Give the Gift of Reading

Looking for a last-minute gift idea? Give the gift of reading! Our booklist of bestsellers, new releases and classics is sure to delight each toddler or preschooler in your life. Whether you are looking to purchase a book or check out a title from the library, there’s something on the list for everyone! Enjoy time together, either in person, virtually or over-the-phone, with an entertaining family read aloud.

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty: Inspired by real-life makers Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, this beloved #1 bestseller champions STEM, girl power and women scientists in a rollicking celebration of curiosity, the power perseverance, and the importance of asking “Why?”  

Intended for ages 5 to 7-years

The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak: You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . .BLORK. Or BLUURF. Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY. Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. 

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DIY: Nearly Supply-Less Crafts

Bored? Broke? Snow everywhere? Then look no further than your own home for some crafty fun to share with your littles.

You could of course, draw a maze or create a jigsaw puzzle. You could play tic tac toe or even dots and boxes but if you want to up your game and impress your kids, how about giving these nearly supply-less crafts a try!

Decorated Rock Tic Tac Toe

Skills: Fine motor skills, concentration, hand-eye coordination

Supplies: palm sized rocks, crayons, paper

1. Gather at least 10 rocks (or anything you can color)

2. Choose two crayons and color half of the rocks with each (or you could get super artsy and draw a cool design on your half of the rocks. A beautiful rainbow or a cute little lady bug would make for wonderful TTT rocks)

3. Draw your Tic Tac Toe board and begin a game

4. May the best player win!

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Spooky Middle School Reads

Boys and girls of every age
Wouldn’t you like to see something strange?

Come with us and you will see
This, our town of Halloween

This is Halloween, music and lyrics by Danny Elfman

Now it’s the time of year when the wind is chilly and Halloween is just around the corner, and all the fun to be had comes crawling on eight legs, or staggering and shuffling for brains, or donning a cape to save the world from injustice. Fall is a great time for scary movies and outdoor fun, but autumn is also a great time for tucking in with a good book?  So grab your hot cocoa and favorite blanket, and check out these spooky middle schools reads for some special thrills and chills you can experience in the comfort of your favorite reading space!

First up is Where the Woods End by Charlotte Salter.  If you like monsters and deep, dark woods, this book is for you.  Kestrel, a young huntress, lives is wide, deep, endless forest.  Under the sooty twilight of the trees, and in the shadows of the canopy, dwell the Grabbers. Hungry beasts that stalk you to snatch you should you venture near.  There is no shortage of spooks in this compelling story suited for readers in grades 5 through nine, or any reader looking for a fast, heart thumping read about shadows, glistening teeth and a brave, brave girl who dares to face them.  A must read!

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Julie and the Phantoms: A Must Watch

While Netflix always seems to be pumping out content, it takes more than just any run of the mill show to capture my attention so wholeheartedly that I watch it on repeat again and again. While I had first seen the trailer for Julie and the Phantoms before its release I didn’t immediately watch day of like I do for many shows. Cue two weeks later when I gave into the internet hype and was quickly hooked by the catchy music and endearing personalities.

What’s this show all about you might ask? Julie and the Phantoms follows the story of Julie Molina as she finds her way back to music with the help of three ghost guys (Luke, Reggie, and Alex). There’s plenty of ghost shenanigans and teenage angst while also showcasing stellar family dynamics as well as the difficulties of grief and loss.

Madison Reyes, who plays the titular role of Julie, is a star in the making at just 16 years old. With powerhouse vocals and a charming on screen presence, she shines in every scene. Her bandmates, Charlie Gillespie (Luke), Jeremy Shada (Reggie), and Owen Patrick Joyner (Alex), provide bounds of energy and play off one another perfectly

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the outstanding supporting cast. Carlos Ponce and Sonny Bustamante, who play Julie’s dad and brother respectively, bring such heart and humor to the Molina family. Jadah Marie calls it like it is as Julie’s best friend Flynn while Booboo Stewart as Willie provides plenty of ghost knowledge.

The music is incredible. There’s everything from rock to jazz to catchy pop songs and ballads. The musical numbers with lots of dance choreography are a sight to behold and any song with the band jamming together is outstanding. The real showstoppers though are the solos. And I have to give a shoutout to the costume department for crushing it.

Sure it might be a little cheesy and over the top but the sheer amount of joy this show has provided is well worth the silly moments. And yeah this show is funny but it also had me crying multiple times. The power of song, right? Honestly I should expect nothing less with Kenny Ortega involved. The mind behind Hocus Pocus, Newsies, and High School Musical knows how to entertain.

While Julie and the Phantoms is only available on Netflix at this time, you can listen to the soundtrack for free on Spotify. There will also be tie-in books coming to a shelf near you as soon as the end of December so keep an eye out at the library.

Have you watched Julie and the Phantoms? Has my explosion of thoughts convinced you to check it out?

Let us know in the comments below!

Lorain’s Rising Titans

Neighborhood Alliance (lead partner), Neighborhood Alliance Child Enrichment Services- Lorain, Help Me Grow Home Visiting- Neighborhood Alliance, Lorain Public Library System, Horizon Education Centers, Lorain County Public Health, Lorain County Community Action Agency- Head start, Lorain City Schools, Lorain County Health & Dentistry, Childcare Resource Center

Who are the Rising Titans? 

Rising Titans is a funded United Way of Greater Lorain County Community Collaborative, made up of partners who are dedicated to the Kindergarten Readiness of Lorain’s children and their families.

The Rising Titans Collaborative and its partners have the overarching goal of creating community-wide kindergarten readiness. Our goal is to design a system that will help parents prepare their child for kindergarten from birth.

What does it mean to be ready for Kindergarten? 

Kindergarten Readiness means being able to do more than know your ABC’s and 123’s, it is a holistic approach. It’s being able to share toys with other children, follow directions from adults other than a caregiver, use scissors, pencils, crayons, etc., run, skip and jump, and many other developmental skills.

For the complete list, please go to

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Staying Safe Online – Resources for Youth and Families

With school starting fully or partially online, depending on your district, there’s a lot to keep track of. New technology, new routines, usernames, passwords – to anyone braving these waters, know that we at the library are here for you! This blog post highlights three engaging resources specifically designed to help children and teens learn how to learn and play online safely – and kindly.  Formats include picture books, videos, quizzes, and games – experiences meant to connect with youth through play and exploration. You can click through the embedded links to see these for yourself. Let the fun begin! 

Faux Paw the Techno Cat (Early Elementary)

Geared toward grades K-3, this book series features a cat named Faux Paw and his misadventures with technology. Most of these short e-books are available as PDFs, narrated e-books, or animated videos. The corny cybersecurity-themed songs, activity pages, and cartoon style certainly fit with their intended demographic, however slightly older kids may also benefit from the topics discussed. The most recent book, Faux Paw and the Unfortunate Upload, specifically touches on the downsides of trying to go viral that may be helpful for children encountering social media platforms like Tik Tok for the first time.   “Faux Paw the Techno Cat” is one of several resources made available to families and educators by iKeepSafe, a company specializing in helping educational products comply with state and national privacy and child safety laws.

Interland (Upper Elementary / Middle School)

“Interland” is a set of four engaging games that take place on digital floating islands, each of which focus on a different area of online safety. It is part of “Be Internet Awesome,” a collaboration between Google and digital safety experts iKeepSafe, ConnectSafely, and the Family Online Safety Institute. “Mindful Mountain” focuses on deciding who to share information online with, and how. “Reality River” teaches players to detect and report scammers and phishers. “Tower of Treasure” covers password security. Finally, “Kind Kingdom” deals with cyberbullying. The games can be played in any order.

The animation is modern, chunky, and colorful, and the games have simple controls and objectives – features that children who are used to playing Roblox and other online games should respond to well. In service of a fun player experience, however, sometimes the educational content becomes simplified or abstract. The quizzes at the end may ask questions the players need more context to answer. To get the most out of “Interland,” talk with your child about their playing experience, and check out the “Be Internet Awesome Family Guide,” available here.

NS Teens (Middle School / High School)  

This website houses a ton of games, quizzes, videos, and more intended for teen and tween audiences. NetSmartz, who co-created this site, is a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and as a result it has a strong focus on teaching youth not to meet up or share personal information with strangers they befriend online. However, the website tackles a lot of other key topics for teens, including data security, unwise social media sharing, cheating on schoolwork, and even bad gamer behavior.  

One of the coolest experiences, in my opinion, is the comics: interactive stories that unfold as you scroll the mouse, which allow you to choose the main character’s actions.  The quizzes are also fun, and a bit funny – perfect for ages 8-12. The games – which interestingly tackle subjects such as stopping your friends and family from oversharing online – follow rules that will be familiar to players of “Angry Birds,” “Plants vs. Zombies,” and other popular games. However, since they rely on Flash, they may not work on every browser or device. The website also includes three types of videos: animated stories, interviews with teens on certain topics, and “real-life stories” – the last category intended for older teens, ages 11-17, because of the serious content discussed.

If you like this organization’s work but have a younger child, check out their other major resource, NetSmartz Kids.  It includes printable activity sheets, an animated cartoon series, and a game called “Cloud Chaos” meant for ages 5-8. 

For More on This Topic

The organizations who create the resources I’ve just discussed all provide guides for families and/or teachers that can be found on their websites. In addition, there are other groups promoting digital safety for all ages. Stop. Think. Connect. is a national awareness campaign with a large library of printable resources.  The nonprofit Cyber Savvy Kids provides some eBooks and activity sheets for children, as well as detailed PDF guides for educators and families who sign up to receive access. Your library staff can also help connect you to books and other internet safety resources.

Good luck out there, families, and stay safe (online and IRL)!

Top 5 Back to School Creativebug Crafts

Creativebug, one of our many eLibrary resources, is bursting with over 1,000 crafts and videos for various skill levels. With a new school year approaching, we wanted to highlight some of their back to school video offerings that will help you and your children add a little creativity and personal touches to your required supplies.

Back to School Organizing: Getting ready for a new school year is all about planning especially now with the myriad learning options this fall. Watch this fourteen minute video to get your craft and school supplies in order.

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Boredom Busters – Nine Fun Family Activities to Try Out This Summer

Summer! The season when kids finally get to stretch their legs after the school year’s end, destined for summer camps, vacations, video game marathons, or pool playdates. Or are they? For many of us parents and caregivers, not only have plans changed, but the kids have already been home for months.

Perhaps you’re more organized than I am and have a list of fun time-sinks that you didn’t already burn through during the spring COVID-19 closures.  If that’s you, great job!!! (Seriously, you are amazing.) For the rest of us, I’ve compiled an assortment of kid-friendly activities that use affordable materials and household items.  I’ll also mention which activities have video tutorials on Creativebug, one of the FREE resources you can access with your library card.

Water Balloon Crash Testing 

You might want to fill a bunch of extras, for “failed tests.”
Photo credit: Pixabay

This “raid the supply closet” activity is perfect for a hot day. The goal is simple: protect the water balloon so that it doesn’t burst when thrown. You’ll need water balloons, a water source, and a target (could be as simple as a wall).  The other materials are up to you. I have used tape, craft sticks, rubber bands, packing foam, paper, and plastic cups. Encourage children to experiment with different capsule models and decorate their enclosures.

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Imagine Your Story: Summer Reading & Superhero Crafts

Summer Reading is here!!! This year’s theme is Imagine Your Story inspired by Fairy Tales, Mythology, and Fantasy. 2020’s program will run from June 8 to August 8 and will hopefully bring a little magic into your everyday life. We will once again be using the game board format and will have prizes available for those who participate. For more details on the program please check out our website and for registration click HERE.

Since our regular kick-off events couldn’t take place this year, we are providing some fun activities and crafts virtually. Below, you will find some family-friendly superhero crafts that feature common household items as well as a few playlists to excite any aspiring hero!

Captain America Paper Plate Shield: Danger is an occupational hazard for aspiring superheroes, so shields are a vital form of protection. This super simple shield, courtesy of Crafts on Sea, is the perfect accessory for your hero and can easily be customized with your child’s initials or another superhero logo.

Superhero Puppet: Your kiddos can channel their creativity and make their own superhero puppet with this free template courtesy of Glued to My Crafts. This craft provides the perfect opportunity for the entire family to make superhero-themed characters and perform your own puppet show!

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