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.