Closing Women’s History Month with a few lesser known women

At the close of Women’s History Month, I have been thinking of some lesser known women who led interesting and influential lives. They may only be lesser known to me—I have holes in my grade school education, which as far as women’s history didn’t go much further than Amelia Earhart and Helen Keller and Rosa Parks. So, here are a few women I was glad to learn about:

Laura Bridgman. I was hooked when I read She Touched the World, Sally Alexander’s affectionate biography of the first deafblind American woman to receive an education. Bridgman, in fact, indirectly started a seed of possibility for Helen Keller; she taught Annie Sullivan to fingerspell. Bridgman not only lost her sight and hearing to illness, but also most of her taste and smell, except for acidic flavors. Fortunately, Samuel Howe was experimenting with ways to teach language to deaf people, and took Bridgman as a pupil. Despite having one-on-one attention for only a few hours a day, unlike Keller, Bridgman excelled. Bridgman’s eagerness for words is palpable, and I love this exchange between Bridgman and her teacher: “‘Four senses. Think, and nose, mouth, and fingers. I have four senses.’ Miss Drew must have smiled. Laura certainly did have think!”

Ada Lovelace understood the difficulties of being a woman in the tech field, way back in the 1800s. The expectation for women to raise children created demands on her time, which made it difficult to pursue her education in mathematics. When she did, working on an explanation of the pre-calculator Analytical Engine, she was not allowed to attend Royal Society meetings. Eventually, however, she envisioned uses for a machine she never saw personally, some of which, like punch cards, were used in early computers.

Grace Hopper, aka Amazing Grace, was the only woman in her class at Yale to obtain a Ph.D. in math. Her mathematical talent served her well in the Navy, where she programmed computers with punch cards. This led to improvements in coding, such as compilers and the use of English in code instructions. Eventually, she helped to promote COBOL, a then-universal business computer language.

More women are sure to be mentioned in April–National Poetry Month!

See also:

 

Lift the Wings

Happy Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day!

 

 

 

 

 

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Spend an International Day at the Library

The Globe at the LibraryDo you yearn for far-off lands? Or is Pittsburgh a far-off land for you? Do you miss home? Do you want your kids to learn a new language?

Whatever form of wanderlust you’re suffering from, the Children’s Department has the cure. Join us next Saturday, April 5, for a day of world-wide fun. Our monthly Storytelling Around the World program opens for the third annual Tomodachi Festival.

Start the day off right with Storytelling Around the World at 11:00. Listen as expert storyteller Miss Kathy tells captivating and enchanting stories from around the world. This isn’t your typical story time, with picture books and read-alouds. Miss Kathy is skilled at story telling is an ancient artthe oral tradition of storytelling, a tradition that goes back centuries, and which has been alive at this library for over 100 years! There’s something special about a story that’s told by someone who knows it inside and out, like the back of their hand. Instead of peering at illustrations a page at a time, they come alive in your own imagination, they shine out through the eyes of the story teller.

After you’re warmed up with some magical stories, come back after lunch for the third annual Tomodachi Festival. Miss Kazuyo, our partner from the University of Pittsburgh, leads us in an afternoon of fun every year that’s all about Japanese culture. Tomodachi is a Japanese word meaning “friends.” Celebrate the spirit of friendship with activities, art and treats that showcase Japan, its people and its rich history. You will get the chance to try on a kimono, make kumihomo, create origami watch stories told with the kamishibai theater, and much more! And, as always, there will be cookies!

try on a kimono!

At the Children’s Department, we are always opening new doors, broadening our horizons, and seeing the wide variety of magic and excitement that the world has to offer. So join us! Make a day of it!

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Boxes, Boxes and MORE Boxes!

You won’t want to miss the Kids Create: It’s Not A Box! program on Satuday, March 29 at 2:30 PM in the Children’s Dept.  You’ll get to hear stories about boxes that are more than boxes and you’ll also hear a bilingual story–in Spanish and English!

After the stories, Ms Lisa and Ms Ruth will supply boxes, glue, tape, scissors, etc., and let the kids loose to use their imaginations as to what their box will be.   One can only guess what will be created!!

We have plenty of boxes, however, if you have some at home you’ve been meaning to get rid of . . .

Come join in on the fun!

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Happy (belated) 50th, Mr. Wonka!

Well, now I have a craving for chocolate. And maybe a gobstopper–I just realized I forgot that Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory turned 50 this year. I still enjoy it, even as an adult–the digs and humor and inventive setting are the epitome of the expression “happier than a kid in a candy store.”

Not that Charlie Bucket usually knows how that feels. I’ve spent a great deal of the past year and some surviving on soup, and I’m still cringing for him–cabbage soup, every day. There’s not a lot he can do about that, since it’s him and his parents and both sets of his grandparents, including Grandpa Joe, with whom he’s particularly close. When Charlie walks by a candy store, he breathes as if he’s trying to eat the smell itself. It’s especially hard when the most prominent, eccentric candymaker is holding a lottery via chocolate–5 kids will unwrap a gold ticket, which will get them and their parents into Willy Wonka’s mysterious factory. And one day Charlie finds a dollar, and a candy bar changes his life. Who says candy can’t be good for you?

Let me rephrase that, come to think of it. It’s good for Charlie, because he’s the hero of this awesome cautionary tale. But if you’re a bad nut like Veruca Salt or a gum-chewing addict like Violet Beauregarde (not to be confused with Violet Baudelaire), your life will be changed for the bizarre and set to music by little orange men. Actually, chocolate is pretty sneaky stuff. Remember The Witches? What better way to turn the world’s children into mice than mint some money and buy a fleet of sweet shops, spiking the candy? Fortunately, though, a couple of mice and a tough witchophile grandma have an idea to save the world. (Not to be confused with Pinky and the Brain.)

John Midas was a few years too late for Wonka’s tour, but he would have fit right in. Like his predecessor, he makes a wish: that everything he touches turns to chocolate, aka the Chocolate Touch. (Not to be confused with the Cheese Touch.) That means everything–for some reason the scene that sticks out in my head is his unfortunate math test when he absently chews on his pencil. Believe it or not, a kid can crave vegetables after what seems like an eternity of chocolate.

And then there are the books that pay homage to Wonka and Dahl. By now, most people have at least heard of Bertie Bott’s every-flavor jellybeans via Harry Potter, if not actually tasted one. (Hopefully not the vomit or earwax. But the toothpaste flavor is very nice, if so.) Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library makes use of a Wonka-like plot as the class clown, Kyle Keeley, vies to escape a clever game designer’s library and win the grand prize without running afoul of his rival.

Okay, on second thought, I’ll skip the chocolate. Food is a better idea. I wouldn’t mind a piece of the hunger-ending gum that’s the same as a dinner… But it always goes wrong at dessert. Ya think he was trying to make a point? ;)

See also: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory videos, with Wilder or Depp

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12:57 PM–Spring starts today!

I heard a radio DJ announce that spring will arrive today at 12:57 PM!!  I don’t know how they can get it down to the minute, however I’m thrilled!  I think we’ve all been waiting for this day.

Take a look at some of these books to continue this good feeling!

baby loves spring

Baby Loves Spring! a lift-the-flap book by Karen Katz

On a fine spring day, Baby goes for a walk and wonders about what she sees and hears in a tree, in the dirt, and behind a bush.

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Mud by Mary Lyn Ray

As winter melts into spring, the frozen earth turns into magnificent mud.

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Mouse and Mole: fine feathered friends by Wong Herbert Yee

When spring arrives, Mole and Mouse find a unique way to bird watch.

rabbit

Rabbit’s Good News by Ruth Bornstein

Rabbit leaves her warm dark burrow and discovers that spring has come.

when will it

When Will It Be Spring?  by Catherine Walters

Although Mother Bear urges Alfie to be patient and sleep, he cannot wait to see tiny butterflies on the wing and hear baby birds chirp in the trees.

lion

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb by Marion Dane Bauer

Describes in verse the lion that is March weather, which finally gives way to the lamb of spring.

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A musical conversation on St. Patrick’s Day

One of my favorite things about St. Patrick’s Day is people playing Irish music. I like Irish music both because it makes good use of the fiddle (or violin, if you prefer) and because I used to play it. A friend of mine sent me a recording of The Bothy Band playing “The Butterfly,” a common slipjig. As I listened, I realized that the musicians were having a conversation. The guitar started out, then stepped back and gave the whistle/flute a turn. Then the pipes held forth, and then all the instruments played variations together. I figure that’s a great example of turn taking in a conversation. If an instrument played too loudly or too long or interrupted another, the song would be a mess. But even the naturally loud pipes showed restraint and waited their turn, because they were playing in a group.

Music is a great teaching tool, from turn taking to math concepts and other languages. And if kids learn to play an instrument, they can develop their motor skills. (And if a kid is like Violet, any noisemaking surface will do.) But music is also just really, really fun! Did you know that even parrots move to music? (Speaking of birds, spot the parrot in this video of musicians from all over the world playing “The Butterfly” at the same time!)

See also: The Tellin’ o’ the Tale booklist

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Rachel Renée Russell @ CLP

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Rachel Renée Russell, author of The Dork Diaries, visited the Children’s Department today! Her daughters Nikki and Erin accompanied her as part of the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Series. Thank you to everyone who helped make this event a success!

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Passport to the World–Hawai’i!!

We had a great time learning about Hawaii on Saturday, March 8!  IMG_2783Miss Julie had lots of photos, maps, objects and more about our 50th state.IMG_2785IMG_2784

Everyone had a chance to tap out a rhythm while Miss Julie said the chantIMG_2786

and showed the motions that went along with it.

IMG_2787IMG_2788The best part was yet to come . . .

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The eruption of the volcano!!

Several different crafts plus a taste of pineapple rounded out the afternoon.

Aloha!

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Passport to the World: Hawai`i

Young kahiko (ancient) hula dancers

Are you tired of snow and ice? Grab your beach towel and come to sunny Hawai’i with our Passport to the World program on Saturday, March 8 at 2:00 pm! Listen to the legend of the Shark God and learn a mele oli (chant) before witnessing the eruption of the library volcano. Create your own temporary tattoos and “styroglyphs.” Age 5 and up. Registration Requested.

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Celebrating World Read Aloud Day

Dr. Seuss’s birthday (March 3) and World Read Aloud Day (the first Wednesday in March) occurred happily close together this year, which is fitting because Dr. Seuss is so much fun to read aloud.

Reading out loud can benefit anyone, of any age. Reading to babies lets them hear the sounds and rhythms of language and engages their attention. (And as Sam Vimes knows all too well, babies adore repetition.) Dr. Seuss knew how important it was to get across the sounds of language, and still told hilarious stories in those few words and rhymes. Older children who are read to develop their attention spans and vocabularies, and may have an easier time reading print on their own.

Even children who are old enough to read independently can still enjoy the experience of being read to. (I still remember when my second grade teacher was reading us The Knights of the Round Table a little every day, and my mother bought me a copy so I wouldn’t miss anything when I had to have surgery. It wasn’t the same as hearing it bit by bit at all.) And when the reader is a good one, for example Jim Dale with Harry Potter, the audio book almost becomes its own thing. But you don’t have to be Jim Dale to enjoy reading to a kid, either.

I like a story where I can really throw my voice around. I do a decent Gruffalo, but I have to watch my brogue or I sound like the Cryptkeeper. And you can really put some dismay in your voice when the Gruffalo comes–oh help, oh no–with his terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.

Or how about the Dust Bunnies? They’re rhyming along, and all of a sudden Bob blurts out something like “HERE COMES A BIG SCARY MONSTER WITH A BROOM!!!” and you get to say, “No, Bob [calmly]. HERE COMES A BIG SCARY MONSTER WITH A BROOM!!! [yelling to match Bob] doesn’t rhyme with <word>.”

And then, of course, you have resources like The Read Aloud Handbook, and even stories to read to your dog or cat. And then, of course, you have your librarians and libraries. ;-) What are some of your favorites?

See also: You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read to a child.

Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young

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