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November is Picture Book Month!

November is Picture Book month and around here we love celebrating any kind of book but picture books hold a special place in our hearts. For most children, picture books are an introduction to the world of reading and the love of books. The tradition of parents reading to their children each day is one that has endured for a long time. There is no reason to believe that this tradition won’t continue to be a big part of the day for families all around the world. Picture books not only provide an introduction to the sounds of letters and words but they also provide great visual experiences for young children and develops their sense of wonder for the world. Picture books aren’t just for very young children either. Today there are picture books written for audiences all the way up to high school. And for parents who are reading to their children every day, (let’s face it, it is sometimes a tedious task) there are plenty of picture books that provide a twist or a turn to keep the adult readers entertained.

One thing we like to point out here is that reading picture books to your children doesn’t have to end when your child learns to read on their own. As a matter of fact, continuing to read picture books to your independently reading child reinforces engagement with story, continues to introduce new words and concepts to your child and keeps boredom from reading the very simple “I can read” books over and over from setting in. Plus, reading with your children is a fine way to spend time together. Read more »

Picture books are not just for preschoolers


A first glance at the picture above will reveal itself to most viewers to be a waterfall. And what a waterfall it is. This stunning work of art is a collage, made of torn strips and bits of paper and arranged just so. It is just one of the many collages that make up the illustrations for the book Parrots over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth. The Library recently purchased this book for the 2014 Summer Reading Program. It is the story of the parrots, the millions that once inhabited the island and the twenty-four that existed by the mid -1960s, and the exhaustive effort by scientists to bring the birds back from near extinction. It is also the story of Puerto Rico - the early inhabitants who lived on the island thousands of years ago, the first contact with Europeans, and the beginnings of the slave trade and the island's eventual connection to the United States. All of the historical events figure into the story of the near demise of the parrots and the author and illustrator portray the events in a way that will engage young people with the story. This is not a picture book for preschoolers, although they will certainly enjoy and benefit from looking at the illustrations. No, this is a picture book to engage all the senses and education thus far gleaned in elementary school aged children and any adults who read the story with them or stumble onto it when their child brings it home. Read more »

National Book Awards

Award season is upon us. I am not talking about the Academy Awards; I am talking about awards much more important than those. November is National Book Awards season and the five finalists for each of the four categories of writing that receive an award have been announced. When you live in a book world, the National Book Awards are kind of a big deal. But like everything in life, and I mean everything, there is oh so much politics involved in the granting of these awards. They were originally started by the American Booksellers Association and over time are now sponsored by the National Book Foundation. The judges are writers who are well respected in their field or genre of writing. The books are submitted primarily by publishers and well over 1,000 books are submitted each year. Previously, those submittals became a "short list" of five books in each of the four categories - Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Youth. New this year, was a "long list" that was announced in September, followed by the "short list" that was just announced. The winners in each category will be announced at the National Book Awards Gala on November 20th. Through the years the books that have been chosen in their categories have been deemed worthy, or not - there always seems to be a controversy surrounding the picks. Read more »

Book Stacks

It's mere coincidence that the same week as Banned Books Week I came across this article about coffee table books which featured a book that has been on so many coffee tables in so many design magazine photos through the years that some publications have banned it from their glossy pages because of overuse. The article on coffee table books would be interesting reading to all book lovers who have books here and there throughout their homes, but who knew that a whole industry existed where books are used merely to decorate a room and not to be read or looked through? As a matter of fact, the above mentioned article makes mention of something called  "Book Bundles" that can be found at Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn. Book Bundles are discarded books with their covers ripped off, sewn together to form a stack, that can then be displayed on your coffee table or bookshelf. Pottery Barn even sells this, which is a product that does not include books at all, just a picture of books in a stack. Say what???

This got me thinking of my own books and where they sit in my house and how they are arranged. There are books in almost every room of the house - our bedroom, the only room large enough for a big bookcase - guest bedrooms, to give our guests some reading options should they arrive without any -  and the living room, which is usually where all of the library books we check out end up. However, we do not have many coffee table books per se and the ones that could fit that definition do not sit on our coffee table. The reason for this is because our coffee table is quite narrow due to the confines of a small living room. This is not to say we don't have a nice coffee table. Husband hand built the one we have and it is very nice and sized just right for the space. But not sized so much for coffee table books.

So as I was reading the article (the above mentioned one) up in my bedroom, I thought about the "coffee table" books that sit on the END table in our living room. I could picture them, but I could not recall the titles. Seeing as how this article (the one I keep mentioning) is titled "You Are What You Stack" I decided to go downstairs and see just what I was. And this is what I found:

Yes, buried under all of those newspapers and magazines are some books. If I had read the article (by now you all know I'm referring to the one mentioned above) on a day I had cleaned my house I might have been able to take a photo of the books without all the clutter. But since I only clean once in a while (hey, I'm a reader) the odds of that happening were slim to none. For the curious though, the books underneath all of the newsprint were:

Annie Liebowitz Women by Susan Sontag

The Irish in America

The Library in America: a celebration in words and pictures by Paul Dickson.

If, as the article is titled, you are what you stack, then I guess I am pretty comfortable with who I am. Especially since all of these books were gifts from people who know me well.

1000 Books before Kindergarten

Library staff will be out and about at the Manawa Fall Festival this Saturday promoting a new program called 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. This easy, do it yourself activity is designed to get families reading to their children from infancy on. There has been a lot of research done in the past 10 years about how reading affects early brain development and the results suggest the earlier we start, the better prepared children will be to start learning once they reach school age. Sturm Memorial Library has been promoting early literacy for years with preschool and Babygarten™ programs and lowering the age children can get library cards to age 0. Many families have participated in our programs and love coming to the Library to get their babies signed up for a Library card. We are expecting that parents will be enthusiastic about this new program and we've set it up so we'll be celebrating benchmarks that parents and children reach along the way. A big bulletin board is being put together and every child that gets signed up will be recognized with a name tag. As they reach their benchmarks the name tags will get stickers on them. Families will receive book bags, bookmarks and books as they steadily work toward their goal of 1000 books.

Reading 1000 books to your child before Kindergarten may sound impossible, but many families probably already do this several times over. If you read one book to your child every day for three years you will have read 1,095 books. If you read two books every day you'll reach 1000 in half that time. And we all know that when young children get a book read to them that they love, they want to hear it again and again...and again. Well, you can count that book every time it's read. And if you attend the Library's preschool programs you can count those books too. The official kick-off for the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten is October 1st and we'll be sure to have some bright and shiny books on the shelves to get families off to a fun start. We hope we see lots of families sign up.

Join the Club

Sturm Memorial Library has had a book club for over 10 years. We tried to recollect exactly when the club started but we really can't pinpoint the date. We know it was in the late 90s though. Through the years we've seen people come and go but always there has been a core group of readers who love to get together and discuss a book. There may be a lot of talk lately about the death of the book as we know it, but book clubs are out in force all across the country. Rough estimates are that close to five million people belong to a book club. Pretty impressive numbers. What's more interesting though is that these five million people are from all walks of life - rich, poor, democrat, republican, old, young - you get the picture. Read more »

A Night to Remember

Sunday was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. This event is so permanently etched in the collective imagination of the United States that I don't even have to explain what the "sinking of the Titanic" was. The maiden voyage of that magnificent ship ended way too short and way too tragically. Today, the events of that night and the legacies they produced still resonate with the public. So many lives were lost that cold April night and of course we now know that it didn't have to end that way. A majority of the more than 1500 people that perished that night died not from drowning, but from freezing to death in the ice cold Atlantic waters. This, while lifeboats from the ship were carrying sometimes half of their capacity. I became a little fascinated by these events when I was a young child and watched the movie "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" with Debbie Reynolds. It was at that time that my mother told me her parents were married in 1912 and that her father wanted to plan the wedding and honeymoon so that they could return on the Titanic. Her mother had other ideas, fortunately, for all of us that followed. This little tidbit, whether true or just family legend, held fast to my young imagination and so too, did the ship and its fate that cold dark night. The Titanic continues to fascinate succeeding generations as witnessed by the amount of books written for young and old on this subject.

The Best Of

Tiny Fey - Bossypants

We are decidedly well into the year 2012. I like getting to this point in January. The days are noticeably longer, the holiday hubbub is over and we delude ourselves into thinking once this month passes, winter will be a breeze. This is also the time of year when I am plotting my reading journey for the next several months or so. This journey is the result of all of the “best of 2011” lists that we’ve been reading in review magazines, online blogs and websites. This is an annual rite of passage that we eagerly look forward to here at the Library. We compare the lists against what we have, we compare the lists against what we’ve read, we voice strong opinions about what books made what list and we make plans to read the books we somehow missed.

Read more »


Seasonal Differences

I am catching up on small jobs today  - tasks that need to be done but keep getting pushed aside for one or another things that come up. I'm making signs and sending out a press release about our holiday hours, I'm posting photos of our program yesterday to Facebook, I'm organizing our photos on my computer and I'm writing a long overdue blog post. While organizing the photos on my computer I came across two photos I took in June of some of the shelves in the youth section. As any user of this Library knows, the summer months are a little busy here. The beast that is the summer reading program has become a labor of love for us here. We are exhausted at the end of every day, but it is such a satisfying exhaustion. The interaction we have with area youth during these months is priceless. And the icing on the cake is that a lot of books get checked out and read. Read more »

Word Clouds

Wordle: The Maze Runner

This is my review of the book The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I was able to make this out of the ordinary "word cloud" review using the web site Wordle.net. This fun web site lets you enter text and then it makes a word cloud out of it. You can format it in different fonts, colors, arrangements, etc. We hope to have a lot of these hanging throughout the Library this summer as this is just one of many activities youth who sign up for our summer program will be able to do. The fun starts June 6th and runs for eight weeks. The themes are One World, Many Stories for kids ages 3-11 and You Are Here for youth in 7th grade and up. We'll be focusing on stories of people from around the world and we'll be doing our usual convincing the brave and not so brave to eat some unusual treats from countries far and wide.

There will also be special performers throughout the eight weeks and the kick-off event is One World Many Sounds by the Planetary Ranger Bill Kehl. Mr. Kehl will be performing at the Library on Wednesday June 8th at 2pm. This interactive program will include instruments from around the world and everyone will have a chance to participate. This program, like all of our programs, is free and all ages will enjoy it. We'll also be entertained through the summer by Truly Remarkable Loon (juggler, plate spinner), Grandpa Fred Turk (singer/songwriter) and the performance of School House Rock. And don't forget our annual Rodeo Lunch with Queen Brooke and Princess Tracey! (The Princess is one of our own!)

Brochures and schedules for all events are available at the Library and the Library Director, Miss Ellen, will be visiting the schools this week and next. It's hard to believe it's here, especially after our long winter, but it's time to think summer and we hope you and your family will be spending some of your summer here with us. For more information call the Library at 920-596-2252 or visit www.manawalibrary.org.