Tag Archives: environment

Thoreau investigations

You would expect Daniel Pinkwater, author of The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, to have a quirky taste in books. If you tuned in to the radio in 2003 you might have heard him introducing a series of picture books that has a number of unusual characteristics. For one thing, they feature a main character based on writer/naturalist/philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Secondly, the main character (and everyone he interacts with) is a bear. Third, the books are illustrated in a sort of Cubist Expressionist style that you hardly ever see in children’s books.




This July 12, Thoreau turns 200 years old. If you want to introduce your children to his work, the library has a few books that will let children enjoy his writings in his own words:

Henry David’s House shares selections from Walden alongside beautiful illustrations. Singing America includes two of his poems in a collection with works by other authors.

There are also several books (past the picture book level) that feature Thoreau as a hero or icon. The Dragon Tree opens with a quote from Thoreau, and imagines a magical tree with quotes from all kinds of literature on it leaves. This book was the inspiration for the architectural “trees” decorating the Children’s Services department. It’s also the eighth book in the Hall Family Chronicles, which includes

The Mysterious Circus, in which the Halls foil a new enemy’s plan to build a Henry Thoreau theme park across from their home (with humor and magic).

It’s not too different in theme from

The Trouble With Henry: A Tale of Walden Pond, in which Thoreau defends his beloved woods from a toothpick factory.

Moving into the modern day, we have

Octavia Boone’s Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything. Seventh-grader Octavia puzzles over lifes biggest questions when her mother seems to find the answers in a conservative Christian church, while her artist father believes the writings of Henry David Thoreau hold the key.

Kids who love humor might prefer

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters. When Alvin‘s father takes him camping to instill a love of nature, like that of their home-town hero Henry David Thoreau, Alvin makes a new friend and learns that he can be brave despite his fear of everything.

If you want to read more about the life of Thoreau, we have several biographies. There’s also a guide in our homeschooling section called Henry David Thoreau for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities. Or you could follow this link to see how he invented No. 2 pencils (no, really!). Be sure to check out our display of books!


Now twice, due to popular demand!


Sea to Shining Sea
Friday, January 27, 10:30 a.-noon
Friday, January 27, 1:30-3 p.m.
For homeschool teachers and their K-5 students
Enrich your homeschool experience by joining us in discovering the geography, stories, music, and crafts of the United States of America. Drop in.

This month, we will explore the Southeastern United States.  You can:

  • squeeze fresh orange juice
  • learn about estuaries and make an otter puppet
  • try reading Braille like Helen Keller
  • fly balloon rockets as you learn about Cape Canaveral

Since our homeschool programs have been so popular, we are now offering two sessions!


Halloween Happenings (and more)

We have some great Halloween Happenings coming up at the library, and there’s even more going on for children around the neighborhood!  Here’s a list of all the spooky fun we were able to find:

Johansen Farms Children’s Zoo & Pumpkin Farm Illinois
Visit the link for information on activities, times, and prices.

Friday, October 21
Family Halloween Fun Night and Parkie’s Pumpkin Patch at the BRAC.
The Bolingbrook Park District is offering activities for children and parents.  Our bookmobile staff will be telling stories!  Follow the links above for details, including cost and registration information.

Monday, October 24
Tweens can sign up for Spooky Tech in Studio 300 to experiment with LED lights and black light and make a glowing mummy hand to take home.  Free.

October 24-31
Bass Pro Shops is offering photos and free activities at their Bolingbrook store.  See their Great Pumpkin Celebration page for details.

Saturday, October 29
Dave Rudolf’s Halloween Spooktacular
11 a.m. at Fountaindale Public Library
Come in costume and have a “monsterously” good time in a not scary, totally interactive family show with the award-winning performer Dave Rudolf! Watch the kids do the Frankenstein Dance. See the little tykes try to assemble the Skeleton Bones. Be amazed at the Ghoul-Limbo.
Drop in until the room capacity of 90 is reached. All ages, preschoolers with an adult. Seating is first come, first served.  Free.

Monday, October 31
Visit the Village of Bolingbrook website for Bolingbrook Trick or Treat hours and a list of safety tips for families.

Saturday, November 5
Pumpkin Pitch 2016 at Lewis University in Romeoville
Composting your old jack o’lantern is way more fun when a catapult is involved!  Grown-ups can also bring old personal papers to be shredded.  Visit the Will County Green website for event details such as times, limits on what you can bring, and contact information for the organizers of the event.

Noche de la familia– Family Night!


¡Bajo el océano!
el lunes, 9 de mayo, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Todas las edades, niños en edad preescolar con un adulto. No hay ningún registro requerido.

Invitamos a todas las familias a disfrutar una tarde bilingüe (inglés y español) con actividades prácticase interactivas del océano.

Under the Sea!
Monday, May 9
7:00 PM-8:00 PM

Bring the family to enjoy a bilingual (English and Spanish) evening of hands-on ocean activities as part of our Noche de la familia series!

Meeting Room A
All ages, preschoolers with an adult. Drop in.

Milkweed Seed Success


Waiting for spring to come?  Here’s a project you can start indoors now that will bring butterflies to your yard in warm weather.

The caterpillars that become monarch butterflies eat only milkweed leaves.  The number of monarch butterflies has gone down a lot in recent years, so many people are planting milkweed seeds to help the butterflies.

There are many kinds of milkweed.  Three that you can usually find in the Chicago area are common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and butterfly weed.

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The easiest time to plant milkweed is in the fall.  If you made a seed bomb at our Marvelous Mariposas program and planted it that night, then all you need to do is watch for leaves.


If you saved your seed bomb, or found some milkweed seeds this spring, then there are a couple of extra steps to take.  The seeds need a signal that winter is over and it is safe to start growing.  If the seeds have been sitting indoors all winter, that means that they need to spend time chilling as if they had been freezing outside.

To chill your seeds, wet a paper towel and wring it out. Spread your seeds on one half of the damp paper towel. Fold the empty half of the paper towel over the seeds to cover them. Put the seeds and paper towel inside a plastic bag. Keep the bag in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks. You can plant the seeds once the danger of frost is over, around May 15.

If you’re trying to decide what kind of milkweed to plant and where to plant it, here are a couple of things to consider.

All milkweed plants need plenty of sunlight.  The big differences between common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and butterfly weed are their height and the types of soil they like.

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is the least fussy about its soil.  This is the type that you are most likely to see in the wild and the type that is mostly likely to “volunteer” in your yard.  In terms of looks, it is the tallest (typically 3 to 5 feet and up to 8 feet) but its flowers are not as brightly colored as swamp milkweed or butterfly weed.  It blooms between May and August.

Asclepias incarnata or swamp milkweed, as you would expect from the name, likes soil that is damp most of the time.  It is 2 to 5 feet tall and can have bright pink flowers.  You can sometimes find plants for sale in garden centers.  It blooms in late summer and early fall.

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is much shorter than the other two at only 1 to 2 feet tall and has orange flowers.  It likes well-drained sandy or loamy soil and it blooms between May and September.  Seeds are relatively easy to find for sale.  Its pods are long and skinny, like this:


Save the Monarchs Bolingbrook has made free seed packets available at Village Hall (while supplies last), and I have had luck in the past asking the Bolingbrook Park District for permission to gather seeds near Hidden Oaks.  Seed pods for common milkweed are rounder, and this time of year have usually faded from green to gray:


Websites like monarchjointventure.org, monarchwatch.org, and wildones.org have more detailed information on creating a yard or garden that is butterfly-friendly.  In addition to planting milkweed, some other steps you can take are planting flowers with nectar to feed adult butterflies and avoiding pesticides that can harm these insects.  We will also be happy to help you find gardening books, butterfly books, and other resources at the library!





Beautiful bugs and maravillosas mariposas

Drop in from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, October 19, to enjoy some hands on butterfly activities for all ages!

Ms. Caryn from the Bolingbrook Park District will be bringing all the ingredients for making seed bombs, as well as (depending on availability) real caterpillars and chrysalises you can see up close.

We will also have butterfly crafts, snacks, microscopes for looking at bug slides, and information on butterfly gardening.  Since this is our usual evening for Diez Deditos storytime, handouts will be available in both Spanish and English.

Studio 300 staff will be on hand to take your photo so you can picture yourself with butterfly wings!

man with butterfly wings

Who speaks for the trees?

The Lorax, of course, but so can you!  On Monday, March 5, the library will offer activities for all ages inspired by Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax during “I Speak for the Trees Day.”

From 9:30 to 8:30, stop by the Children’s Services.  Make a moustache on a stick at the entrance.  Go to the desk to pick up a list of questions for a scavenger hunt that will take you all over the library building in search of trees.  Turn in your completed sheet for a chance to win a prize!

Children can also enjoy a tree-themed storytime at 10:30 and make a truffula tree craft from 11:00 to noon.  Children of all ages are welcome; preschoolers must be accompanied by an adult.

Ron and Vicki Nowicki will present a program from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. for adults and children 10 and up on how to “Be Your Yard’s Own Lorax” and transform your yard using the methods of permaculture.  You don’t need to sign up or get a ticket, just come to  Meeting Room A.  We’ll let people in until the room is filled.

Finish the afternoon by constructing your own Lorax between 2:30 and 4:30.  Stuff an old stocking with seeds and soil.  Water the seeds at home to watch its green “fur” grow!  Like the other programs, this one is a drop in (you don’t have to sign up ahead of time).  All ages are welcome; preschoolers must be accompanied by an adult.