No time for reading, drawing, or riding bikes? What Are the Kids Doing With Their Time?

In a recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article entitled “Kids Should Curtail Media Consumption” written by Jeffrey M. McCall, author of Viewer Discretion Advised: Taking Control of Mass Media Influences, we learn what youth are doing with their time. “A Kaiser Family Foundation study released last month shows the average child ages 8-18 spends seven hours and 38 minutes each day in front of a screen . . . if multitasking is considered, the total media consumption is 10 hours and 45 minutes per day. On top of that, young people in grades 7-12 spend an average of one hour and 35 minutes a day sending and receiving text message, and this time is not counted in the 7:38 media screen use data referenced above. (

This leaves very little waking time for reading books and magazines, drawing and painting, physical activities including sports and riding bikes. Adults need to ensure that their children, or the youth with whom they work, learn to strike a balance in their use of media and time spent in “virtual worlds” with activities spent interacting with people and learning experiences in the “real world.”

The library is a great place for kids and teens to expand their horizons through fiction and nonfiction reading, including reading magazines. Also the events at  public libraries provide “real world,” hands-on educational experiences.” Even attending movies at the library is a more social experience than watching them alone on a computer, video game device, or a phone.

For more information about the 2010 Kaiser report, go to:

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Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 11:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Picturing America” Bookshelf

The six Clayton County Public Libraries received the We the People Picturing Americabookshelf in 2009 courtesy of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The books in this collection, which are all available for borrowing by the public, “portray significant themes in American history and culture.”  These six libraries are included in the 4,000 American libraries that each received a collection of seventeen classic hardcover books. These books, though written for children and teens, are also very interesting to adults interested in American history.

“This year’s (2009-2010) theme, “Picturing America,” explores the premise that a nation’s literature, as well as its visual art, can be a window into its history, aspirations, and ideals.”  ( )Homeschooling families will find these titles especially useful for development American History units.

During April please check the Clayton County Library System’s online calendar at Clayton County Library System for various programs that tie in with the “Picturing America” them. All of these programs are free and are open to the public, regardless of county of residency.

Please stop by one of our libraries to check out one of these books to share with your family, school, or group.

  • Kindergarten to Grade 3: Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley; Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull; Cosechando esperanza: La historia de César Chávez by Kathleen Krull (translated by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy); The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Sweet Music in Harlem by Debbie Taylor.
  • `Grades 4 to 6: The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich; American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne; On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck; Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule by Harriette Gillem Robinet; The Captain’s Dog: My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe by Roland Smith.
  • Grades 7 to 8: The Life and Death of Crazy Horse by Russell Freedman; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving; La leyenda de Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (translated by Manuel Broncano); Across America on an Emigrant Train by Jim Murphy; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.
  • Grades 9 to 12: Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis; Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange by Elizabeth Partridge; Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck; Viajes con Charley – en busca de América by John Steinbeck (translated by José Manuel Alvarez Flórez); Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville.
  • Bonus: Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out by The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance; 1776: The Illustrated Edition by David McCullough.

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 11:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Darla’s Dents: Picture Book Read-Alouds That Have Made a Favorable Impression

Dogfish, by Gillian Shields

I am doing a new story time for the childcare center kids I read to this month, entitled “New Books I Want to Share with You”.  While searching for picture books that would inspire me, I found Dogfish, by Gillian Shields.  I started laughing almost from the first page.  The illustrations, by Dan Taylor, are as descriptive as the words themselves.  From the shopping list posted on the fridge (with “a dog” added by the main child character), to the “hypnotizing eyes” of the boy and fish, these comic images will hook (excuse the fishy pun) you right along with the written narrative.  This story tells about a boy who desperately wants a dog. His mother comes up with all the practical reasons this cannot happen, with some ingenious responses from the boy. What I enjoyed was how the author would pause and have us view what “hopeless expressions” look like; for example, and “blissful happiness,” at the end.  Even the pet fish is a fully developed character, complete with expressive facial and body language.  This is a picture book I wish I could share with my own children, although they are both nearly grown.  I may do it, anyway.  I recommend this book to be read aloud to anyone who has a sense of humor and imagination of any kind. In other words, I suggest that kids and grownups of all ages find a way to embrace this book to the fullest!  I know I did, and continue to do so as I more closely examine the illustrations on each page.