Crafting With Kids:

Crafting with Kids

Christmas is just a week away! Are you looking for some handmade gifts or holiday projects for the kids? Well, look no further!

Last year, we featured four different Christmas crafts to try at home. Here are some more to try, from super simple to more complex. Just follow the link provided to get started crafting!

Christmas Coloring Cards
These cute Christmas cards to print and color from Activity Village will give kids a simple project and recipients a treasured gift! Just download the PDF file, print, and color! Activity Village also has over 100 free Christmas coloring pages available to print off.

Christmas Card

Pinecone Christmas Tree
Mini Christmas trees are so much fun to make! This craft turns an ordinary pinecone into a sparkly, holiday tree. All you need is a pinecone, green acrylic paint, a small lid from a juice container, glue, and sequins and glitter. While it may be messier than the Christmas cards, this project is really easy to make and turns out beautifully!

Wrapping Paper Chains and Baubles
Have extra wrapping paper from wrapping all those gifts laying around? Use it to make these neat baubles and decorative chains! These take a bit more work to prepare and assemble but the results are awesome! And who doesn’t love thrifty crafts?

Seashell Christmas Ornaments
Here at the library, we have seashell ornaments on our Christmas tree. All you really need to do to make one of these ornaments is glue a piece of red yarn or ribbon to the inside of a shell. So simple! While our ornaments are not as decorated as the ones in the instructions, either version of this craft makes a great ornament to add to any Christmas tree.

Shell Ornament

Christmas Origami
From Christmas trees and stars to Santa and poinsettias, this site contains many, many Christmas origami patterns ranging from beginner level to more advance folding. There are even patterns for snowmen and reindeer!

For even more Christmas craft ideas, check out Activity Village’s website. Happy crafting!

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Story Time Starter — Christmas

Story Time Starter

This month has flown by, and Christmas will be here very soon.  This is a GREAT time to have a Christmas-themed story time — but you’d better hurry in and get your books before they’re all gone!

We’ve got some classic stories like The Night Before Christmas as well as Christmas stories with some of our most popular book characters, including Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?, and If You Take a Mouse to the Movies.

Here are some more Christmas books you’ll love reading for story time:

christmas collage
Christmas Stories for Story Time (Word Document/.doc file)

Once you’ve read a few stories, you might just be ready for some rhymes and songs!

Santa, Santa                                                         
Santa, Santa
Round and fat
Slide down the chimney (use arm)
Just like that!

The Chimney
Here is the chimney (make a fist)
Here is the top (other hand over fist)
Open the lid (remove hand)
Out Santa will pop! (pop up thumb)

The Lights on the Tree
(tune: The Wheels on the Bus)

The lights on the tree go
Blink, blink, blink,
Blink, blink, blink,
Blink, blink, blink
The lights on the tree go
Blink, blink, blink
All Christmas Day.

The presents at the house go rattle, rattle, rattle, etc.
The mom at the house goes bake, bake, bake, etc.
The dad at the house goes snore, snore, snore, etc.
The grandma at the house goes hug, hug, hug, etc.


A craft will be the perfect ending to a perfect story time!  Here are some good ones for younger children.

We hope you have fun reading with your children this Christmas season!

For even more ideas for good reads, check out our Give the Gift of Reading Holiday Book Guide and Great Books Make Great Gifts pages on our website.  Merry Christmas from all of us at the library!

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Book Review: Tap the Magic Tree

Monthly Book Reviews

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
From Miss Abby at Madison

“There is magic in every tree. The tall, silent one in the woods. The small, bumpy one in the park. Even the bare brown tree in your backyard. As the seasons change, trees change, too. They sprout leaves. The leaves change color. Sometimes flowers bloom. Sometimes apples grow. Trees shelter birds and feed squirrels and bees. There is magic in every tree. And in this book, you become the magician. How? Tap, clap, wiggle, jiggle, and then . . . turn the page.”

Tap the Magic Tree is full of easy educational uses! This fun rhyming book will have children learning about seasons and practicing following directions all while having fun reading! It would also be a great way to teach about cause and effect as the children’s actions are the “cause” for the tree growing and the “effects” can be seen on the next page. This book could also be used to make predictions as to what will have changed on the next page. Children will want to read this book again and again, and parents will want to, too!

Tap the Magic Tree

Thanks for a great review, Miss Abby! If you love this fun interactive book, try checking out Press Here by Herve Tullet or Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas.

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Give the Gift of Reading!

Featured Article

It’s December! Time for family get-togethers, good food, cookies, decorations, and everything else that makes the holiday season special–including shopping! Before you head out to scout the malls and department stores for gift ideas, check out our Give the Gift of Reading holiday book list! Featured on this list are brand new holiday books for kids (and parents, too!), picked out by the Services for Children staff. From classic stories such as The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jane Cabrera to new favorites like Dear Santasaurus by Stacy McAnulty, there are plenty of titles to choose from! And if you can’t decide on a book to buy and would like to read each and every one, the book covers on the Give the Gift of Reading page links to our catalog so you can check one out!

Holiday Book Collage

Give the Gift of Reading Holiday Books Guide (Word document/.doc)

Each year, the Services for Children staff also pick out their favorite books of the year and recommend them for the library’s Give the Gift of Reading gift book list. If you are looking for a book the child on your gift list can read throughout the year, this list is for you! This year’s picks include a wide selection of books ranging from early literacy board books to awesome nonfiction even adults will enjoy!

Gift Book Collage

Give the Gift of Reading Gift Books Guide (Word document/.doc)

We hope you find one or two (or more!) books that would be a perfect fit for that special someone on your shopping list.  With books, you have presents that keep on giving not only now, but throughout the entire year!

For even more gift book ideas, be sure to take a look at the Perfect Picks book lists found here.

Happy reading!

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Book Review: Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses

Monthly Book Reviews

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by Kimberly and James Dean
From Miss Heather at Butler and Lucas

Do you ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed, so to speak?  Readers of the Pete the Cat books know that Pete never has this problem!  No matter what, he keeps a song in his heart and a smile on his face and simply adjusts to whatever mishaps come his way.  People of all ages sometimes need to tell themselves just keep walking along and singing your song; put one foot in front of the other and smile, it’s all good!  It was this message that made me an instant fan of Pete the Cat when his first book came out in 2008.

pete the cat and his magic sunglasses

In the newest book, Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses, readers will be shocked to see a grumpy Pete!  He’s never been grumpy before and wonders what to do when you are feeling the blues.  Lucky for him, Grumpy Toad comes along without his well-known frown and offers Pete a pair of magic sunglasses that help him see things in a better way.  Pete’s mood is transformed with the magic sunglasses and suddenly he sees the beauty in the simple things around him like the bright sky, sunshine, and sounds of the birds singing.

Maybe you are ready for a little Bob Marley right about now?  I certainly heard the lyrics, “two little birds perched by my doorstep singing don’t worry, about a thing, cause every little thing’s gonna be alright” at this point in the story!  Pete’s song in this book has that same message, but to a different beat — and you can decide how you sing Pete’s lyrics: “The birds are singing.  The sky is bright.  The sun is shining.  I’m feeling ALRIGHT!”  (I stretched out the ALRIIIIGHT and one first grader told me I sounded cool like a biker!)

Readers get the main message of the book on the last page from the Wise Old Owl:  “Pete, you don’t need magic sunglasses to see things in a new way.  Just remember to look for the good in every day.”  And, what a wonderful message that is, for people of all ages!  With a little conversation, I think children from 4 years and up could ‘get’ this book and have it put a smile on their faces.

Thanks for a great review, Miss Heather!  We can’t wait to see what other adventures Pete has!

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Crafting With Kids: Wrapped Vases

Crafting with Kids

This month’s craft comes from Miss Melanie at Main Library! Her recent program focused on wrapped vases. If you are looking for an easy, beautiful, and functional craft, this is it!


For this super-easy project, you will need a glass jar or vase, some string or twine, and craft glue. Then, all you do is glue the string around the bottle. It’s that easy! Find step-by-step photo instructions here.

You can also use ribbon, tissue paper, fabric, beads, bobbles, or other decorations to make your vase just how you like it. Here are some of the vases that were made at Miss Melanie’s program:

Wrapped Vases Collage

Once your vase is finished, you can fill it with glass beads, flowers, lights, or anything else that will fit, and put it on display. Wrapped vases make great decorations and centerpieces!

Finally, here are several more variations of this craft to explore:

Happy crafting!

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Book Review: Thank You, Sarah! The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving

Monthly Book Reviews

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving
by Laurie Halse Anderson

From Miss Heather at Butler and Lucas

I love when I read a children’s book and think “wow, I just learned something!”  That’s exactly what happened when I read this book.  Did you know that Thanksgiving didn’t become a national holiday until 1863?  Did you know that the same person who composed ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ was the first female magazine editor in America and the person who lobbied for Thanksgiving to be a national holiday for 38 years, writing letters to five different presidents?  I didn’t.

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving tells a story relating both the amazing accomplishments of Sarah Hale’s life and the history of how Thanksgiving became a national holiday.  The underlying theme throughout the story is focused on the power of determination and the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

Thank you, Sarah

This book is a nonfiction treat in the format of picture book.  With large picture spreads and short text, it is a great read-aloud and offers a nonthreatening, enjoyable way to learn more about our nation’s history!  Adding to the treat of this book is the fact that the author, Laurie Halse Anderson, is a descendant of the main character, Sarah Hale.  Readers can learn much more about the life of Sarah Hale and the tradition of Thanksgiving by reading the pages after the story ends.  I think children from second grade and up would enjoy this book.

Thanks for a great review, Miss Heather! Here at the library, we also have a DVD movie based on this book. And for more about Sarah and the history of Thanksgiving, check out Sarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday by Mike Allegra as well as other Thanksgiving books.

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Bullying Awareness Week

Featured Article

This week (November 17-23) we take the time to celebrate Geography Awareness Week as well as Bullying Awareness Week.  For those of us who need a little refresher course on geography, we have plenty of children’s atlases, books on each of the United States and countries around the world, and various books on maps and mapping.  We’ve also got some great resources on bullies and bullying that would work either for the classroom or for the home.  With new books coming all the time, bullying is a topic that is not only on the radar of parents, but educators and publishers as well.

Bullying takes form in many different ways, and mocking the unique differences  in others is one of the big ways children bully each other.  Nancy Carlson’s story Henry and the Bully shows children that they do not always have to suffer at the hands of bullies, but they can solve many problems by using creativity and empathyLion vs. Rabbit by Alex Latimer uses wit and humor to prove that you don’t have to be bigger than the bully, just smarterBully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger also uses humor to tell the story of a bull who realizes that kind words are much better than calling his friends hurtful names.

Another characteristic of bullying involves being selfish and not sharing.  This lesson is illustrated in Jungle Bullies by Steven Kroll using  a variety of jungle animals who each constantly push aside other smaller animals until Mama monkey gives the sage advice that sharing can be more fun than playing alone.  A similar sentiment is proved in All for Me and None for All by Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger (creators of Tacky the Penguin and Hooway for Wodney Wat), showing that sharing is also an important part of real friendship.

For these and more great books, check out this Bullying Booklist (Word Document/.doc file).

bullying collage

While we’ve mostly focused here on picture books that would be great for young children, we also have many other chapter books that deal with bullying in older children, including the Middle School series by James Patterson, The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale, and Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig.  There are also resources for teachers and educators that can help in the classroom.

Happy Geography and Bullying Awareness Week from the Library!

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National Young Readers Week

Featured Article

We’re swimming in new books at the library, and we’re looking forward to National Young Readers Week (it seems like there’s always a reason to celebrate reading!) to share some of them with you!

According to Pizza Hut’s popular BOOK IT! reading program,

National Young Readers Week is an annual event that was co-founded in 1989 by Pizza Hut and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. It always takes place the second week of November. To make this week special, many schools recruited local “celebrities” to read aloud a favorite children’s book to classrooms.”

Reading aloud with children
even before they can identify letters and sounds is one of the best ways to encourage early literacy.  Interest in and familiarity with books at a young age goes a long way toward preparing your child to be a good reader later on.  For more great tips like this, see the Early Literacy page on our website.

Whether you share books in the classroom at school or on the couch with family at home, the library is a great resource for finding the best books to read aloud.  We’ve compiled many of the newest ones for you to take a look at, complete with a list to refer back to.

national young readers week 2014 collageNational Young Readers Week Booklist (Word Document/.doc file)

We hope you have a great National Young Readers Week this week!  And be sure to check back later this month for Give the Gift of Reading, our lists of recommended holiday books, picture books, chapter books, non-fiction books, early literacy & board books, beginning readers, and comic-style novels.

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Story Time Starter — Animal Buddies

Story Time Starter

Cuddly kittens and playful puppies make a wonderful story time topic. But, why stop at cute and cuddly pets? How about gorillas and hippos, or bears and tortoises? These can be great animal buddies, too! We have made a list of our favorite animal buddies books for you to read!

Some of these stories are about true animal friends that are unique, like Suryia & Roscoe: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship by Bhagavan “Doc” Antle & Thea Feldman or Owen & Mzee: A Day Together by Isabella Hatkoff. Others are great stories about animals being friends, such as Pip & Squeak by Ian Schoenherr and Will You Be My Friend? by Nancy Tafuri.

Here’s a look at more great animal buddies:

Animal Buddies Collage

Animal Buddies Book List (Word document/.doc file)

Rhymes help develop your child’s early literacy skills. Here are some animal rhymes and fingerplays!

Animals on the Bus (to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”)
The pigs on the bus go oink, oink, oink,
Oink, oink, oink, oink, oink, oink.
The pigs on the bus go oink, oink, oink,
All through the town.
(Substitute other animals and the sounds they make.)

One is a Dog
(count on fingers)
One is a dog that says bow-wow!
Two is a cat that says meow!
Three is a crow that says caw caw!
Four is a donkey that says hee-haw!

Hop, hop, hop like your bunny.
Run, run, run like your dog.
Walk, walk, walk like your cat.
Jump, jump, jump like your frog.
Swim, swim, swim like your goldfish.
Fly, fly, fly like your bird.
Then sit right down and fold your hands,
And don’t say a single word.

Two Little Blackbirds
Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill;
One named Jack, the other named Jill.
Fly away, Jack.
Fly away, Jill.
Come back, Jack.
Come back, Jill.

Add some music and songs from our music collection:

  • Animal Playground (Songs: Animal Crackers, No More Monkeys, If a Dinosaur Was My Friend, Mbube)
  • Six Little Ducks (Songs: Six Little Ducks, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Going to the Zoo, Little White Duck)
  • Three Little Kittens (Songs: Three Little Kittens, Fiddle-I-Fee, Three Little Fishes)
  • Whaddaya Think of That? (Songs: The Animal Fair, I Know a Chicken, Wimoweh, I Love My Rooster, The Cat Came Back)

Finally, finish your story time with an awesome craft!


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