DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

Olympics

Aug 6 2012

Let the Reading Begin!

by Nancy M

While summer vacation might be winding down for many children, and is over for others (which this northerner cannot wrap her head around), summer is still in full swing and so are the Olympics.  This Olympics I have been a much more tearful, blubbering fool than ever and I think it’s because I’m a new mom. Recently, my ten month old son stood up in his crib for the first time and my heart nearly burst with pride. I feel this same pride for these young, accomplished athletes, which only intensifies when they pan to the parents (Missy Franklin, anyone?). I can only imagine how it must feel to have a child work so hard and win an Olympic medal.  Like many parents, I dream about all the great things my son will become one day, and currently that dream is for him to be an Olympic athlete! Now, if you would like to help bring out the Olympian in your child, the Library has many inspirational stories of athletes throughout history. Here are a few recommendations:

America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle by David Adler

Describes the life and accomplishments of Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel and a figure in the early women’s rights movement.

Zishe the Strongman by Robert Rubinstein

Relates the unusual story of Zishe, a poor Polish Jew, who became the featured Strongman of circuses throughout the world.

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull

A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio as a child to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.

For children who would like to learn more about the Olympics and its origins:

Ancient Greece and the Olympics: a non-fiction companion to Hour of the Olympics by Mary Pope Osborne

Annie and Jack present information about ancient Greece and the athletic events known as the Olympic games that were held there.

Olympics by Chris Oxlade

Surveys the history and traditions of the Olympics, highlighting memorable events from ancient Greece to the present day.

{ 0 comments }

Jul 2 2012

Reaching Olympus

by Jnai W

The World is less than a month away from the 2012 Olympic Games in London and my excitement is steadily growing.  While I cannot rightfully call myself a sports fanatic, I always look forward to the Olympic Games. It’s hard to resist the glamor and spectacle of the Opening Ceremonies. The world’s elite athletes step forth into the Olympic Games with flags waving, beaming proudly in anticipation of representing their respective nations in competition. Then, of course, there are the sporting events, the opportunity to share in (at least, vicariously and from the comforts of our own living rooms) an athlete’s moment in time, the culmination of years of hard work, discipline and sacrifice for their sport. Needless to say, I find it all incredibly romantic and awe-inspiring.

In seeing these Olympians, or any great successful athlete,  I try to imagine what it must be like to have the drive, the strength and the mastery to scale the heights of their sport. What does it take to become a world class athlete ?

Right now I’m juggling a few books on the subject of great athletes and the success they achieve. I haven’t gotten as far as I’d like into one book in particular, Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed but I’m working on it. The author, himself a two-time Olympian and table-tennis champion, offers great insight into what it takes to achieve success and prestige in sports or any other field. Syed illustrates that one must apply “purposeful practice” to his or her craft in order to achieve excellence, with extensive research pointing to a minimum requirement of 10 years to gain mastery of one’s sport or field.

Additionally Syed proposes that natural ability and practice may not be enough to reach the Olympics but that “practically every man or woman who triumphs against the odds is, on closer inspection, a beneficiary of unusual circumstances”, some sort of opportunity or privilege that gives them the edge over their peers. In Syed’s case, for example, his excellence in table-tennis was the result of not only copious amounts of practice and his own propensity for the sport but also of having ready access to practice facilities—a tennis table in his own home and a table tennis club only a few miles from his home. These circumstances, plus having a teacher who was also a table tennis enthusiast and coach, all conspired to make Syed a champion, more so perhaps than his own talent.

While I’m still pouring over Bounce, I’ve since been drawn to another wonderful book on the life and times of one of America’s favorite athletes. For The Love of The Game: My Story is a gorgeous and well-written biography of Michael Jordan, basketball superstar and Olympian.  Of all the details of Jordan’s career and various achievements, there was one particular passage which, to me, is very telling of how he rose to the top of his game. Jordan is not only a talented, disciplined and industrious athlete but also he is a visionary of his own success. “I have used visualization techniques for as long as I can remember,” Jordan writes. “It wasn’t until later in my career that I realized the technique is something most people have to learn. I had been practicing the principles naturally my entire life.”

Imagine a young Olympian envisioning her journey from a youth spent practicing her discipline to the moment she reaches the podium, medal draped around her neck and her nation’s anthem playing triumphantly. No matter how these athletes have reached Olympus, the world will be watching. I can’t wait!

{ 1 comment }

Lately I’ve become a bit of a Brazil-o-phile. I know very little about Brazilian culture except for what I’ve seen in movies, read in books or listened to on radio and in my music collection. All I know is that Black Orpheus is one of my favorite films,  and that I could listen to the music of Bebel Gilberto and Ceu for hours upon hours. And now that Rio de Janeiro has been appointed the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics, I’m clamoring for a trip to Cidade Maravilhoso and for more information about Brazil in general.

It should come as no surprise that the Library has a wealth of information on this incredibly fascinating country. Here are some of the things I’ve been checking out so far:

Portuguese For Dummies: I figured that in learning about another culture, a great place to start is by getting acquainted with the language. Portuguese, particularly of the Brazilian variety, is a lovely yet complex language. But Portuguese for Dummies is a great introduction to the language. For me, it helps to see Portuguese grammar and Brazilian colloquialisms and makes learning less intimidating. Seeing Portuguese in print helps me tremendously by reminding me of its similarities to other Romance languages.

Pimsleur Language Programs Portuguese (Brazilian): Right now I’m on course 1A and it’s a great way to begin tuning the ear to the language. Pimsleur’s also great for learning just about any other language you can imagine…and at your own pace.

Brazil: Nothing helps you plan a vacation quite like a guidebook. DCPL has travel books by Fodor’s, Frommer’s and Lonely Planet. The one that I’m perusing right now is a Moon Handbook which, like most guidebooks, offers helpful lodging, dining and entertainment hints. But I really like the fact that this particular book has a nice little survival phrasebook in back and fascinating cultural tidbits throughout.

{ 3 comments }