Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Watertown Free Public Library Book Award

Award season is upon us! December brings many “Best of ____ 2011” lists and awards. Children’s books are no exception. In January, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) announces the Newbery and Caldecott awards. That committee is charged with the daunting task of determining the best books for children all over the country. While they do a fantastic job, we are a little more interested in what’s popular in our own community.

So speak up! Tell us what books you enjoyed reading in 2011, and a little bit about why you enjoyed it so much. We are looking for nominations in three categories: fiction, nonfiction, and picture books. Nominated books must be original pieces, and any artwork or illustrations must be original to the work. This means that most television or movie tie-in books are excluded. Nominations should be books that were published in 2011, which you can figure out by looking on the copyright page or on the library spine label. Questions? Just ask! Children’s Librarians love to talk about books – especially books that our patrons enjoyed reading!

We’ve already picked some of our favorites, but remember this is about YOU! Please join us on Monday January 23 to review the nominations and cast your vote!

Current Nominations include:

Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships by Catherine Thimmesh.

Category: Nonfiction; Nominated by: Denise

Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman

Category: Picture Book; Nominated by: Emily

I Spy With My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs

Category: Picture Book; Nominated by: Caitlin

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Easy Readers

Congratulations! It is a very exciting time when your child begins to read.

Excitement aside, it can also be a frustrating time, both for you as a parent and your son or daughter. Reading has many components: recognizing letters, decoding the words, and understanding the text. It takes years to gain reading fluency, but you have to start somewhere! The Children’s Department is ready to help!

Where to start? Go back to basics; we have alphabet books aplenty! Sharing an alphabet book is a great way to review the letters and the sounds they make. Alphabet books are located in the Picture Book section because the text of the story can be very difficult for a new reader. In addition to alphabet books, we have an entire collection with hundreds of Easy Reader books! Easy Readers are short books that introduce new vocabulary with simple and complex sentences. Because our Easy Reader collection is so large, and because every child learns to read at his own pace, we have color coded our collection to help you streamline the process. Green stickers mark the easiest books; yellow stickers mark more difficult books, and red stickers mark challenging books. This color coded system should help you and your child select books that will be a good fit. Is this a broad generalization? Yes, of course. If you have time, always open each book and asses it. You know your child and his skills better than any colored label will.

It’s important to make your children feel comfortable reading at home. They need to practice and they need to know that reading with a parent is natural and enjoyable. To help your child, re-read the same book multiple times. The first time he can read the whole book. Then you can alternate reading paragraphs or pages. Read the book out loud together to model appropriate pacing and intonation. When your child can read an entire book cover to cover well, celebrate that by having them Skype a far away relative.

Reading should be a fun activity for you and your child to share. Learning to read can be difficult, but you can always ask for tips or find support at the WFPL. Caitlin, Denise and Emily are happy to take your questions.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's the deal with Spanish Story Time?

Here at the Watertown Free Public Library, we support bilingualism and multilingualism by offering Spanish Story Time each month. For Spanish-speaking families, it's an opportunity for children to work on literacy skills in a fun environment, just like all of our story times. For English-speaking families, it's a chance to expose children to the sounds of the Spanish language at a young age.

When babies are still very young, their brains are designed with the ability to learn any language. Tons of brain cells are devoted specifically to learning language. As they age, however, the brain rededicates unused language-learning cells toward learning other things. If children don't hear a language spoken from a young age, they lose the ability to distinguish new sounds in unfamiliar languages. On the other hand, if children hear and interact with a language starting when they're very young, even if that interaction is only occasional, it will be much easier for them to learn that language when they're older.

Scientists who study languages and brain develop have discovered that bilingualism has tons of other benefits. A couple of examples have recently been written about in the New York Times.

The Bilingual Advantage - May 2011
Ellen Bialystok, a cognitive neuroscientist, has found that bilingual people can multitask more successfully and may have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Hearing Bilingual - October 2011
Perri Klass writes about recent studies into how the brains of monolingual and bilingual babies deal with language.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Getting the Most from the Puppet Theatre

One of the first things kids notice when they enter the play area is the puppet theatre. Castle, really. It serves as a cozy place to read and an adventurous place to play.

But did you know that it also helps your child develop his or her early literacy skills?

Understanding how a story works is an essential part of getting ready to read. Pre-readers need to know that a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and that things need to happen in order This ability is known as Narrative Skills and kids need to learn it before they can learn that sentences need to go in order, words need to go in order, and letters need to go in order to make sense.

The best ways for children to develop this skill are through hearing stories and telling stories. Our puppet theatre is a perfect tool to encourage your child to tell stories.

So what can you do to help your child learn even more? Ask your child to tell you a story with the puppets. Encourage him or her to add more details. Sequencing within the story matters - what happens first, second, and last? Ask lots of questions.

Your involvement will increase your child's enjoyment and learning!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Closings

The Watertown Free Public Library will close at 5:00 p.m. today and will be closed all day tomorrow in observance of Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Play is more than just play...

You probably already know about our play area here in the Children's Room. It's a wonderful place to hang out with other families, and the space provides a great opportunity for little ones to interact with each other.

But did you know that the activities in this area are about more than just entertainment? Each activity is also designed to help develop your child's early literacy skills!

Young children learn through play. Their education begins long before they enter school as they constantly gather skills and knowledge through every interaction with their family members, their friends, their toys, and their environment. Their brains are constantly making new connections as they look at things, touch objects, ask questions, and try things out.

When you spend time in our play area, remember that you can use this space to facilitate even more learning with your child. Identify shapes, colors, and the names of objects. Ask them questions. Get them to tell you stories. You'll be helping them learn the precursors to what they'll eventually expand upon in school. Playful interaction with you in a stimulating environment is the best way for your child to learn and grow!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mini-golf? In the Library!?

Yes! Mini-golf in the library! Friday, January 20 the library will be open after hours for a fundraiser. We're turning the library into an 18-hole mini-golf course. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children. More details to follow.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

You are your child's first teacher

Before your child goes to school or learns how to read, he or she needs all sorts of pre-reading skills. And who should teach these skills to your child? You!

Young children, beginning even before they're born, learn through interaction with you and the other loving adults in their lives. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

  • You can start reading to your baby as soon as they can hear (even in the womb!). Simply hearing written language being read aloud will make neurological connections in your child's brain.
  • Interaction while reading is more important than finishing a book or reading each word of a story. The best literacy skill a child can learn is that reading is fun!
  • Rhyming and singing with your baby will help him or her develop listening skills and language abilities. Rhymes and songs are great even before your baby can respond to you, and it's also an excellent way to bond!
Attending library story programs is also delightfully beneficial! Our programs are designed for specific age groups with developmentally appropriate activities. Stop in and pick up a calendar, call us at 617-972-6435, or check online to find out when we're having programs that are perfect for your child!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Museum of Science ROCKETS Program

As part of our town-wide One Book One Watertown program, a representative from the Museum of Science taught school-aged kids all about rockets! He explained how rockets work and gave the kids plenty of opportunities for hands-on exploration.

The kids got to try out their understanding of the concepts they learned using balloons and air to make rockets fly!

This was one of the final programs in this year's One Book One Watertown program, celebrating the book Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, Jr. There's still time to read the book everybody's talking about! Stop in and pick up a copy today!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall Story Times

School has started, and so has our newest season of Story Times! We're offering more Story Times than ever, and we've tailored them more specifically to certain ages. So take a look at what we've got for your child's age group!

Babies - We've got special programming for newborns and infants who are not yet walking.
Nursery Rhyme Time: Tuesday mornings at 9:30 a.m. Join us for nursery rhymes, stories, songs and fingerplays, perfect for your baby's early literacy development.

Toddlers - One and two-year-old's have their own special programs.
Toddler Story Time: Tuesday mornings at 10:15 a.m. This program is an abridged story time filled with stories, rhymes, singing and dancing. It's perfect for your wiggly little one.

Preschoolers - We have a variety of programs for kids ages 3-5.
Preschool Story Time: Friday mornings at 10:15 a.m. Stories, songs, and other activities that help your child get ready for reading and starting school.
Preschool Activity: Once a month we'll do a special activity with preschoolers, usually on a Friday morning instead of a regular Preschool Story Time.

Other Fun!
Arsenal Mall Story Times: The first Thursday of each month we hold Story Time in the mall! Join us at 11:30 a.m. in the food court for all your favorite Story Time activities in a new place!
Family Story Time: Once a month we'll do a special Story Time for children of all ages, focusing on early literacy skills. This will also be an excellent program for parents to pick up some tips and ideas to use at home.
Music Programs: Throughout each month we'll do a variety of music programs, usually for ages 5 and under.
Spanish Story Time: Bilingual stories, songs, rhymes and fun in both Spanish and English for children of all ages.

And that's not all! Check our online calendar, pick up a schedule, or give us a call at 617-972-6435 to find out what else is going on.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Guessing Jar Winner!

Congratulations to Elizabeth, our latest Guessing Jar winner! She guessed the correct number of Good and Fruity and won a Frisbee!

The guessing jar is done for the summer, but we're still waiting to hear back from our final winner. So check back soon to find out who guessed the closest number of red Smarties, a delicious European chocolate candy!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Congratulations Readers!

Yesterday we held our wrap-up party to celebrate an overwhelmingly successful summer. Following an amazing concert with Bates and Tincknell, we announced our final total of reading hours. Together, the 273 kid who signed up logged 2,066 hours! The kids shouted, clapped and literally danced with glee when they found out they had reached their final goal: donating a sheep to Heifer International!

Way to go Watertown Kids!