All posts by Heather

Heather

About Heather

Heather is the Librarian II, Literacy and Readers' Advisory, with the Vaughan Public Libraries. Her job is to connect leisure readers and aspiring writers with the endless space of imagination and creation through words in all forms.

Read Me Another: 1000 Books Before Kindergarten

(Posted on behalf of Alex) As a Youth Services Librarian, I often hear from parents who worry whether they are doing enough to help prepare their child for kindergarten. As a parent myself, I understand this worry. As a librarian, however, I can confidently say, “As long as you’re reading to your little one every day, you are doing enough.” Decades of literacy research has shown that reading to your child from infancy, every day, sets them up to be lifelong learners and, statistically, they do better in school and in life.

Alex reading with kidsAt Vaughan Public Libraries we want to ensure that you and your family start off on the right foot, and that is why we partnered with the 1000 Books Foundation to offer the program 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. We want to encourage you to read lots and lots of books with your little one – at least 1000! This may sound like a lot, but it really isn’t. If you read only one book a night to your newborn, infant, toddler, or preschooler, you will have read 365 books in one year, 730 books in two years, and 1095 books in three years! If you consider that most children start kindergarten at around age 4, you and your child will have had more than enough time to complete this fun and exciting challenge.

So now you’re probably wondering, “What books should I read to my child for this program?” I want to make this very clear: there is no wrong book to read to your child. They are all good, but the very best book is the one they choose for themself. If they bring a book to you and you’ve already read that book fifty times that week, read it again, because every time you read the book, your child will get something new out of it. Repetition is necessary and good.

However, I am a Youth Services Librarian, so naturally, I will always have a few recommendations to share with you.

cover image of Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

One of the first books I received when I was pregnant with my first child was from a fellow librarian who knew that the baby book, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, should be on every new parent’s reading list. This sweet rhyming book features babies of diverse backgrounds and highlights, of course, their adorable baby fingers and baby toes.

cover image of Dog's Colorful DayAt around 18 months, toddlers begin to notice colour differences (although they might not be able to verbally tell you the colour till much later). This is a great time to introduce books that talk about colours. Dog’s Colorful Day: A Messy Story About Colors and Counting, by Emma Dodd makes learning about colours fun, as poor Dog seems always to be underfoot when someone makes a mess. By the end of the day, he has 10 colourful spots!

The Wcover image of The Word Collectorord Collector, by Peter H. Reynolds, is a great read for preschoolers whose language skills are exploding and who are discovering their voice. In this extraordinary book, Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him and their impact when he shares them with the world. Plus, it’s a great book to introduce more complex multisyllable words to your preschooler that you may not ordinarily use in everyday conversation.

If you’re looking for more book recommendations, you can always check out our digital book recommendation list or contact us by phone, social media, or email. We’d be happy to help you find loads of choices for you and your little one to read on your journey to 1000 books. Vaughan Public Libraries will help to make the journey even more exciting by providing a  Reading Log where you can track your reading travels – and when you reach a milestone (100, 200, etc.),  let us know, so we can give your little one a small reward.

As poet and author Emilie Buchwald wrote, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents,” so snuggle up with them and enjoy the adventure you are about to embark on together. The memories made will be well worth the journey, and the benefits will last a lifetime.

Are We Normal People?

Normal People Book Cover

Are we normal peple?

Sally Rooney, the 27- year-old Irish author, received much attention when Normal People was longlisted for Man Booker Prize in 2018 and subsequently won a few other awards in 2019. Rooney returned to the spotlight in April this year. When we were all stuck at home, Normal People  was made into a 12-part series by BBC3 and Hulu, and premiered in Canada through CBC Gem.

Normal People gained not only critical but also commercial success. Rooney was regarded as “Salinger for the Snapchat generation,” and the book was raved as “a future classic” by some credible review sources. But if you look at Goodreads, the book has mixed reviews, ranging from 1 star to 5 stars.

Apparently reverse psychology works … the polarized review ratings triggered my curiosity, and I started reading the book. After I read the book, I finally understand the reviewers’ opinions better. I can see why some criticized the unconventional editing of the book – how many adverbs were used in the book?! (Not that those editing rules are important to me.) I also understand why others thought some critical background information wasn’t explained enough – what did Carricklea and the supporting characters look like? Why did Connell feel so insecure even he had such a loving mother? Normal People TV Adaptation

But perhaps what I agree the most is the on-and-off relationship between Connell and Marianne was upsetting at times. Therefore, I can’t agree how a credible review source described the book: an exploration of “intense love across social classes.” I don’t think their young love was intense – how could it be on and off if it was intense? It wasn’t even so much a love story to me, though you probably would argue with that.

The book reminds me of Leaving Las Vegas, an old movie based on John O’Brien’s book with the same title. The film won Nicolas Cage the best actor. It was about two desperate people, an alcoholic screenwriter and a prostitute. They met and consoled each other with sex. It was a love story to me when I watched it over 20 years ago, but now, my definition of Love has changed, and I no longer think that was a love story. RogerEbert.com says: It was about addiction’s real pain and the two desperate souls using love as “last resort” for their pain. I think that’s very precise.

Continue reading

The Science of Well-Being

(Posted on behalf Sierra) Through these turbulent times, it’s difficult to unplug from the news circuit and prioritize mental well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us with barren schedules and feelings of anxiety. I myself have been very tempted to close the curtains and withdraw into the comforts of my bed, drowning all worries in Netflix and true crime – a temptation I regularly succumb to (not to brag, but I finished streaming Tiger King in two and a half days). However, soon after this nation-wide shutdown began, I made a decision to take advantage of the rare opportunity that’s come with this devastating crisis: free time.

Big-top Bonanza

Big-top Bonanza

I’ve never had so much of it! Maybe in elementary school when summer vacation promised limitless fun and presented me with Phineas and Ferb’s “annual problem”: “finding a good way to spend it”. Except, this isn’t a vacation, and leaving our homes isn’t a viable option at the moment, so that rules out both fighting a mummy and climbing up the Eiffel Tower. Alas, in search of a solo indoor activity, I turned to Coursera.

Coursera is an online learning platform, founded by Stanford professors. The website has free online modules and certifications from internationally acclaimed universities. It’s a tome of anything you could ever want to learn! If I’m being honest, it was a bit daunting at first: did I want to study Italian? Graphic Design? Water Supply and Sanitation Policy? The world was my digital oyster!

Continue reading