November 17, 2017

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Exploring the Universe | Focus On

An assortment of recent books that examine both historical milestones and current research in exploring our solar system and beyond.

Books About Ocean Life and Undersea Exploration | Focus On

A survey of outstanding nonfiction titles about ocean life and food chains and the challenging science of marine exploration.

Humor That is Seriously Funny | Focus On

Writing about humor is a good way to suck all the fun out of it, so please—feel free to skip straight to the booklist.

The Holocaust: Rescue and Resistance | Focus On

Stories of resistance, rescue, courage, ingenuity, and survival are beacons of light amid the dark horrors of the Holocaust. These titles document the events, help to promote understanding, and inspire a new generation of readers.

The 1920’s: The Decade That Roared | Focus On

The books below will effectively sharpen readers’ knowledge and understanding of the Roaring 20’s, from carefully researched nonfiction to perceptive examples of historical fiction.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?: Tales of the Heart

Filled with unlikely but enduring attachments, ostensibly incompatible Romeos and Juliets, and unexpected instances of true animal camaraderie, these books prove that affection can allow individuals to look beyond their differences and forge long-lasting bonds. Use these books to expand Valentine’s Day and friendship storytimes; tease out overarching themes; and initiate discussions of tolerance, compassion, and community.

Books to Celebrate the Everyday Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement

Fifty years ago this May, people around our country turned on their televisions to the sight of children being viciously assaulted with fire hoses and snarling dogs by uniformed grown men, their faces twisted with hatred. The violence in Birmingham, Alabama, stirred a swelling of national conscience and raised questions demanding an answer: Do we really believe that “all men are created equal”? What would our country look like if we really did? What has to change to make that dream a reality?

Healthy Lifestyles: A Balancing Act | Focus On

It seems as though not a day goes by without the media covering a story about children’s health. Fast-food restaurants decide to list the nutritional information of their entrees. School districts ban soft-drink vending machines in their cafeterias. Childhood obesity is at epidemic levels.

Middle–Grade Fantasy: Believe It! | Focus On

In this Article

On the Web

A visit to the children’s section of any large bookstore might leave the impression that current fantasy consists almost entirely of lengthy Harry Potter or Percy Jackson clones, entries in a trilogy or longer series. Happily, some deeper digging uncovers a wonderful variety of middle grade, stand-alone fantasy novels which exemplify some of the best qualities and possibilities of the genre. While all fiction faces the challenge of making the reader believe in […]

Nail-biters: Gripping Tales | Focus On

 

In this Article

On the Web

Just what constitutes a “nail-biter” is certainly open for debate, but librarians know they are highly sought after titles. Suspense and action are two main requisites, and a good thriller is structured to keep readers hanging at the end of almost every chapter, leaving them hungry for more. For those serving reluctant readers, these titles are gold. Fortunately, nail-biters can be found in almost every genre. Since YA lit has been dominated by […]

Politics: We the People | Focus On

If the pundits and talking heads are to be believed, politics in America is dirty business. Lobbying, partisanship, pork-barrel spending, and mudslinging make up no small part of it. There is much more to politics, though. Beneath the necrotic layers of scandal and corruption are the birth-bright essentials of policy, governance, civics, and people. This collection of books, websites, and films attests to that with content, style, and format that are ideal for children and teens.

Showtime: Theatre | Focus On

In this Article

On the Web

“All the world’s a stage,” proclaims Jaques in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Judging by the numerous sources available for would-be thespians, he knows of what he speaks! With the popularity of Glee and the many versions of High School Musical, it seems clear that, no matter the odds, there will always be a modern-day Mickey Rooney or Judy Garland hustling to put on a show.

What makes the world of […]

Citizen Scientists | Focus on Discovery

“Citizen Scientist” might be a newly coined term, but people have long assumed the role, jotting down crocus sightings in early spring, the number of loon pairs on the lake in the summer, and the first sign of frost in the fall or winter.

The Titanic: Unsinkable | Focus On

April 2012 marks the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland. Even after 100 years, the disastrous loss of the White Star Line’s premier ship continues to fascinate. Over the course of 10 decades, the calamity has inspired a Broadway show, multiple books, and several movies, including the 1997 blockbuster film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, which will be rereleased in 3D for the anniversary. But why do students remain interested?

The Environment: Seeds of Change | Focus On

Melting ice caps. Endangered species. Polluted rivers. Habitat loss. Frightening news and images of environmental destruction can lead to hopelessness. When politicians propose eliminating environmental regulations and international leaders cannot agree on ways to halt climate change, how can the average person make a difference? Although the books introduced below do not ignore the challenges facing the planet, they suggest ways children and young adults can take action.

Elementary school students might adopt simple changes at school and home as […]

Playful Poetic Forms: Wordscapes | Focus On

Through countless generations, in cultures across the globe, poetry has provided parents and caregivers with a natural means to calm fussing babies and tots and (perhaps unintentionally) to interest them in language. Singing lullabies and chanting nursery rhymes, we tune their ears to rhythm and meaning, drawing children to the sheer pleasure of listening and reading. Poetic wordplay nurtures the enjoyment of language in the growing child.

In the years since Shel Silverstein published “Deaf […]

Happy Birthday, Mr. Dickens! | Focus On

As we mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth, there can be no doubt that the celebrated author is alive and well in the hearts and minds of readers. Never, it seems, has the timelessness of his work been more apparent. In honor of his bicentennial, websites, celebrations, essay contests, exhibitions, and, of course, a rash of new books exploring the man and his work have emerged in recent months.

Born to an upper-middle-class family […]

Celebrations and Festivals: A Calendar of Holidays | Focus On

Kids love holidays. Any kind of celebration or festival brings a break in routine, an excuse for a party, perhaps a chance to dress up. Multigenerational family gatherings and the enacting of annual rituals bring a sense of continuity, and sharing celebrations with the greater community enhances a sense of belonging. Whether the festivities are based on personal rites of passage, religious traditions, or historical events, the key is togetherness. Celebrating together strengthens the bonds among people and reaffirms […]

Greek Myths: OMGs! | Focus On

Terrifying monsters and fearsome beasts? Courageous and quick-witted heroes? Thrilling adventures and dangerous quests? These tales have it all, plus the unforgettable characters, timeless themes, and range of human emotion that have drawn people to Greek myths for eons. Included here is a spectacular array of offerings guaranteed to tempt myriad tastes and reading abilities. Spanning in age range from elementary level through young adult, the titles are presented in user-friendly sections: picture books, inviting collections of tales each […]

Writer’s Tools: Wordcraft | Focus On

“Indeed, learning to write may be a part of learning to read. For all I know,writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.” —Eudora Welty

It’s unlikely that Ms. Welty was talking about a first grader putting words on paper, but the connection between reading and writing is a foundation in education. “Writing helps a student think,” says Assistant Superintendent Heather Sheridan-Thomas of TST (Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga) BOCES district in Central New York. “They slow down […]