Children's Bookshelf - August 2014
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Gear Up for Inventions and Discoveries
By Susan Shepherd

Children and parents all over Connecticut are asking librarians for summer reading recommendations that not only fulfill the requirements of their school reading list, but also keep kids entertained, engaged and keen to read over the summer.

Here are a few suggestions that will fascinate children and offer them the opportunity to learn about science, history and notable people through a range of formats within several genres — biography, picture book biography and non-fiction.

Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci by Gene Barretta introduces children to the idea that da Vinci, apart from being an artist, had a great, early understanding of scientific principles as well as other facts that kids will find surprising.

Follow that up with Who Was Leonardo da Vinci?, by Roberta Edwards and True Kelley. Leonardo da Vinci for Kids: His Life and Ideas, 21 Activities (For Kids series) by Janis Herbert is another exciting book that allows readers to do activities and brings history to life by encouraging them to identify with characters from the past.

Albert Einstein is another historical character who can be enjoyed in books such as Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown. This biographical picture book introduces the theory of relativity to children through the tale of a boy who nobody quite understood.

Who was Albert Einstein? by Jess Brallier, Robert Andrew Parker and Nancy Harrison reinforces Einstein’s extraordinary nature in a delightful format. And young scientists can begin to understand Einstein’s science in Albert Einstein and Relativity for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities and Thought Experiments (For Kids series) by Jerome Pohlen.

Learn about astronomy and characters such Galileo Galilei with I, Galileo by Bonnie Christensen — a biographical picture book with a first-person narration that gives the book a personal feel. The illustrations complement the text with colorful images of renaissance Italy.

Harry Houdini might prove thrilling for the more adventurous readers, but remember, don’t try this at home! Harry Houdini: The Legend of the World’s Greatest Escape Artist by Janice Weaver is an illustrated biography that includes quality artwork and images of original artifacts that will surprise readers and tells of the hardships of Ehrich Weiss, a.k.a. Harry Houdini.

Finally, investigate the life of Benjamin Franklin who, with the help of a kite, discovered electricity. Read about this and more in Now and Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Baretta and discover Franklin’s other inventions and ideas.

These titles can be found throughout the library, along with other volumes offering a universal approach to reading and learning. Keep an eye open for “Who Was…?” and “For Kids” formats. These series provide complementary activities and facts in the back of the books that kids can complete and enjoy. Their experiments and background tales will inform and delight readers of all ages!

Upcoming Programs at the Howard Whittemore Library:

On Tuesday and Friday mornings at 10:30 a.m., families are invited to All Welcome Story Time, where they can enjoy children’s tales, music and movement.

On Wednesdays at 1 p.m., Read Aloud Story Times will include stories based on the Naugatuck Board of Education for grades K-4. The Children’s Department will also provide Crafternoons for children, ages 3-12, on Wednesdays. Materials will be provided. Young children may need assistance from an adult.

Saturday Game Club takes place Saturdays at 11 a.m. Children can play Xbox, Wii and board games.

Cross Stitch Skills workshops continue on Tuesdays, August 5 and 19 for children in grades 3 and up. Materials will be provided. Registration is required for the program.

Magic Carpet Summer Readers for children in grades 1-4, will meet on Tuesday, August 12 from 4-5 p.m. to discuss The Mischievians by William Joyce. Kids will read the book at home then gather at the library to talk and laugh out loud at this hilarious book. Cookies will be provided. Registration is required.

Whittemore Summer Readers, for grades 3 and up, will meet on Tuesday, August 26 at 6 p.m. to discuss the life and science of Leonardo da Vinci and use their scientific skills to test some of his theories.

The library will use the books introduced in this article as the background for the program. Pizza will be provided. Registration is required.

The Howard Whittemore Memorial Library is located at 243 Church Street in Naugatuck. For more information, call 203-729-4591 or visit

Susan Shepherd is a library assistant and the social media co-ordinator at the Howard Whittemore Memorial Library.



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