Junior Reptile Wagon to be at Riverdale Branch Library June 10, 2010

On June 10 Southeastern Reptile Rescue will bring their Junior Reptile Wagon at the Riverdale Branch Library showcasing  snakes native to Georgia . This display will offer a wide variety of native reptiles to view as well as exotic species of venomous and non-venomous snakes. All animals on display are kept in locked cages that provide up close, safe viewing for guests. Some  reptiles are made available to attendees for optional hands-on experiences. 

Jason Clark, and his family, who ARE Southeastern Reptile Rescue/Snakesareus, have recently become popular nationally via their new show on Animal Planet, Snakeskin .  However, Jason has been well-known in Clayton County for a long time, for his programs  at libraries and other places featuring his family’s snakes, for snake and reptile rescue, and for being a Clayton County police officer.  Now he’s decided to focus on reptiles and has resigned as a police officer. For more information on Jason Clark read “Former Clayton cop is new ‘Animal Planet’ star” and go to the Snakesareus web site.

SnakesKin is creating quite a stir in Discovery.com’s blog, “The Skinny on ‘SnakesKin’.”

Location of the Junior Reptile Wagon program: Riverdale Branch Library, 420 Valley Hill Rd., Riverdale, GA. 30274. Date: June 10, 2010; Time: 10-11 A.M. Space is limited and advance registration is required.  Groups are welcome to attend, based on available space, and MUST register in advance. Call 770 472 8100 to register or email Ramona Clark, clarkr@claytonpl.org

ALSO IF YOU LIKE REPTILES, don’t miss  the  reptile program (lizards, snakes, tortoises) by My Reptile Guys at the Headquarters Library, 865 Battle Creek Rd., Jonesboro, on June 30, 10-11 A.M. Again space is limited and advance registration is required. Call 770 472 8100 to register or email BeaMengel@claytonpl.org

For more June programs at our six libraries go to Clayton County Library System Events Calendar

Don’t forget to check out some books on reptiles while you are visiting the library!

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Does Owning Video Games Hurt School Performance?

One recent study published in the journal, Psychological Science,  came to the conclusion that “that video-game ownership may impair academic achievement for some boys in a manner that has real-world significance.”  However, at least one blogger on the Chicago Sun-Times site  feels like that the study was not structured in such a way to eliminate other variables which might have caused a decline school performance. The Chronicle of Higher Education comments on the study too.

Read a news release about the study.

One thing for sure, this discussion is probably just starting, with many more people planning to comment on the subject, and, also, probably planning more studies.

Published in: on April 7, 2010 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pete the Cat is available @ Clayton County Libraries!

One of our favorite stories to read aloud has now gone national in a new edition published by HarperCollins!   It’s now # 8 on the New York Times Children’s Books Best Seller List.  Atlanta area professional storyteller, musician, and educator, Eric Litwin, wrote the words to a song about a blue cat in 2008.  However, in 1999, artist, James Dean,  had adopted a black cat, but painted pictures of him in blue. Over the years more pictures  were drawn and eventually Eric and James collaborated on a picture book entitled Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes.  Eric Litwin has always been a favorite educational entertainer for children at Clayton County libraries. I believe Eric once told me that he formerly taught in Clayton County–I think at Suder Elementary.  He is a former teacher and has taught special education. 

We loved Pete the Cat when we first saw it recited online by two little girls  but had to order copies for our library directly from Eric Litwin.  Enjoy the video of Eric Litwin and James Dean reading the book aloud,  accompanied by Mr. Michael, who produced the CD that accompanies the book, playing the guitar.

Here’s a video of Eric and James on Good Day, Atlanta,  as they were interviewed on April 6.

For more information about the artist, James Dean, go to http://www.petethecat.com/

Published in: on April 7, 2010 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Library Director commemorates 30 years of service

Carol Stewart, CCLS Director of Library Services, recently reached this milestone with as little fan fare as she could get by with. But somehow, we noticed anyway. Her dedication to the library profession and the Clayton County community are evident to anyone she talks to.

Carol was there when the library system was formed, oversaw the construction of the Headquarters, Riverdale, Lovejoy and Morrow libraries and has seen the profession change in ways that were unimaginable 30 years ago. In case you missed it, there was an excellent article in The Clayton News-Daily about Carol’s career with us. We look forward to her continued leadership as we prepare to build a new library in Forest Park. Congratulations Carol!

Ted Bazemore

Published in: on April 1, 2010 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

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. (http://www.ajc.com/opinion/kids-should-curtail-media-358698.html)

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: http://www.hearttohand.org/PDF/Kaiser_Media_Study_2010_-_News_Release.pdf

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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.”  (http://www.neh.gov/news/archive/20090406.html )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.

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

A new picture book that was just recently added to our children’s collection is one that I highly recommend as a part of any story time.  The book is entitled Topsy Turvy Bedtime, by Joan Levine and illustrated by Tony Auth.  I used it as part of a “Sleeping Animals” story time.  I told the children that some animals sleep all winter, contrasting them with other animals that sleep only nightly or daily, like us. 

Topsy Turvy Bedtime completely captivated me. From the first page, I loved the little girl, Arathusela. Her name is unique yet fun-to-say.  The children laughed just at the sound of it.  I have to admit I liked the sound of it rolling off of my own tongue, too.  Her short stature makes her appealing, but her personality and strength of character is not to be overlooked, despite her smallness.  This dynamo of a girl grabs you from the start of the story and doesn’t let go. 

The best part of the story is that there is a reversal in roles. Arathusela gets to be the boss when it comes to bedtime.  Without being preachy, it helps kids to relate to some of what their parents may go through when trying to get THEM to go to sleep.  The parents responses to Arathusela’s directions are hilarious.  There is a real lesson to be learned here, but the story itself is so much fun that it wouldn’t matter even if there weren’t!

This is a picture book that made a wonderful impression on me.  The illustrations are endearing:  long, lean and tall parents looking down at a small ball of energy that is the main character, without ever being demeaning.  The dialogue is just right, too.  It’s smart but understandable, and the words are recognizable as some any parent might say to their child.  There are not too many words, which I find to be a real downfall in many picture books.  Let the kids fill in any blanks with their imaginations! Everything doesn’t need to be spelled out. 

 This is a book to be shared with every kid you know–no matter the age. It makes for a humorous and delightful listening experience for both the reader and the audience.  The visuals, as I’ve said, are warm and engaging, as well.  This is a story I recommend as a part of any story time, no matter the theme.

Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Public libraries believe in children & help them succeed

How can students succeed even if they don’t have all of the opportunities available to others from wealthier families or even if they don’t have involved parents?  The Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, says that these students can succeed “. . . because someone believed in those children and taught them that neither their poverty nor their parents’ choices defined their futures.” http://www.ajc.com/opinion/learning-curve-duncan-no-250081.html Public librarians everywhere help children and teens by assisting them in pursuing their personal interests, by helping them with resources for life and school, and by talking to them, sometimes day-after-day. Librarians let students know that the librarians believe in the students and their ability to succeed. Most libraries don’t have formal after-school programs (though some do), yet operate as de facto after-school, evening, and weekend youth centers for many of the youth in the libraries neighborhoods.

Public libaries encourage the “sparks” that, according to the Search Institute allow youth to thrive.


“A spark is an interest, talent, skill, asset, or dream that truly excites a young person and helps them discover their true passions, whether they be academic, relational, athletic, artistic, or intellectual—anything that inspires and motivates.

Sparks ‘light a fire’ in a person. But sparks, by themselves, go can out if they are not nurtured with enough ongoing fuel to keep them alive and strengthen them. This fuel comes in the form of supportive peers and adults who help celebrate, affirm, and grow a young person’s sparks and are essential if those sparks are to help the young person truly thrive.”

If you haven’t done so lately,  take a look at all of the services now provided by your local public library and find ways to support the librarians who are “lighting those fires and keeping them alive.”

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 4:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

O Christmas Tree: A Short Survey of Christmas Trees in Children’s Picture Books

Christmas Tree Clip Art


Recalling Allen Say’s picture book Tree of Cranes, I wondered what other children’s books there are where a Christmas tree is a central element to the story.  Below is a short survey of such books in the CCLS collection:

A Charlie Brown Christmas (Charles M. Schulz; adapted by Justine and Ron Fontes) – A Charlie Brown Christmas focuses on Charlie Brown’s struggle to find the true meaning of Christmas amidst its commercialization.  Along the way, he finds the scrawny (and now iconic) little tree for the school Christmas play.  He “kills” it while attempting to decorate it, but the tree is miraculously transformed by story’s end.  Based on the classic television special, which in turn is based on the comic strip Peanuts.

Chita’s Christmas Tree (Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard) – Chita, an African-American girl in early 20th century Baltimore, goes to the woods with her father to choose a Christmas tree, and eagerly awaits for Santa to deliver it.  Like many titles in this survey, the book reflects how Chita spends her days preparing for Christmas.

My Prairie Christmas (Brett Harvey) – A little girl tries to adjust to her first Christmas at her new home on the prairie.  But this pales to when her father goes to find a Christmas tree and does not return.

Night Tree (Eve Bunting) – A family goes to the woods to find a Christmas tree, but not to bring home!  An endearing look at an unusual family tradition.

Tree of Cranes (Allen Say) – Author/illustrator Allen Say often celebrates his Japanese heritage in his books.  In Tree of Cranes, a Japanese boy experiences his first Christmas when his homesick Japanese-American mother decorates a small pine tree with candles and paper cranes.

The Tub People’s Christmas (Pam Conrad) – The Tub People – a set of wooden toys in Pam Conrad’s series of books – have no idea what a strange man in a red suit is doing in their home, especially when he brings a tree down the chimney!

Uncle Vova’s Tree (Patricia Polacco) – Like Say, Patricia Polacco draws on her heritage for inspiration for her stories.  She describes a traditional Russian Christmas in Uncle Vova’s Tree, where a spirited uncle implores his nieces and nephews to continue his tradition of decorating the tree that he planted when he and his wife first arrived in America.

Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree (Gloria Houston) – Set in the Appalachians near the end of WWI, Ruthie awaits her father’s return from Europe, so together they can harvest a tree that they’ve pledged for the church’s Christmas pageant.


There likely are more books about Christmas trees – for children and adults – than are listed here.  Tell us any that you know of by leaving a comment below.

Find other books in CCLS and PINES by searching the PINES catalog by the author’s name.

CCLS has many Christmas themed books for children and adults.  Ask staff at your nearest library for assistance.

Published in: on December 10, 2009 at 6:03 pm  Leave a Comment