Children’s Book Week is 100 Years Young!

April 29 through May 5,2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week. The 100th Anniversary theme — Read Now ∙ Read Forever – looks to the past, present, and most important, the future of children’s books.  Grab a kid, grab a book and read together this week! And every week!  And every day! — ALW

By Jessica Emmett

Everyone has a favorite children’s book. Whether you love Dr. Seuss, Goodnight Moon or Brown Bear, Brown Bear, you probably get the warm fuzzies when you think about some book from your childhood. Children’s books are the gateway to becoming lifelong learners and lifelong readers, and the standards are high. For a book to end up in your school, your library or your hands, lots of people have to think it’s pretty great (and it helps if it gives someone the warm fuzzies, too).

This week we have been celebrating Children’s Book Week with fun activities and ideas to help get kids in Waco excited about reading!

Children’s Book Week

In 1919, librarians, editors, booksellers and Boy Scouts decided to start a literacy initiative to promote reading among young people in the United States. In 1944, the Children’s Book Council assumed responsibility for running Children’s Book Week, an event that connects libraries, bookstores, schools and homes—anywhere where young readers are reading.

Today, Children’s Book Week is the longest running national literacy initiative in the country. Over 1,300 libraries, bookstores and schools host events to celebrate the week. This year is the 100th anniversary of the first Children’s Book Week, so we can celebrate all year long. The theme this year is Read Now • Read Forever.

Why Read?

Getting kids to read helps expand their vocabularies. Learning new words helps young brains develop just like exercise helps their bodies. It’s like mental cross-training! Better readers are better writers, so reading all those books can lead to strong job skills along with a life-long love of James and the Giant Peach.

Reading is a great way to experience other cultures, too. Kids can learn about places they’d like to visit and about the unique history and people who live there. What a great way to start conversations and inspire a new generation of travelers!

Learning about history, science and how the world works can inspire innovation and creativity. When kids read books, they walk away with brand new ideas and ways to solve problems.

One of the best side-effects of reading is developing a great imagination! When kids learn what might be—instead of being limited to the things they can see—they dream bigger. Think about Harold and his purple crayon… Imagination is magic!

How Can You Help?

Inspiring young people to become readers is everyone’s responsibility. Reading to kids is the obvious way to share books with them, but it’s not the only one. Be a great role model by reading for work or for fun. Kids absorb and mimic your behavior, so reading inspires them in a positive way.

Bring kids to the library regularly to encourage them to value reading, sharing and community resources. While you’re there, take a trip to the children’s department to see if we have your favorite book. Take a little time to pass it on to a young person in your life. The books of your childhood help tell your story in the best words possible.

If you don’t have a favorite childhood book, or you’d like to discover something new, just ask us. Our librarians have amazing suggestions for the best books. They know the classics and what’s new, so you might discover a new favorite.

Be sure to sign up for Library News emails to get book recommendations, too!

What’s Happening?

The Children’s Book Week event is a nationwide party for our favorite children’s books, and part of it takes place at your Waco Library! On Wednesday we had a carnival at West Library and participants made up stories to share with their friends. We had a book walk game and gave out fabulous prizes (books!) On Friday, we’re having a Rainbow Fish party at South Waco Library! Hear the classic story, make a snack and something crafty, too.

Of course, every day, we have books for you to read and enjoy. Everyone age 5 and over can get their own library card. You can even register for a card online and swing by the library to pick it up!

So, cross the bridge to Terabithia and join us where the wild things are April 29 through May 3 and we promise, you won’t have a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

The Rainbow Fish party is May 3 at 4 PM at the South Waco Library (2737 S. 18th St.)

For more information about online card registration, Library News emails and Library programs (including Summer Reading Club) be sure to visit

Jessica Emmett is the Community Services Supervisor for the Waco-McLennan County Library. She loves “preaching the gospel of the library” and has been doing marketing, promotion and outreach for the Waco Library for almost three years. Before joining the Library team, Jessica worked for a decade in public education, as an aide, teacher and librarian. She loves how her job lets her teach people of all ages about something she loves—the library!

Jessica enjoys lots of hobbies, including cooking, disc golf and running. She loves to read (of course) and usually has three or four books open at a time. When she’s not doing outreach, Jessica spends a lot of time in a very lonely office, so be sure to say “hi” if you see the Library table at your next Waco event!

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

Hey Parents: Where can you find a wonder land in Waco? The Library!

April 29 through May 5,2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week. The 100th Anniversary theme — Read Now ∙ Read Forever – looks to the past, present, and most important, the future of children’s books.  Grab a kid, grab a book and read together this week! And every week!  And every day! — ALW

By Sarah Miller

I grew up going to the library a few times a year. My parents could not afford to keep up with my constant reading, so trips to the library supplemented my ever-growing wish list of books. One summer as a child I stayed with my grandparents for a week. When I arrived, they said they had purchased three books for me (all Babysitters Club, I’m sure) and they gently reminded me that those books had to last an ENTIRE week. I read all three in the first day. I spent the rest of the week stressed about having nothing else to read. Enter the library…a fourth-grade girl’s dream place. This was back before the internet (gasp!), so I loved looking through books from various genres and learning about far-away places.

Fast forward to 2019. I’m now parenting a seven-year old who is obsessed with learning. My kiddo wants to know ALL about dinosaurs one week and then the next, wants to learn about the Andes Mountains. He reads books about natural disasters and how to be a spy and how plate tectonics work. His library adventures began at six months old. I started taking him to the Waco Public Library for a Baby Time. He LOVED listening to the stories and hearing Miss Vivian’s awesome voices. He transitioned to Toddler Time and then by pre-school he got his own library card.

Caleb and I have been to every single library in Waco and love each children’s area. Most of our time is at the Central Library and I can honestly say, I’m SO grateful to have this resource in my area. Not only do we check out books and DVDs, but they have games and arts and crafts available for use in the children’s area at any time. We often go and spend a few hours at the library. They have special events each month as well. They had a Library Spy Program and Caleb LOVED it. Often they have family night events where kids come in their pajamas for stories or have space where you can bring blankets and build forts in the library. Best of all? Y’all this is FREE! I’m not paying for any of these fun activities. They have kids’ yoga, Minecraft events, Lego Labs, and so much more…

While I was in graduate school, one of the librarians would often help me find resources for papers. He taught me about new ways to search and how to cite things correctly. He also showed me how to reserve books online so all I have to do is show up to the library and head over to the shelf and get the stack of books. This is a game changer for this working momma! I want my son to have new books to read each week but don’t want to spend an hour or so finding all of these books. So, I just do it online and pick up the stack the kind librarians have put on the shelf for me.

One last shout out for my library: a few weeks ago, my son was having an issue at school. We went to the library (as we do often after school) and I mentioned to the librarian what was happening. Within 10 minutes, she had found books I had never heard of and sent us home with resources that really helped both of us. I am incredibly grateful for the Waco librarians for helping me with parenting, graduate school, resources for my patients and their families, and more.

Wacoans: take advantage of this FREE resource! Have an hour before you head to an appointment? Why not sit in a quiet space at the library and read? Get to know your librarians too…they are an amazing resource for our community.

Sarah Miller is a hospice chaplain in Waco and when she isn’t at the library, she can be found teaching goat yoga, kayaking, and traveling with her delightful first grader.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

Better Living for Texans: Crank the Heat Up – Grilling Safety

By Lindsey Breunig

Summer time is approaching, Waco is starting to heat up, and so is the grilling season! From local parks or in your own backyard, grilling out can be a tradition that brings together family and friends. Not only is grilling out a social experience but grilled meals are tasty, healthy, and economically friendly. Weather permitting, grilling gets family and friends outside, and gives you an opportunity to encourage physical activity. Rather than sitting around and waiting, use the grilling time as an opportunity to throw the softball, kick a soccer ball, or bump the volleyball. Additionally, lawn games are cheap, easy to transport, and suitable for all ages. Participating and moving around while grilling will help increase one’s strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility – all while a delicious meal is being made! 

Not only does grilling out create quality time with friends and family but it is a low-fat cooking option for a variety of foods and colors on your plate. Most of our favorite foods can be grilled. This includes beef, chicken, fish, pork, and even your favorite fruits and vegetables. Grilled fruits can be delicious additions to a main dish or even desserts. Be creative and let the children pick their favorites to try out. When grilling fruits it is important to keep an eye on the grill as fruits cook quickly. In fact, you might find that even your pickiest eaters will enjoy their vegetables after the foods are grilled! To prevent sticking, it’s helpful to brush fruit lightly with oil. Interested in grilling some veggies? Here are some quick instructions:


  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • Any mix of your favorite veggies (for example: corn, eggplant, zucchini, onions, or peppers)


1. Mix the oil and garlic in a large bowl before adding and tossing the vegetables. (For easy clean up you can use a gallon size bag)

2. Place the vegetables on a broiler pan or grill. Cook for 10 minutes, turning twice until the vegetables are tender.

3. Place the vegetables on platter and enjoy!

There are also economic benefits to grilling. Grilling outside will help lower high summer electric bills by not raising the inside house temperature.  Grilled food makes great leftovers for the next day. Leftover meats are great in lettuce-based salads and leftover vegetables go great with scrambled eggs. Try making a tasty grilled chicken salad by adding corn, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, lettuce, and salsa with your left-over grilled chicken. Dice the chicken up and mix with the other ingredients!

Grilling can be dangerous without taking the proper safety steps.  There are an ample number of opportunities to teach family and friends about food safety while out grilling. For example: using separate plates for raw and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination. Use tongs to turn solid pieces of meat to avoid cross-contamination and keep the juices of the meat inside. Tongs will keep your hands safe but also remember to keep your hands clean and away from the hot grill or flame. Heat the grill for 10-15 minutes before adding food so foods will be seared instead of steamed or baked. Finally, assure your food is safe to eat by cooking your food to the minimum internal temperature throughout. Use a food thermometer (not your eyes) to make sure meats are fully cooked. Beef, pork, veal, and lamb (steaks, roasts, and chops) should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees, while ground beef, pork, and veal should be cooked to a minimum temperature of 155 degrees. All poultry should be cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees.

Whether you use a gas, charcoal, or electric grill, it is important to follow the operating directions carefully and keep your grill in a safe place to avoid accidents. To help get the most out of your grilling experience remember to clean your grill before cooking. To clean your grill, remove the grates and wash in hot, soapy water. Scrub off any food particles or drippings with a brush or scrubbing pad. Rinse with clean water and air dry. Remember to remove and clean, or replace, the drip pan. Clean the outside of the grill with hot, soapy water and rinse clean. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the burners and interior of the grill.

Create safe habits that friends, family, and even children know, and you will be one step closer to a great day grilling out. Below is a graphic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that you can share with friends and family! Happy Grilling Season!

Lindsey Breunig is a graduate of Baylor University and currently works as the Better Living for Texans Educator for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. She is originally from Grapevine, TX and now calls Waco home. Here in Waco she loves to venture out to Cameron Park, visit the local Farmers Market, and try out the awesome eateries in Waco. If you see her and hear a loud bark, that’s her pup Lucy just saying hello.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

League of Women Voters: Use This Election as Your Megaphone

By Dr. Lucia Harcum

May 4th is an election day in Mclennan County.  It is easy to believe your vote does not matter or will not count.  This is incorrect.  In May’s 2017 election, less than 4% of registered voters cast a vote and only 1 out of 80 McLennan county residents voted.  These statistics make it easy to see that with only a very little effort, the McLennan county voters can be statistically significant in election results. 

This is not an election for president, your senator, congressperson, mayor or even dog catcher.  So some may be tempted to feel this is a “who cares” election.  Even voters that know all about national politics have a challenging time connecting any of them to our daily lives.  The fact is that everyone you know NEEDS to vote in May.  This action ensures that in the future your votes are sought after, you and your family concerns are addressed, and that these issues must be considered and addressed by your elected officials wishing to remain in office and those seeking offices. 

Too often entire neighborhoods do not vote because it appears to them that those running do not seem to care about what is important to their family.  Yet this is a two-way street.  How can an elected official seeking your vote know your wishes if they do not even know if you will vote?  Why would they care about what is important to you if you have not shown them that they can count on your vote and you will vote, even in a low-controversy election?  Use this upcoming election as a megaphone for the vote.  The vote this election is expected to be so low that even small groups of neighborhoods that show up in mass could significantly sway all elections by an easy margin.  Make your vote count; said here, is why.

Traditionally this phase in the voting cycle has an expected low voter turnout because the issues are not extremely politically charged with emotion.  If you vote, all the Parties are watching and will glean as much information as possible about the voting population demographics.  That information will then be used sway your future vote.  Frankly this has always happened in the past.  The difference today is that information is dissected via the internet and social media.  It may be difficult to know or confirm the true facts.  Research the information.  Make an informed decision.  Vote intelligently with a focus toward your desired outcome in world-wide interests, nation-wide, state, county and local government concerns or interests in the future.

This upcoming voter turnout will serve as a gauge for voter interest by the political cogs.  It will notify the parties, all of them (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and Green), about the apathy and/or passion of all districts.  It will be the base for candidate platforms and with these demographics they will statistically calculate the precinct’s potential and future viability of candidates and proposal successes. 

Good news for voting.  The lines will be short, and parking will be available.  Voting in this election shows our elected officials (and their political planners) you’re your vote has real value.  Your voice through your vote needs to be sought out, heard, and addressed by the political planners.  This includes concerns about you, your family, your community, and your country in all aspects:  healthcare, education, economy, jobs, etc.  Also, and this is very important, the people that get out and vote will be a factor of the future election campaign because you will vote again in the future. 

Your vote can easily have a significant impact on the opinion of potential new or incumbent officials and changes in laws.  If you do not vote, it is assumed that you will remain one of the voiceless who simply (but stupidly) gave their voice to someone else.  The projected turnout for November’s election amplifies your voice today and in the future.  Use your vote as a megaphone to represent your family, your neighborhood, and McLennan County.  If you are registered, vote by May 4.  If you are not registered, do so NOW and your vote WILL count in the future!

Before you vote, check out the non-partisan voter guides for the elections to the Bellmead City Council and the Hewitt City Council at

Dr. Lucia Harcum is a free-lance research writer and active member of the League of Women Voters of Waco, Junior League of Waco, Central Texas Coalition for Literacy, Central Texas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and is Treasurer of a local nonprofit. This article originally appeared in her weekly column, Para La Familia, published by TIEMPO, a Central Texas Spanish/English Newspaper.  It has been adapted for the May 2019 publication in the Act Locally Waco blog.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.