Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Special Website that Helps Turn Kids into Readers

Wouldn't you like your children to read more? Wouldn´t you like to motivate them to enter the wonderful world of literature? If the answer to those questions is Yes, then you have to check out Book Adventure This is the ultimate reading site.

Book Adventure, sponsored by Sylvan Learning Centers, is a FREE Web based reading motivation program that encourages students in grades K-8 to read more often, for longer periods of time, and with greater understanding. Book Adventure is organized so that even the youngest child can easily navigate through the site. Registration is required, and participants need parental or teacher approval to collect prizes.

Parents and teachers looking for ways of motivating youngsters to read will find Book Adventure a wonderful resource. Students can read books, take quizzes on them, and earn points for correct answers on the quizzes. There is also the possibility for them to manage their own list by adding the books they read or they like to read. Kids can redeem accumulated points for prizes.

There is a database of quizzes on more than 7,000 popular children's titles. Using Book Finder, readers can search the titles by author, title, grade level, or interests. Book Finder will then create a reading list that can be printed and used at the library.

After reading a book, children go to Quiz-O-Matic to take the corresponding quiz. Quizzes have from five to ten questions, depending on grade level.

Teachers or parents can register their children and select literature at the appropriate grade level. You can check the list of the Top 10 Quizzed books to know what kids are reading at the time, and you´ll find in that list, for example, the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid. There is also a mechanism for keeping track of children's scores and points earned. Teachers or parents can generate reports.

Please remember that this site IS NOT to be associated with the Accelerated Reading test that children take at school. This site will, however, help them to be better prepared for that test. Think of it as a pre-test where you and the child can see what they know before the actual test is to be taken!

So, wait no longer and turn your children onto the fantastic world of book adventure. Put this safe, child friendly site for improving reading comprehension at the top of your list.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Answers to Questions about Christmas Symbols

Not long after Thanksgiving the phone at my reference desk began to ring and my email box began to fill with questions about the symbols of Christmas. What's a busy librarian to do? Go check out a reference book about Holidays and Traditions, and thats just what I did and here is what I found. By the way these are actual questions.
Q: Is Santa Claus the same person as St. Nicholas?
A: Yes and no. The original Santa Claus was Nicholas, the legendary saint who was bishop of Myra (Turkey) in the fourth century. He was usually shown wearing the fur-trimmed robes of a cleric, with a beehive (symbolizing industry) and a bulldog (fidelity) at his side. He was a gift giver but also a disciplinarian, bringing switches and rods for children who misbehaved. December 6 was his feast day, and in many countries, it is on this day, not Christmas Eve that St. Nicholas arrives to hand out his presents and punishments. It wasn't until the December of 1823 when Clement Moore's wrote the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" that the American Santa Claus was transformed from a tall, slim bishop to a jolly, overweight fellow who wore a red suit and entered the house via the chimney.
Q: Are reindeer for real and can they really fly?
A: Again, yes and no. More than 600 years after the death of St. Nicholas, Russians carried his legend back from Constantinople, and he became Russia's patron saint. From there his story spread to Lapland, home of the reindeer, which may explain why the modern Santa lives at the North Pole and gets around in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. It was again Clement Moore's poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" that popularized the names of Santa's reindeer: Now Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen. On Comet, Cupid, Doner and Blitzen! Rudolph is a whole other question!
Q: Are Luminarias more than just a pretty way to light your path?
A: Yes, Luminarias mean "lights" or "illuminations" in Spanish. The word also refers to the small bonfires that illuminate the dark nights of the Christmas season throughout the American Southwest. These bonfires are made from pinon pine logs that have been stacked in log cabin style to form a box about three feet in height. Some believe that luminarias can be traced back to the fires that warmed the shepards to whom the birth of Jesus was announced. Today luminarias acn be seen on Christmas Eve in front of churches, homes, and public plazas.
Q: What is the history of the Christmas carol "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"?
A: This popular secular 16th century English carol is from West Country of England. It is one of the few traditional holiday carols that make mention of the New Year's celebration. This song actually reflects the Christmas tradition of showering gifts on the people who wandered from house to house (known today as carolers), singing these Christmas songs to please the wealthy people of the community.
Q: Why do we send Christmas cards?
A: In Ancient Rome, it was the custom to exchange greetings and gifts on the first day of January. With the advent of Christianity , the giving and receiving of such tokens continued in some European countries, often taking the form of New Year cards. These contained no reference to Christmas and were sent out after December 25 so they would arive on New Year's Day. The first printed Christmas card was produced in England in 1843. Designed by John Calcott Horsley, it sold for a shilling and looked like a postcard. It wasn't until the 1880s that cards became folders of four, eight, or more pages. Cards became more elaborate throughout the Victorian period, with "frosted" surfaces, fancy cut edges, layers of lace-paper, and other forms of decoration. Now, in the twenty-first century the christmas card is still out there, I saw them in Walgreens. There were religious ones and some with cute little penguins and little forest friends dancing around the decorated christmas tree. There were even some for those who enjoy a little "wicked" fun. I love Christmas cards. To me, it's more special whem someone sends me a hand written card with a scene that warms my spirit. After looking at ten different designs and still not making up my mind as to what I wanted I decided to rebel against my own tradition and send everyone a Christmas E-Card... So now you know a little bit about some of our more famous Christmas traditions
HoHoHo...Happy Holidays to All!

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Bestsellers for December


Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich. After a disastrous vacation in Hawaii, Stephanie Plum becomes the target of an international killer.

11/22/63 by Stephen King. An English teacher travels back to 1958 by way of a time portal in a Maine diner. His assignment is to stop Lee Harvey Oswald.

Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson. Alex Cross investigates when the President's children are kidnapped, but the FBI and CIA. stand in his way.

The Litigators by John Grisham. Partners in a small law firm take on a big case after a fast track burnout joins them.

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton. Pursuing a shoplifter, Kinsey Millhone discovers that retail crime is run by organized gangs.

Micro by Michael Crichton. Seven graduate students from Cambridge travel to Hawaii, where they are miniaturized by an evil entrepreneur. They escape to the rain forest, where only six inches tall, they do battle with insects. Crichton completed part of this novel before his death in 2008.

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks. Twenty five years after their high school romance ended, a man and woman who have gone their separate ways return to their North Carolina town for the funeral of a friend.

Zero Day by David Baldacci. A military investigator uncovers a conspiracy.

Devil's Gate by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown. In the ninth NUMA Files novel, Kurt Austin and his crew uncover a plan to blackmail major nations.

The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo. A widow keeps the identity of the new man she is about to marry a secret.

The Snow Angel by Glenn Beck. A woman re-evaluates her life.

A Dance with Dragons by George Martin. After a colossal battle, the Seven Kingdoms face new threats; Book 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire.


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. A biography of the recently deceased entrepreneur, based on 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years.

Catherine the Great by Robert Massie. The author of Nicholas and Alexandra provides a sweeping narrative of the life of the minor 18th Century German princess who, thanks to ambition, luck, wiles, and a strategic marriage, became Empress of All the Russias.


Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. When Kendra and Seth go to stay at their grandparents' estate, they discover that it is a sanctuary for magical creatures and that a battle between good and evil is looming.

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull. At the end of the school year. Kendra and her brother, Seth, find themselves racing back to Fablehaven, a refuge for mythical and magical creatures where their grandfather is caretaker. The Society of the Evening Star, an ancient organization determined to infiltrate the preserve and steal a hidden artifact of great power, is storming the gates. If the artifact falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the downfall of other preserves and possibly the world. Time is running out.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. As the Council attempts to strip Charlotte of her power, sixteen year old orphaned shapechanger Tessa Gray works with the London Shadowhunters to find the Magister and destroy his clockwork army, learning the secret of her own identity while investigating his past.

Everlasting by Alyson Noel. Ever and Damen have spent centuries facing down bitter rivals, jealous friends, and their own worst fears in the hope of being together forever, but something threatens to tear them apart.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tour of Homes Preview: Stratton Chapel (Refreshment Center)

The Friends of the Library annual Christmas Tour of Homes is Sunday, December 4, 2 - 5 pm. Admission is $15 for one ticket or $25 for two tickets. Tickets may be purchased at the Armstrong Library, Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, or at any of the homes the day of the event. You can tour four beautiful homes in any order and have refreshments at Stratton Chapel. This is the final preview of the Tour of Homes. Two homes were previewed last week, and the two more were previewed earlier this week.

Stratton Chapel
(Refreshment Center)
405 State Street
Located in the First Presbyterian Church

Located behind the Federal style First Presbyterian Church downtown and across from City Hall is an outstanding collection of photographs taken from as early as 1840 and offering a grand depiction of life in Natchez over the course of its early history. The collection boasts over 500 photographs of steamboat activities along the river, the families and homes of Natchez, and downtown Natchez as it once looked in the days of old. The collection for viewing is made possible through the generosity of the late Dr Thomas Gandy and his wife Joan who spent many years restoring the photographic works of Henry and Earl Norman.

Refreshments will be served to the accompaniment of organ music.