Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth Blog

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

Summer Weather

By: Deanna Siegel, Youth Programming Associate

We’re so close to summer I can almost taste it! And with summer, comes lots of changes in climate. Here are some books that you can take home in order to prepare for the upcoming weather. Get ready to grab your umbrella and to pull out your sunglasses!

But of course, the best part of summer weather is the Sunshine!

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Road Trip Books and Media

By: Kate Easley, Youth Librarian

I’m about to embark on a 10 hour car trip to Alabama with my husband and our two kids (ages 4 and 1). To say I’m nervous is putting it lightly. This could all go very wrong within the first hour of the trip. However, I have been preparing my bag of goodies for weeks. It contains treats, crafts, toys, movies and lots of books. I’m packing books the kids can look at independently, like search-and-find and touch-and-feel books as well as books that come with a CD.

I’ll also be checking out Playaway Views. If you haven’t had a chance to try out the Playaway Views, you should. They are like little tablets that are pre-loaded with multiple videos and are small enough that your child can hold them easily. My kids are big fans of them because they are easy to use and fun to watch. Hopefully, the trip to Alabama will just fly by. Wish me luck!

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Five Senses Science

By: Bari Ericson, Youth Programming Associate

Astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble said, “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.”

Children use their five senses every day to gather data about their world. Here are a few fun activity and book ideas to fuel your young scientists’ explorations.


The outside world shapes children’s development through experiences, which include using their five senses—hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch. Drawing a child’s attention to the five senses and discussing them increases understanding of and communication about the world around them.



When children play games that involve sight, they’re also practicing early literacy skills! Sight games help children recognize words, patterns, objects…and help them develop their memory!

  • Play “I Spy”: While reading a book or taking part in everyday activities, play “I Spy” with the child about things he/she sees on different pages of the book, throughout the house or out on errands.
  • Memory Game: Place four or five familiar objects on a tray. Give children one minute to look at all of the items and then cover the tray and ask the children to share what they saw on the tray. As children get used to this game, they will begin to focus more on the objects so that they are able to share when the tray is covered again.



Over time, children will recognize certain smells as comforting, yummy, scary, exciting, etc. Encourage the child to experiment with scents and smells that he/she recognizes and those that are more unfamiliar.

  • Blindfolded Smell Test: Blindfold the child and place some familiar scents under his/her nose, such as chocolate, cinnamon, playdough, etc. Ask him/her questions such as: What do you smell? Do you recognize it? Does it remind you of something else?



Like other skills that children learn, listening takes practice. Developing good listening habits helps children get important information from family members, teachers, friends and coaches.

  • Patterning: Using your hands or another object, make clapping patterns. Take turns having the adult lead, followed by the child leading a pattern, and vice versa. After doing clapping patterns, try the same routine with bells or another noise-making object. Ask the child: Which sequence is harder to repeat—the claps or the bells? Which sound do you prefer to listen to? Which sound is louder?
  • Take a Sound Hike!: Whether taking a sound hike at the mall, a nearby park or on a family trip, ask children to notice the sounds they hear and then use sound words as they describe them.



Children develop taste preferences based on what they are fed when they’re in the early years of their lives. Helping children think about which tastes they do and do not prefer will encourage them to try new foods and/or new combinations of foods.

  • Identify Foods: Gather up different foods (preferably that the child enjoys!) and have each child taste each food and guess what it is as he/she is blindfolded or has their eyes covered. While the child is tasting, discuss certain words such as sweet, salty, sour, bitter, fruity, etc. that will help him/her understand the meaning of the words.



Children learn about their bodies and how to communicate with others through touch. Most of the feeling that we do happens through our feet and our hands.  Taking part in activities where children feel with their feet and hands help them learn how to write, button their shirts, tie their shoes, etc.

  • Feeling With Your Feet: Have the child, barefooted, feel things with his/her feet and think about the way it feels. Some things to try include paint, playdough, grass and carpet. Ask the child questions such as: What does it feel like? Do you like the way it feels? Is it rough or smooth? Cold or hot? Does it tickle your feet? Do the same activity with your hands!
  • Pillow Play: Place familiar objects inside of an empty pillowcase. Let the child try to guess what the objects are. Help the child describe how each object feels. Vary the activity by using holiday/seasonal items or items with a theme such as animals or shapes.


Sources For More Ideas:

Read, Write, Think: Engaging the Five Senses to Learn About Our World

University of Illinois Extension: Teaching Children about the Five Senses

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Happy Birthday!

By: Emily Richardson, Youth Programming Associate

Multi-Colored Balloons
It’s my birthday month! Cue celebratory balloons!

This year I became curious about who shares a birthday with me, and thought I’d do a little research. Check out the list below to find your own birthday, then check out a book to learn more about your new birthday buddy.

J.R.R. Tolkien Creator of Languages and Legends by Doris Lynch Book Cover
Betsy Ross (Revolutionary)
J.R.R. Tolkien (Author)
Elvis Presley (Singer)
Duchess Catherine (Kate Middleton, World Politics)
Ernie Banks (Sports)
Al Capone (Crime)

Elizabeth Blackwell (Medical)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (Author)
Barnum Brown (Paleontologist)
Wilson Bentley (Snowflake Photographer)

Justin Bieber (Singer)
Alexander Graham Bell (Inventor)
Dr. Seuss (Author)
J.S. Bach (Composer)
Cesar Chavez (World Politics)

Hans Christian Andersen (Author)
Imogen Cunningham (Photographer)
Abigail Breslin (Actor)
Charlie Chaplin (Actor)
James Buchanan (US President)

David Beckham (Sports)
Catherine the Great (World Politics)
Adele (Singer)
Nellie Bly (Reporter)
Johannes Brahms (Composer)
Gary Paulsen (Author)
Mary Pope Osborne (Author)
Mary Cassatt (Artist)
Rachel Carson (Biology)

Anne Frank (Author)
Eric Carle (Author)
Helen Keller (Activist)

Diana Princess of Wales by Tim O'Shei Book Cover
Princess Diana (World Politics)
Calvin Coolidge (US Presidents)
P.T. Barnum (Circus Owner)
Ringo Starr (Drummer)
J.K. Rowling (Author)

Tom Brady (Athlete)
Louis Armstrong (Musician)
Neil Armstrong (Astronaut)
Suzanne Collins (Author)
Usain Bolt (Athlete)

Beyonce (Singer)
Jane Addams (Activist)
Ruby Bridges (Activist)
Roald Dahl (Author)

John Lennon (Singer)
Robinson Cano (Athlete)
Richard Byrd (Explorer)
Hillary Clinton (US Politics)

Daniel Boone (Explorer)
Marie Curie (Scientist)
Louisa May Alcott (Author)
Winston Churchill (World Politics)

Black Elk's Vision A Lokota Story by S.D. Nelson Book Cover
Black Elk (World Leader)
Clara Barton (Medical)
Jacques Cartier (Explorer)
Ty Cobb (Athlete)

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Favorite Preschool Visit Reads

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

Miss Katy here. I’m hoping some of you have heard of me. Part of what I do includes visiting Glen Ellyn preschool classrooms on a regular basis. I bring a bag of books, my favorite songs and sometimes an interactive game to classrooms.

I can hardly believe it’s almost time for summer vacation! April and May visits are sometimes the last time I’ll see a classroom before summer. It’s always bittersweet—I know that some preschoolers will be attending kindergarten in the fall. In honor of the end of the year, I thought I’d share some of our favorite reads.

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak Book Cover
One class in particular will ask for this book every single time I visit. Kids love The Book with No Pictures so much that some can even recite the text with me. It makes audiences (even big kids) howl with laughter because it forces adults to say silly things and make silly sounds.

Hooray for Hat by Brian Won

Hooray for Hat by Brian Won Book Cover
“Remember the book with the animals and the hats? That one’s my favorite.” I always know a book was a hit when kids ask me about it the next time I visit. I asked kids to shout “Hooray for Hat!” with me when we read this one.

Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera

Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera Book Cover
The title alone makes this one a winner! Underwear, for some strange reason, makes kids giggle. Readers are invited to guess which underwear belongs to which animal based on clues seen in the underwear’s design. For example — carrot themed underwear belongs to a bunny. How many times can I say underwear in a short paragraph?!

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet Book Cover
“Miss Katy, that book is magic!” Preschoolers always have stunned expressions on their faces when we read Mix It Up. This book, and the author’s other books, are completely interactive. The narrator instructs kids to shake the book or turn it to the right to see what happens to the paint. And the results are magical.

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
There’s a slight gross out factor with this nonfiction title. It shares unique, size-related animal facts in a fun way. You’d be surprised by how many preschoolers know that anteaters have really, really long tongues.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood Book Cover
This book makes readers so anxious for the ending — and then it ends with a twist! The illustrations are beautiful, too. And you know it’s good when it’s one of Miss Bari’s favorites.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

The 2016 Caudill, Bluestem and Monarch Award Winners!

By: Melissa Hilt, Youth Department Assistant Director

It’s been over a month since the Caudill, Bluestem and Monarch awards were announced, but people are still surprised to see that we now have the 2017 nominees on display; and everyone wants to know which books won for 2016. So without further ado, I present to you the 2016 winners.

The Caudill Winner Is…Michael Vey: the Prisoner of Cell 25 By Richard Paul Evans
Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Book Cover

To see a list of the final totals, visit: Rebecca Caudill 2016 Final Totals


The Bluestem Winner Is…The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths
The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths Book Cover

To see a list of the final totals, visit: Bluestem Final Totals


The Monarch Winner Is…Breaking News: Bear Alert by David Biedrzycki
Breaking News: Bear Alert by David Biedrzycki Book Cover

To see a list of the final totals, visit: Monarch Final Totals

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Earth Day

By: Leigh Ann Vock, Youth Department Page

What does Earth Day mean to kids? Do they think of our planet as something that needs care? Earth Day is a perfect day to bring attention to the job of being good stewards of our planet. The first Earth Day Celebration was started in 1970 after a massive oil spill in California inspired the need to teach others about our environment. This celebration has reached global proportions and we can all do our part to participate.

Nature walks are a good place to start to begin the appreciation of all that our Earth gives to us. Other ideas might include a technology free day and lights out early to save energy. For school age kids, work together to pack a waste free lunch, no baggies or paper sacks allowed.

Planting can be another way to celebrate Earth Day. Planting seeds or saplings can be a wonderful activity for children and they will enjoy watching the results of their labor. Giving back to the Earth for our generations to come is a practice that we do not want to lose. The Glen Ellyn Park District will host its 2016 Earth Day Celebration at Maryknoll Park on Friday, April 22 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. Admission is free.

There are many resources to expand you and your child’s interest in this special day at the library. Earth day starts with us helping teach our children the importance of caring for our ecosystems.


Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Poetry: The Short and Long of It

By: Amy Waters, School Liaison

“If not for the cat,

and the scarcity of cheese,

I could be content.”

Whether you like your poetry short and to the point like this haiku by the first Children’s Poet Laureate, Jack Prelutsky, about the mouse’s yearning for the content life, free of cats and with abundant cheese in If Not For The Cat

or if you like your verses in many different forms in page after page of a complex story like the one that unfolds in the beautiful autobiography “brown girl dreaming” by the multi-award winning author Jacqueline Woodson

Poetry has something for everyone. Silly or serious, short or long, one voice or two, poems that celebrate sports or pets or poems that can be read from the top to the bottom and back again, all can be found on the shelves in your library. And if you can’t find a poem you like, then write one. April is the perfect time to find out you’re a poet, even if you didn’t know it!

Feast your ears and eyes on these and ask at the youth desk for help finding more:



Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth