Steal this Program: Codes, Ciphers, and Cryptographs!

We just launched a new program called 7, 8, Create! at my library.  Designed for (you guessed it) seven and eight-year-olds, it’s a pretty open-ended program.  One day (depending on which librarian is running it) we might do a story and thematic craft.  Another day might find us mixing up our own batches of slime.  The possibilities are endless!

For my 7, 8, Create! class this week, I decided to harken back to my girlhood obsession with Nancy Drew, spy stories, and anything mysterious and clandestine.  Using Gary L. Blackwood’s Mysterious Messages as a reference, my sevens and eights explored the history of codes, ciphers, codemakers, and codebreakers. Continue reading

Celebrating Gay Pride Day with Kids

Today is Gay Pride Day!  How are you celebrating?

Growing up, I remember this being a big day for my mom and her partner.  Being born in the fifties and coming out in the 90’s, my mother was part of a generation that still found it incredibly difficult to admit that she was gay (in public, with pride no less).  Yet despite being nervous and probably feeling like she was betraying those family members who still thought she was “going through a phase,” she nevertheless went downtown each year to join the crowds, watch the procession, and cheer on every awesomely costumed, glitter bedecked, lovely marcher.

Back then (waaaay back in the 90’s that is), seeing kids with LGBT parents was still rare.  There were some gay parents with little babies and toddlers, but so very few older kids like myself.  When I did spot a tween with two moms or two dads, I’d always try to catch their eye.  Seeing all kinds of families, as different and atypical as my own, made me more confident, accepting, and ultimately, proud.  Celebrating Gay Pride (whether you go to the actual parade or simply show support in your own way) is empowering not only for those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning, but also for the children, siblings, parents, and friends who make up this diverse community.  Back then, I was still too shy and afraid to even imagine inviting a friend to join my family in any sort of Gay Pride celebration.  But now, I wish I had.   Continue reading

Kid blogger!

So, a couple of weeks ago my library launched our Summer Reading program and we have been pretty much swallowed up in a storm of sign ups, giveaways, and answering questions about how to win prizes, which are the best books for X grade, etc., etc.  It’s been a blast!  (A tiring, sometimes physically draining blast, but good fun all the same.)  Among one of the kids to sign up was a boy who said something during the sign-up process that sent my little blogger antennae straight up.   Continue reading

Some Superhuman Sweet Potatoes with your Dinosaur Broccoli Trees?

image courtesy of Flickr user

image courtesy of Flickr user Cyn74

Growing up with an Italian grandmother, I always thought vegetable names were kinda weird (Escarole?  Zucchini?). But had my nightly portion of veggies promised X-ray vision or other cool super powers, I dare say there may have been many more harmonious nights around our dinner table.

New research shows that calling carrots, broccoli, and other lame-named veggies intriguing aliases encourages kids to eat them more by 50 percent!

I don’t know.  Although this did just give me a great (messy) idea for a program:  food art!  The challenge:  create a Dino Village out of mashed potatoes, carrots, and string beans.  Mmmmm.  Delicious and educational……………….

Great Websites for Toddlers and Preschoolers

I have an enormous population of toddlers and preschoolers in my community.  And while curling up with a board book or picture book is still a popular library activity, more and more caregivers want to allow their one, two, or three-year-old to experience online activities.  Finding fun and age-appropriate websites isn’t always easy- especially for little ones who may not yet grasp the concept of “point and click.” 

I’ve been working on a flyer/brochure with some good websites and helpful hints for online fun.  Here are a few of the sites I often recommend for toddlers and preschoolers:


Colorful, musical, interactive, and no matter what you click, something fun happens. 

A great site for toddlers to explore.


Simple games about everyday things like washing your hands, getting dressed, and making funny faces with vegetables.  One of the best features- the mouse arrow turns extra large when it’s time to point and click.

FisherPrice- Learn Your ABC’s

A perfect game for babies or toddlers who have yet to master the keyboard or mouse.  Any key pressed makes the letters morph onscreen.


ABC games for pre-readers (including American Sign Language alphabet demonstrations) to interactive storybooks for beginning readers.


Here you’ll find some of your preschooler’s favorite characters- Big Bird, Caillou, Clifford, and more.  The games tend to require listening skills and a good grasp of point and click technique, so toddlers will need some help.

UpToTen- Boowa and Kwala 

Games designed especially for children 0 to 6 years.  Available in English and French.


More great characters and games from BBC kids.

Wumpa’s World    

In interactive, arctic world for young children to explore.  Similar to Club Penguin– but for a younger user.  Available in French, Spanish, and Inuit!

Nick Jr. 

The banner ads tend to confuse younger children, but with some grownup help, the games are tons of fun.


Similar to Nick Jr.  With some grownup direction, kids will find some of their favorite characters- like Max and Ruby and the Backyardigans.

Midsummer Night’s Swing Series- With Kid Stuff!

I file swing dancing under “things which I do poorly but nevertheless enjoy.”  If you’ve never gone swing dancing (or salsa, samba, tango, or disco dancing) and live in the NYC area, then Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing is one of the best places to start (July 8th through the 26th).  Each night of the series, live bands turn Damrosch Park into an outdoor dance party.  For grownups, the dances start with a lesson at 6:30pm and the live music begins at 7:30pm. 

Saturday mornings are for kids.  This Saturday, July 12th, there will be lessons on ballroom, tango, and swing.  The cost is a mere $5 per person- and children 5 and under are free!  In NYC, you really can’t beat those prices. 

Check out the calendar for details. 

Now, if I could only figure out a way to bring ballroom dance for kids into the library……hmmmmmm.

If this is what they did to Strawberry, I don’t wanna see Lemon Merengue

Image from TCFC, NYTimes

Today’s business section of the New York Times features an article about classic children’s characters getting 21st century makeovers.  American Greetings, after a year long “fruit-forward makeover” (heh?) have unveiled the latest and lamest incarnation of one of my personal favorites from the 80’s, Strawberry Shortcake. 

After contacting the executive board of American Greetings, it turns out that Ms. Sour Grapes and the Purple Pieman recently acquired the company.  Grapes had this to say, “We are berry excited about these new changes.  Bawwwwhaaaaaaaaaa!”