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!

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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?

I Voted – Where’s the Confetti?

wevotedI took my daughter with me to vote this afternoon. #1,779 in our ward. We were in and out of the polling place in about three minutes. It went by so fast, that I was honestly a little disappointed! Not that I wanted to spend hours in line with a two-year-old, necessarily, but it just seems like it should be a bigger deal. We’ve been talking about this election for so long. Also, we may be making history with the first female president. I wanted someone to shoot off confetti after I voted, or something!

I honestly said to the poll worker after I turned my ballot in, “That’s it? I’m all done?”

We grabbed our “I voted” stickers and exited the building. I attempted a selfie, but my photo didn’t turn out great. Too bad no one else was around to snap a better picture.

After that, we headed to the library. My daughter was in dire need of a choo, choo movie (aka Thomas & Friends). Filling in the bubble on my ballot for Hillary Clinton had been strangely emotional for me – not enough to bring tears, but I felt a little choked up. Holding my daughter in the voting booth with me, it felt important, and I felt incredibly proud and lucky. Now we’re at home, watching and waiting along with the rest of the nation to find out who will be the next president of the United States.