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Helping kids thrive

Of course, we all want our kids to make good choices  and help them grow into responsible adults.  But how to do it?  Project Cornerstone, a YMCA of Silicon Valley initiative, has developed a plan that has been adopted by many school districts, including Sunnyvale Elementary School District.  The plan has specific behaviors called Developmental Assets.  These  are the positive values, relationships, skills and experiences that help children and teens thrive. Young people with high asset levels are most likely to make healthy choices, while those with lower asset levels are more likely to get involved with negative or risky behaviors.   The goal is for all kids to develop at least half of these 41 building blocks to healthy development.  To learn more about developmental assets, check out Project Cornerstone’s web site.    Working from these assets, Search Institute has developed many practical ideas  that can inspire and motivate adults with for showing kids they care. Some easy ones:

Notice them.

Smile a lot.

Ask them about themselves.

Look in their eyes when you talk to them.

Read aloud together.

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Back to school already? We can help!

Summer is quickly drawing to a close for students who are returning to school within the next few weeks.  We have enjoyed seeing throngs of kids and parents this summer at the Library and are still giving out prizes to those who finished our summer reading program.

Going back to school brings lots of changes.  Besides getting everyone up and going on time, making lunches and getting school supplies, kids will once again have HOMEWORK!  And this is where the Library can help.  If you have booklists or other school assignments, of course you can check and see whether the Sunnyvale Public Library  has the book.  Additionally, on our website, there are many online resources that can help your student with many subjects. Once you have a library card, you have access to the online version of World Book Encyclopedia  which is simply incredible.  It includes newspapers from around the world, as well as videos and ebooks on a multitude of subjects.  There is also a Spanish edition of the encyclopedia.  If you or your child is learning a new language, there is online help for that is well with Mango Languages.  Forgot your textbook at school?  See if it is part of the Digital Textbook Initiative.  There are too many other resources to name them all here, but check out our Kids Website  for more online help.

No one at home to help with algebra problems?  Don’t despair.  Our Homework Help Center will be starting in September on  Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 in the Children’s area of the library.  We have wonderful  teens who volunteer to help your students in grades 3 – 8 with their school work.  If you have a first or second grader who just needs some additional reading practice, bring them on Monday or Wednesday and those same smart teens will read with  your child.

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Rest in Peace Maurice

Maurice and MaxBest known for such children’s classics as  Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen,  author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died this week at the age of 83.  Sendak will be missed by children and adults alike, as his style was truly unique. Though his books reside in the children’s department at the library,  he did not consider himself children’s author, and indeed his books are beloved by people of all ages.

He was born in New York to immigrant parents, and described his early life as a “terrible situation” because many of his extended family had died in the Holocaust. Confined to bed by illness as a child, Sendak read and drew, preparing him for his later passion to illustrate and write.  He actually  began his professional life as an illustrator, contributing drawings to the Little Bear  series.

Sendak’s style was very different from other children’s authors and illustrators partly because his characters were considered so grotesque and potentially too scary for little ones.   Despite the early reviews,  he won the Caldecott Medal in 1964 for Where The Wild Things Are, and went on to win other prestigious awards including the National Book Award for Outside Over There.  We have made a special display in the Children’s Room of Maurice Sendak’s books.  Discover a new title or re-read an old favorite.


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Beverly Cleary is 96!

Beverly Cleary

author Beverly Cleary

This month beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary turned 96.  Amazingly, her characters have remained timeless– Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby and Ralph the Mouse are as popular as ever!  Scores of children still look for her books on our chapter book shelves, and we continue to replace worn out copies on an annual basis!  Some of the titles that are as fun and relevant today as when they were written:

Ramona and Her Father:  Published in 1977, it could have been written today since it deals with the pain of a father’s losing his job.



Henry and Ribsy:  Henry Huggins makes a deal with his father–if Henry can keep his dog Ribsy out of trouble for a month, he can go fishing with his father. Ribsy does his best to make Henry lose the deal.


Mouse and the Motorcycle: A reckless young mouse named Ralph makes friends with a boy in room 215 of the Mountain View Inn and discovers the joys of motorcycling.

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Superstar Volunteer: Marilee Lazar

Marilee LazarThe Library uses many volunteers and we are grateful to all!  We have teens helping first and second graders read (in our WE READ program), teens helping third through eighth graders in our Homework Help program, volunteers staffing our tech desk, picking  books for homebound seniors (SOS program), searching for Link+ and lost books, sorting carts, and more.

There is one particular volunteer who we wanted to recognize because she does SO much!  When we needed a volunteer to coordinate the Homework Help program, she agreed to do it, helped interview potential volunteers and has shown up to staff the program twice a week for two years.   When we needed help tagging each item in the library with an RFID sticker, she signed up. When the tech desk needed staffing, there she was.  The list goes on….  So, when we saw that the Junior League of San Jose was looking for nominations for their annual Crystal Bowl Volunteer Recognition Awards, our staff nominated Marilee Lazar.  Obviously, the Junior League agreed with our assessment of her extraordinary effort  and awarded her one of their Crystal Bowl awards. Marilee will be honored on Friday at a luncheon at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  Way to go Marilee, and lucky Sunnyvale Library  because  we have her around!

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