As families settle into another school year, it's a great time to remember that one of the most beneficial resources for students of all ages is free and can be found in five convenient locations across Beaufort County.
That resource is your public library.
The Beaufort County library system has branches in Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head Island, Lobeco and St. Helena Island. Each one has friendly and knowledgeable staff ready to help you locate and use our print and digital resources.
The youngest students heading off to kindergarten and elementary school will find the shelves filled with books that will get them excited about reading and learning. We can help your young students find books that are on their level, from the simplest beginning reader books to lengthy "chapter books" or junior novels. Our staff know the collection well and will be happy to make recommendations that meet your student's interests and reading abilities.
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Each location also has children's computers that are loaded with educational games to make learning fun for kids between the ages of 2 and 12. Kids can practice their keyboarding skills with Sponge Bob, work on letter or number recognition, complete math problems or learn about the human body. Each children's room also has computers, which students can use for research or to complete Compass Learning assignments.
The library subscribes to numerous databases that cover a wide range of topics and research needs. All of these resources can be easily accessed at the library, or library card holders can use many of them remotely by going to our website, www.beaufortcountylibrary.org, and logging on with their user ID and PIN. Staff members can help users log on the first time or help them reset their PIN.
The library owns many audiobooks of titles that are often on assigned reading lists. Audiobooks are perfect for reluctant or struggling readers who must read a book that is challenging in length. Reluctant readers who listen to an audiobook of the story while following along with the print version are often able to complete longer sections of the book in one sitting and retain more of the content that they have listened to and/or read.
The library also offers several picturebook/CD sets that are perfect for beginning readers. Kids can check out the set and listen to a popular story, such as "Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse" as they follow along in the book. The CD helps new readers develop their vocabulary as they read and listen. These sets are also great entertainment for car trips and commutes.
We also have books that will help preschoolers and kindergartners prepare for their first day of school. Stories such as "Ready, Set, Preschool" or "My Kindergarten" will help ease first-day jitters and will let little ones know what to expect at school.
Elementary students will laugh their way through the "Miss Nelson" books by Harry Allard, which feature a teacher who knows just the right way to teach her class a lesson they won't soon forget. Field trips that get out of hand are the setting for books like "Jimmy's Boa" by Trinka Noble and the "Black Lagoon" series by Mike Thaler, which feature a whole school full of characters with vivid imaginations.
Second- and third-grade readers will enjoy the popular Wayside School series by Louis Sachar, and Dan Gutman's silly school series, "My Weird School." These chapter books take readers into a wacky side of school filled with adventures, surprises and plenty of pranks. Science fans will enjoy the adventures of Phineas L. MacGuire as he grows mold, creates erupting science fair projects and slimes his mother's kitchen.
Older readers also have plenty of school-based novels to choose from. Two titles by Andrew Clements, "No Talking!" and "A Week in the Woods" are realistic fiction novels with strong main characters who find themselves in compelling situations at school. They are fast-paced stories and will keep readers on their toes as they try to figure out what will happen next. "Rules," by Cynthia Lord is an award-winning novel about an autistic boy and the impact that his struggles have on his 12-year-old sister. "Kizzy Ann Stamps," by Jeri Watts, is a historical novel told in the first person by Kizzy Ann as she nervously awaits the start of school in her newly integrated school in rural Kentucky. The book gives readers a glimpse into the struggles and fears that faced students in this time of American history, yet it ultimately ends on a hopeful and uplifting note.
So, remember your neighborhood library has everything you need for a successful school year filled with lots of learning fun. Grab the kids and discover all we have. We can't wait to see you.
Julie Bascom is the youth services manager at Hilton Head Island library.