3 Easy Steps to eBooks for Kids

You know how sometimes you avoid doing things because you think they’re going to be hard? I’ve been doing that with the eBook section of my local library. I finally decided to tackle my procrastination. I set aside some time to set my kids up with some good, online content. I wish I had done this sooner, because it was too easy. My avoidance has cost me time my children could have been interacting with books on their own.

There are 3 easy steps to the process of getting a book to your computer, tablet or phone.

1. Go to your local library’s e-content catelogue and choose the appropriate option available (I chose the first one, BOOKflix).

(I did explorStep 1e the options, but started with BOOKflix. It seemed like the best option for my children at the age they’re at.)

I was asked for my Library Card # and my PIN (Personal Identification Number) to log in.




2. Choose your category for the type of book you would like to watch/read.

Step 2I chose ‘Adventure’ as both my children are adventurous!  We browsed through the various book titles and found ‘Scaredy Squirrel’. They’ve not read this book yet and we do love new stories.




3. ‘Watch the story’ or ‘Read the book’

Step3There are two options to choose from:

Watch the Story!: Scaredy Squirrel can be read to you or your children. The words spoken are highlighted which is great for children learning to read along.

Read the Book!: Turn the ‘Read Along’ on and watch the words highlighted as they are read. When you are ready, you can turn the page and continue reading.

We did both.

What we enjoyed was the pairing of the fictional book with the non-fiction. It was great to read a new story, online. It was also great for my children to learn about ‘real’ squirrels. I loved how each word was highlighted as it was read; an opportunity to learn words by sight. We will be spending more time seeing what our options are now that I realize just how easy this is!

Happy reading folks!


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The Little Boy Who Doesn’t Hear

The following poem is written by Library Champion May Wang. It took my breath away.

The Little Boy Who Doesn’t Hear
–Does he have hearing problems?
The teacher asks my mom.
–He doesn’t answer my questions,
And he doesn’t respond to other kids.

Yes, I hear you.
And it HURTS.

When Mom said we were moving to a new home,
In the most beautiful place in the world,
She was not lying.

Here trees and grass are forever green,
And there are flowers all year round.
Little bunnies peep at you from under the bushes,
Chubby squirrels nibble happily at your food.
Baby ducks waddle behind the big ones
Huge flocks of snow geese make spectacular sights

But all these put together,
Still don’t make happy homes,
Not even with the Spiderman costume on Halloween,
Not even with all the gifts under the Christmas tree,
Not even with everyday turning into no-homework day,
Not even with pinky clouds looking like cotton candies.

Not when mom’s eyes begin to cloud up with doubts,
Not when daddy is only a talking face on the screen.
And not when I don’t have a clue how to behave at school.

When do I stand?
When do I sit?
When do I talk?
When do I laugh?
When am I getting too close to someone else?
I am scared of this so called “personal space”.

Of course I hear you,
I just don’t understand.
I don’t even speak the language.
So I build a wall of silence for self-defense.

And when you ask my mom that question,
I hear you,

And it hurts

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No time to read? Try Audio Books!

Book club is coming up and I had absolutely no time to read the book. I did, however, have the time to listen. I had a long drive from Vancouver to Calgary ahead of me. I decided to get the Audio Book using my new borrowing privileges from the Surrey Public Library (I recently added the Surrey Public Library to my currently library card to increase my borrowing privileges).


Usually, I arm myself with music on my iPhone for the drive. After about 8 hours, I get pretty tired of the selection that’s on there and simply drive in silence, willing the time and the miles to pass quickly. This time, I took along my book. I plugged it into my CD player and started the drive. It was fantastic.

I was transported into the book by the voice of the narrator. I was taken. The same road that I’ve travelled so many times was suddenly not the same boring drive. In fact, I didn’t really even notice the drive (though it was beautiful!). I was busy focusing on the ever thickening plot of the novel. Time passed, daylight waned, the book came to an end. Before I knew it, I was in Calgary. The drive hadn’t seemed as long.

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I wished I had brought more books for the ride home (I managed to finish 3!). I am looking forward to doing this again, as well as exploring other audio opportunities; I have been wanting to learn another language. I know where I’ll be headed for my next visit to the library: the audio languages section.



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Connecting to Communities through Summer Festivals

I try to make a point to take my girls to the various festivals that occur throughout the Lower Mainland. There are two reasons for this: fun, and exposure to culture and diversity. It’s fun to explore new neighbourhoods – each has it’s unique stamp: people, organizations, pride. It’s also nice to see the diversity of each place we visit and how it changes demographically, by a few kilometres.

Recently, we visited the ‘Hats off Day‘ festivities in Burnaby. We meandered up and down Hastings. We stopped to climb all over a fire truck and discussed how firefighters work hard to save lives. We witness the ribbon cutting of the new South Burnaby Neighbourhood House. We watched gymnasts jump ridiculously high on trampolines and imagined the girls as future gymnasts. We stopped at the Burnaby Public Library and had a reprieve from the busy-ness of the day (My favourite! Have you seen the “I Spy” Table?!).


The following week, we participated in ‘Car Free Day‘ in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood. Again, the street was closed and I watched as my girls took over the street with no care for cars. A clown gave the girls balloon creations, the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund had volunteers paint their faces, and music played on to the beat of ‘Swing’ as dancers demonstrated their magic.


With summer festivities in full swing, and opportunities abound, I reflect on the importance of such events. Attending these events give me a sense of community. Belonging. I can ask questions that I wouldn’t otherwise ask because my children are curious (I can ask on their behalf). I lose my inhibitions this way and feel closer to those who take the time to give to the community to give us these days.

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Human Libraries: Modern Day Oral Storytelling

In books, I am swept up in the story of another life, and whisked away to an alternative reality. In oral storytelling, I am drawn in further; it’s like I can visualize, more clearly, the story and the characters as a result of the visual cues, the emotions, the facial expressions and the first-hand experiences. This is why I was so excited about the Surrey Libraries (Semiahmoo Branch) Human Library initiative. I could borrow a human book to hear a story and ask questions as the tale unfolded.


I rented two human books (believe me, I wanted to rent more!): Christian-Catholic (Peter) and Pagans-Order of Scáthach (Michael and Sara Lasure). I was given 20 minutes to converse with each and, let me tell you, it was fun, enlightening and heartwarming. Each ‘book’ explained their journey to finding their religion and the impact it had on them and how they connect with their world. Each explained the guidelines of their religion to me in simplistic terms, enthralling me in the process. Each answered any question I had with patience and respect.

I left with a sense that something in me had shifted and I spent some time reflecting on the impact of what I received during this brief encounter. What I realized is this:

      • I received a human connection to the story being told; a first person perspective full of raw experience, emotion and history.
      • I became hungry to learn more about each respective religion.
      • I connected to another person, at a very deep level, within the 20 minutes; deepened by the lack of fear I had in asking questions and receiving profound responses in return.
      • I increased my knowledge about another religion and expanded my world as a result.
      • I was connected to a person within the religion who I could contact if I had further questions.

I am looking forward to the next Human Library when it hits a library in the Lower Mainland and I would encourage you to participate in this transformative experience. In the meantime, I have some reading to do!

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One Card Many Libraries

“I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure.”
― Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf

Each library offers its own unique treasure. My home library offers much, but I look forward to seeing what other libraries have to offer in their troves. Surrey Public Library (Central Branch) is located right next to my workplace so, naturally, it would be helpful to me to borrow materials from there as well. Lucky for me, I can (and it’s EASY!).

Step 1: 
Bring your Library Card and 1 piece of photo identification to your desired borrowing location (this location is particularly spectacular!).


Step 2: 
Wait for the next available super-awesome library staff member to assist you (so awesome, they should be wearing a super-hero cape).


Step 3:
Ask to have the librarian to add borrowing rights to your existing library card, then wait for them to do their magic.


Step 4: 
Listen carefully as the librarian explains your borrowing privileges.


Step 5:
Wander the library and look for your new ‘sunk treasure’ (I know, right?! It’s amazing!).

(I can’t wait to add the Vancouver Public Library to my borrowing privileges next!)


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A piece of something larger

I took my girls to the Fraser Valley Regional Library the other day. We were in desperate need of new stories to read at their bedtime. It was close to dinnertime, so I made the assumption that we would have the library to ourselves. Instead, I discovered a mother and her daughter whom we’ve not seen for a while – a chance to catch up on each other’s lives. After a brief visit, another mother, who we didn’t know, walked in with her two sons.  We conversed with them, as it goes with parents of small children. Needing to get home for dinner, my girls borrowed their books and we left, content with the time we spent there.

Once the stories were read and the children were in bed, I had a moment to reflect on this experience. I thought of the many ways that a building that houses books, workshops, seminars, events and other great resources for the general public, acts as a community hub. Here is a place where we can walk in and enjoy as much, or as little interaction with others as we wish. We can get lost in our thoughts, or we can be found sharing common ideas, goals, and space. Minds can be expanded and challenged, skills can be learned, and new friendships can be made.

This reflection is likely not a new revelation to you, but it did make me pause. It made me realize how much more I feel connected to my community when I enter the doors of my library. I belong. I fit in. I am a part of this living, breathing community and I am a better person for it. I hope my girls, too, will experience the contentment and belonging I feel here.


(The girls enjoying the puzzles in the childrens’ area)

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