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


Sep 4 2009

The End of the Rainbow

by Jesse M

reading-rainbowOn Friday, August 28, the award winning children’s program Reading Rainbow aired its final episode. It marked the end of an era. For the past 26 years, host LeVar Burton has introduced countless children worldwide to the joys of reading. In that time the show has been the recipient of over 250 awards, including 26 Emmys (ten for “Outstanding Children’s Series”), a Peabody, and nine Parent’s Choice Awards. While the show stopped producing new episodes in 2006, PBS had continued to air reruns until last month, when lack of funding made it impossible for them to renew the show’s broadcast rights. This unfortunate happenstance is at least partially due to a paradigm shift in children’s literacy work which asserts that the focus should be on teaching the mechanics of reading instead of attempting to foster a love of books, as Reading Rainbow did (See the NPR article for more on this).

The Library has many Reading Rainbow videos available for checking out.   Additionally, the Reading Rainbow section of the PBS kids website is still running and will remain accessible until December 2009.

I was a huge fan of the show as a kid, and though it has been many, many years since I last had the pleasure of viewing it, I still remember the words to the theme song. I bet you do too.

Correction: originally, this post said that the Reading Rainbow series was not available at the Library.  This was a mistake, and has been corrected above.  Thanks to the readers who pointed this out to us!


Jul 14 2009

Johnny Can’t Read

by Ev S


I am so worried that my five year old still can’t read.  I see all these other kids reading and wonder “What am I doing wrong?”  Being me, I started doing some research.  There is a ton of literature out there for the worried parent.

The book that really started this out was Why Johnny Can’t Read – And what you can do about it by Rudolf Flesch.  This book was published in 1955 and parents are still using it at home.  It’s based on the phonics method of reading.  The  public schools have swayed from the phonics method to whole language  learning and back again since my husband and I were children (early to mid 1970s).  Until I started researching about reading I had no idea that there were basically two ways to teach reading.

Straight Talk about Reading: how parents can make a difference during the early years by Susan Hall and Louisa C. Moats pretty much details how the two different methods work and why phonics is a more successful method.  Actually, I did not find much that supported the whole language method.

Starting Out Right: A guide to promoting children’s reading success by the National Research Council specifically spells out activities to do with my five year old.  The book starts out with what is needed to be considered literate; and it’s not just about reading.  The National Research Council details activities and practices for every age group from preschool to grade three.  This is basically a how-to manual.

The best thing I learned about reading is that it happens at the child’s pace and not because the worried, conscientious, proactive parent is doing anything “wrong”.  I can finally sleep at night.

Here is a list of other titles in the library system:

Prescription for Reading–teach them phonics by Ernest H Christman

The Writing Road to Reading: the Spalding method for teaching speech, spelling, writing, and reading by Romalda Bishop Spalding

Parents Who Love Reading, Kids Who Don’t : how it happens and what you can do about it by Mary Leonhardt

Building Blocks : building a parent-child literacy program at your library by Sharon Snow

Yes, if you’re wondering if DCPL has a building blocks program.  Just check out our calendar of events, look for the red.


Apr 24 2009

What Would Jane Think?

by Lesley B

janepictIt is a truth universally acknowledged, that readers in possession of 6 novels must be in want of more.

I do wonder how Miss Austen would regard the Jane Austen industry, that growing collection of  books and films and blogs about her life and her in-the-public-domain characters. If you’ve read all the original novels and still have a jones for Jane, you might enjoy some of these additions to the Austen brand:


  • Jane Austen as a fictional character

The Jane Austen mystery series by Stephanie Barron: Jane and the unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor is the first book in the series. Jane and her sister, Cassandra, solve murders in Regency England.

Becoming Jane:  a 2007 film with Anne Hathaway that offers a mostly fictional account of Jane’s love affair with a penniless Irish law student.

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James:  There’s very little left of Jane Austen’s personal writing. Her sister burned most of her letters. This novel supposes that she kept a private diary detailing a secret love affair.

  • Continuations and completions

The Mr. & Mrs. Darcy series by Carrie Bebris:   As a newly married couple, the Darcys  must solve the mystery around the misfortunes of Elizabeth’s brother-in-law Charles Bingley and his snooty sister Caroline. First book in the series is Pride and prescience, or, A truth universally acknowledged.

Mr. Knightley’s Diary by Amanda Grange: The novel Emma, retold from Mr. Knightley’s point of view.

In a sort of literary hat trick, Joan Aiken:

1) completes one of Austen’s unfinished works in Emma Watson: the Watsons completed

2) invents a new story for Pride and Prejudice’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Lady Catherine’s Necklace

3) writes a sequel in Jane Fairfax, Jane Austen’s Emma, through another’s eyes.

  • Contemporary retellings

Clueless: The 1995 movie with Alicia Silverstone takes Emma to high school in Beverly Hills

Jane Austen in Scarsdale, or Love, death, and the SATs by Paula Marantz Cohen:  Persuasion in a high school counselor’s office, where a woman must face the man she rejected years ago when his nephew enrolls at her school.

Austenland by Shannon Hale:   Not a retelling of an Austen novel, but the story of a woman with a Mr. Darcy obsession, sent to a kind of  literary resort to experience life as one of Jane’s characters.

Someone should build a real Jane Austen resort. There must be room in Florida next to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.


Mar 17 2009

Pinocchio reader?

by Heather S

1984Last week as I was clicking through news articles online, I came across an interesting one on Reuters.  The article presents a study done by World Book Day, which found that “two out of three Britons have lied about reading books that they haven’t.”

According to the study, the most frequently mentioned titles people have said they have read  (but really have not) are 1984 by George Orwell, War and peace by Leo Tolstoy and Ulysses by James Joyce.

I will admit that I am one of those that have lied about reading certain books.  How else do you think I survived my high school literature classes?  As a sophomore in high school, I had no desire to read 1984 and Portrait of an artist as a young man.  Thankfully, I was smart enough to use Masterplots to pass the test.  If only I had J’Nai’s recommendation, I would have perhaps done better on my essays.  And, please do not judge me harshly or follow my lead;  I have reformed and can now honestly admit what I have and have not read!

Are you an honest reader?  Any books that you say you’ve read, but haven’t?


Aug 27 2008

Nursery Rhymes and Fingerplays

by Ginny C

Most parents know the value of reading to children. But did you also know that nursery rhymes and fingerplays are equally important? They increase vocabulary, introduce rhyming and rhythm, develop motor skills and coordination, and introduce phonetic awareness (the different sounds that make up a word.) And besides all that, they’re fun. I’ve listed a few nursery rhyme and fingerplay books to get you started. As always, ask your librarian for more recommendations.

My Very First Mother Goose edited by Iona Opie: A collection of more than sixty nursery rhymes including “Hey Diddle, Diddle,” “Pat-a-Cake,” “Little Jack Horner,” and “Pussycat, Pussycat.”

Mother Goose’s Storytime Nursery Rhymes by Axel Scheffler: An illustrated collection of more than one hundred nursery rhymes, interspersed with vignettes about Mother Goose and her three young goslings, Boo, Lucy, and Small.

This Little Piggy: lap songs, finger plays, clapping games and pantomine rhymes edited by Jane Yolen: A collection of singing games and nursery rhymes involving various parts of the body, to be used with very young children.

Do Your Ears Hang Low? Fifty more musical fingerplays by Tom Glazer: Presents words and music to 50 songs with directions for accompanying fingerplays.


Aug 1 2008

Books + Basketball = FUN


Dominique Wilkins, star forward for the Atlanta Hawks in the late 80s and early 90s, scored over 25,000 goals in his NBA career. Mr. Wilkins stopped by the Decatur Library earlier this summer to film a PSA. See it here on DCPL’s YouTube page:

You can read more about Dominique Wilkins’ amazing basketball career at the NBA’s website.


May 14 2008

Read It Again

by Ginny C

“Read it again! Read it again!” How many times have you heard that after reading Horton Hears a Who to your pre-schooler for the third time in one night? Do you have Brown Bear, Brown Bear memorized from repeated readings to a toddler who begs to hear it again and again?

Don’t despair. It’s perfectly natural for children to request favorite books over and over. Even if you’re tired of reading them, your child may not be. With each reading, he or she is learning something new, from associating the pictures with the words to how a story is structured. They also learn the joy of being able to “predict” what is going to happen.  Following the text with your finger as you read will help reinforce this.
You may want to ask your child what happens next. Can they tell you what the
purple cat sees in Brown Bear, Brown Bear? Chances are, after a couple
of readings, they know the purple cat sees a white dog.  And how smart
they feel for knowing that!  After hearing the same story several times,
they may even have memorized enough to be able to “read” it to you. As they get older and more familiar with the alphabet, they’ll start to recognize specific letters and words. They will learn that c-a-t spells cat which corresponds with the picture.

These are just a few reasons to encourage repeated readings. Follow this link for a more detailed explanation of the benefits of reading it again, put together by The University of Texas at Austin. The next time your child demands that you “read it again,” you’ll be happy to pick up Goodnight Moon.  For the tenth time. In one day.

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I was driving to work a couple of weeks ago when I heard an episode of the StoryCorps series on NPR.  If you’ve ever heard a StoryCorps interview before, then you understand why I reach for the tissues as soon as they say it’s coming up.  This particular interview was no different, and the fact that it related to reading made it especially moving to me. 

This was the story of Joe Buford of Nashville, age 63, who is learning to read after decades of hiding the fact from family and coworkers.  He worried that he had passed “what was wrong” with him on to his children, and avoided promotions at work.  For the last year or so he has been working with literacy tutor Michelle Miller, and when he finally realized that he was beginning to be able to read, he “jumped up and ran through the house. It made me cry and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, it really is sinking in.'”  Listen to Joe’s story in his own words here.

DeKalb County Public Library offers many literacy materials to assist those looking to improve their reading skills, as well as materials for tutors helping others.  Visit any branch for more information, or check out our services on our website.

To find a literacy tutor or if you are interested in volunteering as a tutor, contact Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta, located conveniently across the street from the downtown Decatur Library.  They offer one-on-one volunteer tutoring as well as training for tutors.  LVA seeks to promote lifelong learning, and provides tutors for both adult literacy as well as ESL (English as second language).

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Jan 20 2008


by Laura the Librarian


“Now what was that book so-and-so told me about?”

“What was that book I meant to read?”

“Have I read this already?”

Does this sound familiar to you?  It does to me. Over the years (and especially since I became a librarian), I have made several attempts to track my reading adventures with little to no success.  I have started book “journals” in both pen and pencil; created spreadsheets; set up databases; and even created my own old-school mini card catalog (OK, so I only actually created three cards before I got frustrated and abandoned the project). The point is that I have never been able to track my reading in an effective manner, nor in a way that enabled me to share my reads with anyone else.

Enter Goodreads.com

With their stated goal of making “reading fun again”, Goodreads.com is a great way to not only track what you have read, are reading, and want to read; but a way to share it with friends too. Organize your books by virtual shelves you create; rate and review your books; join reading groups; and comment too. At a loss for what to read? Check out a friend’s list and find inspiration.

Lots of fun to navigate, a great way to remember what you’ve read, and for librarians (or anyone) a great readers’ advisory tool.


Logo from Goodreads.com website


A recent story on NPR’s show “Talk of the Nation” focused on a new National Endowment of the Arts study that finds Americans are not only reading less for fun, but reading less in general. 

This study contains some disturbing statistics:

  • On average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading
  • Reading scores for American adults of almost all education levels have deteriorated, notably among the best-educated groups.
  • Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier.

NEA’s website states: “To Read or Not To Read expands the investigation of the NEA’s landmark 2004 report, Reading at Risk. While that report focused mainly on literary reading trends, To Read or Not To Read looks at all varieties of reading, including fiction and nonfiction genres in various formats such as books, magazines, newspapers, and online reading. Whereas the earlier report assessed reading among adults age 18 and older, To Read or Not To Read analyzes reading trends for youth and adults, and readers of various education levels.”

Click HERE to read more or download the complete study from NEA.

Click HERE for NPR’s audio report on the study, online discussions, and related links.

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