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Lego in the Library

February 17, 2015 | Charlene Lee | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

You may have noticed Lego programs popping up all throughout the Toronto Public Library (TPL). Since the acquisition of Lego and K'NEX sets, the TPL has been able to offer programs utilizing these wonderful building tools. But they're more than just the toys we remember playing with as kids; Lego provides a great learning platform, and a new way to engage our younger patrons.

Sea of Lego
Sea of Lego courtesy of Jeremy Page on a CC license

Since 2014, the Toronto Public Library has begun emphasizing the Middle Childhood Framework (PDF). Under this model library programs and services support the growth and development of school-aged children (ages 6-12), and encourage young users to be independent learners. To promote independent learning for this age group, programs aim to foster curiosity, creativity, and a love of reading and learning.

Using Lego is one of the many ways that we can instill these values in our programs, and is a versatile platform for attracting both boys and girls as well as a large age range. It also allows us to implement basic structural and architectural ideas, and encourages problem solving. Lego has proven to be a fun activity; it brings even the most reluctant readers into the library and is an opportunity to promote the library in a new way.

If you're not able to make it into a branch for a Lego program, check out some books for some fun building ideas!

IndexThe LEGO neighborhood book: build your own town!
The LEGO neighborhood book: build your own town!
LEGO play book: ideas to bring your bricks to life
LEGO play book: ideas to bring your bricks to life


The LEGO adventure book. Volume 2, Spaceships, pirates, dragons & more!
The LEGO adventure book. Volume 2, Spaceships, pirates, dragons & more!
LEGO space: building the future
LEGO space: building the future



Why you should read to your child part 1

January 30, 2015 | Charlene Lee | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

There are many benefits to reading to children, especially from an early age. Research shows that reading to your child right from birth will positively impact their cognitive, emotional, as well as motor development. Moreover, it will encourage a love of reading and learning! This is the first post of a three-part series that will discuss the benefits of reading with children, and showcase different resources that the Toronto Public Library offers to support this aspect of development.

Mother reading to her baby.
Photo courtesy of the National Media Museum

Stages of development

Birth to 6 Months

Babies develop immensely during the first six months of their lives. They will transition from being completely dependent on their caregivers to wanting to explore more and more through reaching, grabbing, and tasting. During this period babies will also begin to show emotions, especially around those with whom they are familiar. It might not be apparent but during this time babies are also starting to develop a sense of self, and are learning how to comfort themselves.

Boardbooks at the library
Let your baby hold the book as your read to them; boardbooks are a great, durable option!

7 Months to 12 Months

By 12 months, babies are already avid learners and are using their gross and fine motor skills. Although they will show increasing signs of independence, they will still very much rely on those around them. This will also be a significant time for the development of their confidence and coordination. During this stage babies learn best through repetition; songs, stories, rhymes, finger plays, and games will all help foster their development. Consider attending Baby Time at a branch near you!

12 Months to 2 Years

This is the last stage of infancy. Babies will develop tremendously, especially their motor skills such as walking, climbing, and even dancing. This is also the time when infants start to become more socially adventurous and enjoy being around other children. During this period infants begin putting sounds together to form words; they can also communicate with gestures and respond to simple requests.

2 Years to 4 Years

By 2 years old, toddlers will be playing on their own and using more motor skills such as running, jumping, and climbing. Toddlers' language skills will be accelerating around this age, and you should be able to understand them roughly half the time. At 2 years old, children will use their words more and more to express their feelings and needs.


As children transition from toddlers to preschoolers, to being school ready, their mental abilities see dramatic growth. They will be exploring more complex concepts and be able to match, sort, and differentiate objects. Language skills will see much development and by the end of their third year, children may already be able to copy letters and print their name. By their fourth year, children are learning to cooperate and are becoming more even-tempered. You will now also notice an increase in their attention spans as well as their creativity and imagination.

From the moment they enter this world, children begin to develop in great strides both emotionally and cognitively. It is important for parents and caregivers to foster this growth by providing children with positive experiences. One activity that will ensure this all throughout a child’s development is reading. Reading together can benefit children and parents in many ways, and contribute to a child’s positive upbringing.

Father and son storytime
Father-son storytime courtesy of Kelly Sikkema on a CC license




Lego in Motion

January 5, 2015 | Charlene Lee | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

As we continue to encourage creativity in the library, the Cedarbrae Branch has found success in incorporating the use of iPads into our programs. For our final Lego Club of 2014, kids made wonderful stop-motion films using Lego, and the National Film Board of Canada's stop-motion app. Check out a creation made by one of our participants!


Check out some books that the Toronto Public Library carries for inspiration on making movies at home!

   Cartooning The Economics of Making a Movie

Lights, Camera, Action! Stop Motion Animation

New Year's at Noon

December 30, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

Remember when you were younger and weren't able to stay up until midnight to ring in the new year? Maybe your parents wouldn't let your bedtime slide that far, or maybe you just couldn't keep your eyes open, no matter how hard you tried.

If you've got little ones just begging to stay up late this New Year's Eve, we've got the perfect solution: why not celebrate a little early when the clock strikes 12...PM?

  cute dog wearing a New Year's tiara

New Year’s Beagle courtesy of Cutie Pie Company on a CC license.

Gather the kids in your life and join us for a craft session where we'll create party hats and noisemakers and share stories and songs. We can't bring out the bubbly, but you can bring a snack or juice box to toast to the (almost) new year as we count down! There's no need to register; just drop by.

New Year's at Noon
December 31, 2014
11 AM - 12 PM
Cedarbrae Branch, 416-396-8850

I’d love to say we came up with this great idea, but the librarians over at the Fort York Branch shared their plans for a midday celebration with us. If you’re in that area on December 31st, be sure to check out their new year's event for children!

If you can’t make it out with the kids that day, here are some children’s stories to read together instead:

New Year's Eve Thieves
New Year’s Eve Thieves
by Ron Roy

Who Stole New Year's Eve?
Who Stole New Year’s Eve?
by Martha Freeman

Happy New Year Mallory!
Happy New Year, Mallory!
by Laura Friedman

Just in Time for New Year's!
Just in Time for New Year’s!
by Karen Gray Ruelle

Shante Keys and the New Year's Peas
 Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport


Wherever you are when the countdown begins – whether cozy in your bed or celebrating with loved ones – have a safe night.

Happy 2015!

Everything you can imagine is real: Young Voices at Cedarbrae

December 17, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

You may have noticed a new art display at the Cedarbrae Branch if you've walked in recently...

Young Voices Display near check out computers.

We're the lucky branch that will be displaying the Young Voices art exhibit for the month of December. 

These panels highlight some of the artwork that was submitted by Toronto teens to Young Voices, the library's magazine of written and visual art.

These talented young artists were selected by a small group that looked for high-quality original work that would be representative of and relevant to Toronto's diverse youth. Although only visual art is displayed in this exhibit, there are many more selections of prose and poetry in the Young Voices magazine. You can pick up a copy in your local branch, or check out an online copy of Young Voices right here on our website.

We are currently looking for submissions for the 2015 edition of Young Voices.
If you (or a talented teen you know!) are interested, be sure to check out the submission requirements and submit online. You can also print out a PDF submission form, if you'd prefer, and then simply attach it to your piece and deliver it to a staff member at your local branch.

The deadline for Young Voices 2015 is Tuesday April 7, 2015 so start thinking about your potential selection now! Remember, as Pablo Picasso said:  "Everything you can imagine is real."

For inspiration, check out some examples of different styles from all over the world:

Pablo Picasso  Vincent Van Gogh  Frida Kahlo  Trespass: A history of uncommissioned urban art  Chalo! India 

Mystery gifts at the Cedarbrae Branch

November 26, 2014 | Charlene Lee | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Do you like presents? If so, Cedarbrae's got some surprise 'gifts' waiting to be checked out! If you've been to the Cedarbrae Branch this week, you might have seen our newest seasonal display. Each colourful package is a book waiting to be borrowed. It could be one of this year's hottest reads or a genre you've never read before, the only way to find out is to take it home and unwrap it!


Books waiting to be borrowed and unwrapped!

  Get Wrapped Up in a Good Book

















Rediscover Toronto's Waterfront Heritage!

September 8, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

If you've been in Toronto for a while, chances are good that you've picnicked by the Scarborough Bluffs, gone ice skating at the Harbourfront or tanned at Woodbine Beach. But did you know what a long history some of these places have?

Come and find out more about Toronto's waterfront at a visit with author Jane Fairburn on Saturday, September 13th at 2 PM!

Historical Toronto Waterfront
Public domain image courtesy of Wikipedia

Local lawyer turned author Jane Fairburn has written a wonderful book exploring the history of our waterfront. 

Along the Shore: Rediscovering Toronto's Waterfront Heritage | Available in eBook too!

 Her book focuses on four distinct areas:

  • the Lakeshore
  • the Island
  • the Beach
  • the Scarborough Bluffs 

She will discuss the importance of these neighborhoods and how they are all interconnected with ecology and Toronto itself. Jane will help you rediscover the beautiful and important history of Toronto through the lake. Come learn how it has evolved from a place of hunting for the first people who lived here thousands of years ago to the present day with its mixture of beaches, condos and possible business ventures. 

Don't miss out on this exciting exploration of Toronto history. Hope to see you all there!

Robots in the Library?

August 18, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

If you've wandered by the Children's Desk at the Cedarbrae Branch recently, you may have noticed a new friend hanging around:



Meet Vaksan Jr. He was created by a bright young maker in a particularly exciting session of our Make and Create Club. The theme of this session was to just GO WILD!

Kids were encouraged to take all sorts of household odds and ends we'd collected over the weeks, and design the most awesome things they could imagine. In addition to this robot, we also had some racecars, elaborate jewelry peices, and even a highly detailed landscape for a Minecraft character!

As you might be able to tell, Vaksan Jr. didn't need a whole lot of high-tech gadgetry to come to life, but he was definitely built with a lot of creative energy. Interested in getting your kids to imagine and create? Ask a librarian about other programs we offer that cultivate the maker spirit!

You may also want to check out other resources that can help guide fun projects at home as we dip into these last few weeks of summer. Here are two books that might be interesting for a younger or older child:

Make Stuff Together by Bernadette NollMake Stuff Together: 24 Simple Projects to Create as a Family

by Bernadette Noll

"Make Stuff Together gives you 24 projects to build family connections while being creative and truly enjoying your time together. The authors have uniquely broken down projects into manageable chunks for the shorter attention spans of children enabling even smaller kids to accomplish bigger projects."



Streampunk Gear, Gadgets and GizmosSteampunk Gear, Gadgets, and Gizmos: a Maker's Guide to Creating Modern Artifacts

by Thomas Willeford

 "Learn from Lord Featherstone aka Thomas Willeford as he distills his wealth of hard-learned skills, describes how to use the readily available tools of the modern mad scientist, and expounds on the art and philosophy of scavenging unique components and raw materials. The perfect companion for the hobbyist and advanced machinist alike, this inventive volume will guide you through the creation of your very own infernal devices."


There are also great websites designed for makers of all ages. Check out MAKE Magazine and Instructables for more ideas and see what creative things pop up!

Beach Reads with an Asian twist

April 30, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

This May, as we celebrate Asian Heritage Month in Toronto, we highlight books that reflect the variety of cultures, customs and traditions of Asians, both in their native countries and abroad.

There are many very well written, serious books about issues in many of these countries. But there is also lighter fare that still shows us what life in many countries around the world can be like.

As the weather (finally!) starts to warm up, you may be looking forward to some fun, light reads you could sit out on the patio with, or take along if you're on a beach vacation.

Here are some beach reads with Asian Heritage Month in mind.

Crazy, Rich Asians
by Kevin Kwan, 2013

A juicy, gossipy novel that is a fun read. It's all about - you guessed it - some extremely elite and wealthy Asians. The families in Kwan's book are all about high fashion, exclusive parties, and some pretty serious rivalries.

Five Star Billionaire
by Tash Aw, 2013

In a similar vein as Kwan's book, Five Star Billionaire follows five characters as they make their way towards fame and fortune in the bustling city of Shanghai. Tash Aw really sets the scene, making the city and its people come alive.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan  5 Star Billionaire by Tash Aw

Girls of Riyadh
by Rajaa al-Sanea, 2007

Although this is an older book, it's still worth a quick read if you haven't picked it up. It tells the story of some of the most hidden women in the world and reads like a Gossip Girl novel set in The Kingdom.

Cutting Loose
by Nadine Dajani, 2008

Cutting Loose is a fun, easy read about three young women who cross paths in sultry, sleek Miami and find that sometimes letting go is the best way to find who you are.

Painted Hands
by Jennifer Zobair, 2013

Described as The Namesake meets Sex and the City, Painted Hands introduces us to Amra and Zainab as they try and balance their cultural backgrounds with demands of their professional jobs.

Girls Of Riyadh by Rajaa al-Sanea  Cutting Loose by Nadine Dajani  Painted Hands by Jennifer Zobair

Have another beach read set in an Asian country or featuring Asian characters? Leave a suggestion!

If you're looking for more Asian Heritage Month reading suggestions, be sure to check out our previous list!

A City of Languages: Remembering International Mother Language Day

February 22, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Yesterday, February 21st, marked International Mother Language Day. It's an annual observance of the diversity in cultures and languages we have around the world. Although this holiday may fly under the radar for many, it is an important date for lots of Canadians, particularly Bengali-speaking ones.

The United Nations describes IMLD as "the date [that] represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh."

It was a pivotal event: having their native language recognized was, for many Bengali-speakers, something worth fighting for. Today, each February 21st, or 'ekushey February', International Mother Language Day is a solemn, yet proud celebration. Thousands of Bangladeshis visit the Shaheed Minar, a symbolic monument, to offer flowers and remember those that died for the right to speak their native language.

Shaheed Minar

In a city like Toronto, where non-official languages are spoken almost just as much as English, just imagine how important language really is! It's a huge link to who we are, again, as the UN notes:

"languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage."

For a lot of younger newcomers, in Toronto and different parts of Canada, there can often be a real struggle between maintaining fluency in native languages and adapting to our official languages. Do you speak another language other than English (or French)? In what ways is this language important to you?

Learn more about language and its place in our lives with some titles from the library:

Lang1  Lang2  Lang3  Lang4

And, of course, don't forget that we carry lots of materials in other languages too - check to see what's available in your mother tongue!


Welcome! This blog is written by the Cedarbrae Library staff and we want it to become a place where you can find out what's going on in the branch and in the community. But not just that - we plan to write about all things we might find interesting.