mega-authors-event

If you have ever read any of The Spiderwick Chronicles books as a kid, or you just saw The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones last summer, then step right up to the Niles Public Library to meet the famous authors behind these books on Friday, September 26th at 7 pm.

As authors of their own separately successful series, Cassandra Clare (author of The Mortal Instruments series) and Holly Black (co-author of The Spiderwick Chronicles) have teamed up to pen a new book together, Magisterium: The Iron TrialThe first in a five book series, The Iron Trial hit bookstores on September 9th. As only one of two stops in Illinois on the Magisterium US Tour, readers who attend the meeting at the Niles Library will get the chance to meet Clare and Black to discover what it’s like working together, ask questions, and get an autographed copy of their new book. Recommended for readers ages 9 and up, this event is free and open to the public.

There is no registration required for this event, but tickets will be handed out starting at 6:30 pm. Seating is limited, so make sure to arrive early to guarantee yourself a seat in the meeting room. If you’ve got copies of the authors’ books that you would like to get signed feel free to bring them. If there is a large crowd then we may limit the number of items each person can have autographed. The BookStall will also be here in the Commons area of the Library selling books at 6:15 pm.

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toddler

As a children’s librarian, I have a front row seat to the greatest show on Earth: toddlerdom. Toddlers are fascinating, brilliant little people whose curiosity drives them to seek new experiences every waking hour of the day. At the same time, they lack practical knowledge, time-sense, and impulse control. This combined with extreme emotional intensity can lead the most angelic two-year-old to behave like a complete maniac. In her new book, How Toddlers Thrive, developmental psychologist and Director of the Barnard Center for Toddler Development, Dr. Tovah Klein explores the unique challenges parents face when their babies enter the dreaded “terrible twos”. She writes,

Toddler behavior is often paradoxical: they seem to swing between extremes for no apparent reason—or at least, this is the way it looks to us adults…Why do their moods and their actions seem so erratic and hard to predict? How can we love them with all our hearts, but feel so powerless in the face of their crazy-making behavior? The answer to these questions is found when we peek inside their brains and understand what makes toddlers tick.

Klein’s approach is not a one-size-fits-all approach. She offers no easy fixes, but rather encourages parents “see the world through your toddler’s eyes”. She calls this shift in perspective a “Parenting Point of View”. The goal is to help parents approach the day-to-day challenges toddlers dish out with a clear head and full heart.

Of course, she offers no guarantees that you won’t want to tear your hair out sometimes. Since misery loves company, read Jason Good’s: 46 Reasons My Three Year Old Might Be Freaking Out. Keep in mind, brave parents of wild little maniacs: THIS TWO SHALL PASS!

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little-authors

There’s nothing I love more than a good story. Luckily, as a KidSpace librarian, I spend a lot of time reading & telling to kids of all ages. This summer, I’ve decided to give preschoolers a chance to sit in the storytime chair in a story dictation program called Little Authors.

For decades, preschool teachers have been using story dictation methods developed by early childhood education luminaries like Vivian Paley and Carol Avery to help children put their ideas, experiences, and fantasies on paper. Story dictation is a deceptively simple early learning activity. All you need is paper, pencils, and your undivided attention. Ask a child to describe an event, idea or person; and write down the words exactly as the child says them. Then read the story back to her, and watch her face light up in pride & triumph!

Here are some of the fantastic stories written by a few of Niles’ homegrown little authors:

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src-2014

Once again, the Niles Public Library is asking patrons (especially our youngest ones) to make visiting the Library part of their summer routine. And it’s working!

KidSpace patrons are racing the calendar in this, the eighth of nine weeks of the 2014 Summer Reading Program, to read (or be read to) and get prizes, prizes, prizes… Readers (who read independently, usually chapter-book fiction) are plowing through books, as are pre-readers (whose families count how many books are read to them). Readers win tokens (“wooden money” redeemable for prizes), while pre-readers who’ve had lots of Picture Books read to them (four books earn one game play) are winning bushel baskets of prizes.

At any given time, dozens of kids are crisscrossing KidSpace reading, redeeming tokens, and playing their games, (Readers roll huge dice and move characters they choose, while pre-readers choose from several games which involve “a pup tent,” “Guess Which Animal,” and digging through sand for buried treasures.). It’s a busy place, tied together under the theme “Paws to Read” (pun intended, and in which various woodland and other cuddly animals feature prominently).

And, for those readers who earn the right to play their game at least nine times, there is a prize package that includes fun coupons and a free book in a cool tote bag. All kids who visit 9 times by August 8 can enter the drawing for a grand prize.

GRAND PRIZES ARE HOT: a scooter, a bicycle, and a Family Pack of 4 passes to Six Flags Great America

Okay, to summarize, let’s do this by the numbers:
∙ Way over 1,000 kids signed up
∙ Thousands of fiction chapter books, pre-reader Picture Books, and other reading experiences generated
∙ Hundreds of books featured in readers’ “Share a Book” sheets (think of these as very simple, user-friendly book reports)
∙ Thousands of tokens won in the readers’ game or earned (from readers’ turning in completed “Share a Book” and “Reading Challenge” sheets)
∙ Thousands of prizes and toys purchased with tokens (by readers) or won outright (by pre-readers)
Impossible to calculate: improvements to kids’ literacy as a result of summertime reading
∙ Tons (number impossible to know) of fun had by participants, staff, and the teen volunteers without whom the Summer Reading Program could not take place

For more photos of our Summer Reading Club for kids, click here!

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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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Summer Reading at the Niles Library is a big deal! We work for months and months to get ready for kids to come in and play our giant-sized games. Now it is up and ready to play! Here’s how it works.

Here’s what you need to do:

Step One: Come to KidSpace and sign up. You will get a reading folder.

Step Two: Take a free turn on the game! You will already have earned your first Glummy token to spend at the store.

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Younger kids play our Read-to-Me game, where they can play animal games with our volunteers. They win a prize every time!

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You might be thinking, That sounds like fun, but there’s a lot of other fun stuff to do over the summer. But kids work hard through the school year to improve their reading and pre-reading skills, and if they stop reading over the summer, they will lose what they learned. Studies show that kids who participate in summer reading programs do better in school. So take some time to read this summer, and come to the library and play.

For more information about our “Paws To Read” Summer Reading Clubs for adults and teens, click here!

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middleground

Being a children’s librarian involves a bit of psychology, beginning with the need to see different segments of the PreK through Grade 8 population as having distinctly different needs. So it is with middle school students (sometimes dubbed tweens): they know they are way different from elementary school kids, and different yet again from the high school students who rule the Teen Underground on the Lower Level.

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boysread

American boys are falling behind girls in reading. Many experts believe that and, if it’s true, it is a source of deep concern. Just the fact it might be true keeps librarians awake at night. Niles, no more nor less than anywhere else, has such boy readers and needs to understand what’s at stake.

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lego

The Niles Public Library’s Lego Club is built on the idea that motivated and creative kids, ranging from Kindergarten through 8th Grade, will produce clever and interesting projects if you take these steps:

1) put a few thousand Legos in front of them

2) maintain a safe space where they are free to experiment, plus “show off” creations to each other and their parents or caregivers

3) take photos of Lego-makers with their creations (everyone who wants theirs taken) and post to social media

4) provide a tasty treat when Lego Club ends (a “thank you” for everybody’s cleaning up and putting Legos back in their bins).

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boysread

“What can I do to help my son enjoy reading more?”

Imagine you are me – the only male librarian in KidSpace – and the person asking is a harried mother (it is usually the mom who’s asking). Her son gets so-so grades and reads below his grade level; what’s more, getting him to read at all is like pulling teeth. The only incentive left is to withhold the Xbox controller until his school-assigned reading is done… And reading books for pleasure? That aren’t even on the school list? Forget it!

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