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Last Day of School!! Now What?

June 26, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

This week marks the last day of school for many students in Toronto. Today is also my daughter’s last day of preschool. It was a long, hard fought journey. But we made it! She cried every single day, for the first 2 months. Thankfully, she eventually adjusted and now she absolutely loves school.

Now, what am I going to do with her over the summer?

Here are some things you can do with your kids using the Toronto Public Library:

TD Summer Reading Club

The TD Summer Reading Club is back! And today is the first day you can sign up by visiting any library branch. In addition to earning stickers and prizes for reading, there are lots of programs happening over the summer.


If your child is a teenager, there are library events for them, too. Keep up with the teens’ blog over the summer for programs, book recommendations and reviews, contests and more.

Toronto Public Library Programs, Classes & Exhibits

There are lots going on at the library over the summer for yourself, too. Attend talks about arts and culture, business, health, science and much more.

Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass (MAP)

The Museum + Arts Pass allows you and your family (2 adults & up to 5 children) to explore the best of Toronto's arts and cultural treasures for free. Venues including the Aga Khan Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Ontario Science Centre, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo and more.

With your valid adult Toronto Public Library card, you can take out a pass for your family at any Toronto Public Library branch. Quantities are limited and rules and conditions apply.

Free Science Events in Toronto

The Science & Technology department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in the city. This is a great opportunity to attend nature walks, astronomy talks, science lectures and much more.

There are also things you can do in the comfort of your own home with your kids.

Why not try some science experiments:

The Exploratorium science snackbook  The hungry scientist handbook  Sneaky science tricks  The ultimate book of Saturday science

Bake and cook together with your kids:

Baking with kids  Baking with tiny tots  Everyday kitchen for kids  Little cooks

Teach your kids how to sew:

My first sewing machine book  Sew kawaii  Sewing for children  Sewing for kids

Garden together:

The book of gardening projects for kids  The garden classroom  Square foot gardening with kids  Touch a butterfly

How about building something together? A treehouse, anyone?!

Black and Decker the complete guide to treehouses  Build your own treehouse  Fun family projects  Ultimate guide to kids' play structures and tree houses

Is your child attending summer school? Or do you want them to study and be prepared for the next school year? The Science & Technology department has a wide selection of math, science, biology, chemistry and physics textbooks for students from grades 7 to 12 that can be used in the library:

Mathematics 7  Mathematics 8  Principles of mathematics 9  Principles of mathematics 10

Functions 11  Calculus and vectors 12  Investigating science and technology 7  Science and technology perspectives 8

On science 9  Science connections 10  Physics 11  Physics 12

Chemistry 11  Chemistry 12  Biology 11  Biology 12

I hope some of these ideas will be helpful. I hope you all have a safe and wonderful summer!

Free Science Events in Toronto for July 2015

June 23, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the July calendar (PDF).

July's highlights include:

  • July 1: WoofJocks Canine All Stars - A 30-minute variety show that is both educational and entertaining by a team of Southern Ontario professional dog trainers and their very talented dogs.
  • July 18: Walking Tour: Cabbagetown's Medical Heritage - From the site of the first medical school that specifically taught women to the prominent physicians who lived in the neighbourhood, hear stories of the sites and personalities that figured in our city's early medical history.
  • July 18: The Hidden Lives of Galaxies - This lecture will focus on how galaxies are transformed throughout cosmic times and how they interact with each other.

The Toronto Public Library also offers many free science and applied science events: 

At the library, July's highlights include:

Can't attend a program or want to read more about the topics covered? Try some of these titles:

Dog tricks   The history of medicine   Galaxy   Food junkies

Sams teach yourself HTML and CSS in 24 hours   The amazing monarch   Your water footprint   Exercises for brain health

Summer Awakens the Wandering Traveler

June 22, 2015 | Ann | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Rouge River in Wikipedia
Rouge River at Kirkhams Road Toronto. Released into public domain by  author, WilyD at the English Wikipedia project.

The weather in Toronto tends to linger on the cooler side for about two-thirds of the year. The Summer Solstice arrived yesterday to welcome in the hot clammy weather that many Torontonians will gratefully endure so that they could swap their heavy dark winter apparel for lighter and brighter fabrics.  

This is also the best time to go hiking when the landscape is drenched in deep lush greenery. 

If you are staying within the Greater Toronto Area, here are some suggested books about places worth getting your feet kicking:

  Historical walking tour of North York Centre: celebrating the 25th anniversary of North York Central Library, 1987-2012 Historical Walking Tour of the Danforth Historical walking tour of Deer Park Historical walking tour of Lawrence Park Rev. and expanded ed.
Historical walking tour of Kew Beach Historical walking tour of Kensington Market and College Street Stroll: psychogeographic walking tours of Toronto Sculpture in the city - twelve walks in downtown Toronto


For those travelers itching to wander off the beaten path, here are some suggested Pinterest Motivational Quotes to Hike By and hiking trails around Toronto. Also have a look at the following links: 

Here are more suggested titles from our library collection on hiking:

Paddling & hiking Ontario's southern shield country Country walks: cottage country Long-distance hiking Paddling and hiking the Georgian Bay coast
Hiking & backpacking Hiking trails of Montreal and beyond: including Laval, Lanaudière, the Laurentians, Montérégie, and the Eastern Township Temagami: canoeing, kayaking & hiking Hikes & outings of South-Central Ontario


If you are planning to travel far away for your walkabout, take these titles with you to send your feet off to breathtaking places:

Out of London walks: great escapes by Britain's best walking tour company Shanghai: a walking tour Paris: an inspiring tour of the city's creative heart Tokyo: 29 walks in the world's most exciting city
Waterfront: a walk around Manhattan Historic walks of Regina and Moose Jaw Stairway walks in San Francisco: the joy of urban exploring Bangkok: a walking tour


Enjoy the summer weather and get your feet going before the season ends. Go take a hike anywhere, starting today. 

Harper Lee and the Most Exciting Literary Event of the Year

June 19, 2015 | Maureen | Comments (5) Facebook Twitter More...

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper LeeWhen students ask me for a copy of Harper Lee’s To kill a mockingbird, I like to walk them to the shelf where the author’s one and only book lives. It gives me a chance to say, “Did you know that Harper Lee only published one book in her whole career?” If they look surprised or quizzical I say, "This book is so good, she didn’t need to write another one.” Sometimes I see a little spark of hope in their eyes –- the hope that this book might be pretty good -- unlike some of the snore inducing stuff they've had to read for English class.

During the short walk to the shelf I don't have time to tell them the story of how a young woman from a small southern town ended up in a cold water flat in New York in the 1950s, determined to try her hand at writing. Harper Lee (or Nelle, as she's known to family and friends) had been following in the footsteps of her father and sister, both lawyers. She attended law school at the University of Alabama, writing for the campus humour magazine in her spare time, but her heart wasn't in the law. Against her father's advice, she dropped out of school and moved to New York at the age of 23 to become a writer, as her childhood friend Truman Capote had done before her. She got a job as a clerk at an airline and wrote in her spare time. Years passed. Then, in 1956, friends gave her an amazing Christmas gift. Inside an envelope labeled "Nelle" nestled in the Christmas tree, was a note that read, "You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas." The financial gift allowed Lee to quit her job and write full time. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Go Set a Watchman - Harper LeeSoon, I won't be able to say that Harper Lee only published one book. On July 14th, 55 years after the publication of To kill a mockingbird in 1960, Go set a watchman will be released. In 2014, Lee’s lawyer was checking on the condition of the original manuscript for Mockingbird when she discovered the manuscript for Go set a watchman, which was thought to have been lost. It was written before Mockingbird, but it takes place years after the events of that novel. Scout, a character beloved by Mockingbird fans, is grown up and living in New York City in the "new" book. After Lee submitted the manuscript for Go set a watchman in the 1950s, her editor advised her to tell the story from the perspective of Scout as a little girl. “I was a first-time writer, so I did what I was told,” Lee said.

Harper Lee's editor was right. To kill a mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. (In a 1964 interview, Lee described her feelings about the book's success: "I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird...I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of reviewers.") A powerful indictment against racism published by a southerner during a time when segregation along racial lines was still the practice in public places such as schools, buses, restrooms, and restaurants in the Southern states, To kill a mockingbird is one of the most widely read and loved American novels. Oprah Winfrey remembers, “just devouring it, not being able to get enough of it.” Author Wally Lamb read it as a teenager. “It was the first time in my life that a book sort of captured me. That was exciting; I didn’t realize that literature could do that.” Mark Childress says the experience of reading To Kill a Mockingbird at the age of nine is the reason he's a writer today.

In 1962, the movie version of To kill a mockingbird, starring Gregory Peck, won three academy awards, intensifying the spotlight on Lee. She walked out of that spotlight around 1964 and never looked back. For years, fans waited in vain for another book. Lee kept a low profile, splitting her time between her native Monroeville Alabama and New York. For a time, she worked on a book about a murderous, self-ordained preacher, based on a true story, but eventually dropped the project. It seemed that one book by Harper Lee was all the world was going to get. Until now.

How do you get ready for the most exciting literary event of the year? Here are some suggestions:

1. Reserve Go set a watchman. Here are the formats the library currently offers:

To kill a mockingbird2. Watch the classic movie To kill a mockingbird. (You can reserve a copy from the library.) Nominated for eight Academy Awards, it won for Best Actor (Gregory Peck),  Best Art Direction, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Here's a suggestion within a suggestion: bake a batch of southern style biscuits and watch the movie with your dad on Father's Day. Can you think of a better movie dad than Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch?

 3. If you've already read Mockingbird, and are one of that curious breed -- those who won't read the same book twice -- try reading another southern writer, such as Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Flannery O’Connor, or Pat Conroy.

Hey Boo - Harper Lee and To kill a mockingbird4. Watch the movie Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To kill a mockingbird. Authors and celebrities talk about the influence the book has had on them, but the best thing about this movie, in my opinion, is being able to listen to the delightful Alice Finch Lee, Harper Lee's older sister, who died in 2014. Lee has said that the character Atticus Finch was modelled after her lawyer father, and her lawyer sister, who she called “Atticus in a skirt.” Alice practiced law in Monroeville, Alabama until she was 100 years old!

 5. Read a biography of Harper Lee. I recommend Mockingbird: a portrait of Harper Lee, by Charles J. Shields. I'm currently devouring this unauthorized biography. I've come across some delicious southern names in the book, such as Theodocia Eurfassa Windham (Harper Lee's grandmother), Truman Streckfus Persons (Truman Capote's birth name), Lille Mae Faulk (his mother's name) and Archulus Julius Persons (his father's name).


6. Watch the movies Infamous and Capote. Harper Lee is depicted in both (played by Catherine Keener in Capote, and by Sandra Bullock in Infamous.) These movies cover the time period when Truman Capote was researching the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959 for his book, In cold blood. Lee went with Capote to Kansas, acting as his research assistant.

7. Listen to the audiobook version of To kill a mockingbird, narrated by Sissy Spacek. I'm currently listening to it, and I applaud the publisher for choosing Spacek. Her southern accent makes me think of honey melting on a hot biscuit on an August afternoon.

8. Reread To kill a mockingbird. What better time is there than a sultry Toronto summer to revisit the small Alabama town of Maycomb, where "Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum."

Here are the formats the library offers:

Healthy Cognitive Aging

June 8, 2015 | Jane | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

As baby boomers approach old age, and as we’re living longer, topics like brain health and prevention of age-related cognitive decline are making headlines, but also a matter we come across in our personal lives. The brain is at the centre of everything we do, who we are, what we make of our lives, so of course we care, and of course we want to learn as much as we can.

A great start would be to come to a talk at by Ryerson professor Dr. Alexandra Fiocco and PhD student Katie Peck. Fiocco will be talking about  “the predictors and prevention of cognitive decline.” Peck, also from Ryerson, will be talking about her research into the effect of music on brain health.


     AlexandraPlease join us on Tues, June 16      Katie                North York Central Library                                5120 Yonge St.

              2:00 to 3:00 pm





If you can’t make it to the talk, there are lots of other ways to pursue good practices, and to find out more about the brain’s many mysteries.

What are the day-to-day ways I can practice good brain health?


Are there organizations that can help me plan care for myself or for someone I love?

We are fortunate in this city to have lots of resources for research and for care of people with aging brains.

On May 22nd, Baycrest Health Sciences in North York announced $100 million in federal and provincial funding for a national brain research hub. Baycrest also has services for "geriatric residential living, healthcare, research, innovation and education, with a special focus on brain health and aging." 

The Alzheimer's Organization of Canada has lots of resources for learning more about brain health and resources for finding help with care and planning. It also funds research. 

The Alzheimer Society of Canada has "been dedicated to providing help for people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and their caregivers. That help comes in many ways."

The Canadian Home Care Association provides "an array of services for people of all ages, provided in the home and community setting, that encompasses health promotion and teaching, curative intervention, end-of-life care, rehabilitation, support and maintenance, social adaptation and integration and support for the family caregiver." Its membership includes public and private stakeholders.



 How do I find out more about the human brain and its strange ways?




Summer 2015 Travels Part I: Jamaica, No Problem!

June 8, 2015 | Emoke | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Beach in JamaicaDuring the last week of May, I took an all-inclusive holiday to Runaway Bay, Jamaica with my parents. It was my first visit to the Caribbean and first all-inclusive vacation. I can now see why people opt for this type of vacation! Everything is cooked and arranged for you, all you have to do is show up and enjoy the good food, drinks, and beautiful beaches. Jamaica is a very culturally vibrant place, very proud of their cuisine (spicy Jerk chicken and patties) and their music: Reggae and Bob Marley.

During my stay, I ventured away from my lazy resort routine twice. Once, to visit Ocho Rios, a town in the parish of Saint Ann to visit the local shops and crafts. This was quite a unique experience, as the artisans selling their work were quite enthusiastic about making sure that you don't go home empty-handed! I bought some local hand-woven baskets, wooden sculptures and drinking cups made of bamboo. Something sparkly also caught my eye; a blue Jamaican gemstone known as the Caribbean Topaz - the stone of true love and success. Of course, I also could not go home without getting some of the famous Appleton Estate Rum!

The second time I left the comforts of the resort was to visit the birthplace of Bob Marley, Nine Mile, Saint Ann, Jamaica. Fans flock there to visit the King of Reggae's final resting place. Here you get to walk through the home he lived in as a child and see the neighbourhood and home that influenced him to write some of his most famous songs. Perhaps the most memorable part was when our Rastafarian guide stopped in his tracks and suddenly joined a Reggae band to sing "One Love" for us!

It was also quite educational on the Bob Marley tour to see how the local people live in the mountaneous, curving countryside villages. Here, I saw homes that were half-finished, as the local people tend to finish them only when they have enough money saved up to do so. According to our tour guide, this could take up to 15 years. In the meantime, they make do with whatever parts of the home are finished and live there as a large extended family.

All in all, Jamaica was a very beautiful island nation, with lush green scenery and beautiful, clear waters, and a colourful culture to match.

I highly recommend seeing it for yourself. And if you do go, please venture off your resort and take advantage of the tours offered to see what the real Jamaica looks like!

One Love. One Heart.

Emoke with parents

Beach image

Emoke with parents

The Early Life of Bob Marley
On the Way to Bob Marley's House



Image of Emoke and parents in Bob Marley's room
Bob Marley's Room



Inside the Bob Marley House
Inside the Bob Marley House



Free Science Events in Toronto for June 2015

May 26, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

The Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the June calendar (PDF).

June's highlights include:

  • June 4: Your Brain on Acupuncture - Learn how acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine can help someone who is dealing with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, concussions or paralysis.
  • June 7: Spring Babies at the Zoo - Zookeeper Sonya Dittkrist introduces new animal arrivals at the High Park zoo.
  • June 13: Leslieville Tree Festival - A celebration of the urban forest that includes activities for the whole family.

The Toronto Public Library also offers many free science and applied science events:

At the library, June's highlights include:

Can't attend a program or want to read more about the topics covered? Try some of these titles:

The simple guide to five element acupuncture   Nature's babies   Trees   The backyard beekeeper

The Scientific American healthy aging brain   The exoplanet handbook   No more dirty looks   PowerPoint 2013 on demand

Seeds and Gardening

May 15, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

My daughter pulling out weeds and getting the soil ready for planting.

When I was little, my grandma always kept our garden in the backyard full of delicious vegetables. Every spring and summer, she would tend to the cucumber, tomato, winter melon and pepper plants. She spent a lot of time in the garden, mostly to guard it against those pesky squirrels. Unfortunately, I haven’t planted anything myself since owning a home.

A few weeks ago, my daughter asked if we could buy some flower bulbs we saw at the store. We bought and planted peonies and ranunculus bulbs, flowers I had in my wedding bouquet.

There are many benefits of gardening for children. They learn to be responsible by caring for the plants. They also learn to appreciate nature. Most importantly, they learn to be patient. My daughter has been asking me every day whether or not our flowers have grown. Each time I take her outside to see and tell her that just like her, the flowers are growing but very slowly.

Want to learn more about seeds and gardening? Learn how to save seeds in the city with the Toronto Seed Library at the North York Central Library. In this all-ages information session, we’ll be reviewing the basics of seed libraries and seed saving plus have free seeds on hand for everyone. There will also be a children’s planting workshop. Bring any gardening questions you may have and staff from the Toronto Seed Library will be more than happy to answer them.


What: Seeds & Gardening

Where: North York Central Library, in the Auditorium

When: Saturday, May 30 from 2 – 4 PM

Registration: Call (416) 395-5649 (Science & Technology department) or (416) 395-5630 (Children’s department)


In the meantime, here are some books on seed saving:

Saving vegetable seeds   Seed sowing and saving   Seedswap   Seed to seed

The library also has e-books you can access on an e-reader, mobile device, tablet or desktop on seed saving:

The complete guide to saving seeds   The complete idiot's guide to seed saving and starting   The manual of seed saving   Seed libraries

There are also books about gardening:

Beginner's illustrated guide to gardening   Canadian gardener's guide   How to buy the right plants, tools and garden supplies   Small space garden ideas

E-books on gardening:

Derek Fell's grow this   The New York Times garden book   Rodale's basic organic gardening   Urban gardening for dummies

Get gardening ideas from e-magazines that you can access on your mobile device, tablet or desktop:

Canadian gardening   Country gardens   Garden making container gardening  Homes and gardens

Want books about gardening for kids? The library has books for that, too:

The book of gardening projects for kids   Gardening lab for kids   I can grow things   Square foot gardening with kids


May Days Are For Parties, Weddings, and Travel

May 11, 2015 | Ann | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Spring arrives with bright floral colours and the sun's warm glow across the land. Temperatures rise as the days grow longer. To celebrate the upcoming summery weather enjoy this time outdoors. What better way to shake off the winter blues than to throw an outdoor party for family and friends. Here are some colourful suggestions:

Fairy parties:  recipes, crafts, and games for enchanting celebrations by Colleen Mullaney Sleepover party!:  games and giggles for a fun night by Jamie Kyle McGillian Kids parties by Lisa Atwood The party book by Jane Bull
Let's party! by Alison Bell The kids' pick-a-party book: 50 fun themes for happy birthdays and other parties by Penny Warner Sleeping over by Melinda Beth Radabaugh Costume parties: planning a party that makes your friends say "wow!" by Jen Jones

Not only is this season a grand way for children to enjoy outdoor festivities, this season is also a way to celebrate a new life of love and happiness. Weddings need not be expensive to be glamourous, unique, and special. Have a look at the following title suggestions to see how to design a wedding of a lifetime. 

Style me pretty weddings: inspiration & ideas for an unforgettable celebration by Abby Larson Weddings by Hilary Sterne The Knot complete guide to weddings: the ultimate source of ideas, advice & relief for the bride & groom & those who love them by Carley Roney Wedding style:   hundreds of tips and secrets from the professionals for styling your own big day
Plan the perfect wedding on a small budget by Elizabeth Lluch The broke-ass bride's wedding guide by Dana LaRue Wedding expert: 400 things you need to know to plan your big day by Bettie Bradley 1000 best wedding bargains by Sharon Naylor

For those who want to travel beyond their workplace to see the flourishing flora and fauna in a cool northern terrain, why not head off into the Canadian wilderness. Experience the natural quietude that many artists and writers derive their artistic inspiration from. Here are some titles that will take you far and wide across our home and native land: 

Dazed but not confused: tales of a wilderness wanderer by Kevin Callan Trails and tribulations: confessions of a wilderness pathfinder by Hap Wilson Chasing Clayoquot: a wilderness almanac by David Pitt-Brooke Paddlenorth: adventure, resilience, and renewal in the Arctic wild by Jennifer Kingsley
The great Central Canada bucket list: one-of-a-kind travel experiences by Robin Esrock Canada's road: a journey on the Trans-Canada Highway from St. John's to Victoria by Mark Richardson Dutch gentlemen adventurers in Canada, 1811-1893 by Herman Ganzevoort and J. Th. J. Krijff More trails, more tales: exploring Canada's travel heritage by Bob Henderson

Enjoy the blossoming of warmer days ahead by taking the time to celebrate life, love, and landscapes at their finest.  

Free Science Events in Toronto for May 2015

April 28, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the May calendar (PDF).

May's highlights include:

The Toronto Public Library also offers many free science and applied science events:

At the library, May's highlights include:

Can't attend a program or want to read more about the topics covered? Try some of these titles:

The Lorimer pocketguide to Toronto birds  Extreme explosions  Toxin toxout  What does a black hole look like

Soap and water & common sense  46 science fair projects for the evil genius  The mindful way through stress  Learning Python

Welcome to North York Central Library. We're one of the City's most welcoming spaces, open to all for study, research, relaxation and fun.

Our extensive digital and print collections, programs and services are yours to use, borrow and explore. Expert staff are always on hand to help. Meet us in person or join us online.