71 Monell Avenue
Islip, NY 11751

T: 631-581-5933

F: 631.277.8429

71 Monell Avenue
Islip, NY 11751
T: 631-581-5933
F: 631-581-8429

71 Monell Avenue
Islip, NY 11751

T: 631-581-5933 

F: 631-581-8429


All posts by Erik Schmid

Land of the Lost URL! Part 4

Great websites for kids that you probably never heard about.

Remarkable Museum Websites from around the nation (for Adults and Kids)

Here is a list of a few museum website that deserve some attention. Most of the museums here are world-class and are well known. Their sites exhibit a few common traits; they are information rich, they illuminate the main focus of the museum, and they are thrilling to look at!

Colonial Williamsburg Kids Zone, Williamsburg, Virginia


A fun site with games, historical information and a travel guide to Colonial Williamsburg.

The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY


The Corning Museum upstate in NY is a celebrated museum. There are workshops about glassmaking and the museum features a collection of historical and art glass; one of the best in the world. The website has information about artists, glassmaking and the history of glass.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art #Metkids, NY, NY


A well thought out site that focuses on the collections of the M.E.T. in NYC. The site makes it enjoyable for kids to learn about antiquities and history through a virtual tour of the museum, a time machine (Don’t press that button!) and videos.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA


This museum in Massachusetts has the largest collection of picture books and picture book illustrations in the United States from around the world. The Website celebrates the exhibitions available at the museum and the workshops for kids. The exhibition previews showcase a lot of beautiful artwork!

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN


This is an impressive museum and their website for kids is magnificent too! There are various videos, games and activities for kids. (Hint: there are dinosaurs!)

The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


The National Gallery in Washington houses many of our Nation’s art treasures. There are works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, John Singer Sargent, Edward Hicks and Others. The children’s area of the website features Learning games about art and being creative. Make sure your flash is updated; the apps can be a little finicky.

The National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.


This fantastic museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Dedicated to the history of Aeronautics in the United States; kids will find much to be amazed by in the halls of this museum. World War 2 fighters, a command module from the Apollo missions, a moon rock you can touch, and a life-size prototype of the Hubble space telescope are just some of the wonders of this museum. On the website, there are articles about current events and exhibitions. There is so much to discover on this website for a child (or adult) who loves airplanes or spacecraft!

The Field Museum, Chicago, IL


This museum has the largest Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever found! The website has a vast science blog, learning resources and lots of information. If you are in Chicago, this is a “must stop” for the kids!

The American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY


I may be biased, living in New York, but I am sure that the Museum of Natural History is one of the best natural history museums in the world, if not the best. The website is packed with info, resources for teachers and parents, activities for kids, exhibition information, research data that is being conducted at the museum, and much more. It’s just a really great science website.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, CA


The Monterey Bay Aquarium is wonderful, and the website is wonderful as well. My son stares at the Jellyfish webcam for hours; it is truly fascinating. Check out the webcams, the research and the kids’ related pages.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland


The National Aquarium has a good website that has profiles for all the animals in the aquarium with high quality pictures and information. It’s another fantastic website. Visit this aquarium if you are ever near Washington D.C.!

Thanks for reading and I hope I helped you discover some useful, exciting and refreshing websites! As usual, if you would like to suggest a useful site you enjoy, please comment below!

Land of the Lost URL! Part 3

Great websites for kids that you probably never heard about. 

Interesting science and education websites that were suggested by Islip Public Library patrons.

Recently, a few of our local patrons let me know about a few sites that their children use, or they themselves visit. These cover a variety of subjects, and are well conceived and useful.



This entertaining site has lots of animal profiles and information. It has almost every dinosaur and beast I could come up with! Sometimes the site tends to sensationalize the attributes of the animals a bit much, but it is child safe.



This website is related to the popular PBS nature show for kids, Wildkratts. There are educational games, animal profiles and the ability to visit different habitats to find out about the different characteristics of animals.



Featuring over 3,500 content pages, MrNussbaum.com is a great web site that has activities, games, information, videos and interactive learning arranged by grade. It is good for kids, teachers and parents. Beware, there is some advertising popping up on the page and it advertises for a membership as well, but the free content is very good.



This is a very exciting website that has many learning activities for children. Some of the best are designing a house, making spirals and the simple animation tool.



What a terrific website with hundreds a charming learning games, organized by grade.

Here are two websites that were suggested to me by elementary school teachers. They have a plethora of activities and useful advice.







This website has practice exams for math learning and an exhaustive library of helping aids for students. It has a more thoughtful approach to math learning than most math websites.



This site focuses on the habitat, ecology and biology of deserts in the United States. It has a wealth of information.



An online guide to minerals, gemstones and geology, this is an enjoyable site for amateur geologists. Identify the rocks in your backyard!



This is a child friendly and enlightening site dealing with geology, paleontology and earth processes. I love this site because it uses child friendly cartoon characters to make hard to understand topics exciting.



If you love sea-life and the ocean, this website has an abundance of high quality photos, videos and articles about new research being conducted about the ocean. The site is easy to navigate and has a very sophisticated look. To be expected, of course, this is National Geographic.



The Sierra club is now the nation's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organizations, founded by the conservationist John Muir in 1892. This children’s site has articles dealing with conservation, the nations’ parks and parks system and other timely subjects.

Stay tuned for part four, where I will cover a few great museum websites from around the US.

You want scary, we got scary!

You want scary, we got scary!

Fear-filled materials available for older kids in the Children’s Department.

Get in the Spirit for Halloween! Here are audiobooks, horror compilations, music and sound effects CDs that will give you nightmares. I also added a few select books that will keep you up at night! For your convenience, each of the titles below is linked to our catalog listing where you can place the items on hold from home. Have a spooky time!

Listen and Despair!

Nothing beats a scary audiobook to bring out the chills. Turn off the lights, turn on the cd and pretend you are around a campfire in the woods. Try not to scream!

Try to make it through these creepy story compilations!

Don’t have time for a long novel? These short story collections will make you want to leave the lights on. Try not to run!

Music to go along with your nightmares!

Here are some CDs that are the perfect accompaniment for your Halloween party. Try not to shiver!

A guide to late-night frights that you can sink your teeth into!

Here are tales old and new; of monsters, ghosts and boggarts too! Try to fall asleep!

Here ends the list of horrors! If you have any favorite creepy tales you would like to share please leave a comment below. Have a Happy Halloween!

Land of the Lost Url Part 2

Land of the Lost Url! Part 2

Once again let me introduce you to a few non-profit, educational, and government websites dedicated to entertaining and informing kids. I am still focusing on websites created by federal agencies this month, but I will move on in the next installment to the many available educational websites. So enjoy these websites and remember it is truly incredible that there are so many great sites out there nobody knows about! Hey, you can actually learn about something on the internet!

NASA - http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/index.html

NASA has some amazing websites. Not only do they have the content to make their sites exceptional, they really went out of their way to make their public sites accessible and easily understandable for the public. This one for kids is magnificent.

NASA Space Place - http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this site! If you are a child and are interested in astronomy and human spaceflight, this is a great site for you. This is what I would call “high interest” site, with bright colors, easy to navigate sections and enjoyable activities for children. NASA did their homework with this site.

Train like an Astronaut - http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/trainlikeanastronaut/home/index.html

Another entertaining, enlightening site from our space agency.

Library of Congress - http://www.loc.gov/education/

The Library of Congress is our Nation’s library, the largest in the world, with millions of items in its collection. Online it has many impressive resources for a kid (or an adult!) researching and also for amusement. Here are a few that stand out!

Local history mapping - http://www.loc.gov/maps/?q=long+island&st=gallery

I picked this one because it searches the LOC collection for your local history maps, in this case Long Island, NY. Some of them are really fascinating!

Everyday Mysteries - http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/

This site deals with trivia that a child will find amusing.

The Exquisite Corpse - http://read.gov/exquisite-corpse/

An excellent audio book mystery, written by some of today’s hottest writers.

America’s Story - http://www.americaslibrary.gov/index.html

This has a nice interface and is another “high interest” site with many terrific topics.

Here are some Federal Agency websites that are interesting and fun for kids!

F.B.I. for Kids - https://www.fbi.gov/fun-games/kids/kids

With games for kids, and information about the FBI, this is an awesome site.

F.E.M.A. for Kids - http://www.ready.gov/kids

The focus on this site is disaster preparedness, always important!

C.I.A. World Fact book - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

Not really a kid’s website, this is more of an up-to-date information guide for citizens and government insiders, with data for most of the countries in the world. Another super resource for kids doing a report.

Government Printing Office (GPO)
Ben’s Guide - http://bensguide.gpo.gov/

This really well-designed site is all about our nation, its government and people!

A few choice children sites about our government!

Kids.gov- https://kids.usa.gov/

Government information for kids, with posters and facts. Also useful for teachers!

US CONGRESS - https://www.congress.gov/

This is not a children’s site, but it does contain wealth of information.

Kids in the House - http://kids.clerk.house.gov/

This site shows kids how the legislative branch is run and how the house of representatives does its job. There are sections for different age groups and has a neat layout.

The Dirksen Center, Congress for Kids - http://www.congressforkids.net/index.htm

This site has information on the different branches of our government and how laws are created. It also explains the electoral process and how we elect our leaders.

NY State Government Links

Here are two standout sites from New York State for kids. They are instructive and educational!

NY Department of State - http://www.dos.ny.gov/kids_room/

State Assembly Kids Page - http://assembly.state.ny.us/kids/

All these sites need to be visited in order to see how superb they are. I hope you enjoy them. In the meantime, if you come across a website that you think I should feature leave a comment below!

Children's Graphic Novels

The New Stars of Children’s Graphic Novels!

Graphic novels have come of age since I became a Librarian in 2007. As the technology to design and print them has developed, so has the artistic vision of many old and newer authors. Today, you can find graphic novels that are tailored to many different demographics. Being a rabid reader of comics and graphic novels in my youth, and being influenced with the ideas I found in them, I am sure that my life would be different (and dull) if I had not read Spiderman, The Hulk, The Adventures of Tin Tin and my two personal favorites from European authors, Lucky Luke and Asterix. As of late I am glad to see more acceptance of the genre by libraries and parents, and I am sure that Hollywood superhero movies and manga now play a large part in popularizing graphic novels of newer artists among kids.

If you have not had the chance to read some of the older adult modern classics of the genre like The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, Maus by Art Speigelman, and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, you may not be aware of the strides comics have made in the last two decades in terms of how they have pushed the boundaries of what can be done in the genre. The storytelling, artwork, and the presentation of many novels has improved greatly from the days of the corner store five cent comic book.

In the same way the novels above elevated the genre, there are also some very clever and exciting graphic novels now being written for children by a few talented authors. Here are a few of my favorites.

A little fact: He created The Sandman, one of the most intellectual and revolutionary series of children's graphic novels. Mr. Gaiman is a graphic novel “god”!

Why I like his work: Dark and mysterious in his work most of the time, Mr. Gaiman can take a morally ambiguous character like a ghost or Lucifer (yes, the devil) and really get us to like him!

A little fact: The illustrator for the Baby Mouse series is none other than her brother, Matthew Holm.

Why I like their work: Baby Mouse is a phenomenon! Girls like the assertive character that gets into everyday trouble. With Squish, Ms. Holm shows she can come up with more quirky characters that we love.

A little fact: He went to the University of California, Santa Barbara to earn a film degree. His graphic novel series Amulet feels like a sweeping Hollywood golden age epic.

Why I like his work: Dark and Light, Mr. Kibushi puts characters that seem to be from kids’ television shows and places them in situations from Star Wars or the Lord of the Rings.

A little fact: A Universal Studios movie based on his Lunch Lady series will star Amy Poehler.

Why I like his work: He’s funny. And Mr. Krosoczka makes me really like my school lunch lady.

A little fact: He illustrated many books for children, including The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron.

Why I like his work: Mr. Phelan is a master at making history come alive by relating the minutiae of the everyday lives of historical figures like Buster Keaton.

A little fact: She is married to Dave Roman, a great graphic novel writer and editor in his own right!

Why I like her work: Ms. Telgemaier is a modern voice that tells it like it is for girls and how it is to grow up in America today.

A little fact: If you are a Gen’Xer like I am, you may just remember Earthworm Jim, that marvel of marvels in the videogame world that Mr. TenNapel created.

Why I like his work: Mr. TenNapel’s work is fun! The characters are wacky and there is social commentary hidden in his novels.

I should also mention that the graphic novels El Deafo by Cece Bell, and Rollergirl by Victoria Jamieson won Newbery honors in 2015 and 2016 respectively. These are the first two graphic novels to win honors in the history of the award! If you want to read a good book, either one is a great introduction to the genre.

In the meantime, if you have a favorite children's graphic novel I did not mention, please leave a comment below!

Lost url

Land of the Lost URL! Part 1: Great Websites for Kids That You Probably Never Heard about

There’s a lot of garbage out there. Many websites for kids are filled with advertisements, and are sponsored by companies that want to sell you something. There is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes you want to find an activity for your kids that may be fun for them, will open their minds to a new subject, and may actually teach them something.

Then you’ve come to the right place. In this reoccurring blog I plan to showcase the best non-profit, educational, and government websites dedicated to entertaining and informing kids. Some of these sites are truly wonderful and many are unfairly overlooked. Hey, you can actually learn about something on the Internet!

U.S. Geologic Survey

This very nice looking website has all kinds of learning activities for kids relating to the U.S. and our outdoor environment. There are videos and animations, interactive activities and maps.

A really great section of this website is USGS KIDS, featuring Zot the Frog. It has coloring pages and games and is focused on grade school kids.

Another stand-out section of this site is Geology of National Parks in 3D that displays eye-popping 3D images and photographic tours of U.S. Park geology and natural history.

U.S. Department of Agriculture - USDA for Kids

Who knew? The Department of Agriculture has a site that presents their different services with activities for youth. There are many services to explore and they have Smokey the Bear!

One section that is out of the ordinary is Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory (AIPL) Kid's Corner. This is described as an educational resource where children can learn about cows, and the dairy industry through games and puzzles.

The Beetle Busters Freeze & Collect Game deals with the Asian Long-horned beetle. Kids earn points by freezing them.

MyPlate Blast-off Game is a fun learning experience where kids try to use food and physical activity to fuel a rocket.

Forest Service This is a pretty site featuring our natural forests with lots of things to do for the kiddies.

Junior Forest Rangers Become a Junior Forest Ranger and help to find new ways to enjoy the natural wonders of our nation.

Nature Watch Learn about the wonders of nature on this fun site.

FS NATURE LIVE This is a series of webcasts, webinars and online resources about many topics. A few that caught my eye were about Monarch Butterflies and another about Bees and pollination.

Web Rangers This is the National Park Service's site for kids of all ages. Sign up online and take part in some great activities. I recently signed up my son and we are having fun!

Sesame Street National Park Videos There are some nice videos here that have Elmo and other characters from Sesame Street presenting our National Parks.


This site is incredible! It is filled with distinctive sections that may entertain you as much as your children. There are many areas to explore so I will only feature a few of my favorites.

Shutterbugs A game exhibiting our national zoos.

Smithsonian Postal Museum Like stamps? This is a site about our postal service, stamps and their history.

Expedition Insects An eBook all about insects.

Digging for Answers An amusing interactive game about paleontology, geology and archeology.

Interactive Dinosaur Tour This is an entertaining virtual museum with dinosaur fossils.

Prehistoric Climate Change See how scientists use fossils of leaves and flora to uncover clues to climate change

The Disaster Detector This game uses a fictitious island to teach kids on how we prepare for disasters and how we help disaster areas.

All these sites have to be experienced in order to see how wonderful they are. I hope you enjoy them. In the meantime, if you come across a website that you think I should feature leave a comment below!

Star Wars audiobooks

Explore the Galaxy of Star Wars Audiobooks, Library Force Users!

Are you sick of it yet? Are you done hearing, reading, and dreaming about Star Wars? The Movie? The T. V. shows? The books?

Well, just to heighten your insanity, let me introduce you to the Star Wars Audiobooks and two fantastic voice actors, Marc Thompson and Jonathan Davis. (Mr. Thompson and Mr. Davis did not pay for this review; we like to be transparent!)

At one point in time there was something called the Star Wars Expanded Universe (or EU for short). These were books and other media, like comics, that were officially licensed by Lucas film and presented a larger picture of the Star Wars Universe that to most of the uninitiated public was just seen in the Original and the Prequel trilogies. This history went back 40,000 years and forward 10,000 years. Many famous (to Star Wars fans) Jedi and Sith came from the EU including Ulic-Qel Droma, Exar Kun, Darth Revan, Darth Bane, Darth Malgus, Nomi Sunrider and more recently Darth Plagueis and Quinlan Vos.

Then, in 2014, Lucas film was purchased by Disney and the EU was relegated to Star Wars “Legends” status, which may or may not mean that those stories never happened. Anyway we are supposed to ignore them if anything that does not agree with them is now published or filmed.

So far most of the novels, comic books and audiobooks that take place before the seven movies don’t really conflict in storyline, but much of the material that followed Return of the Jedi does not use the timelines or characters established in The Force Awakens. If you are a purist, this may or may not bother you.

However, some of the released audiobooks are still amazingly exciting and are worth a listen. And of course, if they were released after 2014, they are considered canon, meaning they take place in the universe created in the movies. Sorry, original trilogy fans, midiclorians still exist.

Most of the Star Wars audiobook productions are lavish when compared to other audiobooks in that they use sound effects, voice effects and the music written by John Williams for the movies. They also have some of the best voice actors I have ever heard in audiobooks. Marc Thompson and Jonathan Davis are standouts. Both are incredibly talented in mimicking the many voices of Star Wars; Obi-Wan, Yoda, Darth Vader, the Emperor and others. They display great talent in their portrayal of a character’s emotions from one scene to the next. You feel as if you are watching a movie when listening to their performances and they really add a sense of adventure to the stories that is missing from many audiobook productions. In my own personal opinion, Marc Thompson is a master of voices. He is able to switch dialects between characters in dialog, and he presents the established voices of heroes convincingly. He also is good at playing young characters. Jonathan Davis can really instill a sense of menace in the evil dark lords and Sith lords he portrays in many books. Check out Marc Thompson reading the Jedi Council meeting in “Dark Disciple” and Jonathan Davis relaying the menace of Snoke's voice in “The Force Awakens”.

Here are some links to our catalog Listings for Star Wars Audiobooks. Enjoy and may the Force be with ya!

Read by Marc Thompson

Read by Jonathan Davis:

Other Fine Readers:

Full Cast Productions:

How I Learned To Stop Resisting And Love My Audiobooks

I don’t remember how many times a child has come into the library looking for a specific book, and when told that there are no copies of the book left but we have the audio book, has uttered the dreaded words, “My teacher wants me to read a book.” Really.

So kids, parents and educators, here are a few reasons why an audiobook can be a valuable aid to literacy and comprehension. And why it may be “OK” after all to “listen” instead of “read”.

Argument #1: An audiobook is not “reading”. It is true that listening uses a different skill set and physically a different part of the brain. There is research that shows that listening may be a more direct communication path for the brain using language to form images, as opposed to reading, which is a learned process of decoding symbols to form images. After all, humans learned to speak first before writing was developed. Although listening may not be reading, nothing else can help a child learn pronunciation of words and comprehension of narrative like listening to a story. In fact there is research that the human mind retains stories and poetry better when it is read or spoken aloud. If you want a very high rate of retention, add in a visual aspect (as with a storyteller) and these retention rates approach 100%. After all, why are we so easily able to quote from movies we love?

Argument #2: We have no time to listen to an audiobook. I have heard this so many times from parents. The truth is you can listen to an audiobook while doing any number of tasks. For example, try cleaning your room while reading a book. Or putting away the laundry. Also, taking an audiobook along on a long car trip really helps to smooth the ride. You may only hear, “Are we there yet?” twenty times instead of hundreds! And you can theme your audiobooks to fit the trip. Going to Disneyworld? Take along our audiobooks from Disney movie adaptations or Kingdom Keepers.

Argument #3: I’m worried that my child won’t read anymore. This argument bothers me the most. In fact listening to audiobooks actually increases the amount people read by 50 to 100% because you can use time that was spent doing other tasks and turn it into “reading or listening” time. Also, being an avid listener and reader myself, there are many times I have gone on to read the book once I listened to the audio. And that included all the rest of the books in a series and other books by the same author. For example, I was introduced to the works of Natalie Babbitt when I listened to the great audiobook of her “Tuck Everlasting.” Also many great stories have been performed on audiobook with full cast adaptations which only makes the story more entertaining for kids that are reluctant readers. Some of my favorites are the BBC full cast recordings like Peter Pan and King Kong.

Argument #4: I don’t have a CD player. Audiobooks are now available on iPod, iPhone, Android and other cellphones. You can download digital versions for MP3 players and use them on e-readers like Kindle and Nook. You can also download many for free from the Suffolk County Library System with Overdrive and OneClick eAudio. There are also many audiobooks available for free on the internet, like LibriVox, Loyalbooks and Openculture. Remember if you need help with downloading any of these you can come to the library, pick up a handout for your device or ask a librarian for help.

So try an audiobook soon. They are fun and they may lead you in directions you never thought possible. The only thing you have to fear is that you may be spending more time listening than you ever thought possible!

Free Audiobook:





Sources and more reading:











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