Minecraft Builds Skills & Imagination

You may have heard of it before. This wildly popular game is taking the world by storm- and has been for a few years now. Minecraft is a sandbox game, meaning the player has free reign to interact with the world around them. This important feature makes every player the creator of their own game. Users can play in survival mode, meaning they need to gather resources and build structures to survive, or creative mode, where unlimited resources allow them to build and create to their heart’s desire.

York County Libraries had a traveling Minecraft program this summer. We visited each library with Minecraft challenges to test even the most advanced player. So far we’ve had participants build sky-high roller coasters, tree houses made of diamonds, and compete in a survival mode scavenger hunt. While the game may look out dated to the untrained eye, the simple block-like graphics are what makes the game so easy to manipulate. With a few simple controls you can be on your way to re-creating the Empire State Building, building a sustainable farm, or searching the ocean floor for a portal to another world.

If you’ve ever heard Minecraft players passionately discuss the game then you’d never guess that it is just as educational as it is recreational.  Minecraft challenges users to plan, follow recipes, manage their time, barter and trade with other users, and most of all stretch their imagination as far as it can go.

Martin Library will resume Minecraft Club on Saturday mornings this fall. If you have any questions about Minecraft or our Minecraft programs please contact Laura O’Grady at logrady@yorklibraires.org.

By Laura O’Grady

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Let Them Read Comics By Megan Ransom-Koehler

Calling all parents…Do you have a reluctant reader?  Does your child love to read?  Do you know about The Summer SlideThe Summer Slide is when children go to school in the fall having forgotten everything they learned the previous school year, because they did not practice any skills over the summer.  Every teacher’s nightmare… 


How do you as parents combat The Summer Slide?

  • Have your child read or read to your child. 
  • Read a favorite book or try something new.
  • Have you tried reading a comic book or a graphic novel?


 It never hurts to try.

Here are a few suggestions for elementary and middle school students:

For younger readers, graphic novels with fewer words and more pictures help their growing reading comprehension skills.  Titles like Owly, Bean Dog and Nugget, Benjamin Bear, and Barry’s Best Buddy have the comfortable balance of the perfect words and descriptive pictures to allow the reader to comprehend the meaning of the text.

Middle grade readers enjoy a faster paced story with more words, but still need the descriptive pictures to understand the meaning of the text.  Titles like Babymouse, The Good, the Bad, and the Monkeys, and Nursery Rhyme Comics have a faster paced story and more words to help build the reading vocabulary of elementary aged students.

Of course there are titles that readers of all abilities enjoy. 

Finally, some hidden gems are residents on our shelves.  Titles like Ballad and Fairy Tale Comics surprise you when you see how beautifully these stories are drawn and written.  You may want to read them again and again.


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What’s in your Backyard?

York County Parks Naturalist Kelsey Frey is visiting libraries this summer to encourage kids and their families to discover the science that exists right outside their back doors.  So often, we run right past the food chain that exists in our backyards.  When you look closer, you may see a variety of insects, American toads, salamanders, moths, beetles, and grasshoppers.  And of course there are squirrels.  Did you know that all squirrels actually look different?  And that you can figure out whether or not it is the same squirrel coming to your bird feeder?

According to Kelsey, most people don’t know that they can help scientists by sending them pictures of what they see.  Photos of ladybugs, reptiles or amphibians, lightning bugs and nesting birds are all of interest to scientists.  During her presentations, she will share how to connect with scientists.  Attendees will also get to try some simple experiments during the program, and get ideas for additional experiments ones to do at home. For a list of where she’ll be, click here.

By Deb Sullivan


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The Library is Going to the Dogs!


I mean that literally. Many libraries have a program where children read to certified therapy dogs.

The children are anywhere from beginning readers to reluctant readers to those that just like to read.

At Red Land we hold our program during Summer Reading Club.  At 11:30 am on Friday’s, five Shetland collies make their way from the front door of the library to the Children’s Room in the rear. The atmosphere is electric. It’s as if a celebrity has entered the building.

Children gather around to pet the dogs and sign up for their 15 minutes of one -on-one time.

If they’ve finished their book before the 15 minutes are up, it’s bonus time for some doggie love.

Studies show that the more children read aloud, the better readers they become. By reading to dogs, the children are free to read any way they can. There isn’t any pressure to perform and get it right. If a child asks for help, the dog handler will offer guidance, but basically the child is on their own.

Check out the Events calendar for a listing of the libraries and when they hold their Read to the Dogs programs. You’ll be glad you did.

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STEM – what is it all about? By Laura O’Grady


You may have heard the term STEM being thrown around as the new educational buzz word and it certainly has been used a lot! STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The national push for these disciplines came after the White House made them a priority once the USA fell significantly further behind other industrialized nations in students entering these fields. Lack of interest in these fields leads to lack of teachers to inspire the next generation of scientists, thus continuing the process.

So what can we do to help? We can do what we do best, make learning fun!

Martin Library and many libraries around the nation have shifted focus towards incorporating STEM into library programs. Robotics, computer programming, coding, chemistry and engineering are now staples of youth programming.  Martin Library hosted STEM day in December where families had access to a host of science related activities. In February a week-long series of programs was dedicated to STEM in celebration of Engineers Week. We’re now looking forward to a whole summer full of science activities with our Summer Reading Club, the theme being Fizz Boom Read!

Remember that your library is more than books. We’re programs and activities that meet the needs of our community on a local and national level. For every robot that gets programmed at a local library, a future scientist may be grown.

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