Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Will Hillenbrand - What a Treasure!

Will Hillenbrand was wonderful! As someone said to me, "Mr. Rogers in a suit jacket."
He arrived for his 6:30 PM program at 4:30 in the afternoon. As he set up, we talked. Anyone who came in he spoke with. He encouraged one of the Children's staff members, who is wonderfully artistic, to go to Marywood to sit on some of their classes.Will gave one-on-one art lessons and encouragement to a future book illustrator. She is only 8. He had the children entranced! We had 3 programs with a total of almost 300 adults and children and everyone left happy. We set up interactive learning stations in our lobby. We used under-the-bed storage bins for our sandboxes where children could dig for bugs. When not in use, we put the covers on. The children learned about the concepts of over, under, and through with our "mole house", tunnel, and balance beam. Our library was filled with little miners! How appropriate for our coal mining region.
Tell us about your experiences with Will Hillenbrand. What kind of programs and activites are your libraries creating? Send me your experiences and pictures.
Onto the Summer Reading Program!

What a treasure ! Will Hillenbrand and two of his friends.

Laureen M. Maloney
Head of Children's Services
Lackawanna County Children's Library
520 Vine Street
Scranton, PA. 18509
570-348-3000 ext. 3027

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Library ... wiring brains every day!

Dr. Jill Stamm was the keynote speaker at the Best Practices in Early Learning luncheon on April 14. Her presentation was based on years of research in early brain development after her first daughter was born prematurely at five months. Babies this early don't usually survive but Dr. Stamm's daughter did with a lot of help. As her daughter was growing, Dr. Stamm heard a lot of nevers. She is never going to talk, never walk, never read. Dr. Stamm never gave up! As a fifth grade teacher, she knew what to do. She introduced concepts to her daughter and consistently reintroduced them until her daughter was able to grasp them as best she could. As a result of working with her daughter, Dr. Stamm began to investigate the way a child's brain develops and how we can nurture and stimulate a baby's developing mind.
Her book, Bright from the Start will help you separate the myths about early brain development form the facts. It will show you simple but effective ways to nurture a babies growing mind. And more importantly, it's never to late to start.

The book provides useful ideas for activities for babies and toddlers which include brief explanations of the purpose of the activity and the science behind it. Dr. Stamm's presentation and book validates what we are doing in our programs with language, literacy, modeling and play with a purpose. That we as libraries play an important role in brain development. My new slogan for the library is “Wiring brains every day.”

One of the most interesting chapters is Chapter 5 Screen Time: When Baby Meets Modern Life. It confirmed what I have observed over the past 15 years. Children's attention spans are shorter and kids are more easily distracted with the introduction of video, computers, gaming systems and now hand held devices. A child's brain gets used to a short attention so it gets wired that way. All these devices contribute to a child's brain being trained to scan and shift rather that to pay attention. It's stop and go and on to something new.
I have heard many of the concepts Dr. Stamm has spoken about in her book. I use many of the reasons and explanations with parents in my programs. But I have been around a long time. Bright from the Start would be an excellent resource for those who do infant toddler programs but have limited knowledge of brain development or need an authority to support why we design our programs for young children the way we do. It also acts a guide to help structure infant toddler programs more appropriately and with intent.
As always, my neural pathways are still expanding!

Funny How Things Change and the Dark Side

Hi All,
I don't get much time to read so when the CWF awards nominees are announced I read them.
I actually pretended to be asleep when I heard my family calling me for dinner one night. They couldn't find me and thought I went outside to sit on own my personal Stonehenge rock! I was in the living room and I had a book to finish! I was nearing the end of Funny How Things Change by Melissa Wyatt . The story brought out several issues, one of which was ecological and environmental, mountain topping, the destruction of mountains for the sake of easier, cheaper coal mining. It brought to mind our current situation here in NE PA with the Marcellus Shale drilling. I know of families whose groundwater is now contaminated. Families need the money so they make decisions that may have negative consequences. Consequences that seventeen year old Remy comes to understand. He is faced with decisions: does he stay in his dying West Virginia town where his family settled 160 years earlier or go with his girl friend Lisa to Pennsylvania? Does he allow his father to sell the family mountain to mining company so that Remy has money to go to PA? After he meets a young artist and starts to see his town through her eyes, he makes his decision.

The other book I read non-stop was Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey. I have read all the Twilight books and was always left with a feeling of anxiety and annoyance. The yin and yang of Bella and Edward's relationship. Not a comfortable feeling. I had the Dark Side home for a week before I was "allowed" to read it. My 12 year old daughter Maggie claimed it as hers. She read it twice I read it once. I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun read with all the teenage angst and hormones, human and vampire. Lucius is Jessica's Henry Higgins. Can he transform Jessica from a Pa farm girl who mucks out stalls to a Romanian vampire princess? Maggie and I thought Lucius' letters to his uncle in Roumania were well written and funny in a sarcastic way. A royal vampire's impressions of teenage life in rural PA. Maggie took the book back for a third read and now wants her own copy. Maggie also wondered if Beth's last name was her real name. It looks so much like "fantasy".
Good reads!