When I was a little girl, I must have read Francis Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden” at least ten times. I was absolutely fascinated by almost everything about it. The old house with a name (Misselwaithe Manor? Why didn’t I think of this, let’s name our house! Suffice it to say, whatever title I dreamed up didn’t catch on in my childhood home) that was gigantic enough to make it hard to know who all lived there, the overgrown garden that had been locked up for mysterious reasons, the way the British lived in India, the sensory descriptions of how bringing the garden back to life felt and smelled…I ate it all up. It was like a fairy tale that could actually happen, and the story felt both nostalgic and exotic at the same time. I had never heard of a moor, and I had certainly never encountered phonetic spelling of a thick Yorkshire accent like that of the the undermaid, Martha. Continue reading
Fall brings with it longer nights and more opportunities for reading while surrounded by the dark. When I was a preteen, I loved and hated being afraid. When the theme song for the television show “The Twilight Zone” came on, I would unsuccessfully implore my mom to change the channel. Of course, I couldn’t help myself – I always stayed in the room and watched the episode.
When “The Twilight Zone” wasn’t airing, I could always count on books to provide me with that jolt of adrenaline. The Goosebumps series (which is still being published) was a reliable provider of horror. But I also remember being terrified by the child-loathing antagonists of the Roald Dahl classic “The Witches” and the seemingly sentient dolls in Betty Ren Wright’s “The Dollhouse Murders.” Here are some recent scary titles for preteens (more recent that my childhood, anyway):
“The Book of Bad Things” by Dan Poblocki
12-year-old Cassidy Bean is a city kid in the suburbs for the summer. After the neighborhood hoarder dies, ghosts and monsters start appearing. Cassidy and her new summer friend investigate the eerie happenings.
“The Night Gardener: A Scary Story” by Jonathan Auxier
A Victorian ghost story with the requisite orphans, forbidden rooms, and an evil gardener. The book has several fantastically creepy illustrations and a lesson about greed that stays with you long after you finish the book. Continue reading
Contrary to popular opinion, libraries love bookstores and bookstores love libraries. And we at DBRL are excited to hear that Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen will be visiting Columbia’s Barnes & Noble store on October 18th at 10 a.m. as part of their national book tour. Their new book, “Sam & Dave Dig a Hole,” will be published on the 14th, and you can contact the store to reserve an autographed copy.
Happy October, everyone! I have no idea what rhymes with “October,” but rhyming is essential to early literacy skills and practices at all times of the year. So get out there and show your kids all the wonders of autumn, and then teach fun rhymes to make fall even more fun. Some of the rhymes below are action rhymes, so the corresponding actions are in parentheses.
Pumpkin, pumpkin sitting on a wall.
Pumpkin, pumpkin tip and fall! (Lean over.)
Pumpkin, pumpkin rolling down the street. (Roll hands.)
Pumpkin, pumpkin on your feet! (Stand up.) Continue reading
A common assumption I’ve come across during my time in libraries is that picture books are for children to read. As a matter of fact, I think I probably made this same assumption before I started planning story times and the like. But here’s the thing: children’s picture books are really designed to be read aloud to children by adults. I know, I just blew your mind. Obviously there are some exceptions, like certain Dr. Seuss titles. (“Hop on Pop“, anyone?) But many picture books are actually too advanced for your average beginning reader to effectively tackle on his or her own.
If starting with traditional picture books is not ideal, then what in the world is? The answer varies. At DBRL, we call this collection “Beginning to Read.” These are also children’s books, and they also have a lot of pictures. They are different from most picture books in that their sentences are short, and the words are short, simple and do as much to help the reader figure them out contextually as possible. The words are big and few so they are not nearly as intimidating. You also won’t find any artsy typographies that, while charming in children’s books that are being read to them, can be daunting to new readers. Continue reading