May 13th, 2014

Summer Reading, Summer Learning!

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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?



May 7th, 2014

A Night with Writer/Cartoonist Tim Kreider

cover_welearnnothing_pbRecently I found in my attic a large box of letters I had received from West Coast friends and family in the 1970s and 80s. Not being one to ignore such an unexpected treasure-trove, I spent many hours reading the letters and reliving those days. Each one was like a decades-old time capsule that made me long for the nimbleness of unencumbered youth, when all my belongings could be moved in two carloads.

I had such a good time reading those letters that I figured some of my friends would enjoy the experience, too. How they would laugh at the memories! I mailed each friend a couple of their letters and waited expectantly for their responses. None came. In fact, when I did talk to some of them many weeks later, they admitted that they hadn’t finished reading the letters, but didn’t say why.

Maybe I’m too sentimental. Or perhaps, unlike my friends, I’ve conveniently forgotten the poverty and angst that accompanied the fun and freedom. I know we all change over time, but does everyone just want to ignore the past? I don’t understand–where did I go wrong?

Maybe I should ask Tim Kreider.  Tim—a writer and cartoonist–has an uncanny knack for peeling back the layers of a situation one-by-one until a nugget of truth is revealed. Here’s a paragraph from his “Chutes and Candyland” essay, as he describes how he was influenced by his older friend, Jim:

“He introduced me to music whose genre I could not even identify, like the Penguin Café Orchestra. I remember listening to what he had to say to someone who was chronically ill, taking mental notes on how to be kind in such a situation. For a while my laugh even started sounding like his—I was at an age when the tics and mannerisms of people we admire are as infectious as chicken pox among toddlers.”

Tim’s scathing political cartoons were published in Baltimore’s City Paper for 12 years, followed by his first book of essays, We Learn Nothing, in 2012. He has also been published in various magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Men’s Journal, and The New Yorker online.

I ran across Tim’s book of essays last year and was quickly drawn in by his nuanced and insightful observations of life, particularly his own. Whether they were funny or frank, reflective or literary, I loved his visual descriptions and often found myself nodding in recognition as he analyzed his escapades and interactions with family, friends, or nature. He’s mellowed since his political cartoon days and seems to regret the intensity of his scorn. In fact, I found myself thinking that it might be interesting to hang out with Tim one evening, chatting about life in general, and solving the problems of the world. Maybe he would have some ideas about where I went wrong with the letters.

It turns out that Tim Kreider is from Cecil County. He winters in New York City, but spends the warmer months getting away from it all in a cabin on the Chesapeake Bay. He also frequents the Perryville Branch Library, which is where he has agreed to do a program for us on May 13th at 7 pm. He’ll tell us a little bit about how he got started, and give us a sneak peek at his second book of essays, I Wrote This Book Because I Love You, which is due out later this year. I hope you’ll join us. Please register on our website, or by calling the branch at 410-996-6070, extension 3.