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I like to incorporate some non-fiction books, science in particular, into my family’s nightly reading routine. Not all science books read the same, however. I’m pleased when I find titles that are easy to read aloud, yet still contain good solid information. Here’s a list of informative and interesting read-aloud science books to share with your children, written for ages 4 and up. -Teresa
Balloon Trees by Danna Smith
Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray
Beetles (also Centipedes, Spiders and others) “Creepy Critters” series
Things That Float and Things That Don’t by David A. Adler
You Can’t Ride a Bicycle to the Moon by Harriet Ziefert
Body Actions by Shelley Rotner
No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart
This summer our youth librarians presented a family storytime featuring shapes. Before kids learn to read and write (early literacy) they need to know how to recognize shapes and distinguish between patterns. Once this is established, they can tackle letter recognition and start distinguishing between letters like A & O and M & W, etc. Play and learning go hand in hand. Play is a crucial mode of learning, so allowing little ones to investigate their world while supporting their natural curiosity is important.
Block play is a great way to encourage creativity, social skills, math, language and science (Teaching Numeracy, Language and Literacy with Blocks by Newburger). Babies and toddlers will feel blocks, pick them up, put them in their mouths. Older children who play with blocks and other manipulatives will learn to create patterns and sequences of shapes, as well as colors and textures. For example, knowledge of patterns, geometry and space develops as they create bridge supports and block designs, as they organize blocks by size and shape on the shelves, and as they make enclosures for their animals (Colker, NAYEC).
There are many fun ways to develop shape and letter recognition- we’ve listed our storytime titles as well as other great books and extension activities you can do at home. -Rebecca
Books for Toddlers
My Shapes/Mis formas by Rebecca Emberley
Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett
Books for Preschool and Kindergarten
It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Green Shaw
Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban
Little Cloud by Eric Carle
Follow the Line series by Laura Ljungkvist
Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert
Shape by Shape by Suse MacDonald
Eating Fractions by Bruce McMillan
Round is a Mooncake: a book of shapes by Roseanne Thong
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman
Shape (Math Counts) by Henry Pluckrose
Circles, Stars, and Squares: Looking for Shapes by Jane Brocket
Books for School Age
The Shape of Me and Other Stuff by Dr. Seuss
Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell
Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell
When a Line Bends…A Shape Begins by Rhonda Gowler Greene
2) Go on a shape hunt- look for shapes in the environment (especially good for summer road trips!) Create a car game by using a cookie sheet and attaching magnets to the back of shapes for your child to play with.
3) Cut out shapes in different sizes or make puffy paint shape cards and let your child play with them. These two-dimensional shapes are different from the three-dimensional blocks which will encourage a different kind of play. You can also make shapes using playdough.
6) Make a shapes book, helping child paste cutout images of different shapes on the pages and label each page with circle, square, etc.
It seems as though there are survival shows and competitions everywhere these days. Maybe it’s because I’m addicted to watching them on tv that I’m also drawn to books about survival. Two of my favorite survival stories are Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong and Ice Story: Shackleton’s Lost Expedition by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel (Grades 4 and up). Both are suspenseful and dramatic accounts of Ernest Shackleton‘s voyage to cross Antarctica and what happened when the entire ship and crew were trapped in ice. None of them should have survived, but they did- they ALL did- thanks to Shackleton’s amazing leadership and strength.
You may never be trapped in ice or faced with a rugged survival situation, but the library has materials to help you prepare, just in case. One noteworthy title about a more recent survival situation is Trapped: how the world rescued 33 miners from 2,000 feet below the Chilean desert by Marc Aronson (Grade 4 and up). -Teresa
Check out these other guides from our nonfiction collection:
How to Survive Anything by Rachel Buchholz (National Geographic, 2011)
Survivor Kid: a practical guide to wilderness survival by Denise Long (Chicago Review Press, 2011)
How to Be a World Explorer: your all-terrain training manual by Joel Levy (Lonely Planet, 2012)
“Survive Alive” series by Neil Champion (Amicus, 2011) Grades 3-7
Whether you are traveling or staying home this summer, be sure audiobooks make it on your reading list- not only because they are an entertaining alternative to screens, but because they are also another way to “read” a book. According to School Library Journal article, “Listening, Literacy and the Common Core: How Audio Books Improve Reading Ability,” (view archived copy here), audiobooks are a “proven literacy resource” which provide “enhanced vocabulary, fluency and listening skills.” -Wendy
Here are 5 recommendations from ALSC’s list of 2014 Notable Children’s Recordings:
Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle, Ages 11 to 14
Reader and author Tim Federle captures Nate’s hope, desperation, and exasperation when he runs away to audition for “E.T.: The Musical.” (A 2014 Odyssey Honor Audiobook)
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, Ages 8 to 12
With warmth, compassion and bravado, Tara Sands narrates the story of a superhero squirrel and his adored human companion.
Matilda by Roald Dahl, Ages 7 to 12
An exceptional girl develops extraordinary powers that she uses to triumph over nasty parents, wretched friends, and a monstrous headmistress. Dahl’s cast of vivid characters is infused with life by Kate Winslet’s dynamic performance. (A 2014 Odyssey Honor Audiobook)
P. S. Be Eleven, by Rita Williams-Garcia, Ages 10 to 14
Sisi Aisha Johnson gives emotional depth and authenticity to each character in the continuing story of Delphine and the rest of the Gaither family.
Paperboy by Vince Vawter, Ages 12 and up
The story of an eleven-year-old boy with a stutter and the issues he faces in the summer of 1959 are thoughtfully voiced by Lincoln Hoppe in this portrayal of author Vince Vawter’s childhood.
Young adult literature has exploded in popularity over the past few years. With some of these books becoming pop culture movie events like “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games“, the hunt is on for the “next big thing”. This has led to trends overtaking young adult fiction as we swing from paranormal vampire romance to dystopian adventure to teens with challenging illnesses. Because of this new popularity, more YA books are being published than ever before. So how do I decide which ones to buy for the library, knowing that we can’t purchase everything?
The first step is to listen to our teens. We have a teen library council that meets once a month and one of their tasks is to let us know what they are reading and enjoying. Some of these teens record a book discussion about new books they have read. I will frequently buy books that they recommend.
Next, I read review magazines like VOYA and School Library Journal. VOYA is full of great book suggestions and program ideas for libraries. They have a unique rating system that considers quality and teen interest. If a book gets a 5 in both categories, it’s a guaranteed purchase.
One of my favorite websites for info on teen books is Teen Reads. This site covers most of the new books published each month in a concise way that gets input from teens as well. Other book blogs that are worth following are Bookshelves of Doom and The Hub. Diversity in YA is another great website, and although it’s infrequently updated, it’s still a great place to find books featuring teens of diverse backgrounds.
Amazon, Good Reads, Indie Bound and YA Lit are also useful websites. I’m also on the lookout for special interest titles that fit our community well. Interesting and unique nonfiction especially those dealing with science experiments, lego mindstorms, or any college prep books are welcome additions in our teen nonfiction section. Graphic novels are also a very popular genre and I rely on No Flying No Tights and Previews for information on the latest comics.
We also buy multiple copies of the OBOB titles every year and we’ve even started carrying Kindles with YA titles on them, with one dedicated to titles that aren’t in print (also known as e-originals).
Do you have a favorite YA book that’s not in our current collection? We encourage purchase requests. Just check the WCCLS catalog to see if we have the books first. Want some reading suggestions for your teen? Check out our teen booklist page.