Let’s get reading with early literacy skills!

SDC10496The Kitsap Regional Library is offering some fantastic programs just for kids, and those programs all promote literacy in different ways and encourage reading. Reading! That’s definitely literacy. But what about our pre-readers? I’ve got five super simple things that you can do with your baby, toddler or preschooler to increase early literacy and I’ll bet you are already doing most of them.

  1. Talk—Talk to your baby. You already do this, but how can you be more intentional about it without taking up more of your very busy day? When you visit the grocery store, point out and name fruits and vegetables. Hey, you could even name the colors while you’re at it! Another great thing to do is to look for shapes when you are walking around. If your child is talking already, ask them to name the shapes that they see. Learning and practicing words, rhymes and sounds is fun and great for developing vocabulary. Babies learn these sounds by listening to and mimicking the adults that they hear, so the more you talk to your baby, the more they are learning.SDC10503
  2. Sing—Singing lots of songs with your little one is a great way to share special times with one another. It is also a great way to introduce new words to your child. The drawn out vowel sounds and musical tones make it easier to distinguish the different sounds the letters make. The best part? They don’t care whether or not you’re on key.storywalk
  3. Read—Of course! Reading is an important part of early literacy. Reading together with your child models how the technology of a book works. We read top to bottom and left to right. They also get to practice their fine motor skills by turning pages. Not all babies will sit still for reading time, but that’s okay! We all learn in different ways, and just because they are moving around it doesn’t mean they’re not listening and learning.
  4. Write—Writing? With babies? You must think I’m being ridiculous, but I’m not! There are lots of ways to practice writing without really writing with a pencil or pen. Baby and toddler hands are not always ready for skinny pens and pencils like we use. Play pat-a-cake with your baby and draw letters in the air with your hands. Put some shaving cream in a plastic freezer bag, squeeze out any extra air and use it as a squishable writing surface for your finger. Maybe even try to make letter shapes out of modeling dough.baby dance party
  5. Play—Play with your baby! Play is important work for babies and all children. Imaginative play, creative play, and physical play are all fun and help children build connections. Playing with blocks alongside your child can be lots of fun! Build a tower and then knock it down. Peek-a-boo is a great game to play with babies and requires no extra supplies. What are your favorite play time activities?

Our library locations offer a variety of different storytimes, including special storytimes for babies aged 0-18 months and their grown-ups. Our storytimes emphasize lots of different early literacy practices and our youth services librarians try to have something for everyone to get excited about during storytime. We hope to see you this fall!

The Best Teen Movie Adaptations

This post was written by Meghan Smith, the teen summer intern at the Bainbridge branch.

There’s nothing worse than waiting to go see a movie based on your favorite book only for it to suck. Any Harry Potter fan has felt this after watching the Goblet of Fire, or in general after Eragon, The Twilight Saga, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and the Mortal Instruments, since the books were so much better. To help avoid that pit of despair, here is a list of my personal favorites so you won’t have to waste your time.

TFIOSThe Fault in Our Stars, based on the novel by John Green, holds true to the epic romance that has left its readers in desperate need of a supply of tissues. The chemistry between the lead actors, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, bring their characters to life in an emotionally unforgettable movie experience.


BTThe Book Thief, originally written by Markus Zusak, portrays the tragedy of Liesel, a girl living amid the horrors of WWII. Played by Sophie Nelisse and narrated by Rodger Allam as Death, this remarkable film brings this incredible story to life.



The Perks of Being a Wallflower, written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, follows the life of Charlie, a fourteen-year-old freshman, as he records the ups and downs of his first year in high school. The magnificently chosen cast brings reality to the mischief and insecurity all teenagers face, allowing the audience to follow Charlie (Logan Lerman) through his own adventures every step of the way.


Howl’s Moving Castle, based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones, pulls you into a world of witches and wizards as well as the main character, Sophie, when a feared witch turns her into an old woman. Hayao Miyazaki beautifully transforms this story into an illustrated masterpiece as Sophie’s search for a way to break her curse leads her to the self-indulgent wizard, Howl.

GiverThe Giver, based on the beloved novel by Lois Lowry, depicts a dystopian world plagued by Sameness, unbeknownst to its inhabitants, until Jonah is assigned an important role in his community. This long awaited film brings light and color to a world that had forgotten what those words mean as Jonah, played by Brenton Thwaites, struggles to accept the harsh truths his community has tried so hard to keep from him.

Which One’s Pink?

I just read an article about the sale of Pink Floyd’s inflatable pig “Algie”. The SUV-sized porcine shaped dirigible was created for the 1977 Animals tour. Evidently nostalgia set in and members of the band blocked a sale by a third party. They want “Algie” back. Too bad they weren’t able to muster that level of cooperation behind a world tour.

I never had the pleasure of seeing Pink Floyd’s most creative, famous and commercially successful line up (Gilmour, Waters, Wright & Mason). I was too young to receive my parents blessing to see them at the Boston Garden on the Dark Side of the Moon (1972) or Wish You Were Here (1975) tours. And I couldn’t get tickets to Animals (1977) or The Wall (1981) tours.

Fast forward to 2006 and I was elated to see the Roger Waters version of Dark Side of the Moon at Key Arena. Then I saw Water’s version of The Wall twice; once in Tacoma in 2010 and again Seattle in 2012. Amazing!

During a ten year period beginning in the early 70s, Pink Floyd released four studio albums. All were concept albums built around Waters ideas with him writing most of the lyrics. The songs tended to focus on the negative attributes of human behavior, which is no surprise given the band’s post-war up-bringing where times were tough and outlooks bleak (Waters father died in WWII). In spite of the darker lyrics they are quite poetic and at times humorous. And the music is phenomenal.

Pink Floyd 1971

Dark Side of the Moon (1972)

One of the best-selling albums of all time, DSotM, a.k.a., Dark Side of the Moon: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics. The tracks were created on the road and by reworking previously unused material. It was a concept album focusing on themes of the passage of time, organized religion and mental illness.


Wish You Were Here (1975)

Work on Wish You Were Here began during the DSotM tour. Wish You Were Here  was another concept album although it centers around the issues of corporate greed, alienation and mental illness. It featured a wonderful tribute to former bandmate Syd Barrett called “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”. Both Richard Wright and David Gilmour claim that Wish You Were Here is their favorite Pink Floyd album.

“Algie” over greener pastures

Animals (1977)

This album was modestly influenced by George Orwell’s Animal Farm. It’s a rebuke of the socio-economic and political conditions in Great Britain (and the world) in the late 70s. Sadly, the corresponding tour was plagued by greedy promotors, internal strife and a lack of connection with fans. It was a low period for the band. Nonetheless, it’s a stellar musical effort and may be one of the most underrated rock albums of the 70s.

The Wall (1981)

The final concept album and final studio album to be released by the Gilmour, Waters, Wright & Mason iteration of Pink Floyd. Waters’ lyrics continue with familiar themes of corporate greed, failed foreign policies, the influence of organized religion, feelings of alienation and mental illness, but this album is more reflective in that Waters examines his earlier life and attempts to measure the price of success. The Wall wraps up a decade’s worth of commentary on the human condition.

Print vs. eBooks: Death Match

When ebooks first came on the scene, book lovers eyed them with
suspicion.  Humph.  Devices are fine but paper is better, aren’t we agreed?  The smell of a new book, the heft of a tome, the feel of the pages…it’s more pure. More real. More legitimate.

On the other hand…

4486630439_f22515f1dcThe flexibility that digital offers us is staggering.  Here are a few examples:

For people with limited mobility, the ability to download from home offers a level of freedom and independence not available in the past.

For those learning English as a second language, slowing down the speed of a digital audio book can be helpful for practicing your accent and/or increasing your vocabulary.

For voracious readers tired of carrying around their books on the off-chance they have a moment to read a few pages, the ability to sync your ebook between phone and tablet removes the burden of hefting a book around on errands.

EBookrealHere’s the thing: Digital or paper, we’ve made the choice to read a book.  We could be choosing any number of ways to spend our time, but instead we’ve chosen literature.  Regardless of the device we use to read, codex or tablet, we have this in common: we are all readers.

book-112117_1280However and whatever you like to read, you can find a book suggestion at Kitsap Regional Library.  Get personalized suggestions from a librarian at your local library location, or use our new online service, BookMatch.  Do you have a favorite author or series?  With your library card you can access NoveList Plus from home for some suggested ‘next-reads’.


Between Beginning Readers and Early Chapter Books

As kids strived to reach their 10 hour or 100 hour reading goal this summer, I encountered a number of kids, parents, and caregivers who asked for early chapter books with lots of pictures—but not quite graphic novels. The kids needed something more challenging than beginning reader books, which pair simple texts with lots of illustrations. However, the typical early chapter books, which feature more complex text with illustrations every few pages, were perhaps too daunting. As a children’s librarian, I understand how important it is for emerging readers to read both books that challenge them and align with their interests. This combination helps improve their literacy skills.

A child cognitive development theory that corresponds with this method of literacy growth is Lev Vygotsky’s “Zone of Proximal Development.” Vygotsky was a Russian researcher examining the development of children’s cognitive abilities. He found that children “perform more tasks when assisted by more advanced and competent individuals” (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013, p. 219). When this occurs, children enter the “zone of proximal development,” where the challenging nature of the task combined with the adult guidance promotes maximum cognitive growth (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013, p. 219).

Essentially, the combination of your child’s interest in a subject, character, or genre along with your encouragement of more challenging texts allows your child to enter the “zone of proximal development” and gain the cognitive skills that will improve their reading.

Here are a number of books I found to satisfy the developmental needs between beginning readers and early chapter books. Hopefully there’s something in this list that captures your child’s interest and challenges their reading level. Let me know what you think in the comments! Are there any that your kids love and I may have missed?

1. Ordinary People Who Change the World series by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos (Ages 3-6)

With an inspiring message of how we can all be heroes, this beginning biography series pairs more complex text with cartoon illustrations and dialog bubbles.

2. Captain Awesome series by Stan Kirby, illustrated by George O’Connor (Ages 5-8)

Follow Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, as he fights to rid the world of supervillains, or at least his elementary school.

3. Bink and Gollie series by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile (Ages 6-8)

Each book has three shorter stories about two very different best friend with illustrations that read more like a graphic novel than beginning reader.

4. The Cat on the Mat is Flat and others by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton (Ages 6-8)

The 9 short chapters will have many kids laughing at the Dr. Suess-esque rhymes and etched illustrations.

5. Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen (Ages 6-8)

This series about the adventures of a loveable pig has full-page text, full page illustrations, and pages that blend the two.

6. Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot series by Dave Pilkey, illustrated by Dan Santat (Ages 6-9)

Superhero fans may enjoy this series about a mouse who befriends a giant robot if Captain Underpants is too difficult. Includes full-color illustrations and graphic novel-like panels.

7. Flying Beaver Brothers Series by Maxwell Eaton III (Ages 6-9)

Simple cartoon illustrations highlight the silly humor of this graphic novel series about adventurous beavers.

8. Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist series by James Benton (Ages 7-9)

Large cartoonish illustrations bring to life this series about a school-aged mad scientist.

9. Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel (Ages 8-10)

This hilarious tongue-in-cheek series follows the misadventures of a cat who always seems to get in trouble, a silly dog, and their human owner.

10. Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon (Ages 8-10)

This series is a bit more in the older age range, but is another that blends elements of graphic novels and early chapter books. Follow Danny Dragonbreath and his iguana friend Wendell as they encounter unique creatures in school and beyond.

Citation: McDevitt, T.M. & Ormrod, J.E. (2013). Child development and education (5th ed). (pg.214-221) Upper Saddle River, NY: Pearson/Merrill-Prentice Hall.

Exploring Science Fiction

Last weekend the Hugo Awards were announced to much anticipation due to the controversy surrounding voting methods.  The winner of the Best Novel category was Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem, a space opera described by the publisher as having the scope of Dune and the action of Independence Day.  Originally published in China to tremendous success, the award
marks the first time a Chinese author has received the honor. The Three-Body Problem

For those of you interested in delving into more Hugo winners here are a few options:

The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi
“Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko… One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.” (from the publisher)The Windup Girl

Blackout – Connie Willis
“Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas — to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.” (from the publisher)blackout

Spin – Robert Charles Wilson
“One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, a space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside — more than a hundred million years per year on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future. . . . Life on earth is about to get much, much stranger.” (from the publisher)spin

Looking for more?  The Science Fiction Awards Database lists should keep you busy.   Try the American Library Association’s Reading List. Browse the Locus book reviews.  If you’re looking for a classic try Best-selling Sci Fi novels of all time. Type in “Science Fiction Reviews” into your favorite search engine and see what happens.  It’s a weird and wonderful universe when you start peeling back the layers.  Remember, in all fiction, the ‘best’ book is the book that’s best for you, so get exploring.


What is Inquiry-based learning?

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

In an inquiry based learning environment, one is not simply asked to remember a set of facts or rules that are involved in a learning process. Instead, one is asked to explore a topic through hands-on student-lead learning.

Educational Postcard: “The goal of inquiry based learning”/Flickr


It really comes down to passive vs. active learning. In passive learning, an instructor stands before the students, presenting ideas that the students must remember. In some cases, very little interaction occurs. By contrast, active learning puts the discovery process in the hands of the students.

In an active, inquiry-based learning environment we start with a question. This question should be well phrased to encourage hands-on experimentation based on a hypothesis. To test their hypothesis, students do research, create models and even debate possible outcomes. Most importantly, all this happens in an active environment based on interacting in a peer-to-peer learning space. They are learning and teaching at the same time by acting as both students and mentors to answer the question at hand.

Youth services librarians at Kitsap Regional Library have been engaging youth all summer through inquiry-based learning programming. Whether it was through stop-motion animation, robot building or song writing through literature, youth were learning by exploring together and asking questions at the library.  Wtih our BiblioTEC grant and STEM initiatives, this type of programming will only expand in the future.

In the end, active learning means that we ask questions that will build knowledge and help us better understand the way we learn. Instead of just memorizing ideas and forgetting them later, learners are using logic, problem solving and collaborative skills to understand the world around them and share that information actively. This sort of critical thinking is the foundation to understanding how the job world works.

Make sure to check out our website for future events. http://www.krl.org/programs-and-events

We look forward to your questions as we actively learn together.


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