When I was in Grade 10, there was a teachers’ strike that lasted seven weeks. I’d like to say that in that time I applied my 14-year-old mind to something creative or useful. But no: this girl watched every late-night B-movie available on our two-channel selection. There was a preponderance of single-word titles, I seem to remember: The Ants; The Frogs. Something was always taking over the world, usually something with multiple legs.
At the library earlier this month we were braced for the three days of teacher action, followed by spring break. We were sure that small things with multiple legs would take over, and we knew we’d better be ready.
Of course the library is rife with creative distractions, from books to educational computer programs to the shamrocks hidden all over the children’s section, the better to keep small ambulatory things occupied counting clovers. We’re lucky that way.
We love it when you come to the library with your kids, and we love it when you take your small children home with you. Fortunately, you can take other great things home too: books for all interests, books to listen to, DVDs to watch.
Even at home, great educational programs and databases for kids are a mouse-click away at nelsonlibrary.ca.
Searchasaurus sounds like a dinosaur, but it’s light-years beyond any B-movie sauropod, with dozens of children’s magazines geared for school-aged kids. Kids Search is a database designed for elementary and middle-school kids, ideal for finding out what a sauropod is, why ants are so cool, and why frogs are really our friends. Student Research Centre takes research up a notch for secondary school students, and World Book for Kids is a great interactive encyclopedia.
Endmark House blends fun and education for the younger set, with interactive, animated storylines and print activities for pre-kindergarten through Grade 2, enough to keep most ambulatory wee ones happy.
And for all ages who want to know what to read next, Novelist is perhaps my favourite database (there’s a version for adults, too). It’s a great way to find similar authors to the ones you like best, follow your favourite series, or search by topic through 46,000 titles. A basic search for frogs came up with 1, 506 titles. A Boolean search for “frogs” and “world domination” thankfully turned up nothing.
It’s fine for kids to be self-entertaining, but sooner or later they need to get their noses out of their books and their hands off their keyboards. The library’s great there, too, with titles like 365 Activities You and Your Child Will Love (imagine a spring break that never ends!) or Recipes for Art and Craft Materials, because home-made Playdough rocks. Hopscotch, Hangman, Hot Potato and Hahaha, besides being alliterative, is chock full of kids games familiar and otherwise.
Two favourites from a kids-eye view are 38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents and 38 Ways to Entertain your Babysitter, a nice way to turn the tables on things. And for kids who’d like to get out there with the frogs and ants, kids and caregivers can try the activities, crafts, and games in the book Nature’s Playground, among others. There’s really no such thing as nothing to do.
Spring break will end, and in a perfect world teachers and government will find common ground to the benefit of the little monsters — uh, kids. And the library will continue to educate, entertain, and inspire young people of all ages. We know it’s important, because in the end, this is no B movie. Our kids really will take over the world.
Anne DeGrace’s library column appears in the Star every second week