Sunday, 27 January 2008

January 27th, 2008 Let's Play!

It’s winter and it’s cold out, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit has provided Activity Trunks (listed as a Treasure Trunk in the library catalogue) to a number of community organizations for public use. We have two trunks, located at Brodie and Waverley, which can be taken out for a period of three weeks. And while we think of these fun games for kids let’s not forget ourselves and our health. We’re nearing the end of January and resolutions are beginning to fade, so remember when you have fun playing, you’re doing yourself a lot of good too.

How did we get these trunks?

They are a project of Take Heart Thunder Bay, which received funding from the Province of Ontario to provide these trunks encouraging healthy living. The Health Unit then distributed the trunks to partners (such as the Public Library and community centres) to make them accessible to the members of our community.

Why do we need activity trunks?

The trunks encourage us to be more active and they provide great ideas for free. Often people are concerned at the cost to be active, but with some space, a group of people and a trunk you have a whole afternoon of fun. The trunks serve as another way of encouraging us to get out and get active! We also have great books and DVDs to encourage active living so come in and see the full range of what you can do in 2008 and beyond.

What’s in the Trunk?

The trunk has balls, rubber chickens, a hacky sack, jump ropes, bean bags, a parachute and more fun equipment. It also includes a cookbook and a binder chock full of game and craft ideas. The binder is divided into sections for the main items in the trunk. For example in the rubber chicken section (yes there’s a rubber chicken section) some of the games included are Ultimate Chicken and “thanks for the snowball (beanbag)”. Ultimate Chicken is like Ultimate Frisbee, only played with a rubber chicken and “thanks” is like tag with no person being “it”. Everyone has a beanbag or snowball on their head and walks around briskly with hands behind their backs trying to keep the beanbag balanced on their head. If your beanbag falls you have to stand still with your arms out to your sides. You can be unfrozen by someone else picking up your beanbag and putting it back on your head, without losing their own beanbag.

I love the idea, but I’m a little nervous about organizing the games, is there any help?

There are two sections at the beginning of the binder with information on safety and guidelines for running games. Also, the Health Unit will be providing a session on how to use the trunk. It is currently in the planning process and will allow people to try out the equipment and learn more about running games for children. This session will likely be run in a few months so watch for upcoming announcements.

What do I need to take it out?

The two trunks located at the library can be checked out by anyone who has a library card. I’d suggest that you either drive or bring a wagon as it is quite a large trunk. There are other trunks available for community use at Ogden School and the Rural Family Resource Centre in Murillo. Keep an eye out for more trunks becoming available for home use.

But everything’s for the outdoors, how can I take advantage of this now?

Some of the games can be modified for indoors or depending on the age of the children involved you could do them in a clear space. With young children a game of chicken parachute could be tons of fun and they aren’t strong enough to send them up to the ceiling. All you need is a clear space and some enthusiastic kids. There are also great craft ideas and a recipe for playdough! Or check out our collection for books with loads of activity suggestions and DVDs of all kinds of exercise you can do alone or with your family.

Your Public Library is also a great resource for ideas on keeping active. From books on games and play to exercise books and programs we have it all.

Some materials to check out include:


10 Minute Solution: Blast off Belly fat

Pick Your Level: Fat to Firm Fast

Walking For Weight Loss

Mom and Tot Workout


Morning Cardio Workouts

Dancing with the Stars: Jive, Salsa, and Tango Your Way into the Best Shape of Your Life

12 Day Body Shaping Miracle

Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge

Play with Us: 100 Games from Around the World

Great Games for Young Children

Run, Jump, Hide, Slide, Splash: The 200 Best Outdoor Games Ever


Ruth Hamlin-Douglas, Children's and Youth Services Librarian at the Brodie Resource Library –

Sunday, 20 January 2008

January 20th, 2008 Family Literacy Day

I still get shivers whenever I discover one of the picture books that I had borrowed from the library as a child. My first selection, made at the Brodie Library branch at three years old, was The Popcorn Dragon by Jane Thayer. Since that time I have had the pleasure of sharing that same book with many, many children who have come to the library and I admit I feel a bond with those who love it most. This tale of a dragon who learns the hard way that no one likes a braggart is not for everyone's taste, but is perfect for some. For others....there's a book just on the next shelf which I know will get their eyes to light up.

That's what I do now for a living. I am a Children's Librarian and an important part of what I do is to put the right books into the right hands. I am in charge of services and collections for children and young people, and am not only a book and library-lover but an admitted book-pusher. I feel very passionately that libraries play a strong role in a community's overall health and development, and that we support parents' and educators' efforts to develop happy, educated and fulfilled children.

January 27, 2008 will mark the tenth year of Family Literacy Day, a national day to promote the importance of families reading and playing together. Research shows that literacy is the key skill which helps children in all areas of education and that the family is the place where all the early literacy skills develop. Or don't.

Here are my top ten suggestions for ways that the Library can help families develop literacy skills,make reading fun and create life-long readers:

1) Become regular Library borrowers

At no cost, a child's library card gives them access to thousands of stories from around the world, magazines, movies, music and information which can inspire and support their interests, hobbies and schoolwork. Enjoy all this and come back the next week to find more.

2) Check out the Library web site at

Use this site to access the Library catalogue and find out what's available, what's new, what's hot, and also locate recommended reading lists, award-winning lists, author features and databases full of encyclopedia articles, magazine and newspaper stories and much more

3) Try TumbleBooks

It is available on our web site at any time of the day or night from your home computer. With it, children can click on a picture book and have it read to them while they watch the animated illustrations. Robert Munsch reads his own books in his unique way and there are also stories in French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese to try.

4) Come to a Library Story Time

Children need to hear rhymes, songs and stories before they go to school. Drop-in to “Beginning With Books” with your child and you can share an hour of stories and related fun. Any Wednesday at Brodie and any Thursday at Waverley you just need to drop in at 10:30.

5) Do your homework at the Library

Bring your homework, pick a table and get busy. You won't need to go far to find the books you need to answer questions or get ideas. If you need to access the Internet and don't have a computer at home, well, the Library has them too.

6) Read in another language

There are many children's books in French, but also in Arabic, Chinese, Finnish, German, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

7) Borrow a Big Book or a CD Book

You can read to a crowd when you borrow one of the Library's giant-sized picture books. Or you can be an audience of one or more listening to a story when you borrow a CD Book to listen to in your room, in your car, at your camp, on the bus or whenever and wherever you like.

8) Sign up for Readers are Leaders, the Summer Reading Club or the OLA Forest of Reading Programs

These are programs which provide reading practice during the school year or encourage reading during the summer and which combine reading with incentives or other fun so that it hardly feels like learning. But it is.

9) Select from the EZ READ collection

Children who are just beginning to read or who are still practicing their reading and not yet ready for chapter books will find just what they need to get fluent on these shelves

10) Don't give up!

Don't let lack of time, money or ideas prevent you from encouraging your children's literacy. The Library is free and full of resources for your children and for your own pleasure or education. It is YOUR Library and is here for you to enjoy as a family. If there is something we don't have that you need, we want to hear about it. Look at the children's pages on the Library web site for even more ideas on how to celebrate Family Literacy Day on January 27th and how to develop better readers any day.

Angela Meady, Head of Children's and Youth Services

Sunday, 13 January 2008

January 13th, 2008 Why?

Why oh, Why?

I frequently wonder why. Don’t you?

Why is the notorious chant of the two year old, but it is not always a whine like; why do I have to do that? Sometimes a why is the spark of inquiry that leads to scientific discovery as in; why did that apple fall on my head? Legally, it is the speculation about motive; now, why did he do that? You would think that I have heard a lot of whys while working at the reference desk, but I honestly haven’t. Here are a few for consideration.

Why is the sky blue?

Occasionally posed as a rhetorical question, this has to be the most frequently asked why. I don’t know if you have ever heard the answer, but there is one in the World Book Encyclopedia. Apparently, colours of the sky result from the scattering of sunlight by the gas molecules and dust particles in the atmosphere. Different wavelengths of sunlight reveal different colours. Because the colour blue is among the shorter wavelengths, the blue light waves are more readily scattered when they hit small particles in the atmosphere. By contrast, longer wavelengths travel further until they are struck by larger particles. When the sky is full of dense clouds or smoke, more and different light waves can be scattered, causing the sky to appear grey.

Why does turkey make me sleepy?

Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that works like a sedative when consumed with carbohydrates. So don’t just blame the bird! Your post turkey fatigue was generated with help from the mashed potatoes and the great desserts you consumed over the holiday season.

Tuft’s University Health and Nutrition Letter, Dec 2004. Gale. Health and Wellness Resource Centre Database.

Why do we dream?

Dreaming is associated with REM sleep - A period in which the brain is active metabolically and there are plenty of active neurons. REM sleep is when you experience twitching movements of the eyes or the extremities and it is common for people to have bizarre or illogical thoughts. One popular theory is that dreaming is required for the consolidation of memories, but because this kind of dream research is based on subjective reports, findings vary. Brain imaging studies at Harvard Medical school seem to indicate that the part of the brain involved in memory is deactivated during sleep so the relationship between dreams and memory is about as enigmatic as dreams themselves.

Article from The Economist, Oct 2005. General One File Database

Why do dogs smell when they are wet?

Dr Seymore Katz, writes a vet column for National Geographic Kids. He says that dogs have glands that secrete oils into the hair and when that oil is wet, it smells stronger. Inquisitive kids and their parents will find National Geographic Kids online through the Library’s Virtual collection in a database called E-Library, elementary.

The flip side of why there is the tired parent’s answer, “because”. Since answering why is not always just for fun, “because” is a great word that handles the big questions where what we really need to learn is acceptance and it is a handy commodity when Christmas is gone, schoolwork is back, and there is still a lot of winter to get through. But before this succession of why’s gets me too philosophical or downright whiny, I will end with a positive thought for 2008; Ask, answer, and accept the questions of the New Year, but don’t always ask “Why?” In the hope that this year’s answers are full of possibility, think “Why Not?”

Tracey Zurich, Reference Librarian

Sunday, 6 January 2008

January 6th, 2008 Epiphany

One of the oldest Christian celebrations takes place today, January 6. Epiphany, also known as the Twelfth Day, Old Christmas Day and Twelfthtide marks the visit of the Three Wise Men (or Magi) to Bethlehem. Also celebrated on this day is Christ's baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist and the miracle of Cana, in which Jesus changed water into wine.

What does "epiphany" mean?

From the Greek, it means "an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being"
(Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). Capitalized, it refers to the church festival. Christmas and Epiphany are sometimes considered the first and second nativity, the latter referring to the manifestation of Christ to the Magi (Holidays and Anniversaries of the World).

What are some of the religious ceremonies of Epiphany?

The main feature of the Feast of Epiphany is The Solemn Blessing of Water, to commemorate
Christ's Baptism in the Jordan. There is also the blessing of the homes which, theologically speaking, constitutes and invocative blessing, meaning that by his prayer and by the sprinkling of the Holy Water the priest invokes God?s protection upon the home and those living in it. (

I've often heard this day called "Ukrainian Christmas". Why is this so?

There are over 50 million Ukrainians in the world and this is the second largest nation
following the old Julian calendar in their churches. Since the Julian calendar was slowly getting out of step with the seasons, a new calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory Xiii in 1582. The established date for Christ's date of birth was set in the fourth century as December 25, with falls on January 6 of the modern calendar. (

What are some Ukrainian Christmas traditions?

Sviata Vechera or Holy Supper is the central Christmas Eve celebration. The dinner
table sometimes has a few wisps of hay on the embroidered tablecloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem. When the children see the first star in the eastern evening sky, which symbolizes the trek of the Three Wise Men, the Sviata Vechera may begin. After the holy supper the family often sings Ukrainian Christmas carols. Christmas Day opens for Ukrainian families with attendance at church. Ukrainian churches offer services starting before midnight on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning. (

Where can I find traditional Ukrainian Christmas recipes?

Look in the classic book Traditional Ukrainian Cookery, by Savella Stechishin. The
library also has The Best of Ukrainian Cuisine by Bohdan Zahny. The following web site has many links to traditional Ukrainian recipes:

What other Epiphany traditions are there?

There's the King Cake tradition, popular in New Orleans and thought to have been brought
to New Orleans from France in 1870. It is an oval-shaped, brioche-style bakery delicacy decorated in the three Mardi Gras colours of purple, green and gold, symbolizing justice, faith and power. In the past items such as coins, beans, pecans and peas were hidden inside the cake but the modern tradition has a small plastic baby (representing Christ) baked inside. Parties are held where the cake is served and whoever has the piece with the baby is to call "I've got the baby!" This person is the King or Queen of the party and is also obligated to host the next party and supply the cake (, For an easy version of the King Cake refer to the second web site listed above.

Sylvia Renaud, Head of Information Services