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drinkThough I’m fascinated by all things scientific now, as a child I was intimidated by the numbers and technicalities of science, and stayed that way well into young adulthood. My electrochemical engineer husband now has to bear the brunt of my trying to play catch-up with basic scientific concepts. I constantly bombard him with questions that fourth-graders have mastered: “So, wait, when you take a cold drink out of the fridge and it starts to sweat, that moisture is coming from the air because the water vapor in the warm air is turning back into liquid water when it hits the cold glass?!”  Ergo, I make heavy use of the library’s children’s non-fiction section any time I want to brush up on (or start from scratch about) a topic, whether I need a refresher on how our government is structured or an overview of climate change.

You can never have too many weapons in your knowledge arsenal, so when I stumbled across Wonderopolis recently, I was intrigued. A project of the National Center for Family Literacy, Wonderopolis is a fun and easy-to-navigate treasure trove of learning resources designed for children, parents, and educators of all stripes.

CastleI immediately signed up to receive its Wonder of the Day via email. The next day’s Wonder happened to be #931:  Where is the Biggest Castle in the World? The content included an article and video explaining the answer (Prague), sections including Try it Out (comprising activities like how to build your own sand castle based on a “Physics of Sand Castles” article written by NASA); Still Wondering? (with a link to a nearly two-hour film on castles and their historical significance hosted on the Kennedy Center’s website); and Wonder Words (with hyperlinked tags for further discovery within the Wonderopolis database). Teachers and parents will appreciate the ability to find a Wonder by correlation to Common Core State Standards. Kids can even submit their own Wonder for consideration.

It’s so easy to fall into a rut: doing the same things, talking to the same people, ingesting the same news sources, even forgetting to wonder about anything new. So do yourself a favor, and either sign up for a Wonder to be delivered to your inbox daily, or simply remember that when those little questions pop into your head (Why do zebras have stripes?) you could Google them, but the more enriching option, especially for kids, may be to search them in Wonderopolis.

Happy wondering!



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Happy Love a Tree Day

Today is Love a Tree Day!  This relatively unknown holiday falls every year on May 16th.  It’s a good day to plant a tree, water a tree, learn about a tree, and yes, hug a tree.

On a more personal note, the holiday falls during my parents’ visit this year.  And that’s perfect timing.  My dad has a bit of Johnny Appleseed in him.  For the first several years of his retirement, he was all about trees.  On a piece of land in Oregon, he walked miles and miles, digging and planting.  With 100 pounds of Douglas Fir seedlings on his back, he planted the first mile.  He then hiked back to the car for another 100 pounds to plant from mile two to mile three.  Back to the car for another load of seedlings, another mile, and another round of digging and planting.  When I asked why, he simply responded that this would be a good forest one day.  It’s getting closer – the first year’s trees are now twenty feet tall.  In another generation or two, this will be a grand old-growth forest.  My dad is no longer planting his forest, but this year on Love a Tree Day, Johnny Appleseed is In The House.  And we are celebrating.

For a celebration of your own, check out our growing collection of tree tales.

redwoods 1 15Follow a young boy as he wanders through a forest of giant redwoods, using only his imagination and a book he finds as he’s riding the New York subway.


appleseed 1 15Many know the legend of Johnny Appleseed, the Massachusetts man who planted apple trees all the way to California.  But this true story of Johnny Appleseed, or John Chapman, is even greater than the legend.


picture-a-tree-1 x 15This award-winning new book asks, “What do you see, when you picture a tree?”  Lyrical language and sculptured illustrations invite readers to take a new and creative look at trees.


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Come fly with me?

As one of the children’s librarians I have a bunch of fun.  Children, in case you aren’t aware, think differently than grownups.  But why?  Well according to various “child experts” I’ve listened to over the years, there’s a very good and simple reason.  Small children don’t have the experience and knowledge to figure things out that grownups do.

For instance, if you as an adult are going on a trip by plane, and you’re told that you’ll need to “change planes” you know that you’ll be landing at an airport, walking down the steps, entering the airport and (hopefully) getting on the next plane at another gate.  But a child who’s never flown before wouldn’t know this and would have to try to figure things out with what they know about “change” and “planes.”  I once heard a story about a family who was going to move across the country.  Their young son was very excited about the move once he knew that he got to take all of his stuff, he’d have a big new bedroom, a backyard, and therefore a dog.  As the time for the move drew near and they began to talk of the flight, the little boy didn’t want to go anymore and would cry and scream at the mere mention of it.  Finally they asked him why.  He answered that he didn’t want to have to walk across the wings from one plane to the other because he was afraid he’d fall.  With his limited knowledge about planes he’d decided that changing planes meant…midair and that they would all climb out on the wing then jump to the wing of the other plane to continue their trip.  I would cry and scream too if that were the case.

Everyday we see children of all ages for storytimes, After School Center, various programs, class visits or just to pick out books.  Sometimes they walk right up to our desk and ask for what they’d like.  Sometimes they hide behind mom or dad and get them to ask us.  Sometimes they’re crying.  Sometimes they’re singing.  Sometimes they’re juuuuuust learning to walk and take full advantage of our long aisles to practice, which is about the most fun of all to watch.

Whatever stage your child is in, we undoubtably have programs going on for them.  We have storytimes for babies from birth to 5 years of age.  We have After School Center for children 6 years old to 8th grade.  High school students volunteer their time to help younger students practice their reading and older students with their homework.

To find out about our full schedule go to or sign up for our online newsletter here.

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I remember a book I loved when I was a kid…

One of the fun parts of working on the Children’s Information Desk is helping people find books. And fairly often, someone will come to the desk and begin their question with, “There was this book I loved when I was a kid…” and then they’ll say something about how the Library probably doesn’t have it or the librarian has never heard of it. And then we magically know the book they want and get them a copy, and they are so happy to see their old friend again!

But it’s not magic. Because if there’s a book that you have read that’s so good that you remember it for ten or thirty or fifty years, and loved it enough to want to find it again, chances are that others did too. And if enough other people read and loved and remember that book…that’s what makes a classic.

Just for fun, I emailed everyone who works at the Sunnyvale Library asking what their favorite childhood book was. I limited everyone to one book (and that’s a hard choice to make) but didn’t specify any particular age group they had to have read it in…and here are the results, in no particular order..

And because most of these are classics, you’ll probably recognize many of them. And maybe you’ll come to the Sunnyvale Library, find them, reread them, and share them with another generation.

Oh, and as I was typing this blog post, someone walked up to me and said, “There was this book I read when I was a kid…”


homer sidewalk garden

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Behold Your Queen! by Gladys Malvern
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum (two people listed this)
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell




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Celebrate the Library!

National Library Week 2013This week (April 14-20, 2013) is National Library Week! It’s a celebration of all things “library,” and in honor of this week, we have some special programs and events planned for you.

We’re hosting an online photo contest called “Picture It! Show Us Why You Love Your Library.” We already accepted submissions in March, and now you can vote on your favorite of the top ten submissions! We’re looking for the photo that best shows us why you love your Library. The top 3 winners will receive the following prizes generously funded by The Friends of the Sunnyvale Library:

1st place – NOOK HD
2nd place – NOOK Simple Touch
3rd place – $25 to Leigh’s Favorite Books


Here’s the complete schedule of events, including a Celebrity Storytime, Meet a Librarian, Digital Photo Booth (with props) and more! Please let us know if you have any questions about any of our events.

Meet a Librarian
Monday, April 15, 2 p.m.
Wednesday, April 17, 4 p.m.
Friday, April 19, 3 p.m.

Spin the Library Wheel, answer a question, and win a prize!

Children’s Program: Reading the Right Way
Monday, April 15, 7 p.m.
Increasing success and reducing frustration.

Mindful Eating
Tuesday, April 16, 7-8:30 p.m.
This lecture will demonstrate examples and discuss the value of mindful eating and intuitive eating, as well as provide strategies to incorporate them into our lives. Presented by Toni Toledo, MPH, R.D. of Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

Behind-the-Scenes Tour
Tuesday, April 16, 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 18, 4 p.m.

Join us for a rare glimpse at what happens to your books, CDs, and DVDs after you return them. You’ll get to go in the back and see our machines in action.

Celebrity Storytime with the Mayor and Public Safety Chief
Wednesday, April 17, 11 a.m.
Come and join us! What stories will these Sunnyvale celebrities read?

National Library Week Photo Booth
Wednesday, April 17, 7-8:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 18, 3-5 p.m.

Let’s celebrate National Library Week with a digital Photo Booth picture. Props and backdrops will be provided by the Library. Just bring your smile.

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