Children's Bookshelf - February 2014
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Let Olympic Lessons Begin!
by Lisa McAllister

There are many opportunities in life that parents can use for “teachable moments.” This February, discussions will reach new heights when you turn the conversation in your house to the topics of competition, setting goals and sportsmanship as the Olympic Games commence!

The official Olympic Creed reads: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.” Talk to your kids about this message, dive into a fun, lesson-packed book and then sit back and enjoy the games!

The Children’s Room in the Scranton Library in Madison has gathered some related books from its collection that will quench that curiosity about the winter games. If your children have a favorite sport, they may enjoy browsing a series called Winter Olympic Sports, in which each book features a different athletic event. For example there is Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton by Robin Johnson, Alpine and Freestyle Skiing by Kylie Burns and Speed Skating by Joseph Gustaitis, just to name a few. This series is packed with colorful photos and dozens of facts. Did you know “Grandma Luge,” of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is the oldest woman ever to compete in the Winter Olympics at the ripe old age of 48?

Another book, Amazing Olympic Records by Paul Hoblin, takes readers on a quick tour of some of the greatest and most unbelievable moments in the modern Olympic Games. The all-time record for most gold medals won in a single Olympics? It’s an honor earned by American swimmer, Michael Phelps in 2008 at Beijing. Lots of amazing facts await readers.

If your young readers prefer more in-depth stories, he or she can curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and crack open the pages of a good biography. Two options are Shaun White: A Snowboarder and Skateboarder Who Cares by John Albert Torres and Gabby Douglas: Going for Gold by Tori Kosara. The latter is like the gymnast herself –– short and sweet! Follow Gabby’s path of determination and hard work to show how she became the first African-American to win the all-around competition.

Speaking of determination, what does it take to become a successful ice skater? In Sophie Skates, by Rachel Isadora, young children will meet Sophie, who dreams of becoming a professional skater. Isadora’s gentle watercolors illustrate the story of a young girl who practices hard in order to one day reach her dream.

For those who are more interested in doing than reading, bring home Snow Play by Birgitta Ralston. This is the ultimate DIY guide for making forts, slides and other snow projects. This is a book the entire family will enjoy browsing. There are beautiful photographs as well as how-to diagrams.

When the Olympics begin, your child may start to ask questions about this year’s locale, Sochi, Russia. Look no further than the book Russia, which is part of the Enchantment of the World book series published by Scholastic®. This informative book addresses everything from culture and people to products and maps of the world’s largest country. While you’re watching Sochi in the comfort of your home, you can learn some facts about this diverse country during the commercials!

Events at the Scranton Library in Madison

To keep your enthusiasm for the games burning, visit the Children’s Room during the month of February and take home an Olympic-themed coloring page.

Kids in grades 1-3, who enjoyed learning about Sochi, may be interested in the Let’s Explore Cultures program coordinated by high school students. Learn about the traditions of a different country every Tuesday during February in the Community Room.

This month kicks off with the celebration of Take Your Child to the Library Day on Saturday, February 1. While  kids of all ages are welcome, a special Teddy Bear Tea Party for young children and their special stuffed friend will take place at 1:30 p.m. There will be stories, songs, crafts and refreshments. Register online, or call the library.

Other special activities may also be occurring on this date. Check the library’s website as well as their Facebook page for updates (search for “Scranton Library Children’s Room”). The website calendar includes children’s programming for babies right up through school age. The Scranton Library is located at 801 Boston Post Road.

For more information, call 203-245-7365 or visit

Lisa McAllister is the Children’s Librarian Assistant at the Scranton Library in Madison.



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