Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth Blog

Activities You Can Do With Your Middle Schooler

By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

Middle schoolers are back in school, and back to their highly-scheduled program. Even though they have homework, sports, music lessons, religious ed, and so many more activities through the week into the weekend, it’s important to schedule in some fun, quality time for the family. It may seem tough. Your middle schooler may be starting to enter the “everything’s embarrassing” phase, but you can find a happy medium of an activity you both like.

Different ways of decorating pumpkins without a knife.Believe it or not, having a middle school aged kid is a great opportunity. They’re finally old enough to do things that may have been too risky or intense when they were younger. You may finally be able to trust them with the carving tools to make a wicked pumpkin. If not, there are some really cool pumpkin decorating techniques that don’t involve a knife.

Maybe you’d like to learn a new skill together. While your middle schooler may not be up for the tandem karate class, maybe you’d both like to learn advanced, or remedial, yo-yo tricks, or maybe how to properly fly a kite.

This fall may be a great time to try that scarier haunted house, or the giant corn maze that was too difficult in the past. You know, the one with the crazy chainsaw guy at the end? It’s possible they’re more up for it than you, but you may find that your suspenseful jump into midair may make you walk a little closer the rest of the way through.

If you’re not wanting to go the scary route, try creating something together. Middle schoolers absolutely love making things. Keeping the Halloween theme, make a scarecrow or some other decorations that may put the little ones in the trick-or-treating mood.  You can try upcycling some discarded magazines, or something low maintenance like painting pottery.

If you’re just tired from running around all week, why not try a family movie night instead? Here are some titles that can keep adults and kids entertained:


Check out Zootopia on DVD.
Zootopia is a city like no other, comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, and is a melting pot where animals from every environment live together. But when optimistic Officer Judy Hopps arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy.

Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde.

Princess Bride

Check out The Princess Bride on DVD.
Heartbroken over the death of her beloved Westley, beautiful Buttercup finally succumbs to the advances of the wicked Prince Humperdinck. Yet, when she’s suddenly kidnapped by a motley band of deviants, what gallant hero comes to the rescue? None other than Westley–alive, well and as wonderful as ever.

But before these two can live happily ever after, they must first overcome formidable odds. Will these star-crossed lovers ever fulfill their destiny?

Song of the Sea

Check out Song of the Sea on DVD.
When Saoirse and Ben’s mother mysteriously disappears into the ocean, the two children go on an epic journey to find out the truth about her. In the process, they discover mystical secrets about both their mother and Saoirse herself.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Check out The Tale of Princess Kaguya on DVD.
Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife, a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her, but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime.

When Marnie was There

Check out When Marnie was There on DVD.
When shy, artistic Anna moves to the seaside to live with her aunt and uncle, she stumbles upon an old mansion surrounded by marshes, and the mysterious young girl, Marnie, who lives there.

The two girls instantly form a unique connection and friendship that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. As the days go by, a nearly magnetic pull draws Anna back to the Marsh house again and again, and she begins to piece together the truth surrounding her strange new friend.

Monster House

Check out Monster House on DVD.
A group of kids discover that a neighborhood house is actually a monster. To solve the mystery of the house they must go inside it, before it takes everyone that crosses its path.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Banned Books Week: September 25−October 1

By: Melissa Hilt, Youth Department Assistant Director

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Over the years we have had many banned book displays and members are always shocked to learn that books are still, to this day, banned and/or challenged. Now, just because a book is banned in one place doesn’t mean that is banned everywhere, thankfully. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the thought of someone telling me I should not or cannot read a certain book just because they don’t agree with something that is in the book. I might have different beliefs than someone else about the same topic and we should both be able to have access to books that we find helpful or enjoyable.

Some books you might have read over the years that have been banned or challenged are titles like:

Check Out James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach

Challenged For: Inappropriate language, encourages disobedience to parents, references to drugs and alcohol, and because it contains “magical elements.”

Check Out Buster's Sugartime by Marc Tolon Brown
Buster’s Sugartime

Challenged For: Featuring a lesbian couple.

Check Out Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
Hop on Pop

Challenged For: Someone thought it encourages children to use violence against their fathers.

Check Out The Adventures Of Super Diaper Baby By Dav Pilkey
The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby

Banned from the Channelview, Texas Independent School District (2011) because it contained the phrase “poo poo head.”

Check Out Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter Series

This is one of the most banned and challenged series. Many people feel there are occult/Satanism and anti-family themes.

Check Out And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Tango Makes Three

Challenged For: Containing themes of homosexuality.

Come celebrate your freedom to read and check out a banned or challenged book! We have a special display in the Youth Department next to the magazines.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

First Friends

By: Leigh Ann Vock, Youth Department Page

Tinkers the Tabby CatFirst friends for many young children are beloved stuffed animals. Some children develop a stronger attachment than others. My granddaughter’s present best friend is a much-loved and tattered tabby cat named “Tinkers.” Tinkers is real to her and possesses feelings that she is careful to be considerate of.

I recently spent some time convincing my son that his daughter’s obsession with Tinkers was normal and healthy. There are many benefits to having a pretend first friend. This relationship helps a child deal with separation anxiety by having a familiar object with them when parents are away. Temper tantrums are sometimes a result of a child’s inability to express what they are feeling. Having a comrade to explain how something has made them feel can be helpful.

Children in the toddler age group are in a language explosion. When a child speaks to their pretend first friend they hear the sound of their own voice and this improves their pronunciation along with their vocabulary. Toddler-aged children are at the beginning stages of making friends. Having a stuffed animal or doll allows them the opportunity to model sharing, taking turns, following rules and developing empathy. All good things that outweigh the possible frustration that ensues when the toy gets lost or takes a much needed washing machine bath.

Enjoy some of my selections of wonderful books about fluffy, stuffed first friends. All have been Tinkers-approved.


Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

GEPL Summer Reading: School Challenge Winners Announced!

By: Amy Waters, School Liaison

This summer, the grade school students in Glen Ellyn proved themselves to be a community of Super Readers. Summer reading at GEPL is opened to all students and this year, with our Read to Build program, we surpassed our goal of 70,000 hours read, racking up over 82,500 hours. All of this reading meant good things for those growing readers, and it also meant we were able to donate appliances to a home being built by Habitat for Humanity for a local family. Making a difference for themselves while also having a philanthropic impact in their community raised the value of all this reading to another level.

We had participation from all 10 community elementary schools, but only one school can win the Glen Ellyn Public Library School Challenge. This year, the Super Reader trophy goes to students at:

Briar Glen Elementary School

Congratulations to our School Challenge WINNERS!

Briar Glen Elementary School Trophy Presentation Photos

Photos by Mitch Dubinsky

The students from Briar Glen, who were enrolled in our summer reading program, read an average of 44.1 hours this summer. Congratulations on your wonderful achievement! You truly helped GEPL Read to Build this summer. *

*To be eligible to participate in our Elementary School Challenge, we require all schools have 15% of their K-5 students registered for the GEPL summer reading program. School enrollment is provided by the district or school office.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

National Peach Month

By: Deanna Siegel, Youth Programming Associate

Hello Everyone!

Do you have a favorite fruit? I am sure most of us do. I love peaches! In fact, August is National Peach Month, meaning you can celebrate peaches all month long. Did you know there are several ways to eat peaches? You can eat it on its own, bake it into a pie, dip it in Cool Whip, put it in your salsa, and even make a smoothie! Peaches are a healthy and nutritious snack.

Did you know?

  • Peaches are the third most popular fruit grown in America.
  • China is the world’s largest producer of peaches.
  • The World’s Largest Peach is in South Carolina and weighs over 10,000 pounds!

Have fun creating unique and delicious peach combinations this month! Whet your appetite for peaches by checking out one of these books. Who knows, it might just become your favorite fruit!

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth


By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

There’s something amazing about the Olympics. Every four years athletes from around the world gather to compete as the rest of the world watches. The 2016 Summer Olympics are in Rio. It’s the first time South America has hosted the games.

Some really great moments have come out of Rio. Like Fiji winning its first medal ever—and it was gold. Or that time when Andy Murray reminded a television reporter that women can win gold medals, too. And two Team USA athletes have more in common than just their name (Simone).

I’m obsessed. Can you blame me? NBC plans to produce 6,000 hours of TV footage. It’s almost always on TV. And my social media feed has been full of hilarious re-tweets, memes and video clips. Remember Gymnast McKayla Maroney’s not impressed face from 2012? Now we have #PhelpsFace.

Like father, like son. #PhelpsFace

I’ve been craving sports books because of the Olympics. Here’s a round-up of some fiction and non-fiction titles perfect for Olympic fans or aspiring athletes. You can find them here at the library.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

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