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The Gift of Books

Getting a book at the libraryLast night my husband and my father-in-law had an interesting discussion.  My father-in-law said “All those books your wife gave to your niece really paid off.”  (I’ll admit, I pretended not to hear my husband the first time and made him repeat it so I could hear it again.)  She is learning how to read this school year and her teacher said  that she is  already reading above her grade level.”  My father-in-law also said that she is reading a book a day.  My heart soared when I heard this.

Ever since she was a baby I tried to include at least one book in every birthday or holiday present that my husband and I gave her.  On visits I would slip her a book or bring some from the library to read.  If we lived closer together  we would make regular trips to the library. 

I made the mistake of taking her to the bookstore once.  I steered her towards the discount books and she quickly re-directed me towards a display of Karen Katz board books.  She looked on the back of one and started pointing at the ones she didn’t have.  It turned out she didn’t have three-fourths of them.  What’s a book-loving Aunt to do?  With a lighter wallet, a heavy shopping bag, and big smiles, we left the bookstore 30 minutes later.

As an advocate of early literacy  I frequently encourage parents and caregivers to start reading to their children as early as possible.  I have read the research, attended workshops, done hundreds of story times, and help children pick out books at the library.  But I have never felt as excited about sharing books with a child as I did last night.   My hope is that you, dear reader, will also feel the thrill of making a difference in the life of a child you love by simply handing them a book.           

Twelve Hats for Lena, by Karen Katz
Click Here to Visit Karen Katz’ website



Hotel for DogsI am going to let you in on something that is not widely known:  The new Digital Branch Library isn’t just for grownups. I know!  There are free children’s and young adult audio books, videos, and ebooks just waiting to be downloaded!  Hop onto our website, enter our Digital Branch Library, and click on the kids’ and teens’ collections to find a great selection of audio book and ebooks.  Look under videos to find Astro Boy, Franklin, Sid the Science Kid, Pocoyo, Berenstain Bears, Mighty Machines, and more.

So let’s think about how the Digital Branch Library could be useful in your everyday life.  Imagine for a moment that it is 7:00 on a Sunday night and the library is closed.  Your oldest child tells you they need to read Animal Farm by third period the next day.  Your youngest child has watched all of their videos at least 20 times and wants something new to watch.  Your middle child is reading Hotel for Dogs but needs some help.  You have a million things to do and a splitting headache.  What’s a super parent to do?

George Orwell's Animal FarmFortunately there is now an ABBE library that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! Log in to the Digital Branch Library with your library card and pin, check out the ebook Animal Farm and let your oldest read it on the computer.  Check out the audio book version of Hotel for Dogs and burn it to CD or let your middle child listen to it on their iPod while they read along with the book.  Finally, check out the video Salsa for Kittens and Puppies for your youngest child and download it onto your oldest child’s mp3 player. 

Now hold onto your hats because I am going to let you in on something really cool.  No late fees!  The items you check out will be automatically returned on the due date.  Now if only there was a service that would let you check out headache reliever and ice cream…

Digital Branch Library

Adventures in Learning

On Market Street“Do peaches grow in shrink wrap?”

“Do pigs lay eggs?”

“Do strawberries grow in the supermarket?”

From time to time riding down the road, little voices in the backseat pipe up and entertain us with these questions.  We peer into the backseat via the rearview mirror and come up with an intelligent answer.  However our intelligent answers often lead to more questions that cause us to run red lights, take a wrong turn, or slam on our breaks while wracking our brains.  Fortunately there is a place you can turn to that is fun and free (unless you decide to stock up on goodies) and full of hands on answers: your local farmers market or produce stand!

Not only does your local farmers market or produce stand offer wonderful fruits and vegetables but they also offer handmade items like soaps, pasta, bread, herbs, knitted washcloths, and more.  Your children get to talk directly to the people who farm the goodies they eat and learn how everyday items are made.  This is a great opportunity to teach children about farm to table, supporting the local economy, and healthy eating choices.

Don’t want the learning to end after your first stop?  Then hop back in your car, on the back of your bike, or walk to your local ABBE Library and find great books to enhance your adventure:

Portrait of a Farm Family


Make a Splash @ Your Library This Summer! READ!

Make a Splash! Read!We all know how hard it is to entice children who don’t like reading to spend time with books during the school year, let alone during the summer. Valuable literacy skills can be lost over the summer months if children don’t read. So what is a parent to do? Let your children pick books that they have an interest in. Taking a break from required reading re-introduces your child to the enjoyment that comes from reading.

Come to your local ABBE library where there is a fabulous selection of books from which to choose. While you are there sign up for the Summer Reading program. When your child reaches their goal they will receive a reading medal and a certificate of completion. In addition to checking out books and movies you can pop in to enjoy storytime, a puppet show, a magic show, a play, and even see live snakes and alligators. The best part is that all of this is FREE!

So the next time your child says they have nothing to do or when you feel they have been in front of the TV too long, pile everyone into the car and go to your local ABBE library. In fact, why wait? Check out our Summer Reading pages to find out when the next terrific performance is scheduled at your library!

Paws to Read

Savannah and her handler listen to a good story

Reading to dogs? What in the world? Why would you read to a dog? All dogs do is chase squirrels, take naps, and play with their squeezy toys, right? Wrong! Therapy dogs do wonderful work visiting nursing homes, schools, and hospitals. They can make a real difference in people’s lives.

Katie graciously holds open a book for her reading partner

For the third year in a row the ASPCA Volunteer Therapy Dog Group and the Aiken County Public Library are partnering to provide children with a friend who won’t stop them and say, “You didn’t read that last word right! Children in kindergarten to fifth grade who are independently reading can sign up for a 20-minute session that will take place every Thursday from June 2nd to July 8th from 11:00 to 12:00. To sign up, either stop by the circulation desk at the Aiken County Public Library or call 803-642-7585 .

Charlie listens quietly while his partner
reads about the boxers playful nature

Reluctant Readers

Does your child squirm and make faces when confronted with a chapter book? Are you up night after night trying to get them to read just one chapter or even just one page? Every person is unique and their reading style is no exception. If your child says “no” to traditional chapter books then ask if they would be interested in reading non-fiction. If you can find a book about their favorite subject, chances are they will want to read it.

There is a wonderful series of National Geographic chapter books and they are available through the ABBE Regional Library System. If your child likes dogs then you can give them More than Man’s Best Friend: the Story of Working Dogs by Robyn O’Sullivan. If your child is fascinated by weather then Violent Weather: Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, and Hurricanes by Andrew Collins may be a great choice for them. The book Weedy Sea Dragons, Spitting Cobras, and Other Wild and Amazing Animals by Robyn O’Sullivan is full of amazing pictures and great information.

There are many wonderful non-fiction books at your library just waiting to be discovered. Don’t save the non-fiction section just for homework. Explore the shelves. You never know what you might find there!

National Poetry Month

Jennie's Garden of Kids

Jennie Beck

Would you like to help your child develop the ability to read quickly, accurately, and with expression?   Share poetry with them!  Reading poetry and nursery rhymes to babies and toddlers exposes them to  rhythm and expression while they are developing language skills.  

Older children can also develop reading fluency through reading poetry.   Not everyone thinks they like poetry but there are so many different types of poetry that you are bound to find something that you like.  

Here are some great poets that you can find at your ABBE library in the 811 section

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