Monthly Archives: March 2014

Successful Family Hiking

Hiking Marin’s beautiful trails is one of my family’s favorite things to do together. When we first moved to Mill Valley from New York City ten years ago, I was eager to explore our new surroundings and I wanted our four-year-old girls to experience everything that Marin offered, especially its open spaces. What I quickly realized was how unprepared I was for our family hikes. We had many failed hikes because the girls became tired, bored and hungry. We learned that a bit of preparation goes a long way when taking a hike with our kids.  Bringing things for them to do along the trail was helpful for keeping them engaged, noticing their surroundings, and forgetting about the distance they were walking!

At the library we’ve created an Experience Backpack for Kids that will help you with the preparation and keep your young hikers busy throughout their hike.  So not only can you get out to the trail sooner, but your time spent hiking will be more fun!

Each Experience Backpack for Kids includes:

  • Exploring Marin Trails: Includes a map for each trail and easy to follow directions for the trail with level of difficulty for each hike.
  • Family Hikes in Marin County brochure (yours to keep): tips and tricks for hiking with kids, a trail mix recipe, kid-friendly hikes taken from Exploring Marin Trails, and suggested reading from books in the Children’s Collection
  • A pocket naturalist guide: Nature of San Francisco and the Bay Area with  pictures to help identify trees and shrubs, wildflowers, marine life, reptiles and amphibians, birds, mammals, and butterflies
  • A journal and colored pencils to write or draw something you experienced during your hike to share with families who will be using the backpack in the future
  • One pair of  waterproof binoculars
  • One handheld magnifying glass
  • A pocket compass
  • A Nature Scavenger Hunt and a dry erase pen to mark what you find
  • A first aid Kit

Two Experience Backpacks for Kids are available for check out.  Backpacks can be checked out for seven days on a first-come, first-served basis. Rules for checking out and returning Experience Backpacks and their contents will be explained when the backpack is picked up at the Circulation Desk. Also available are two Experience Backpack kits for adults: Wildflower Guide and Bird Guide.

We hope that this Experience Backpack for Kids will help instill a love of the outdoors and ensure many family hikes in the future!

Funding for the new Experience Backpacks for Kids was made possible by a grant from the Walker Rezaian Memorial Fund.

-Jessica Ryan
Senior Children’s Librarian

Spring Break Movies and Games


Spring Break Film Fest!

All ages, no sign-up needed. Free popcorn provided at the movies!

All programs from 2:30 to 4:00, Creekside Room, Mill Valley Public Library

Monday: Epic (PG)
A teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest setting where a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil is taking place. She bands together with a rag-tag group of characters in order to save their world — and ours.

Tuesday: Frozen (PG)
Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter. (PG) 102 minutes

Wednesday: Game and Puzzle Day
Roll the dice, spin the spinner, or work a giant floor puzzle. Fun for the whole family!

Thursday: Sea of Monsters (PG)
In order to restore their dying safe haven, the son of Poseidon and his friends embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters to find the mythical Golden Fleece while trying to stop an ancient evil from rising. (PG) 106 minutes

Friday: Lego Play Day
Get in touch with your inner engineer! Free play with Legos supports creativity, problem solving, and reading skills — and it’s FUN!

Superheros, Ghosts, and Mysteries: New Books for Older Readers

My Basmati Bat MitzvahMy Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman
Tara Feinstein has a decision to make: should she have a bat mitzvah? While she enjoys Hebrew School, Tara doesn’t want to forsake her Indian heritage. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is Tara’s story struggling to find an even balance between the two cultures that is uniquely hers. While fighting with her two best friends and befriending her enemies, Tara is determined to prove — and be accepted for — her two birthrights. The perils and stresses of young teenagers are all set against a Jewish backdrop and this novel encourages and promotes knowing and accepting others of culturally diverse backgrounds. A fun story with a hint of romance, My Basmati Bat Mitzvah demonstrates how being true to yourself and setting things at your own pace can help overcome any problems.

WinterSkyWinter Sky by Patricia Reilly Giff
Siria is a fire-chaser, but with good reason! When her mom passed away, Siria promised she’d take care of her father, a firefighter. Dad is her only family so she doesn’t mind ensuring his safety by sneaking out of bed to chase the fire trucks late at night. While keeping an eye on her father, Siria notices some odd occurrences: a shed on fire, a familiar green jacket, a dog in an abandon movie theater. When she begins to suspect the fires around town are acts of arson, she’s determined to solve this mystery and confront the arsonist. In solving the arson mystery, Siria discovers the true meaning of family and what it means to protect and take care of a loved one.

Rogue_JKT_FINALRogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Kiara wishes she could be a superhero with a superpower, like her hero, Rogue from the X-Men. She already feels she’s a lot like her hero: they are both misunderstood girls who only want to have friends and help others. Kiara, self-diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, has trouble making friends. When Chad Elliott and his family move into her neighborhood, she is determined to keep his friendship even though he is mean-spirited. Kiara tells him about a BMX trail in the next city and they ride to meet high schoolers also interested in BMX stunts and racing. Once Kiara begins recording their stunts, she’s wanted by everyone! Her happiness is short-lived, however, when Chad’s terrible family secret catches up to both of them.

how_i_became_a_ghostHow I Became A Ghost by Tim Tingle
Isaac, a young Choctaw, has a few secrets. The first secret is his visions: he’s witnessed the deaths of his friends and family before they happen! He also has the ability to talk to ghosts. But the secret he doesn’t want to tell anyone — especially his family — is that he knows he will become a ghost soon. How I Became A Ghost is not only Isaac’s story of his life, his death, and his afterlife but also of the many Choctaws who lived and died during the tragic Trail of Tears — the forced removal of Native American tribes in the Southern United States. When Isaac befriends young Nita and Joseph, the three of them form an unlikely bond to rescue Nita’s older sister from the soldiers forcing them to leave their homes. When Isaac unburdens his secrets to his family and friends, he’s able to accept who and what he truly is and help his family and friends. The first in a trilogy, How I Became A Ghost is one boy’s moving, emotional, and harsh journey to accepting his fate and, despite the odds, doing everything he can to save others.


Bears, Babies, and Bedtime Monsters – New Books for Younger Readers

kids_bearsongbook_300The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud

Papa Bear and Little Bear should be hibernating but Little Bear only has honey on his mind. When Little Bear hears a bee’s buzz he follows it out of the cave, through the forest, and into the city in pursuit of delicious honey. Papa Bear wakes and realizes Little Bear is missing! He chases Little Bear through bustling city streets and a Parisian opera house before winding up on stage in front of a startled audience. Will Papa Bear find Baby Bear? This charming oversized picture book features detailed ink and watercolor illustrations that entice kids to play I Spy with Little Bear and the bee. (ages 3-5)

hillenbrand offOff We Go! A Bear and Mole Story by Will Hillenbrand

Bear and Mole are back! In this adventure Bear and Mole are about to set out to the Storymobile to return their books when Mole decides he is ready to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. After removing the training wheels, checking the bike, packing his book bag, and putting on his gear Mole is ready. He gets off to a bumpy start and it takes a little encouragement from Bear for him to keep trying. Mole’s first ride is full of near misses, but with the help of Bear he has a triumphant ending. Expressive characters and lots of action make this a great addition to the Bear and Mole series. It will serve as inspiration for many future bike riders.  (ages 3-6)

book-of-babiesA Book of Babies by Il Sung Na

From the author of Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit and A Book of Sleep comes a perfect book for spring. A father duck leaves his nest and newly hatched ducklings to visit other baby animals in A Book of Babies. Very young readers will learn about the characteristics that make each baby animal different: some have siblings, some are alone, some can walk, some must be carried, some have fur, and some have scales. Children will enjoy looking for the duck on every page and supplying the names of all the different baby animals. Pleasant illustrations and a soothing tone make this a great read aloud at bedtime.

bedtimeBedtime Monsters by Josh Schneider

Arnold likes to pretend he is a monster during the day, but when it comes time for bed he’s scared that a real monster will come and bite off his toes! When the light goes out none other than the terrible toe biter crawls onto Arnold’s bed. With his mother’s advice in his head Arnold asks, “Are you just as scared of me as I am of you?” But the terrible toe biter isn’t scared of a little boy; he is scared of the horrible tooth gnasher. One monster after another crawls into Arnold’s bed for safety from another monster until they realize that the most terrible monster of all is already in the bed, an Arnold monster! In scariness terms, the monsters in this book are mild and a little silly. Reminiscent of Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, this is another good read aloud for helping children face their nighttime fears. (ages 4-8)

-Sarah Beth

Sing, Sing a Song…

One important practice for encouraging early literacy, that is what children learn about reading before they actually learn to read, is singing. Here are just a few of the wonderful reasons to sing to your children:

  • Songs are easier to remember than short stories, so they help develop children’s memory. Think about how even as adults, it’s easier to sing rather than say the ABCs.
  • Songs stretch out words so each syllable and vowel sound can be heard more clearly. Kids can hear individual sounds better in songs than in speaking, so they pick up new sounds and new vocabulary. Songs also tend to have a lot of rhymes and word-play, again emphasizing specific sounds.
  • Kids love to sing, and love to hear songs. It doesn’t matter what you sound like; your children love to hear you sing.

Below I’ve listed three wonderful new singing books: picture books that are meant to be sung aloud. I love to incorporate song books like these into my story times, and I hope you’ll read (and sing) them at home as well.

cooperNighty-‘Night Cooper by Laura Numeroff (CLEL Bell Award Winner).
The author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie tells a rhyming story of Little Cooper, who can’t go to sleep until his mom sings a lullaby, and another, and another. This adorable book puts new words to familiar tunes like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, so you’ll be able to sing right along.

boatRow, Row, Row Your Boat by Jane Cabrera
Cabrera has added her adorable and colorful illustrations to many childhood favorite songs, and this is her latest. It adds the familiar tune to the fun sounds of jungle animals. Other great books of hers include Over in the MeadowIf You’re Happy and You Know It, and The Wheels on the Bus.

large_old_mikamba_coverOld Mikamba Had a Farm by Rachel Isadora
Just as in her book, There Was a Tree, Isadora has taken a familiar tune and transported it to beautiful Africa. This farmer has has a baboon, an elephant, and a lion, with great sounds as well as animal facts to go beyond the picture book. This is a real treasure, and so much fun to sing.

Finally, here are a few of my older, can’t miss favorites:


Rip the Page! with Karen Benke

benkeIn honor of National Poetry Month come RIP THE PAGE! with Karen Benke and decorate the Children’s Room Library Wall with word ticket poems and inspiring hand-written quotes. Copies of Karen’s popular book on creative writing adventures, Rip the Page! is included for each participant. And it’s FREE!

April 3, 2014, from 3:45 to 5:15 p.m.

Advanced registration required. Grades 3 – 5.  Click here to register!

Creekside Room, Mill Valley Public Library

Magician Brian Scott

Brian Scott - Access to Oddities 1Sunday Special: Magician Brian Scott
Who doesn’t love magic? Brian Scott’s blend of sleight of hand, misdirection, and comedy will thrill and amuse audiences of all ages.
April 6, 2014, 11:00 to 11:45 a.m.
Main Reading Room, Mill Valley Public Library
All ages – No sign-up needed
Cost: FREE