Category Archives: 3+

Give them books – not Google

Original article published at on March 8, 2017

When Your Kid Asks a Question, Hand Them a Book—Not a Phone

When my 5-year-old asks a question, is there a difference between looking it up in a book and just using my phone?

Recently, I watched David Kwong do some sleight of hand in a crowded theater lobby. Kwong is a magician who often consults on Hollywood films. (When a director needs, say, Jesse Eisenberg to learn a magic trick, they send him to Kwong.) Anyway, Kwong sauntered over to a guy with a deck of cards and asked him to pick one.

Honestly, I don’t know how to describe what happened next. For 30 minutes, Kwong made cards materialize in outrageous, stupefying ways, as though he were nonchalantly sliding them in and out of a parallel universe. Someone’s card flew out of the deck, spinning through the air. Another turned up in a guy’s back pocket—and not just in his back pocket, but buried deep, between his wallet and a bundle of crumpled receipts. Kwong asked someone to rip a card into four pieces, then hold them in his fist; when he opened his hand, the card was reassembled!

Maybe this doesn’t sound that impressive, written down. We all know card tricks are a thing. But the way Kwong kept relentlessly confronting us with the impossible—seeing this sorcery at close range—seemed to not just entertain people but to make them feel vulnerable and a little scared. People mewled and screamed, “No!” One poor man was reduced to crouching on the floor, laughing so euphorically he couldn’t catch his breath. (OK, that was me.) The guy with the ripped-up card in his fist refused to open it at first, shaking his head like a child terrified to look at his boo-boo, afraid of what he’d find. “He has total power over us,” one woman said quietly, gravely. She sounded creeped out. It was so much fun!

Now, I’m sure everyone in that crowd wondered how Kwong was doing it, but it’s a rare bird who goes home and actually labors to understand the mechanics of how such tricks are engineered. (Those rare birds become magicians—it’s how Kwong got his start.) Most of us perceive magic tricks to be unreplicable, to violate the reality we inhabit. They’re, you know, magic.

To a 5-year-old, phones are magic. The internet is magic. An older kid might be able to understand the technology and infrastructure involved, the nature of Wikipedia, and so on, but for a child so young, the answer just appears, miraculously, like a playing card yanked from a bystander’s back pocket. Leafing through a book together, by comparison, is a more collaborative, tactile, self-evident process. It’s a journey toward the answer, one that your child gets to go on.

What I’m talking about is the difference between learning and being told, between answering a specific question and getting a child excited about answering it on their own. It’s fun to amaze your 5-year-old, sure. But it’s more gratifying to set your kid up to one day amaze you.

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Filed under 3+, children, current news, day in the life, fun facts

Boss Baby Trailer

Don’t know how I missed this.

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Filed under 3+, children, current news, fiction, fun facts, movies

Beauty & the Beast

Oh my God you guys. I am SO excited.

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Filed under 3+, adult, movies, young adult

Take Me Seriously

Sometimes I think Children’s librarians aren’t taken seriously. Actually, most of the time they’re not taken seriously. I know this because I am one. In the same way, Children’s literature often isn’t taken seriously either. A few years ago there was a big ‘ol debate about how young adult books should not be read by adults. Remember that? If you don’t go back and read these posts.

YA Not for Adults? <- the beginning of it all, what an idiot

“Against YA” backlash” <- people agreeing with me that she’s a big idiot

Adults who Read YA and Young Adult is for Everyone

So! Along those same lines. Now that we’ve (hopefully) successfully spoke out against those who think YA shouldn’t be read by adults  we’re speaking out against those who don’t read or take Children’s literature seriously.

Check out this article and join the conversation.

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Literacy App Results


If you’re like me, you are wary of giving children tablets. I see two year olds playing on phones and I cringe. If I were a mother I’d probably think differently and look at that two-year-old knowing their mother was getting 10 minutes of silence and say a hail Mary. After reading this study I can now feel slightly in between my cringe and Catholic tendency to praise God.

Let me sum it up for you. Researchers at MIT, Tufts University and Georgia State University have been giving tablet computers loaded with literacy apps to different groups of kids (all in economically disadvantaged communities) to see if it improves their reading readiness.

One group was in rural Ethiopia, one was in a suburban South African school, and one was in a rural U.S. school.

Results? In the African deployments, students who used the tablets fared much better on the tests than those who didn’t, and in the U.S. deployment, the students’ scores improved dramatically after four months of using the tablets. How dramatically, you ask? You’ll have to read the study. They’re better at explaining the results than I am.

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Maddie on Things


Let me tell you about this adorable book, Maddie on Things. The dog’s name is Maddie. And she stands on things. That’s it. It’s a book of photographs of this adorable dog that stands on the most ridiculous things. I heard about it on a blog I read, Iowa Girl Eats. Which is an amazing food blog btw. Her son, who is 3(?) looks at the pictures and cracks up. It would be the best book for kids. Such a great conversation starter.Questions you could ask include…

What is Maddie standing on? Could you do that? (probably not the best question for dangerous photos, because there are some)

Is that silly? Why do you think she did that?

Is she hungry?

Is she a farmer? What kind of animals live on a farm?

IT IS THE CUTEST! Check it out asap. My favorite photo is below. I may or may not have previously stuck my dog in the fridge just like this..


2016 Reading Challenge: a book about a road trip

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Filed under 2016, 3+, adult, book review, children, fun facts, non-fiction, Reading Challenge, storytime

Parent Teacher books

I read two great books this morning that we belong in our Parent Teacher section of the library. This section encompasses a lot of things. Death, emotions, new baby, separation (going to school fits in here), moving, and much more. Books like these make me happy I don’t have kids that I have to explain these hard topics to. Sometimes I can barely explain them to myself. The two I read this morning are about death and moving away.


Always Remember by Cece Meng is about Old Turtle who swims his last swim and breathes his last breath and is then take away by the waves. That’s how it starts out.Then the book goes on to show all the people he helped and their memories of him. Old Turtle will always be remembered by all the animals in the sea for his good deeds and his good heart. We could all hope to be remembered as such. A great way to explain and talk about loss. What memories do you have of those who are gone?


Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley is about moving away. Like death, it’s also a hard thing for kids to grasp. Hedgehog, never named in the story but one of her moving boxes says Zelda, is moving away. She tells her friend the aardvark, also never named but his letter to Zelda says Aaron, that she’s moving. They’re both very sad but they decide to play one last time as though nothing was changing. At the end Zelda does move away but when she opens her suitcase Aaron has left her a note and some pictures so he doesn’t feel as far away. They become pen pals, something kids probably don’t even know about *REAL LETTERS*, and this seems to satisfy her. I’m not sure that ending will satisfy all kids but it is a nice book.

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Filed under 3+, adult, book review, children, fiction, non-fiction