Welcome Spring – Visit a Zoo!

Nothing captures spring in New England as does this excerpt from Robert Frost’s poem, Two Tramps in Mud Time. “The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day when the sun is out and the wind is still, you’re one month on in the middle of May. But if you so much as dare to speak, a cloud comes over the sunlit arch, a wind comes off a frozen peak, and you’re two months back in the middle of March.”

Yes, spring, at last! We will take it – wind chill and all. It is such a pleasure to lift winter weary eyes to the bright blue sky, to feel the warmth of the sun, to hear the sounds of birds nesting in trees, and to see spring bulbs displaying their colors. Even April’s cool rainy days can’t dampen our spirits, because we know winter is over. Gone are the heavy coats, woolen scarves and mittens to be replaced by light sweaters, nylon jackets and umbrellas. The more optimistic among us have even been seen wearing shorts and sandals. We all walk with a lighter step and a lighter heart. We have turned the page on winter.

Spring is a wonderful time to explore the natural world, and there’s no better way to do that than to visit a zoo. It’s a wonderful outing for the entire family, full of fun, excitement, discovery, learning and the great outdoors. The library can help you with the visit through our pass program; it’s actually one of the most popular services we offer. With funds provided each year by the Friends of the Library and the Raynham Cultural Council, we purchase passes that allow for free or discounted admission to many area zoos and museums. You select the day, choose the place, and reserve the pass using your library card, pick-up the pass from the library and you are good to go.

There’s nothing quite like taking children to a zoo. It’s fun to watch as they run from exhibit to exhibit, marveling at the size of an elephant, the height of a giraffe or the playfulness of monkeys. It’s an educational feast. There is always something for them to learn as they explore the environment and make new discoveries – from watching the animals to attending the keeper talks. They use all of their senses to take in their surroundings and expand their understanding about animals. They learn the way an animal smells, the sounds it makes, the way it moves and what it looks like. Zoos offer a true multi-sensory approach to learning.

The library offers passes to the Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford, the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence and the Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro. Get the family together, choose a date for an outing and reserve a pass online at raynhampubliclibrary.org. If you’re more in the mood for indoors activities, then choose from passes to the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Science or the New England Whaling Museum.

For more information about this program, pick-up our museum/zoo brochure, visit the library’s website, raynhampubliclibrary.org, or call the library at 508.823.1344.

Posted in Services

Let’s hear from the author!

trust-meWho doesn’t love an author book talk? Authors love book talks because it gives them the opportunity to connect with their readers and fans. It’s an opportunity to introduce themselves, as well as their books, to an audience. They hope to provide background information about their books and interest audience members enough to purchase the books.

Audiences love book talks because they get a behind-the-scenes look at the writing and creative process. They get to hear amusing, unusual or interesting stories surrounding the book. These are stories about the actual process of writing the book, the author’s personal stories that connect to characters and plot lines, and stories from the author’s life that provided inspiration for the book.

Author book talks are the staple of bookstores, libraries, literary festivals, weekend retreats, middle schools, high schools and book clubs. Everyone enjoys hearing from a “published” author and getting to know the person behind the name on the cover of the book. Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of this year’s Raynham Reads selection, Trust Me, gives a book talk at the South School Community Center on Wednesday, April 10, as part of Raynham Reads 2019…a little mystery. What can you expect to hear?

An author’s book talk appearance usually involves three parts: introduction of self and personal background, reading selections from the book, and question and answer period.

Ryan’s background is particularly interesting and varied. A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, who after a brief stint as an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine, began her career in television news, first in Indianapolis then Atlanta, as political reporter and weekend anchor. Ryan joined Boston’s WHDH in 1983 as a general assignment reporter and was subsequently named principal reporter for the station’s investigative unit. She has won numerous Emmy Awards and Edward R. Murrow Awards for her investigative and consumer reporting. Ryan is also a nationally bestselling author of 11 mystery novels who has won multiple prestigious awards for her crime fiction. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.”

Ryan’s book talk about Trust Me is sure to spark a lively question and answer period, since there are so many twists and turns in the plot line. We welcome Hank Phillippi Ryan to Raynham and invite the public to attend the event. Autographed copies of the book will be available for purchase. The South School Community Center is located at 305 South St. E in Raynham. Raynham Reads is a community read sponsored by the Friends of the Raynham Public Library, the Raynham Cultural Council and the Raynham Public Library.

Haven’t yet read the book? Copies are available at the library.

Posted in Readers, Services

The Enchantment of Poetry

When I was a child, I loved poetry.  My book of A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson was a cherished possession; I still have my copy, tattered and torn, but, nevertheless, readable. As a child, I would recite my favorite verses again and again, and, as an adult, can still recite at least the opening lines – I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me. What can be the worth of him is more than I can see….The moon has a face like the clock in the hall; she shines on thieves on the garden wall, and I can recite even one complete poem from the collection – When I am grown to a man’s estate, I shall be proud and great. And tell the other girls and boys, not to mettle with my toys.”

Like most children, I loved the rhythm and rhyme of poetry and the feeling of dancing through words. Poetry is a form of expression that we all seem to love as children. Children respond to the joy, the emotion, the meaning and most of all, the fun of poetry. Research tells us that poems are not only fun for children, but they are important for language and cognitive development as well as social, emotional and physical development.

Poetry is closely linked with recognizing patterns both audibly and visually – that is, through both listening to the sound of poems being read and through reading them on the printed page. As children listen to the repeated patterns, they learn to anticipate the rhyming word, an important reading prediction skill.  By producing sounds and beats, poems allow even very young children to experience language on a less cognitive and more emotional level. Some studies also show that poetry contributes to children’s capacity to experience and understand emotions. Clapping, turning around, hands up in the air – many poems and rhymes inspire simple, fun physical movement, much like music.

Mother Goose nursery rhymes are some of the earliest verses children learn to recite. The patterns, sounds and rhythms of the verses make them easy to remember and fun to repeat. Picture books and early readers often make use of rhyme. The wonderful Theodor Geisel understood the importance of rhyme; read any of his Dr. Seuss books to enter his occasionally wacky rhyming world. He also wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. It wasn’t simply his words and wisdom that were important, it was also the rhyme. As children become independent readers, they discover the poetry of Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic), Roald Dahl (Revolting Rhymes), Edward Lear (The Owl and the Pussy Cat), and  Lewis Carroll (Jabberwocky) among many, many others.

April is National Poetry Month and we’re celebrating children’s poetry at the library. We invite you to browse through our children’s poetry collection and discover the enchantment that poetry brings to childhood. What is your favorite poem? Do you have a childhood favorite? Share it with us on our Facebook page this April.

Posted in Children, Readers

A Little Mystery

We all love a little mystery in our lives. Small mysteries make life so much more interesting and so much less predictable. “The need for mystery,” wrote American author Ken Kesey, “is greater than the need for an answer.” What better way to bring a little mystery into your life than to read one? This year marks the 10th annual One Book, One Community read sponsored by the Friends of the Library, the Raynham Cultural Council and the library.  The selection is, you guessed it, a little mystery.

I am a mystery lover, I’ll confess. As a child I consumed Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Later I discovered Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Mary Roberts Rinehart and Daphne du Maurier.  I like the puzzle of the mystery – the intellectual challenge of the plot’s twists and turns. I love plotlines that allow me to find the clues and solve the riddles that point to the guilty culprit. I enjoy the story knowing that the murderer will be caught in the end, justice will be served, and my sleuth will live to solve another mystery in the next book.

There are all kinds of mysteries. You may prefer a police procedural or a mystery of psychological suspense. There are romantic mysteries, historical mysteries, cozy mysteries and humorous mysteries. There are the “hard-boiled” mysteries that are strictly detective stories. There are mysteries that feature male leads, female leads and even cats and dogs as main characters.

What makes a good mystery? First of all, it must have interesting, if not likeable characters. Whether the main character in the mystery is a police detective, a private investigator, or an amateur sleuth, readers must be able to connect with them in some way. Setting is important since it can add to the suspense and support the plot. Would Rebecca be as suspenseful without Manderley? The plot must be intricate and absorbing but not so complex that it becomes unbelievable. The solution or resolution of the suspense must be satisfying, believable based on the clues and impart a sense of justice, and if the ending involves a huge plot twist, all the better.

Trust Me, by Hank Phillippi Ryan, this year’s Raynham Reads, is a mystery as well as psychological thriller. A woman is accused of a murder she says she did not commit, while a journalist is grieving an enormous loss. If you are familiar with the Casey Anthony trial, this story will feel similar in some ways. That trial even plays a role in the book. The story is a cat-and-mouse game of manipulation and deception that will have you guessing in a dozen different directions before you finish reading. Copies are available at the library. Put a little mystery in your life! Join the community read and join the discussion of Trust Me.

Posted in Readers

Hands-on Learning at Home

If you’ve been in the Children’s Room recently, you will have noticed the addition of two wire shelving units with a sign announcing “STEM FAIR: OPENING DAY STEM KIT COLLECTION – Saturday, February 23.” This is an important day of celebration for us, and one we hope you will be excited about as well. It’s the day we place on the shelves several dozen STEM toys that encourage hands-on learning at home. That’s right: STEM toys. Today’s public library is now a library of things.

STEM education is a hot topic among educators, the media, parents and the toy industry. While the subjects that comprise the acronym STEM aren’t new, grouping these subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – into a single approach has gained popularity across the globe. If you’ve heard the term floating around but aren’t sure exactly what STEM education is or how it can benefit children, it’s time to learn about this important topic, and why toys are the perfect teaching STEM tool.

STEM education stresses problem solving and dynamic hands-on learning. In other words, children should not be passive observers, but should engage in activities that require them to think, interact with and manipulate concepts and ideas. That is why toys are the perfect teaching tool. Connecting science, technology, engineering and math in ways that kids can understand and see in a hands-on way helps them understand why these subjects are not only important but also fun. These unique STEM toys help kids see how much fun they can have with subjects that they may have previously thought of as boring.

Inspire kids to love the sciences with these STEM Kits for hands-on learning at home. Check out STEM Kits to explore a variety of science, technology, engineering and math subjects including anatomy, astronomy, biology, coding, circuity, electronics, math, nature, simple machines and robotics. Kits include hands-on activities, manipulatives, learning games or scientific equipment.

Join us for the STEM Fair Opening Day, watch as we demonstrate many of the toys (robots, electronic circuits, coding, digital microscope), learn about the engineering method with the Bridgewater-Raynham Robotics Club and enjoy a zany hour with MAD Science, 3..2..1..Energize. The fun begins at 11:30 on Saturday, February 23. STEM toy demonstrations continue from 11:30 to 1:00. The Robotics Club presents at 11:30 and Mad Science begins at 1:00. STEM kits are available for checkout by an adult cardholder beginning at 1:00. For more information call the library, 508.823.1344 or visit the Kids page on our website, raynhampubliclibrary.org.

The STEM Kit Collection is funded through the Library Services and Technology Act grant, Anytime STEM Learning, from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.


Posted in Children, Services

Books at the Oscars

The 2019 Oscar nominees were announced last week and the list is, once again, a tribute to the written word as well as the visual, creative and technical artistry of the American film industry. Some of the year’s best films lived on the written page long before being adapted for the movie screen. If you’re a movie buff, you’ll want to spend some time at the theater or at home watching the film, but if you prefer spending an evening with a good book, here are some of the books that inspired the films that Hollywood is buzzing about this Oscar season.

Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, by John Guy. Historian John Guy’s biography served as the inspiration for “Mary Queen of Scots,” the film of the monarch who began her reign when she was less than a week old. The author has created an intimate and absorbing portrait of one of history’s greatest women, depicting her world and her place in the sweep of history to portray her as the intellectual and political equal of Elizabeth I. The period-piece film was nominated for makeup and hair styling and costume design.

First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, by James R. Hansen. Ryan Gosling stars as the astronaut in “First Man,” the life story of Armstrong. The movie, which earned a nomination for sound mixing, was based on Hansen’s popular biography of the Ohio-born Navy veteran and astronaut. In the book, the author addresses the complex legacy of Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon, both as astronaut and as an individual.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Memoirs of a Literary Forger, by Lee Israel. Melissa McCarthy earned a lead actress nomination for her role as Israel, a biographer who started forging letters from literary legends to earn money after she fell on hard times. Israel’s 2008 biography, which was controversial at the time, forms the basis for the film.

The Wife, by Meg Wolitzer. Glenn Close earned her seventh Oscar nomination in the lead role as Joan. The film is based on Meg Wolitzer’s 2003 darkly comic novel about an acclaimed novelist whose spouse decides she wants to pursue her own literary dreams rather than keep playing the role of quiet, supportive wife.

If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin. Writer/director Barry Jenkins adapted James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, If Beale Street Could Talk, earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. The story centers on a young black man who is wrongfully accused of a crime and sent to prison; his pregnant fiancée who decides to stick by him; and the different reactions from within the community.

Borrow the film or borrow the book; both are available at the Raynham Public Library.

Want to get a jump on next year’s nominees? Here are books currently being made into films; The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn, Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple, The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion and Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt.

Posted in Readers

Genetic Genealogy

Most of us are curious about our ancestors. Knowing our family history is about satisfying the basic human need to understand ourselves. It’s about finding answers to the questions that confound us throughout life: Where do I come from? Why am I here? What is going to happen to me? Genealogy offers insight into the lives of our ancestors, and satisfies the need to understand how we fit into the broader world. It helps us to connect to a family thread passing through time. With today’s technology, we can literally connect to a thread – the DNA thread of the genetic genome present in each of our cells. Genetic genealogy, DNA testing in combination with traditional genealogy research, makes discovering our ancestry even more intriguing.

DNA testing is a relatively recent phenomenon. Not long ago, genetic tests that are widely available today were the domain of dystopian science fiction. Today, they’re a nice gift to buy your aunt for her birthday. In 2000 Family Tree became the first company to offer direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Now there are multiple companies that offer the service at an affordable price. Companies such as 23andMe, Ancestry.com and National Geographic market at-home DNA testing kits, offering to unlock your genetic secrets for the price of a dinner at a nice restaurant. As of 2018, more that 18.5 million people have had their DNA tested.

Genetic DNA testing to establish ancestry has a number of limitations. No DNA test can conclusively prove or disprove a person has an ancestor of a specific ethnicity. However, DNA tests can provide clues about where a person’s ancestors might have come from and about relationships between families because certain patterns of genetic variation are often shared among people of particular backgrounds. The more closely related two individuals, families, or populations are the more patterns of variation they typically share. Sometimes the results will confirm what was already known. Sometimes, there might be a surprise or two! A Portuguese friend of mine, whose family came from the Azores, discovered that she also had Irish ancestors.

If you’ve considering unlocking your genetic secrets with DNA testing and would like to learn more about this fascinating topic, the library offers these reading suggestions: Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy. This guide is a one-stop resource for how to use DNA testing for genealogy. You’ll find guidance on what DNA tests are available, plus the methodologies and pros and cons of the three major testing companies and advice on choosing the right test to answer your specific genealogy questions. Genealogy: DNA and the Family Tree, by James Mayflower. The author provides basic knowledge about the structure and function of a DNA molecule. He also explains how DNA is inherited from your ancestors according to the laws of inheritance and gives examples of some interesting experiments.  A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes, by Adam Rutherford.  Acclaimed science writer Rutherford explains exactly how decoding the human genome is completely rewriting the human story–from 100,000 years ago to the present.


Posted in Readers