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Looking Back, Looking Forward | Prepare for the New School Year

And the seasons, they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down,
We’re captives on the carousel of Time
We can’t return, we can only look
Behind from where we came,
And go ‘round, and ‘round and ‘round
In the Circle game.
– The Circle Game by Joni Mitchell

Time for School

With summer vacation nothing but a pleasant memory and autumn just around the corner, it’s a good time to assess where we stand by revisiting our best moments of the season past, while looking forward with excitement (and some nerves) to the upcoming school year.

For children’s librarians, summer is our busiest season. While others see it as a more laid back time, an opportunity to travel, make visits to the beach, enjoy picnics and gather at backyard barbecues, our time is taken up with the Summer Reading Program. Parents are able to keep their children from losing hard-won skills by having them continue to practice what they’ve learned during the school year. We’re always so pleased with the number of children enrolled who are encouraged to read by our contests, games and prizes.

This year, in particular, the fourth through sixth graders (or “tweens”) have really made us proud. This group counts the amount of pages they read, aiming for the goal this year of 100,000 pages with a prize being offered for the person who reads the most. The 135 members’ combined number of pages read was 172,100! The two top readers tied with 10,000 pages each (!), but this was a very competitive group, with the lowest amount in the top twenty readers being 1800 pages. (Note: this number was as of August 18th, the last official day of the Summer Reading Club for the group. However, we have continued to register and accept reports for those sixth and seventh graders who require a certificate of completion for their teachers this coming school year). These truly awesome readers have taken reading for pleasure to new heights, and deserve accolades and recognition from their families, schools and peers.

Meeting new teachers and classmates doesn’t have to be overly stressful. There are various aids to negotiating the unfamiliar terrain of new circumstances. Feeling confident that you have the skills to perform academically can ease some of the anxiety. Here at the Library, there are many resources available to enhance a student’s skills.

For learners struggling in a particular subject, a resource of note is Brainfuse offered by Live-brary through the Suffolk County Library system. There you can find tons of skill-building lessons and activities, practice tests, a writing lab, a language lab, and free one-on-one tutoring with a teacher. All you need to do is go to our website (www.isliplibrary.org), click on “Children” at the top of the page, and scroll down to the “Homework Help” area. Just put in your library card barcode and you’re ready to go!

Younger children just starting school are able to play “A B C Mouse” along with other educational games on the computers here at the library. We offer Hooked on Phonics kits that go from Preschool through second grade to enhance reading skills.

The Atrium or Picture Book area has separate sections for concept books:

  • Alphabet
  • Counting
  • Shapes
  • Colors

There is a separate section of books in the Children’s department especially for emergent readers that can help parents select appropriate titles that promote a child’s feeling of accomplishment and pleasure in mastering this crucial facet of learning .The Easy Reader section then lets them go on to the next phase of becoming fully independent readers.

We also have a large selection of DVD s that give instruction in most subjects for all grades, from preschool to middle school, from Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse to School House Rock and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

And needless to say, our diverse book collection has titles for all ages, fiction and non-fiction, humorous, adventurous, enlightening, or tragic, that are set in, or are about going to, SCHOOL!

A small sampling follows:

Preschool

  • Mitzi Tulane, preschool detective, in The Secret Ingredient by Lauren McLaughlin:
    When Max suspects that Mitzi's father has snuck vegetables into her muffin they hurry to the lab of her neighbors, Juan and Juanita, to investigate.
  • Rosie goes to preschool by Karen Katz:
    Rosie, a helpful preschooler, offers advice to children facing their first day of preschool.
  • The night before preschool by Natasha Wing:
    In rhyming text based on "The Night Before Christmas," Billy is too nervous to sleep the night before he begins preschool, but a kind teacher and new friends fill the day with fun.

Early Elementary

  • Roscoe Riley Rules: never glue your friends to chairs by Katherine Applegate:
    When the first-graders' bee antennae would not stay on their heads and the drummers would not stay in their seats for the open house play, Roscoe decides to help by using the "don't-you-dare" glue.
  • Henry and the chalk dragon by Jennifer Trafton:
    Elementary school student Henry draws a chalk dragon that escapes from the chalkboard, and becomes a threat to the entire town of Squashbuckle.
  • The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill:
    Mean Jean is the biggest bully on the school playground until a new girl arrives and challenges Jean's status as the Recess Queen.
  • School's first day of school by Adam Rex:
    It's the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone's just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself.

Upper elementary

  • Mutant rat attack! by Jay Cooper:
    Dexter Drabner dreams of being a skateboarding-hero-spy, while contending with his nemesis at school, Millicent the bully--and when science teacher Mr. McFur's prized lab rat, Pretty, eats a piece of radioactive gamma broccoli and grows to the size of an elephant, he gets his chance to save the school from destruction.
  • The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan:
    A story told in verse from multiple perspectives of the graduating fifth grade class of Emerson Elementary. The kids join together to try to save their school from being torn down to make way for a supermarket.
  • The Lunch Witch by Deb Lucke:
    The witch Grunhilda takes a job in an elementary school lunchroom.
  • Save me a seat / by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan:
    Ravi has just moved to the United States from India and has always been at the top of his class; Joe has lived in the same town his whole life and has learning problems--but when their lives intersect in the first week of fifth grade they are brought together by a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and the need to take control of their lives.

Sixth Grade/ Middle School

  • The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt:
    During the 1967 school year, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker's classroom where they read the plays of William Shakespeare and Holling learns much of value about the world.
  • The Secret Sheriff of Sixth grade by Jordan Sonnenblick:
    Maverick Falconer is just starting middle school.he wishes he were a hero like his father because maybe then he could deal with the kids who bully him in middle school (pretty much the same ones who bullied him in elementary school)--but as the year passes he begins to realize that other kids have problems too, and maybe if they can all survive sixth grade things will get better.
  • Lights, camera, middle school! by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm:
    Babymouse joins the school Film Club and writes the greatest cinematic masterpiece of all time! But when the movie gets shown to the entire school, will it be a box office hit or a flop?
  • Kyle Finds her Way by Susie Salom:
    On her first day in sixth grade Kyle Constantini punches a bully who is bothering Marcy, a deaf classmate--and so begins her tumultuous year at Georgia O'Keeffe Middle School, in a different school than her twin brother, with new friends, new enemies, and the regional NAVS competition to come.
  • The Pages Between Us by Lindsey Leavitt ; Robin Mellom:
    Disappointed to learn that they will not be in many classes together when starting the sixth grade, best friends Piper and Olivia stay in touch by sharing a journal only to realize that their respective goals are taking them further apart.

Don’t forget that our Parenting collection offers books and videos to help students with math and English language arts for Kindergarten through 8th grade, including common core standards.

Good luck to everyone this new school year, and remember what Emerson said:
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Michele Ferrari

Michele Ferrari

International woman of mystery Michele Ferrari is a voracious reader of just about everything. Striving desperately not to become her neighborhood’s “Crazy Cat Lady” (it may already be too late!), she has been a resident of Islip for over 25 years, with a lot of Buccaneer’s paraphernalia to prove it. She enjoys laughing at absurdities and introducing the right reader to the perfect book.

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