Meet the Children's Librarian: Miss Claire

Welcome to the first installment of a series introducing the talented people who work in the Children's Library!  This week we're proud to present...Miss Claire!

Claire is a native of Baltimore and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York (did you know three of the Children's Librarians live in New York City?).  She started working at Darien Library as the Children's Library intern in 2008, and became a full-time librarian in 2009. She is usually mustache-less.


Five Things About Miss Claire

Her favorite food is sushi.

Her hobbies include cooking, traveling, and a brief flirtation with knitting

Her favorite book genre is historical fiction.

When she was a kid, Claire wanted to be a supermodel-detective or Jane Goodall.

Right now, she is reading a grown-up book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, and a kids book, Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan.

Two Things You Didn't Know About Miss Claire

She can touch her tongue to her nose!

She is an only child.

iKids Create Self-Portraits

The iKids have been busy honing their tech skills in this weekly registered class. For every first session our techy tweens make avatars for their very own Darien Library accounts. Check out these kid-friendly websites where you can design an avatar.

Build Your Wild Self 

Mii Creator


On ArtisanCam kids can explore the work of contemporary artist Julian Opie. Once the portrait is created it can be included in the online gallery.  

The Case for Cursive

This week a new mom in town pulled out the book Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary and was flipping through the pages with her toddler. It turns out that the illustrator, Kay Life, chose this mom as the inspiration for her portraits of the fictional Maggie. The artist followed the child to and from school each day to truly depict the life of a third grader. It's amazing what you discover in the Children's Library!

In the book, the character Maggie is frustrated that her third grade class is beginning to learn how to write in cursive. Maggie simply cannot understand why she needs to practice her penmanship

A recent topic in the news, the relevance of penmanship in today's classroom is a hot topic. Some feel that certain forms of communication are becoming obsolete, such as letter writing and in some cases email!  Read this recent USA Today article on cursive in the classroom.

For other school dramas and classroom antics, check out these selections.

"My child is a Level H reader. How do I find those books in the Library?"

"My son is a Level G.  Can you show me that section?"

"My daughter's teacher just informed us that Katie is between a I and a K.  How to I find books at her reading level?"

"Where do you keep your C books?"

These are questions that we children's librarians are asked almost every week.  Parents, caregivers, and children will frequently come to us with a Leveled Reading list or instructions from their teachers to find books on the Guided Reading scale (this method of reading instruction, also known as the Fountas and Pinnell system, uses a scale from A to Z to indicate increasing levels of book difficulty.)


Since public libraries are organized and arranged to facilitate browsing, searching, and to inspire a lifelong love of reading, you won't find our Children's Library organized by the A to Z levels.  So, how do you locate books that are appropriate for your child's reading level? 


Here are a few ways to find great books for your child:

1. Ask a Children's Librarian. 

We pride ourselves on knowing great children's literature and enjoy making recommendations.  We will usually begin by asking you or your child what kinds of books you've read recently and whether those books felt "just right" or not.  We can help you find similar titles, ones that are a little harder, or a little easier. 

2. Check out our F5 Learn to Read and/or our Kids I Read section. 

For children just learning to read on their own, a great place to browse is in our F5 Learn to Read area.  These books, also known as beginning readers, are designed to help newly emerging readers recognize common vocabulary, anticipate rhyming words, construct meaning through carefully placed illustrations, and build confidence. 

For children who are reading independently but not quite ready to delve into Harry Potter, check out our Kids I Read section.  Filled with popular chapter book series, these books help keep new readers engaged but not overwhelmed. 


3. Use the Five Finger Rule.

What is a level H or K or D anyway?  What does it mean?  It can be frustrating for both parents and children to locate books on their assigned Guided Reading level.  Oftentimes, the Guided Reading lists given to parents contain titles that are out of print or unavailable. 

One simple and effective way to judge whether any given book is too hard or too easy is The Five Finger Rule.  Here's how it works:

- Ask your child to start reading a page from the book.  Anytime they come to a word that they cannot pronounce or don't understand, hold up a finger.

- One finger means the book in question is probably too easy.

- Four or five fingers means the book in question is probably too hard.

- Two or three fingers means the book is probably JUST RIGHT.

Looking for more information on finding great books for your child?  Stop by the Children's Library anytime or contact us at

photo of child reading courtesy of Flickr user John-Morgan; photo of hand courtesy of Flickr user Phineas H.



For little readers with big plans

I have found a new favorite book and it is Bob Shea's Big Plans (big plans, I say!), illustrated by Lane Smith (also an incredible author and illustrator).  It's the humorous story of a little boy who really knows his own mind and goes after what he wants.  After being put in time out for his ambitiousness (the blackboard next to him says things like, "I will not prove the teacher wrong"), he imagines what would happen if his big plans were successful, accompanied by his yes-man sidekick, who is a mynah bird.  He helps his local football team win a game, becomes mayor of his town, then eventually president (the President offers him the position of "assistant President", which our hero turns down and replies with, "You can be third in charge, after the mynah bird").  A loud, fun, and very funny book for those kids with big ideas and the guts to go after them.  






Bob Shea has written some other hilarious books, including:

New Socks - A yellow, glasses-wearing chick excitedly shares his new pair of socks with the reader.




 Dinosaur vs. Bedtime - Little Dinosaur takes on all kinds of activities, like dinner and a pile of leaves, and always wins.  When he comes up against bedtime, who will come out victorious?




 Dinosaur vs. The Potty (seriously)!  If you know a little someone who can hold it in until near-explosion, they might appreciate this book.  


KidCast Playhouse Podcast

Last week, we had a podcasting camp here at Darien Library. The kids brainstormed plots, characters, conflict and got inspiration from radio greats such as "Who's On First?" by Abbott and Costello. They wrote and recorded a script of their own creation right here in the Library and I am so proud of the cast for their creative comedy!  I hope we can continue podcasting. Kids, if you are interested in participating in the next installment of KidCast Playhouse, please comment below and we'll get another group together!

Kidnapping on a Summer's Eve

Written and performed by Darien Library's KidCast Playhouse July 2010

Cast (in order of appearance):

Bob:  Tyler

Miss Butterman: Morgan

Mom:  Katie

Police Officer 1:  Zach

Police Officer 2:  Olivia

Random Person:  Tyler

Chloe:  Olivia

Jeter:  Zach

Derek:  Anir

Sam:  Katie

Epilogue:  Morgan & Tyler

Girls Book Club: Our First Meeting

This week was the first meeting of our first Girls Book Club, a book discussion group for girls ages 9 to 12. 

We talked about our favorite books (see those below), ate lots of pizza and chose our books for March and April.  No need to sign up, just read, and come to the library that night.  We'll have a light dinner; something could be pizza again!


On March 25 at 6:45 p.m. we will discuss Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller.  Come in, check out a copy (we own 10!) and read the exciting girl group mystery.  Four girls sleuth out the secret world underneath Manhattan.



In April (date to be decided) we will discuss Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus




Some of our favorite books are Savvy, Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Blood on the River.

Wii Got Game - Fridays @ 4:15pm

photo courtesy of Flickr user daveynin's

Friday nights in the children's room is the new place to be. Our brand new program We've Got Game started in January and it's been a smashing success. Kids get a chance to test out the library's cool new tech gadgets like the Nintendo Wii (yes, the library has a Wii), Creation Station, and the Chumby. Plus kids can even bring their own handhelds. You can even try out the new Microsoft Surface!!!

Stop by this Friday, February 13 @ 4:15pm and see what all the Buzz is about.

Also check out the WebPlay! section of the Youth page for some awesome websites and gaming posts.

Happy Gaming!

YouTube Jr.

Youtube videos are everywhere, but how can you be sure you won't come across something with questionable content?  Try Totlol!  This new sub-site of YouTube is a parent moderated video community aimed at kids under the age of 13. There are videos about music, phonics, classic cartoons, even some cool series like Signing Time where you can learn sign language!  The selection is huge and if you like, you can participate too by creating a free account, creating your own playlist. The site has gotten some good reviews from ReadWriteWeb and Wired Magazine. Find our more information about how it works here and see if you'd like to join in!

Other Online Video Alternatives:

Sesame Street also shares videos on their site and you can never get enough Elmo! Check out all the fun videos about reading! is where our library shares videos like Opening Day and time lapse videos of it being built.  See what it looked like one year ago this month!

Vimeo has fun videos like Bob Shea's Dinosaur vs. Bedtime (a personal favorite book of mine!)

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime from bob shea on Vimeo.

Valentine's Bead-a-Bracelet

Hey Kids!

Photo by Flickr User dichohecho

Come bead your own bracelets at the library this Saturday, February 7th at 1:15 pm in the Children's Library!

Sign up by calling, emailing or coming in to the Children's Library. Space is limited!

For kids ages 7-10.

(203) 669-5235

Syndicate content