Elkhart Public Library is excited to announce that best-selling children’s author Eric Litwin will kick off the 2018 Summer Reading program, “Reading Rocks.”
Litwin, writer of the original four “Pete the Cat” books, “The Nuts” and “Groovy Joe” will bring his unique music and story style to six Elkhart community elementary schools.
From May 15 to 17 Litwin will perform his unique storytelling style for every kindergarten through second grader in the ECS system thanks to the Elkhart Education Foundation and EPL.
According to Tara White, director of literacy for Elkhart Community Schools, having a live author performing for students is a way to bring books alive for young readers.
“One of the great things for kids in this is they really will get to experience the author – hear his voice, see him in person,” she said.
“It’s the curriculum standards coming to life, and I just love that. We all love to see student engagement, and this opportunity – bringing music and literacy together – is really great for our schools.”
For Litwin, the performances are a chance to begin the process of writing and editing his next books.
“They begin as performance pieces,” he said. “I have combined interactive storytelling elements with early literacy.”
Utilizing rhythm, rhyme with a limited vocabulary, sight words and movement, Litwin said his books encourage early readers to get excited and build confidence in their reading.
“I enter the story from any of those elements,” he said.
“The outcome is an awesome book that is fun to read and engaging.”
Often, Litwin likes to perform a couple of his published books before trying out a new book he is working on, using the performance and his audience’s reactions to help him shape the story and edit it.
From there he begins to shape the story.
“What is incredibly fun about this is that the children are a part of the process,” he said.
“No two audiences interact the same way, so I respond to their responding.
They are all uncharted territory; all of these things are shaped and evolved through the live performances.”
Litwin said he is working on a CD called “Classical for Kiddos” that adds lyrics to classical music that will act as an introduction to classical music for children and a new Groovy Joe book, “If You’re Groovy and You Know it Hug Your Friend,” which could both be out by the end of the year.
Visitors to the Wellfield Botantic Gardens can enjoy the beautiful flora and get a great story during Story Walk.
The ongoing program pieces out a children’s book onto stands around the gardens where visitors can walk up and read them as they make their way around the grounds.
The current book is “My Garden” by Kevin Henkes, which is a book about a girl who helps her mother in their garden and then daydreams of her own garden with candy growing.
According to Wellfield Gardens Visitors Cottage Manager Nina Cunningham, the program has been a successful partnership between the library and the gardens.
“It’s been really successful, the way that we’ve been able to measure that is that the books we order for the shop have sold out,” she said.
She noted that the books have been re-ordered and that all three of the books from Story Walk, “Best in Snow” by April Pulley Sayre, “Kite Day: A Bear and Mole Story” by Will Hillenbrand and”Shh! We Have a Plan” are all available at the Vistors Cottage.
“We’ve really enjoyed the collaboration with the library,” Cunningham said. “I feel like we’ve really taken it to the next level with the storyboards.”
The library and Wellfield have also worked together on the summertime Stories in the Gardens program and the Little Sprouts program during the winter months.
Wellfield Gardens is a non-profit created with help from the Elkhart Rotary Club on land leased from the City of Elkhart. The 36-acre site comprised of 25 themed gardens, event space and more. For more information visit their website.
The Pulitzer Prize is among the most prestigious awards in literature and music.
The 2018 winners were announced yesterday and EPL has them for you to enjoy for free. These are the pieces of work that everyone will be talking about, so don’t miss out on them.
“Less” by Andrew Sean Greer – EPL has three copies of this novel, which is about a struggling writer’s journey around the world while dealing with love.
“Locking up our own: Crime and punishment in Black America” by James Forman – The book, written by a former public defender and current Yale scholar, dives into the tragic roles that African Americans, as judges, police chiefs, voters and judges, played in the war on crime.
“Half-Light: Collected poems 1965-2016” by Frank Bidart – Collected poems from the American poet.
“Prairie Fires: The Life and Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder” by Caroline Fraser – Fraser sheds light onto the gaps of Ingalls life through previously unpublished manuscripts, letters and more. She also debunks long held rumors of ghostwriting from the beloved pioneer writer. Available as both a book and an ebook through Overdrive.
“The Gulf: The making of an American Sea” by Jack E. Davis – Davis explores the historical connection between man and nature while looking at all angles of the history of the Gulf of Mexico and what it means to America, beyond just hurricanes and oil spills. He also dives into how its history can forge its path ahead in times of climate change.
For all K-12 students, Elkhart Public Library provides a space for after-school tutoring.
Throughout the school year, National Honor Society students from area high schools will be available to help any student with their homework, no matter the subject. Tutors are not unlimited, so it is a first come, first served basis.
Each location will host a night of Homework Help each week.
Monday – 5 to 8 p.m. downtown
Tuesday – 4 to 7 p.m. at Dunlap and Pierre Moran
Thursday – 4 to 7 p.m. at Osolo and Cleveland
Students interested in coming to Homework Help should bring their assignments, as well as the materials and supplies needed to complete projects. They will get help from qualified and knowledgeable National Honor Society students, and they also get to create a bond with a good role model from the community.
“Homework Help has been an ongoing program at EPL for more than 15 years,” says Chuck Pieri, Branch Children’s Librarian, “and when it started, I think it was especially important since the schools didn’t offer a lot of after-school programming for the students.”
But things are different this time around, and Homework Help is more of a supplement to the programs offered at schools. Pieri is hopeful this program will serve students well.
“I hope that the kids get the help they need for their assignments, as well as new skills and strategies to tackle these subjects on their own in the future,” Pieri says. “I’m happy that we can collaborate with the schools and create a safe learning environment where young kids and their peers can work together.”
While students are here for Homework Help, they will also get the chance to check out more of Elkhart Public Library’s resources.
“I also hope that while they are here they take advantage of all we have to offer,” Pieri says, “like getting a free library card, checking out books, or accessing digital music, eBooks and much more.”
Homework Help runs through Memorial Day.
All comic fans are sure to find something to enjoy on Free Comic Book Day at the Elkhart Public Library.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at the Main library we’ll have plenty of activities to go along with the free comics.
We’ll be showing comic shows such as The Amazing Spider-Man and Batman: The Animated Series, among other shows and have a special drawing station where everyone is invited to make their own comic panel or art piece.
At 11 a.m. on May 5, Jim McClain, Elkhart teacher and comic book creator of “The Solution Squad” will be speaking about education and comics, as well as selling copies of his comics.
Leading up to Free Comic Book Day, EPL will have other activities going as well:
- Beginning on April 18, all EPL branches will be participating in a Design Your Own Super Hero contest. A sheet will be available at all locations and children can create their own hero with superpowers and other stats. Entries are due by May 3. The works will be judged with the winner being unveiled during Free Comic Book Day on May 5.
- Beginning April 23, all comics and graphic novels will be eligible for a Golden Ticket prize upon checkout. Select titles have been labeled winners and upon checkout the patron will be notified if they are a winner. If so, they will be able to choose a prize from a box or could win a gift card to Secret Door Games or a pair of passes to the Hall of Heroes Museum in Elkhart.
Library clerk and Free Comic Book Day organizer Ambar Alvarez said that the day is about celebrating comics and having something for the whole family to do.
“There’s excitement, it’s kind of a holiday for comic book lovers,” she said. “It’s bringing in the fun to the library, comics have something for everyone: Fun, education and art all at the same time.”
Alvarez says that comics are sometimes overlooked as an artform and a medium, but they can span a large number of genres from political to satire.
“Comics are an invisible art, with sequential storytelling and the artwork, it’s not always seen as mainstream, it’s a medium just like filmmaking or writing,” she said.
“I want that amazement to think outside the box, I think that’s the power that comics have.”