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Virtual Mini Con

If You Like That, Try This!
by APL Staff

Looking for something new to read? A new show to binge? We've got you covered! Check out our staff recommendations for your favorite series and discover something new!
Each image links to the item in our catalog so you can play a hold and start enjoying as soon as possible!

Posted by [email protected]  On Nov 14, 2020 at 5:32 PM
Make & Learn

Make & Learn: Alphabet Spoon Game
with Sara

Welcome to Make & Learn! In this program, our librarians will be sharing easy-to-make games and activities that support cognitive development and practicing early literacy skills. In this video, Miss Sara shares a fun activity to encourage reading and play while supporting print motivation and letter knowledge.

This activity was inspired by an activity from 7 Days of Play. Thank you to Michelle for letting us share this activity! Visit  7 Days of Play for more fun ideas!

Posted by [email protected]  On Nov 12, 2020 at 12:59 PM

NaNoWRiMo: Keeping the Motivation

by Stacy  

It’s official! It’s been one week into November and that means our first week of NaNoWriMo is already over! How are you feeling? Cool as a cucumber? Honestly, I am very impressed and you’ve probably done NaNoWriMo before. Panicked and running around with your head cut off? Trust me – same. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and thinking that NaNoWriMo might have been just a little bit more than you can chew, don’t worry because that’s how most people are feeling the first week into NaNoWriMo. I find that keeping up the motivation to write is what I struggle with the most as I settle more and more into November.  

Let’s talk about some ways to keep the motivation up and inspiration coming!

Motivation - great when you have it, impossible to find it. If you’re struggling finding the motivation to write, start by taking a look at what’s working and what’s not working. It’s okay to change things as you’re writing your novel if you find that it isn’t working for you! The best examples I can give are taking them straight from my own current NaNoWriMo experience.  

What isn’t working for me…. My routine and schedule. The writing routine and schedule that I came up with before November sounded great and easy to accomplish, only for me to realize a week and a half in that I am consistently more stressed because in actuality my schedule is immensely unrealistic to what I can actually accomplish. The likelihood that anyone has the same routine every single day is so slim. Even if you do have a consistent work/life schedule outside of NaNoWriMo, how can you possibly block out hours of writing when you also have to fit in errands, chores, holidays, appointments, family, etc., etc., etc.? Despite working a consistent schedule of 9am – 5pm, I could not reasonably find a block of time for writing. I would get off at 6, get home by 6:30, then be expected to cook dinner, clean the house and work on all my personal projects. Now it’s 10pm and I have done zero writing and have to go to bed, so I can wake up early for work.  

Work smarter, not harder: Writing Blocks vs. Writing Sprints

Writing blocks did NOT work for me this year. The past few years for NaNoWriMo, I was a student in college – sitting down for 3 to 12 hours to work on one assignment novel was cake! Now, I would be luckily if I could find 3 hours to work on anything, let alone my novel. To work more with my life schedule, I changed my daily writing expectations to fit into smaller “word sprints” instead! Rather than writing for 3 hours straight, I will plan to write for 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes on my lunch break, and 30 minutes to an hour after work! It’s been two days of being on this new schedule and I have already felt less stressed and writing has come easier.  

My morning word sprint consists of 10 minutes of free writing on something completely unrelated to my novel. And if I’m really lacking ideas and inspiration to write, I will use a random word/plot generator to get something started. Usually the 10 minutes of writing is all I need to get focused and inspired for the day, so I will spend the next 20 minutes writing my novel. However, my lunch and nighttime sprints tend to focus more on the novel itself!  

Remember: It’s okay to miss!

We’re all human and life is pretty hectic – don’t stress so much you get sick or neglect other important things going on. It’s okay to miss your writing sprints and your writing blocks - It’s even okay to miss writing days!! If you’re really serious about trying to reach the 50,000 word limit, just make sure you make up that writing time over the weekend or on a day you are less busy! Trust me, writing for NaNoWriMo will come much easier the less stress that’s involved so don’t be afraid to change things up as you go! Create a new routine and/or system that works for you.  

Posted by [email protected]  On Nov 10, 2020 at 1:07 PM
A Yarn About the World - Crossing Borders
with Tyler

Our resident globetrotter Tyler shares his travel experiences. This time, take a trip to our neighbors to the north and to the south as Tyler shares adventures from San Diego, Tijuana, Calgary, Banff and Edmonton!

Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Posted by [email protected]  On Nov 10, 2020 at 12:15 PM
Create It!

Create It! Kitchen Sign
by Karen

In this DIY video, Karen share a fun tutorial to make decor for your kitchen! Make it your own by using photos of your favorite recipes and customizing the word!

Posted by [email protected]  On Nov 09, 2020 at 1:11 PM

HELLO stands for Hand-on Early Literacy for Little Ones. In this program children will sing songs, work on fine and gross motor skills, learn about letters, numbers and science and develop early literacy skills. Ages 0-6.

This week's video is all about the letter D, as in for dog!

Posted by [email protected]  On Nov 05, 2020 at 12:07 PM

Noodles at the Wall: Getting Started When You Have Absolutely No Ideas at All 
by Elizabeth

‘Twas three days after NaNo, and in the library, 
some fast-tapping typists were feeling quite wary. 
“I’m supposed to have how many words?” they all sighed. 
“But I have no clue what to write, there’s no time!” 
Some writers had ideas but still felt a fright 
when faced with so many words day and night. 
Others suffered from dreaded writer's block, 
and wanted a nice nap to lessen the shock. 
“50,000’s too many!” “My ideas are too few!” 
Writers all around had no clue what to do. 
Then from the Aurora blog, a voice rang loud: 
“Don’t worry! Cheating is DEFINITELY allowed.” 
“I’ve here without characters, setting, or plot, 
but that’s not gonna stop me. Guess what I HAVE got?” 
And with that, the blog shared five quick writing tricks 
to help get a story moving lightning-quick! 

When it comes to NaNoWriMo, I never have a plan.  

I wish that I were one of the writers with pages of careful outlining, character charts, fascinating plot twists I’m longing to explore. Most years, I’m the writer who, three days after the month starts, looks at their calendar and squawks in dismay. I don’t know why I panic every year if this is what I DO every year, but it always feels like there are no more stories left in the well, like every creative brain cell vanished the instant November started. 

This year’s even worse than normal: I’m worn out, and every fiction I write seems less strange than what’s happening in the world outside my window. Maybe it’s like that for you too? If this is your first year dealing with the dreaded NaNo Starter’s Block, don’t worry: here are five tricks I’ve used to start stories in previous years, and I hope one of them works for you. 

The Best Thing That Could Possibly Happen 
Have you ever played TBT? No, not Throwback Thursday: The Best Thing game! It’s a cure for sad days and sadder stories: sit, breathe and think of the Best Thing that could possibly happen to turn this day around. Maybe someone delivers a cupcake to your doorstep. Maybe you win the lottery; maybe you find that lost phone number you’ve been hunting for all weekend. The key is that the story can’t just be one event. This isn’t “A Good Thing Happens,” this is the best thing. That means it’s going to ripple outward, changing more small things in its wake: maybe that phone number belongs to a long-lost friend or a cute barista, maybe the lottery is just what you need to put a down payment on a house.  

Transformation’s a key element of stories and a great starting point for something miraculous. There are several excellent stories that start with The Best Thing That Could Possibly Happen. Children desperate to avoid growing up meet a magical spirit who can take them to Neverland. A poor teenager finds a map to Treasure Island. If you’re feeling dark, you can also start a story with the WORST thing that could possibly happen: what if your uncle threw your dad off a cliff, then blamed you for it and banished you from the Pride Lands? Whichever road you choose, dramatic change will always act as a catalyst for a story. 

No Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead 
Think about the people in your life. They’re interesting, right? You wouldn’t be friends (or enemies!) with them if they weren’t. You can probably think right now of some of their quirks: how your best friend starts sentences three times when he’s nervous, the way your cousin gets excited when talking about efficient work practices, how that one colleague in the Zoom call always forgets to mute their mic. You probably know some secrets, too, or some wild stories: I’m fairly sure my closest friends could pick me out even if I shape-shifted into someone completely different, because they know my mannerisms that well.  

Well, these are your people, right? You know them, you love them. So combine them. Take two or three of the people you know, squish them together, and make them a new character. Add a few of these combos and you’ve populated a world. If you steal from your friends, steal responsibly, of course! Don’t cast them in a role they hate! Stephen King’s preferred method of writing is to throw two interesting people in a room together and see what they do: strong enough personalities can make even trips to the grocery store interesting. (And come on: if you’ve assembled a bed from IKEA, you KNOW how interesting “two people in a room” can get.)  

Instant Story, Just Add Dragons 
Okay, it doesn’t have to be dragons! Picture your favorite book. What if you changed the genre? Try to rephrase the book’s premise to incorporate a different genre. Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book” is just a spooky ghost retelling of “The Jungle Book”. Who can forget “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” or Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Hamlet? You don’t have to go with classics, either: try taking an incident that happened to you in real life and teleporting it into the past. What would baking a cake look like in Victorian England?  

Hey, Cheaper Than Therapy 
You know that haunting feeling? The pervasive feeling of existential dread, the quiet grief of a decaying friendship, the gnawing hunger for a chocolate chip cookie? (Okay. Maybe not that last one.) Humans are complicated, and most of us have emotions bouncing around inside all day long, going unexamined. Why not turn them into a story? If you’ve already examined all of your life’s hardships, even better: it’ll be so much easier to retell them in fiction. Change the names, and who’s to say your life’s memoir isn’t total fiction?  

Noodles at the Wall 
None of these sound ideal? No problem. When you’re cooking pasta, you can tell it’s done one of two ways: you can taste the noodle, checking to see if it’s al dente, or you can throw a noodle at the wall and see if it sticks. One of these methods is more reliable than the other. The other is undoubtedly more fun. Pick a broad category – food, clothes, recreation, jobs – and set a timer for ten minutes. Freewrite everything you can think of about that topic. It doesn’t matter what you write, it doesn’t matter if it’s good. You’re not writing fiction right now, you’re brainstorming. Just keep your hands moving. 

When you’re done writing those words, read through what you’ve just written. One of the sentences should feel stickier than the others. Maybe it bothers you; maybe you want to say more about it, or maybe you believe it more than you’ve ever believed anything in your life. Great. That’s the first sentence of your first chapter. Copy it into a new document and keep going. 

Thanks for joining the Aurora Library for our writing tips! I hope they were helpful! 

And you heard a voice say, as you closed the website, 
“Happy writing to all! It’ll turn out alright!” 

Posted by [email protected]  On Nov 03, 2020 at 2:58 PM 1 Comment
Create It!

Create It! Leaf Bowl
by Karen

It's #MakeItMonday! Bring the autumn outdoors indoors with this fun DIY leaf bowl tutorial - a perfect place for candy or decor!

Posted by [email protected]  On Nov 02, 2020 at 1:10 PM
by Megan

Ofrenda at MLK

If you stop by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (MLK), you’ll see a special Dia de los Muertos ofrenda created by our staff.  In Latinx tradition, Dia de los Muertos, observed Nov. 1 - 2, celebrates the life, memories and experiences of those who have passed away. The ofrenda is a richly colored altar steeped in symbolism, including personal touches from our MLK staff.

The ofrenda symbolizes a journey for the spirits of the dead.  Some ofrendas will have a pathway of marigold petals leading up to its base, forming a pathway for the spirits, so they can find their way to their family’s altar.  Each tier of the MLK ofrenda represents a step on the spiritual journey, beginning with Purgatory at the bottom. On the next step you’ll find images of various saints that had special meaning in life to those have passed.  You’ll also find sweet treats and favorite foods or drinks of the deceased on the steps of the ofrenda. Our staff member Marta shared that she places chicken noodle soup on her ofrenda at home in honor and celebration of many wonderful memories with her grandmother. 

On a step above the food you’ll find photos and pictures of the family members remembered each year. You may also find favorite toys or other items that held special meaning to those who have died. In this way, the living can honor the memories of those who have gone before and celebrate the times they shared together in life. The MLK ofrenda holds photographs of our staff member Israel’s parents and his wife’s uncle, and we’re honored that Israel and his wife have shared their family with us.

Throughout the ofrenda you may also notice salt, candles and fantastical creatures called alebrijes.  The salt is sprinkled to purify the spirit on its journey, while the candles light the way, and alebrijes (spirit animals) help guide the souls of the departed back to heaven. The final tier, at the top of the ofrenda, is the Virgin Mary, who guides the departed through the arch and back to heaven after their journey to visit their living families.

To learn more about Dia de los Muertos, stop by the MLK library to see the beautiful ofrenda and ask staff your questions. Or, if you’re unable to visit, Ask a Librarian, and we can find just the right books for you!

Ofrenda at MLK
Posted by [email protected]  On Nov 01, 2020 at 7:37 AM
Purple flames reveal tiny creatures, but what are they? Shadows in the Neighborhood.

"Shadows in the Neighborhood" was submitted by Mattix, Harry, Rachel and Dain, who wrote the story together as a family, each taking turns to add what came next. Congratulations to our winning Scary Stories in the Stacks submission!

Get in the spooky spirit and watch all Scary Stories in the Stacks here.

Posted by [email protected]  On Oct 30, 2020 at 11:03 AM
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