GEPL Kids Blog

GEPL Kids: Neighborhood Story Club

By: Bari Ericson, Youth Programming Associate

For several summers my porch became the destination for our neighborhood kids. Twice a week my children and I made popcorn and juice, and then set out scratch paper and markers or colored pencils. At 1:30, the kids came on foot, bikes and scooters. They snacked and drew while I read aloud. We progressed through a few chapters of a book each afternoon, stopping after about half an hour, unless the story invited us to go longer.

It was, frankly, a Mayberry kind of moment (if you are old or nostalgic enough to catch the reference.) The ceiling fan hummed, the markers rubbed, the popcorn crunched and I was able to share some solid literature with an assortment of kids who otherwise would not know each other or the books we read.

And once they had been gathered, the children would often play together outside afterwards.

Story Club was easy and inexpensive. It provided a respite of art and literature to contrast with our otherwise busy, screen-oriented days. Grateful neighbors would occasionally send along a plate of treats. And the kids still talk about the friends and characters they met on those peaceful afternoons.

Whether you decide to give Story Club a try in your neighborhood, or just want to curl up with your own child on a warm afternoon, here are a few ideas for classic read alouds that appeal to a wide range of ages.

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GEPL Kids: CultureGrams: Travel the Globe with Your Library Card!

By: Renee Grassi, GEPL Youth Department Director

CultureGrams Logo

Do you have an exciting overseas vacation booked this summer? Are you getting ready to load up your car for a cross-country road trip? Maybe your family really enjoys learning about different cultures of the world. Then CultureGrams is for you!

CultureGrams is an online resource available FREE with your Glen Ellyn Public Library card. For students in Grades 2 through 8 and their caregivers, it introduces history, customs, and every life of countries around the world. Four editions are available with the Library’s subscription to CultureGrams, including the World Edition, Kids Edition, States Edition and Canadian Provinces Edition. It can be accessed online 24 hours a day simply by using your library card.

What makes CultureGrams so exciting for kids or adults? It includes photo galleries of thousands of full-color high-quality images. It has a distance converter and a Currency converter. You can read interviews with native children from countries around the world, download or stream videos, or even try recipes from different cuisines. It even has sound files of national anthems and state bird sounds!

So before you pack your bags this summer, take some time to explore CultureGrams as a family and learn all you can about your destination!

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GEPL Kids: Curious Fun for Summer

By: Sia Paganis, Youth Programming Associate

Summer vacation is here, and it won’t be long until many parents hear the phrase, “I’m bored.” Fortunately, the library can come to the rescue! Not only can children participate in programs and check out summer reads, but they can follow their natural curiosity and discover new interests. Here are some great reads for parents, as well as some books for kids to pass the summer hours.

Playful Learning by Mariah Bruehl Book CoverParents can facilitate children’s natural curiosity by letting them explore areas of interest. In her book, Playful Learning, author Mariah Bruehl urges parent to provide ‘playful learning’ experiences where children can spend time developing their passions through creative projects. The hands-on activities that Bruehl details require little materials and can engage young ones in projects that could occupy a rainy afternoon, or lead to future inquiries. These projects are best for children 4-8, and focus on a variety of academic skills through artistic play.

We Dare You by Vicki Cobb Book CoverOne author that has been a library favorite for occupying kids in fun at home science experiments, wacky creations and general mess-making is Vicki Cobb. Cobb’s books are kid-friendly, and provide science opportunities with ingredients you already have in your home. In her newest book, We Dare You!, Cobb takes it a step further with this whimsical book of science bets, challenges and dares! Invite the neighborhood kids over and start hypothesizing away.

Rocks and Soil by Ruth Owen Book CoverWant to spend some time outside and get your crafty on? Try Ruth Owen’s series “Get Crafty Outdoors”. Each volume focuses on a different natural science subject, and blends learning with making creative projects like making fossils, pressing leaves and flowers, making a snail race track and much more. Send the kids out in the backyard to find the materials and read Owen’s simple science explanations and directions. The library is a great place to read more about your favorite science topics and try out our digital science resource, ScienceFlix, available on our GEPL Kids webpage.

Superhero Cookbook by Sarah Schuette Book CoverOne of our favorites in the kitchen this summer for our “Read for Heroes” Summer Reading program is A Superhero Cookbook. This culinary selection puts a fun spin on snack time! Even the littlest of fingers can help create treats to keep all of our superhero powers in full supply. This book features step-by-step photo instructions and kid-friendly text. Check out our other cookbooks for endless summer fun in the kitchen.

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GEPL Kids: Celebrate All Kinds of Families

By: Carolyn Wissmiller, Youth Programming Associate

Ah . . . the 1950’s. The world was at peace (if you don’t count Korea and the Cold War), and every child was fortunate to live in a traditional family household. These perfect families, with a mother, a father, and an average of 1.5 children, were frequently celebrated on television. My personal favorites included Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, and the Donna Reed Show. But these shows were fiction, and so was the notion that all 1950’s families were traditional.

I met my best friend Melody in fourth grade when her family moved to our area. She told me that she and her mother lived in an apartment and that her father had abandoned them. I remembering being confused, and so I asked her what “abandoned” meant. I felt terrible when she explained in detail. I know her family situation made her feel different, and she worried that she might not be accepted, but she was brilliant, funny, kind, and gorgeous. We all loved her.

Fast forward to the new millennium, and, I’m happy to say, most of us are welcoming and accepting of all kinds of families. We choose our friends based on their characters and not their household situations. Celebrate all types of magnificent families during National Family Month (from Mother’s Day through Father’s Day) by checking out one of these books:

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GEPL Kids: Books & Babies

By: Katy Almendinger, GEPL Early Literacy Librarian

Reading to babies and young toddlers can be a really daunting task. It’s hard to keep up with the wiggles and their short attention spans. Reading to a baby might even seem silly, especially with books that don’t have much of a storyline.

But it’s so important to start reading to baby early. It’s even recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They say: “Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime.”

How do you find books for babies? Here are my top 5 tips and some of my favorite books for babies.

Simple Text
Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett Book CoverBooks like Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett are great for babies because the text isn’t too complicated. Some board books read like catalogs instead of a story, with one image accompanied by brief text. This style also helps babies develop object recognition skills.
Whose Nose and Toes by John Butler Book CoverAnimal lovers, this book is for you! John Butler’s books feature a soft color palette, sweet illustrations, and repetition. Repetition is boring for adults, but it’s great for babies! It enhances brain development and memory.
Baby Loves Summer by Karen Katz Book CoverBooks with textures and flaps, like most of Karen Katz’s books, are perfect for babies. Babies love to feel the different textures and discover what’s hiding under the flaps. The hands-on interaction can bring baby’s attention back to the book. These kinds of experiences can help babies learn how to turn pages and interact with a book.
Global Babies Book CoverAt first, babies can only focus on things that are about 8-12 inches away from their face. It’s the distance between your face and baby’s while he’s being held. This might have something to do with why babies love looking at faces. There are plenty of books that feature photographs of faces. Global Babies is part of a series that showcases friendly faces from around the world.
Read whatever you’re reading! If it’s a New York Times Bestseller, a magazine, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, or the grocery list… read it out loud! Babies are still listening, even if they don’t show it, and they love to hear your voice.

Never To Young: Pediatricians Say Parents Should Read To Infants.
Literacy Promotion: An Essential Component of Primary Care Pediatric Practice

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GEPL Kids: Read for Heroes

By: Melissa Hilt, Youth Department Assistant Director

Read for Heroes Image With Male Firefighter and Female Police OfficerThere are many different kinds of heroes. Some people look up to a historical figure like Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King Jr. Others may look up to their teachers or a family member. Many people look up to first responders, military personnel, religious figures; and others find heroes from the inspiration they receive from authors, actors, and singers.

My personal hero is a young man that contracted a fatal disease through no fault of his own. After he was expelled from school because of this disease, he fought to be treated fairly. He always looked on the bright side. I was inspired by hearing him say, “Keep a positive attitude.” I try to live by this ideal on a daily basis.

How does your hero inspire you?

This summer, the library is celebrating heroes starting with our summer reading program Read for Heroes. Summer Reading registration started on May 11. If you haven’t registered, don’t worry you can register online now or stop by one of the reference desks and we will be happy to help.

We are challenging our community to reach certain goals, and if they are met, the Friends of the Glen Ellyn Public Library and The Rotary Club of Glen Ellyn will donate money to our local heroes, the Glen Ellyn Fire and Police Departments to support the Madden Scholarship Fund and recruitment of future volunteer firefighters.

Summer 2015 Reading Challenges

Youth Department: Read 70,000 Hours
Adult Department: Read 4500 Books

In addition to working towards a worthy cause, the library offers terrific sign-up and participation prizes:

Pre-Readers (Birth through 4 years old) Sign-up to participate and receive a rubber ducky. When a goal has been completed, pre-readers earn a Book Buck redeemable at The Bookstore in downtown Glen Ellyn. Earn up to 12 Book Bucks!

Kids (2 years old through entering 5th grade) Pick up a rubber ducky upon signing-up to participate. Log your hours reading for a chance to earn some amazing prizes: books, patches, and coupons to area businesses!

Middle School (Grades 6-8) Receive a pair of sunglasses at sign-up. Complete a level and earn a terrific prize, such as movie tickets, gift cards, coupons to area businesses and more. Log your hours reading for an entry into the grand prize drawing: a Nintendo 3DS!

Let the Teens (Grades 9-12) in your life know they get a t-shirt for signing up and Adults receive a chocolate bar from Divine Chocolate!

Please help us spread the word about Read for Heroes to your friends and neighbors and help us reach our goals!

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GEPL Kids: Summer Reading School Challenge

By: Amy Waters, School Liaison

Calling all Super Readers!

Can you help your Glen Ellyn elementary school be the TROPHY winner in the summer reading school challenge? We think the answer is yes! But even if your school doesn’t win the trophy this year you can all be Super Readers!

  • Sign up for Summer Reading, “Read for Heroes”, at the Glen Ellyn Public Library: first day to sign up is May 11, but you can sign up any time this summer. Your reading for the challenge counts from the day you sign up.
  • Encourage your school friends to sign up too! (even moms and dads can sign up for the adult program, but it won’t count toward the trophy)
  • READ! Read to yourself, read to your siblings, read to your parents, read to your pets, read, read, read!
  • Go to the library, check in with your reading time: earn prizes (including FREE books that are yours to keep).
  • Read some more!

At the end of summer reading, we will add up the number of children who signed up to read for their school, then we will add up all the hours of reading they did. We will divide the number of hours by the number* of children reading for their school in order to select the winner.

St. James the Apostle Elementary School, Glen Ellyn

St. James the Apostle Elementary School, Glen Ellyn

*At least 15% of a Glen Ellyn school’s K-5 enrollment must be registered for summer reading in order for a school to qualify for the Trophy contest.

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GEPL Kids: May the Fourth Be With You

By: Courtney Moore, Youth Programming Associate

Are you a Jedi? Have you dedicated your life to the light side of the Force? May 4th, May the Fourth Be With You, is a day dedicated to all things Star Wars. Are the Jedi not quite your style? Many fans show their dark side on May 5th, Revenge of the Fifth, a day celebrating Sith Lords and Star Wars anti-heroes. After all, the Dark Side has Cookies!

May 4th might be considered the best day to jump into the epic adventure of Star Wars, but its never too late to begin. Below are some books that are great for beginners as well as veteran fans.

No matter which side of the Force you choose, remember that the Force is like Duct Tape. It has a Light side and a Dark side, and it holds the Universe together!

Picture Book Collection

The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight by Tony DiTerlizzi Book Cover

The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight by Tony DiTerlizzi

Retells Luke Skywalker’s journey from a Tatooine farm boy to a Jedi Knight, as he learns how to use the Force in the battle against the Empire. In this picture book collection filled with brilliant pictures, young children can follow Luke’s adventure right from the very beginning.


Easy Reader Collection

Meet the Rebels by Sadie Smith Book Cover

Meet the Rebels by Sadie Smith

Introduces some of the characters from the series “Star Wars Rebels,” a television show, set between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. It follows the former Jedi Kanan Jarrus and his ragtag crew aboard the starship Ghost as they struggle against the evil rule of the Galactic Empire.

Fiction Collection

Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown Book Cover

Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown

Roan’s one dream is to leave home and attend Pilot Academy like his older brother, father, and grandfather. But just as Roan is mysteriously denied entrance to Pilot School, he is invited to attend Jedi Academy–a school that he didn’t apply to and only recruits children when they are just a few years old. That is, until now…


Youth Books Referencing Star Wars

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger Book Cover

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Sixth-grader Tommy and his friends describe their interactions with a paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, as they try to figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future. Includes instructions for making Origami Yoda.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio Book Cover

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.

For Adults/Parents

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown Book Cover

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown

What if Darth Vader took an active role in raising his son? What if ‘Luke, I am your father’ was just a stern admonishment from an annoyed dad? In this hilarious and sweet comic re-imagining, Darth Vader is a dad like any other– except with all the baggage of being the Dark Lord of the Sith.

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GEPL Kids: Screen Free Week

By: Kate Easley, GEPL Youth Librarian

Next week is Screen-Free Week which is a great time to put down your phone or tablet, turn off the t.v., and enjoy time with your family and friends. Use this week to go outside and play, plant a garden, or just lay in the sun. Bring the family to the Library so you can stock up on books, magazines, and audiobooks or play at the train table or puppet theater. Enjoy your time off from the screen and show your kids how fun it can be to unplug!

These books have fun ideas to do while you take a break from the screen:

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GEPL Kids: Changes and Transitions

By: Bari Ericson, Youth Programming Associate

Now for something profound . . . “Change is hard.”  (Okay, I said profound, not original.) And it’s true.

I know this from personal experience, because my family is going through a lot of changes this year.  My husband changed jobs.  My youngest is going off to college.  My oldest will be out of state for an internship this summer.  We are selling our big house, building a small house and moving . . . twice.

Change is hard.  And kids go through lots of changes.  They may be facing a loss, moving, switching schools or adding a sibling. “Transitions equal change, and change equals stress. There is anxiety about the unknown,” says education researcher and consultant Mike Nerney. He suggests, “Keep as much of the comfortable routine as possible. Most importantly, remind children that your love is constant.”

At Glen Ellyn Public Library, we would like to help you and your children though any changes you may be facing.  We have a lot of resources that can help ease the transitions and adjustments that are inevitable with change.  Reading a book about the topic can help identify emotions and open up discussions.

Feel free to ask us for suggestions.  Below are a few of mine.  And when you and your kiddos are feeling the stress of change, come see us at GEPL for good books, fun activities and friendly, familiar faces!

New Baby


New School


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