Literacy Series -- Numeracy

Numeracy is to math what literacy is to reading -- understanding the components that make up the mathematical "language." Numeracy involves understanding the different kinds of numbers -- decimals, fractions, percentages, etc. -- and being able to use them to solve problems.

If math was not your favorite subject, don't worry -- encouraging numeracy in your child is surprisingly easy. Here are some quick tips:

1. Drive -- How far have you gone, and how far do you still need to go? How fast are you going and how soon will you get there? And, a scary question, how much will it cost to fill the gas tank?

2. Shop -- Which product is the better deal? How much does each product cost per ounce? If you still use real money, how much will your change be?

3. Cook -- Double or halve a recipe. How do you change the measurements? Read The Math Chef by Joan D'Amico for more ideas.

4. Play Games -- Let your child keep score when you play games or sports. Dominoes and card games are good for recognizing and matching numbers, while Battleship is a great introduction to graphing.

5 Pay Attention -- How do you use math in your life? Share your daily calculations with your child.

For more tips and ideas, try these resources:
This page from the Peel District School Board has several pages of tips -- scroll down to where it says "Help Your Child Boost Math Skills."
The US Department of Education provides its own list of activities for preschool through grade 5.

Cindy Neuschwander's "Sir Cumference" books are a great way to learn about geometry.
For fans of One-Minute Mysteries, try 65 Short Stories You Solve With Math!.
Amy Axelrod and Greg Tang, who have written many, many books about math.

Good Listening: Chasing Vermeer

If a driving trip is on the horizon this summer, a good BOCD to keep everyone in your family entertained might be Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett. It's a smart, entertaining story about two kids who solve an art mystery. (Apparently the movie is due out in 2011.) If that doesn't appeal, browse here in a treasure trove of 475 youth BOCDs at the library.

Summer of DIY @ AADL, for the Kids

This summer at AADL our goal is to MAKE IT HAPPEN, with a ton of DIY and MAKE programs for all ages. As always, there are many craft and DIY related books to help get you on your way with some new projects. Here are a few to get the kids started:

Kid Made Modern, by Todd Oldham is new, hip, colorful book, that talks about basic craft supplies, and has oodles of projects to work on, including vases, rugs, printed t-shirts, duct tape totes, pillows, zines, printmaking, jewelry, forts, and more. All are easy enough for children to work on. D.I.Y. Kids is another great find. This books features a lot of crafts and projects that recycle and repurpose supplies you probably have lying around. You can make toys, kites, castles, decorated boxes, clothing, accessories, and beyond. And for the younger kid set, ArtStarts for Little Hands! Fun & Discoveries for 3 to 7 Year Olds has simple projects for kids to make out of every day household finds. Help those little ones make sailboats, animals, cars, trains, puzzles, and more.

Happy making!

Jenga Tournament!

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How high can you build the tower of wood bricks before it tumbles down? Come to the Pittsfield Branch Library on Tuesday, June 22nd from 2 - 3 p.m. and test your Jenga skills. We'll provide the games, you bring the steady hands.

Prizes at the tournament will be awarded to the top three finishers in two categories: grades K-2 and 3-5. As with all summer programs, we go by the grade you will be entering in the fall.

Your Guide to Avoiding Summer Boredom

I don’t know about you, but I’m counting down the days until summer vacation! Summer is the perfect time to explore, build, create, imagine, and discover. Here some books and websites to get you started, whatever your interests or age:

Howtoons.com is a comic-style website of directions for making some crazy new toys. How about a Speed Blaster or Robofingers? There is something for everyone here and all the projects can be made with common household items like pop bottles, paper plates, and straws.

If you’re planning a campout or a hike, Camp Out! and Follow the Trail have all sorts of information about what to bring, what to do, and how to prepare for emergencies. Another fun book is Cooking in a Can, full of recipes for cooking over a campfire, from vegetables to grilled sandwiches to cake.

Even from your backyard or a park you can get up close with nature. 101 Nature Experiments includes how to grow various types of gardens, make your own compost, and discover all sorts of things about critters, bugs, and plants up close.

More into art than science? How to Draw What You See and Illustrating Nature will get you ready to draw and paint plants, animals, and landscapes 'en plein air'. There are also tons of crafts to make using stuff from nature: check out Organic Crafts, Ecology Crafts for Kids, and Nature’s Art Box for inspiration.

Summer is also a great time to update your wardrobe. How about making your own purse from fabric and embellishments, jewelry from beads and fiber, or perhaps a wallet or tool belt made from duct tape? These books give step-by-step instructions for creating one-of-a-kind accessories to keep or give as gifts. The Hip Handbag Book, Ductigami, Hemp Masters, and Creative Beading will get you started and you can let your creativity do the rest.

Finally, don't forget about the AADL Summer Reading program! Our theme this year is "Make it Happen," and events include art workshops, games, and all sorts of activities. Check out the Summer Reading events page to make sure you don't miss out!

Literacy Series -- Reading Aloud

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Do you remember storytime, and how fun it was when your kindergarten teacher gathered everyone on the rug to listen to Curious George? Although you probably didn't know it at the time, whoever read aloud to you was doing one of best things we know of to support the development of life-long reading. Here are some tips and ideas to help make reading aloud a part of your own family's routine.

1. Set time aside in your day -- Don't worry, you don't have to read aloud for a long time in order to reap the rewards. Ten minutes a day is fine, or even less for the especially squirmy baby or toddler. The key is regularity, for example, always reading aloud before bedtime.

2. Make read-aloud time fun -- Choose books you and your child both enjoy. Let your child bring their favorite toy along to read-aloud time. Use silly voices and sound effects. Eat popcorn or other snacks. Reading aloud should not be a chore!

3. Get your child involved -- Ask questions about the book (or the pictures, for younger readers). Ask your child to predict what they think is going to happen next. Talk about what you liked and didn't like, as well as how the book relates to events in your child's life. When your child is old enough, let her read to you.

4. Don't get stuck on novels and picture books -- There are all sorts of things out there to bring to read-aloud time. Nonfiction, magazines, newspaper articles, poetry, and even song lyrics are all great options for reading aloud.

For more information and tips about reading aloud and encouraging reading, try Reading Magic by Mem Fox, Baby Read-Aloud Basics by Caroline Blakemore and The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease -- or take a look at these great resources:
Reading is Fundamental
The National Institute for Literacy
Read Aloud America

Also, feel free to come on down to our summer playgroup and storytime sessions, starting June 21st.

Brush Up on Bicycle Safety!

Ride RightRide RightJoseph Kane's Famous First Facts, a wonderfully informative and interesting resource, notes that it was on this day in 1896 that the first reported automobile accident causing injury in the United States occurred. This first injury accident was an automobile-bicycle collision resulting in a fractured leg, and represents a cautionary event that's still relevant 114 years later.

Keeping cyclists safe is everybody's responsibility. Even way back then, the law relied on cyclists to be visible in traffic and to pedestrians, and to outfit their bikes appropriately for the conditions. According to an article in an 1899 edition of the New York Times, that city's own squad of bicycle policemen had made 65 arrests by 10pm on June 4th, most of which were for cyclists riding without a light and bell.

To help cyclists of all ages try to avoid the various road and traffic hazards, the AADL offers many helpful resources.

Try this search to get you started on bike safety materials for young and beginning riders. There is also a Safety Town run jointly by the Ann Arbor Police Department and the Ann Arbor Public Schools Community Education & Recreation Department. Safety Town was founded in my hometown of Mansfield, Ohio in 1937 by a traffic commissioner and a kindergarten teacher, and "includes pedestrian safety, bike safety, stranger safety, drug awareness, fire safety, school bus safety, outdoor safety and seat belt safety." I remember having an absolute blast riding my tricycle around the miniature town (with Mansfield landmark buildings and working stop light!), obeying all the rules of the road I'd just learned. If the program is anything like it was back then, I can strongly recommend it for any young person.

Even we old(er) cyclists need to keep reminding ourselves how to stay safe. Here are a few books that might help us stay upright and moving forward. Parts of David Hough's Proficient Motorcycling are actually very relevant to bicyclists (and anyone in traffic). I haven't read anything anywhere that's had a better effect on my understanding of visibility, sight lines, and awareness.

For a little perspective, Kane reports that almost exactly three years after that first accident, a bicycle officer made the first ever arrest of a driver for speeding. The driver was traveling at the "breakneck speed" of 12mph on NYC's Lexington Ave.

Oh, and did I mention that speedster back in 1899 was an electric car?

The Ultimate in LEGO Books

LEGOs are awesome. They were awesome when I was a kid, and they are awesome now when I play with them with other peoples’ kids. The library has a slew of books for LEGO maniacs of all levels. My top two: LEGO Star Wars: A Visual Dictionary, and it's just that. It has the best images and descriptions of all things LEGO & Star Wars. I could stare at the pages for hours. For a history of LEGOs, info on various sets that have been manufactured, and descriptions of the theme parks, etc., check out The LEGO Book.

And it’s not too early to save the date for AADL’s annual LEGO contest on August 5! Check the new AXIS brochure for details.

Michigan Reads Author Coming to Pittsfield Branch!

Michigan Reads is a one state, one children's book program that "highlights the importance of early literacy by focusing on a picture book by a Michigan author."

The Ann Arbor District Library is thrilled to be hosting the author of the 2009 Michigan Reads title, The Pout-Pout Fish. Deborah Diesen will be coming to the Pittsfield Branch at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11, 2010. She will feature The Pout-Pout Fish as well as her new title, Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade. This will be a great program for the whole family.

Past Michigan Reads titles are Barnyard Song written by Rhonda Gowler Greene and illustrated by Robert Bender, Bed Hogs written by Kelly S. DiPucchio and illustrated by Howard Fine, Big Chickens written by Leslie Helakoski and illustrated by Henry Cole and Raccoon Tune written by Ann Arbor author Nancy Shaw and illustrated by Howard Fine.

Books will be on sale at the program, courtesy of Nicola's Books, and the author will be available for signing.

Make a Picture Book with Illustrator Elizabeth Sayles

Illustrator Elizabeth Sayles is coming to Ann Arbor to do a picture book workshop for artists in grades K - 5. She will be at the Downtown Library on Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. All materials for making the books will be provided.

Ms. Sayles has illustrated several dozen picture books as well as artwork for advertising firms and magazines. You can learn more about Ms. Sayles on her website.

Billy Crystal's book I Already Know I Love You was illustrated by Ms. Sayles. Other titles illustrated by her are Millions of Snowflakes by Mary McKenna Siddals, The Night Crossing by Karen Ackerman and The Very Little Princess by Marion Dane Bauer.

We are excited to be hosting this illustrator. It will be a very special event.

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