Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's time for the 2014 Watertown Children's Book Awards!

Which new books touched your heart this year?

2014 is almost through, and we're taking a look back at some of the best books that entered our lives this year. We're doing more than just reminiscing, we're rewarding!  We're beginning the search to honor our absolute favorite books of 2014 with the Watertown Free Public Library Children's Book Award!

We've got a pretty great list of our own ideas, but more importantly, we want to know what you think!

What were your favorite children's books published this year?  Let us know in person in the Children's Room, or comment on this blog post to share what you think!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Get through holiday travel with great free apps

Chances are, this won't last the whole trip.

Traveling for the holidays and terrified about how you'll get through the car ride or flight? Of course, books and audiobooks are excellent choices to pass those long hours. But we also get lots of questions about apps for iPads and various electronic entertainment devices. There are tons of high quality apps out there that do more for their kids than merely occupy their time.

We research great apps through review journals, online reviews, and recommendations from other librarians and educators. We make many wonderful apps available on our circulating devices, and we give families a chance for hands-on exploration at our Digital Story Time programs. Most of the apps on our devices do cost money, but you have an opportunity during our programs to try them before you buy them.

Looking for something to download with no commitment? Here are some wonderful apps that are FREE to download!

PBS Kids Video by PBS Kids – Ages 5 and under

Toontastic Jr. Pirates Puppet Theater – Ages 5 and under

Felt Board – Mother Goose on the Loose by Software Smoothie – Ages 5 and under

Colors That Luli Loves by Michael Kariv – Ages 18mo-5 years

Jackie Junko by Springy Thingy – Ages 3-7

How Far is UP by E Sargeant – Ages 4-6

Chewing Gum Adventures by Happy Ink Publishing – Ages 4-7

Shout Science by Scott Dubois – Ages 7-11

Bill Nye the Science Guy by Disney – Ages 7-10

And as always, feel free to come on in and ask us for even more ideas.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Learn Basic Bike Maintenance at the Library!

Do you know how to grease the wheels of your bicycle? Do you know how much tire pressure your wheels should have? What do you do if you get a flat tire?

Learn how to tackle these common problems and more at our Bicycle Repair program THIS Wednesday, November 12, at 3:30pm. Families with children in grades 2 and up are invited to bring their bikes and try their hand at basic bike maintenance. We'll have a wonderful teacher from Landry's Bicycle to give you all sorts of tips and tricks to keep your bike running smoothly.

This program does require registration, but there's still space so stop in or call us at 617-972-6435 to sign up. If you want to bring your own bicycle and have a way to get it here, please do! (You are still welcome to attend if you can't bring your bike.)

Don't miss this chance to tune up your bike now so it's ready to ride when springtime comes!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014 National Book Award Finalists Announced

The National Book Foundation has just announced the finalists for the 2014 National Book Awards! There are five finalists in the Young People's Literature category, which is made up of books for elementary up through teen readers.  Check one out today!

Threatened, by Eliot Schrefer
Best for middle school readers and up

Into the jungle. Into the wild. Into harm's way. When he was a boy, Luc's mother would warn him about the "mock men" living in the trees by their home -- chimpanzees whose cries would fill the night. Luc is older now, his mother gone. He lives in a house of mistreated orphans, barely getting by. Then a man calling himself Prof comes to town with a mysterious mission. When Luc tries to rob him, the man isn't mad. Instead, he offers Luc a job. Together, Luc and Prof head into the rough, dangerous jungle in order to study the elusive chimpanzees. There, Luc finally finds a new family -- and must act when that family comes under attack.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, by Steve Sheinkin
Best for middle school readers and up

On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution. This is a fascinating story of the prejudice that faced black men and women in America's armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights.

Best for high school readers and up

Listen—Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t. Now he’s alive again. Simple as that. The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but Travis can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still sixteen, but everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too. Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, there are going to be a few more scars. Oh well, you only live twice.

Revolution, by Deborah Wiles
Best for upper-elementary grade readers and up.

It's 1964, and Sunny's town is being invaded. Or at least that's what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They're calling it Freedom Summer. Meanwhile, Sunny can't help but feel like her house is being invaded, too. She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe. And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool -- where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.

Best for upper-elementary grade readers and up.

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Have you already read any of these books? What did you think? Which one would you choose for this year's National Book Award?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Unlock More Free E-Books with OverDrive Advantage

Did you know that, if you're a Watertown patron, you have access to extra e-books and e-audiobooks?

You may already know about our OverDrive service, through which you can download e-books and e-audiobooks directly to your devices for free. Tons of different items are available to everyone with a Minuteman library card through our Digital Media Catalog. And while our physical library closes each night, our digital media is always available to you, 24 hours a day.

OverDrive Advantage makes this service even better. Just like our regular books, when an OverDrive item is checked out to another patron, it is not available to anyone else until it is returned. Through OverDrive Advantage, the Watertown Free Public Library purchases additional copies of super popular items that are only available to Watertown patrons.

How do you access these special, Watertown-only items? Sign in with your library card! When you open our Digital Media Catalog, click the "Sign In" link at the top right of the page. Enter your library card number and PIN. The catalog will automatically know from your card number that you are a Watertown patron, and will make additional titles available to you!

Once you're logged in as a Watertown patron, you'll see that some titles have a special icon indicating that extra copies are now available to you because of OverDrive Advantage!

These titles will work just like all the other e-books and e-audiobooks in our collection. You just get more available!

And remember, if you ever have any questions about using OverDrive or any of our other digital products, don't hesitate to ask us! You can call or stop in anytime, you can book an appointment for more in-depth help, or you can find more information on our website.

Happy e-reading!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What is HATCH?

Here at the Watertown Free Public Library, we've got big news! We are very close to opening HATCH,  Watertown's very first Makerspace! It'll be a space in the Arsenal Project (formerly the Arsenal Mall) where residents of Watertown can utilize all sorts of free tools for countless creative endeavors, including 3D printing, electronics, and art.

But what, you ask, does this mean for children?

Introducing HATCH: CR Edition (short for Children's Room Edition)!  On a couple of Thursday afternoons this month, we'll provide a space for kids to explore a variety of tools and materials in an independent manner. This program will remind many of you of our Science Is Everywhere program, and it's definitely helping kids develop their STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and math). The big difference is that each project will be much more self-guided, and kids will decide for themselves how they'd like to utilize the materials we provide.

This month's HATCH: CR Edition programs will be for children in grades 2-5, and you won't need to register.  Join us on:

Want to find out more about HATCH in general, and the awesome makerspace we're creating at the Arsenal Project? Stop in and ask or check out our website to learn about what tools will be available, as well as opportunities to teach or volunteer!

We hope to see you tomorrow and on September 18!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Awesome Job Summer Readers!

On Wednesday, August 20, we held our Summer Reading Wrap-Up Party! We started the afternoon with an awesome hula hoop performance with Boston Hoop Troop. Then we had a party, complete with cake, taking home reading logs, banner-making, and prizes.

Also that afternoon, we found out the total number of hours that we all read together this summer.

Congratulations! We did it! We read a total of 3,378 hours, putting us well above our 3,000 hour goal!  And you know what that means...

We were able to donate a goat to Heifer International! Throughout the course of the summer, you read enough to donate a flock of geese, honeybees, rabbits and, of course, a goat! You made a big difference in the world and helped families all over the globe.

So Summer Reading is finished for now, but you can definitely keep reading! We'll keep the Summer Reading books available until school starts, so you've still got time to check out some of the great books on the grade-level lists. And if you haven't taken it home yet, you can stop in anytime during our open hours to pick up your reading log. If you bring it to school with you at one of the Watertown elementary schools, you'll get to participate in a special event for summer readers.

Congratulations to all of you Summer Readers!