Kids & Masks: Helpful Online Resources

With the school year fast approaching, and mandated masks a new way of life, parents are faced with the challenge of teaching their children how and when to wear a mask, and helping to make them feel comfortable and safe, as well. Learning about masks and practicing with them now will make it easier for your child to transition to wearing one at school.

A few basic strategies include finding a mask that your child wants to wear (maybe with a favorite character, print, or color), wearing your own mask comfortably and confidently while you’re around your child, and having your child get used to wearing a mask in your home while doing familiar or fun activities.

A very timely and relevant article we have found online is How to Help Kids Adjust to Masks Before School Starts. It covers 16 easy, practical, fun activities you can do with your child to practice mask-wearing.

This same site provides an article here with sensible ways to introduce your child to wearing a mask, and another article here that breaks down tips for mask-wearing by the child’s age.

University Hospitals has published an article entitled How to Help Your Child Get Used to Wearing a Mask. It explains that masks can be unsettling in a number of ways for children and suggests ideas for caregivers to ease that anxiety.

Here are a few more related sites, with videos and ebooks for kids, and articles for caregivers:

We hope that those resources will help you find some tips and ideas that work for your family.

When you are ready for your child to practice wearing a mask outside your home and to interact with others, consider a trip to the Hudson Library to choose a few books and chat with our friendly mask-wearing librarians!

Ways to Engage Kids’ Literacy Skills in a Semi-Quarantine Summer

Families and time spent at home always play a significant role in the development and maintenance of a child’s literacy skills. This year, the family and home are a much bigger part of everyone’s life, including our children’s education.

This summer, it’ll be particularly important to engage kids’ literacy development. Luckily, there are so many creative and fun ways to do this beyond just reading. 

Invite your kids to try out some of these activities to keep them busy and learning this summer and beyond: 

  • Practice reading aloud to family and pets.
  • Spend time in the kitchen reading ingredients, product labels, recipes, and anything else you can find.
  • Learn all the words to your favorite song and practice singing along or even doing karaoke.
  • Choose a book for the whole family to read and discuss together.
  • Listen to a book or story while making art inspired by it.
  • Move your body while listening to a story, book, or song.
  • Learn your family history, funny stories, and jokes from friends and relatives and practice retelling them.
  • Follow instructions for a new skill or craft, and teach a friend or relative how to do it, too.
  • Play vocabulary-based board games like Scrabble, Boggle, or Bananagrams.
  • Play verbal games like taking turns coming up with rhyming nonsense words or words that start with a certain letter.
  • Find a favorite picture or piece of art and practice describing it in detail to a friend or relative.
  • Create your own newspaper for your house or keep a journal of your daily experiences.
  • Write letters or notes to friends, relatives, neighbors, or even community representatives.
  • Listen to a podcast for kids (https://app.kidslisten.org/).
  • Learn to type.
  • Write your own story, poem, or book, leave it for a while, and then come back to revise and edit.
  • Research a topic you’re interested in and teach a friend or relative about it.

Welcome Back to Wonderland!

Welcome back to Wonderland! Tomorrow – Tuesday June 23 – our library opens back up to the public, and we are very much looking forward to seeing our young patrons again!

We want you to know that the library, including the children’s department, looks just a little different, as we adhere to social distancing and other virus-initiated protocols.

Here’s what to expect for you and your children when you visit the children’s room …

When you arrive at the library:

  • A maximum of 60 people are allowed in the library building at any given time (including staff and service workers). An automatic people counter device keeps track of the number of people entering and exiting the building. Please be prepared to wait outside the building, if necessary, at designated spots to the right of the front door.
  • Every person entering the building (including children) is required to stop to have their temperature read by the thermal temperature reader inside the front door.
  • Face masks are required for every person in the building over the age of 2. If you do not have a mask, the library will provide you with one.
  • Please do not visit the library if you are exhibiting any signs of the virus. We are still happy to help you over the phone, and both our contactless curbside pickup and our drive-up holds window will remain in service.
  • Returns must be dropped off at the drive-up book drop or in the bin outside the front of the library. No returns will be accepted inside the building.
  • You must maintain at least six feet of space between you and other people. Many directional signs will help with the flow of people throughout the library.
  • The second floor is closed, but adult reference librarians are available in the café space to assist patrons and retrieve items that are kept upstairs.
  • The café is closed.
  • Public restrooms are still available in the front lobby.
  • The water fountains in the building are not usable.
  • The Friends of the Library bookstore is closed, and no donations are accepted at this time.
  • Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

The Youth Services department:

  • Please stop at the Information Station at the entrance to the room, staffed by the children’s librarians. This is where you can ask questions of any kind and retrieve prize bags and other Summer Learning Program materials.
  • Most materials are still available for checkout: books, themed book bundles, DVDs, CDs, tablets, playaways, video games, books on CD, puzzles, and some STEM kits.
  • Puppets are not available for checkout at this time.
  • The Born to Play Room is closed, and all of the toys and computers in the children’s department have been put away.
  • The Teen Room is closed. However, our staff is happy to retrieve any items that you would like to check out from the Teen Room.
  • All study rooms in the library are closed.
  • The patio is closed to the public.
  • You may use the public restroom in the children’s room: one is designated for staff use, and one is for the public.
  • We have lots of directional signs and floor signs to help create a smooth and safely-distanced flow of people in the room.
  • We have placed large bins throughout the room for you to put books and materials that you have handled but do not want to check out.
  • You may still use the self-checkout machine in the children’s room.
  • You may pick up Summer Learning Program prizes in the room (at the Information Station) or call us to request a curbside pickup.
  • Please keep your young children with you while in the library, including the children’s room.

We know that there are many changes, and that our spaces and services will look a bit different at this time. But we have a wide variety of materials for you to check out, and we are happy to help you find what you need – just ask!

We hope to see you soon!

Living Through an Infodemic with Teens

In a recent post, we addressed one of the greatest challenges of the present moment: the information (and misinformation) overload we experience each day.  

The primary place we encounter this misinformation is social media, where the challenge of avoiding it is amplified by the very nature of these platforms, especially those frequented by teens. Content on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter comes directly from other users. We see their faces, hear their voices, feel a connection to them. These connections put us at even higher risk of falling for false authority. For instance, someone in scrubs is not inherently an expert on viruses, no matter how convincing their “treatment” for COVID-19 is.  

The unfortunate reality is that some segments of the internet are dedicated to misinformation. Young people are often targets of conspiracy theories about governments and supranational governments as well as false advertising about home cures, beauty products, and “life hacks.” Falling for these hoaxes, especially now, can take them down some strange and potentially dark paths.  

Fortunately, however, these platforms also have safeguards against negative rabbit holes. TikTok and YouTube users can curate a positive online environment for themselves by simply focusing on what they enjoy. Skipping right over content flagged with a coronavirus label will eventually remove it from their feeds altogether. The same goes for content that is just awful or infuriating. On Instagram and Twitter, users choose who they follow and can mute or block topics and other users. Again, not looking at upsetting content will keep them from seeing it!  

Caretakers of teens can help them avoid ruining their own days by engaging them in regular conversations about what they’ve been seeing and hearing. Encourage them to not watch or engage with content or people that upset, anger, or scare them. Remind them that they are in control of their experience online, and they can make it a wonderful place by refocusing on the funny stuff, the dance videos, the craft tutorials, or whatever helps them cope, relax, and grow.  
 
Also, be sure to keep yourself informed of hoaxes, conspiracies, and misinformation that’s circulating. The Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center provided by NewsGuard and official sources like WHO,  CDC, and FEMA can help with this. Remind yourself and the teens around you to double check what’s shared on social media with other sources. (This is especially important for information found on TikTok as the date and geographical location of a post is not always clear!) 

And, of course, remind yourself and the young people in your life to just log off sometimes! 

Living Through an Infodemic with Kids

We’ve been hearing it everywhere, from work correspondence to every commercial: we are living through challenging, uncertain times.

What makes these times so challenging and uncertain is how difficult it is to figure out what exactly is going on and what it all means. There is a lot of information to take in about coronavirus and its larger impacts, that information changes daily, and there is a whole lot of misinformation to sift through, too.

All of this is especially hard on children and teens. They already have a harder time processing information and difficult emotions, even when they’re not scared and only partially informed.

Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to get a handle on living through this pandemic and “infodemic” together.

First and foremost, limit children’s direct exposure to the news as much as possible. Get yourself informed and understand your own emotions and biases before talking younger people through what’s happening. Be careful to only tell them the basics, but answer their questions honestly if they want more details.

When we first hear about a current event, it’s essential to ask ourselves how it makes us feel. (It can make us feel lots of ways all at once.) And, then, we must ask ourselves why it makes us feel that way. Did we learn about it in a shocking or harsh way? Does it involve people we like or dislike? Does it involve subjects that make us uncomfortable or that we don’t understand?

Once we’re aware of our initial feelings and what’s behind them, we can start to gather more detailed information and make sure it’s up-to-date and accurate.

To evaluate a source or a claim, first consider the source as a whole. Some websites will try to dupe you with URLs like worldhealth.net, CDC.news, or NYTWatch.org. Explore the full website to see their other content. Is the source a blog or forum? Is it trying to sell you something? Has it made other claims that seem outlandish or that you already know are false?

Whenever you’re doing any kind of research, but especially when you’re trying to understand current events, consider what multiple sources are saying. If you only see something in one place, it may not be true. Additionally, a source may only be giving you one side or one part of the story. Be sure to check lots of sources and check out their sources to get a more complete picture. (Also, check the dates! And be extremely wary of alleged cures. The vast majority of these claims are not based on medical research and can even be dangerous.)

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, remember to take breaks from the news and social media to rest, relax, and help. It’s okay and, in fact, essential to log off and spend some time outside, reading or watching something funny or soothing, or talking to friends and relatives. Help your family and neighbors in whatever ways you can (while maintaining appropriate social distancing!). Keep your eye out for community groups and individuals who are working to make things a little easier and find ways to join in, too.