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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July 15th, 2013

Win Free Tickets to “The Tempest”

the tempest cecil collegeHow does reading cause or calm the tempest in your life?  Comment about your favorite “tempest” reads at the end of this post and you could win free tickets to Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at Cecil College, opening this weekend!

I believe that books hold a powerful sway over our lives, especially for those of us with a serious reading addiction. A good book can be a powerful and cheap form of therapy, providing escape from the woes of life or lending a deeper perspective on a difficult issue.  At the same time, there are a few books that have left me a little unhinged… provoking stormy thoughts and visions I never knew existed.  Here are a few of my favorites from over the years…


The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
The biography of a young Dutch woman and her family who risk their lives to help Jews escape the Nazis.  They are caught and the family is sent to a concentration camp.  Though this read has many tragic scenes, Corrie’s faith and purposed choice to love and forgive makes this my top read when life gets hard.

Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty
A surprisingly deep read, this book details a marriage on the brink.  Tressa is almost forty, a successful food writer, but so lonely that she jumps into marriage with a man she doesn’t know that well.  When the relationship starts to require compromise, Tressa is ready to bolt.  Through looking back on her family history, she slowly discovers that like any good recipe, a good marriage requires hard work, revision, and willingness to change the ingredients.  This is a great read to make you appreciate the relationships in your life.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
After a massive stroke, Jean-Dominique Bauby awakens from a coma to find he can only blink his left eye. The former editor-in-chief of a famous French magazine is left with an active, alert mind, but a useless body. By blinking that one eyelid, Bauby wrote, edited and dictated an entire book to his assistant, distilling words down to their absolute essence because the task was so hard.  While the book may sound depressing, it’s actually incredibly beautiful and affirming of the power of the human spirit to keep going when all seems lost.


The Psychopath Test
Experts estimate that approximately 3% of the population is made up of psychopaths, people with no moral compass.  Investigative journalist Jon Ronson manages to make this topic entertaining with his witty and quirky investigations of mental health in our modern world, but the book also left me wondering about the gray nature of insanity and sanity.

The Sky is Everywhere
Lennie is 17 and trying to heal from the tragic death of her older sister.  Though this book is intensely sad, it’s also lyrical, moving and ultimately hopeful, taking the reader through Lennie’s journey of healing.  I sobbed my way through this book because the author’s depiction of deep grief was so accurate.

The Likeness by Tana French
Detective Cassie Maddox is called to a murder scene to find that the victim looks just like her and has stolen her identity.  The squad hatches a crazy and dangerous plan for Cassie to go undercover as the dead girl, pretending to her friends that she was only in a coma.  When Cassie takes up the dead girl’s life, what ensues is a twisting psychological thriller of constant suspicion and surprise.  French’s books often tackle the theme of identity and if we truly know who our friends and family are, and this book doesn’t disappoint.  It certainly left my mind swirling.

Leave a comment about a favorite read that causes or calms the tempest in your life and you could win! We will pick a winner at random.

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