Understanding Ukraine and Russia: A Guide for Kids and their Adults

Wellington is home to thousands of people of Ukrainian and Russian descent, as well as people from Polish, Belarusian, and other Eastern or Central-Eastern European backgrounds. The current conflict between Ukraine and Russia means that people who have moved here from those countries, or who have family there, are probably feeling pretty anxious, scared, or upset right now. And of course, whenever there is conflict happening somewhere in the world, it tends to find its way into our everyday lives — through the news, through TV or internet content, or through our friends or teachers at school talking about it — and it’s completely normal for that to make us feel a bit scared or anxious as well.

A man in Ukrainian cultural dress, including a tall fur cap and an elaborately-knotted brocade, is holding a small child in front of a festival stall which is decorated with sunflowers.

The Ukrainian stall at the Palmerston North Festival of Cultures in 2018. Note the Ukrainian flag in the background, as well as all the sunflowers — the sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine. Image courtesy of Palmerston North City Library, licensed under CC BY 4.0.

One way that we can help ourselves, and others, is by learning as much as we can about the history and culture of those places, and how news gets created and reported. If we learn about that, we can understand more about what’s going on at the moment in Ukraine and Russia — which means we’ll be more aware of, and better able to process, what’s being reported in the media and what our friends, whānau, and the wider community are talking about.

The good news is that the library has a whole heap of resources — books and other things — to help you learn more about Ukraine, Russia, international conflict, and the media more generally. Read on to find out how the library can help you understand what’s going on in the world at the moment.


HINT: Many of the links in this blog go to the Encyclopaedia Britannica for Kids. This is accessible to all Wellington City Libraries patrons. But to access this wonderful resource, and the others mentioned in this blog, you’ll need to login using your library card number (on the back of your card) and 4 digit pin (last FOUR numbers of the phone number listed on your library account), and the link will take you straight there.


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Tūhono 2021 is Live!

The day has finally come — Tūhono 2021, the latest volume in our poetry journal for (and by) young Wellingtonians, has officially been released into the world as of the 1st of March 2022. Over 200 young poets aged 5-18 contributed this time around, so we decided to split the book into two volumes — one containing the poems written by kids, and the other containing those written by teens. Head on over to OverDrive or Libby to check out the kids’ version — you can find the teens’ one here.

We are having physical copies printed as well, so soon you’ll be able to find Tūhono 2021 on the shelf at your local public or school library. We’re also giving two copies to the National Library of New Zealand, where they will be preserved for the rest of time (the legal term is ‘in perpetuity’) as part of the cultural heritage of this country. We think that’s an awesome achievement for all of you who wrote poems for the book. Congratulations on being published!

We think that this year’s colour palette is particularly beautiful.

There are some wonderful people who work for the library who need to be thanked for their efforts in creating this year’s edition of TūhonoStephanie (my partner-in-crime, and the amazing librarian who buy all the kids’ books for the library), Ligia (she designed the book — what an amazing talent she has!), Maggie (she helped collect and format your poems), Joseph (he helped with editing), Monty (he makes it possible for us to publish stuff online), Bridget (who writes the catalogue records that make it possible to find stuff at the library) and Celeste (who looks after our website). Hats off and a round of applause for these talented librarians who are helping to make our dream of publishing our very own poetry journal a reality!

Go forth and read! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and maybe — just maybe — you’ll feel a connection, a sense of tūhono, with everyone else who put a little something of themselves into this incredible book.


Tūhono: A journal of poetry by Wellington children / 2021
“Whakaata : reflection. This theme links all of the poems in this second edition of Tūhono, which were contributed by young Wellington poets aged 5-12 and collected by Wellington City Libraries throughout October and November 2021. Poems by writers aged 13-18 are collected in a separate volume.

The year 2021 provided us all with plenty of opportunities to reflect. What’s really important? What falls by the wayside when times are tough? What do you see looking back at you when you gain the courage to hold the mirror up to the light? Anxious, loving, hopeful, angry, quirky, imagistic, insular, exuberant – these poems are a kaleidoscope. At one end we put in our certainties and our questions, our need to understand and to express. As for what we see at the other end? Well, you’re reading it.

WCL would like to thank Kimi Ora School for generously providing beautiful artworks created by their students to accompany their poems.” (Catalogue)

Feisty Cats and Fearless Dogs: Our furry friends are superheroes!

via GIPHY

Throughout history there have been amazing stories of our furry friends coming to our rescue – whether it is waking the household in time to escape their burning house, finding lost people in the snow and staying with them until help arrives, to our wonderful companion animals who help their humans to lead a good life.  And even when we humans don’t treat them as well as we should, or the going gets touch for our feline and canine friends, there are so many heart-warming stories of their resilience and death-defying journeys.

We love our cats and dogs in Aotearoa. Nearly two thirds of Kiwi households have at least one companion animal. With 41% of New Zealand households having a cat, our rates of cat ownership are higher than both Australia and the US, and more than double the rate of the UK. Dogs are also an increasingly popular pet, with 34% of New Zealand households having at least one dog.

Our pets are such an important part of our lives that we have even created special days to celebrate them:

International Cat Day: 8 August 2022

Black Cat Appreciation Day: 17 August 2022

International Dog Day: 26 August 2022


Here are just a few stories of real-life heroes to give you that “awwww” moment you’ve all been waiting for:

Feisty Cats

Quaky cat / Noonan, Diana
“Tiger the cat flees for his life during the Canterbury earthquake that destroys his home. Frightened and in despair he wanders the city of Christchurch, searching for his caregiver Emma. As the city rocks and buildings tumble around him, he sniffs out the comforting smell of stew and finds his way to an emergency hall, where he is reunited with Emma. Although his house is in ruins and city battered he realises that none of it matters when the people you love are safe. Suggested level: junior, primary.” (Catalogue)

Cleo & Rob / Brown, Helen
“Sometimes hope has four paws, golden eyes and soft black fur. A kitten called Cleo steps into six-year-old Rob’s life after his big brother Sam dies. Based on true events in author Helen Brown’s family”– Back cover.” (Catalogue)

The Adventures of Mittens by Silvio Bruinsma - Penguin Books New ZealandThe adventures of Mittens : Wellington’s famous purr-sonality / Bruinsma, Silvio
“Meet Mittens, Wellington’s world-famous cat-about-town. He has thousands of followers, a hit song, an exhibition of fan art, and with his exploring paws he brings joy to everyone he meets!” (Catalogue)

Dozer the Fire Cat : a New Zealand story : inspired by true events / Prokop, Robyn
“In February 2019, a tiny spark in a Pigeon Valley paddock became the largest fire in New Zealand since 1955. Up to 150 volunteer firefighters fought the blaze. Around 3,500 people were evacuated, including the whole town of Wakefield. Story is based on a real cat that survived the fires. While his family is busy packing up to evacuate, Dozer is oblivious, busy doing what Dozer does . . . stalking, pouncing, washing . . . and sleeping. But when he wakes up, his family has gone and the world is a frightening place!” (Catalogue)

Lost and found cat : the true story of Kunkush’s incredible journey / Kuntz, Doug
“When an Iraqi family is forced to flee their home, they can’t bear to leave their beloved cat, Kunkush, behind. So they carry him with them from Iraq to Greece, keeping their secret passenger hidden away. But during the crowded boat crossing to Greece, his carrier breaks and the frightened cat runs from the chaos. In one moment, he is gone. This remarkable true story is told by the real people involved, with the full cooperation of Kunkush’s family.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The cat from Muzzle : a high-country cat’s incredible walk home / Sutton, Sally
“Dwayne is a rumble-tumble tabby cat who knows where he belongs — up on the farm at Muzzle Station. So, when he’s taken to live far away in the town of Kaikoura, what’s a cat to do? Shake the dust off his paws and start walking, of course! The trouble is, home is a very long way away … true tale of feline audacity” (Catalogue)

The little war cat / Khan, Hiba Noor
“Inspired by a true story, The Little War Cat follows the story of a little grey cat who is caught up in the BANGS and CRASHES of the humans in boots, who have changed the city of Aleppo she knew so well into one that’s harder to recognize. She is roaming the streets looking for food and shelter when an unlikely friend appears. He shows her that kindness is still there when you look for it, and soon the little grey cat knows exactly what to do to made a difference herself.” (Catalogue)


Fearless Dogs

Mac: A High Country Working DogMac : a high country working dog / Pitts, Hayley
“Mac lives at Mount Gladstone, in Marlborough’s high country. Mustering sheep, cattle and deer is Mac’s life-long job. His puppyish enthusiasm and hard work has earned him a special place in the farm dog team. Join Mac at work in this glimpse into high country farm life.” (Catalogue)

Dogs : fun facts and amazing stories / Bates, Dianne
“Dogs really are the perfect best friend. They are loyal, smart, fun and totally awesome! In this fabulous combination of remarkable true stories, amazing facts and lots of fun stuff, we get to discover just how incredible our canine friends really are. From stories about dogs in history, heroic dogs and working dogs to bizarre facts and wacky dog jokes, this book will entertain and make you smile. This gorgeous book also features lots of beautiful illustrations and images of the adorable dogs from Best Friends Pet Rescue.” (Catalogue)

Paws of courage : true tales of heroic dogs that protect and serve / Furstinger, Nancy
“Modern wars recruit more than just human soldiers. Our canine companions also serve in the line of duty and under fire, whether helping police protect our home turf or accompanying soldiers on missions abroad. Readers will cheer for the hero dogs featured in this collection, profiled with stunning photos and inspiring tales of bravery, friendship, heroism, and devotion.” (Catalogue)

Rescue & Jessica : a life-changing friendship / Kensky, Jessica
“When he is paired with a girl who has lost her legs, Rescue worries that he isn’t up to the task of being her service dog.” (Catalogue)

Lola goes to work / Goldman, Marcia
“Lola, the Yorkshire terrier, learns to be a therapy dog and then enjoys visits to schools, hospitals, and centres for elderly people.” (Catalogue)

Dog finds lost dolphins : and more true stories of amazing animal heroes / Carney, Elizabeth
“The first in a line of Animal Rescues chapter books, Dog Finds Lost Dolphins will be a tale you’ll not soon forget. In this charm- ing and awe-inspiring story you’ll meet Cloud, the black lab with a nose for rescue. She’s the only dog certified to sniff out stranded dolphins. Cloud can sniff out a dolphin over a mile off the coast of the Florida Keys. She’s even become friends with them, waiting on the dock for them to pop up and give her a kiss. This and two more amazing stories are so engaging, readers will never want to put the book down!” (Catalogue)

Courageous canine : and more true stories of amazing animal heroes/ / Halls, Kelly Milner
“Courageous Canine features an amazing pup named Lilly who sacrifices her own life to save her owner, a brave pod of dolphins who face a great white shark to save a stranger, and a mother gorilla, who in mourning her own baby, saves a 3-year-old boy who falls into her zoo enclosure. Filled with gorgeous photographs, sidebars, and fun facts, Courageous Canine will leave young readers hungry for more.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Reaching for the Stars: What Makes a Champion?

“Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” – Thomas Edison

Beijing 2022 unveils official emblems - Olympic NewsWith Nico Porteous winning Gold and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott winning a gold and silver medal at the Beijing Winter Olympics, New Zealand has had its best medal haul at a Winter Olympics for 70 years!

But what makes someone so good at what they do, that they go on to win a world title or an Olympic medal? Are they born like it? Do they have really good coaches or dedicated parents? Do they like what they do so much that they practise A LOT? Or is it a combination of all these things?

If you want to take up a sport, learn a musical instrument or learn to paint or write… any skill really…here’s a few tips to help achieve your goals

Brown Wooden Blocks on White Table

Image: Pexels

  1. Start with something you love – this might take a wee bit of time to figure out, but you’ll know it when you find it! Maybe you could try doing lots of different sports or activities offered at your school or community centre to see what really ‘floats your boat’. Be prepared to give new things a go.
  2. Practise, practise, practise! All those amazing athletes, musicians, innovators, writers and artists don’t get to where they are today by not practising. Sometimes this might seem really boring or hard (especially when you think your friends are having a good time and you’re stuck practising), but it’ll be worth it in the end. And it’s exciting when all that practice pays off and you see yourself getting better and better! Kia kaha!
  3. Persevere! There will be times when you have failures or feel like you’re not getting any better. As the saying goes: “Keep Calm and Try, Try and Try Again.”
  4. Have faith in yourself! And make sure you encourage others on you team that are struggling. You’ve got this!
  5. Listen to your coach or teacher. They’re a coach/teacher for a reason – they know stuff! Your coach wants to see you improve so do the exercises and drills they set and turn up to practise sessions and lessons.
  6. Always stick to the rules and play fairly. You will feel good about yourself and you’ll be a good role model for others.

Links to get you thinking:

Beijing 2022 – NZ Team

New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame

New Zealand Book Award Winners 2021

New Zealand Chamber Music Contest 2022

Halberg Awards

Weetbix Kids’ Trythlon

The Wonder Project

YMCA NZ

Science Kids


Books to inspire:

New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame : 25 Kiwi champions / Maria Gill ; illustrated by Marco Ivancic. / Gill, Maria
“Features 25 famous New Zealand sportspeople across a wide range of different sporting disciplines. Includes a caricature, an action photograph, a profile of the person, timeline, inspirational quote, description of the sport, training regime and trophy board”–Publisher’s information.” (Catalogue)

Rising above. Inspiring women in sports / Zuckerman, Gregory
“These are the inspirational real-life stories of female superstar athletes Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Carli Lloyd, and more — role models all. For sports fans, aspiring athletes and readers of sports biographies. The athletes featured in this book met earth-shaking challenges head on, and through hard work and perseverance, went on to conquer the sports world. This collection of mini biographies, complete with first-hand content drawn from interviews, is a source of inspiration and self-empowerment for kids and sports fans of all ages. ”  (Catalogue, abridged)

I am, I can : 365 affirmations for kids / Kinder, Wynne
“I am strong. I am brave. I can handle anything. Using the power of positive thinking, children can build their self-esteem and resilience by focusing on what matters to them and remembering to champion themselves.” (Catalogue)
Skateboarding champion / Nixon, James
“This series is all about the exhilarating world of extreme sports and what it takes to become a top professional. Each title lists the essential equipment you need and examines the basic skills, before going on to look at the more demanding tricks and stunts. There are also profiles of some of the greatest names in the sport, the biggest competitions in the world and the most fearsome locations that these daring competitors come up against. BMX Champion opens up the world of BMX biking, both racing and freestyle. Techniques, facts, stats and competitor profiles grab young readers’ attention and ensure a thrilling read from cover to cover.” (Catalogue)

The bomb / Cotter, Sacha
“In this story about being true to oneself, a boy searches for the secret to doing the perfect bomb into the water. With training from Nan, an expert and former champion, and by listening to his own voice, he finds his unique style and pulls off a wonderful, acrobatic, truly awe-inspiring bomb”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

The flea thing / Falkner, Brian
“Twelve-year-old Daniel has a secret that turns his life upside down when he wins a place on the New Zealand Warrior’s rugby league team. Suggested level: intermediate, junior secondary.” (Catalogue)

Volleyball ace / Rodriguez, Cindy L.
“Until now, Layla has balanced her school work and volleyball easily enough. At high school, though, academic expectations are tougher. When Layla’s dedication to volleyball puts her maths test results at risk, her chances of making the school team next year are on the line. Can she find a way to ace her classes like she does on the court?” (Catalogue)
The soccer star / Rippin, Sally
“Billie wants to play soccer, but the boys at school say she can’t. How can Billie prove that girls can play soccer too?” (Book cover)

Raising an amazing musician : you, your child and music.

Whatever stage of learning your child has reached, Raising an Amazing Musician will empower you to make the right decisions for your young musician, and enrich their experience of music as an enjoyable, life-enhancing activity.

Black music greats / Cachin, Olivier
“The biggest names… The coolest sounds… The 40 most inspirational movers, shakers and innovators in black music history are here! Learn how these black musicians changed music in this book packed with incredible facts. Meet the Godfather of Funk, the High Priestess of Soul and the King of Reggae. Learn how Marvin Gaye shaped the sound of Motown, how N.W.A redefined rap, and what made the Supremes, supreme. Each artist is an icon of their age, but who will you add to your playlist?” (Catalogue)

Be a super awesome artist / Carroll, Henry
“Become a super-awesome artist with this fantastic new book. Using real examples of art for inspiration, this great book features 20 exciting art challenges to help you create your own masterpieces. Channel the artistic genius within and you’ll be painting like Pollock, doodling like Duchamp and creating like Kahlo in no time!” (Catalogue)

This book thinks you’re a scientist : experiment, imagine, create : fill-in pages for your ideas / Russell, Harriet
“This book thinks you’re a scientist. Get into it before anyone tells it otherwise! Inside you’ll do everything a scientist does: look, ask questions, wonder and test your ideas. You’ll also do things scientists don’t necessarily do: eat your experiments, levitate paper clips and play a drinking straw like an oboe. There are even portable laboratory pages for you to experiment on, so that by the end, you’ll know how to invent your own fun ways of finding out about the world.” (Catalogue)

Announcing the Summer Reading Adventure 2021-22 Champions!

The day is finally here! You’ve waited very patiently, and now it’s time for us to announce the Grand Prize Winners of the 2021-22 Summer Reading Adventure.

Of course, everyone who took part is a winner in some way — whether you won badges, books, stationery, vouchers, or just the eternal respect and admiration of your peers, your fearless ventures into the Land of Literature have not gone unrewarded. In fact, during the Summer Reading Adventure, our librarians gave out 3,578 prizes to intrepid word explorers across our fair city.

Some of these prizes came along with another, hidden prize — the opportunity to put your name in the hat to win one of the four Grand Prizes. When all was said and done, we had nearly 10,000 names in the four Grand Prize hats. Out of those honourable 10,000, the following lucky four names were drawn:


Grand Prize #1 — Into the Wild

Winner: Charlotte, age 8, from Redwood School and Tawa Library

Prizes:

  • 1x Family Pass to Zealandia
  • 1x Family Pass to Wellington Zoo
  • Assorted goodies, including books and chocolate!


Grand Prize #2 — Science and Wonder

Winner: Sophia, age 6, from Sacred Heart Cathedral School and Johnsonville Library

Prizes:

  • 1x Family Pass to the Space Place
  • 1x Capital E voucher
  • Assorted goodies, including books and chocolate!


Grand Prize #3 — Artistic Aspirations

Winner: Felix, age 9, from Seatoun School and Miramar Library

Prizes:

  • 1x Family Pass to Hilma af Klimt: The Secret Paintings at the City Gallery
  • A selection of high-quality artistic stationery from Gordon Harris
  • Assorted goodies, including books and chocolate


Grand Prize #4 — Books, Movies and More

Winner: Pia, age 10, from Wa Ora Montessori School and Karori Library

Prizes:

  • 5x tickets to Light House Cinemas
  • $50 Unity Books voucher
  • Assorted goodies, including books and chocolate

Massive congratulations to all our winners!

But most of all, congratulations to everyone who took part! As we’ve noted before, you have positively blown our socks off and we couldn’t be prouder of the kids of Wellington and your incredible reading prowess. See you for the next Adventure!

Sophia, age 6, proudly holding her bag full of prizes in front of the main desk at Johnsonville Library

Sophia from Sacred Heart Cathedral School and Johnsonville Library

Charlotte, age 8, standing with a broad smile and a bag full of prizes in front of a row of colourful shelves containing children's books.

Charlotte from Redwood School and Tawa Library


Pia, age 10, standing next to a staff member at Karori Library, proudly holding her bag full of prizes

Pia from Wa Ora Montessori School and Karori Library

Keep Calm and Carry On with Mindfulness

Hey Kids! With New Zealand under Red Settings, it can be an uncertain and stressful time. However, keep calm and carry on under RED because Wellington City Libraries has a wide range of books for children on mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness?

  • Mindfulness has become a trendy word that is used to describe everything from yoga exercises, meditation, breathing to colouring activities.
  • Mindfulness is simply… noticing what is happening right now.
  • Mindfulness is taking notice of how your body feels and what you see, smell and taste. Maybe you even feel emotions in your body, perhaps through a tightness somewhere, or a good sensation.
  • Mindfulness is also noticing what your mind is doing.

To find about more about mindfulness and the tools needed to keep calm and carry on, have a read of the following:


image courtesy of syndeticsMeditation is an open sky : mindfulness for kids.

“Feeling mindful is feeling good! You know when you’re having a bad day, you have that wobbly feeling inside and nothing seems to go right? Find a quiet place, sit down, and meditate! In this daily companion, kids of any age will learn simple exercises to help manage stress and emotions, find focus, and face challenges. They’ll discover how to feel safe when scared, relax when anxious, spread kindness, and calm anger when frustrated. Simple, secular, and mainstream, this mindfulness book is an excellent tool for helping kids deal with the stresses of everyday life”– Provided by publisher.

image courtesy of syndeticsThe panic button book for kids : an interactive guide to help kids deal with worries and feel calmer.

“All kids go through tricky times. Bright kids can struggle to switch off their mind, creative kids often heap pressure on themselves and sensitive kids may be easily overwhelmed. When our kids worry, it’s as though they give away some of their happiness. Does a child in your life need help tackling anxiety? The Panic Button Book for Kids is an interactive, step-by-step guide for children aged 7-11 and their caregivers. Written in everyday language and beautifully illustrated, this book is designed for grown-ups to read with their child, and is full of helpful ideas to kick anxiety to the curb and create a common language between the generations.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsBreathe like a bear : 30 mindful moments for kids to feel calm and focused anytime, anywhere.

“We all want to bring more calm into our lives. We all want to feel more focused and positive. Mindfulness is the key to making it happen. Breathe like a bear guides us through fun exercises to help us relax and stretch our imaginations. Because just like we need to exercise our bodies, we need to flex our mindfulness muscles!”–Jacket.

image courtesy of syndeticsCalm : mindfulness for kids.

“Calm: Mindfulness for Kids has everything you need to know about focusing your child’s mind to help them enjoy and appreciate things that they take for granted every day, while boosting their confidence and self-esteem. Children are guided through each activity, to make sure they achieve maximum enjoyment and awareness. All children will learn and react to each activity in a different way and parent’s notes give advice on how to encourage children to embrace mindfulness in the modern world. Each specially designed activity is flexible for each child’s needs and inspires them to seek calmness and tranquility in all situations.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsAroha’s Way.image courtesy of syndetics

“”Nau mai, hoake tātou ko Aroha, i a ia e kaupare ana i te taiatea, i te mataku, i te māharahara, me te anipā, ki ana tukanga māmā ka taea e te katoa.” From award-winning New Zealand author, Craig Phillips, creator of The Adventures of Jack Scratch and Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts (winner of the Russell Clark Award for Illustration at the New Zealand Book Awards 2018). Aroha’s Way is a beautiful, descriptive and relatable book – an important book – helping children to normalise, understand and even develop their own tools for dealing with their feelings.” (Catalogue) Also available in Te Reo.

image courtesy of syndeticsHow do I feel? : a dictionary of emotions for children : with 60+ definitions to help children identify and understand their emotions.

“A dictionary of emotions for children ; with 60 definitions to help children identify and understand their emotions. Includes parent/teacher notes.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsMindfulness activities for kids (and their grown-ups) : learn calm, focus, & gratitude for a lifetime.

“Mindfulness Activities Kids can do with their Grown-ups to be Focused, Peaceful, and Grateful together! Mindfulness reduces anxiety and stress, improves focus, and creates calm—all attributes parents want for their kids. But what’s the best way to teach it to your child? Mindfulness Activities for Kids (And Their Grown-ups) provides 40 mindfulness activities for you and your child to do together, so you both reap the benefits as you develop a deeper connection.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsJust breathe : meditation, mindfulness, movement, and more.

“For kids ages 8 to 12, this is an accessible and fun meditation how-to book filled with full-color illustrations, written by Mallika Chopra. Meditation and Mindfulness for Kids is a fun and accessible, fully illustrated go-to meditation guide written by none other than Mallika Chopra, wellness expert and the daughter of Deepak Chopra. For kids ages 8 to 12, this book is full of specific exercises to help deal with day-to-day challenges and tips to lead a healthier, happier, and more connected life. With a foreword written by Deepak Chopra, this will be the go-to book for kids who want to learn more about mindfulness and meditation.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsCrafting calm : art and activities for mindful kids.

“In Crafting Calm : Art and Activities for Mindful Kids, kids engage in and practice mindfulness through fun and easy exercises, crafts, and activities, with the goal of learning a deeper sense of calm, peace, joy, and connection to the world around them, all while improving emotional intelligence, boosting self-esteem, and reducing anxiety.” (Catalogue)

For more books about mindfulness, click here.

Schools Past, Present and Future

group of people wearing white and orange backpacks walking on gray concrete pavement during daytime

Image: Unsplash: School children

“Back to school, back to school,
Now the holiday’s done.
We love our teacher, we love our class,
We think our school work is fun!” (an old rhyme)

If it’s February, it must be back to school time! Ever since New Zealand was colonised in the late 1800’s, schools have been built around the country. Many early schools were small, single-room buildings with one teacher who taught everything to students of varying ages. There were strict rules on how to behave, and often physical punishment (usually a cane or leather strap across the hand – ouch!) was administered if you misbehaved! By around 1910, all children between seven and 14 had to attend school.  In 1913, secondary schooling became free to attend in New Zealand. Children who passed Standard 6 (Year 8) in a number of subjects were awarded Proficiency. This meant they could go onto high school.

Today New Zealand has over 2,500 primary and secondary schools.

Fun School Fact #1: Daily School Milk in NZ Schools

Milk In Schools | On 2 April 1937, the free milk in schools … | Flickr

Milk in Schools, 1937. Image: Flickr

New Zealand schoolchildren received free milk between 1937 and 1967. This scheme was introduced – a world first – to improve the health of young New Zealanders (and make use of surplus milk).

Each day, class milk monitors handed out a half-pint (284 ml) of milk to each pupil. By 1940 the milk was available to over 80 per cent of schoolchildren. For a few years during the Second World War, pupils also received an apple a day.

Fun School Fact #2: The world’s largest school

City Montessori School in Lucknow, India takes the prize as the largest school in the world. It has around 52,000 students (from kindergarten age through to secondary school) and 1,050 classrooms! Each class has around 45 students, and there is even a whole school department just to write letters of congratulations to students. As there are so many pupils, the school’s classrooms are spread across the city.

See if you can find the city of Lucknow in India on a world map HERE

Fun School Fact #3: Correspondence School | Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu

Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura) is New Zealand’s largest school, providing education programmes to more than 23,000 students every year! The students learn remotely for lots of reasons – they  may live a long way away from their nearest school, or they might be living overseas with their family for a time.

The Correspondence School was established in 1922 to provide lessons to approximately 100 isolated primary school children scattered throughout New Zealand. All the lessons and letters to students were written by hand by the school’s first teacher, Miss Janet Mackenzie.

Check out Te Kura’s interesting timeline HERE.

What will schools look like in the future?

Today’s schools rely heavily on technology, from having laptops and tablets available to students for research, creative writing and presenting, to many schools requiring their students to BYOD – Bring Your Own Device… a far cry from slates and slate pencils in Victorian times (1830’s – 1910’s) and blackboards and chalk in 20th century schools!

boy wearing black and white VR headset

Image: Unsplash: VR headset

With multiple lockdowns because of the Covid-19 pandemic, school students throughout the country (and the world) have already started to learn in different ways to even five years ago.  This includes virtual classrooms using online video conferencing tools such as Zoom and Teams, and having your own school online account and log-in to allow for work to be uploaded and submitted online.

Many schools and libraries already have Makerspaces offering everything from building blocks to 3-D printing, laser cutting and virtual reality headsets. Very soon we may see holograms being used to help with teaching, or maybe students will be taught by robots!


School Jubilee Histories – finding out about your school

Want to find out more about the history of the school you attend? Wellington City Libraries have a great online resource you could use. In our Wellington City Recollect page, we have a collection called School Jubilee Histories.

Here’s a step-by-step to help you find this page:

On the Wellington City Libraries main website page


Wellington City Libraries have got loads of books  about schools from around the world, the past and the future:

Schools : then & now / Hope, Charles
“Children have been going to school for thousands of years. While some things about schools are the same – teachers and students. Subjects and classrooms – in many ways the schools of today are different to the schools of the past.” (Catalogue)
My school in 2055 / Lewis, Carrie
“In the school of the future, children might use tech such as interactive screens, holo projectors, and virtual reality to set their own pace and make learning is personalized” (Catalogue)
A school like mine : a unique celebration of schools around the world / Smith, Penny
“Introduces children from around the world and describes what school life is like for them.” (Catalogue)
What’s for lunch? : how school children eat around the world / Curtis, Andrea
“An examination of the food consumption by school children in thirteen countries; focusing on school lunches, as well as the inequality of food and the importance of health, nutritious food.” (Catalogue)
Children just like me.
“Photographs and text depict the homes, schools, family life, and culture of young people around the world.” (Catalogue)
Off to class : incredible and unusual schools around the world / Hughes, Susan
“Travel around the globe to visit some of the world’s most incredible schools, and meet the students who attend them.” (Catalogue)
Bots! : robotic engineering : with hands-on makerspace activities / Ceceri, Kathy
“Robots are everywhere! In Bots! Robotics Engineering with Hands-On Makerspace Activities, middle schoolers learn about these devices that vacuum our houses, work in our factories, help us learn at school, sample rocks from other planets, and even bring back images from the bottom of the ocean. In Bots! you can find hands-on STEM activities, coding challenges that use free online software, essential questions, and links to online primary resources!” (Catalogue)
The makerspace librarian’s sourcebook
“This collection leads librarians through how to start their own makerspace from the ground up, covering strategic planning, funding sources, starter equipment lists, space design, and safety guidelines; discusses the transformative teaching and learning opportunities that makerspaces offer, with tips on how to empower and encourage a diverse maker culture within the library.” (Catalogue, abridged)

The Summer Reading Adventure is Finished!

Well, folks, here we are. The Summer Reading Adventure is finally over! You’ve absolutely blown us away with what you’ve achieved — congratulations to everyone who took part. Here are some of the numbers:

  • You read 16,863 books over December and January — that’s 527 books a day, or a book every 5 minutes!
  • You wrote, drew, or filmed 5,044 book reviews. Many of you loved using emojis to tell us about the books you read!
  • You completed 2,625 quests, from exploring and mapping the land to building forts, conducting science experiments to creating beautiful and original works of art.
  • You earned 3,536 prizes, including badges, books, pens, pencils and notebooks, vouchers from our wonderful friends at Ben & Jerry’s and Unity Books, and other goodies!

So many of you have picked up prizes already. From today, you can still come in to pick up prizes, but only while stocks last as we’re starting to run out of books and other goodies! Check out some of our 3,000+ prizewinners below:

Adelaide from Karori Library

Marcy from Karori Library


Harper from Khandallah Library

Kenta from Tawa Library


Mikio from Tawa Library

Senri from Tawa Library


Charlie and William from Te Awe Library


Even though the Summer Reading Adventure is officially over, that doesn’t mean that your reading journey needs to end. You can still use our Beanstack website to log your reading, get personalised book recommendations, write or draw reviews, and earn digital achievements. Awesome stuff!

Keep your eyes peeled for more announcements about the Summer Reading Adventure, including our Grand Prize Winners — your name may just be on that list! But for now, we’re going to take a quick break, wipe the sweat from our brow, and start getting ready for the next adventure. See you there!

Sea Dragons and Other Monsters from the Deep


Sticky note…

Many of the links in this blog go to the Encyclopaedia Britannica for kids. This is accessible to all Wellington City Libraries users. But to access this wonderful resource, you’ll need to login using your library card number (on the back of your card) and 4 digit pin (last FOUR numbers of the phone number listed on your library account), and the link will take you straight there.


A 180-million-year-old “sea dragon” has been unearthed from the depths of an old reservoir in the United Kingdom – and it’s a massive find: It’s as long as a double-decker bus (around 9.7 metres) and just its skull alone weighs 907kg, which is almost as much as a the weight of a small car!

Palaeontologists say the discovery are the bones of the ichthyosaur (or Sea Dragon)  is an extinct reptile that lived in water. Its name means ‘fish lizard’. Ichthyosaurus belonged to a larger group of reptiles called ichthyosaurs. Ichthyosaurs were distant relatives of lizards and snakes. They were not dinosaurs.

Watch the palaeontologists work:

What’s the difference between reptiles and dinosaurs?

black and white lizard on gray concrete floor

Lizard: Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

Dinosaurs lived around 66 million years ago. They are now extinct. Dinosaur were warm-blooded, whereas reptiles are cold-blooded animals. Both dinosaurs and reptiles hatch eggs and have scaly skin. However, the main difference between dinosaurs and reptiles is posture. Dinosaurs held their limbs directly under their bodies (like most mammals do) while reptiles, like lizards, have their limbs spread out sideways.

Do sea monsters exist today?

Free photo Tentacle Boats Kraken Boat Octopus Squid Monster - Max Pixel

Image: CC – Max Pixel free imagery

Hundreds of years ago, European sailors told of a sea monster called the kraken that could toss ships into the air with its many long arms. The legend may actually have originated from sightings of  the giant squid, which is a real living sea animal. It has 10 arms, can grow longer than a bus, and because it lives in deep oceans, has massive eyes. It’s only in recent years that these elusive creatures have been videoed alive, but you can see a deceased giant squid that has been preserved at the Colossal Squid (Te Ngū Tipua) exhibition at Te Papa.

Another mythical creature was called the Leviathan which is like a giant sea snake. Sea snakes are real animals, found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The longest can grow to about nine feet — almost as long as our ancient Sea Dragon fossil above. Although some of these snakes are venomous, they usually do not pose a threat to humans.

Loch Ness - UTGÅTT - Engelsk (SF vg1) (LK06) - NDLA

(CC BY-SA 4.0)

And of course, we can’t forget the Loch Ness Monster. The Loch Ness Monster (also referred to as Nessie) is a supposed animal, said to live in the Scottish loch of Loch Ness, the second biggest lake in Scotland. Most scientists believe that the Loch Ness Monster is not real, and they say that many of the sightings are either hoaxes or pictures of other mistaken existing animals.

Dig deeper with these cool links:

Paleontology and dinosaurs for kids

Marine biology facts for kids

Ocean facts!

Archaeology facts for kids

Octopus facts

The ocean’s weirdest creatures

Our Blue Planet: Exploring the alien world of brine pools (YouTube)


There are lots of books about sea monsters real and imagined in our library collection for you to read if you dare!

Monsters : 100 weird creatures from around the world / Banville, Sarah
“Ever wondered what terrorised the Scape Ore swamp in 1980s South Carolina? Or who visits the naughty children in Northern Europe to punish them on Christmas Eve? Or how bloated undead feeders got upgraded to a shape-shifting castle-dwelling Count? From well-known and well-feared monsters like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, to the lesser-known, but just as weird and wonderful Japanese Sea Serpent and Chinese Hopping Vampires, this book is the must-have guide to monsters from all over the world”–Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)
Monstrous : the lore, gore, and science behind your favorite monsters / Beccia, Carlyn
“Could Dr. Frankenstein’s machine ever animate a body? Why should vampires drink from veins and not arteries? What body parts are best for zombies to eat? (It’s not brains.) This fascinating encyclopedia of monsters delves into the history and science behind eight legendary creatures, from Bigfoot and the kraken to zombies and more. Find out each monster’s origin story and the real-world history that informed it, and then explore the science of each creature in fun and surprising ways. Tips and infographics—including monster anatomy, how to survive a vampire attack, and real-life giant creatures of the deep sea—make this a highly visual and fun-to-browse book.” (Catalogue)
Deep dive into deep sea / Flannery, Tim F.
“You might think you know about the ocean, but the deep sea is nothing like the beach. Things are weird down there. Who is the giant squid’s mortal enemy? Can you see ghosts in the deep sea? Why would a sea cucumber have teeth on its butt? And what on earth is a headless chicken monster?” (Catalogue)
Sea monster surprise / Stilton, Geronimo
“Bart Barnacle, the prehistoric pirate who has been visiting the cavemice, is ready to return to his pirate island home. It’s so far away that the Stiltonoots offer to accompany him on the long, treacherous journey over the sea. On the way, they encounter megalithic danger and hungry sea monsters! What an adventure!” (Catalogue)
The sea of monsters : the graphic novel / Venditti, Robert
“After discovering a secret that makes him question the honor of being the son of Poseidon, demi-god Percy Jackson journeys into the Sea of Monsters in an attempt to save Camp Half-Blood.” (Catalogue)
Nessie the Loch Ness monster / Brassey, Richard
“Fact or fiction? Whether or not you believe in the legendary tale from Loch Ness, this bestselling book is an essential part of British culture.” (Catalogue)
Sepron the sea serpent / Blade, Adam
Book 2 of the Beast Quest series. Sepron the Sea Serpent is a beast who protects the Western Ocean of Avantia. He is a long serpentine beast with green hair-like mane often compared to seaweed and a wide mouth lined with jagged fangs.
Twenty thousand leagues under the sea / Verne, Jules
“In the mid-nineteenth century, a French professor and his two companions, trapped aboard a fantastic submarine as prisoners of the deranged Captain Nemo, come face to face with exotic ocean creatures and strange sights hidden from the world above.” (Catalogue)
Ocean monsters / Davies, Nicola
“IExplore: Ocean Monsters is packed with fascinating information about the biggest, fiercest and strangest sea creatures, and is sure to inspire a sense of wonder and awe in nature. This book also brilliantly harnesses the wonders of AR to explore the world’s mysterious seas. Children can interact with dynamic sea creatures from the convenience of a tablet or smartphone.” (Catalogue)
Sea monsters : prehistoric creatures of the deep / Everhart, Michael J
“This book takes readers back in time – 82 million years ago – to when a massive sea divided North America, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico northward to Canada… giving us a glimpse of creatures like the sinuous Styxosauras, whose serpentine neck weighed more than a ton, or the fierce 40-foot Tylosaurus, the undisputed top predator of the time.” (Catalogue, abridged)
Miss Kraken / Greenberg, Nicki
“The minute we saw Miss Kraken, we all knew it was going to be a bad year. She’s cranky. She’s strict. She’s just plain . . . weird. Miss Kraken is definitely not the teacher the kids were hoping for. But she might have a surprise or two up her sleeves. A hilarious tale of bad behaviour and unexpected consequences.” (Catalogue)
The Kiwi fossil hunter’s handbook / Crampton, J. S.
“New Zealand has a rich fossil record, which is accessible to the amateur fossil-hunter in locations around New Zealand, including shells and plant remains, as well as the bones, teeth and other remnants of ancient reptiles, birds and fish. This handy pack-sized guide features 30 accessible locations around the country where kids and their families can find fossils. Each location contains specific information on where to look and what to look for, as well as the geological background and other details of each site, and colour images of fossils that could be found there” (Catalogue)
Whiti : colossal squid of the deep / Cleal, Victoria
“The colossal squid has been the most popular exhibit at Te Papa since it arrived there in 2007. Now this appealing book for young readers tells the fascinating story of these creatures from the deep, through sparkling and informative text and amazing illustrations. A must-have natural history book for young readers and their whānau and teachers”(Catalogue)

Kids’ Activities Under Red Settings

To keep our young people and vulnerable communities safe under Red settings, we’re moving most of our programmes for children under the age of 12 and their families online! This is because even though our libraries are open, lots of our kids’ programmes, like CRAFTerschool, Code Club, and Baby Rock and Rhyme, involve lots of people getting very close together, and it’s just too tricky to provide the required social distancing for young people who can’t yet be vaccinated.

Soon, we will be starting up a whole bunch of activities and programmes, some of which you can do online, and some of which you will be able to do in a contactless way in the library, but in the meantime we thought it would be a good idea to remind you about all the awesome online resources and activities you can do with us online. If you love stories, arts and crafts, music, movies, and fun activities to do with your family, we’ve got you covered!

We have so many really cool resources available in our eLibrary! If you want to have a browse yourself you can check our our Kids’ Guide or have a look through what’s available on our Kids’ Home Page, or just read on… Continue reading