Not to add to your stress, but the holidays are just around the corner. Take time to relax and enjoy the spirit of the holidays at one of the many wonderful events presented at the library this December. Don't forget to take home some of the enchanting books, music and movies that also celebrate the holiday spirit.
Our dog Archie may be mostly blind and have hips that decide he needs to sit down mid-stride, but this time of year, the moment he steps outside he’s like a pup again. Head and tail up, he treks jauntily around the yard enjoying the cool air and its accompanying breeze. I know just how he feels! Although my step isn’t as jaunty, I, too, am at my most puppyish in the fall. Put a pile of leaves in my path or anywhere I can easily reach, and I will joyfully kick my way to the other side.
A recent gathering of the library’s storytime presenters made one thing apparent--oldies really are goodies! When staff shared our preschool participant’s favorite songs and interactive activities, I was struck by how many of them revolved around beloved classics. Games I played as a child--and bet you did too--like “Simon Says” and “Red Light, Green Light” are regularly incorporated much to the delight of children and their caregivers!
If you're the caregiver for a school age child, then STEM is probably already a household word. An acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, STEM is a focused initiative in the nation's schools and ties in closely with the library's educational mission. Its origins lie with Congress’ America Competes Act, aptly named because when it comes to these subject areas, the consensus has been that our students are not prepared to do the STEM-related jobs we will need filled in the near future.
The first day of Kindergarten can simultaneously be fun and fearful, thrilling and anxious, exhilarating and tearful, and that’s just for the adults! Imagine what it’s like for a 5-year old!
Easing that transition is why approximately forty public and private agencies, businesses, and individuals have joined together for the Passport to Kindergarten initiative spearheaded by Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area. Our goal is for every kindergarten student to begin school with a strong foundation for school success. In support, library branches have dedicated a small portion of their annual Back to School display specifically to kindergarteners and created a bookmark filled with titles to help ease the transition for children and their caregivers.
The mid-2000s were kind to my extended family when within a 12-month period, two nieces and a nephew joined it. This year, they will all reach that extremely enjoyable early elementary age. Their sense of humor is growing strong, their curiosity runs rampant, they’re fun to talk with and I enjoy hearing their newly formed perspectives and opinions! Two of those children turn 7 this week and I can’t wait for them to see their birthday presents--books of course.
Non-fiction books coincide with this group's avid curiosity! My niece has such an avid interest in the weather that the first thing she did when she got home from school was check the forecast on her mom’s old phone. She’s going to love the DK (Dorling Kindersley) Eye Wonder book called “Weather.” When the DK books were first published they seemed too busy, but children loved them and I have learned over the years to appreciate them as well. Heavy with photographs accompanied by small amounts of text, these books are a great and very accessible way to enjoy non-fiction! She can scan the table of contents for subjects of interest or just flip through, reading about any picture that captures her attention. Mine was caught by a photo of some funny looking water bubbles. Did you know that raindrops aren’t tear-shaped, but instead “ actually look more like squashed buns?”
My husband’s job as a historical researcher frequently provides the opportunity to hear well-known historians opine on the importance of history. The speech’s always end the same way; concern about the lack of historical knowledge among today’s youth. The statistics support their fears, but while history is unchanging the future is not! Think back to your favorite history teacher. The chances are you enjoyed the class because that teacher brought history alive with stories and that’s an easy gift to share with your children. There are many wonderful historical fiction and nonfiction titles published today for children and teens. Gone are the days of biographies where George Washington cuts down a cherry tree! Today, historical non-fiction is so well-written it has the ability to bring the past to life in vivid and memorable ways.
“The Camping Trip that Changed America” by Barb Rosenstock reads more like fiction than fact. When President Theodore Roosevelt read naturalist John Muir’s book on vanishing forests, “he knew that was someone he just had to meet!” Together they shared adventures while camping their way through what was then known as the Yosemite Wilderness. Mordicai Gerstein’s dynamic illustrations capture Roosevelt’s liveliness and Muir’s quiet while the author’s words detail their commonalities: their love of the outdoors and their determination to save them. Thanks to this remarkable, yet little known, camping trip that brought these two unique individuals together, the number of national parks and monuments was dramatically increased.
A trip to the farmer’s market is one of the highlights of a visit to “Aunt Bek’s” house. Recently, my six year-old niece declared she couldn’t wait to go to the market. The only correlation I could make during the cold winter months was the grocery store and I kept wondering why the sudden interest in food shopping. Finally it dawned on me that she meant the Farmers’ Market. Her enthusiasm is understandable. There she meets the people who planted the seeds and grew the produce. The farmers welcome her, encouraging her to touch and taste a new and wide variety of food. Never an adventurous eater, this is a chance for her to possibly expand her palette. She also loves helping choose the ripest plums, pay for them and carry the bags.
Starting in May, the library will visit each of the four area Farmers’ Markets once a month, offering information on library resources, checking out a few recipe books for cooking the delicious produce and providing quick, fun hands-on activities for children.
Each February hardworking area Kindergarten teachers connect their students to our kindergarten library card campaign. Our goal is for every child to have the opportunity to explore the wonderful world of books, classes, and events available to them at the public library. With the teacher's help, students can easily register for a public library card and take an important step toward lifelong reading and learning.
Connecting with kindergartners in this way would be impossible to do without the teachers. This year, thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Library, one teacher at each branch was randomly selected to receive a Friends' bookbag filled with wonderful books for their classroom.
Congratulations to the winners for the 2013 Kindergarten Library Card Campaign teacher prizes!
Boy are we lucky! The England Run Branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library system is one of only ten libraries in the country to receive the exhibit, Discover Earth: A Century of Change. This exciting and fun educational opportunity is more than just a collection of information panels. It features interactive, multimedia displays allowing visitors to experience digital information in a dynamic way, encouraging new perspectives on our planet and reinforcing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts. Between now and the end of April, visitors can experience the exhibit and enjoy special classes and events. The exhibit will answer many earth science related questions, but it’s also designed to encourage scientific inquiry. The library has purchased wonderful titles for adults and children to further pursue these interests.