Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth Blog

What Counts as Reading

By: Emily Richardson, Youth Programming Associate

We’re coming to the end of our summer reading program. It’s been a wonderful reading-filled summer, and we’re on schedule to meet our reading goal. In the Youth Department, we’ve stamped and entered hours and hours of reading time. But what really “counts” as reading? What filled up all those hours?

In an oversimplified definition, reading is any formatted words, spoken or written, that cause a response from the reader. This could be emotional—a tie to a certain character or world—or influential—learning more about the history of WWII or the biology of snakes.

Read Interactive Digital Stories with BookFLIXBut, what does reading include? Reading includes audiobooks, graphic novels, non-fiction, magazines, playaway views and online books (BookFlix, Tumblebooks, ICDL), books read outside of a child’s reading level, rereads, any books read to children (storytime, bedtime stories, teacher-child reading, child-to-child reading), and more. If it fits the simplified definition, it counts. Even if it doesn’t fit, that doesn’t mean that the activity is not a useful or fun one. 

Reading aloud is great, because both the reader and the listener are interacting with the same material in different ways. It also allows the reader and listener to talk about the material together and share with each other their personal responses, a challenge that can build communication and reflection skills.

Personally, I love listening to audiobooks while cleaning or driving. Some are simple, just a single person encompassing the personalities of a multitude of characters through changing the tone and inflection of their voice. Some are more complex, with lilting music accompanying a variety of actors as we journey together through the chapters. I experience the same joy, terror and frustration with characters as I might when reading with my eyes.

Read eBooks, Graphic Novels Read-Alongs and More with TumbleBook LibraryLooking at a few of the more common formats, there are lots of great educational reasons to branch out into different formats!

Audiobooks help children learn fluency, vocabulary, sentence structure and word pronunciation.

Graphic Novels help children learn interpretation through pairing text and visual imagery, as well as gain a higher level of visual literacy, a valuable skill.

Online Books, with added video and sound, allow children to learn and interact through different formats.

Magazines convey information quickly and concisely, and can teach children the value of words.

But the most important thing to remember is that any reading is good reading!

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!

By: Renee Grassi, Youth Department Director

“When in doubt, go to the library.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

You may have noticed a resurgence of Harry Potter hysteria in the last week. And for good reason! Not only was it Harry Potter’s birthday on July 31, J.K. Rowling’s newest installment of the beloved series was released!

Harry Potter and The Cursed ChildCheck Out Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne (Parts I & II) picks up where J.K. Rowling left off at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Unfortunately, most of the details of the book’s plot have been kept secret, preventing others from releasing spoilers before the book’s official release. What we do know is that The Cursed Child tells the story of Harry Potter’s son Albus and Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius as young boys. This New York Times review also talks about how the power of time is a central theme in The Cursed Child—something fans of the series know all too well from Book Three: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

But The Cursed Child is not your typical novel. In fact, it’s not a novel at all. It’s actually a theatrical script of the play of the same name. This past June, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child previewed in the West End to London theater audiences. Written by Jack Thorne, this two-part stage play is based on an original new story collaboratively written by Thorne, John Tiffany, and J.K. Rowling. So, don’t be surprised when you or your child open the hardbound book and discover stage directions and an intense amount of dialogue.

Want to make sure that you are one of the first to read this magical story? Search our catalog and be sure to add your name to the waitlist! And if you want to relive the magic of the other 7 books, search the catalog and check out one of the books or audio books from the library!

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Beat the Heat with These Cool Summer Reads

By: Kate Easley, Youth Librarian

It’s been so hot lately! Like Pete at the Beach hot or Amelia visiting the Grand Granyon hot.

I have stacks of books waiting to be read, but I just can’t read anything set during a sweltering summer or in a hot, dry climate right now.

Instead, I need to picture myself climbing Mt. Everest or playing in the snow to help stay cool. If you are in the same boat, here are some books to help you cool off:

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Pokémon Go

By: Melissa Hilt, Youth Department Assistant Director

Pokemon Go LogoIf you have gone outside at all in the past week or been on social media you have probably seen and heard a lot of people playing Pokémon GO. Groups of people of all ages can be found all over the place glued to their devices, trying to catch these elusive Pokémon.

Has your child expressed interest in playing the game (or maybe already downloaded it)? There are a few things you should know as a parent to make sure that they are safe, not racking up any unwanted bills, and having fun. Like everything, there are pros and cons to Pokémon GO.

Pro: It’s free!

The app is free to download, however there are in-app purchases available. If you want to make sure your child is not racking up bills, you will want to make sure you have their phone set up to disable in-app purchases.

Pro: It’s fun!

Pokémon GO is fun and as a parent, you might even feel nostalgic playing with your kids.

Pro: It gets your kid outside and moving around.

In order to find Pokémon and visit Pokestops and Gyms, your kids will need to be outside. Yes, some people do it while someone is driving them around, but most people are out walking or riding their bikes. It’s screen time,yes, but it’s active screen time.

Pro: You can play with them!

If you were a kid when the first Pokémon games came out, you’ll likely become as obsessed with this game as your kiddo is. You can go for walks to catch creatures together or take a family trip to a “Pokémon gym” to battle your highest-level finds. It’s a different kind of family fun, but it’s fun all the same.

Pro: It can be educational.

In the game, players can go to “Pokéstops” to get items. Most of these stops are public landmarks like libraries, churches, fire stations, and public parks. You can use these stops as an opportunity to teach your child about their town and surroundings.

Con: It tracks your GPS.

Because the game is connected with Google Maps so that you can locate Pokémon in real time and real places, your child’s phone’s location will be activated.

Con: It leads to distracted walking/driving/biking.

If your child is out biking or walking around with friends trying to catch Pokémon, due to the nature of the game, their eyes will have to be glued to the screen. This makes for distracted walking in roads, riding bikes with one hand, or running to a location with their head down. Remind your child to always be aware of their surroundings and to be stopped before looking down at their phone.  They can set it up so that the phone will make a noise when a Pokémon is near.

Con: It uses data.

Since you can’t always play sitting at home using your WiFi, the app does use a lot of data, which is something to be aware of, especially if your child has their own phone and you do not have unlimited data.

Con: It’s being used to “lure” children to secluded areas.

One of the options in the game is to “lure” people to your location to engage in a battle. I have read that children are being lured to secluded areas, and no one wants that to happen to this child. It’s a good idea to set some guidelines with your kids. Let them know where and when they can play, or make sure that you can go out with them so there’s a set of eyes. Kids should be aware of stranger danger and travel in groups if they are not with their guardians.

Youth Staff Member with Pokemon FaceIf you have made it this far, I am guessing your child is already playing or has been begging you to let them play. I know here at the library, which by the way has two Pokestops and a handful of Pokémon inside, we have been seeing kids and adults come through playing the game so we decided we need to have a Pokémon GO Safari!

Join the library’s Pokémon experts on a safari to catch as many Pokémon as you can. We will be casting lures at several downtown Glen Ellyn Pokestops along the way. Just bring your own device loaded with the Pokemon GO app. The safari will meet in the library’s Youth Program Room and conclude at the library. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, as our safari will take us on walk within a few blocks of the library. For children 12 years and younger, adult caregivers will be required to sign permission slips and participate in the safari until the end of the program.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Building Better Readers

By: Leigh Ann Vock, Youth Department Page

Our summer reading program is titled Read to Build. Our partnership with Habitat for Humanity will be helping to build homes. In addition to the physical building of homes, summer reading can also be a time to build better readers. Reading is a fundamental function but the benefits go beyond that. To name a few, it helps develop our minds and our creativity. When we read our communication skills increase, we discover new things, our imagination soars, our listening skills are honed, and our vocabulary improves, along with our attention span and memory retention. Phew, that’s a lot of reasons to build better readers.

Reading can be a challenge in the summer time when everything from the pool to a new movie release can put it towards the bottom of our warm weather bucket list. One thing is for certain, making books available throughout the home can help to put the thought of reading in a child’s mind. Consider having books EVERYWHERE in the house, not just on a book shelf. Baskets, buckets and bins can all be used to house a variety of books. Make sure that reading is not just reserved for bed time or quiet time. When books are always present and available, the option to read is viewed as an indulgence and not a chore. Enjoy the creative possibilities below for book provisions in your home.

Consider reading as a vital form of entertainment for your family and build a better reader today.


Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Read, Just For The Fun Of It!

By: Amy Waters, School Liaison

A visit to the second floor of the library to see the Smithsonian display Patios, Pools & the Invention of the American Backyard, was a trip down memory lane. As children of the 60s and 70s, my siblings and I spent much of our time out in the yard, playing games with our friends, digging in the sandbox, celebrating birthdays and running through sprinklers. But my favorite thing to do, indoors or out, was to read.

Lolling in a hammock with my favorite novel, or spread out on a big blanket with my brother and sister and our comic book collections, summer was the time to explore reading for fun. No worries about the level, the challenge, the “just right” book; I could, and did, read anything and everything just for the pleasure of reading.

If you want more encouragement to let your child pick the books that they want to read this summer, there is this statement from the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English):

“Research shows that leisure reading enhances students’ reading comprehension, vocabulary development, general knowledge, and empathy for others, as well as their self-confidence as readers, motivation to read throughout their lives, and positive attitudes toward reading.”

Check Out B Is For Betsy by Carolyn HaywoodDepending on my age at the time, the reading I chose, and the source of the material varied. As a younger child, a trip to the library would often find me in the “Hs” looking for the next book by Carolyn Haywood so I could continue reading about Betsy and her friends, family and community. “B is for Betsy” and its companion books was the perfect book for then 1st grade me.

Next came the fantasy of a miniature talking dog in “No Flying in the House” by Betty Brock.  When I got older it was “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” and “Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and me, Elizabeth” by E.L. Konigsberg.

Check Out The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn KeeneWhen I could ride around town on my own, I would save my money and take a ride on my bike to the local bookstore to purchase the latest Nancy Drew novel by Carolyn Keene. I started with “The Secret of the Old Clock” and read every book I could get my hands on after that. Owning my own collection of Nancy Drew books was a joy of my young life and I indulged by reading them over and over. I also read and re-read “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett until the cover fell off.

Does your child have a collection of best loved books that they can return to time and again?

Archie Giant Comics SpotlightFinally, there were the trips to the news stand at the local “el” stop. With its racks of comics and gruff but kind proprietor I spent many a quarter (yes, they were that inexpensive!) buying up all the newest Archie comics. Back home, my brother would share Spider-Man, my sister her Richie Rich comics and I would toss my Archies into the mix as we relaxed in our yard and read the day away.

What will you read just for fun this summer? Share your favorites in the comments.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Helen Keller

By: Deanna Siegel, Youth Programming Associate
Hello Everyone!

Can you believe June is ending already? And what better way to welcome July than to celebrate one of the most resilient people in history. Helen Keller was born deaf and blind. Because of this, she had trouble communicating her thoughts and feelings to others. Through her courage, determination and life-long teacher, Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller was able to overcome several challenges. Throughout her lifetime, she learned how to read and to write, attended university and became a dedicated political activist.

Make sure you check out these titles the next time you’re in the library so you can read more about this extraordinary woman. Celebrate this day by encouraging your friends and family in all that they do!

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Reading Slumps

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

Have you signed up for our Summer Reading Program yet? We have programs designed for babies to adults. Kids have started to come in and log their reading hours. It’s pretty impressive. So many readers have already reached their 10 hour prize. But there are also a handful of kids who have already read 35 or more hours. I’m so proud of every reader that I’m starting to feel guilty about my own reading habits.

Check Out Booked by Kwame AlexanderMy current reading habits are kind of pathetic. I’ve read two books since our summer reading program has started. Only two. One was The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin. The other was Booked by Kwame Alexander. And the fact that I haven’t been reading much has been bothering me. But it’s not just something that happens to me–it’s known as a reading slump. If you’ve ever found yourself not reading for a while, you might just be in a reading slump. Here’s a few ideas to help get you out of that evil slump.

Listen to an audiobook. You can listen to an audiobook while doing something else at the same time. Audiobooks are especially helpful if you’re busy or if you don’t have time to sit down and read.

Re-read an old favorite. Harry Potter, anyone? Enough said.

Check Out A Time to Dance by Padma VenkatramanAsk a librarian for a recommendation. A solid recommendation can even help you out of a book-mourning period. We also have plenty of book recommendations on our blogs. You could also check out a book from the Monarch, Bluestem and Caudill lists. I did that–I’m currently reading A Time to Dance.

Set goals. I hear a lot of kids talking about how they want to read at least an hour a day to help get them to their prize levels. I should follow their advice. Set aside a specific time, maybe right before bed, to read a little bit every day.

Put the book down. That’s right. Put the book down. If it’s taking you a really long time to finish a book, it might be causing a reading slump. One of the things librarians believe in is that it’s totally okay to abandon stop reading a book if you aren’t into it.

Check Out The Honest Truth by Dan GemeinhartSwitch genres. I tend to get frustrated with reading when I read a lot of one genre in a row–usually with fantasy. I read so many fantasy books in a row that I start to crave realistic fiction. I recently picked up The Honest Truth as a change from fantasy and I loved it.

Read with a friend. Talking about a book with a friend can help motivate you to read it. Or, if you’re ambitious, you could even try to start a book club!

Ultimately, it’s okay if you don’t want to read. It doesn’t hurt to take some time away from it. But I know that, eventually, you’ll find a book that’s perfect for you and pulls you out of your reading slump.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

The Classics

By: Emily Richardson, Youth Programming Associate

Introducing your children to the classics can be difficult; they’re old, boring, have stilted language, etc. What if there were books that made reading about classics fun, even for the littlest readers?


BabyLit: This series might be more fun for the parents than for the kids. Each book is a “primer,” focusing on different learning activities, such as counting, clothing types, emotions and weather, all based loosely on the world of the original classic.

Les Petits Fairytales: This series tells simplified fairy tales quickly and in ways for the smallest children to understand and begin to become familiarized with them.

Picture Books/Early Readers

Graphic Novels and FictionWhile reading the original classic is always fun, sometimes it can help to start off with an adapted or shortened title instead.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Because Cats

By: Renee Grassi, Youth Department Director

Cats Sanchez and Gus Lay Together On A Couch

“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” – Albert Schweitzer

I happily embrace the cat-loving librarian stereotype. If I happen to see a cat book on display in the adult section of any library, I can’t help myself—I must absolutely check it out. I proudly display my cat calendar and cat mouse pad in my office. You will often find me gravitating to the cat themed cards in any card or stationary shop, as they are one of my favorite things to purchase. And I have spent many hours volunteering at shelters helping socialize and taking care of cats in need.

I am also the proud cat guardian of two adopted cats: Gus and Sanchez. Both of my cats know how to sit on command, as long as a salmon flavored treat is provided. And when an Amazon package arrives, they eagerly size up the box by sniffing and stepping into it to see if it will make for their new favorite bed.

Cat Gus Sits Among A Pile Of Tissue Paper
Gus has beautiful grey and white markings. He’s a quirky gentle giant who loves people. He’s quite a talker and often wakes me up in the morning with a friendly greeting. He has an affinity for sitting in tissue paper and has an aversion to storms. He loves to run around my home chasing his feather toy. And every time I take the ice tray out of the freezer, Gus runs to the kitchen with excitement. One of his favorite things is having fresh ice in his water bowl.
Sanchez Sits In A Box
Sanchez is the quintessential feline diva, and he knows it. He loves to be pet and carried around like a baby, but only on his terms. He has a gorgeous black coat from head to toe like a jaguar. Actually, his namesake is a black crow named Sanchez from an episode of Scrubs. Even at 10 years old, he will still jump and spin around mid-air to chase the laser pointer or his favorite caterpillar toy. And it’s become part of my routine to open the blinds every morning just for Sanchez because he loves to lay next to the windows and sunbathe.

All you cat lovers out there may know that June is Adopt-a-Cat Month. For me, my two adopted cats are part of my family. If you have a young person in your life who shares this sentiment or has an interest in learning more about cats, take a moment to peruse this list. You just might find them the purr-fect book!

Cat Gus Laying On The Couch
Picture Books and Early Readers
Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea
Captain Cat by Syd Hoff
Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert
Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj
Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker
Cool Cat by Nonny Hogrogian
Space Cat by Doug Cushman
Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Love by Kim Dean
Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton

Juvenile Fiction
Cat Diaries by Betsy Byars
Stick Cat: A Tail of Two Kitties by Tom Watson
Cat Found by Ingrid Lee
Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech
Kaspar the Titanic Cat by Michael Morpurgo
Fat Cat of Underwhere by Bruce Hale
Binky the Space Cat (Bink Adventure Series) by Ashley Spires
The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin
Into the Wild (Warriors Series) by Erin Hunter
Sanchez Laying On The Couch
Juvenile Non-Fiction
M is for meow: A Cat Alphabet by Helen Wilbur
Cat Crafts by Linda Hendry
Choosing a Cat: How to Choose and Care For a Cat by Laura Jeffrey
Toots the Cat by Karla Kuskin
Dewey the Library Cat: a True Story by Vicki Myron
Is My Cat a Tiger? How Your Pet Compares to Its Wild Cousins by Jenni Bidner
How to Talk to Your Cat by Jean Craighead George

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth