Simplifying Your Life | The Children’s Room

If you want to simplify your life, where do you start? Follow Clara’s lead on how to clean and organize your home one room at a time!

Lesson 3 | The Children’s Room

Start simplifying your life with the kid’s room! Walk with Clara and learn her tips and tricks for cleaning and organizing your children’s room.

Access her tips here.

Use Spokane Public Library’s Overdrive or Libby app to download these books on organizing:

You will need your library card number and your 4-digit PIN number.

1.Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight by Peter Walsh

2.Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver

3.The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

4.The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark

5.The 8 Minute Organizer by Regina Leeds

Vendors Offering Temporary, Remote Access for Free

Many online service vendors are offering free or extended access of their products while communities are in self-isolation. Here’s a list of resources that we have so far:

  • Ancestry Library Edition genealogy database is usually only accessible from within a library building, but is offering remote access through 4/30.
  • EBSCO Offers – Our magazine database provider, EBSCO, is offering teacher guides and downloadable study packets along with other teach-at-home ideas. We subscribe to the LearningExpress resources listed, but they are making it easy to download free academic exam eBooks through 6/30.
  • Foundation Directory Online Essential – Foundation Directory Online is a great way for nonprofits to look for funders, but is normally only available at the South Hill Library. Foundation Center is allowing for remote access to Foundation Directory Online Essential while buildings are closed. This version does not have as many search options as the Professional version, so feel free to contact your local nonprofit librarian for tips on searching.
  • Gale Databases – Gale, which offers online learning and homework help options, is offering free access to content for pre-K to college students, as well as credible information on health and global issues. If any of the links ask for a password, use open.
  • New York Times – Normally limited to three free articles per month, the newspaper is allowing unlimited access to their coronavirus coverage and The Learning Network.
  • NewsGuard Browser Extension – NewsGuard is a browser extension that rates the reliability of news sites and social media feed stories. They are making it free to install until 7/1.
  • Omnigraphics Health Reference Library is offering free access to the topics in their health reference library through 4/30. Use the password spokane to access.
  • RBDigital Magazines has increased access to their magazine catalog to hundreds of titles.
  • TumbleBook Library is offering free access to their other products through 8/31. These include TumbleMath, TeenBookCloud, AudioBookCloud, and RomanceBookCloud.
  • World Book is allowing free access to their online encyclopedia through 4/30. Username is wbaccess, password is freeaccess.

Helping Your Children Relax and Rest

david-lezcano-1xzsalzuvsc-unsplashHygge (pronounced hue-guh, not hoo-gah) – A Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment that is comforting or cozy.

Cozy – A feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.

How can we make our children feel comfortable and calm during this time of uncertainty and unrest?

Time together:

Buy them a special mug that belongs only to them. Have a cup of cocoa or tea together.

Cuddle on the couch and read a special book.

Time alone:

Create a cozy space for your child. It can be their bed or a small corner of their room.

Provide pillows, a blanket, and a reading light. If possible, provide a small bookcase filled with books.

Play time:

Provide a toy box for them with specially chosen toys that encourage imaginary play.

Even if you have a cardboard box, you can decorate it with left over gift wrap and keep toys in that.

A room full of toys that children don’t play with can be overwhelming. Put some of them away and bring them out later if you can’t bring yourself to donate them.

Bath time:

Set up a nice warm bath with candles (ONLY if you are in the room) or use the little battery tea lights.

Play soothing music. It’s not dance party time.

Put a few drops of lavender oil in the bath to calm and soothe.


Rub a drop of lavender oil on the bottom of their feet before bedtime.

Put thick warm socks on their feet to wear to bed.

NEVER put a candle in a child’s room, but you can find small electrical nightlights that cast a warm glow in the room. There are very fancy ones that cast stars on the ceiling and play music, but a small plug in one will work.

Why it’s a Good Time to do Genealogy

I hear it all the time – “I don’t have time for Genealogy.” While a pandemic isn’t the way I like to interest people in Genealogy, it is effective! Everyone trapped inside with nothing to do? Now is a GREAT time to do Genealogy. You can even make it a family affair, and the people at Ancestry agree with us. Until April 30, 2020, you can access Ancestry Library Edition from home with your library card!

If you aren’t sure what you are doing or need some extra help, use the Learning Center on their web site or check out the RBDigital database, which has free access to Family Tree Magazine. Family Tree Magazine has a variety of helpful hints and web sites they recommend. You can also create a free personal account at FamilySearch. And check back soon for the opportunity to meet one-on-one with me remotely! In the meantime, if you have questions, please send them to and happy hunting!

Becky | Genealogy

Museums Around the World


If you want a break from the same four walls, take a look at some of the virtual museum tours all over the world. Explore places you’ve never visited or reminisce on old favorites. One of my favorite memories of the National Museum of Asian Art is the Peacock Room, an entire room that was disassembled and moved from it’s original home in a London mansion to Detroit, and then to it’s final destination at the Smithsonian to be enjoyed by everyone.


You can even earn a badge for visiting in the Spring Reading Program! 

Museums in the United States


National Museum of the American Indian

The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire

National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City

Art Institute of Chicago 

Explore the collections at the de Young Museum in San Francisco 


Museums Around the World



National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City

Tour the National Gallery of London 


Tips for Reading with Your Baby

picsea-eqltydzrx7u-unsplash-2While I eagerly await the return of Baby Storytime to the South Hill Library, here are some recommendations for reading at home with your littlest one!

Reading with your baby is all about enjoying a snuggly good time together. You are both creating a wonderful routine that can last the rest of your baby’s childhood, and introducing them to the world via books. Even with very young babies, listening to your voice and having that bonding experience with you will create a positive association with books and reading.

While I recommend reading all picture books with children very slowly (go over all the artwork and talk about the story!), it’s especially important with babies. Their eyesight is still developing during their first year, so going slowly and repeating things gives them a chance to study the pictures and form word associations. Older babies may have favorite books that they want to read multiple times in a row; go for it! It can be tedious for grown-ups, but it’s fantastic for little ones to learn language and stories.

Babies use all their senses to learn about the world, and books are no exception. Incorporate their sense of touch into the experience. With very little babies, you can take their hand and trace the outlines of shapes and pictures, or run their fingers over any textured parts of the book. When they’re ready to turn the pages themselves or lift the flaps, let them do it to their heart’s content. Ask them to point to colors, animals, or things they know on the page. Make the sounds of the animals and vehicles you see, and encourage your baby to do so, too. Listen to your baby vocalize about the book. Count the objects on a page, and have them point as you go, or hold their hand to count along. Anything that makes the experience more interactive will entertain busy babies and increase what they’re learning.

We all know that once babies get moving, they can have an astonishing amount of energy. Sometimes your baby will be too wiggly to sit with a book, and that’s okay! Again, reading with your kiddo is about creating a positive association with books and spending a happy time together – if they’re not enjoying it, please do not try to force it. You may have long stretches of time where they’ll only enjoy books at bedtime, when they’re eating, or even when they’re in the bathtub (perhaps not with borrowed library books!). It’s important to keep trying, and to have books available, even if you’re only getting in snippets of a story at a time. You’ll have days where they’re ready for longer reading sessions, and those days will increase in frequency as they grow.

It’s never too early or too late to start reading with children; you’ll be building their vocabulary, reasoning skills, and social/emotional intelligence. You’ll be creating memories, a bond with you, and a lifelong love of books for your child.

Hope to see you all again soon at Baby Storytime!

Kathryn | South Hill Library

Create a Cat Castle! | Library @ Home

If you’ve got a cat, small dog, hamster or other small pet, why not create a cardboard castle for them? Don’t they all love to be in a box, anyway?

Spokane Public Library has hosted several Cat Castle events, where families use cardboard, paper, and tape to create some wonderful spaces for their pets.

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If you’ve got a few supplies, your family can create a Cat Castle at home!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

  • Yardstick and/or measuring tape if you want to be precise. Metal yardsticks and rulers are best to cut along.
  • Utility knives and scissors. Parents, please consider safety! Always lock the utility knife blade closed when not in use.
  • Packing tape is best for this project, but you can use other tape or even white school glue – just allow time for the glue to dry (White school glue is nontoxic and will not harm your pet.).
  • Gather boxes, shoe boxes, tissue boxes, toilet paper tubes, wrapping paper, cat toys, rope or twine, if you have it.
  • Make a cutting station. Put a piece of cardboard on the surface you’ll cut on so it doesn’t get damaged.

Step 2: Learn a Few Techniques

  • Curving or rolling cardboard. Rolling cardboard around a rolling pin is the best way to get cardboard to curl.
  • Score and fold – score on the outside of the cardboard where you’d like the fold to be. DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Score the outside, then fold the cardboard in the opposite direction.
  • Cutting curves – move the cardboard as you go.
  • When cutting, use gentle pressure and make several passes rather than using force. This is for safety and precision.

Step 3: Design

  • Consider the size of your cat for holes and castle sizes.
  • If you have a large cat, consider doubling up the cardboard for weight bearing components.
  • Don’t incorporate anything a cat could swallow such as glitter, sequins, and beads.
  • Color: cats don’t see colors the same way humans do, so reflect YOUR style.
  • Consider the inside of your cat castle – what would be fun to add for your pet? Consider wrapping a tube with twine or rope for a mini scratching post.
  • Add comfy touches such as pillows and blankets. Felt is another nice touch.

Step 4: Construction

  • Be safe! Parents should supervise this activity.
  • Let everyone in the family contribute! Younger kids can use markers or colored paper to decorate. There are some fine cat toys you can make at home out of toilet paper tubes or string.

We’d love to see some of your creations along with your pets! Share your cat castle on social media and tag Spokane Public Library.

This activity was inspired by the book, Cat Castles: 20 Cardboard Habitats You Can Build Yourself by Carin Oliver.


Drop Everything and Read | Celebrate Beverly Cleary April 12

beverly_cleary_ca-_1955April 12 is celebrated every year in schools and libraries all over the world as D.E.A.R. Day – Drop Everything and Read! It’s an annual reminder to make reading for fun a priority in our lives!

Why April 12? It’s the birthday of beloved children’s author, Beverly Cleary. You’ll recognize some of her book titles instantly.

Born in 1916, she struggled with reading and writing until she started spending more time at her local public library. When shew grew up, Cleary became a children’s librarian.

When a young boy asked Beverly, “Where are the books about kids like us?”, she was inspired to write funny stories based on her own childhood friends and neighborhood experiences. Her books have won awards such as the Children’s Literature Legacy Award (formerly the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award) for “substantial and lasting contributions to children’s literature” and the Newbery Medal. This April 12, 2020, she will be 104 years old!

So on April 12, make some time to read for at least 30 minutes.

You can find many of Beverly Cleary’s books via Spokane Public Library’s digital downloads. Check for eBooks in Overdrive/Libby, and Open Libraries. Streaming audiobooks for many of her books are available in Hoopla.

Ways to celebrate D.E.A.R. Day:

Read her books, such as:

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Make Beverly Cleary a birthday card! Mail it to:

Beverly Cleary, HarperCollins Publishers c/o Author mail, 195 Broadway Floor 22, New York, NY 10007

Watch a video about Beverly Cleary.

Learn fun facts about Beverly Cleary.

Design or color a bookmark! Here are some fun ones to try.

(Source for book images: SPL Catalog) (Source for Cleary images: Wikimedia commons)

Simplifying Your Life | Organizing Your Bedroom and Closet

If you want to simplify your life, where do you start? Follow Clara’s lead on how to clean and organize your home one room at a time!

Lesson 2 | The Bedroom and Closet

Start simplifying your life with the bedroom! Walk with Clara and learn her tips and tricks for cleaning and organizing your bedroom.

Access her tips here.

Use Spokane Public Library’s Overdrive or Libby app to download these books on organizing:

You will need your library card number and your 4-digit PIN number.

1.Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight by Peter Walsh

2.Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver

3.The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

4.The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark

5.The 8 Minute Organizer by Regina Leeds

Free Online Books | Library @ Home

If you can’t find what you are looking for in the library’s selection of eBooks, or if you want to use some extra time to go back and read a classic, there are other online resources for free books. Try out the collection from Project Gutenberg. Gutenberg was the first platform for online books and they have a collection of books in the public domain. It’s far smaller than the Internet Archive but has over 60,000 books, so there’s something for everyone. Here’s your chance to go back and read some books you have always meant to read.


Resources for Job Loss

In these trying times, losing a job adds even more stress to your life. Here are some ways to get back on your feet:

While at home, you can use the library’s resources to improve your employment skills.

  • offers many professionally-produced video tutorials that can improve your computer and business skills. Look under Career Development to find interviewing and networking advice, along with Learning Paths such as Finding a Job During Challenging Economic Times.
  • LearningExpress Library has a Career Center with tutorials on Job Search and Workplace Skills, along with exam preparation for specific careers, such as Allied Health or Commercial Driver’s License.
  • If you have more time, sign up for a six-week, instructor-led Gale Courses online class to develop your computer and business skills or learn how to start your own online or work-from-home business.

Got Crayons? Celebrate National Crayon Day on March 31


I really hope you have a few crayons lying around because this Tuesday, March 31, is National Crayon Day! I’ll give a few resources that can make this day a learning time as well as an artsy time.

While this unofficial holiday is a perfect day for coloring, it can also be sort of a sad day for some people. That’s because Crayola often retires old crayon colors on this day. Where did crayons come from? 

Currently, no one really knows when crayons were invented. Early crayons were used by adults – artists. They weren’t very strong, so kids would have broken them all the time! By the beginning of the 20th century, several companies were making wax crayons. The most famous company, Crayola, was started in 1902 – almost 110 years ago! These two guys with great mustaches, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith founded the company. Mr Binney’s wife, Alice, came up with the name Crayola by combining the French word for Chalk (craie) with the “ole” from oleaginous (the paraffin wax used to make the crayons). They started out with 30 different colors. Learn about Crayola’s history here.

Here are a few crayon facts. Crayola makes 13 million crayons a day and blue is the most popular color. The most popular episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was when he visited a crayon factory! You might also want to watch the episode of the TV show, Daniel Tiger, which has the same theme! How are crayons made? Watch this video!

Now, what should we do on National Crayon Day? Color, of course! Why not color on unusual things like the inside of a paper bag, sandpaper, or warm hard boiled eggs. You can also tape several crayons into a bundle to see what kinds of effects you get! Tape whatever size paper you have on the wall and create a family mural. Older kids might want to get a bit more crafty. For example, you could challenge them to create wearable art using crayons, paper, tape and yarn or string! How about making a paper toy and coloring it? Or, build a fabulous crayon storage system out of what you have around the house!

You can melt broken-up crayons by putting them in silicon shaped mats, then putting them in the oven at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. Don’t forget to put the silicon tray on a baking sheet. Let the melted crayons cool completely before popping them out of the molds. If you need other ideas, check out the Crayola YouTube channel – scroll past the ads to their DIY sections. If you just need coloring pages, go to Pinterest and consider searching for Dover Publications – they have quite a selection!

Read a book that has crayons in it. You can find some of these books on YouTube, ready by the author! 

  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  • The  Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Dewalt
  • The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Dewalt
  • How is a Crayon Made? by Oz Charles
  • The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane DeRolf
  • My Crayons Talk by Bill Martin

Here are some things you can do with crayons that are more action oriented. Take your crayons and paper to the park and draw what you see. Collect some leaves and do leaf rubbings. What else can you do rubbings of at the park?

Have a crayon scavenger hunt – hide crayons around the park or your home! See who can make a paper airplanes that can carry a small piece of crayon the farthest? How high can you stack crayons like building blocks? These are just a few ideas to make your National Crayon Day amazing!