Celebrate National Ice Cream Month!

July is National Ice Cream Month. And no wonder, with how hot the summer can be! If you want to practice social distancing away from those long lines at the ice cream stores, here are some ebooks to help you make, enjoy, and celebrate this tasty summertime treat! 

Get the scoop on how to make ice cream in Charity Ferreira and Lou Seibert Pappas’s ebook with 25 recipes for homemade ice creams and frozen desserts. The A to Z Ice Cream: Making Ice Cream at Home for Total Beginners by Lisa Bond is another great way to start learning how to make this popular frozen dessert, as well as facts about ice cream you can share with friends and family! Find 51 recipes in Nicole Weston’s How to Make Ice Cream, including classics such as coffee and chocolate, as well as original flavors like goat cheese and honey, maple bacon, and more! Or learn from master chef Louis P. De Gouy in The Ice Cream Book, which includes over 400 recipes. We guarantee you will find The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever in our hoopla collection! If you care about cows so much you don’t eat dairy products, try Vegan A La Mode by Hannah Kaminsky, with 100+ recipes made from almond, coconut, and other dairy alternatives. 

Once you have your frozen dessert in hand, enjoy while reading an ice cream-themed adult mystery or romance! Jen and Sherry try to solve the Chunky Raspberry Fudge Murder in Penelope Manzone’s cozy mystery. Listen to Lexy Baker and her grandmother, Nans, solve a mystery in Leighann Dobbs’s audiobook, Ice Cream Murder. For A Deadly Inside Scoop, Abby Collette’s wintertime mystery features a recent MBA grad who took over her family’s ice cream business and found the body of a man with an old feud with her family.

If you want something more romantic, Eileen Dreyer’s The Ice Cream Man features Jenny Lake investigating an ice cream man who may be selling something else from his ice cream truck. You could also travel back in time to Grace Thompson’s Ice Cream in Winter, about a woman trying to run a struggling ice cream shop in the winter of 1940. Or take a contemporary road trip in Tiffany Carby’s romance, $(mint)en Chocolate Chip, in which a successful blogger takes a road trip to find the best ice cream spots.

What goes well with ice cream? Dogs! In Drawing with Mark: Happy Tails & We All Scream for Ice Cream, children will learn about popular flavors of the frozen dessert, and they will be taught how to draw an ice cream cone and truck! They’ll also learn how to take care of and draw puppies and kittens. If you want to see doggos enjoying their own frozen treats, take a look at the photos in Diana Lundin’s Dogs vs. Ice Cream! Splat the Cat and Stick Dog also have something to scream or dream about ice cream in the children’s books by Rob Scotton and Tom Watson.

Check out the rest of hoopla’s ice cream-themed items, which include recipe books, fiction, music, and other entertaining items for all ages!

Creating an Independence Day Celebration!

Yesterday, we shared a post with some cookbooks for grilling and dessert-making to help you prepare for today. But no celebration is complete without music or decorations! 

Check out this book of 4th of July crafts you can do with your kids to show off your red, white, and blue patriotic pride. While you’re crafting, or during the cookout, listen to some patriotic music on hoopla. Classics for the 4th of July has quintessential American songs such as “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “America (My Country ‘Tis Of Thee),” and “This Land is Your Land.” The appropriately named 4th July Cook Out – 30 Tracks for Your Barbeque Celebrations will have you singing along to “We Are Young,” “You Belong with Me,” and, of course, at least one patriotic song: “Star-Spangled Banner.” It will be the “Greatest Day” (track 5)! Now That’s What I Call The U.S.A. features such well-known artists as Brooks & Dunn, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, and more! 

For more kid-friendly titles, try Sing About America, with songs that will help teach kids facts about the United States, including the names of all the states and their capitals. For something more fun, check out Fourth of July – Children’s Party, including patriotic titles such as “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and more general titles such as “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” and “We Are the Champions.”

For a soundtrack to play if you’re having drinks in the backyard with your buddies, listen to the adult-oriented Acoustic Backyard BBQ with titles such as “Drink a Beer,” “The Lazy Song,” and “Sweet Caroline.” 

Before you enjoy your cookout, or after you have eaten, you can even learn the history of the American Revolution and the struggle towards independence with titles on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla. You can read historical American texts in The Declaration of Independence and Other Great Documents of American History. The British Are Coming is an audiobook that contains a bonus introduction read by the author. The first in a trilogy about the American Revolution, it recounts the first 21 months of the violent war for American Independence. Find out about the events of 1774, from the Boston Tea Party to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, in acclaimed colonial historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist Mary Beth Norton’s 1774: The Long Year of Revolution. These ebooks on hoopla contain more nonfiction titles, as well as fiction ebooks set during the Revolutionary Period (1775 – 1800).

Teach your kids Symbols of U.S. Independence, about the American flag and the Articles of Confederation. American Independence is an interactive workbook that will teach kids history with bold colors. Judy Dodge Cummings’ and Tom Casteel’s The American Revolution even has some activities kids can do to learn in an interactive way. Take those extra marshmallows from making s’mores and build a marshmallow cannon!

Kids can also read about some of the key players in the Revolution – Alexander Hamilton, Anna Strong, Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and more! 

Browse through these other titles for kids about the American Revolution on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla. No matter how you spend the holiday, we hope you have a Happy Independence Day!

Visit Popular Children’s Authors Online!

Kids can visit an author or illustrator of their favorite books being read aloud online. Popular authors are hosting their own very funny programs, providing entertainment and activities for kids at home:

Mo Willems

“Lunch Doodles” is a program of daily videos in collaboration with The Kennedy Center by the author Mo Willems. Kids are invited to draw, craft, and create with Mo Willems weekdays at 1:00 pm (ET). Go to The Kennedy Center website or to YouTube and enjoy!

You can also read or listen to books by Mo Willems on either hoopla or Overdrive, including Knuffle Bunny!


Dav Pilkey 

In collaboration with the Library of Congress, series author Dav Pilkey has created fun videos for his fans. He reads aloud from his stories and helps kids learn how to draw his famous characters. Visit YouTube to see his schedule. Kids can also visit Dav Pilkey’s Extra Crunchy Website-O-Fun for additional activities.

Check out some Dav Pilkey’s titles as either ebooks or downloadable audiobooks on Overdrive or hoopla through the library with your library card, including the Dog Man series


Mac Barnett

Barnett has created two very quirky and funny digital spaces for kids, which you can find on his Instagram page. First, there is Mac Barnett’s Book Club Show, where he uses his trademark humor, multiple hats, and many picture books in live daily videos at noon. (PT). Then he performs Chapter Books After Dark at 5:00 pm (PT) on Fridays, where he reads chapters aloud from his book series Mac B. Kid Spy, #1 Mac Undercover while in a tuxedo.

Find and enjoy some of his books on Overdrive and hoopla, including the first two books of the Mac B., Kid Spy series.

Shoot for the Stars: Resources for Stargazing and Learning About Outer Space

A Boston Globe article from May 6 highlighted a family-friendly quarantine activity that is out of this world: stargazing! The current lockdown has led to a reduction in light and air pollution, resulting in better conditions for observing the night sky. Caity Sullivan, education associate at the Charles Hayden Planetarium of the Museum of Science, outlines some tips and tricks in the article for at-home stargazing with your family, including free star-viewing apps and what to look for in the night sky.

Though you can’t visit the Hayden Planetarium in person, Sullivan and the folks at the Museum of Science have made it possible for the Planetarium to come to you! Check out their Facebook page for Virtual Planetarium events — you can view past presentations and stay informed about upcoming events, including livestreams of what to view in the night sky. If you miss the presentations, take a look at the Museum’s handy May Sky Chart & Viewing Guide — May is a great month to start backyard stargazing as there will be a rare Mercury sighting the week of May 19th!

For even more space-related fun, listen to Pulsar: A Podcast from the Museum of Science. Their episode on Living in Space, featuring Sullivan, is a must listen, as well as their namesake inaugural episode, All About Pulsars. And for young astronomers, learn about our universe through hands-on activities, such as the Museum’s Our Place in Space family STEM activity and Boston Children’s Museum’s treasure trove of Beyond the Chalkboard NASA-inspired activities, including inventing your own constellations, building paper rockets, and keeping a sky observation journal.

Want more galactic goodness? Check out these fiction and nonfiction titles for all ages — some of many available on Overdrive/Libby with your library card number — to keep your whole family shooting for the stars:

8 Little Planets by Chris Ferrie
Moon! Earth’s Best Friend by Stacy McAnulty (audio) 
Stars! Stars! Stars! by Bob Barner
Fly Guy Presents: Space by Tedd Arnold
Ada Twist’s Big Project Book for Stellar Scientists by Andrea Beaty
Midnight on the Moon (Magic Tree House #8) and its companion Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Space by Mary Pope Osborne

Junior Genius Guides: Outer Space by Ken Jennings
How to Be A Space Explorer by Lonely Planet Kids
Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly (audio)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown

And for some further space exploration, check out encyclopedic text about the solar system in Salem Press, or take a peek at our selection of Great Courses videos about astronomy and the mysteries of the universe:

Our Night Sky
Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe
The Search for Exoplanets: What Astronomers Know
The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries
The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy

Happy stargazing!

Pen Pals in Lockdown!

Are you missing your friends? It’s tough not to see your favorite people at school every day! Maybe you’re tired of texting or Zooming with them–it’s just not very fun anymore.

Maybe you feel like the very bored giraffe in this funny chapter book: Sincerely Yours, Giraffe

Or maybe you’re here but want to be there – with your friends – like the characters in this wonderful picture book: From Here to There.

Here’s an idea: write your friends letters instead! REAL letters. On paper. With a pen or pencil. Sound like a plan?

Okay, so maybe this is a new thing for you. It really can be fun! You don’t just have to write words. Think about the pictures in books you like. Could you draw what you want to say to your friend? Maybe a picture of the place where you spend most of your day. Or your favorite lockdown food. Or your pet. Who knows where your crayons will take you?

Oh, and don’t forget the stickers! And maybe just a teeny bit of glitter…

On to the next step: what will you put your letter in to keep it safe? Maybe you don’t have any envelopes at home right now. What to do? Don’t worry–here’s a video that shows you just how to make one yourself! All you need is paper and glue:

What next? Ask a grown-up for a stamp and some help with addressing your letter. That way you can send it through the mail. If you can’t find a stamp, try taking great photos of the envelope and letter and sending those to your friend by text. Maybe they’ll write you back, and you’ll become real pen pals!

What’s a pen pal? Sometimes it’s someone you don’t even know. You can become friends by writing letters. But you can definitely be pen pals with someone who’s your friend already. You might even learn things about them that you didn’t know before! Here’s an audiobook on hoopla –featuring a favorite character–to give you some inspiration: Arthur’s Pen Pal.

Be careful to wash your hands before creating your letter and envelope, as well as before you send it, after touching the mailbox, and after you touch a letter you’ve received. Talk to your parents about whether you should put letters you receive in a safe place for a while before reading them. And be sure not to touch your face when you’re handling letters.

Virtual Read Aloud With Author Kate Messner

Children’s author Kate Messner has written over 35 books on many science and nature topics, easy readers, picture books, and mysteries. On her website, the former classroom teacher and well-known author includes:

  • Video clips of her reading aloud from many of her books. Videos include her reading from Over and Under the Snow, The Next President, and a chance to hear her latest, which will come out in August; Over and Under the Rainforest.
  • Activity tips for kids following the readings, which mainly involve a single question from the book.
  • Video clips of other well-known authors reading from their books aloud, including Grace Lin and Nikki Grimes.
  • Resources with mini lessons for different grade levels.

You can listen to Messner reading her picture book, The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe. It’s also available on hoopla to borrow as an ebook. She tells the true story of how a young boy who loved coral reefs became an adult who devised a method to transplant coral to create new colonies on devastated sites where corals have died. Ken Nedimeyer grew up near Florida’s coral reefs and became a pioneer in the techniques of grafting stag coral to create new coral colonies. The illustrations are as intense in coloring as the corals. The story is geared to ages 4-7, and adds simple descriptions for young readers of how corals grow.

Messner includes a link to the Coral Restoration website, which details the threats facing coral reefs worldwide. There is also a link to the NASA Climate Kids site, which helps kids learn what they can do to help the oceans.

Homeschool with hoopla!

While home during shelter-in-place, it is practical to keep new digital learning resources coming in to help with burnout and boredom. Check out all of the Abbot Public Library’s e-collections and digital resources online. Today we are spotlighting homework help on hoopla.

Parents can borrow any of these picture and chapter ebooks as “Bonus Borrows.” They do not count toward the five borrows a month limit. Use your Bonus Borrows for supplementing nonfiction books for kids. The collection of ebooks covers diverse subjects, from astronomy to zoology, and is geared to grades K-5. Update homework help with fresh, factual materials.

Below are some engaging examples:

Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Engineers by Andrea Beaty
Cooking Class: Global Feast! By Deanna Cook
Junk Drawer Algebra by Bobby Mercer
How Plants Grow by Donna H. Rice (also available as a Read Along)
The Solar System by Laura Hamilton Waxman, part of the Early Bird Astronomy series

You can also check out the School Closed? collection on Overdrive or through Overdrive’s Libby app for more books to keep kids learning while at home, as well as other activities for kids that were posted on the blog!

ARTfull at Home with the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum wants you to get your creative energy flowing! Part of their ARTfull at Home program, they have put together a handy virtual guide of creativity prompts to inspire kids and kids at heart alike to create art with what they have.

Designed to get little ones engaging with their built and natural environments in experimental ways, the guide includes a list of objects from your home or backyard that can be used for art projects, as well as prompts for creating, such as sound sculptures, shadow art, paper planes, and looking for patterns in nature. 

The deCordova has a lot of other great virtual content, including an ARTfull at Home Story Time featuring Andrea Beaty’s Iggy Peck, Architect (you may also know Iggy’s friends Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist, too!). They’ve also got a lot of content for the not-so-littles (i.e., grown ups), like a virtual tour of the sculpture park, that is not to be missed.

For more inspiration to jumpstart your creative projects at home, check out these titles from our digital collections:

Books for Art Project Inspiration:

Art Lab for Kids and Art Lab for Little Kids by Susan Schwake

Art For Spring (from the Outdoor Art Room Series) by Rita Storey

Books About Artists:

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, ill. by Melissa Sweet

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock, ill. by Mary GrandPré

Viva FridFrida Kahlo,a by Yuyi Morales

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

Books About Art & Design in Our World:

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds (also available on hoopla as an audiobook)

The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell, ill. by Rafael López

Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty (also available on hoopla as an ebook, audiobook, movie, and Read Along!)

Kids in the Kitchen: A Curated Collection of Cookbooks and Activities to do at Home

Our friends at the Boston Children’s Museum, the Museum of Science, and Institute of Contemporary Art have been hard at work creating fun and educational STEAM content that you can do at home, even in the kitchen. We’ve rounded up the best-of-the-best kitchen science activities for the whole family to try!

Watch Boston Children’s Museum’s Kitchen Science for Kids YouTube series, which includes how-to videos on making butter, composting with kitchen scraps, and fermenting your own veggies. Their Beyond the Chalkboard site is another great resource for food-related activities, from becoming an effective food detective, to designing a healthy dip for fruits and veggies, to making art with food. Be sure to also check out their daily activity archive for more wonderful and engaging content! 

At the Museum of Science, learn about acids and bases using blueberries and other ingredients in your kitchen! Take a peek at their #MOSatHome page for even more fun family STEM activities, virtual exhibits, and presentations (including a snake taking a bath!). 

And over at the Institute of Contemporary Art, check out their guide for eco-dyeing fabric for crafting using fruit and veggie scraps and other kitchen materials. Interested in more great activities? Their Art Lab at home has everything from DIY flip books to virtual quilts (maybe made with all that fabric you just eco-dyed).

After you’ve tried these awesome activities, work on those kitchen and nutrition skills with this curated list of cookbooks for junior chefs:

On hoopla:

Stir Crack Whisk Bake: A Little Book about Little Cakes by America’s Test Kitchen

This interactive board book walks little bakers through making the tiniest of sweet treats — cupcakes!

Plant, Cook, Eat!: A Children’s Cookbook by Joe Archer & Caroline Craig

This cookbook takes you from the garden to the kitchen with handy tips & tricks for starting a kitchen garden and how to turn your harvest into healthy, delicious, kid-friendly meals.

Kitchen Science Lab for Kids by Liz Lee Heinecke 

Using basic kitchen ingredients, everyone from toddlers to big kids can whip up these exciting experiments at home!

On Libby:

Cooking Class by Deanna F. Cook

Designed for 6- to 12-year-olds, this instructive cookbook teaches budding mini chefs basic kitchen techniques and over 50 yummy recipes.

National Geographic Kids Cookbook by Barton Seaver

Part craft and activity book, part how-to and cookbook, master chef Barton Seaver’s National Geographic Kids Cookbook teaches you how to start a kitchen garden, host a family cooking competition, and everything in between.

On hoopla & Libby:

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids

From the pros at America’s Test Kitchen come over 750 kid-tested and approved recipes for all skill levels with the goal of empowering young chefs to feel confident in the kitchen.

On Overdrive and hoopla

The Forest Feast for Kids by Erin Gleeson 

*a hoopla Bonus Borrow through today

This colorful cookbook includes the most kid-friendly recipes from the vegetarian hit The Forest Feast

Music, Museums, and More!

If the coronavirus has cancelled that dream concert you’ve been waiting FOREVER to get tickets to, then it’s time to start that family band and get the show on the road (or at least your living room). Check out these great resources to get inspired and groovy at home with music!

Boston Children’s Museum Drum Circle

Make glass xylophones to learn about sound and vibrations, make a guitar using your body and string, or participate in a virtual drum circle with the Boston Children’s Museum.

Listen to professional musicians play from the Museum of Fine Arts’ collection of over 1,300 instruments, including a harpsichord from 1736, a 19th century fiddle from China, and a slide trumpet from 1835.

Learn from the masters with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Home School, which includes instrument demonstrations, Youth Concert lesson plans for mini Mozarts and tiny Tchaikovskys, virtual lessons with BSO members, and episodes from WBUR’s Circle Round podcast in partnership with the BSO as part of their Concerts for Very Young People series.

And speaking of Circle Round, check out this excellent, award-winning podcast created for children ages 4 to 10. Each episode adapts a folktale from around the world and turns it into a sound- and music-rich radio play. Listen to Episode 21, ‘What Am I Hearing?’ with composer Eric Shimelonis as he goes through all of the instruments he uses to create music for the podcast.

For further exploration into music and the people that create it, take a look at these great titles for children, available through Libby and hoopla:

On hoopla

Bats in the Band by Brian Lies
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss (audiobook)

Plus check out the hundreds of albums, from Raffi to Disney, available on hoopla Kids

On Libby:

Pete the Cat’s World Tour by James Dean
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln by Margarita Engle
Who Was: Popular Musicians by Various (audiobook)
When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill

On hoopla & Libby:

Trombone Shorty by Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ Andrews 
Check out the ebook or audiobook on Overdrive/Libby and the ebook, movie, or Read Along on hoopla. 

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle
Check out the ebook on Overdrive/Libby or the audiobook, movie, or Read Along on hoopla.