Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

Books for Children – Van Asselt School October 7, 2012

Filed under: In The Community,Young readers — friendsofspl @ 10:46 pm
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On Thursday, October 4, the Friends teamed with Discover Books and PCC Markets to give away 3,000 books to the children of Van Asselt School.  The children showed their thanks with a song:

  I cannot tell you the joy books can bring
  they have the power to make your heart sing
  I can remember such wonderful times
  Learning and thinkng about books
  Over and over and o’er again
  I’m floating high and low
  I can remember such wonderful times
  Learning and thinking with books.

Giggles and Competition at the Global Reading Challenge March 25, 2012

If you’re a parent of a fourth or fifth grader you may be anxiously awaiting the final round of a very special city-wide competition, The Global Reading Challenge (GRC).  The GRC, an annual contest, drew teams from over 45 schools to the 2012 semifinals on February 22nd. Ten teams that advanced, including Alki, Northgate, Graham Hill, Loyal Heights, and Greenwood, that had never before reached the final round (woo hoo!), will compete in an exciting night-time showdown in the Seattle Central Library’s Microsoft Auditorium on March 27 at 7 p.m. Will you be there?

The GRC, dubbed Battle of the Books, quizzes teams about elements from  ten assigned books. As Joan Abrevaya, Friends of The Seattle Public Library board member and volunteer for The Seattle Public Library, says about her four years of deepening involvement with GRC,  “One of the things that I love is talking to the kids and listening to their excitement and focus on the marvelous thing called reading.  They are as involved in reading these 10 books and answering questions as they are about sports.”

The teams, some with catchy names like, “The Title Waves,” prepare in different ways sometimes with a teacher, a librarian or volunteer. Parents help too, when they can, but many of the contestants come from families where parents are too busy to take on support.  But all children take this competition seriously. As Abrevaya notes, “One parent said that her daughter had a “play date” with some friends, during which they quizzed each other in preparation for the semi-finals.”

The winner of the March 27 contest will advance to face Canadian teams in a videoconferenced international final in early April. “There are tears at every session,” Abrevaya says, “when teams do not win but as Mary [Mary Palmer, children's librarian and organizer] tells the kids: ‘You are already winners. You have read great books and had a great time.'”


The Friends pair with Connecticut foundation to provide books for local classrooms November 4, 2010

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library have paired with the Renee B. Fisher Foundation’s Books for Teachers program.  The Fisher Foundation provides the Friends with a grant to provide qualifying teachers with vouchers for books that they can spend at our Book Sales.  Each teacher can spend up to $100 on books for their classrooms!  To qualify, teachers must work at a school where the majority of students are in need.

So far, the program has been a huge success.  The Friends  have provided more than 10,000 books free of charge to Seattle public school teachers at the 2010 Book Sales. We hope to be able to continue working with the Renee B. Fisher Foundation to fill many more local classrooms with books!  Here is some feedback from happy teachers:

“I left with over 119 books!!!  WOW!!!…I came back to school and added them to the classroom library.”

“My students LOVED the books!  They cheered when Joan dropped off the vouchers, and cheered again when I showed them the pile of books on Monday morning.  They have been enjoying browsing and reading in their reading classes, their silent reading times, or even in their spare time.  I love that I was able to get all kinds of genres and all reading levels for my very diverse group of learners!”

“Thank you and thank you to the Friends of the Seattle Public Library.  I went on Saturday and spent a bit over four hours searching for picture books for my Kindergarteners.  Those four hours were the best hours of my weekend since I knew deep inside I was giving up my personal time to make a huge difference.  It was fun to meet my colleagues there and talk to them across isles when a title of a book crossed my mind.  What I’m tying to say is that we not only got a chance to increase our personal classroom library, but a school wide one.”

And here are some quotes for happy students:

“I love Books!  Like you do!  Reading is fun!  I read a lot!  So I can get smarter!”

“My favorite book is the itsy bitsy spider and the snarly hissopus…All of them are great…so nice, cool, Fabilicious.”

Thanks to the Renee B. Fisher Foundation and to Friends Board Members Joan and Omar for this wonderful program.


How the Library Supports Early Literacy August 14, 2010

Filed under: Literacy,Young readers — friendsofspl @ 12:44 pm
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The Seattle Public Library provides four Early Literacy programs and activities that help teach children the foundation of reading. 

These four programs are:early literacy_girl with bag

  • Raising a Reader
  • Play and Learn Groups
  • Weekly Story Time
  • Picture Book Collections

Raising a Reader:

  • A take-home book bag program created to facilitate the development of early literacy skills
  • Served 330 children in 2009

Play and Learn Groups:

  • Drop-in play groups for caregivers with children from infants to 5 years old in order to promote early learning
  • Served over 3,300 children, parents, and caregivers between October 2008 and June 2009

Story Time:

  • Story time for baby, toddler, and preschool children provided by children’s librarians and paid early childhood educators in a variety of languages including Chinese, Vietnamese, and Spanish
  • 1,410 Story Time programs in 2009
  • 54,330 total attendance in 2009


Picture book Collections:

  • Continually enhanced collections of picture and board books for infants and toddlers that facilitate access to books for use in implementing the six early literacy skills
  • Book collections at selected branches are available in several languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Russian.
  • Begin With Books kits for families and child care centers, as well as online collections for 24/7 access

Clown Around July 25, 2010

Join the Burke Museum at Seattle Public Libraries this summer for this interactive game with familiar storybook characters, real museum specimens, puppets, and prizes.

Children who read 10 books over the summer can win a FREE pass to the Burke Museum.  Take your reading logs!!!

The Burke Museum is a sponsor of the 2010 Summer Reading Program.

  • Northeast Branch:  4 p.m. Wednesday, July 28
  • Central Library: 2 p.m. Tuesday, August 5

Do It Yourself! June 26, 2010

Check out the Summer Reading Program’s do-it-yourself workshops at the Seattle Public Library!

Duct Tape Mania!

Find out what you can make with a roll of duct tape! Create roses, picture frames, wallets and more. Bring your creative side and discover a new use for this sticky product.

Cute Creatures

Like cute stuff? Then this workshop is for you! All you need to do is show up and make cute felt creatures –- all materials will be provided.

Bookmaking for Teens

Instructors from the Seattle Center for Book Arts show you how handmade books can add a creative twist to traditional soft-cover and hard-cover books. All materials and supplies provided

Zinery 101

A zine is a self-published magazine. Learn the basics and make your own zine with Lucy Morehouse of Ong Ong Press.

All of these programs are for teens only.


Meet an Author with The Summer Reading Program! June 7, 2010

Filed under: Branch Happenings,Young readers — friendsofspl @ 11:23 am
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The Summer Reading Program has many events that allow you to meet authors.  Check out the Events Calendar on the Library’s website for dates and times.   This year, there will be many appearances by popular authors for teens.  If you like sci-fi, graphic novels, historical fiction or non-fiction there is an event for you!  This news release from Seattle Public Library has a complete list of authors.   Come out and meet one of your favorite authors or discover something new!

Artichoke Tales by featured author Megan Kelso


Sign Up For Summer Reading at Seattle Public Library! May 31, 2010

It is time to sign up for the Summer Reading Program at Seattle Public Library!  Summer Reading runs from June 1 to August 29 and is available for all ages!  Sign up at your local branch or online at  This year, the goal is for the city to read 148,000 books!  Keep track of the books you read and help to meet the goal!   

Summer reading is a great way to keep kids engaged with reading and learning all summer.  In addition, kids that complete their Summer Reading goal will win a free paperback book and a pass for their family to the Burke Museum. 

Summer Reading also involves lots of fun activities at all the library branches.  There will be over 700 free programs!  Check event calendars at to find a fun program for your family.

For complete information on the Summer Reading Program visit the Library’s website.


Don’t Go Changin’ April 29, 2010

One of our board members, Stephanie Anderson, writes a column for her kids’ school newsletter, “Beaver Notes” from Loyal Heights Elementry.  This time she wrote about volunteering with her kids at our Book Sale.  The kids’ names have been changed to protect their identity.

Last weekend I brought seven kids to work at the semi-annual Friends of the Library Book Sale at Magnuson Park.  Scooter and Cupcake have worked every sale since they were little.  They like putting on the Friends’ green volunteer vests, choosing the two free books they earn for volunteering, and making forts of the empty boxes they collect.  Mostly they like the volunteer lounge, full of Top Pot donuts and other treats.  A few years ago I began inviting their friends, and put them all to work.  This time was different, though:  I had four seventh grade boys – I wasn’t too worried about that – but I also had three third graders and I was scheduled to cashier in the CD/DVD section in a building across the street from where they would be.

 As we donned our vests and name tags, I told Cupcake and her friends that, no matter what, they needed to stay together and check in with me.  They nodded solemnly while I spoke but I could tell they were thinking only of the Top Pot donuts arrayed invitingly before them. 

The CD/DVD section was hopping.  I couldn’t leave for over an hour.  When the crowd finally thinned, I raced over to the main building.  Cupcake and one friend were busily straightening books in the children’s section and the other friend, whistling, was toting a stack of empty boxes to the back room.  My heart swelled with pride.

The next time I checked I found them kicked back in the volunteer lounge popping Top Pot donuts in their mouths.  I shooed them back to work and checked on the older boys. In their bright yellow Whitman Ultimate Frisbee jerseys they were easy to spot, fanned out across hundreds of thousands of books, cheerfully carrying empty boxes on their heads to the back room where they were building elaborate interconnected box forts reaching almost to the ceiling.  Raised on Legos, every one of them.

On my next break I browsed the CDs.  Nothing really grabbed me and I was about to stop looking when I saw it:  Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Volumes I and II.  As I perused the song list I was a young girl again hearing Just the Way You Are for the very first time.  I realized with a start that I had grown up with Billy Joel – from Piano Man when I was Cupcake’s age, to You’re Only Human when I was old enough to drink.  I’d hang out on my bed and daydream of how my life would be when I was a grown up; I was impatient for something – anything – to happen to me because it seemed nothing ever did.  I thought about Cupcake voicing similar sentiments:  “I don’t want to shower!”  “I wish I could drive.”  “Nothing exciting’s happening.”

Clutching my CD I wanted to tell my nine year old daughter, while you are impatiently waiting for something to happen, imperceptible things are happening to you every day, shaping who you are – you just don’t realize it; and don’t wish it away.    

Just then Cupcake and her two friends came tearing into the building, hopping around and demanding lunch money.  “Don’t come with us,” Cupcake said sternly.  “We’re going to buy lunch ourselves and I’ll bring you back the change.”  And just like that they were gone.  Watching Cupcake walk away I detected a swagger in her step; the Queen of the Book Sale.  


Need Help With Your Homework? April 14, 2010

I’m always amazed by the many resources provided by The Seattle Public Library.  Latest example?  Click here for information on how to get help with your homework, whether you’re young or old. 

First, 11 of the branch libraries have Homework Help Centers, where volunteers help students on a drop in basis during the school year.  Contact these branch libraries for information about when Homework Help is scheduled:  Beacon Hill, Broadview, Columbia, Delridge, Douglass-Truth, International District/Chinatown, Lake City, NewHolly, Northgate, Rainier Beach, and South Park.

Second, you can also get free on-line help from live tutors in math, science, English and social studies seven days a week from 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.  This help is available both in English and en Español.  You will need a Library card and your PIN (personal identification number) in order to log onto the Web site

Third, if the tutors are busy or if you want to look at other resources, the Web site also includes a SkillsCenter Resource Library, with lots of different worksheets, tutorials, and study guides about different subjects.  I took a look at one of the writing tutorials and got some great tips on punctuation.

Now lest you think that homework help is only available to students in K-12 or in college, the Web site also has an on-line Adult Education and Career Center that covers topics like career help, going back to school, and citizenship issues.  There’s even a resume writing workshop video available! 

And once you’ve finished your homework and have some time to relax, consider borrowing one of these books recommended by Friends’ board members:

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, by Louise Murphy. Board member Connie reports that this book is set in occupied Poland during World War II, and tells the story of a 12-year old Jewish girl and her brother who are sent into the woods to flee the Nazis, and how they are able to survive.  The novel provides an intimate look at Nazi-occupied Poland.  Note:  this is not a book for children.


A Walk in the Woods : Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson.    This is a  non-fiction comedic account of two tenderfeet (well, since there were two hikers, I should probably say they had four very tender feet) who try to hike the Appalachian Trail without much preparation or training.    Several reviewers have noted that this is more than a travel memoir, as the trip served as a re-introduction to America for the author after living in England for 20 years.   Board member Joan enjoyed listening to the audio version of the book, so the link above is to the audio version.

Wolf Hall:  a Novel,  by Hilary Mantel.  Board member Liz ‘s take on this book:  “It won the Man Booker prize last year- deservedly so.  Wolf Hall tells the Henry VIII/Anne Boleyn story (yay season 4 of the Tudors started last night!) through Thomas Cromwell’s eyes.  Cromwell comes across as a surprisingly cool guy, Anne as a high maintenance lady, and Henry as his petulant self.  It’s well written and totally engaging. “



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