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Building a Young Adult Library Collection

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Young Couple Sitting with a Pile of BooksYoung 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.


Best of the Bookshelf: Hands-On Science

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summerofscience4For me, the thought of my kids doing science experiments at home sounds messy, complicated and sometimes dangerous.  I’ve taken home books of science experiments but many times the collection of experiments is overwhelming and finding some of the ingredients can be a challenge. I’m happy to highlight a new non-fiction series from Pebble Plus called “Hands-On Science Fun”.  Each book has only one experiment, and chances are the materials are already in your house.  With interesting topics, helpful photos and easy-to-read text, this series allows you and your kids to have success with science.  Titles in the series include:

How to Build a Fizzy Rocket, How to Build a Tornado in a Bottle, How to Make a Mystery Smell Balloon, and How to Make Slime

Next time you’re at Cedar Mill Main Library, check out our small table display with books on science experiments for kids. Or browse these ideas for further inspiration. Have fun!


PicMonkey Collage experiments






Tips and Resources to Support Science Learning for Kids

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summerofscience4 “Humans are natural-born scientists. When we’re born, we want to know why the stars shine. We want to know why the sun rises.” -Michio Kaku

Why is that tree crooked? Why does the moon come out at night? Why does a bumblebee like these flowers? How does that bridge hold all those cars, trucks and bikes?  Your child is, by nature, a little scientist eager to ask you an endless amount of questions. Sometimes it’s tiring for parents to field all the “why” questions, but just remember- you don’t have to have all the answers. Sharing in their excitement and curiosity is a good start. Make trips to the library and ask youth librarians for help in locating materials about the subjects that intrigue them at the moment. Stay tuned for some book suggestions later this week with easy science experiments. And check out these tips below.

girl one eye magifying glass dreamstime_m_26965965

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a great resource for families with lots of information, ideas, and tips for helping children grow and thrive. They have a wonderful list with tips to encourage and support science learning. For specific science-based activities to try with your child, check out OMSI’s page Science Fun at Home and Science Fun Online.

10 Tips to Support Children’s Science Learning:

1. Value your child’s questions.

2. Explore and find the answers together.

3. Give children time and space to explore.

4. Accept that explorations are often messy.

5. Learn from mistakes together.

6. Invite curiosity.

7. Support further exploration.

8. Encourage children to record their observations.

9. Make good use of your electronic devices.

10. Use items you have at home to experiment and explore.


Creative Play: Building Forts and More

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buildingfortsIf your family needed an excuse to build a fort in your living room, you can relax. Building a fort in your home is educational! According to an article on (“Why All Kids Should Build Forts”), building a fort helps kids develop creative and analytic skills while offering opportunities for unstructured playtime. If you need inspiration for your design, be sure and check out Living Room Fort for ideas (you can also find some cool forts for grown-ups).  But don’t stop there- now that it’s summer, creative play opportunities are right outside your door!  You could try some backyard fort building, gardening, or a backyard camp out. Check out some of these books and other resources for ideas on enjoying nature with your kids.

-Ginny W.


hidinginafortHiding in a Fort: Backyard Retreats for Kids by G. Lawson Drinkard

This short book is a beginners’ guide for almost any kind of backyard fort you might want to try. Some require adult assistance ( the ZigZag Pallet Fort) and some are easy for kids to try on their own ( A-Mazing Tunnel Town). My favorite ones were the “Terrific Tents” that could be made indoors or out from only a few items.

A Kids’ Guide to Building Forts by Tom Birdseyekidsguidebuildingforts

This is a step-up in technique from the book above. His ideas are the stuff of backyard fort daydreams! Although it is written for kids, many of the forts require adult help and supervision, some require a lot of work (the Chicken Wire Fort) and some need certain weather conditions (the Igloo Fort). The indoor fort ideas are clever and much simpler for kids to make themselves. Just be prepared for a little mess when your furniture gets rearranged.

letsgooutsideLet’s Go Outside: Outdoor activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature by Jennifer Ward

My favorite part of this book are the instructions on how to play outdoor games we played as children, but have been forgotten by a younger generation. She includes directions for Kick the Can, Capture the Flag, Twenty Questions, Hopscotch and Ten Types of Tag. She also includes ideas for five different kinds of forts you can build outside.  The ideas are simple, inexpensive and easy for busy families to try out. Be sure and take a look at her other book, I Love Dirt, which is full of more outdoor ideas for very young children.

bookgardeningprojectsThe Book of Gardening Projects for Kids: 101 Ways to Get Kids Outside, Dirty and Having Fun by Whitney Cohen and John Fisher

I think every child should have a chance to grow something in their very own garden. This book is full of kid-friendly garden projects to make growing your own fruits and vegetables even more fun. You could plant a “Pizza Garden” and grow all the toppings you need for your pizza. Or you might try planting a “Zoo Bed” garden. Once you have harvested your crop, there are delicious recipes, ideas for garden celebrations and garden crafts.

The Green Hour: A Daily Dose of Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids by Todd Christophergreenhour

Todd Christopher is an advocate for unstructured play outdoors and time away from “screens”. The first chapters of his book make the case for why it is so important for kids to spend unstructured play time outdoors. “Time spent in free play outdoors is a golden time when children are fully engaged – mind, body, and spirit. What might look like nothing … well, it really is something”  The book offers a nice blend of simple and more involved projects and has a good emphasis on simple science activities.

Further Resources:

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Family Gardening Activities (

Guide to Nature Activities for Kids and Families (Richard Louv)

Make Way for Play (

Be Out There and Ideas for Outdoor Activities (National Wildlife Federation)

Developing Healthy Kids Through Outdoor Play (National Wildlife Federation)

How Your Child Benefits from Play (Babycenter)



Robot Picture Books

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Do you like robots? If you answered “Beeep……Affirmative,” then this list of books is for you. As always, picture books are for all ages, but these titles are aimed at kids ages 4 to 9. Enjoy! -Jenny F.

robot pic books
Rosie & Rex: A Nose for Fun! By Bob Boyle
Best Friends Rosie and Rex discover that robots are fun! Ages 4 to 8.

cosmoCosmo and the Robot by Brian Pinkney
Cosmo lives on Mars and has a robot named Rex. One Cosmo’s parents give him a new Solar System Utility Belt and the adventures begin! Ages 4 to 8.

Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell
Rabbit is excited that his friend Robot is coming over for a sleepover, but Robot doesn’t stick to Rabbit’s list of things to do. An early reader for ages 5 to 9.

Robot Zombie Frankenstein by Annette Simon
Two robots try to one up each other and the competition reaches extremes of silliness. Ages 4 to 8.

Robot Burp Head Smartypants! By Annette Simon
Two robot friends continue competing and reach new heights of silliness-while burping! Ages 4 to 8.robot burp

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
A boy and a robot become good friends.

Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino
Robot Doug is plugged in everyday in order to learn as many facts as possible, but one day something catches his eye and he decides to unplug and go outside.

Clink by Kelly DiPucchio
Clink is an old fashioned robot who can only make toast and music. Newer, more powerful robots are purchased every day, but will anyone ever buy Clink?

awesomeWelcome to Your Awesome Robot by Viviane Schwartz
A child and his mother make a robot from a cardboard box. This is both a story and a great craft project.

Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey
Ricky is bullied by school mates until he makes friends with a very special robot. Together they save the city from the evil Dr. Stinky. This is an early chapter book.

Robot Crafts:

Easy Recycled Robot
Shape Recognition Robot 

Claim Your Summer Reading Prizes at Cedar Mill Library!

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SRPImportantdates_BorderMonday, July 14 is the first day you can claim prizes for achieving your reading goals in our “Fizz Boom Read!”  and “Spark a Reactionsummer reading programs.

We have a variety of great prize books to choose from (titles like Bad Kitty, Big Nate and Magic Treehouse for kids and The Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars, and Minecraft for Dummies for teens)! We’re also awarding coupons for summer fun activities and a discount coupon to Oaks Amusement Park. The last day to claim your prizes is August 31.


A big congratulations to all who’ve finished! And if you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late- August 1 is the deadline for registration. See you at the library!

Summer of Science: Dreamers Change the World

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A curious young Jane Goodall climbed into her family’s chicken coop and patiently waited for an egg to hatch.  Young Roger Tory Peterson drew birds when he was supposed to be doing schoolwork. As a boy Albert Einstein imagined riding on a beam of light. Leonardo Fibonacci was called “Blockhead” by his peers.  His daydreaming allowed him to see patterns in numbers that no one else saw.

What do all of these young dreamers have in common? Their curiosity and passion led them to make  revolutionary discoveries in their fields!  Summer is the perfect time for daydreaming. Encourage kids to follow their interests- You never know where it might lead! -Jenny F.

PicMonkey Collage dreamers
Blockhead by Joseph D’Agnese
Young Leonardo Fibonacci loves daydreaming about numbers and is known as “Blockhead” in the city of Pisa. None of his peers would have guessed that his daydreaming would lead to the discovery of what we know today as the “Fibonacci Sequence.” Ages 7 and up.

A Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne
This short and sweet introduction to the life of Albert Einstein emphasizes his imagination-“He looked and wondered. Looked and wondered.” He thought about numbers, he thought about very, very small things and very and very big things-he was a dreamer! Ages 6 to 9.

The Watcher by Jeanette Winter
Young Jane Goodall was a watcher of animals and plants around her and grew up to make groundbreaking discoveries watching the chimpanzees of  Gombe National Park in Africa. Ages 4 to 8.

The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth by Kathleen Krull
As a young boy living on a farm in Utah Philo was fascinated by machines of any kind-trains, the hand-cranked telephone, the phonograph, cameras, alarm clocks and most of all the new invention called electricity! As he grew up he had the idea of catpturing light in a bottle and that led to the invention of TV.

Starry Messenger by Peter Sis
Describes the life and work of Galileo who changed the way people saw the galaxy, by offering objective evidence that the earth was not the fixed center of the universe. Ages 7 and up.

For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson by Peggy Thomas
Roger Tory Peterson loved observing and drawing birds. He grew up to be an artist, activist, environmentalist and creator of Peterson Field Guides.  Ages 8 to adult.

Leonardo Beautiful Dreamer by Robert Byrd
This picture book illustrates the life of Leonardo da Vinci, whose imagination and curiosity led him to paint such works as the Mona Lisa, and to study a vast range of subjects including human anatomy and flight. Ages 7 to 10.

A Man for All Seasons: The Life of George Washington Carver by Stephen Krensky
Profiles the African American scientist George Washington Carver, who not only put the peanut on the map, but was also one of the first advocates of recycling. Ages 7 to 10.

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman
Paul spent his days counting, calculating and thinking about numbers. He could tie his shoes or butter his toast, but he could calculate how many seconds a person had been alive! Ages 4 to 8.

Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe
The world’s first geneticist lived a contemplative life of a friar. He discovered how plants, animals and people pass down traits through the generations by studying peas. Ages 5 to 9.

A Wizard from the Start: The Incredible Boyhood & Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison by Don Brown
From his humble boyhood as a farmer’s son, selling newspapers on trains, reading through public libraries shelf by shelf, and dreaming of new inventions, Thomas Edison went on to create the light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera. Ages 4 to 8.