Monday, May 16, 2011

Tots to Tweens Blog is Taking a Break

We won't be posting on this blog for the next few months. 

As we gear up for another spectacular summer reading program, we will be focusing all of our attention and energy on  providing the best service we can and encouraging the joy of reading for the kids in your life. We hope to see you often over the summer.

But you can keep up with all the news about tots, tweens, and everyone in between on the Library's News blog and also over on Kids CornerThanks for reading!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

SOL Help for Kids and Parents

Photo by Microsoft Office Online
If your child needs some help preparing for the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, we have a few resources to offer. You can find information about test dates here.

Kaplan Parent's Guide to the Virginia SOL: Tests for Grade 3 by Cynthia and Drew Johnson is useful for preparing your child for taking the tests for the first time.

More useful are the released tests from the Virginia Department of Education. These released tests cover all subjects and grades tested. The most recent practice test is from last spring. Your child can practice previous tests in a relaxed environment and gain confidence.

If you have an Arlington Public Library card, you can access the Learning Express Library via our test prep research portal and set up a free account. There are reading and math practice tests for 4th and 5th graders, as well as for middle and high school students, and beyond. These aren't the SOL tests, but are good practice nonetheless.

Teachers and administrators say that it is most important that kids don't stress over these tests, that they get a good night's sleep, and eat a healthy breakfast as the best strategy for test-taking success.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Children's Choice Book Awards: Winners Announced

The winners of the 4th annual Children's Book Choice Awards were just announced.

As part of Children's Book Week, over 500,000 children across the country voted for their favorite book, author, and illustrator.

In what should be no surprise to parents of middle grade through middle school readers, Rick Riordan was voted Author of the Year for The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, Book 1).

David Wiesner was awarded Illustrator of the Year for his wonderful picture book, Art & Max.

Little Pink Pup by Johanna Kerby was the winning book of the year for K-2nd graders.

Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown by Jarrett J. Krosoczka won honors as the best book of the year for 3rd-4th graders.

The 5th-6th grade Book of the Year is The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1) by Rick Riordan.

For other reading suggestions, here's the complete list of the 2011 Children's Book Choice Award finalists. Remember, these are all kid-approved books!

Monday, May 2, 2011

10 Civil War Books for Kids

With the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War at hand, we'd like to share some books for young readers interested in historical fiction.

K-Grade 2
Dadblamed Union Army Cow by Susan Fletcher, with illustrations Kimberly Root, is based on the true story of a persistent cow who followed her Union owner into the army and right into battle.

Virgie Goes to School With Us Boys by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard, illustrated by E.B.Lewis, is set just after the war ends. The story, based on the author's family history, tells of a little girl who wants to attend school with her brothers to learn all the things denied them while they were slaves.

Billy and the Rebel: Based on a True Civil War Story by Deborah Hopkinson with illustrations by Brian Floca is an early reader based on the true account of a real boy who defended his family farm near Gettysburg against Rebel soldiers seeking a deserter, and an unlikely friendship that unfolds.
From Slavery to Soldier: Based on a True Civil War Story, also by Hopkinson and Floca, is another early reader inspired by real events and tells of a young slave who joins the Union Army.

Grades 2-4
Seeing the Elephant: A Story of the Civil War by Pat Hughes. Izzy's brothers are off in the war and he wants to "see the elephant", too--that's soldier speak for seeing action in battle for the first time. Things don't work out exactly like Izzy thought, but he ends up learning a lot about war.
Alec's Primer by Mildred Pitts Walter is based on the true story of a young Virginia slave who grows up to fight for the Union and ultimately becomes a landowner in Vermont. His journey begins when a young girl starts teaching him to read.

Grades 4-7
Freedom Stone by Jeffrey Kluger is the story of a young slave girl named Lillie whose father tries to earn the family's freedom by joining the Confederate army. After he is killed in battle and unfairly accused of stealing to deny his family's promised freedom, Lillie must clear his name.
All Their Names Were Courage by Sharon Phillips Denslow. This is a great story for kids who love animals. William Burd, while fighting in the war, is exchanging letters with his young sister Sallie who is also busy writing to Union and Confederate generals asking all about their horses for a book she wants to write.
The Mostly True Story of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick is filled with the rollicking adventures of one Homer P. Figg, a 12-year-old boy searching for his brother who has been illegally sold into the Union Army. By turns uproariously funny and deeply poignant, this book brings the era alive for young readers. The audiobook is wonderful, too.
Iron Thunder: The Battle Between the Monitor and the Merrimac, A Civil War Novel by Avi. Illustrated with maps, drawings, and period photos, Avi brings to life the battle of the two "ironclads" from the perspective of Tom Carroll, a 13-year-old boy who lost his father in the war and has taken a job at the ironworks in Brooklyn where an amazing ship of iron is being built.

Take a look at What'sNext for more suggestions - it also includes a great Historical Fiction reading list, broken down by time periods for kids from Grade 1-6.

Then check them out!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Día! Many Children, Many Cultures, Many Books

April 30, 2011 marks the 15th anniversary of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), also known as Día.

Why is Día so important?
 Día supports literacy through assisting parents who are learning English and encouraging parents to inspire their children to read by reading to them regularly at home.

Books bring families together, and reading daily to your child for at least twenty minutes can become a family tradition. Studies show that children who are read to in the home and who use the library perform better in school and are more likely to continue to use the library as a source of lifetime learning.
      Arlington Public Library wants to help!

      • We maintain a robust English/Spanish bilingual children's collection, a small part of which is highlighted in our Bilingual booklist for elementary-age children.
      • We also offer Cuentos para Niños family storytimes. 
      • And in collaboration with AVN, Mariela Aguilar, one of our talented children's librarians, has long been involved with the innovative bilingual program, Cuentos y Más, which you can watch for free!

      And take a look at this excellent information sheet from the Día website, which includes helpful hints in English and Spanish about reading with your children, as well as more book suggestions.

      So read together and tell your stories. Bring your children to the library. Make it a family tradition!

      Wednesday, April 27, 2011

      Hot Tip: Storytimes Are Not Just for Children

      Do you sometimes wonder why the children's librarian asks parents and caregivers to participate fully with their child in storytime? It's not just to see grownups do silly things.

      When you participate fully, you can extend the storytime experience with your child after you leave the library.
      •  By learning the songs and rhymes, you can help your child enjoy these activities and successfully learn them.  Next time you go to storytime, your child will be able to say "I know that song!"

      • You can also reinforce "narrative skills", an important component of early literacy. Have your child retell a story,  song, or rhyme that was presented during storytime  in his or her own words.  These activities help your child learn about story structure (beginning, middle and end) and learn to organize what they have observed.

      • Your participation models appropriate group behavior for your child--how to interact with other participants, how to be a good listener, how to participate, and how to respond when called upon. These skills are part of kindergarten readiness.

      • As your child's primary role model, your full participation in storytime signals the value you place on it.  A parent or caregiver who acts interested by participating in the program shows your child that this activity is important.  In turn, the activity will be more important to your child.
      To get the most out of storytime, participate fully with your child.  You'll support important learning skills and have a good time acting a bit silly.

      Monday, April 25, 2011

      Children's Choice Book Awards - Vote Now!

      The Children's Choice Book Award is the only national award program where children and teens of all ages select the winning titles - and it's happening right now!

      Kids in K-2nd, 3rd-4th, 5th-6th grades, and up through teens can cast votes through April 29, for their favorite books, authors, and illustrators from a list of finalists. Their votes really do count!

      The winners will be announced on May 2, at the start of Children's Book Week, a national celebration of books and reading for youth, began in 1919 with the idea that books can change lives. This year the festivities run from May 2 - May 8.

      The list of this year's finalists, as well as past winners, is also a place to get ideas for books your kids may not yet have read. And remember, these are kid-approved. Chances are your kids will enjoy them, too.