Welcome to the Children's Department! Our goal is to make sure that you leave the library with the materials you need to help your children succeed in reading, learning, and fulfilling their curiosity with the world.
Within the Children's Department there are a variety of books for every age and reading comfort level. There are picture books (also called "Easy Books") for many reading levels. There are also "Easy Readers" that help beginning readers and strengthen reading ability for children already reading. Beyond our books for beginning readers, there is also a large fiction section to continue strengthening children's reading skills and build their interest for reading. The nonfiction section can help answer questions your children may have about the world, its people, and every other subject you can think of! This section is also a fabulous resource to help your child succeed in school assignments and projects.
There is a great selection of audiobooks and books-on-tape located within the Children's Department. The children's DVDs and CDs are located just outside of the department near the CDs and DVDs for adults.
All books on top of the shelves or on display anywhere in the Children's Department are for you to check out, so don't worry about asking if they can be checked out. In fact, we display them to encourage you to check them out!
There are also many other materials, such as bibliographies, book award lists, and other brochures and handouts that will help you and your child fulfill all your information, educational, literacy, and entertainment needs. All brochures and handouts are free for you to take and keep for future use, if you like.
There are computers in the department for children 11 and under to use (if under 8, a responsible person 14 years old or older must be with them any time they are in the library).
Please feel free to visit the Children's Department or call us at (409) 643-5983 if you have any questions. We're here to help and are glad to answer any questions you may have. Also, check out our Children's Corner blog for news and reviews.
Homework Help Websites for Children
Fun Websites for Children
Children under 8 years old must be accompanied with someone at least 14 years old or older.
Children age 11 and under may use computers in the children's department by showing a photo ID or library card.
Book Lists for February 2015 (past book lists)
MMPL Reading Recommendations
Other Book Lists
Early Literacy Information
Early literacy (sometimes called pre-literacy or pre-reading) is what children learn about reading before they actually start reading. Parents are the first and most important teachers in helping their children get prepared for reading before kindergarten and it is never too early or late to start. You know your child better than anyone and can help them learn reading skills in ways that are uniquely right for them. You may not realize this, but early literacy is already part of the fun you have every day with your child while you are reading, talking, singing, writing, and playing together. As you spend time on these practices together, it stimulates growth in your child's brain and helps build the foundation in the brain needed for reading.
As you're doing those 5 practices everyday, keep in mind the 6 early literacy skills researchers have found that children need to do well at before they can learn to read successfully. Make sure to add the following skills in when you read, talk, sing, write, and play with your child and they will be on their way to reading readiness (they're the perfect combination!) There are unlimited ways you can come up with to add these skills into your child's daily life that work for them.
If you'd like suggestions on more ways beyond the ones we've listed with each of the following skills, please ask the Children's Department staff, along with any other early literacy questions you may have.
The Six Early Literacy Skills
- Narrative Skills: Knowing how to describe things and tell stories
One way to build this skill: Ask your child to tell you a story about something that happened to them, like when they went to the park or to visit a friend.
- Print Motivation: Being both interested in and enjoying books
One way to build this skill: Let your child see you having fun reading on your own.
- Vocabulary: Knowing the name for things
One way to build this skill: Throughout the day, ask your child to help you name all of the things you see, from flowers to pencils.
- Phonological Awareness: Being able to hear and notice the smaller sounds in words
One way to build this skill: Separate the syllables of a word and ask your child to put them all together and guess what word you are trying to say.
- Letter Knowledge: Knowing the names and sounds of letters and their difference from each other
One way to build this skill: Point out letters on signs, labels, and other things you see every day, from stop signs to cereal boxes.
- Print Awareness: Noticing printed words and how to follow them on a page
One way to build this skill: Follow words on book pages with your finger so your child follows along and sees the connection between the print words and what you're "saying."
Tips for reading to your child
- Let your child help pick the book.
- Make sure you are energetic while you read. Act out the different characters by using voices, expressions, and changing the volume of your voice. This helps engage your child in the story.
- Bring your child into the story by asking them questions or changing the name of a character to their name!
- Make sure your child is in the right mood to hear a story and is not too tired or distracted. Maybe set a reading time for everyday, like before bedtime.
- Prepare before you read: if you haven't read the book before, try to look it over beforehand, so you know what to expect.
- Hold the book facing your child so they can see the pictures and printed words.
- If your child asks a lot of questions during the story, answer them and be proud because it means you're doing a great job reading and they're engaged in the story!
- It's usually nothing to worry about if you child moves around while you're reading or plays with a toy. A lot of times, they are paying attention. Ask them questions about the story to check in case you're unsure. If they answer your questions well, you'll know they are indeed paying attention.
- Encourage your child to participate by letting them say a phrase the book repeats regularly when you get to those parts in the book.
- Read at a pace that's comfortable for your child. If you read too fast, they may become confused because they don't have enough time to understand what's happening. Too slow, and they might become bored.
Early Literacy Recommended Sites
- Department of Education's "Help My Child Read": several resources, from early literacy tips to recent research results.
- Get Ready to Read: various resources, including early literacy tips and activities.
- Reach Out and Read: an initiative that works with pediatricians to promote early literacy and provides tips, a developmental milestones chart, and more for parents.
- National Children's Literacy Website: provides information about the importance of the first five years of a child's life and has topics about reading to children.
- PBS Kids "Between the Lions": themed pre-reading information, video, tips, and online games for kids.
- Center for Early Literacy Learning: several activity guides to view and print with everyday pre-reading activities.
- Reading Rockets' hour-long video about early literacy
- Story Blocks: videos and lyrics for popular and lesser-known songs and rhymes.
- Reading Is Fundamental: early literacy information, tips, songs, and online kids' games.
Homework Help Websites for Children
- BJ Pinchbeck's Homework Helper: A directory of carefully chosen web sites for children of all ages; this is a good place to start if you have homework to do or a research or science project.
- CIA World Factbook: The CIA World Factbook is a great source for information on individual countries. You can find maps, flags, and other information on countries, such as population, religions, languages, and much more.
- How Stuff Works: There are videos, pictures, and information on many topics that give you a "how to" for everything from how to install a sink in the bathroom to the basics of math.
- iCivics: Games, activities, and resources to help you learn about government.
- IXL: If you need help with math problems and studying, there are practice problems and other help by grade level (preschool and up).
- KidsClick!: This is a search engine designed by librarians for kids, so the search results are age-appropriate and helpful.
- Kids.gov: Information and games about art, jobs, math, science, and more.
- KidsHealth: Everything you'd need to know about staying healthy and safe, plus plenty of other information about the human body.
- National Geographic Kids: Fascinating facts about animals and people (cultures). There are pictures and videos to help learning.
- NeoK12: Over a thousand videos, interactive diagrams, quizzes, and games that are kid-friendly and searchable by every topic you can think of, from fossils to statistics.
- Youngzine: Articles, images, and videos about world news, science, technology, books, and more. Children can write and submit articles, short stories, and book reviews that are reviewed by editors and possibly posted to the website.
Fun Websites for Children
- Build Your Wild Self (ages 4+): Create a character and then add parts to make yourself a wild creature!
- Cookie: Educational games designed by experts and educators.
- Disney Junior: Games are sorted by shows and include bowling, racing, drawing, and more.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium (ages 4+): Games, coloring sheets, crafts, activities, and more all have the recommended age and grade level listed.
- Nick Jr: Games are sorted by shows and include adventure, art, dress up, spelling, matching, puzzles, and more.
- PBS Kids: Games are sorted by shows and include science, coloring, music, dress up, coloring, and other learning games (letters, numbers, shapes, and more).
- Reading Is Fundamental: This early literacy website is where children can read, sing, play, and explore with stories that read to you, games, rhymes, songs, and more.
- Sesame Street: Coloring, shapes, sounds, letters, numbers, and other learning games, videos, and printable sheets all based around your favorite characters.
- Seussville: The official home of Dr. Seuss is the place for children to play and learn with Dr. Seuss 's books and classic characters.
- Sid the Science Kid: Watch videos, sing songs, and play games with Sid while you explore easy-to-understand science especially for young children.
- Starfall: Interactive phonics activities and games for pre-readers and beginning readers.
Age 6 and older
- ABCya: Games based on classroom lessons and approved by teachers. They help build computer, language arts, and math skills.
- Animal Planet: Animal-related games and activities, including a "Pet Detective" game, "Pet Picker" quiz, puzzles, and more.
- Big Brown Bear Typing: Practice typing with this simple and easy-to-use keyboarding practice website.
- Cyberchase: Videos, games and hands-on activities that support Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning.
- Discovery Kids: Dozens of games, including build & play, matching, and quizzes.
- Funbrain: Math, puzzles, matching, and other learning games, along with some full-length books you can read directly on the website.
- GettyGames: Art games including matching, puzzles, and detail-finding.
- National Geographic Kids: Quizzes, puzzles, action games, and plenty of other educational games.
- Picassohead: Create a wacky artistic face in the style of the great painter, Picasso.
- Professor Garfield: Interactive games and videos. Some include Garfield and his friends, while others do not.
- Smarty Games: Educational games, including math, reading, telling time, puzzles, and mazes.
- Up To Ten: Puzzles, races, card games, mazes, and more.
- Wonderopolis: Encourages kids to be curious and use your imagination to investigate the world around you. There are hundreds of wonders to search through and be inspired to learn more about, such as "Do Rabbits Have Good Eyesight?" or "When is Technology Old?"
Age 8 and older
- Dance Mat Typing: Practice typing with this fun and colorful keyboarding practice website.
- MakeBeliefsComix: Make your very own comics with this online comic maker created by author Bill Zimmerman.
- NASA Kids Club: This website from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center helps you learn and be inspired about space sciences with games and more.
- Ology: This website from the American Museum of Natural History gives kids an interactive and fun self-directed museum and learning experience. There are stories, games, and activities on several fascinating topics.
- Scratch: MIT 's website where kids can make your own interactive stories, games, and animations.
- Seriously Amazing: Created by the Smithsonian Institution, this website hopes to get you thinking and exploring. There are six sections of the site, each dedicated to a different and fascinating topic. The Wild is all about the animal kingdom; The Green celebrates the Earth; The New is focused on technology and creativity; The Masterpiece is full of art; The Storyteller is all about the stories Americans have to tell; and The Discoverer explores the world and the entire universe.
- Webonauts Internet Academy: This game teaches about web safety.
- Wonderopolis: From the National Center for Families Learning, Wonderpolis is an award-winning site that poses questions like "What started the Great Chicago Fire?" and "What makes popcorn pop?" and then provides the fact-based answer.