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Showing posts from May, 2014

Get the Kids Outdoors

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Do you have children who are tied to their mobile phones and computers? According to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation Report, on a typical day children ages 8-18 spend about 7 ½ hours consuming media. As a parent, I watch my children use their media devices to communicate with friends, do homework, find information, play video games and listen to music.  Every day I get frustrated with the amount of time we all spend in front of screens. I am always looking for ways to encourage my family to unplug and get outdoors. Following are some ideas that might be helpful for you and your family to spend a day outside.

On June 14, families can enjoy special events during the seventh National Get Outdoors Day.  This annual day was launched in 2008 by the USDA Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition to encourage families and children to connect with nature. Events are being planned around the country and will offer great outdoor fun.

Does your family enjoy biking, walking or in-line …

Books To Get You Thinking

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Closely following on the heels of the National Book Awards and the Book Critics Circle Awards, April heralded the announcement of the coveted and much anticipated 2014 Pulitzer Prizes presented at Columbia University on April 14, 2014  honoring exceptional contributions in journalism, literature and musical composition. The judging process was presided over by a Board of nineteen distinguished personalities from the world of journalism and the arts that included familiar names as Gail Collins, Katherine Boo and Junot Diaz. You can find all the outstanding titles that received this year’s Pulitzer at your branch of the Mercer County Library!

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 
Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer in the category of Fiction for her new novel that took more than ten years to complete.  Spanning over seven hundred pages, the book is a modern literary tale with a distinctly nineteenth century flair. Set against the dramatic landscapes of Manhattan, Las Vegas and Amsterdam, its vast canva…

Math + Picture Books = Fun!

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Picture books offer an easy and fun way to introduce children to fundamental math concepts while also exposing them to the world of reading comprehension, literacy, and storytelling. When reading picture books to children, it is natural for the reader to encourage interaction with the book, using prompts and questions. The same is true for those picture books with underlying math lessons. Not only can the reader ask questions about the unfolding story, but also the mathematics occurring as part of the storyline. A five-year-old may not readily recite the Pythagorean theorem after reading The Greedy Triangle (1994) by Marilyn Burns, but she can begin to grasp basic geometry skills from a story that subtly explain functions of mathematics in an engaging and beautifully illustrated way.

Whether it is identifying shapes, understanding time, grasping the concept of number sets, or learning basic addition and subtraction, there are numerous picture books from which to choose. Here are twel…

More Buried Treasure from the Mercer County Library Collections

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This edition’s buried treasure brings to mind the old saw “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” because we will be talking about the Bowery Boys.  Now, for some those words will bring a groan, “Oh no, not the Bowery Boys”; for others it will bring a “Bowery Boys? Who are the Bowery Boys?” For the savvy set, those words will bring about an “Oh yes! The Bowery Boys!”

The Mercer County Library has recently added two collections of Bowery Boys films; Bowery Boys Volume One (broken up into 4 separate discs) and Bowery Boys Volume Two (also broken up into 4 separate discs). They brought back some fond memories.  Now I might be dating myself, but the Bowery Boys were a staple of my Saturday afternoon youth.  Before the advent of cable, the most important decision of my youthful self was whether to watch the Bowery Boys on channel 5 or the Three Stooges on channel 11.  You only got to pick one because they were on at the same time and there was no DVR back then; why shoot, you even ha…

Making Photo Flowers!

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Looking for a fun way to display your pictures for spring? Follow the directions below to make a Photo Flower!
To make a Photo Flower you will need: ·Card stock or construction paper ·A flower template or simply design your own ·A green pipe cleaner ·A small flower pot ·A small piece of Styrofoam ·Small tissue paper squares ·A photograph ·Tape ·Glue ·Scissors ·Green or brown tissue paper or artificial moss (optional)
1.Start by cutting a flower shape out of the card stock or construction paper. Be sure to check that your photo will fit on the flower.


2.Glue your photo onto the flower.


3.Tape a green stem to the back of the flower.

Who Is Tracking You While You Are Searching The Web?

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If you have ever wondered why there are ads from a website you visited earlier while you are currently looking at a totally different site, there is a reason:  an advertiser is “tracking” you, following you around online, reminding you of what you have recently looked at and perhaps thought of purchasing.

In her recently published book, Dragnet Nation, Julia Angwin, former journalist with the Wall Street Journal, documents how she tried to lessen her dependence on online searching through major web browsers, cell phone use, Facebook accounts and other mainstays of everyday digital life, so her privacy would be more protected.  She undertook an experiment for one year and found it was often difficult and required much high-tech knowledge to protect her privacy while still trying to maintain normal communication with family and friends.

Along the way, she used alternate identities, chatted on disposable (and sometimes Faraday caged) cell phones, used DuckDuckGo (which does not store da…

Judge a Book by its Cover!

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We have all heard the maxim "don't judge a book by its cover." But let us be honest. When it comes to books, how many of us are attracted by either the cover and/or by the title? You may well say that a beguiling cover or a provocative title does not guarantee a good read; that a book with a plain cover and a simple title can be a delightfully gratifying read. I admit that there have been books which I started reading because of their irresistible covers, only to abandon them halfway through because they proved to be an utter waste of time.On the other hand, I have also been amply rewarded for selecting books simply because their covers have appealed to my aesthetics.
Research suggests thatwe humans are predominantly visual beings. Over the years, I have read many a book solely attracted by an eye-catching cover or a catchy title. Certain book covers, due to their compelling color and/or design drew my attention or a provocative title piqued my interest.  What follows i…