Dance Party Fun

I recently had a Preschool Dance Party for children ages 1 to 4 at the Manchester location of the Kitsap Regional Library. A dance party in the library? Why? Dance parties incorporate all sorts of great activities that promote early literacy and child development. My dance parties start with a streamer craft that the kids can dance with throughout the party; the reading of one interactive story; and dancing that lasts for about 30 minutes. I use a variety of songs that include free dancing, action songs with directions, and songs that incorporate shakers, scarves, bean bags and parachute play.

Dance parties promote music, movement, and play, all of which are important to a child’s development. Music and movement can help develop a variety of skills in children such as emotional expression and the development of large motor skills. Research has shown that “music is essential for building early literacy skills.” Dance parties don’t just have to take place in the library. You could have one at home with your kids and their friends!

If you are ready to host your own dance party or just looking for some songs that promote music and movement, here are some of my favorites that are sure to please! All of these CDs are available at the Kitsap Regional Library:

caspar asheba Wiggleworms

Run Baby Run by Caspar Babypants on Here I Am!

No More Monkeys by Asheba on Animal Playground

Silly Dance Contest by Jim Gill on Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and Other Contagious Tunes

Rock and Roll Freeze Dance by Hap Palmer on So Big: Activity Songs for Little Ones

The Canadian Snacktime Trilogy: Popcorn by The Barenaked Ladies on Snacktime!

I Know a Chicken by Laurie Berkner on Whaddaya Think of That?

The Hokey Pokey by The Wiggleworms on Songs for Wiggleworms

The Hoppity Song by Five for Fighting on For the Kids

Clap Your Hands by They Might be Giants on No!


Great Teen Books That Have Appeal for Adults, Too!

I read an interesting statistic the other day. Over 55% of people who read teen books are not teens-they are adults. After I reflected on this for a very short amount of time I realized that this statistic is not terribly surprising because, after all, I help adults find and check out teen books on a regular basis here at my library.

Why do adults enjoy teen books? They enjoy them for many of the same reasons teens do. Fast-moving plot-lines, romance and unambiguous endings (yes, I’m glaring at you All the Light We Cannot See) lend themselves to stories that are pleasurable reading for both age groups. Finally, adults may also enjoy the feeling of nostalgia that comes with reading a teen book.

Two of the most pleasurable (and well-reviewed) teen books I have read this summer are Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker. Both books feature compelling and interesting stories that should be of interest to anyone (regardless of age) who enjoys fiction.

dumplinDumplin’ tells the story of Willowdean Dickson (a self-proclaimed ‘fat girl’) who lives in a small town in Texas. Things are not easy for Willowdean as she heads into the summer between her sophomore and junior years of high school. Her life-long best friend has decided to take things to the next level with her boyfriend, her beloved aunt Lucy died six months ago, her crush on a co-worker at the fast food restaurant where she works is unrequited and, to top it all off, summer is pageant season. The pageant, wherein Miss Teen Blue Bonnet is crowned is Clover City’s social event of the entire year. It is also run by Willowdean’s mother who is a former Miss Teen Blue Bonnet herself. Every year Mrs. Dickson squeezes herself into the dress that she wore when she won, in order to preside over all the pageant happenings. However, this summer Willowdean decides things will be different. This summer she will enter the pageant herself (despite the fact that she does not possess a traditional beauty queen body). Her decision to enter the pageant inspires several other unpopular girls from her school and she soon finds that she is not the only non-traditional contestant.

I LOVED this book. The author is obviously familiar with the inner workings of beauty pageants and she uses this knowledge to create wonderfully humorous scenes (the scene where drag queens help the girls learn to walk in high heels is awesome). Willowdean’s romance is also portrayed beautifully and realistically as is her longing for her deceased aunt. I don’t know if the author will write a sequel but I HAVE read that Disney is making this book into a movie. I can’t wait to see Willowdean and her friends on the big screen!

witch hunterThe Witch Hunter, by comparison, tells the very serious story of 16 year old Elizabeth Grey who was orphaned as a young girl when her parents died in a magic-spawned plague in an alternate England. Elizabeth was taken in and trained for years by the Inquisitor who then unleashes her on practicing wizards and witches. Unfortunately, Elizabeth is also manipulated and taken advantage of by the king who sets her up for a fall. When the most hunted and powerful wizard in the land breaks Elizabeth out of jail she must re-evaluate her life and figure out where her loyalty should really lie.

This fabulous, elegant and compelling story has it all! Romance, supernatural creatures, a terrifying inquisitor and magic all combine to form a story that was quite unlike anything I had ever read before.

I adored it and cannot wait for the sequel. This book will appeal to anyone who loved Kristin Cashore’s, Graceling.

The Witch Hunter is already owned by the library system. And Dumplin’is not going to be published until September but the library has already placed an order so holds can be placed.

Summer Learning Inspiration: Family History Part 2

Welcome guest blogger, Jo Blackford.

This summer I’ve been working to organize my grandmother’s family tree research into a format that is easy to search, refer to, and share. I shared my initial plans to figure out how to do that in an earlier post.  Here is the culmination of my project:

I started by reading genealogy software reviews online and learned that most (if not all) of them use a standardized file format for imports and exports, which means that you aren’t committing to a whole system when you choose which program to use. Thank goodness for that! Family Tree Maker (FTM) and seemed to have a good system that works on both Macs and PCs, so I was leaning in that direction.

I took a trip to the Sylvan Way library to see what help the Genealogy Center might be able to offer. The ladies there were very generous with their time, talking to me about programs and sites they use, even showing me their own family trees on both Ancestry and within the FTM software so I could get a feel for how they worked and looked. I used one of the library computers to play around and see if I could find a way to start a tree online, but it turns out that that part of Ancestry is separate from the free database access that the library provides, and I would need to set up an account first before I could build a tree. At that point I decided that the software might be a better choice for me.

For a couple of weeks I went back into procrastination mode, debating between buying the software and building a tree online. Luckily one of my summer reads, The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau, was all about pursuing a quest, and I realized that genealogy could be my quest. It has achievable milestones along the way but is also never-ending, and it feeds into all of my interests. That got me motivated to get started right away, so I sat down and created my online account.

Just in case you are thinking you’d like to follow along with me, I’ll give you a tip I discovered quite by accident. There are two parts to signing up for Ancestry – the account creation and the free trail/paid subscription. You can actually sign up for an account without buying a subscription or starting your free trial, no credit card information required. Just navigate to another page after you set up your password when they ask for your money. As a “registered guest” you can build a family tree online and see hints, but you can’t see the documents and sources unless you subscribe. A subscription allows you to search and view documents and databases, but so does the Ancestry Library Edition, for free (as long as you are on a library computer or on your laptop connecting to the library’s wifi network). Huzzah!  census record

In the past couple of weeks I have added more than 300 relatives’ basic information to my tree, piecing together the family tree charts my nana left with my own notes from family discussions, captions from photos, guesses and memories, with a little help from my parents. Ancestry gave me hints for at least half of my relatives, sometimes adding middle names, sometimes places of residence, or important dates. You can email documents to yourself to add to your discoveries from within the library’s version of Ancestry, although you can’t actually access your own family tree through the database itself.

The first day I found myself sitting at one of the library’s PCs with my MacBook balanced on my lap, switching between screens trying to put everything together. (Ancestry wasn’t playing nice with my Chrome browser that day). The next time I switched to Safari and logged in through the Library Edition in one tab, and into my own account on another tab, downloading documents directly to my computer. For a beginning genealogist that set-up works perfectly. Library Associate (and genealogy student) Elisabeth also showed me some other sites to check as I move along in my investigations – Family Search and Find My Past.


Some of my favorite discoveries so far:

– A record of the memorial or grave at El Alamein in the Western Desert, Egypt for my great uncle Victor, who was gunned down during WWII at the age of 21. My family didn’t know that he was memorialized there.

– A 1910 photo of my 4th great uncle, with all of his family around him, complete with a caption identifying most of the people in the photo, shared by a distant relative of his.

– The wedding date for my great nana, whose wedding portrait I have on my wall. It seems she was already a few months along with her son on the day of her wedding – perhaps explaining her loose dress and the giant bouquet in front of her belly.

– Records of 3rd great grandmothers, who had more babies than I can imagine. One had 14 births in 21 years, her last baby at age 47, and died in her 50s. But another had at least 9 children, and somehow still managed to live to the age of 95!

– An arrest warrant for a relative I had always heard was extremely moral and upstanding. I have no idea whether it was true or whether he was caught, but the warrant had wonderful details about his appearance and even his manner of dress.

I love these little stories and all the questions they beg. I can see why people get hooked on this hobby.

This post is part of our Summer Learning Inspiration series.  Folks in our community have agreed to share inspiration and talk about some of the amazing things that they’ve been #LibraryInspired to learn!

Summer Lego Events

With Legos, kids can build spaceships that visit Pluto, houses for a zookeeper and their pet phoenix, or even a giant, square robot with three limbs. Kids’ creativity is only limited by their imagination.

Their innovation with Legos always amazes me. There is nothing quite like seeing future engineers and architects in action–especially when they don’t even realize they’re participating in a STEM learning activity! Playing with Legos can develop problem solving skills, build confidence, and encourage sharing and teamwork. For younger children, Legos can help develop spatial skills, which assists in understanding the intricacies of three-dimensional objects.


Our libraries try to capitalize on this fun and educational form of play with programs centering on or involving Legos.  Little Boston offers Legos at the Library on July 21st and August 20th at 2:00pm. Poulsbo includes Legos with our Gears, Gizmos, Marble Runs and More program on July 22nd at 3:30pm. Then, on July 29th, Poulsbo is screening The LEGO Movie at 7:00pm for free–including popcorn! The Lego creations made at the Gears, Gizmos, Marble Runs, and More program will be displayed during the movie.  The kids who participate can then show their creations off to their family and friends.

Lego movie

We’re looking forward to seeing you and your family at any of our great Lego events this summer!

Richard LeMieux shares his story July 25th!

Please join us on Saturday, July 25th at 1:00pm at the Downtown Bremerton library as the Books to Action group discusses Breakfast at Sally’s by Richard LeMieux. The author will join us to share his story.

Breakfast at Sally'sIf you live in Bremerton, or anywhere in Kitsap County, you really should read this wonderful book about a local man who found his life turned upside down almost overnight, yet persevered, believed in his community, reveled in his relationships, and overcame his struggles.

Once a successful businessman, LeMieux was met with economic and personal failures, falling to homelessness for almost two years on the streets of Bremerton. Chronicling his life on the streets, he writes openly and honestly about those he encountered, as well as his own experiences with day-to-day issues, like the mental health system, and his restoration of hope.

Breakfast at Sally’s should be required reading for all of us.

If you would like to read Richard’s heartwarming story, pick up a copy at the Downtown Bremerton Library on 5th Street. Later this month we will sit down with Richard who will answer questions and tell us more of his story, as he continues to impact Bremerton.

Books to Action is a book group that combines book discussion with community involvement, reading socially-relevant books and connecting with local organizations that can tell us how to get involved.

Summer Learning – adults too!

Welcome to guest blogger Jan Harrison, business consultant with JHarrison Solutions, sharing her experience with learning new things at the library and participating in Summer Learning. Adults, too, can learn something new this summer and tell us about it for a raffle ticket for a tablet, or read 10 hours for a prize or 100 hours for a really awesome T-shirt. Why would adults want to do that? Read on… 


When I was in college getting a degree in journalism, I took a required course in Research. Boy, that professor was tough—but what I learned served me well. I learned how to cull information from libraries and other public sources of information. This was well before the internet, so it was Dewey Decimal Systems, microfiches, and leg work.

Today, of course, we can find so much online. And that takes a whole new set of skills—searching and discerning. (As the great Facebook quote from Abraham Lincoln says, “You can’t believe everything just because it’s on the Internet.”)

For we Baby Boomers, this can take some effort. Unlike our younger colleagues, we weren’t born with an electronic device in our hands. We’re still not certain what happens when you push F8. Learning the highest and best use of the latest gizmo isn’t instinctive. We have to work at it—and too many of us give up. Bad idea. It’s like the merry-go-round at the playground: It goes faster and faster, and if you get off…well, you might never be able to get back on again.

That’s why I was so grateful to stumble across a great resource at my local library. Did you know Poulsbo has a data diver who can find dang near anything out there in cyberspace? Check it out: Peggy Branaman is a marvel. She’s taught me what I learned in that college class years ago—but using the internet and a handful of remarkable databases. What you can find…what you can do with that information…the data that can help you make better, smarter decisions. Truly, it’s a game changer.

I’m still learning what I might find ‘out there’ and still occasionally asking Peggy for clues to navigate my way. But I’ll tell you one thing for certain: I am not getting off that merry-go-round any time soon. Learning is for everyone, every day.

Family Art Day

With so much emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning, it is important to remember that art and creativity are fundamental parts of learning and developing. This year, Kitsap Regional Library is happy to be taking part in the Family Art Day. This amazing and FREE event is presented by the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art & Kids Discovery Museum. It takes place on Saturday, July 18, 10 am-4 pm on Ravine Lane on the Island Gateway Plaza.

This year’s event will feature all kinds of fun and creative activities including hands-on art stations, live dance performances, music and a scavenger hunt. There will be family fare and admission to both the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art & Kids Discovery Museum is free. Kitsap Regional Library will have a booth at the event which will offer children the chance to try out some fun and engaging activities.


For detailed information on the event, check out the Family Art Day website.



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