Family-friendly books, websites and apps.

"AND THEN IT'S SPRING" by Julie Fogliano

Ahhh, spring…that wonderful time of year when brown turns to green. This is a beautifully illustrated tale about planting seeds and waiting…and waiting and waiting. The simple text inspires hope and teaches the value of patience. There are so many subtle details in Erin E. Stead's illustrations, which complement Fogliano's text perfectly. FOR AGES 4 TO 8.

"LIAR & SPY" by Rebecca Stead

Life has suddenly changed for Georges after his father loses his job and his family has to move from their house into an apartment. Then he meets Safer, a mysterious boy in his apartment building, and things start to get interesting. This book explores issues like bullying and illness without being overly dramatic. Great characters, a bit of mystery, wonderful storytelling and an imaginative plot make this another great read by Newbery-winner Rebecca Stead. FOR AGES 9 TO 12.

"NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY" by J. Patrick Lewis

U.S. Children's Poet Laureate and Westerville resident J. Patrick Lewis has compiled a fantastic book filled with poems about animals and nature, along with stunning photographs from National Geographic. Poets such as Ogden Nash, Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson are featured as well as authors like Jane Yolen and Rudyard Kipling. This is a great introduction to poetry, particularly for animal lovers. FOR AGES 4 AND UP.

"CROGAN'S LOYALTY" by Chris Schweizer

It's brother vs. brother, fighting on opposite sides during the Revolutionary War. Each brother feels loyalty to their side, but also loyalty to one another. Which will win out? A lively cast of characters follows the brothers, as the reader gets a lesson about a part of American history not often taught. The story starts in the present day, as a father tells his two sons the story of their ancestors. In the process, they all learn a lesson about brotherhood and family. A graphic novel, with simple yet bold black and white artwork, this is actually the third book in the Crogan Adventures series. And what an adventure it is! FOR TEENS.

-Laura Batt, Youth Services Librarian, Main Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library

WEBSITE

PBS PARENTS

Looking through everything this website (pbs.org/parents) has to offer could take an entire naptime, but it is well worth it for all the great information it provides. There are several articles on a variety of topics including education, fitness and dealing with tough issues, as well as a parenting tools feature, which has a very useful child development tracker for different ages, searchable activity finder and book finder. There are some neat birthday party tips and ideas featuring characters from different PBS shows. For the kids, there are activities and crafts, printable workbooks and coloring sheets, games and recipes you and your child can make together. And best of all, it's all free!

-Laura Batt

FAMILY APPS

TAMAGOTCHI

If you came of age in the '90s, you most certainly know about the Tamagotchi craze - that little handheld device on which you fed and cared for your very own virtual pet. Often "everything old is new again" in the world of apps, and Tamagotchi will soon be releasing their original toy on iOS when they release Tamagotchi l.i.f.e. This new free app has twice the resolution of the former toy. All the original characters are featured, and this time they're in vibrant color. Also, taking advantage of the social networking wave that didn't exist in the '90s, this new app lets you share your pets on Facebook. The Android version of this app became available on Valentine's Day. The iPhone version will be following soon. You can follow the release of this app at http://tamagotchilife.com.

WORDWORLD: FUN WITH WORDFRIENDS

PBS KIDS has created WordWorld ($1.99) so your youngster can play word learning games along with their favorite characters from the PBS KIDS show. This app teaches children about letters, letter sounds and word families as they play along with such characters as Dog (which hosts the game Letter Fetch), Duck (co-hosts Word Fishing), Frog (co-hosts Word Fishing) and Pig (host of Windy Words). Kids earn WordThing stickers and collect show videos as they play. The app has a "Parents" button you can press to see how your child has fared in the various games, as well as the awards that they've earned. This app, most suitable for pre-schoolers and pre-readers, opens a world of word fun just by clicking on one of your child's favorite TV characters.

-Phil Pikelny