Kids Blog

The Importance of History

The Camping Trip that Changed America

My husband’s job as a historical researcher frequently provides the opportunity to hear well-known historians opine on the importance of history.  The speech’s always end the same way; concern about the lack of historical knowledge among today’s youth.  The statistics support their fears, but while history is unchanging the future is not!  Think back to your favorite history teacher.  The chances are you enjoyed the class because that teacher brought history alive with stories and that’s an easy gift to share with your children.  There are many wonderful historical fiction and nonfiction titles published today for children and teens.  Gone are the days of biographies where George Washington cuts down a cherry tree!  Today, historical non-fiction is so well-written it has the ability to bring the past to life in vivid and memorable ways.  

The Camping Trip that Changed America” by Barb Rosenstock reads more like fiction than fact.  When President Theodore Roosevelt read naturalist John Muir’s book on vanishing forests, “he knew that was someone he just had to meet!”  Together they shared adventures while camping their way through what was then known as the Yosemite Wilderness.  Mordicai Gerstein’s dynamic illustrations capture Roosevelt’s liveliness and Muir’s quiet while the author’s words detail their commonalities: their love of the outdoors and their determination to save them. Thanks to this remarkable, yet little known, camping trip that brought these two unique individuals together, the number of national parks and monuments was dramatically increased.

Author of the Month: Nancy Farmer

This author has had enough wild, true-life experiences to fill an entire shelf of books. She grew up helping her parents run a hotel in a part of Yuma, Arizona where all kinds of shady characters hung out. As a kid, she was brilliant, brave, and very sure of herself. Nancy didn’t care for school much. Indeed, she was dyslexic (and undiagnosed) and failed two grades because of it. But as she got older, she did read all the classics in the hotel library. One day when ditching school, Nancy discovered the cool spaces and amazing stories at the public library. Reading took hold of her and never let go.

Have an Ice Cream Party

Summer's here at last. The pool's open. The weather's scorching hot. What could be better for an afternoon treat than a big bowl of ice cream? A big bowl of ice cream and lots of friends—that's what! Read on for frosty facts and tasty treats.

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

"This hat is not mine. I just stole it."

This is Not My Hat invites us into the mind of a tiny fish who cares nothing for his underwater brethren.  The fish offers many reasons why he will succeed in his crime, why he deserves the hat over the much bigger fish he snatched it from. Obviously, we are dealing with a sociopath here.

Red, White, and Blue Music

On July 4th, burgers sizzle on the grill, and cold drinks are passed around. Happy dogs play with frisbees, and sunburned kids finally climb out of the pool. In the growing darkness, fireworks begin to crackle and zoom overhead. At last a special song starts playing, and all the people get quiet as they remember the reason for the celebration.

When the American colonists declared independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, they were doing a very brave thing. They knew that there would be no easy way to make the words they put on paper real. The Continental Army would have to fight for the country's right to exist.

People made up new songs, often using old tunes, and sung them in the streets of America. These were full of pride and jokes about the British. There were lots of them! Some, like Yankee Doodle, are classics we still remember, and many songs told the war news, such as An American Frigate,* that tells the tale of one of John Paul Jones' battles on the sea.

Anita Lobel

For years, Anita Lobel shied away from many memories of her childhood, and she had good reason to do so. Born in Poland just before World War II, Anita’s father ran a chocolate factory and the family was rather well off. Her mother had furs and jewels and employed servants to help with the housework and the children, including a beloved nanny, Niania. All that was soon to change when the Nazis marched into Kraków.

Shake, Rattle & Turn That Noise Down! by Mark Alan Stamaty

Shake, Rattle & Turn That Noise Down! by Mark Alan Stamaty

I have never liked getting haircuts. There is just too much room for miscommunication. Too much of a chance for a top-of-the-head surprise that won’t go away. Recently, I have figured out a way around any chance of miscommunication.

“Just make it look like Elvis.”

Shake, Rattle & Turn that Noise Down! is a beautifully illustrated coming-of-age story by Mark Alan Stamaty. He is best known as a political cartoonist, and here his caricatured drawings serve his personal story of discovering Elvis Presley, to the chagrin of his poor mother.

Alphabet Soup Special: Summer Reading Club Kickoff

Picture of two bunnies reading

Dig Into Reading while enjoying fun activities perfect for your preschoolers!

Ages 2-5 with a caregiver. Daycares welcome!

Monday, June 3
Salem Church: 10:00-10:45 and 11:00-11:45 

Wednesday, June 5
England Run: 10:00-10:30 and 11:00-11:30 

Friday, June 14
Porter: 9:30-10:00 or 10:30-11:00 

Friday, June 14
Headquarters:10:00-12:00 

Stopping to Home by Lea Wait

Stopping to Home by Lea Wait

On a cold, March day in 1806, Abbie and Seth lost their beloved mother to the smallpox epidemic that was ripping through the town of Wiscasset, Maine. Without food or wood for the fire, the children were in terrible trouble. They could hear the bell tolling for the dead—so many times for a man, so many for a woman, so many for a child. But how many for a missing father? In Lea Wait’s Stopping to Home, the only hope the brother and sister have to survive is that someone in that stricken town will take them in, if only for a little while.

Christopher Paul Curtis: “Humor Is a Survival Tactic.”

The guy hanging car doors at the GM plant in Flint, Michigan, for 13 years was taking home a decent wage, but he wanted much more out of life than that. There was another side to Christopher Paul Curtis—a creative side. On his job breaks, he kept a journal and wrote stories. The first of those, he said, were “just plain bad,”* but he got better. A lot better. His first wife encouraged him to keep writing, so he quit the job at the plant, moved the family just a little way to Canada, took other jobs that were less mind-numbing, as well as courses in creative writing. Ten years later, his first book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963, won the Newbery Honor, the Golden Kite Award, and the Coretta Scott King Award.