September 16th, 2014

Listen Up!

listeningOne of the most often asked questions by parents at the library is how to help their child be a stronger reader. Like books, struggling readers come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and cultures. A child’s ability to read is a result of various factors, and may sometimes be influenced by a language barrier, medical condition, or learning disability.

Trained educators know that early intervention can make a world of difference for a child. Many techniques and strategies, some not involving letters or words at all, can dramatically increase a child’s ability to read. One technique is utilizing audio books.

Audio books are CD’s or other forms of digitized media, on which stories are recorded as a person (or sometimes a cast of readers) reads them. The reader’s voices of these books bring characters to life, and the readers adjust the tone, speed, and volume of their voices to dramatize the story to the fullest potential. Many adults love audio books. We listen to them on long commutes back and forth to work. We listen to them while we clean our houses.

Somewhere out there, though, there is a feeling that children must physically read books. That listening to them is somehow cheating; not beneficial. In most cases, that is just not true.
Listening to audio books is actually one technique that can make a dramatic difference in a child’s ability to read. Listening to an audio book, while reading the book simultaneously, is even better! Studies show that listening to a story being read, while reading along, improves comprehension and fluency.

This is where your local library steps in.

Did you know that the Cecil County Public Library has entire collections of audio books for children?  We have audio books for beginning readers, like the popular Bob Books series available as a CD Book, where the CD is packaged directly with the book. Cecil County Public Library offers several CD Book titles in our EZ Reader section, like titles from Cynthia Rylant’s series “Henry and Mudge,” or “Fox in Socks,” by Dr. Seuss.

Classic favorites by award-winning authors, as well as new titles, are available in our picture book area.  Maybe a child in your life would like reading along, while listening to, a book by Kevin Henkes or Patricia Polacco! More challenging CD Books are available in our chapter book areas. We encourage you to check out the book with the CD Book, and listen as you read. We carry a slew of popular titles and series in CD Book format, from Junie B. Jones and  Magic Tree House, to 39 Clues, Little House on the Prairie, and Harry Potter (just to name a few). Why not listen to a children’s book on your way to school or sports practice?

For technology-hungry families, have you considered downloading audiobooks? CCPL has thousands of titles, click here.
Whether you are looking for strategies to help a struggling reader, or just a new way to enjoy a great book, try out an audio book and let us know about your experience the next time you stop by!

What’s your favorite audiobook?


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January 30th, 2013

It’s Tudor Time!

I like to be engrossed—that feeling of being lost in your reading and immune to the real world.  Lately I’ve been living in the world of Henry VIII.  I never cared much about British history and I don’t much care about Kate and the Prince, but I’ve become engrossed in Henry’s world thanks to Hillary Mantel’s books, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (both available at CCPL).

These books are turning me into an anglophile.  I’m fascinated by the politics.  What will Henry do to end his marriage to his latest wife?  And how will Thomas Cromwell, who has to be the greatest “administrative assistant” in the history of the world, manage it all?  The relationships between all the characters are real and complex.  The period of history comes alive as told from the Cromwells perspective.  I’ve learned about the 15th century world with its conflicts between the established church and the royal rulers and what life at court was really like.  What would it have been like not to be able to read the Bible in English, a controversial  issue of the day?  The language and images are so resonant and beautiful that I’m listening to the works now for the second time and I’ve reserved the books for further study.

And that’s still not enough to quench my passion.  I’m watching the Showtime series, The Tudors (also available on DVD at the library) to get an even better sense of the costumes and settings.  King Henry, played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, is virile and young and compares to the historical images of Henry VIII like young Elvis compares to old Elvis.  (Rhys-Myers actually played Elvis in a TV movie!)   The accent is on the romance and the drama, but it helps to add definition to the characters I’ve been introduced to in the books.

The library also has some fascinating nonfiction that lays out the family tree and puts the Tudors’ reign in a larger perspective.  A quick search in our catalog of “Henry VIII” brings up a great selection of books, CD Books and DVDs about Henry and his many wives.  So my winter’s reading and viewing is all arranged!  And I’ll be waiting for Mantel’s third book in the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, to be published.  Maybe it’s time to plan a trip to England in the spring!

What period of history do you enjoy reading about most?


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