Author Archive

Spring Storytime ends this week

May 6, 2015

spring storytimeReminder! Our spring session of storytime ends this week.

While we’ll be busy planning during May, we hope you’ll continue to make your visits to the library a weekly (or daily!) habit!  You’ll find puzzles, games and plenty of reading material at each library.

The summer storytime session will begin on June 8.  Join us for storytime and also sign up for Suburban Dare, our summer reading program.


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App Time Session 16

May 2, 2015

rocketThe book app we explored in App Time this week was How Rocket Learned to Read written by Tad Hills and produced by Random House ($4.99 on App Store for iPad), and based on the book of the same name.
Rocket the dog isn’t interested in reading, but a little yellow bird changes his mind and becomes his reading teacher. This app is well organized and easy to use. The app begins with a Word of the Day before the story begins. You can read it yourself or have it read aloud. Navigation is clear with arrows at the bottom of the page, a clear Home button and a Question button that gives page hints to prompt the reader where to tap or at times to shake the iPad (to make leaves fall). There is highlighted narration (the reader is a female with great verbal inflection) and verbal pronunciation of a word when tapped. Another nice feature is the “resume progress” option if reading is paused. rocket 2
The app also includes two games that build on the theme of learning to read: Bird’s Words and Alphabet Drop. Bird’s Words helps children learn sight words and there’s the option to hear the word again if children are unsure. If a wrong word is chosen the app moves on. In Alphabet Drop, there is clear instructions for how to play. A scene appears with Rocket looking up at the sky. As letters fall, the child tilts the iPad so that Rocket’s nose touches the letters in order. The letters then appear on a small chalkboard on the tree and a timer keeps track. Children can do the game over and over to improve their time.


abc appWe also looked at the activity app ABC Alphabet Phonics produced by Innovative Investments (free on App Store for iPad and iPhone)

This activity app provides a number of ways to for children to identify alphabet letters, from simple prompts to press a letter to additional phonics options. There are lots of options to expand upon letter recognition including uppercase and lowercase; animals next to letters to prompt identification of letter and animal name starting with the letter; professions to prompt identification of letter and profession. Game sounds include reinforcement when a correct answer is chosen.  With so much customization, this free app has many uses!


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Goatilocks and the Three Bears

April 9, 2015

goatilocksGoatilocks and the Three Bears by Erica S. Perl

A fractured version of Goldilocks featuring a “kid,” a young goat, as the main character. The goat is as audacious as Goldilocks but with a goat-like twist: she eats everything! How can she make it up to the bears? There’s a surprising and satisfying answer to round out the story. The comical, cartoon-style illustrations add to the humor in this pleasing fractured fairy tale.goatilocks 2

So what is a fractured fairy tale? Take a regular fairy tale, then change the gender(s) of some of the characters, mix up the setting, add a little humor, and you have a new version of an old favorite.

These titles are often great for reading aloud with children who know the traditional tale well and can enjoy the humor of a different version. We have a list of them here.

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App Time Session 12: Trucks and Peekaboo Barn

April 4, 2015

byron barton appsIn App Time this week, we used the book app Trucks from the Byron Barton Collection #1 produced by Oceanhouse Media ($4.99 on the App Store or $1.99 if purchased individually).

For young listeners who love vehicles, this app is a great companion for the books of the same name. It features bold colors and simple navigation with a bright orange triangle at the bottom right for page turns. Sentences appear in black and are highlighted as read aloud (you can turn this option off, too). Pressing on a word will pronounce and display the word again. Sound effects are minimal: Pressing on objects in the scene results in identification of the object, and sometimes prompts additional sound effects. I like the non-distracting format of this app, ideal for younger children. Pressing the orange arrow at bottom center gives the option to close, go to home, navigate to particular pages, record your voice for read-aloud option and turn on/off sound effects.

peekaboo barnWe also used the activity app, Peekaboo Barn by Night & Day Studios ($1.99 on App Store and Google Play)

A wonderfully simple and pleasing app:  a red barn is front and center, and tapping on the wiggling doors opens them to reveal a farm animal. The animal noise is heard, and the word for the animal appears. Tapping again closes the barn doors, and the child can tap to open the doors and reveal another animal.

This one is great for interaction, animal identification and sounds.  Additionally, there are many language options, making this a good one for non-native English speakers or for those wanting their children to learn animal words in another language. 

peekaboo barn 1Parent options can be accessed by swiping, and allow play modes of regular or looped; voice on or off; voice in other languages; or the option to record a voice.



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App Time Session 8

March 7, 2015

monster appThis week in App Time, we looked at the book app There’s a Monster at the End of this Book!  It’s produced by Sesame Street and available for $4.99 on the App Store.  Based on the beloved book of the same name, Grover narrates the book, warning readers NOT to turn the pages because there’s a monster at the end of the book. The book’s interactivity comes into play as readers can “untie” the ropes and “break down” the brick wall that Grover builds, in hopes of preventing the reader from turning another page. It’s easy to navigate with the bottom corner of the page pulling up, and Grover acting as a guide with funny comments. Interactive parts glow so it’s obvious where to tap, and there’s highlighted narration.  There is also a parent tab with lots of extension activities, and ideas for using the app to calm a child’s fears.
ACPL appThe activity app this week is ACPL Family (free on the App Store) from the Allen County Public Library.  The app promotes early literacy and can be used with preschoolers up through elementary-grade children. There are booklists with helpful themed lists, with some common ones such as Great Books for Toddlers but also less common ones such as “Dentist” or “Clay Illustrations.” Keep in mind that the books link to the Allen County Library so you’ll want to use the Plano library app to check for the titles recommended here.

There’s a Tips & Facts section that gives early literacy tips by age group.  There’s also a Reading Timer (great for independent readers or adults who want to commit to read-aloud time with their child).

The READY on the Go section is impressive for its videos related to each of the 5 early literacy practices (Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing & Playing).  The videos, aimed at the child but modeling for the parent or caregiver, give ideas for how to reinforce that practice.


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Rain Reign

March 6, 2015

rain reign Rain Reign by Ann Martin

This was such a satisfying chapter book!

Rose needs predictability in her life (she’s on the Autism spectrum), but living with her dad is difficult. He’s distant and gruff. Her saving grace is her uncle who seems to understand Rose so well. She loves homonyms and these appear all through the text.  Rose collects them. Besides her uncle, a dog–a gift from her dad–are her anchors.

I so rooted for this little girl. There’s a bittersweet ending but one that seemed just right. As a reader, I practically ached to make things right for her.  I hope you enjoy this one!

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App Time Session 5: Boats & MOMA Art Lab

February 14, 2015

Boats appThis week in App Time we looked at Boats, an app based on the book of the same name by Byron Barton.  It’s produced by Oceanhouse Media and is available as part of the Byron Barton Collection #1 for $4.99 from the App Store.

This app has the bright colors, bold outlines and simple shapes that are familiar from Barton’s books.  The book will automatically read aloud unless you go into the settings. There is the option to record your own voice.

There are sound effects and animation as the different boats move onto the page. Navigation is intuitive with the triangle appearing in the bottom right.

Tapping on a boat repeats a sound effect. You can also move the boats by holding and dragging. Tapping on objects or parts of the scene will identify the object and the word will appear, a great way to build on a child’s vocabulary.


moma art labThe activity app this week is MOMA Art Lab from the Museum of Modern Art in NY. It’s available for free from the App Store and encourages open-ended creativity.

Once the app is opened, you’ll see 3 colored buttons on the left. The button with the lightbulb gives you ideas for your artwork; the scissors and pencil button gives suggests activities based on a specific artist’s work.   Each of these button also has the option for audio, so that a pre-reader will have the activity or suggestion read aloud to them. The third button is your gallery where you can save your artwork.  On the right side, there’s the option to start a new work, take a picture of your art, change the canvas color, or delete your artwork.

In the middle is a blank canvas with drawing, shape and color options at the bottom. Bring shapes onto the canvas by tapping on them. You can move shapes around, resize them and turn them…or drag them off the screen to remove them.  Practice shape and color recognition with your child using the app.  There are lots of color and drawing options, and a handy eraser if you need to revise your artwork. The drawing option will allow a child to scribble and practice pre-writing skills by “writing” in their own way.

This app has so many possibilities: discuss the artists featured on the app; visit a museum; try some of the artwork with real art supplies; talk with your child about their artwork.


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Award Time!

February 3, 2015

The Newbery and Caldecott medals were awarded on Monday!

Newbery Winner:  The Crossover, written by Kwame Alexander and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Twelve-year-old narrator Josh Bell uses the rhythms of a poetry jam to emulate the “moving & grooving/popping and rocking” of life on the basketball court with his twin brother, J.B. This powerful novel in verse paints an authentic portrait of a closely-knit family on the brink of crisis. Swish! This book is nothing but net!
The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.


Caldecott Winner:  The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, illustrated and written by Dan Santat and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

In four delightful “visual chapters,” Beekle, an imaginary friend, undergoes an emotional journey looking for his human. Santat uses fine details, kaleidoscopic saturated colors, and exquisite curved and angular lines to masterfully convey the emotional essence of this special childhood relationship.
The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

For more information and other great award-winning titles, visit the ALA Book & Media Awards site.

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App Time Session 3

January 31, 2015

frog thingThe book app presented at App Time this week was A Frog Thing  produced by Oceanhouse Media  ($2.99 in App Store and Google Play) based on the book of the same name by Eric Drachman.

This app has a few standard options such as Read to Me, Read it Myself and Auto Play.  There is also the option to record your own voice.  There are only one or two sound effects per page, and some pages pan in and out, but the app mainly allows the reader and child to focus on the story and text with minimal distractions.

Voices for the main characters are appealing, with a lovable child’s voice for Frank the frog.  Words are highlighted in green as they are read aloud, which helps build print awareness and vocabulary. Words are repeated if they are tapped which helps with word recognition.  There is some background music to enhance the drama of the story.

I hope you enjoy the story of Frank, a frog who wants to fly!

mgolThe activity app used in App Time this week was Mother Goose on the Loose produced by Software Smoothie (free in the App Store).

This is a nursery rhyme and felt board app. On the left are 8 buttons. When you tap one of these, it displays the flannel objects associated with it. On the right side are circular buttons that have different rhymes—for example, the button with the spider opens up the options for the rhymes Little Miss Muffett and the Eency Weensy Spider (in both English and Spanish). There’s also the option to play the rain stick. You can move the flannel objects to the flannel board scene and then press the button to hear the nursery rhyme. You can move flannel pieces around or remove them from the scene.  This app is a fun way to introduce or reinforce the wonderful rhythm and rhymes in nursery songs.

Join us next week for App Time on Friday at 11am at Haggard Library!

Register online to use one of our tablets or bring your own:

Click here to see all of our App Time videos.

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Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

December 16, 2014

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Jon Klassen

Sam and Dave are on a mission to dig a hole in search of something spectacular.  As they try to figure out the best strategy, the reader (and the knowing dog) see the big gems that the pair are missing.  When they fall asleep and free-fall through the deeper hole, they end up falling from above, back to where they were before…or is it?  With sepia-toned illustrations, spare text and the reader in the know, children will enjoy the surprise ending.

This story reminded of that child-like belief that you can dig a hole to China, and the illustrations brought to mind that classic, A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss.  Enjoy!



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