You’ve eaten the turkey and stuffed yourself with stuffing and pie. Thanksgiving has been conquered! Now, it’s time to conquer the shopping equivalent of the Olympics: Black Friday. If you are brave enough to walk through the doors of even ONE retail establishment on this day, you will need the 3 P’s: patience, a plan, and plenty of caffeine. Really, you should consider all three P’s from now until New Year’s; the register lines won’t be getting any shorter. I can’t help you to learn patience (if only it were that easy!) and sadly, I cannot deliver you coffee through the magic of computer screens, but I can help you with that all-important second P: planning. You need a good plan to get through this day and the holidays! We all spend too much money during this time of the year, and if we’re going to be spending our hard-earned money, we should put a little effort into making sure that we’re buying the best products at the best prices. One of the easiest ways you can shop smartly–especially when it comes to big-ticket items like cars, electronics, and appliances–is by consulting Consumer Reports. If you go…Read More »
Write, Write, Write!
Happy (late) November, Readers! There’s so much going on this month, where do we even begin? Doesn’t it feel like we blinked and Halloween passed us right by, and we’re just a breath away from having Thanksgiving in our rearview? I’m looking forward to a few holiday-related posts that we have coming up on Checking the Shelf. But, let’s first take a step back and a nice deep breath before diving head first into the holidays. Last year around this time, I was talking with you about National Novel Writing Month , or NaNoWriMo, as it’s known. I told you about my big plans to get writing. Those plans didn’t go so well; my attempt at writing a novel was pathetic. Honestly, I think I wrote maybe a paragraph–and it was a short paragraph. As of now, the only writing that I’ll be doing will be for you lovely readers. Instead of feeling the pressure to write a novel, let’s make November the starting point of…well, let’s call it Writing Appreciation. Writing doesn’t have to mean that you sit at a desk, alone, churning out the Great American Novel. Think of writing as an adventure! When you pick up a pen or strike the keys of a…Read More »
The Quarterback’s Book Club
Thanks to the powers of Facebook and my mother, who shared the story in question on my wall, I discovered a pretty cool article about NFL quarterback Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck plays for the Indianapolis Colts. If you’re anything like me and most of your football knowledge is based on pop culture, you might remember that Andrew Luck also appeared in a memorable episode of Parks and Recreation, playing himself. It turns out that not only is Luck a great football player and a decent actor, he’s also a real bookworm. “ The Andrew Luck Book Club ,” from the Wall Street Journal on November 4th calls Luck the “NFL’s unofficial librarian.” Teammates say that Luck often recommends books, even lending out his own copies. And like any great librarian, Luck apparently knows how to match the right book with the right reader when they need it the most; when running back Vick Ballard tore his ACL in 2013, Luck encouraged Ballard to read Unbroken , a true story of the fortitude and resilience of Louis Zamperini. It was a successful recommendation on Luck’s part; Ballard eventually read it and loved it. I was delighted by this story. I love that Andrew Luck is not…Read More »
E-Readers and E-Books
What does it mean to read a book? Well, it means lots of different things. It could mean sitting at a desk, with a highlighter in one hand and a pen in the other, taking notes and memorizing concepts; “actively reading.” Reading a book could also mean sitting on your bed with a paperback cracked open, the television tuned to a game show, and a Spotify playlist blaring into your earbuds. Other ways to read a book: listening to a Playaway or a library book via Overdrive while hiking a mountain or popping CD after CD into your car stereo during the evening commute. Reading a book is no longer a one-size-fits-all exercise. And really, when we talk about reading a book, we have to acknowledge the elephant in the room: many readers now bypass traditional paper-bound books in favor of shiny e-reader screens. I was hesitant to join the e-reader bandwagon. I’ve always been a purist when it comes to books. I like books with spines that crack and show signs of life when opened enough, books with “new book” smell (gluey and fresh), or books with “old book” smell (musty, sometimes mildewy); books with bookmarks that move millimeter by millimeter, like small hikers traversing the…Read More »
It’s the season of pumpkins and apple cider donuts, golden leaves and spooky outdoor decorations! Halloween is just around the corner, which means it’s time to prepare for frightful sights and sounds. Lots of us like to be scared: we watch horror films and visit haunted houses for fun. I am not one of those people. The general level of scary that I can handle is the Scream series (I know, I know, you hardcore horror fans are rolling your eyes because those movies aren’t even scary). However, there are millions who seek out the creepiest, most terrifying entertainment. I’ve put together a few viewing and reading lists for your frightful (or not so frightful) enjoyment. Scary Films…And Some Not-So-Scary Films As I said, I’m not an authority on scary movies. I’m familiar with some classics, like The Exorcist (haven’t seen it), Rosemary’s Baby (haven’t seen it), Halloween (seen it and it terrified me), The Shining (in my opinion, the book is much better), Psycho (gotta love a good Hitchcock), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (absolutely no way I am seeing it; the thought of Freddy Krueger gave me nightmares as a kid, pun intended). So, I’ve turned to others for guidance. Rotten Tomatoes compiled a list of…Read More »
Innovation Station Anniversary!
It was one year ago that the Levittown Public Library celebrated the grand opening of our Innovation Station . This groundbreaking MakerSpace has become a welcomed addition to the community. We have had the opportunity to witness the ingenuity and creativity of so many curious and talented innovators. Whether they’re printing 3D keepsakes, cutting out classroom decor with our Cricut, or using our littleBits to make lights and sounds, our amazing patrons never cease to impress us with their inventive spirits. To celebrate our first year of making, innovating, and learning by doing, the Levittown Public Library will be holding an interactive open house on Saturday, October 17th from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.. All are welcome! Activities include: Indoor minigolf with our Sphero Robotic Balls Soldering How-To for grades 4 and up Record your experiences in the library using one of our GoPro cameras and turn your footage into a video with the help of our iMacs. Learn about LEGO Mindstorm and help to build a robot (registration required). Personalize a premade bookmark using our embroidery machine. Experiment with littleBits ! The Baking Coach will make yummy apple turnovers (registration required). Children are welcome to stop by the Children’s Room to make special…Read More »
Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month is here! From September 15th-October 15th, we honor Hispanic culture and recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans.* The timing of this yearly celebration is perfect; within this month, several Latin American countries celebrate the anniversaries of their independence: Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. It’s never too early to teach our children about the richness of our culture or the cultures of our neighbors. I found some stellar children’s book recommendations that celebrate Hispanic heritage in fun and informative ways. This list includes beautiful and informational picture books via the blog Tiny Rotten Peanuts (great blog title, right?!). Nearly all of these fantastic educational tools can be found in our Children’s Room. Some are biographical, like Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx (in honor of our first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice), while other fictional books, including Round is a Tortilla , explore Hispanic and Latino culture. If you’re looking for some adult books, consider adding to your reading list one or more of the selections from this list of 15 Essential Books by Latino Authors in America . I am embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of a majority of these books. All the more reason to read up! In fact, We the Animals , a novella by Justin Torres that has been…Read More »
Banned Books Week!
Our friends at the American Library Association (ALA) organize a variety of library-related occasions. We celebrate National Library Week, Library Card Sign-Up Month, National Bookmobile Day, and many, many more. They’re all great and they’re all important. But, one of my favorite events is Banned Books Week (September 27-October 3rd) , a seven-day celebration of the freedom to read. Believe it or not, there are still places in this country where library books are formally challenged and even pulled from the shelves. As library professionals, we have an obligation to fight censorship. We know that when the right book finds the right reader, it can change or even save a life. What happens when that book is not allowed to see the light of day inside a public library? How many children, teens, and adults are missing out on revelatory reading experiences? The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom keeps statistics on every area of library censorship, including how and why materials are challenged and which books have been challenged throughout the years. Many of the most beloved, iconic, and awarded books are regulars on the ALA’s yearly list of Top 10 Challenged Books: The Catcher in the Rye , the Harry Potter series, the Captain Underpants series, and The Bluest Eye , to name a few. Judy Blume’s books , which have shepherded many young readers through adolescence, have frequently been targeted for censorship. It’s Judy Blume, in fact, who offers this fantastic rallying cry against book censorship: “Let children read whatever…Read More »
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
L’Shanah Tovah! In other words: Happy New Year! For many, today marks the beginning of the High Holy Days. Rosh Hashanah, the first night of the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown, and Yom Kippur—also known as the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year for those of the Jewish faith—is celebrated on September 22nd and 23rd. As we celebrate this special holiday, many of you may be interested in teaching your children more about the historical and cultural importance of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Our Children’s D Department has a great variety of fun and informative books just for this purpose. Below is a sampling of our selection. To learn more about our children’s Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur books, or to check for availability, you can call us at 516-731-5728 or stop by the Children’s Room. Apples and Honey: A Rosh Hashanah Story New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Sound the Shofar! : A Story for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Sammy Spider’s First Rosh Hashanah As with any major holiday, Rosh Hashanah is a time for families to gather together over delicious traditional foods. This is especially apt as Yom Kippur calls for 25 hours of fasting. Some of the delicacies often found at the Rosh Hashanah table include: apples and honey (symbolizing a sweet new…Read More »
Library Card Sign-up Month
Do you remember your first library card? Maybe your mom or dad let you carry it around in a tiny, glittery purse or inside a Velcro Spiderman wallet. You felt so proud, so grown-up, when you handed it to the clerk at the desk and checked out your small stack of books. They were books with pictures like you had never seen before, pictures that used every crayon in the coloring box and brought rabbits and princesses to life on the page. Signing up for a library card is an important step in a child’s life. It is the moment when the tiny doors inside their minds open and they realize that they have the power and independence to learn on their own, develop their tastes, and explore language. They might not comprehend the significance at the time, but they know that something special is happening. Beginning in 1987, the American Library Association designated September as Library Card Sign-up Month, in an effort to encourage Americans to give their children what they refer to as “the most important school supply of all:” a library card. The hope is that by signing up for a library card in September,…Read More »
Extraordinary Animals: A Reading List
It was recently announced that the newly published book from the late, great Dr. Seuss, What Pet Should I Get , is the inspiration for a social media campaign to support animals in need . As part of this campaign, pet owners are encouraged to tweet or Instagram photos of their pets with the hashtag #whatpet. For every photo that is shared with the campaign hashtag, Random House Children’s Books and Dr. Seuss Enterprises will donate $1 to the ASPCA, with a maximum of 15,000 photos shared. To celebrate this special cause, I’ve put together a little list of books that feature real-life extraordinary animals. Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learnedabout Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat Homer was blind and abandoned when Gwen Cooper, still reeling from a bad break-up, adopted him. Homer would prove to be an intrepid soul—warding off burglars and surviving alone in Cooper’s small NYC apartment in the days following 9/11. Ultimately, she finds herself a better person after welcoming this little daredevil into her life. A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher Sue Halpern could never have imagined the personal benefits that would come her way when she signed up for a therapy dog course with her beloved Labradoodle, Pransky. Pransky is a natural, bringing comfort to the residents of a Vermont nursing home, while fostering connections between the residents and her…Read More »
There’s A Database For That!
All questions can be answered by Google, right? That’s what we modern people have been trained to think. The search engine is often my first stop when pondering all sorts of questions: Which side is the appendix on? Who was Thelonious Monk? How do I write a cover letter? Google and other search engines can give you the answers to many questions, but they can also lead to more questions. Even worse: they can tantalize you with tidbits of information, only to restrict your access to said information. How many times have you stumbled upon the article you spent hours tracking down and come across some variation of “content for subscribers only?” This is why databases are so crucial for researchers. Before we go any further, let’s clear up one thing: You are a researcher! Yes, you in the t-shirt and jeans, casually reading this blog while drinking coffee and procrastinating (don’t worry, I won’t tell on you). If you have a curiosity about something—anything—and attempt to get to the bottom of it, then you, my friend, are a researcher. And you deserve to find the answers to your questions. Databases are important tools because they organize vast…Read More »
The Reader’s Guide to Travel
Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. I wish I could claim this line as my own, but history tells us that the Roman philosopher Seneca was the true author. Wanderlust is a natural impulse—the desire to escape, to see new sights and immerse ourselves in different cultures and ways of living. The travel bug really works its way into our systems during the summer, when we’re conditioned to feel a little more carefree and adventurous. I guess it goes back to our childhoods, when summers meant no homework and more freedom. It helps that the sunshine gives us a big dose of energy on summer days. As adults, we plan day trips, road trips, cross-country plane rides, and global excursions. All of this travel requires planning, and the library is a great resource for everything travel-related. We have travel magazines like National Geographic Traveler and Backpacker, as well as destination periodicals, including Yankee and Sunset. Of course, we also offer plenty of books with helpful information to be utilized as you plan your getaways. For instance, we have essential guidebooks with tips and maps for locations near and fear, everywhere from the American…Read More »
A great way to beat the heat this summer is to stay inside and treat yourself to a movie marathon. We can pretend that summer is a nonstop party of pool floats and beach bumming, but the truth is we all need some time to unwind, relax, and get out of the sun. Stop by the library to pick up some blockbusters, classics, and quintessential “summer movies.” Listed below are a few suggestions I’ve put together based on my own biased preferences and suggestions via the world’s wisest best friend, Google. We cannot possibly go any further without acknowledging some of the many films set during the three month span from June through August. This includes classics from the 60s, like the Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon Beach Party films, Gidget , and Where the Boys Are . Summer break hijinks are also explored in the following films you may choose to add to your roster: Camp Nowhere , Little Darlings, Now and Then , Dirty Dancing , Dazed and Confused, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead , National Lampoon’s Vacation , What About Bob? , Stand By Me , and Weekend at Bernie’s . Lastly, let’s not forget the quintessential beach film: Jaws . This summer marks the 40th anniversary of its release. Summer vacation is also a great time to watch long movies, the kinds of movies that start before…Read More »
What Have You Read Lately?
It’s that time of the year again; time to check in with the 2015 Reading Challenge . To refresh your memories: 2015 is the year we read dangerously, the year we decide to read a few books here and there that wouldn’t normally make it into our TBR piles (To Be Read piles). Last we left off in March , I was regaling you with my latest literary exploits, including I’ll Give You the Sun, A Separate Peace, and Fun Home (FYI: the musical adaptation of Fun Home recently won the Tony Award for Best Musical…SO WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ IT, YET?!). I’ve read ten books since March—a few great books and a couple of not-so-great-but-adequate books. If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll recognize two of my recent reads as BookExpo loot (and if you don’t read this blog regularly, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!). Not all of my picks fulfill the Reading Challenge, but remember: the checklist is only a guide to get you thinking outside the box, or rather, outside the pages. I Was Here —Gayle Forman I was a big fan of Gayle Forman’s YA novels If I Stay and Where She Went . I was counting down the days until this book was released. Although the plot was intense—college-age Meg commits…Read More »
Tuesday Matinees @ The LPL
Tuesdays in July are going to be a little different at the LPL this summer. For the first time, we will be hosting Matinees & Trivia! As many of you know, we regularly show the latest DVD releases of popular and acclaimed feature films on Friday afternoons and evenings. Our children’s department also shows family-friendly films during the school holidays and summer breaks. Now, we are excited to offer you yet another chance to escape the heat and relax! Join us Tuesdays at 1:30 in the Community Room for (mostly) classic films, trivia questions, light refreshments, and maybe even a prize or two. As you can see from the line-up, each film has been carefully selected to correspond with a national and international holidays, as well as historical events. July 7, YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (Independence Day) (If you missed this one, don’t worry: you can borrow it from the library and watch at home!). July 14, A TALE OF TWO CITIES (Bastille Day) July 21, THE DISH (1st Apollo Moon Landing) July 28, HELL’S ANGELS (Outbreak of WWI) And don’t worry: we will still have our Friday afternoon and evening movies! July 10, WOMAN IN GOLD August 21, THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL September 4, THE LAST FIVE YEARS Lastly, for the third…Read More »
Where We Read
Where do you like to read? Do you have a favorite spot? When we read for sustenance, to fuel our minds and souls, we want to create an experience, especially if it’s a good book and most especially if it’s a great book. The particulars of where, when, and how we read help to create our own personal reading havens. For some readers, like a coworker of mine, finding the perfect reading spot can begin early; she told me that as a child she liked to sit in the corner of her closet to read. You see, some readers can remember the plot points, character names, and smallest details of a novel they read ten years ago. Others, like me, tend to lose many of the specifics. Instead, we remember the experience of reading the book, from the emotions we felt, to the clothes we were wearing, the time of day, and the specific spot where we read the final chapters. For instance, when I read She’s Come Undone , one of my favorite reads of all-time, I distinctly remember that I was sitting on my bed during the summertime, completely rapt. It was late enough at night that I was surely…Read More »
We love DIY projects. As many of you know, we love them so much that we opened our Innovation Station as a means of fueling personal creativity and imagination. LPL staff members have caught the DIY bug and some are using their skills to benefit library programs. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting or knitting small stuffed dolls. It’s become a popular trend in America , branching out from the typical anthropomorphic animals to include pop culture characters. To my absolute delight, a photo showcasing a set of Golden Girls amigurumi made the Facebook rounds several weeks ago. It seems that just about any character can be translated into an amigurumi with astounding likeness…assuming the crotchetier or knitter is skilled at following the pattern and is handy with their hooks or needles. I’m guessing at this, since the crocheting gene seems to have skipped a generation in my family. My mother, and especially my aunt, are skilled crotchetiers. Over the years, my aunt has made me the most beautiful full-size blankets, with unicorns and multi-colored flowers that pop off the surface. Unlike me, several of my coworkers are very handy with their crochet hooks and have spent the past months working hard to make the amigurumi you see in the accompanying…Read More »
BookExpo: Where Book Nerds Unite!
The following is a collection of observations gathered from my first experience at BookExpo America (also known as BEA), which I attended at the Javits Center on Thursday, May 28th. This is an annual three-day exhibition of new and forthcoming books, primarily attended by publishing professionals and others in the book industry (including librarians and library employees), though all are welcome to purchase tickets. Each day features different events, including autographing sessions with a crazy amount of popular and emerging authors. Given that BookExpo is more of an “industry” event, despite its widespread appeal to the everyday reader and book fanatic, I thought it would be fun to give you Checking the Shelf readers an inside look at what is essentially a convention for book nerds. Although BEA will be moving to Chicago next year, I have my fingers crossed that it will return to the Big Apple and you fellow book geeks reading this will gain some helpful insights, should you decide to take the plunge and attend. They want you to take the books! My number #1 goal for BookExpo was to get as many free books as possible. Unless you’re a member of the publishing…Read More »
Summer Reading Festival!
This Saturday, June 13th, the LPL will celebrate the start of our summer reading programs with a fun-filled outdoor festival ! Join us in Levittown Veterans Memorial Park (directly across the street from the Library Lane entrance) from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. for a jam-packed day that will include: musical performances for all ages, a comedic variety show, an Author Garden featuring book signings and discussions, a Craft Creators tent for DIY projects, meet and greets with everyday heroes (including police officers, firefighters, military personnel, Ambulance Corps personnel, and service dogs), the Vanderbilt Museum’s Discovering the Universe Van , light refreshments, fun giveaways, raffle prizes from at least 15 local businesses (Adventureland, Splish Splash, Westbury Gardens, and many more), and plenty more exciting activities that will keep your whole family entertained. In the event of rain, the festival will move indoors, but the fun will not dampen down! Summer reading is always a big deal at libraries because it’s a big deal for readers; the lazy days of summer are perfect for sun-soaked paperbacks and plenty of trips to the library. For some of us, this means lots and lots of sun-soaked paperbacks (or e-books, audiobooks, and so on… they all count!) and lots and lots of trips to…Read More »
Playaways: A Newbie’s Perspective
There are many different types of readers. There are the readers who only read the Best Sellers and will not touch a book unless a valued critic (be it a professional or a friend with impeccable taste) advises them it is “worth” the read. There are the people who will read only when under duress (as in, I must read The Sound and the Fury or I will fail my English final). There are the Techies, a completely informal term I am using to refer to those who read via e-readers and tablets. There is also that group of readers who prefer to listen to their books. Now, I have always been a Traditionalist as far as the format of the books I read is concerned—ink, paper, bindings, and a plethora of quirky bookmarks—with occasional dabbling in Kindle reading. Recently, however, I ventured into the world of audiobooks, specifically Playaways . A Playaway, for those who don’t know—and I certainly would not be aware were it not for my job—is a small device that comes pre-loaded with a book. You plug in your headphones, make sure it’s stocked with a AAA battery, and you are good to go. There are…Read More »
My Bookshelves, My Self
There’s a scene in High Fidelity, a 2000 film starring John Cusack, in which Cusack as the main character, Rob, a record store owner and music fanatic, decides to organize his extensive record collection. When Rob’s friend/employee, Dick, enters Rob’s apartment and sees the dozens of albums stacked across the floor he surmises that an organization project is underway and attempts to guess Rob’s methodology. Chronological? Alphabetical? No, Rob tells him: Autobiographical. He explains as an example that if he were to look for the Fleetwood Mac record “Landslide,” he would have to remember that he bought it in 1983 for a friend but kept it “for personal reasons.” Dick: That sounds… Rob: Comforting. Yes. Rob is comforted by his music collection just as we readers are comforted by our book collections. And like Rob, we can be obsessive about the manner in which we arrange, organize, and display the many books we have gathered over the years. The beauty of personal libraries is that they are unfettered by outside rules and regulations, like The Dewey Decimal System or The Library of Congress. If you so choose, you can even arrange your books to create a rainbow of bindings ! There…Read More »
World Language Services
Reading a good book is a universal comfort. Books are published in so many different languages these days that they truly do connect us on an international level; you could read the latest bestseller while munching on a burger outside All American as that same book is read on a park bench amidst blooming tulips in Amsterdam or as the sun sets in Positano, Italy. The words on the page look different, but the story—and the comfort of that story—are the same. What’s more: you and those Dutch and Italian strangers are now linked together across the thousands of miles by something that surpasses language, trumps locale, and is about as low-tech as you can get: the always dependable (and sometimes revolutionary) act of reading. We recognize the global scope of literature, as well as the diversity of our patrons. The Levittown Public Library is proud to offer a growing reserve of resources and services that will make reading more comfortable and enjoyable for those patrons who prefer to read in a language other than English. This includes our World Language Collection, consisting of translations of popular and classic books. We currently have books available for loan in the…Read More »
Children’s Book Week
There’s a great moment in the movie You’ve Got Mail when Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelly, the owner of a children’s book store that was passed down to her from her mother, reflects on the importance of their work. She says that her mother wasn’t just selling books, “she was helping people become whoever it was they were going to turn out to be. Because when you read a book as a child, it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” We agree with Kathleen Kelly (or rather, Nora and Delia Ephron, as they wrote the screenplay for the film). The reading we do as children truly opens the world up to us. All the colors and characters and funny new words shape the people we become. New titles like The Book with No Pictures , Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus , Dragons Love Tacos , The Day the Crayons Quit and classics such as Amelia Bedelia , Where the Wild Things Are , and Make Way for Ducklings are the ones that ignite the learning spark and (hopefully) inspire kids to become life-long readers. As we celebrate Children’s Book Week (May 4th-10th) , we want you to rediscover the joy of children’s literature and the value of making “every child a reader .” The LPL’s Children’s Room has so much to offer our littlest readers—picture books, easy readers, chapter books, electronic books…Read More »
So You Want to Be a Poet…
You’ve combed through Poetry Magazine and checked out at least half a dozen poetry collections. You’ve immersed yourself in the world of enjambments and alliteration. Now, are you ready to create your own “rhythmical beauty?” You know that old expression, I’m not a Doctor, but I play one on TV? That’s kind of how I feel about myself as a poet. No, I never starred in my own television show playing a crime-solving poet or a life-saving wordsmith. But I have studied poetry, somewhat extensively, even. I rediscovered poetry—and discovered contemporary poetry—in a college Creative Writing workshop. My professor, a published poet/free spirit, encouraged us to play with language, have fun, be truthful, and always be original. We read poets like Mark Doty , Sharon Olds , John Ashberry , Phillip Levine , Rita Dove and many others. We wrote our own poems and critiqued each other’s work (not as cutthroat a process as cinema would have you believe). We tried to shape our words into different forms: sonnets , villanelles , sestinas , Dadaist creations, and pantoums . (I failed miserably at the pantoum, by the way. Read Linda Pastan’s poem “ Something about the Trees ” for an example of an excellent pantoum). I ended up taking three Creative Writing workshops with the same professor; I was that enthralled…Read More »
Why I Love YA Books (and Why You Should, Too)
I’ve realized in the past year or so that my literary sweet spot is coming-of-age stories. I love ’em. I love reliving those teen years, when every positive and negative emotion is heightened, when every single door in life is still wide open. I love reading about teenage and young adult characters as they are just figuring out who they are, often in the midst of heart wrenching struggles and while displaying great resilience and courage. I am not the only reader captivated by these types of stories. A brief scroll through the Best Seller’s List or the movie showings at your local theater will confirm the popularity of YA books. In fact, there are currently two films in theaters right now that are based on YA books: The Divergent Series: Insurgent and The DUFF. YA authors, some of whom have spent years and even decades writing compelling novels that incite cult-like fandom, are receiving increasing attention and praise. John Green, the reigning king of realistic YA fiction (and perhaps even YA fiction in general), has an entire table at Barnes and Noble devoted to showcasing his books! I know this because every time I stop by the bookstore to…Read More »
LPL Scavenger Hunt!
This is a big week for libraries, and it’s going to be a big week for the LPL! We will be celebrating National Library Week , a yearly tradition sponsored by the American Library Association to shine a light on the many contributions of our country’s libraries and library workers. This year’s theme is “Unlimited possibilities @ your library.” Help us celebrate by participating in the LPL Scavenger Hunt ! This building-wide event will be ongoing April 12th-18th. It’s going to be a little different from typical scavenger hunts, but no less fun. We are not going to ask you to find a discarded road sign or a light-up snowman. For the LPL Scavenger Hunt, you will be asked to complete tasks that will allow you to take advantage of some of our many services. A few of the tasks you will find on the Scavenger Hunt checklist include: take a tour of the Innovation Station, check out a Transparent Language USB, and leave a comment on this blog. Each task earns a different amount of points. Anyone who earns 50 points and follows the Scavenger Hunt guidelines we have established will be entered into a raffle to win great prizes. We really do want…Read More »
A Poem a Day is Good for the Soul
Edgar Allan Poe once said, “Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.” I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Poe. I love poetry! I love that entire stories can be told in so few words; I love the elusiveness of some poems, how the meaning always seems within our reach, yet never fully in our grasp, like a slippery fish wriggling away. (See what I just did there? That’s called a simile, a form of figurative language and something else that I love about poetry: boring, everyday things like tables or cars and intangible emotions like love and despair can be compared to rainbow fish, volcanoes, or hummingbirds. The options are endless). Poets are lovers of language, connoisseurs of words. Poetry is the place where uncommon words, words we rarely have opportunity to see or say aloud, can be free to live: coracle, henceforth, undulating, scintillate. Because I love poetry so much and because I want everyone else to love poetry, I’ve decided to make this entry about National Poetry Month into two parts. First, we’re going to talk about Poetry Appreciation. This is important because unfortunately, poetry is a genre that doesn’t always get the appreciation it…Read More »
A Day at the Museum
Hibernation is over! A few months ago, I was giving you advice on how to make it through the snow days with your sanity intact. Now, I am thrilled to say that spring is officially here! Students in the Levittown School District will be enjoying Spring Break from April 2nd-12th. Have no fear, parents: The LPL is here to help you plan your day trips. By now, you should be familiar with our bimonthly newsletter , which is always available on our website and throughout the building; it should be your first stop for LPL programming information. There is rarely a day when the LPL is not a hopping place! Now that the snow is finally (FINALLY!) melting, you and your family are probably itching to get out and explore. One of my favorite services offered by the LPL is our Museum Pass Program . Our Children’s and Reference Departments have passes to many local and Tri-State museums. They are available for loan to Levittown Union Free School District patrons, free of charge. Let me repeat that: THEY ARE FREE! Cultural enrichment is too often a luxury reserved for those who have extra money to spend. And some of these museums are not…Read More »
What Have You Read Lately?
Hello, fellow readers! It’s now been nearly two months since we began the 2015 Reading Challenge . I thought it would be a good idea to check in every few months or so, to offer encouragement and book recommendations. To get things going, I would like to share with you my 2015 reads (so far). As I write this on February 25th, 2015, I have checked off five of the Challenge suggestions. In chronological order, I give to you my January and February reading history: The Art of Racing in the Rain—Garth Stein (A book with nonhuman characters). Simply put: I loved this book. Although I am a dog lover (I’m one of those people that will go up to random strangers on the street and ask to pet their dogs), I was hesitant to read this. I wasn’t excited about a novel told from the perspective of a dog; I assumed that it would be simplistic. I could not have been more wrong. In fact, this just might be the “deepest” book on the list. Enzo—dog/narrator—is the wise old companion of an aspiring race car driver. Enzo tries his best to comfort his master through a number of personal setbacks. His existential racing metaphors will leave you inspired,…Read More »