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You Don't Scare Me Creepy Clown! Helping Children Face Their Fears

October 28, 2016 | Carolyn | Comments (2)

I'm sad to report that the creepy clown viral phenomenon has come to Canada. People dressed as menacing clowns are being spotted, in particular, around schools. I sympathize with parents who have to comfort children frightened by one of these imposters (of course they're not real clowns, and they are giving all clowns a bad name).

When my daughter was small, she was afraid of clowns. She wouldn't go to a birthday party unless I checked first to make sure no clowns would be making an appearance, she didn't like circuses and she was even a bit anxious about Hallowe'en. I worried for a while that this fear was preventing her from enjoying normal childhood activities, but eventually it stopped bothering her and life went back to normal.

It isn't unusual for children to have fears; in fact, child health experts say they are a normal and necessary part of a child's growth and development. Sometimes, however, fear or anxiety can interfere with a child's ability to function. When this happens, parents may want to get some guidance about how to best help their child.

Here are some resources with information for parents about childhood fears and phobias:


Here are some books with information for parents about this subject: 



And here are some books to read with your child:



Back to School Anxiety

September 2, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (2)


Daughter getting ready for school
My daughter off to preschool with her security object in hand

When I was younger, I would dread this time of the year the most. The nights were getting cooler and the CNE was coming to an end. It was time to go back to school.

I still remember vividly my first day of junior kindergarten. We received a package in the mail with my name tag. My mom explained that I would be going to school. I was so excited! I wore a grey and pink dress with a bow. My school was just across the street from our apartment. I was so excited walking into the classroom full of colourful posters on the walls. Then it hit me. My mom was not staying. I was going to be alone with a room full of kids and two adults who were strangers. I cried. A lot.

I don’t remember what happened after. But I know I cried every day for the rest of the week (or maybe longer… that part is a bit fuzzy).

My daughter will be starting senior kindergarten on Tuesday. Although she’s already had two years of school under her belt, she still has separation anxiety. Her first year of preschool consisted of crying for two months straight. Then one day, miraculously, she stopped.

Last school year was a lot better. She cried for the first three days and that was it. However, she’ll be starting at a new school on Tuesday.

The Parenting and What to Expect websites provide some helpful tips on how to deal with your child’s separation anxiety:

  • Set a sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up early and eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Practice and role play: At home, have your child pretend play as the parent while you act as the child. Go through all the motions of the first day of school.
  • Bring a security object: Put a security object in your child’s bag to remind them of home.
  • Find friendly faces: Set up a play date with a classmate before school starts.
  • Read books together: Read some books about the first day of school.
  • Keep it short but sweet: Keep the goodbyes short.

I've tried most of these things to prepare her, like role playing at home, reading books, bringing a security object (her elephant) and keeping the goodbyes short. However, I haven’t tried setting up a play date before the start of school. We will be attending a meet the teacher night and I will try to find a friend that I can introduce to her. Hopefully this will help ease her anxiety.

The library also has some great books about separation anxiety:

Calming Your Anxious Child   Helping Your Child Overcome Separation Anxiety or School Refusal   The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution   School Phobia, Panic Attacks and Anxiety in Children

Here are some children’s books to read with your child to help prepare them:

The Kissing Hand   Llama Llama Misses Mama   Mama, Don't Go   Monkey

Does your child suffer from separation anxiety? What are some of the things you've tried?


Here Comes the Summer Solstice!

June 20, 2016 | Ann | Comments (2)

Mandala titles for your reading interest!
Photo courtesy of Bart Everson on Flickr under cc Generic 2.0 licence.

While temperatures soared above the 30 degree Celsius mark after Victoria Day on May 23rd, summer officially begins at 6:34 pm today. As the commuter traffic dwindles, the Summer Solstice pours through the City hurling us into hot and humid weather. Today starts the season of swimming pools, bug bites and scorching sunburns.

Here are some historically hot topics for you to glance through on your patio:

Indian summer: the secret history of the end of an empire Empire of the summer moon: Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history The long summer: how climate changed civilization Martian summer: robot arms, cowboy spacemen, and my 90 days with the Phoenix Mars Mission
Freedom summer: the savage summer that made Mississippi burn and made America a democracy Summer of '68: the season that changed baseball-- and America-- forever The summer of beer and whiskey: how brewers, barkeeps, rowdies, immigrants, and a wild pennant fight made baseball America's game Red heat: conspiracy, murder, and the Cold War in the Caribbean


Today also celebrates the longest day of the year. From this day forward, daylight hours gradually shorten over time. Six months from today, on Wednesday, December 21st at 5:44 pm, the Winter Solstice will mark the shortest day of the year. From that day forward, daylight hours with increase again until the next Summer Solstice arrives to complete the cycle. In contrast, the Spring and Fall Equinox mark the period when daylight balances evenly with the nighttime hours because the sun is directly over the Earth's equator. Paige Williams' (2013) article provides a detailed understanding on how seasons occur as a result of how our planet is tilted. 


As the Earth tilts favourably towards the Sun at different areas of the world, people gather to celebrate this day with food and festivities. Here are four articles on Summer Solstice celebrations from around the world:

  1. Top 10 Summer Solstice Celebrations Around the World by Huffpost Travel
  2. 5 summer solstice celebrations from around the world by
  3. 5 Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice Around the World by
  4. 15 Summer Holiday Traditions from Around the World by Becky Ferreira

Or, you can create your very own Summer Solstice festivity from WikiHow.


Enjoy these previous TPL blogs as the summer moves forward:

  1. Summer Awakens the Wandering Traveler
  2. UFO or Weather Balloon
  3. Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe, 1762-1850
  4. Let's Go to the EX!


While planning your fun in the City, have a look at the following websites:

  1. Toronto Hogspot Activities/Events/Fun
  2. City of Toronto - Special Events
  3. Toronto festivals and events calendar


Summer would not be complete without some amazing activities for the children and family across the City. Thursday, June 30, 2016, the TD Summer Reading Club registration begins and the book reporting starts on Monday, July 4, 2016! The program runs all summer long and ends on Saturday, September 3, 2016. Children are encouraged to sign up, read books, join in on some amazing activities, and spend the best part of the summer learning and having fun.

Summer Reading Club 2016

Enjoy this day and every sun-drenched day that is available for the next three months. The weather can only get better from this point forward. No matter where you reside, the Summer Solstice arrives to bring joy and celebration all around.

Whenever I Go to the Library, My Friend From Iran is There

December 28, 2015 | Deb | Comments (3)

My good friend, Laleh, is from Iran and every time I go to the library I see someone who reminds me of Laleh -- someone with dark, wavy hair and olive skin that never looks pale or washed out even in the middle of a sun-deprived Canadian winter, someone with a gracious manner and a ready smile. It’s easy to want to be more like someone else, and all I can say is that’s true for me with Laleh.

Cultures of the World IranLaleh and I first met over fifteen years ago at the daycare our sons both attended. Back then, our little boys looked so similar that we joked we could swap photos of them, pass off the other one as our own, and no one would be the wiser.

Much has changed since those days. For one thing, our boys have grown ... and grown ... and grown. They no longer look alike and they now tower over us, something they're always quick to point out.

There have been other changes too. Like everyone else around us, our families have faced difficult situations, the kind that come out of nowhere and suddenly -- starkly -- divide life into Before and After. We’ve been up in the mountains; we’ve been down in the valleys too.

Through it all, together and apart, Laleh and I have been consoled, entertained, distracted, and uplifted by books and reading. We’ve had food, too -- especially the wonderful meals that Laleh prepares and shares with a wide circle of family and friends, people I already know and people I’d like to know better.

* * * * * *

When I first came to work in the Children’s Department at North York Central Library, I was pleased to be in such a warm, friendly place -- not my real home, and yet home.

Was it the books and children and families -- all the great bustle and good cheer around me -- that made this place feel so right?  

I'm New HereYes, but it was more than that. And it had to do with my friend.

The first people I met in the library were a mother, a father and a young daughter who had come here, like Laleh’s family, from Iran. The two older women who asked me for a Farsi-English dictionary reminded me of Laleh’s older aunt. And at a Family Time program I led, I spoke with a young Iranian woman who looked so much like Laleh that I swore they had to be sisters, separated at birth.

Then there was the language -- the same language I’d heard spoken at the memorial service for Laleh’s father. I couldn’t understand this language, but that didn’t matter. It was both foreign and familiar, and it was here too.

* * * * * *

From There to HereWe are all, I think, looking for our tribe, our flock -- the group and place that accepts us for who we are, nurtures us, and brings out the best in us.

We get a lot from our flocks -- but we also get to give something back too. I've learned that with the people I know, including Laleh. And I found it out all over again, in the place where some of the things that matter most to me are.

I found it with the people who come to this place every day: the Iranian families, the South Asian grandparents, the Korean preschoolers, and the tiny Chinese babies.

I found my tribe at the library.

Volunteering Benefits

August 17, 2015 | Emoke | Comments (2)

Volunteering and society in the 21st centuryHave you ever wanted to volunteer for a cause you believe in, but your other time commitments, such as school, work, family, etc. got in the way?

I'm sure we have all felt this way in our busy adult lives. I started my volunteer work after finishing my studies. With no more schoolwork to keep me busy all the time, I finally decided to devote my extra time, or days off work to various causes. Some of those have been for my own pleasure or interest, such as volunteering at an art gallery, and some efforts have been more about giving back to the community and helping with a cause I really believe in, like working in a women's centre.

For me, there have been vastly different advantages for working in both types of settings. The art related job allowed me to be surrounded by a subject that I love and keep my interest and passion for art alive and ongoing. This type of volunteer job is what I would consider the "fun" and entertaining type. The personal rewards are: education, creative stimulation, etc.

The other type of volunteer work I have done, I would consider to be the more "humanist" approach, that deals with spending your free time helping a cause that you feel passionate about, and consider important for all of society to pay attention to, and work towards improving. Helping disadvantaged and abused women (violence against women) really taught me that we should never take our lives for granted. There are those of us going through serious challenges, and are in need of much support from others as they can get. This support can come from family, friends or strangers, hence, the volunteers.

My next type of volunteer venture leans more towards the second type I have described, but is quite unique to me. I will be working with children in a school setting in the near future by mentoring them on their lunch hour. Working with children raises a whole new set of challenges. These are individuals whose lives are still being shaped, and may have already gone through their own difficulties. They require a helping hand, or simply a friend, to sit down with them and listen and share. Every child should have a fair and equal chance at life, and although this is not the case in our world, at least having someone to talk with about their lives (if they choose), can make them feel that somebody cares.

There are also many volunteer opportunities at your local library branch. These include helping with adult literacy, homework help for teens, helping newcomers with homework, helping children with their reading and learning skills, and so on.

For further information about volunteering and the various types available, please see the following materials from the Toronto Public Library:

Volunteer : a traveller's guide to making a difference around the world.  Wide-open world : how volunteering around the globe changed one family's lives forever   Wildlife & conservation volunteering : the complete guide   The complete idiot's guide to volunteering for teens

Volunteering at home and abroad : the essential guide for nurses   World volunteers : the world guide to humanitarian and development volunteering   Archaeo-volunteers : the world guide to archaeological and heritage volunteering   Voluntary Sector Organizations and the State

Last Day of School!! Now What?

June 26, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

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!

Seeds and Gardening

May 15, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (4)

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


Celebrating Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities at the Bologna Children's Book Fair

March 30, 2015 | Deb | Comments (0)

Bologna Children’s Book FairEvery spring in Italy, in a vast indoor space that rivals the size of the Colosseum, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair brings together thousands of people with a passion for children’s publishing. This year’s fair, which begins on March 30, 2015 and runs for four action-packed days, is hosting writers, illustrators, publishers, booksellers, and librarians from over 70 countries, all eager to share their expertise and ideas with others.

Inside BolognaNoisy, vibrant, and supercharged with lots of caffeinated enthusiasm -- there's nothing like the Bologna fair. It's where brand-new children’s books are shown off, important publishing deals are negotiated, innovative projects (think apps, digital storytelling and more) are launched, and the best of recently-published books for children are feted and recognized for their imaginative achievements.

At a press conference held today at the fair, Sharon Moynes and Leigh Turina of the Toronto Public Library spoke about a list of books that is currently receiving lots of buzz: The 2015 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities, a biennial selection of 50 titles published around the world that are for and about children and young people with disabilities. IBBY is, of course, the acronym for "The International Board on Books for Young People."

2015 IBBY Selection of Outstanding Books for Young People with DisabilitiesLeigh is the lead librarian for The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities housed at the Toronto Public Library. She highlighted some of the titles that were recently selected for this prestigious list, including the following three books from Japan, the Netherlands and France. The catalogue of the 2015 Outstanding Books, which includes all the annotations shown below, is hot-off-the-press and available at the IBBY stand at the fair. The catalogue will also be digitized and available online in the near future.



Tenji tsuki sawaru ehon: Sawaru meiro [Touch picture book with Braille: Mazes by touch] designed by Junko Murayama. Shogakukan, Inc.

Mazes spread
Eleven mazes showcase what can be accomplished with bright colours, eye-catching patterns and lines of Braille in this innovative and entertaining book. Children use their fingers to follow paths made of Braille lines while avoiding breaks in the lines and routes that lead to dead ends. Printed on durable cardstock, the mazes range from basic to complex; each maze has a clearly-marked start and finish. The mazes will appeal to a wide variety of puzzle players: children with vision loss who are already familiar with Braille; children who are just starting to use and read Braille; and children with low vision. Puzzle players without any vision loss will also benefit as they gain a practical hands-on understanding of what it is like to read Braille by running their fingers over the raised dots. A distinctive aspect of this book – it has been printed on one large sheet of cardstock – makes it possible for all the pages to be unfolded, laid out together and enjoyed by several children simultaneously.

Planet Willi [Willi’s planet] written and illustrated by Birte Müller. Klett Kinderbuch Verlag GmbH. 

Planet Willi

Author and illustrator Birte Müller draws on her own experiences as the mother of a son with Down syndrome in this picture book about a young boy with special needs who stands out from everyone else. Willi has strong reactions to the commonplace sights and situations he encounters; for the people around him, especially those who don’t know him, it is as if Willi comes from another planet. Bold, energetic illustrations done in a primitive, child-like style depict the world that Willi finds himself in: a busy place full of exciting, scary and confusing things. Willi’s family are always close by and clearly happy to be with him; at times, however, their faces reveal the inevitable confusion, dismay and fatigue that they feel while being in Willi’s company. Readers who look closely at the artwork will notice that Willi sometimes uses sign language to communicate with his family. These signs, along with others, appear on the book’s endpapers.

Une feuille, un arbre [A leaf, a tree] written and illustrated by Bruno Gibert. Albin Michel Jeunesse.

Une feuille

How does a leaf resemble a tree? In what ways are an atom and the solar system alike? Can a puddle ever appear to be a lake? This arresting book features 23 pairs of similar-looking objects and shows the connections that exist between the members of each pair. Changes in scale, perspective and context are used with great effectiveness to influence the way readers view the objects and the relationship between them. The bold graphic style of the artwork and the minimal text in the form of identifying labels make this book accessible to a wide range of readers including children who have developmental or learning disabilities. With its high contrast artwork, this book will be of interest to children with low vision; it is also suitable for sharing with a group.

* * * * *

Interested in learning more about The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities? You can find out more by clicking on the IBBY logo below:

Ibby logo

Monopoly : The Board Game

March 2, 2015 | Aleks | Comments (0)

British_monopolyMonopoly; the game of trading and the fast-paced world of real estate. Entering its 80th year in the game board market, Monopoly is licensed in 103 countries, available in 37 languages, and more than 275 million copies have been sold worldwide. To win the game, a player must have complete domination in the market over the other players, usually through bankrupting others. 

The illustrious Monopoly has a deeper history then the 80 years claimed by owner Hasbro. It is argued that the game was originally created by Elizabeth Magie.  She had created a Landlord's Game in 1903 as a way to protest against American moguls. This is in opposition to Charles Darrow who has been accredited of having invented Monopoly in the 1930s and selling it to Parker Brothers. Find out more in this article or Mary Pilon's new book, Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game.

Monopolists - Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game

You can also listen to the story The Secret History of Monopoly on The Current at

There are many ways to spend this March Break with your family. If you are interested in getting out of the cold, here are some great books on board game fun for the family.

Under the Boardwalk The Games we Played The Story of Dungeons and Dragons 
The Grand Parents Handbook Unbored Games Serious Fun for EveryoneParty Games for Adults

There are also many opportunities to play board games at the library. We have programs for all ages. Board games can offer many life lessons, such as patience, diplomacy, and negotiation as children engage with their family and friends. 

In addition to being able to borrow board games at select libraries, there are also chances to visit cafes and pubs across Toronto for a time and place to dominate your opponents or to have a friendly match:

Snakes & Lattes

600 Bloor Street West , Toronto


Castle Board Game Cafe

454 Spadina Street , Toronto


Roll Play Cafe

10A Edward Street , Toronto


Snakes & Lagers

488 College Street , Toronto


Rooster Coffee House

479 Broadview Avenue , Toronto



Cooking with Kids

July 11, 2014 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

My daughter’s first favourite toy was not a rattle or stuffed animal. Instead, she enjoyed playing with items in the kitchen, like storage containers, pots, pans and utensils. When she started crawling, we had to lock up all the cupboards to prevent her from helping herself to these items. We usually left a few items that we thought were safe for her to play with in her play area. Even toy versions of kitchen products did not compare to the real ones for her.

toys vs. real kitchen products
Even toy versions of kitchen products did not compare...

She is now two and a half years old. And her love for the kitchen is still the same. She enjoys helping me with lunch and dinner preparations. She loves to wash vegetables and measure and mix ingredients.

My daughter watching cupcakes bake in ovenSo over the past week I tried baking cupcakes with her. This was our first time baking together. This was MY first time baking ever. Being a newbie, I took the easy route and bought a box of cupcake mix. Nonetheless, she still had a great time cracking eggs, measuring ingredients and mixing and pouring the batter. We had such a great time that I’ve decided to try real recipes from scratch for our next cooking adventure.

Here are some books with great recipes to cook with children:

At the farmers' market with kids  Baking with tiny tots  Cooking Italian with kids  Cooking together  Cooking with kids  Little cooks  Ready, steady, spaghetti  We can cook

I’ve made copies of a couple of recipes I want to try with her. I think cooking with your child is beneficial and a great learning experience. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of cooking with my mom.

This will be a great activity to do with your kids over the summer. If you’re still looking for ways to keep your kids occupied, join the library’s TD Summer Reading Club for great fun, programs, activities and books.


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.