressible popularity. It seems that with this increasing regard, film companies have grasped at the opportunity to impress the YA fan club, in hopes of making the next hit blockbuster. Many have tried to replicate the success of such franchises as Twilight and The Hunger Games, but only a handful have succeeded. The movie adaptation of Veronica Roth’s worldwide bestselling book Divergent, has seemingly played its cards right and won the hearts of moviegoers everywhere.

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