Quick Meals for Busy Families


Quick Meals for Busy Families

Summer is here and you want to be outside! It can be hard to drag yourself inside to cook, or if your family is busy, there may be little time between  events to put together a healthy meal.  The following are a few recipes that are great for busy evenings.

(click on blue links for more information)

 Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage:

This recipe is originally from Parents magazine.  One great aspect of this meal is that it uses ingredients that have a bit of a shelf life.  You can keep a package of Chicken Sausage in the fridge for several weeks, so if you catch it on sale grab a package or two to have on hand.


Chicken Sausage – 1 lb, diced

Olive oil – 2 tbsp

Tri-colored rotini – 1 lb

Frozen broccoli florets– 1 package

Chicken broth – 3 cups or 3 bullion cubes


In skillet heat oil and brown sausage cubes.  While sausage is cooking bring 3 cups water and 3 cups of chicken broth (or 6 cups water and 3 bullion cubes) to a boil and add pasta.  When the pasta has 6 minutes left to cook stir in the frozen broccoli.  After pasta is done cooking, drain and add pepper to taste.  Stir in sausage with any remaining oil and serve with grated parmesan cheese as a garnish.

This meal usually takes 15 -20 minutes from start to dinner table and easily serves 2 adults and 2 kids.


Chicken Tacos:

This great recipe was found on Pinterest.  It cooks in the crockpot, so it can be it ready when you get home.  This one will serve a small crowd, or provide leftovers for lunches and a great tortilla soup (see recipe below).


4-6 chicken breasts cut into chunks

1 envelope taco seasoning

16 oz jar of salsa


Dump all the ingredients into the crockpot and stir together.  Cook for 4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.  Shred and serve with tortillas and your family’s favorite taco toppings.

Bonus Tortilla Soup:


2 cups of the shredded chicken

One 32oz box of chicken broth

One can corn(drain) – or  use 1 – 1 1/2 cups of frozen corn

2 handfuls chopped cilantro

One squeezed lime – or about 2 tsp of lime juice

One can diced tomatoes (reg size)

One can diced tomatoes w/ chiles (if you can’t find the can get another can of diced tomatoes and a can of diced chiles)

1/2 large yellow onion – or use a few shakes of onion powder

One can black beans – if your family is picky try Pinto or Great Northern beans

2-3 table spoons of tomato paste – this can be omitted without changing the taste

2 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons of chile powder

2 teaspoons of garlic powder


Dump everything in a pot and simmer for 30 minutes . Serve with cheese and Tostitos scoops.

This soup takes about 10 minutes to throw together and serves 4 adults.  The best part is that it uses up the leftover chicken from taco night.


Baked Ravioli:

This is another dish that found via Pinterest and is great as it uses ingredients that you can easily have on hand.  And, you can change it up with different varieties of ravioli.


1 (25 oz) bag of frozen ravioli

1 (26 oz) jar of marinara or other pasta sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


Spoon a  layer of pasta sauce onto the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  Place a single layer of ravioli in the dish and top with 1 cup cheese and half or remaining sauce.  Repeat with a 2nd layer of ravioli and remaining sauce and cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 15 -20 minutes until cheese starts to brown.  Serve with a tossed salad.

This dish takes 5 – 10 minutes to prepare and easily feeds 4 adults.

More cooking websites:

Tasty Kitchen

All Recipes

Simply Called Food


Resources for the Common Core Curriculum


Teachers may find the following websites useful for the Common Core Curriculum.

(click on blue links for more information)

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year.

The 2014 award winner:

 “Parrots over Puerto Rico”

It is written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, illustrated by Susan L. Roth and published by Lee and Low Books, Inc. “Parrots over Puerto Rico” is the story of the rescue and return of the Puerto Rican parrot, a species once so abundant it blotted out the sun.  Through the efforts of a valiant, dedicated and committed team of scientists and island residents the fate of this native bird is now inching out of extinction.


The Giverny Award is presented by Louisiana State University to the author and illustrator of a children’s science picture book written in the English language and published within five years of the award date.

The 2014 Giverny Award winner: 

“Maple” written by Lori Nichols

Lori is both its author and illustrator. The publisher is Nancy Paulsen Books, New York, NY. It was published in 2014. 


The Orbis Pictus Award from the NCTE, National Council of Teachers of English,  is for outstanding nonfiction for children. 

The 2014 award winner:

 “A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin” written by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet and published by Alfred A. Knopf



The National Science Teachers Association produces a list of the Outstanding Science Trade Books for Kids

There are more than 50 titles on the 2014 list.  Among them are:

The Tapir Scientist - Sy Montgomery 


Papa’s Mechanical Fish  - Candace Fleming


Frog Song – Brenda Guiberson

Flight of the Honey Bee – Raymond Hube


A  good list of math books is from The University of Wisconsin OshKosh’s Polk Library.  It is divided by topics like addition, counting, fractions and geometry.

Publishers Weekly has a toolkit to help teachers:

Common Core Toolkit 2013


And, or course, check out the Akron-Summit County Public Library!! Try Trueflix and FreedomFlix from our website.  If you go to Databases on the left, then Books and Literature, you’ll find them, or just click HERE. Students can watch short videos, answer questions, access projects to do on a subject and of course read text.  Trueflix is various nonfiction. FreedomFlix is American history.  Both databases are from Scholastic.




Beautiful Libraries


Take a tour of these GORGEOUS libraries from around the world and don’t forget to visit your local library today!

The 25 Most Beautiful Public Libraries in the World


Famous Libraries of the World


 The 10 Most Beautiful Libraries in the United States



25 of the Most Beautiful College Libraries in the World




Cool New Series Books for Kids


Check out our cool new series books!

Click on any picture to take you to the Akron-Summit County Library webpage. You can order any of these books and have them sent to your favorite branch to check out for 2 weeks!















Explore the Great Outdoors


It’s not too late to get your kids outside, and the Akron Summit County Public Library has some great books to inspire you!  Don’t forget you can earn a special t-shirt by exercising this summer, and choose a prize when you have completed Ellet Library’s “Book Bingo”!

(Clicking on the picture takes you the Akron-Summit County Public Library Catalog)
























JK Rowling Writes Again


JK Rowling Posts New Story About Harry Potter, Age 34, on ‘Pottermore’ Blog

By on July 10, 2014

JKRowling JK Rowling Posts New Story About Harry Potter, Age 34, on Pottermore Blog

Author JK Rowling posted an entry on July 8 about a grown up Harry Potter visiting the World Quidditch Cup Finals with his family in Patagonia on her “Pottermore” website. Image courtesy of Scholastic.

JK Rowling is at it again, with a new post on her “Pottermore” website—an online expansion of the world of Harry Potter after the seven book series ended—according to a post on Today.com on July 8—that revealed her latest entry on Harry Potter.

Rowling’s post, written as an observation-driven gossip column by the familiar reporter Rita Skeeter, who plagued Harry in the book series, ties into the real-life World Cup Fever going on. However, in Pottermore-world it’s World Quidditch Cup Fever taking place in the Patagonia region of South America with Harry as a silver-streaked 34-year-old married to Ginny Weasley, a reporter at the Daily Prophet, with two kids, James and Albus. Harry, still known as “The Chosen One,” is now an auror in the Ministry of Magic and sports a new scar on his cheek that conjures speculation. And still intact is Harry’s trademark round wire frame glasses from when he was 12.

Rowling has been posting entries about the World Quidditch Cup Final since March 2014, and this latest snapshot of Harry Potter shows him and many of his familiar wizard cohorts from the series as “no longer the fresh-faced teenagers they were in their heyday, but nevertheless recognizable”—Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, now married, also have two kids. Weasley, who quit working at the Ministry of Magic, now runs the enormously successful joke emporium for wizards with his brother, George, and Hermione is the deputy head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

Pottermore resize JK Rowling Posts New Story About Harry Potter, Age 34, on Pottermore Blog

The “Pottermore” website is an extension of the “Harry Potter” series.

Rowling touches upon the post-scripts of other familiar characters, like Neville Longbottom and Fleur Delacour, and provides a  who-married-who run down, like a high school reunion. The old gang from Dumbledore’s Army are still an object of fascination in Rita Skeeter’s eyes, but not necessarily the eyes of actor Daniel Radcliff, who when asked about Rowling’s latest 1,500 word Pottermore post and if it would lead to further film work for him, was quoted as saying in the July 9 UK Guardian:

“My inclination is to say ‘no’ because I don’t think it’s even a hypothetical at the moment. What she’s written—and I haven’t read it yet but I will—I understand it’s a very short piece. And he’s 10 years older than I am now.”

Radcliffe, now age 24 and currently in the BBC series “A Young Doctor’s Notebook” and the Broadway play The Cripple of Inishmaan, says, “We can’t be doing these characters when we’re 40. So there has to be a line drawn.”

Rowling’s last novel, Casual Vacancy (U.S. publisher: Little, Brown, 2013), was her first published adult novel about an unexpected council seat vacancy in an idyllic English countryside town and the class war and disruption that ensues. Returning to the bosom of YA fantasy, the author has scripted the new fantasy film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Warner Brothers), featuring the swashbuckling character Newt Scamander, to be released in November 2016.

Carolyn Sun About Carolyn Sun
Carolyn Sun (csun@mediasourceinc.com) is a news editor at School Library Journal. Find her on Twitter @CarolynSSun

Early Literacy Resources


Resources are available in both English AND Spanish. Get a jump on the upcoming school year and give your child a head start!

Early Literacy Resources, click here.


Keep Your Kids Reading All Summer Long


Keep those kids reading all summer long!  Teachers will tell you that children lose some of the reading skills that they gained during the school year over the summer.  Prevent the “Summer Slide” by reading at least 30 minutes a day.

Joining the Mind, Body and Sole Summer Reading Program at the Ellet Library, will encourage your whole family to read and exercise this summer.  It’s easy!  Just log when you read and exercise, and you could win prizes.


Here are some great websites to find cool reads this summer:

(Clicking on the pictures will take you directly to the websites)


From the Akron Summit County Public Library –lists recommended by librarians

 From the Association for Library Service to Children–lists of books recommended by librarians

From the International Reading Association–lists of books recommended by children, teens and teachers


Children’s Choices               Teacher’s Choices                    Young Adult Choices

 From Scholastic’s Parent and Child magazine–list compiled by the editors of Parent and Child magazine

From the New York Public Library–lists are recommended by librarians.  Last updated in 2013.

From Goodreads –lists voted on by book lovers

From TeachersFirst–lists recommended by teachers and educators.  Features lesson plans and book ideas to use in the classroom.





YA reDo: Book Cover Art Contest


YA reDo: Book Cover Art Contest

HeyTeens! Think you can create a better book cover for one of our popular teen titles?

Choose one of the following titles, create a cover no larger than 8.5 x 11 inches, and include your name, age, and phone number on the back and

Deadline for entries is August 1.

Choose from:

The Fault in Our Stars

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 The Book Thief.


Kids and Teens Eat FREE




For many Ohio students summer break also means a break from regular school meals that they rely on as part of their daily nutrition. Through the Ohio Summer Food Service Program anyone age 1-18 (and individuals age 19-21 with a disability) can eat free healthy food at safe locations throughout Ohio such as pools, parks, churches or schools. All families are welcome, and there is no sign up necessary. Many locations offer fun activities so kids and teens can stay active and spend time with friends.

To find out if there are summer meal sites in your area, go to the ODE Summer Meal Locator website: https://oh.cnpcares.com/summer/SfspFoodServByCnty.asp