Books We Love: Jinx

Jinx coverJinx” is a juvenile fiction book that was first brought to my attention when participants in DBRL’s own Heavy Medal: Mock Newbery program decided it their winner last year. Its win nudged me into giving it a read, and I am so glad I did.

Jinx” is the story of an orphan (of course he is an orphan, you have to get those pesky parents out of the way so that our young characters can have any sort of adventures, right?) who lives in a magical world with fantastical facets presented though humorously matter-of-fact narration. The story kicks off with a stepfather attempting to leave young Jinx in a dense and dangerous forest, called the Urwald, that surrounds all of the cities in Jinx’s world. After an unlikely rescue by a grumpy old wizard named Simon, Jinx finds himself a wizard’s apprentice and gathers some sidekicks along the way. Adventure naturally ensues, and the story does a lovely job of examining the fact that “good” versus “bad” is not always a black-and-white concept. Jinx’s internal ruminations on the subject are particularly touching. Continue reading

“But I’m Not Tired!”

boy asleep with bookThe bedtime story already has been deeply planted in the early literacy landscape, the collective nostalgia and routines for tricking little ones into falling asleep. We have heard the benefits of reading to your baby bumpkins and terrible twosers daily touted near and far, but does the time of day a child is read to actually make any difference?

The answer is, um…well, probably. Maybe. Depends?

While there is some research on that question, obviously everyone is different. Personally, I am a big fan of the bedtime story, so what follows will be my case for the institution.

For one thing, your children are put to bed every day, so there’s a built-in “reminder” that allows reading to easily become part of a routine that’s already necessary. Plus, “bedtime story” rolls off the tongue a lot easier than, say, “after-school snack story.” If you have a snugglebunny or two who land closer to the reluctant side of the sleeper spectrum, sometimes a calming routine can help. According to chair of the Early Childhood Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Peter Gorski, M.D., the most cognitive benefits from reading are reaped when the child’s experience with books is enjoyable and associated with love, safety and comfort. Well, what is more loving and comfy than being tucked in, surrounded by a beloved stuffed animal or two, while mom and/or dad tell you a story? Letting your nugget choose the story they want to hear can be both a bedtime selling point and encourages a positive association with being read to. Continue reading

But Series-ously: Juvenile Historical Fiction

Book cover for With the Might of Angels, a book in the Dear America seriesConfession: One of the most satisfying questions to get from an early reader is something like, “I really liked so-and-so book, do you have any more like that?” when you know that yes, yes, burgeoning reader, you have picked a book in a series! Let’s get as many books as possible into your hot little hands! Read! Read, you young absorbent mind – read like the wind!

While I am a firm believer in the theory that whatever a child is reading, within the parameters of law and reason of course, is good because they are reading, it is such a cherry on top when there is an educational facet to these series. See? Interdisciplinary learning can be recreational fun! Okay, maybe don’t take it that far with your child/student/patron, as you’ll likely send them running from the stacks and your vicinity in general, but hopefully you see my point.

The further good news is that while the classics of juvenile historical fiction, such as the Little House on the Prairie series, are still popular and valuable, this particular genre has really expanded over the past decade or two, especially in series form. And again, that series factor can be crucial if you need to strike while the enthusiasm for reading – I mean, the iron – is hot.

An American Girl bookBesides becoming a mega-doll industry, American Girl has managed to pump out some (and by “some,” I actually mean “oodles of”) pretty good books that cover a wide range of American demographics, periods of time, geographical location, etc., while still retaining a relevance to things girls today experience. Continue reading

‘Ology: A Branch of Learning

Book cover for IllusionologyDo you have a young reader interested in fantastical subjects, such as wizards, vampires and pirates? We have the series for you. The books in the “Ology” series are located throughout our nonfiction collection, but don’t be fooled – they are not your typical encyclopedias. Common among books of this nature are a variety of illustrations and items to open, explore and touch (for example, ground dinosaur horn can be found in “Dinosaurology.”)

Similar to these “ology” books are the titles in the Girls’ Guides to Everything Unexplained series. These books provide information for young ladies on subjects such as wizards, mermaids, vampires, fairies and zombies. These titles also include manipulatives, stunning drawings and photographs. These books are great introductions for young readers to the world of nonfiction. Who says nonfiction can’t be just as fun as fiction? Seek out your nearest librarian for more information!

It’s March. Get Crafty!

photo of art supplies by kcjones89 via flickrMarch is National Craft Month! Why not make something with your children? Need some inspiration? The library has lots of great books to get the creative juices flowing!

The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art & Creativity” by Jean Van’t Hul explains how to set up a space for art and encourage creativity in children 1 to 8 years old. It includes instructions for a variety of activities.

Craft Fun” by Kim Solga has clear pictures and instructions for making items out of cardboard, yarn, paper, clay and cloth for kids ages 6 and up.

Eco-Friendly Crafts With Kids” by Kate Lilley includes recipes for play dough and recycled crayons, as well as ways to turn things you find around the house into games and toys. This is a great book for families with children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. Continue reading