Who Invented Earmuffs?

Who Invented Earmuffs?

According to author Meghan McCarthy, “Chester Greenwood may not have been the first inventor of earmuffs, but he was probably the youngest.”  After testing various versions of his earmuffs, he devised a tight steel band that held his “mufflers” in place.  At age nineteen, he received the patent for his ear-mufflers.  And now, 138 years later, Chester and his champion ear protectors are celebrated each December in Farmington, Maine.  

Learn more about what makes Chester Greenwood unique in McCarthy’s nonfiction book, Earmuffs for Everyone!  How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs.  This book is excellent for teaching both nonfiction and research to elementary students.  With her thorough research process, McCarthy examined primary sources, dozens of earmuff patents, and old advertisements.  Today, Chester is known and celebrated as the inventor of earmuffs, but his patent only made improvements to the invention.  The other inventors of head-muffs, ear-protectors, ear-mufflers, ear-flaps, and ear-slippers have been forgotten.  However, since it’s still unclear as to who first invented the earmuff, “Chester Greenwood is a good person to represent them all. . . don’t you think?”


Who Invented Earmuffs?

How to be Kind to Books

Don't ruin a good story.  Be kind to books.
Don't ruin a good story.  Be kind to books.

Regular readers of this blog know how much I like the vintage posters from the Be Kind to Books Club.  Created by Arlington Gregg in the 1930s, these Works Progress Administration (WPA) posters taught young patrons about proper book care. 

Lucy Jakub, a college student and Library of Congress Junior Fellow, recently updated the series with literary characters from the public domain.  She selected characters that would help teach children how to care for their books.  For example, “Dracula cautions against exposing paper to the sun.  Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West demonstrate water damage.”

While trying to make the posters more contemporary, she decided to pursue licenses for characters still under copyright.  This proved to be quite a challenge, especially with Marvel’s Spider-man character, but Tarzan came to the rescue. 

Lucy Jakub’s wonderful “Be Kind to Books Club” posters, bookplates, and bookmarks are downloadable from the Library of Congress.  The final designs feature characters, including Dorothy, Dracula, and Tarzan, whose stories can be read online at Read.gov. 

Are you a member of the Be Kind to Books Club?
Are you a member of the "Be Kind to Books" Club?

Grateful for Literacy

What would you miss if you were illiterate?

If you have ever attended a book festival, you know how fun it is to share the enjoyment of reading with others.  At the National Book Festival in Washington D.C., enthusiastic readers (of all ages) attend numerous author talks, book-signings, and family-centered activities that emphasize the importance of lifelong literacy.  This year, while wandering through one of the pavilions, I learned about the work of Room to Read.  This non-profit believes that “World Change Starts with Educated Children” and works to develop literacy skills and gender equality around the world. At their booth, they posed the question, What Would You Miss If You Were Illiterate?”  Festival participates responded with hundreds of replies such as,

What would you miss the most if you were illiterate?


I would miss:
being able to discover information on my own, rather than relying on others.

bonding with someone over a really good book.

writing letters to my friends. 

the internet.

Harry Potter.

the escape from reality when reading a good book. 

reading aloud to my class – my favorite time of day.

making friends online. 

writing in my journal.

not being able to understand.

the fellowship of educated individuals.

peace and quiet. 


being a librarian and sharing my love of books.

love letters from the man I married. 

escaping to different worlds and time periods in my mind.

reading to my children and sharing the love of books with them.

a good laugh.

the inability to read my favorite cooking recipes from foodnetwork.com.

everything because reading is in everything.


Why are you grateful for literacy?

Celebrate the Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week:  Celebrating the Freedom to Read
Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

Young Adult books are the focus of this year’s Banned Books Week.  The annual celebration of the freedom to read will run from Sunday, September 27 through Monday, October 3, 2015. 

"Young Adult books are challenged more frequently than any other type of book," said Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee. "These are the books that speak most immediately to young people, dealing with many of the difficult issues that arise in their own lives, or in the lives of their friends. These are the books that give young readers the ability to safely explore the sometimes scary real world. This Banned Books Week is a call to action, to remind everyone that young people need to be allowed the freedom to read widely, to read books that are relevant for them, and to be able to make their own reading choices.” – ALA

Banned Books Week 2014

Banned Books Week 2013

National Book Festival 2015

Get ready for another chapter of the National Book Festival!
Get ready for another chapter of the National Book Festival!

Image adapted from the 2014 National Book Festival poster

Get ready for another chapter of the National Book Festival!

Back to the Books!

What books are on your back-to-school reading list?
Work Projects Administration Poster Collection (Library of Congress)
What books are on your back-to-school reading list?

Misty Copeland:  Spinning Wishes

Firebird:  Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird


Firebird:  Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird

Written by Misty Copeland, Illustrated by Christopher Myers Winner of the 2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

The Tale of  Rose and Rain

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

“Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms.  She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein) which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special.  Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, or the other things that make her different – not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.”

Rain, Reign is about Rose, a fifth grade student with an “official diagnosis” of high-functioning autism.  Her love of homonyms, words, prime numbers, and rules defines her, but she is also clever, kind, courageous, and resilient. Through Rose’s story and her rule-following actions, readers learn a great deal about what matters in life. 

Rain Reign won the American Library Association's 2015 Schneider Family Book Award for middle school readers (ages 11-13).  The award honors an author or illustrator “for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences."

“Hearts will break and spirits will soar for this powerful story, brilliantly told from Rose’s point of view.” 

Discussion Questions: 

 1.  What are the main conflicts in the story? 
 2.  What is Rose’s greatest challenge? 
 3.  How would you describe Rose’s personality?  Use situations from the book to explain your answer.    
 4.  Should Rose’s dad have taken Rain? 
 5.  How does Rose help Rain?  How does Rain help Rose?
 6.  Describe Ann Martin’s writing style.  How does it affect the story? 
 7.  How does the setting of the story add to the plot?
 8.  What was your reaction to the book?  Would you recommend it?
 9.  What happens to Rose after the book ends? 
10.  What did you learn from Rose that you could apply to your life? 


Our hearts were one.

Museums are Catalysts for Discovery

Visit a Museum!

The Artistry of Marcia Brown, 1918-2015

Puss in Boots illustrated by Marcia Brown

Marcia Brown:  "Puss in Boots"

  • Marcia Brown was the winner of three Caldecott medals and six Caldecott honors. 
  • "Marcia Brown’s books have unquestionably stood the test of time."  Janet Loranger, From the August 1983 issue of  The Horn Book Magazine.
  • "People often ask how much time it takes to make a book. Five days, five months, three years — as long as is necessary to get down one’s ideas and feelings about the book."  Marcia Brown
Marcia Brown:  Winner of three Caldecott medals

Creativity Brief:  A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects

An A+ for Creativity and Humor

Crayons talking via The Day the Crayons Quit

The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt and illustrator Oliver Jeffers, gets an A+ for creativity and humor.  The hilarious book is about disgruntled crayons who have plenty of reasons to quit coloring.  Red crayon needs a rest, Blue needs a break, and Purple demands precision.  It’s up to Duncan to find a creative way to solve all their problems.  He wants all his crayons to be happy! 

The Day the Crayons Quit is a wonderful selection for promoting higher-level thinking and fun.  The following ideas will get you started, but the possibilities are endless.

Children can: 

  • Compare and contrast the crayons’ points of view and create their own interpretations and perspectives.
  • Write similies or metaphors for each crayon and explore metaphorical meanings of idioms . . . “Purple Crayon is as neat as a pin.”
  • Describe future crayon behaviors by making predictions.  “What will the crayons do in the future?”
  • Analyze cause and effect.  “If Yellow Crayon and Orange Crayon stop speaking again, what will happen?” 
  • Use paint color sample cards to create color synonyms for a selected crayon.  (For example, paint sample names for shades of green include, avocado, chartreuse, emerald, olive, and teal.)  Add adjectives and imagery to further describe the crayon’s feelings and emotions with poetry
The Day the Crayons Quit is a wonderful selection for higher-level thinking and fun!

March Into a Good Book

Read the Books You've Always Meant to Read

Work Projects Administration Poster Collection (Library of Congress)

Read the classics

Read Every Day (R.E.D.)

Carroll County Public Library – Two images of a four-sided display
Carroll County Public Library – Two images of a four-sided display

February:  We Love to Read Month

Encourage Reading

Defining Intelligence

In Ungifted Intelligence Redefined, Scott Barry Kaufman shares detailed research on the nature and development of intelligence, creativity, and talent. He combines his research with a personal narrative that allows readers to see the world through his eyes:  “This includes the early pain and confusion I felt at being labeled ungifted as well as the tremendous sense of victory and success I felt later when I defied everyone’s expectations of what was possible.  Through engaging in fascinating research on the subject of human intelligence, I was able to overcome my own obstacles and began to question the system that told me I shouldn’t have succeeded.” His childhood experiences are what led him to become interested in intelligence research. 

In chapter five, he reviews how the 50 states differ in defining giftedness. Intelligence and high achievement are two of the common defining characteristics.  However, motivation and the performing arts are widely ignored.

“Morality, intensity, sensitivity, compassion, creativity, and leadership are almost completely absent from both the stated definitions of giftedness and the actual identification procedures.  And perhaps the most striking absence from any state definition of giftedness is motivation and engagement.  They aren’t even on the radar.”

Ungifted is a must read for educators, parents, psychologists, and anyone interested in how we define intelligence. 


Kirkus Review of Ungifted Intelligence Redefined

Reading Resolutions

WPA Reading Poster

Work Projects Administration Poster Collection (Library of Congress)

What Books Will You Read This Year?

Contact Information

Debra Lemieux

If Then Creativity



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