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Time For Winter Fun

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Time for Winter Fun
We never really know whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, but it’s a good bet that we still have six weeks of winter left.  And if we can’t beat it away, we might as well enjoy what’s left of it.  Four big February events bring the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Bird Count
Each February, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society ask people to watch the birds at their feeders and report species and numbers during the Great Backyard Bird Count.  This year’s count takes place February 12-15.  Since winter is the most vulnerable time for birds, this count serves as an early warning system to help scientists analyze the health of bird populations and determine whether conservation efforts may be needed.  It is easy to participate and can take as little as 15 minutes.  Get details at where you can see real-time data and charts showing what birds are being reported by location.  This is a great project for the whole family.
What birds are you seeing at your feeder?  If you need help identifying them, take a look at Birds of North America Online, a guide from Cornell Labs.  Here you will find image and video galleries showing plumages, behaviors, habitat, nests and eggs, and recordings of the songs and calls of their species from the extensive collection of Cornell's Macaulay Library.  To view Birds of North America Online, look under Electronic Resources at
Dog Show
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is always an entertaining presentation over two evenings of fine examples of officially recognized breeds.  The commentators provide interesting information about behavior typical of individual breeds, and suggestions about settings appropriate for particular breeds (good with children, too big/too active for confined spaces, good guard dog).  We have watched for several years in hopes of spotting telltale features to identify the breed components in our dog mashups.  No luck so far, but it is fun to watch.  The 2010 Dog Show airs February 15 and 16 on USA and CNBC.  See for schedules.  The library has a good collection of books on dog breeds, behavior, training, and care for those who want in depth information. 
Olympic Games
Vancouver is the setting of the Winter Olympic Games, aired on NBC between 12 and 28 February.  These athletes give us thrills, chills, suspense, and poetry in motion.  Follow the Olympic Torch as it approaches Vancouver, and check schedules for all the events at
Biographies of Olympic champions include “A Skating Life” by Dorothy Hamill, “The Long Program” by Peggy Fleming.  Also of interest are “Freeze Frame: a photographic history of the Winter Olympics” and “Nazi Games: the Olympics of 1936” by David Clay Large.
Snuggle Up with Peter Rabbit
After all the excitement of the chilly Olympics, nothing could be more cozy than curling up with a book.  And your baby.  And, if you are the parent of a young child, the most important 20 minutes of your day are those you spend reading aloud to your child.
Why?  The single most important predictor of reading success in school is that a child is read to regularly by a parent.  Reading aloud creates closeness and opportunities for sharing and talking with your child.  Listening and vocabulary skills improve when a child is read to regularly.
February, designated as "I Love to Read" Month, is the perfect time to enjoy sharing books with your child.  Between February 16 and March 31, join with parents and children across Virginia in “Snuggle Up with Peter Rabbit”, an at-home reading program. The program is designed for young children, from birth to age 6, and contains elements to help parents and others assist in children's reading development.
The reading program is simple and easy for busy families.  Parents and caregivers are encouraged to come to the library to pick up a beautifully illustrated Peter Rabbit reading log and bookmark.  Choose books to read together.  Each time your child visits the library, stickers will be added to his Peter Rabbit sticker sheet, one sticker for each book read. At the end of the program, each child will receive a certificate of participation and her sticker sheet.   Enjoy the snuggle time with your child, and share the joys of reading entertaining books together.  The Peter Rabbit log is your child’s keepsake memento. Materials are also available in Spanish.
What books will you read with your child?  This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the favorites of your own childhood all over again, books such as “Peter Rabbit”, “The Little Engine that Could”, “The Story of Babar”, “Where the Wild Things Are”, “Harold and the Purple Crayon”, “Millions of Cats”, “Make Way for Ducklings”, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, “The Snowy Day”, “Little Bear”, “Goodnight Moon”.
And there are many new books with beautiful art work to discover.  Look for “The Lion & the Mouse”, “Little Blue Truck Leads the Way”, “Wag!”, “Dog and Bear”,  “Archie and the Pirates”, “Coolies”, “The Cinder-Eyed Cats”, “Skippyjon Jones”, “Stellaluna”, “Olivia”,  “Chaucer’s First Winter”, “Snow Music”, “Groundhog Stays Up Late”, “Pouch!” 
Nursery rhymes are always a good choice, and there are a variety of collections to choose from.
Reading aloud to your child is simple, fun, and free.  When you read with your child, you give him or her one of the best gifts possible—the beginning of an education.  Children who listen to books--lots of them--have already learned more than you may realize, and they will be ready to read when they enter kindergarten.
In its second year, this Winter Reading program is jointly sponsored by the Library of Virginia, Smart Beginnings, Read Aloud Virginia, and local libraries statewide.
Instill a love of reading in your child today.  Your library is your partner in learning, and we are ready to help you find the books to get started.  Visit us at or call Tazewell at 988-2541, Bluefield at 326-1577 or Richlands at 964-5282.

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Online collection of animated, talking picture books to encourage reading in children.


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