May 29th, 2014

Best Books of Summer

beachAnnouncing my intention to attend a work conference in Detroit was my most successful dinner time conversation starter in years.  My son was confident the TSA would waive its rules for carry-on personal protection items in such circumstances, even when their website proved him wrong.  My husband insisted I take time to investigate the local real estate market for a $100 “investment” house with views of Canada.  Even having backpacked through Europe in my day, the conference’s promotional tagline “Detroit—it’s not as bad as you think” gave me pause.

After four days, I was missing both sweet tea and the sight of trees and green grass, neither of which downtown Detroit appeared to have.  But, in return, I’d found the Astoria bakery’s heavenly baklava, sky-high views from the People Mover and my long buried sense of adventure.  Detroit—it deserves better.

If an adventure into the unknown is not on your radar this summer, go along for the journey in one of these titles voted best books of the summer.

Lucky Us—Amy Bloom
Eva and her newly discovered half-sister leave depression-era Ohio for Hollywood only to be detoured on their epic road trip by a needy orphan, an accused German spy and their unrepentant father.  A comedic road trip that proves distance and fate need not tear a make-shift family apart.

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street—Susan Jane Gilman
Adopted by a guilt-ridden Italian ice cream vendor, Lillian leaves her Russian Jewish heritage behind as she ascends to the self-proclaimed role of America’s Ice Cream Queen.  A cooling rags-to-riches story designed for a hot summer day.

Carsick—John Waters
When the indie filmmaker of Hairspray and Crybaby decides to hitchhike from Baltimore to California holding a sign saying “I’m Not Psycho,” nothing can go wrong, can it?

Mr. Mercedes—Stephen King
Where would any self-respecting sociopath hide in a Stephen King novel released in the summer–the local neighborhood ice cream truck, of course.  The question is what path will lead to discovery and how many will be hurt on the way.

The Book of Unknown Americans—Cristina Henriquez
The Rivera family makes the journey from Mexico, where they ran a thriving construction business, to Delaware hoping for help for their brain-injured daughter.  Finding work at a local mushroom farm does little to ease the family’s fears as they have little English or money to sustain them.  A perspective on the American dream with roots close to home.

Vacationers—Emma Straub
Fired for dallying with an intern, Jim begins his two-week island vacation on the losing end of the silent treatment from his wife Franny.  Planned to celebrate their 35th anniversary, the trip gathers family and friends preoccupied with their own secrets and ambitions set to be revealed under the hot Mallorca sun.

Where are you headed this summer and what’s on your reading list?

May 13th, 2014

Summer Reading, Summer Learning!


10-9-8…Whether it’s counting down the minutes on December 31st to a brand new year, or counting down the days to a long awaited vacation, everyone loves a countdown because it means something great is on the way.  Never has this been more true than right now as we count down to the start of this year’s summer reading and learning program, “Fizz, Boom, Read” at the Cecil County Public Library.

This year’s summer reading program will kick-off May 31st when our branches will invite readers of all ages to register for this year’s summer reading program and participate in an array of exciting activities.  Be sure to check with your local branch for details of what promises to be an exciting day!

Planning for summer learning is just as important as planning for fun in the sun.  Recent studies show that children who participate in educational activities over the summer are less likely to lose educational ground.  Fortunately, providing your child with opportunities to continue learning over the summer has never been easier; here are just a few ideas to get you started and guaranteed to keep you busy all summer long.

1. Visit the local library and sign up for summer reading! It’s the perfect place to start when looking for ways to keep your child engaged in learning all summer long.

Brother Reading a BookResponding to your child’s interests over the summer is essential to keeping them motivated, and what better way to do that than by bringing them to the library? Whether it’s exploring the arts with Creative Experiments in Art, diving into STEM programs with Fun with Physics, Magnetic Attraction, and Your Amazing Body, or investigating our 3-D Printing Lab Friday, May 30th from 3:30 to 6:30pm, our programs offer something for everyone.  Click here to see details on our Summer Reading events for kids.

And, don’t forget the books. Want to learn to knit?  We have a book for that.  Want to explore the mysteries of space?  We have a book for that.  Want to learn to draw?  We have a book for that.  Want a recipe for healthy snacks?  We have a book for that, too.  No matter where your child’s interests lie, our librarians are delighted to locate books and resources that stimulate their desire to learn more. Self-directed learning is a very powerful way for kids to grow their skills while having fun.  Plus, when you register your kids and teens (and yourself) for our summer reading programs, you can get rewards and chances to win prizes!

2.  Seek out all that our local community has to offer.

Dad with little son walking outdoors at ocaenGo down on the farm to Walnut Springs Farm and make your way through a labyrinth of agriculturally-based interactive learning stations; travel back in time with a trip to Mt. Harmon Plantation and learn about days gone by as you tour an 18th century manor house; visit Elk Neck State Park and hike out to the historic Turkey Point Lighthouse; or explore Plumpton Park Zoo to observe and learn about the many different animals who are living there. No matter which path you choose, learning is sure to follow.  And, remember, this is but a few of the many local offerings to be found in Cecil County.

3.  Take advantage of the learning that can take place without even leaving your home or neighborhood.

In the house…
•    Girl And Mother With CookiesTry a new recipe and give your child the opportunity to practice math skills by weighing and measuring ingredients.
•    Get creative and make up a new recipe.  Write it down and share it with others.
•    Go on a scavenger hunt to find patterns, letters, and numbers around the house.
•    Make a map of a room in the house.
•    Write a story, draw a picture, compose a poem.  Plan a special night where everyone in the family shares their creative side.
•    Our Pinterest Page is full of ideas for fun learning crafts and activities, as well as reading suggestions.

In the yard…
•    Sit quietly and use your senses to explore the world around you.  Make a list of things seen and heard, create a graph, draw a picture, or write a creative story.
•    Go on a scavenger hunt.
•    Use a guidebook to identify the plants, flowers, and insects found around the house.
•    Learn a new game and teach it to friends, family, and neighbors.

In the neighborhood…
•    Take a walk and count the number of blue cars, or windows on houses, or children playing outside.
•    Use sidewalk chalk or wet sponges to practice writing letters and numbers or to practice spelling new words.

These are just a few ideas that will keep your child engaged in learning activities this summer.  Click here for another post with even more ideas for fun things to do in Cecil County. What are your favorite ideas for keeping your child involved in learning all summer long?