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StoryUP is an interactive storytelling program for all kids, from preschoolers to teens. Children get to write their own stories, pick the settings and characters, and help act out some of the stories with the help of a professional improv group. Meanwhile, they are also getting a literacy lesson without even realizing it.

A series of StoryUP programs will be hosted throughout the city at our neighborhood lLibraries on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.. The series kicks off in January and will continue until June. It is a free program for children of all ages. 

We hope you attend one of these great programs! Here is the schedule:

January 16 – West Oak Lane Library, 2808 West Lehigh Avenue, 215-685-9799

February 6 – Whitman Library, 200 Snyder Avenue, 215-685-1754

February 20 – Philadelphia City Institute, 1905 Locust Street, 215-685-6621

March 5 – Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library, 68 West Chelten Avenue, 215-685-2152

March 19 – Fishtown Community Library, 1217 East Montgomery Avenue, 215-685-9990

April 16 – Greater Olney Library, 5501 North 5th Street, 215-685-2846

May 7 – Richmond Library, 2987 Almond Street, 215-685-9992

June 4 – Wynnefield Library, 5325 Overbrook Avenue, 215-685-0298

Tags: Children's books, Pre-K, Teens, children's programs, early literacy

Story Box - Submit a story to have it acted out.
Story Box - Submit a story to have it acted out.
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Science Leadership Academy students shooting events at the library for Teen Central.
Science Leadership Academy students shooting events at the library for Teen Central.
Example of 'BookFace Friday' taken by a student at Science Leadership Academy.
Example of 'BookFace Friday' taken by a student at Science Leadership Academy.
Music Librarian Perry Genovesi filmed by a Science Leadership Academy student speaking about future programs.
Music Librarian Perry Genovesi filmed by a Science Leadership Academy student speaking about future programs.

Beginning in September 2015, several Science Leadership Academy high school students studying film and photography worked on their Independent Learning Project at our Parkway Central Branch. The teens took on various tasks such as filming one minute librarian book talks, taking pictures of teen events, and creating 'Book-Face Friday' photos for social media. Jake Norman used Prezi to make an interactive presentation about Free Library's Map Department and its former currator Alix Johnson. Jake asked me to narrate and I was more than happy to accommodate his request. Please click here for his presentation.

Tags: Teens, science, tech

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As the holiday season is upon us, I have started looking forward to one of my favorite holiday rituals: revisiting Little Women. This may not be on most people’s lists of traditional holiday movies or books, but for me it has become a personal way of celebrating the holidays.

It all started with one of my favorite gifts I received when I was young—a copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Oh, it was beautiful, with a satin ribbon for a bookmark and gold-edged pages. So fancy, and grown-up! Never mind that I couldn’t actually bring myself to finish the book for several years because I couldn’t bear to think of anything bad happening to my beloved March sisters. Watching Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy grow up, I responded to the themes of family, love, and living a moral and interesting life.

I still have that book, even though it is rather tattered and worn now after countless readings and numerous moves. I was already in love with reading when I got that copy of Little Women, but that was the first time I remember falling in love with a story and the characters, as well as the object itself.

I was reminded of the fun of gifting and sharing books when I found a new copy of Little Women to give to a young relative who is a voracious reader. Her eyes lit up and she was so excited—it was so fancy and grown-up! When I told her it was one of my favorite books growing up, she was even more excited to read it, and we shared a new bond. The story starts at Christmastime as the sisters are contemplating a holiday without their father, who is away during the Civil War, and without gifts. The March family story moves through many other seasons and years, but the joy of their holiday as they celebrate the riches of family and friendship is a reminder of what I like most about this time of year.

The most recent movie version has become part of my tradition, too, and my mom and I try to watch it every year around this time. The soundtrack has even become part of our holiday music rotation. As my family tradition continues and grows, I think about the magical power of sharing a book or a story.

What book will you share or gift this holiday season and beyond?

Ann Pearson is the Teen Services Coordinator and enjoys discovering new teen fiction as well as rereading favorite childhood books.

Tags: Recommendations, Teens

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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Newbery Award winner The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Newbery Award winner The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Kwame Alexander
Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for most distinguished contribution to children’s literature, and deservingly so. The Crossover is filled with lots of rhyme and reason.This poetic and lyrical novel written in verse is a tale about a pair of 13-year-old identical twin basketball stars, and their relationship with their father, who once had a chance to play for the NBA.

The story is narrated by Josh, the twin with a head full of dreads—the main attraction on and off the courts. This intellectual poet is known for his “fresh and sweet” dribbles, comparing himself to the likes of Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Chris Paul. Josh’s style earned him the nickname “Filthy McNasty,” from distinguished jazz musician Horace Silver’s 1961 Filthy McNasty album. "Josh," his father says, “listen to that piano, fast and free, just like you and JB on the court.”

Jordan, the twin with the better jumper, goes by JB; his favorite NBA player is Michael Jordan. Like most preadolescents at the onset of puberty, his interest in girls is increasing, and, thus, he changes the trajectory of his once-inseparable relationship with Josh. 

Alexander has beautifully woven across chapters themes of pre-adolescence, brotherhood and fatherhood, basketball, health awareness, and crossing over.  From a “teaching” children’s librarian's perspective, Alexander’s ability to provide the reader with strong vocabulary and then, without interrupting the flow of comprehension, give meaning by way of syntax, is genius. His quality of language provides a special aesthetic and intensity that the reader will find hard to put down and will miss when the story ends.

The Crossover is definitely written to last. It has style and plenty of swag—it just might be the jumpstart a reluctant reader needs to become a lover of books.

This month’s children’s book review is written by Robin Muldor, Library Supervisor/Children’s Librarian of Overbrook Park Library.

Have you read The Crossover yet? What did you think?

Tags: Awards, Children's books, Teens

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This sticky, humid weather makes it hard to believe that Summer Reading is over! This year, kids and teens all over the city of Philadelphia explored, created, and, of course, read a ton of great books! We had a great time and we hope you did too! We truly appreciate all the volunteers, parents, and educators who made this summer so “wonder”-ful.

Speaking of wonder ... Did you get a chance to try one of our Wonder Activites at your neighborhood library? These fun, engaging, hands-on activities are themed around discovery and imagination.  Even though Summer Reading is over, you can still explore one of our eight Wonder Activities—like Mad Hatter Card Games or Balloon Racers. They’re available here

Miss Summer Reading already? No worries—there is still time to participate in Summer Reading Online at the Free Library of Philadelphia! Read and review your books and each review you log until August 31 earns an entry into an online prize drawing.  Find out more here

We hope you had a wonderful summer. Don't forget to visit us throughout the year and tell us about what you've been reading!

Tags: Pre-K, Summer Reading, Teens, children's programs

Mayor Nutter got in on the fun during a storytime at the Wadsworth Branch.
Mayor Nutter got in on the fun during a storytime at the Wadsworth Branch.
Summer Reading volunteer extraordinaire Zeniyah at Blackwell Regional Library!
Summer Reading volunteer extraordinaire Zeniyah at Blackwell Regional Library!
Teens at Parkway Central Library during their fabric painting program.
Teens at Parkway Central Library during their fabric painting program.
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