New Toys at AADL--Snap-Together Letter Blocks!

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Introducing Snap-Together Letter Blocks: one of many new toys at the AADL this season! Who needs flash cards when tots can learn letters and spelling with fun, colorful letter blocks that snap together! Plus, each block features the uppercase and lowercase version of one letter—so they reinforce letter recognition, too! The blocks are at the youth department in the Downtown branch now, but they'll move to another AADL location soon! Come check out the blocks, and all our new toys!

Cyber-Safety Series -- Cyber-Bullying

by Steven Fernandez, Flickr.comby Steven Fernandez, Flickr.com

Cyber-bullying – bullying conducted over the Internet, using e-mail, social networks, texting and/or attack websites – is an increasingly common problem, and could affect as much as 33% of young people. Lately, high-profile cases of cyber-bullying have been covered by the media, inspiring legislation and crackdowns. President Obama himself has made a strong statement condemning all forms of bullying. Luckily, there are many resources, both in the library and on the Internet, to help parents prevent and respond to this problem.

StaySafeOnline.org offers an excellent list of tips for cyber-bullying prevention and response, as does the National Crime Prevention Council. Check out the Cyberbullying Research Center for research and news about cyberbullying, as well as printable resources for school or home. Stop Bullying Now, a website of the US Department of Health and Human Services, is designed specially for kids, and includes animated videos.

For more information on cyber-bullying and bullying in general, take a look at these books and resources:
7 Ways to Block a Cyberbully and Cyber Safe: Identifying and Combating Cyber Bullies (DVD's).
Girl Wars
The Bully, The Bullied and the Bystander
And, for kids:
Stand Up for Yourself & Your Friends
Hot Issues, Cool Choices
Jay McGraw's Life Strategies for Dealing With Bullies

Whether you look at any of the resources above or not, here are some tips to remember:
1. Being involved in your child's online life and knowing what they do online can help prevent cyber-bullying from getting out of hand.
2. Know the resources available to you -- your school may already have an anti-bullying policy. Your e-mail, social network and cell phone providers probably have policies to respond to online harassment.
3. Remember, bullying is not normal, and no one should have to put up with it!

Raising a Bilingual Child

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Join us on Saturday, November 20 at 10:30am at the Traverwood Branch for the Raising a Bilingual Child program. Early Childhood Specialist in Saline and Bilingual Parent Educator for First Steps of Washtenaw Su-Fen Lin will help us understand the language acquisition process for young children whose native language is not English. She'll discuss the advantages of raising a child to speak multiple languages, what to expect from the process, and how you can support your child through it all.

Raising a Bilingual Child | Saturday, November 20 | 10:30 am | Traverwood Branch

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Exraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

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Why simplify? Because kids are more over-stressed, over-scheduled, over-medicated and over-anxious than they need to be. Kim John Payne teaches a path of reducing that stress by simplifying the home environment and the family schedules, creating rhythm and filtering out the adult world. Discover how to deeply nurture children through: plenty of unstructured play-time; regular meals and bedtimes; restricted screen-time; very few toys; and even a bit of old-fashioned boredom.

Ask yourself this about your activities and the state of your home life: does this contribute to the way we want to live? If you suspect that your child is not being nourished by the current pace and volume of modern life, let Simplicity Parenting help you evaluate the choices and guide you through some very powerful changes.

Take Part in Art -- Super Cool Stamp Art

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Printing has been around since about the year 200AD, and was in use for centuries in the Middle East, Europe and Asia -- especially Japan -- before spreading around the world. Printmaking is still alive and well today, and many artists use a variety of printing techniques to create unique and beautiful works of art.

If you want to try your hand at printing at home with your kids, the most convenient method is the humble rubber stamp. If you happen to have some rubber stamps lying around the house from your scrap-booking projects, it is time to take them out! Try combining the images to make a story. What patterns can your child make with the stamps? Can your child combine stamping and drawing to make a picture? For more rubber stamp ideas, read Cool Rubber Stamp Art by Pamela Price.

Of course, if you have no stamps at all, fear not. TLC Family and Kinderart have plenty of suggestions for making your own stamps and printing blocks. For more ideas read Joe Rhatigan's Stamp It!, The Usborne Book of Printing and Printing by Michelle Powell.

For any grown-ups who want to try printmaking and stamp art, try The Instant Print Maker by Melvyn Petterson, Creative Stamping by Sherrill Kahn, and, for some history, The Woman Who Discovered Printing by Timothy Barrett.

Also, if you act fast, you can see some cool prints at the University of Michigan Museum of Art's exhibit Sister Corita: The Joyous Revolutionary. Admission is free!

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.

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.

Overcoming Children's Fears of Thunderstorms

A library patron recently asked me about books for her child who is scared of thunderstorms. If you are in a similar situation with our stormy spring weather, we have several picture books that can help ease the fears of your little one.
My first recommendation has to be Patricia Polacco's Thunder Cake, which tells the story of a girl and her grandmother in a Michigan storm and the tasty way they overcome her fear. There is even a recipe for Thunder Cake included, so you can make your own special treat when a storm rolls in. Franklin And The Thunderstorm is another picture book that demonstrates creative ways to overcome being scared of the weather. The Monster Storm tells the story of a little monster who is afraid of a thunderstorm and goes outside to try and scare it away. Thunder-Boomer! is local author Shutta Crum's tale of a family's experience on a farm in a storm (with great sound effects for reading out loud) and an unexpected visitor. One last recommendation would be Listen To The Raindrops, which tells the story of a father comforting his scared son, and transforming a frightening thunderstorm into a fantasy of sight and sounds. Written by local author Kirk Lignell, this book includes a CD featuring "The Storm Song".
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Signing Smart--Sign Language for Infants and Toddlers

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Learn how and when to sign with your baby or toddler to improve communication! Join us at the Traverwood Branch on Saturday, March 27, 2010 from 11-11:45am as Kathy Brady of Signing Smart guides you and your young one through games, songs, and other activities that make learning signs fun and easy.

Parent Magazine Update -- Good for You

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This month's parent magazine update focuses on things that nourish the soul and body, starting with my personal favorite -- books.

Book Links magazine starts with some interesting articles on multi-platform books -- books that include online components. The popular 39 Clues series is a great example of this innovative genre, as is the Skeleton Creek series for teens. Also featured in this issue are series books that are good for reading aloud -- The Porcupine Year, Al Capone Shines My Shoes, and The Runaway Dolls for example -- and books about young artists, along the lines of Peter Reynolds' classic The Dot.

Mothering magazine has its own list of recommended books -- "visually sophisticated" picture books. Though he isn't mentioned in the article David Wiesner would be my personal recommendation in this category. This issue also features lots of other good-for-you stuff -- foods to boost the immune system, ways to foster creative play indoors and an article about celebrating your daughter's menarche in a supportive and empowering way.

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