Summer Challenge for Kids and Teens at the Marin County Library!

June 10, 2017

Kids Summer Challenge Marin Library 

It's hard to believe that it's already the end of the school years. You can keep the learning—and fun—alive this summer by participating in the Marin County Free Library's 2017 summer learning program. To participate in the Kids Summer Learning Challenge, all you have to do is visit your local branch of the Marin County Free Library, pick up a summer reading folder, and start reading.

Young readers will earn a Book Buck for each 100 minutes that they read or are read to. Book Bucks can then be redeemed for a variety of prizes, and kids who complete the Learning Challenge will get a Gold Medal Reader button. Participants can also donate their Book Bucks to the library's Giving Program; this year the Friends of the Library will donate a dollar to Marin Foster Care Association for every Book Buck donated.

Teens can participate in the 2017 Teen Summer Challenge, where they can earn scratcher tickets by checking out books, writing book reviews, and attending teen events a the library. More visits to the library mean more chances to win!

Paws to Read this Summer at the Marin County Free Library!

May 26, 2014

Paws to Read Summer Reading Program Marin County Free Library 2014It's hard to believe that it's almost the end of the school year. You can keep the learning—and fun—alive this summer by participating in the Marin County Free Library's 2014 summer reading program, Paws to Read. Paws to Read is packed with exciting free activities designed to inspire creativity, learning, and exploring. And it's not just for kids—the whole family can participate!

This year's program is built around Reader BINGO, with different cards available for children, teens (entering grades 6–12), and adults. Complete squares or rows on your bingo card and win prizes and get entered in raffle drawings. Kids can earn prizes like a Paws to Read T-shirt; teens can enter drawings for prizes like Giants tickets, gift cards, and even an iPad Mini; and adults can enter drawings for food and beverage gift cards from local businesses. Teens and adults can also choose a free gently used book when enrolling in Paws to Read, courtesy of the Book Place, the Library's used bookstore located in downtown Novato. Download your bingo cards and get started.

Top Tips to Help Kids Get Organized (and Stay That Way)

February 2, 2014

Maggie Heaps LaufferMarin Mommies presents a guest post by Maggie Heaps Lauffer, director and tutor at Sage Educators. Sage Educators is a Marin-based customized tutoring and test-prep center, with offices located in both Mill Valley and Larkspur.

With the new year comes a new opportunity for students to get organized! Here are a few tips to avoid TBS (Tornado Backpack Syndrome) and stay on top of schoolwork in 2014:

  1. Toss the monster Trapper Keepers. For the student who has a hard time staying organized, an oversized binder can quickly become a black hole, swallowing handouts and homework assignments never to be seen again. Instead, use a separate binder of a smaller size (1” to 1.5”) for each class.
  2. Create a “Homework” folder. For some students, remembering to turn in homework is harder than completing it. Help them by making a folder that keeps daily homework away from everything else. Use a simple, brightly colored file folder and label it “Homework.” It will hold homework assignments that need to be completed as well as those that need to be turned in. All homework worksheets go into the folder during the school day; at the end of each night’s homework session, all completed assignments go back into the folder to be handed in. Place the homework folder at the front of the backpack so that the student can easily find and take it out during every class throughout the day.


November 20, 2013

Gracie's NightMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin children's librarian Lisa Katz, who highlights some fantastic Hanukkah books for kids.

On November 28, for the first time ever (although there is some dispute over this and some say it won’t happen again until 2070), Jews around the world will celebrate the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving together. Thus, Thanksgivukkah!! Have you heard of potato latkes with cranberry sauce and turkey? Or how about sweet potato latkes or cranberry applesauce?

Ok, let’s put food aside and talk some great books. There are some wonderful children books to help us celebrate the festival lights. Below is my list with some of my favorites as well as new books for this year. Those books with an asterisk are for families who celebrate both holidays.

Hanukkah Books in alphabetical order by author:

Our Candle by Eve Bunting
Engineer Ari and the Hanukkah Mishap by Deborah Cohen
Hanukkah Moon by Deborah da Costa
Papa’s Latkes by Michelle Edwards

Five Ways to Write a Winning College Essay

November 19, 2013

Essay writing workshopMarin Mommies presents a guest post by Lindsey Johnson, director and writing specialist at Sage Educators.

Sage Educators is a Marin-based customized tutoring and test-prep center, with offices located in both Mill Valley and Larkspur.

It’s time to start submitting college applications! The University of California system accepts applications from November 1–30, and early application deadlines at many private colleges have been set as early as November 1. Now is the time when many high school seniors are writing—and rewriting—those dreaded college application essays.

Still working to craft your winning college essay? Here’s what I tell my students:

  1. Be vulnerable.
    The college essay is not the proper forum for your list of dazzling accomplishments. (That is what the rest of the application is for.) Rather, the essay is the place to show your true self. When were you scared, anxious, or lost? When were you hurt? When did you fail, and how did you recover? The point of the essay is to tell admissions officers what kind of a person you are, not what you’ve done.

Five Steps to Help Your Child Love Reading

October 16, 2013

Sage EducatorsMarin Mommies presents a guest post by Sage Educators founder and Marin mom Jaime Heaps.

Often parents will ask us, “How can I encourage my child to love reading?”

We know that reading is essential to academic success and intellectual growth. A new study by the University of London’s Institute of Education found that “children who read for pleasure made more progress in math, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than did those who rarely read.”

However, many of our students struggle to connect to literature. They read the words but can’t connect. “It’s boring,” they say, or, “This sucks.”

What’s a parent to do?

  1. Understand the problem. Many of us enjoy reading because it allows us to lose ourselves in other worlds, to transcend our own experience and enter someone else’s. We read Hemingway’s stories and see the smoky cafés of Paris; we read Fitzgerald’s novels and hear the flapper dresses swishing. A child who says reading is “boring” may not be picturing what he or she reads. The child’s experience may resemble that of a native English speaker reading in French: he or she decodes the words on the page (knowing that “c-o-w” means “cow”) but does not think beyond them (imagining the cow in the field).

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah

November 27, 2012

Chanukah Lights EverywhereMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin children's librarian Lisa Katz, who highlights some fantastic Hanukkah books for kids.

While we are resting our bellies from a grateful evening of our delicious Thanksgiving meals, we now have to quickly switch gears and prepare for Hanukkah. With only a short time until the first candle is lit on the menorah (Saturday, December 8th), we must get ready for our holiday treats. It is time to get out those dreidels, chocolate gelt, menorahs and candles. Here are some fabulous Hanukah books to share with your family and friends. They make for some great presents too!

I have put asterisks next some wonderful stories for children who celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in their homes. I have also included a short poetry list as well as the PJ library list.

Dream Big, Read! this Summer at the Marin County Free Library

June 6, 2012

Summer reading at the Marin County Free LibraryNow that school is almost out and summer vacation is just around the corner, it's a good time to start looking for fun activities to do with the kids. One of our favorite summer activities is the summer reading program at the Marin County Library. It's a great way to discover new books and revisit some old favorites. Children are awarded prizes based on the number of books they read—books that are read to them count, too, so even younger children who can't read yet can get involved in the fun.

This year the Marin County Free Library sponsors its “Dream Big, Read!” reading program from June 9 through August 11. Prizes include rainbow gel pens, magnetic bookmarks, Round Table Pizza coupons, and a "Dream Big, Read!" T-shirt. To claim their prizes, your kids can take their reading logs to the children's librarian at your local library branch. Check with your local library for details.

It's No Mystery—Reading's Fun with A to Z

January 24, 2010

The Invisible IslandOne of the things I take great pride in is our daily habit of settling down at the end of the day and reading for at least a half hour. This is something I've done with both my children since they were old enough to sit up and look like they were paying attention. I think it's partly responsible for the fact that my son is a pretty advanced reader for his age, too. It's also responsible for helping to instill the idea that reading is a fun form of entertainment, as well as a necessary life skill. It also gives my wife a priceless daily moment of "me time" after being around two small kids all day.

These days, our current nightly reading repertoire is dominated by the A to Z Mysteries series of books by Ron Roy. If you've never heard of them, you probably will at some point. The A to Z Mysteries are aimed at about the second- or third-grade level, and, as the name implies, are mysteries that are solved by a team of ordinary third-graders from fictional Green Lawn, Connecticut who just happen to have a natural aptitude for detective work. Each book—there are 26 in all, but you probably figured that out already—has a title tied into a letter of the alphabet, such as The Absent Author, The Jaguar's Jewel, or The Zombie Zone.

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