Author Archive

An Absorbing Local Indie Read

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

polish doctorKDL’s Local Indie collection highlights independently published works by local authors & artists. It’s a great way to discover new writers, musicians & filmmakers right in your own back yard.

I recently read A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps: My Mother’s Memories of Imprisonment, Immigration, and a Life Remade by Barbara Rylko-Bauer.  It is the true story of a young Polish Roman Catholic doctor, Jadwiga Lenartowicz Rylko, known as Jadzia, arrested by the Nazis in January 1944. She was detained as a suspected member of the resistance, though her only crime was listening to the news on the radio.

Written by Jadzia’s daughter, the book tells of her fifteen months in concentration camps, ending with a forty-two day death march. During part of her time as a prisoner, she doctored the Jewish laborers in the camps. After being liberated, Jadzia attempted to return to life as a doctor, first in Germany and later in the United States. Reading a non-Jewish account of imprisonment was compelling, though the narrative of Jadzia’s childhood, education, marriage and later life is as interesting as reading about her time in the concentration camps, especially her reactions to various things her daughter asks her in interviews for the book.

Bonus: Rylko-Bauer will be speaking about her book at KDL’s East Grand Rapids branch on October 7 at 7:00 PM.

Currently the Local Indie collection is housed at the Cascade Township and Kentwood Branches, but all of the items may be borrowed system-wide. Try it – you’ll like it!

 


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Early Expert Readers

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Recently I read an interesting article in November/December issue of The Horn Book Magazine that addressed the issue of early expert readers, and thought it would be useful to share. The term “early expert readers” refers to children who learn to read far earlier than their peers, possibly before kindergarten. If you have an early expert reader, it can be very difficult to find appropriate books for her (or him). A four-year-old who can read or a first grader who reads at a high level may be able to read Harry Potter books, but is she ready for them? A book that is beyond her level of emotional and social development will not be enjoyable, let alone comprehendible. Young children have a very strong sense of right and wrong, and, though they may love adventure books, they really need books with straightforward storylines that don’t include flashbacks or prologues, stories with adventures that end positively, characters whose motives are clear-cut, and bad guys who get what they deserve. Below are some suggested titles for early expert readers.

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace is the first in a series of 8 or 10 books published first in the 1940s about the friendship between two little girls and the adventures they have. Along with Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Beverly Cleary’s series books about Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby, they present child-centered stories with a safe setting, affectionate parents, friendly adults, and adventures that are never really dangerous. A more recently published series featuring a pair of friends is Annie Barrows’ Ivy and Bean. The girls are likeable and funny, getting into small scrapes, but always getting out of them in the end.

Several of Dick King-Smith’s books have memorable characters, including animal-loving Sophie; Lady Lollipop the pig; Flora the school mouse; clever Ace, a pig who ends up on television; and of course, Babe: the Gallant Pig. Another series featuring a funny (and well loved) pig is Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series. Mercy ends up catching a thief, driving a car, and dressing as a princess for Halloween, among other amusing adventures. In the tradition of Toy Story, three friends who happen to be toys have six adventures in Toys Go Out, and in its sequel Toy Dance Party, by Emily Jenkins.

There are many, many great books for kids who are early expert readers — just ask the youth librarian at your favorite branch to recommend some!


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Wordless Books Make Great Stories

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

I often hear a parent tell a child, “No, put that book back. It doesn’t have a story — there aren’t any words.” Just because there aren’t any words doesn’t mean there isn’t a story! Wordless books are sometimes much richer than books with a written narrative because they have to tell the whole story in images.

“Reading” a wordless book with your child helps serve as an initial step toward reading. It builds vocabulary and comprehension, and can result in astonishing interactive conversation. Wordless books help kids understand how the details in a picture help build the story. Page through the book and have your child tell you the story. Ask her questions and relate the pictures to his real world. After you take home a few wordless books, you’ll be as big a fan as I am. Here are a few to get you started:

In Un-Brella by Scott E. Franson, a little girl uses her magic umbrella to give her the weather she wants, regardless of what the conditions are outside.

 

In The Adventures of Polo by Regis Faller, Polo the dog sets out from his home and enjoys many adventures, including sailing his boat on top of a whale, roasting hot dogs over a volcano, and taking a ride in a spaceship built from a mushroom.

Hogwash by Arthur Geisert will have your kids poring over the enormous and complicated contraption that Mama Pig uses to get her little piglets clean.

 

Wave by Suzy Lee shows a little girl’s first experiences at the beach, from being afraid of the roaring waves to playing on the shore with the gulls screaming overheard.

Barbara Lehman has three fantastic wordless books: Rainstorm, Museum Trip, and my favorite, The Red Book. This last story is about a magical, red, wordless book and the friendship than develops around it.

David Wiesner is probably the most famous author of wordless books. His story Tuesday was a Caldecott Honor Book. He also wrote June 29, 1999, and won the Caldecott Medal with his brilliant story, Flotsam. In Flotsam, a boy finds a remarkable camera when it washes in from the ocean.

A girl watches as the activities across the street from her bus stop become a Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleishman.

 

There are many other wonderful wordless books. Just ask the youth librarian to help you find them!


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Walking with Dinosaurs!

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Dinosaur Live

How would you like to see 15 life-size dinosaurs, including the king of them all, Tyrannosaurus-Rex?! KDL has partnered with the Van Andel Arena for their upcoming Dinosaur Live event taking place December 10th-14th. Each branch has 4 family passes to give away (an $80 value!) for the opening night show. Visit your KDL branch library now through Monday, Dec. 8th and register to win.


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Why Read Over the Summer?

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Kids are often encouraged by their teachers to read over the summer, but did you ever wonder why? The book The Power of Reading by Stephen Krashen provides all kinds of fascinating information about the benefits of reading. For example, did you know, studies have shown:

Kids who read just five books over the summer had a 3% gain in reading comprehension test scores

and

Summer reading improves writing, spelling, vocabulary and grammar — in fact, it is better than direct instruction at improving these skills!

What if your child “hates” reading?

Read TO her! Even as your kids get older, read aloud to them as often as possible. Children who are read to read more and show better literacy development. Even college students read more and better books when they are read to.

Let your child see you reading. Children read more when they see other people reading.

Allow your child to read what he wants to read, whether it is comic books (comic book texts can be complex), factual nonfiction books, magazines, or books that are “too young” for him. If a child enjoys reading, he will move on to more difficult books. Audiobooks are another good option. A child can either follow along with a book or simply enjoy having a book read aloud to her by a fantastic narrator. Listening to audiobooks improves all of the same literacy skills as reading a book, with the exception of spelling.


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