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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why a gnome? The theme is "Digging into Reading!"

Well, there are many reasons for a gnome! Gnomes are described as tiny old men who live under ground and guard treasure. Also, the Garden Gnome was first created in the mid 1800's. (We all dig in the garden, right?) It is thought to bring good luck to those who place one in their garden or home! So on to our Gnome Party!

The kids and adults had a great time at the party! We became gnomes of our own creation.

We had to make homes for the gnomes to live in. Of course each gnome house needed to be individualized! 

And some of the gnomes did not want to leave the garden so we had a gnome throwing contest.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013


For those of you who did not watch the live broadcast on Discovery Channel (Skywire), Nik Wallenda was the first man to cross the Grand Canyon on a tight rope Sunday evening. My boys were so over the moon (or over the Grand Canyon ha ha) ecstatic to watch this ultimate feat of daredevilry. I am not sure if daredevilry is a real word, but you get the point.

Now I was not all that eager to watch this. First of all heights make me somewhat nauseous (especially those from which falling will cause certain, brain-splattering death). Most importantly, though, this event was being filmed live and Wallenda was not employing any safety net, harness, or whatever else would prevent brain-splattering death. There was a ten second delay, but that would not prevent my children from seeing him fall to certain brain-splattering death. It really did not make me feel any better when before he actually stepped on the rope they showed video footage of Wallenda's great grandfather falling to his death from a tight rope in Puerto Rico.

I did cave, though, and let the boys watch. Of course I had them both sign a contract stating that they would never, ever, ever, under threat of permanent incarceration in their bedroom, attempt to walk a tightrope. This contract also forbid them from walking along the deck rail, the top of the swing set, or any other narrow beam that is more than two feet off of the ground (I have to cover all of the bases with my boys).

Obviously, Nik Wallenda did not plummet 1500 feet into the Colorado River, and now my boys think that he is the most awesomest man to ever live (my six year old's exact words). Personally, I think that he is insane, but I am not a seventh generation tightrope performer like Wallenda. Interesting to note that there was even a made for tv movie titled The Great Wallendas starring Lloyd Bridges and Cathy Rigby.

You are probably starting to wonder what any of this has to do with books or the library in general.  Well, the whole Wallenda traipsing above the Grand Canyon event brought to mind one of the most visually stunning books to ever win the Caldecott Medal. Even if you are like me and get dizzy when someone pushes you too high on a swing, you will be blown away by Mordicai Gerstein's The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. 

The book is a recount of when French aerialist, Phillipe Petit, walked a tightrope between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. This harrowing feat occurred on August 7, 1974 and if you would like to learn more about it you can watch a portion of a PBS documentary here: Phillippe Petit and the Twin Towers

The text of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers is actually quite sparse, but lyrical, and the story reads more like a poem. The poetic feel coincides perfectly with Gerstein's breathtaking ink and oil illustrations.

 Two of the pages unfold to offer  panoramic views. One is of Petit from the perspective of a bird flying above him and the second is from the perspective of a city bystander far below.

Yea, I find Gerstein's illustrations to be much less terrifying!

On the final pages, Gerstein imparts the devastating reality that the twin towers are now gone. The text simply reads "Now the towers are gone" and the picture shows the New York skyline with the towers missing. On the final page of the book Gerstein shows the same skyline with the shadows of the twin towers superimposed and explains how their memory will live on. It is a beautiful and sober ending to the book. Since it does not say why the towers are gone, Gerstein's book can also provide an excellent introduction to a discussion concerning the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001.  

Whether you are a child or an adult I hope that you will check out this profound and heart-stirring book.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Family Fun on the Farm

If you attended the Family Fun on the Farm event this past Saturday you may have seen Sierra and I at the Ionia County Library Association (ICLA) youth tables. There was a massive turnout for the event and it was amazing to see so many familiar faces from Portland.

The youth librarians from Saranac, Lake Odessa, Ionia, Clarksville, Lyons, and, of course, Portland helped kids make a paper bag farm and handed out flyers advertising the Summer Reading Programs at our respective libraries.

 All of the kids seemed to be having a lot of fun and they all looked so darn cute in the hats donated by Farm Bureau.

There was some light rain in the afternoon, but that did not seem keep anyone from enjoying the day.

Our tables were hopping all day so I did not get to see everything else going on (Sierra was pretty disappointed that she did not get to milk a cow). However, we did manage to snag some free ice cream.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

LEGO Program

Our LEGO Program is for people of all ages who love to build with LEGOS!     Our next event will be on Monday, July 8th at 6:30pm. The theme is "Bugs, Bugs, Bugs". I cannot wait to see what  we come up with.

We held our first LEGO Program on Monday, June 10 at 6:30. Our theme was "On the Move". We had lots of fun!

The kids who came took our theme one step further and built a western town with lots of wagons!                (I had to make a pink car because no program is complete without a pink car.)

The parents couldn't stop themselves from building either!
(Even Gollum and Bilbo Baggins made an appearance! )

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It's Time to Dig into Reading!

Let's be honest. How many of us have kids who have acted exactly like this? Oh, they may make it more than 15 minutes (maybe even a whole day), but then the wheedling starts in.
 "Mom, are we going to do anything today?"
 "Can we go somewhere?"
 "It's too hot to play outside."
 "What do you mean I can't watch TV for 8 hours a day all summer?"

Of course there are the myriad lessons, classes, camps, etc. available throughout the summer, but those can get expensive. In addition to the cost some sports, lessons, etc. require a huge time commitment.

If you haven't guessed what I am building up to, it is the fantastically fun and FREE summer reading program at the Portland District Library!  This year's theme is "Dig Into Reading" and we have been fervently preparing for what we hope will be a huge and enthusiastic turnout.

If you have been to the library in the past week you will have noticed that the story time room has been off limits. That is so we could transform it into an exciting Dig Into Reading play center complete with cave walls, dinosaurs, creepy crawly bugs, and even an unexplored tomb.
IMG_20130602_241438_240.jpgAs you can see from these pictures children's librarians are truly dedicated (or maybe just a bit crazy). Since we only had white butcher paper Wendy and I laid out huge sheets in my driveway and stained them with coffee to resemble cave walls. I also made a giant T-rex head from foam board, fruit cups, hot glue, tissue paper, and a gallon of modge podge.

The fun will begin tonight at our "Dig Into Reading" kickoff party from 5-8pm. Kids can check out (ha ha--library pun) all of the cool stuff in the story time room, play games, and make out their summer bucket lists while their parents sign them up for the Summer Reading Club.

If your children have participated in summer reading before a few things have been restructured. We will still have the Summer Reading Club which is the take home portion. Depending on their reading level kids will receive either a picture book/easy reader log or a chapter book one. With the picture book/easy reader log kids cover a shovel for each book they read or have read to them. When they have ten colored they bring their log to the children's area and the librarian will let them choose a prize. The kids that are reading chapter books need to read two books each week to earn a prize.

In addition to the Summer Reading Club we will have a special Dig Into Reading program beginning at 2PM on the next six Tuesdays. These programs require no sign up and will be appropriate for all ages.  The first program on Tuesday, June 18th will be a special presentation by Woldumar Nature Center. Be sure to pick up a library calendar or check the website to see what else we have planned.

Now summer reading only lasts for six weeks, but the library will have activities throughout the summer. Every Monday will be movie day beginning with our Toddler Drive-In at 10am. This is just for those wee ones that cannot sit through a whole movie. Kids from one to five will sit in their own little car, have a non-choking hazard snack, and watch popular preschool cartoons like Dora the Explorer, Chuggington, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. At 1PM on Mondays we will show a full length movie for older kids and provide free popcorn.

I am also incredibly excited about the Young Author's Club. This will be the third summer that we have offered a weekly writing club for burgeoning young authors and the kids that come always seem to have a blast. If you have a child that enjoys writing or maybe just wants to become a better writer make sure to bring them to the library on Thursdays from 4-5PM. No sign up is required and kids do not need to bring anything except their imaginations. We will have lots of different writing activities, play games, and I promise to bring snacks each week.

When looking for something fun to do with your kids this summer don't forget the Portland District Library. We have books, movies, music, programs, and so much more to offer and if you are on a budget or just saving up for that vacation you cannot beat FREE!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Busy Days

It has been quite a while since I have posted and I am sure everyone has noticed the absence of  my eloquent and witty prose. Just kidding, usually when I post I just shoot for semi-coherent and then add lots of fun links and pictures.

Well, just in case your are curious, the reason I have not posted recently is that May and June  are insanely busy months for the children's area. Since the library is within walking distance of the elementary school, we are a popular destination for a fun and FREE field trip once the weather turns nice. This year we have over 20 tours scheduled for DK through 4th grade classes. After the official "tour" (which can be quite brief with some of the younger grades) we read a story and have an easy craft for the kids to make. The teachers then give the kids time to explore and play in the children's area.

 These pictures are of a kindergarten class discovering that our library is not just about sitting quietly with a book (but that is wonderful and important). It is also a place to play, pretend, and create your own stories.

Even though repeating my spiel can get a little tedious after the fourth or tenth time, I love that so many classes come to the library at the end of the year. It is a great opportunity to promote our summer reading program and get kids excited about coming to the library (because the library ROCKS and is more fun than Cedar Point!!!). Okay, maybe that last part is not true for everyone, even though it is for me because I get motion sickness in a rocking chair.