A Summer Library Memory

This past June, we signed up for the summer reading program for the first time. The previous summer, we had fun exploring several libraries in our area. We played at lots of different libraries and at parks in different towns. We didn’t get to explore new libraries quite as much this summer since we had to be at our local library every week to turn in our reading log and complete activities. But here’s a fun memory of a day complete with TWO libraries!

First, we started off the day building “green machines” based on an episode of nick jr.’s Butterbean’s Cafe. In the show, there’s a drawing to win a green ATV, but Jasper is having such bad luck, he thinks it’s not even worth trying to win. Butterbean creates little cars out of apple slices, toothpicks, and other fruit. We used blueberries for the wheels because that’s what we had (but we’ve also made them with grapes). I think our green machine turned out pretty cute!

Next, we went to our local library to turn in our weekly reading and activity log. My daughter got a slip to put in a jar for a prize drawing. She also turned in a list of ten books we had read so that there would be $1 donated to the food pantry. My daughter also got three marbles to send through a marble track. After all that, we picked out new books to read for the following week. As we looked through the shelves, we found a display showing how tall different space objects were and a ruler to compare your height to the objects. The theme for the summer was “A Universe of Stories,” so there we several space-inspired activities.

Since there was still plenty of time left in our day, we decided to check out a library we had never visited before. While it isn’t super far away from us (maybe 20 minutes or so), it’s in an area with lots of one-way streets and confusing intersections, so I don’t like to drive there often! This particular day was VERY hot, so my plan was to head straight into the library and its air conditioning, but my daughter noticed the playground so we got side-tracked. The playground was so cute, though – because it was Arthur-themed! Yes, like Marc Brown and the PBS show Arthur! Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t seem to remember the show or books we had read when she was really little, but I definitely sang the theme song for her to see if it sparked a memory! “Every day when you’re walking down the street/everybody that you meet/has an original point of view…”

Once we got too sweaty, we went inside the library. We ended up walking around the entire building though, because we weren’t really sure where the front door was. Turns out, it’s pretty obvious – if you park in the right spot! Inside, the library was very big and spacious. There was a large area where adults were working at computers. We went upstairs to the children’s area and were impressed with the sensory area for little kids. There were lots of fun little places to sit and tons of materials to choose from. We found a cool window seat to sit in, where we could spy on the adults down below! We read a few cute books before heading home.

After supper, we finished off our meal with a simple yet delicious dessert: strawberry shortcake. I had thawed a Sara Lee All Butter Pound Cake (which I found in our local supermarket’s freezer section) in the fridge, and then cut it into slices when I was ready to serve it. I chopped up strawberries and added a bit of sugar and then heaped it on top of the slices of pound cake. Adding a generous dollop of cool whip to the top, this dessert was the perfect way to end a summer day.

It may only be the beginning of winter, but this memory sure has me dreaming about the fun things we’ll do next summer!

Library Fun: Second Edition

We came back home to snow when we flew from Mexico to Wisconsin today. While I’m excited to get started on our Christmas decorating this weekend (an excellent way to procrastinate the unpacking of our suitcases!), I’m not ready to return to the cold. Luckily, even when the weather is yucky, we can still enjoy a day of fun at our local libraries. Here’s some more library fun from this summer:

We built towers and tracks with big blue blocks at my parent’s library. These blocks are fun to play with – but I’m glad I don’t have to store these huge things at my house! My daughter loved the veterinarian clinic that was set up at another library near our house. There were lots of stuffed animals to take care of, clipboards with checklists to give your pet a check-up, x-ray scans, and plenty of medical tools and grooming tools to get the job done. My kid especially loved taking care of the snake and the parrot. Creepy. Sometimes she does not seem like my child! At the same library, they had another corner set up as a campsite. There was a tent with camp chairs, a fire, lantern, and woodland animals. There was also a nearby “pond” where kids could reel in fish thanks to some magnets. While my daughter gets shy around other kids, she made several friends while playing at the library in these fun play stations.

Another play area was full of construction items like a wheelbarrow, blocks, a workbench with tools, brooms, and a construction worker outfit. My daughter liked loading up the wheelbarrow. At the library closest to our house, the children’s area is smaller, but still provides some room for play. My daughter took up the whole kid’s table with this giant book of The Wheels on the Bus. Luckily, she was happy enough to flip the pages by herself so I didn’t have to embarrass either of us with my terrible singing!

Before entering the children’s library, there is a statue of some children reading a book. My kid sat down and said, “Take a picture of me!” She fit right in. Another library offers a spacious area to build your own wooden train track. I know this is common at many libraries, but what I like about this set-up is that you don’t have to make your track fit on a train table. A big floor rug gives you more room to play. When we visited a new library this summer, we found lots of puppets. While I was personally a bit grossed out thinking about how many kids have put their hands inside all the puppets, my daughter joyfully explored them! Bring on the hand sanitizer!

Since we’ve been on vacation, we’ll be back at the library soon to check out new materials. Hope you are utilizing your local libraries too!

Our Favorite Children’s Book of the Year…Drum roll, please!

My four-year-old daughter and I read a lot of children’s books this year. We wrote down 75 titles, but I’m sure we missed quite a few. Out of all those books, there was one clear winner: The Teacher’s Pet.

Written by Anica Mrose Rissi, The Teacher’s Pet is a funny story about a class of students who have an unusual experience with a science project. After their tadpoles hatch, Mr. Stricter decides they should keep one because he’s always wanted a pet. But instead of having a frog as a class pet, they end up with a hippo! He continues to get bigger and bigger and causes a lot of problems. Mr. Stricter (who is anything but strict) loves their class pet and can’t understand what all the fuss is about. It’s up to the students to save the day.

Besides the fact that the story is funny, the other reason why we loved this book so much was the illustrations. Created using acrylic and pencil, Zachariah Ohora’s paintings match the story so well and help carry on the humorous vibe. The illustrations are bold, especially because of the simple color palette. I love how the students have big round heads on little bodies and are colorful shades of orange, yellow, tan, black, yellow, and green, and I like how Mr. Stricter wears a mustard yellow cardigan with a snazzy bow tie and green sneakers. The pictures have almost a vintage feel and would look adorable as prints in frames. This really is a cute book.

We liked the illustration style so much that we went in search of more Zachariah Ohora books. We weren’t disappointed! This quest led us to The Not So Quiet Library, which is both illustrated and written by Ohora. In this book, a trip to the library is anything but normal when a five-headed monster shows up and threatens to eat the main character! A story set in a library means that there are so many wonderful pages filled with books. We also read If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed, Wolfie the Bunny, and Read the Book, Lemmings! – all illustrated by Ohora. I’m pleased to see on Goodreads that there are plenty of other books for us to enjoy from this illustrator.

We hope you can find some of these books at your local library or bookstore.

What picture books have you loved reading this year?