Reaching and Reading

Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award

The Firefly Award winner has been announced! Every year in the state of Indiana, five books are nominated by a committee made up of Indiana caregivers, librarians, project coordinators, and other professionals. These books are chosen for their ability to encourage parents and children to use the Every Child Ready to Read practices of talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing together. These five books are then voted on by children ages 0-5 years old. This year, over 5,000 children voted on the five nominated books collected at public libraries and daycares across the state.

And the winner is:

The other nominees include:

     

      

Click on each book to reserve your copy today! Happy Reading!

 

Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?

Kids of all ages (and adults) are fascinated with dinosaurs! That’s why I was so excited to see a new book of children’s poetry by David Elliott. In the Past is a large format picture book with a short dinosaur poem on each double-page spread; it’s perfect for sharing in one sitting or for reading in small bits.

In the Past by David Elliott

This latest book by Elliott only takes a slight turn from his previous books of poetry featuring animals in different habitats. Those of you who have attended our children’s programs in the past know that I love to share poems. It’s more than just a personal preference; there is firm research that shows poetry is a great way for kids to develop early literacy skills. Poems provide great examples of rhyme, rhythm and figurative language and also encourage us to look at the world around us in creative ways.

In the Sea by David Elliott    In the Wild by David Elliott

Pick up a David Elliott book to share with your family this April for National Poetry Month. For older readers, you might want to try Elliott’s book Bull, a novel written in verse that explores the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. You can find Bull in the teen area at the Aurora Public Library or on OverDrive.

On the Farm by David Elliott   Bull by David Elliott

Young People’s Poet Laureate

What is a Poet Laureate? Did you know we have 2 in the United States? Poet Laureates are designated by nations or groups and are frequently expected to compose poems for special occasions. The Librarian of the United States Congress designates a poet annually to work toward increasing our nation’s appreciation of poetry. This position is currently filled by Tracy K. Smith.

The Poetry Foundation, since 2006, has selected a Young People’s (or Children’s) Poet Laureate for two-year terms. The chosen poet works on a variety of projects to help instill a lifelong love of poetry among the nation’s developing readers.

Margarita Engle has held this position since 2017. Previously this position was filled by Jack Prelutsky, Mary Ann Hoberman, J.Patrick Lewis, Kenn Nesbitt, and Jacqueline Woodson.

I love this excerpt from her poem “Tula”, found in the book The Lightning Dreamer.

Books are door-shaped 

portals

carrying me

across oceans

and centuries,

helping me feel

less alone.

Engle may be best known for her novels in verse, especially those focusing on different aspects of Cuban history. If that doesn’t grab your attention, I will tell you that you need to give these books a try! Engle has a true gift for highlighting episodes in history that are not well-known.

The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle   The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle

The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle   The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle

We also have some books for younger kids that feature poems by Engle.

Orangutanka by Margarita Engle  Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle

Bravo: Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle

I am very excited about Bravo: Poems About Amazing Hispanics, our newest addition by Engle. This book is located in our juvenile biography area and is perfect for families and classrooms!

Diversity is a huge focus in children’s literature and there was so much in this book that was new to me!

You can read more of Engle’s poetry on the Poetry Foundation’s web page.

Indiana Author April Pulley Sayre

South Bend resident April Pulley Sayre has turned a lifetime fascination with biology into an amazing career researching and writing non-fiction for children. Her latest release, Warbler Wave, is available at both Library locations and features Sayre’s stunning photographs of a variety of warblers. Did you know that warblers migrate thousands of miles each year? I didn’t know that – until I read Warbler Wave! Sayre also shows off her photographic skill in Best in Snow and Full of Fall, as well as 3 food based books photographed at her local farmer’s market.

Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre   Go, Go, Grapes by April Pulley Sayre

Rah, Rah, Radishes by April Pulley Sayre   Let's Go Nuts by April Pulley Sayre

Sayre is also well-known for her other “Chant” books: Trout, Trout, Trout, Bird, Bird, Bird, and Ant, Ant, Ant.

Trout, Trout, Trout by April Pulley Sayre   Bird, Bird, Bird by April Pulley Sayre

Books by Sayre have been illustrated by some amazing illustrators, including the award-winning Steve Jenkins who uses cut paper collage. I have been a huge fan of Steve Jenkins books for many years and I love the work he did in Eat like a Bear , Woodpecker, Wham!, and Vulture View.

Eat Like a Bear by April Pulley Sayre   Woodpecker Wham! by April Pulley Sayre

If your family is interested in learning more about animals or in studying how we relate to the world around us, you should definitely check out the Library’s books by April Pulley Sayre!

Splish, Splash, Animal Baths by April Pulley Sayre   Meet the Howlers by April Pulley Sayre

Here Come the Humpbacks by April Pulley Sayre   Dig Wait Listen: a Desert Toad's Tale by April Pulley Sayre

Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre   Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! by April Pulley Sayre

 

 

Learn with Jack and Annie!

For over 20 years, elementary kids have loved the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. In each of these short chapter books, Jack and Annie travel to a different location or time period. These books are very popular with kids who have only recently started reading chapter books.

If you are just introducing your child to this series, you may want to begin at the beginning (Dinosaurs Before Dark), because the books do get progressively harder in length and vocabulary.

Did you know that there is a companion series of non-fiction books written especially to supplement the Magic Tree House books? Kids love learning more about the people, places and animals from the stories. Here are just of few of the Magic Tree House books shown side-by-side with their non-fiction companion books.

Sunset of the Sabertooth by Mary Pope Osborne  Sabertooths and the Ice Age by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce

Dolphins at Daybreak by Mary Pope Osborne   Dolphins and Sharks by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce

Day of the Dragon King by Mary Pope Osborne   China: Land of the Emperor's Great Wall by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce

Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne   Mummies and Pyramids by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne

The non-fiction books present information in a reader-friendly way and often also list online resources for additional information. You may want to read the non-fiction books with your child since they are typically at a slightly higher reading level. Of course, kids usually mange to read the books they are really interested in!

We have most of the Magic Tree House fiction and non-fiction books, but if you can’t find one you need, just ask. Many of the books are also available to download through the Indiana Digital Download Center. The series is still continuing, so keep checking for new additions on our shelves!

There is also a great Magic Tree House web page, complete with book information and games. Parents and teachers should check out specials links for them in the upper right-hand corner of the web page.

Black History Month through Picture Books

Are you unsure how to introduce your young children to African American History? You might want to start with a few of these picture books They tackle difficult subjects in a way that is very appropriate for children. Read the books together and follow your child’s lead in how much additional information to share.

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford

 

 

Freedom in Congo Square amazed me when I first read it! I had never heard about the special Sunday privileges enjoyed by the slaves of New Orleans and how Congo Square became a mixing place for many African cultures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next two titles are set during the Civil War era. Hold the Flag High relates the story of Sgt. William Carney, the first African American to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. All Different Now tells of June 19, 1865 when the news of the Emancipation finally reached slaves in Galveston, Texas.

Hold the Flag High by Catherine Clinton   All Different Now by Angela Johnson

It’s always fun to learn history by reading about the people who left their mark on our culture. Bessie Coleman was the first woman of African-American descent, and the first of Native American descent, to hold a pilot license. Major Taylor was a world champion cyclist from Indiana; there is an open-air velodrome named for Taylor in Indianapolis. Langston Hughes, of course, was a widely-acclaimed poet and playwright.

Nobody Owns the Sky by Reeve Lindbergh  Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Visiting Langston by Willie Perdomo

The next four books document the struggles of African Americans to gain their rights. These are the stories of our country, and all people need to learn about not only our past, but also about our current struggles for equality.

Papa's Mark by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert  Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds

Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney  A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson

The book covers shown above are just a few of our picture books about the rich history of African Americans. If you are interested in a specific topic or event, please let me know. We also have great juvenile biographies of black musicians, artists, scientists and more! For older kids, I’d be happy to recommend other fiction and non-fiction books, including Heart and Soul: the Story of America and African Americans and We are the Ship: the Story of Negro League Baseball, both written and illustrated by the amazing Kadir Nelson.

 

Every Child Ready to Read

Have you ever wondered what you can be doing now to prepare your toddler to succeed in school? Parents want their children to go off to school with the skills they need to do well in a classroom. Although most children do not begin reading until they are school-age, children who show up at school with preliteracy skills already in place will usually be more successful and will come to view school as an enjoyable experience. The good news is that parents and other primary caregivers can engage in a few simple activities to ensure that every child is “Ready to Read.”

Conversations help a child express thoughts, learn what words mean, and gain new information about the world. Listen to what your child says, answer questions, add new information, and listen some more! It is the give-and-take of conversation that helps kids make sense of the words they hear. Talk in the car, during meal times, during a bath, at the store, and everywhere.

Singing helps kids hear the distinct sounds that words make. Songs teach new vocabulary and moving to music helps develop motor skills. You don’t have to be a good singer – just be enthusiastic! Creating simple musical instruments from things in your home makes it even more fun.

Read with your child every day! Create a special place for shared reading and favorite books. After you read together, show your child that reading is important for letting them see you read.

 

 

 

 

Children learn to express themselves by playing. You don’t need expensive toys; in fact simpler is better! Provide old clothes for playing dress-up, use old boxes or food containers as blocks or drape a sheet over two chairs to create a puppet stage for sock puppets. Encourage creativity by asking your child to make up stories by imagining to be someone else. Play comes naturally to young children and is one of the primary ways they learn.

Writing activities help children understand that written words represent ideas, things and events. Set up a writing space with paper, crayons and pencils. Show examples of your writing in thank-you notes, recipes, or notes. Writing takes strong hand muscles, and playing with clay or play-doh is a fun way to strengthen little hands.

 

 

 

Try to work these five activities into the normal flow of interacting with your child and they will begin school “Ready to Read”. For more information, stop by the Aurora Public Library to talk to me – I’d be happy to help get you started on these important practices. I also use these concepts in our weekly Storytimes, so that’s a great time to stop in!

Reading Without Walls

Gene Yang has served for the past two years as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. As part of his work in promoting teen and children’s books, he began to speak about the benefits of reading outside the box.

In other words, he has encouraged readers everywhere to explore books about characters who look or live differently than themselves, to read about new topics, and to read in new formats. This national program invites us to celebrate both the diversity within our society and the diversity of reading possibilities.

So what can you do? Why not begin by making this a family-wide challenge? Part of the fun of reading comes from sharing the books with family members or friends. Encourage each other to do one of these things to “Read Without Walls”.

1. Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.

2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.

3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun ­ — a chapter book, a graphic novel, a book in verse, or an audio book.

Not sure where to start? Here are some children’s books that would fit one of the categories for me.

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai   Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Tutankhamun and Other Lost Tombs by John Malam   Wild Rock: Climbing and Mountaineering by Neil Champion

For a different format book, I might choose a graphic novel like one of these.

Around the World by Matt Phelan  Newsprints by Ru Xu

Make 2018 a year for “Reading without Walls” and have fun sharing your reading selections with others. If you need help finding books to fit the categories, just ask at the desk; we love to give suggestions! You can also find more about the reading challenge (including book suggestions) on this web page.

 

 

Meet Illustrator Ed Young

Illustrator of more than 80 books for children, Ed Young is best known for his picture books based on folktales, and he takes inspiration for his work from the philosophy of Chinese painting where both words and artwork are essential elements.  Ed Young has twice been the U.S. nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award and received the Caldecott Medal for Lon Po Po, a Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood.

Lon Po Po by Ed Young

In Seven Fathers, Young illustrates a traditional Norwegian folktale. The Emperor and the Kite is a Chinese folktale, retold by Jane Yolen, and Seven Blind Mice is a retelling of the folktale “The Blind Men and the Elephant” which appears in many Asian cultures.

Seven Fathers retold by Ashley Ramsden   The Emperor and the Kite by Jane Yolen

Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young

Notice all the shiny medals on the book covers? For a list of Ed Young’s book awards, you can visit his web page. His books use a variety of art styles, but frequently include collage and cut paper.

Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein  Tsunami by Kimiko Kajikawa

Hook by Ed Young   Moon Bear by Brenda Guiberson

Beyond the Great Mountains by Ed Young  Mighty Moby by Ed Young

Mighty Moby is Young’s latest book and features an adorable surprise ending!

For anyone with an interest in art, folktales or Asian culture, these books are fascinating to explore.

 

 

Pourquoi? Why?

Young children never stop asking, “Why?” For thousands of years, people in different cultures have also asked this. Why does the giraffe have a long neck? Why does the sun seem to move across the sky? Why are there lights in the northern sky? Stories were created to explain things in nature that could not be understood any other way. These stories offer us insight into the customs and resources that were important to cultures all over the world.

You can find these stories in collections of legends, in creation myths, and in many picture books. These are often called “Pourquoi” stories from the French word for “why.” Reading these tales is a wonderful way to take your family on a reading trip around the world. They are also a great jumping off point for informational books that tell the actual science behind these things.

We have a terrific collection of Pourquoi tales collected and retold by Margaret Mayo. With stories from Australia, Africa, Iceland, Central America and other places, When the World Was Young is a great sampler of the genre. Each story is 4-5 pages long with only a few pictures, so it works well for kids who have a decent attention span. I love the author’s note in the back that tells about the source of each story.

When the World was Young by Margaret Mayo

Many of our other Pourquoi books are in a picture book format and are great to share with even very young kids.  Here are a few of my favorites.

The Blizzard's Robe by Robert Sabuda  Why the Sky is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale by Mary-Joan Gerson

Robert Sabuda has become world-renowned for his pop-up books, but the batik illustrations in The Blizzard’s Robe are stunning! Why the Sky is Far Away uses art in a Nigerian folk style to relate an important lesson about protecting our resources.

Tomie dePaola wrote three picture books telling the legends of wildflowers. These are all beautiful stories and can also be found in Tomie dePaola’s Big Book of Favorite Legends.

The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola  The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola  The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

Gerald McDermott wrote a series of picture-book trickster tales. They are fun to read, because different cultures have developed groups of tales portraying certain animals as tricky or sly. These two books also serve as pourquoi tales, telling the origin of the sun and explaining why the tortoise’s shell looks cracked.

 

You may be familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories. Kipling created these stories to tell to his daughter. Although they are not traditional folklore, they fit the mold of explaining the various characteristics of animals.

 

If you have ever wondered about strawberries or stars or chipmunks, we have a book for you!

 

If this type of folklore appeals to you, you can also look for pourquoi tales tucked into larger story collections such as Kwi-na the Eagle and Other Indian Tales and Cloud Weavers: Ancient Chinese Legends.

Read some of these books with your family and the next time your child asks “Why…”, challenge them to create a story explains the reason.