Wicked Fun

Here we are in the middle of another Texas summer. Blistering heat and bugs flying about. In my yard I have many cicadas buzzing their summer song. I remember as a kid I would collect the skins and terrorize my slightly younger cousins with them. I would line the skins up and play whatever game with the husks that popped in my head. I’ve been trying to get my 9-year-old kid to pick them up and have his own adventures with cicada skins, but alas, he is creeped out by the brown husks. I recently found one hanging out on the mailbox. I brought it in with the day’s mail and watched my son cringe at me as usual. So, I went and put it on my husband’s shoulder. How hilarious it was to see him jump. The funny thing was that he saw me with the thing but was still startled when I placed it on his shoulder while he was watching TV.

And those who kill the fun…

Lately I’ve noticed these guys flying about.

Their coloring and size make you want to duck and run because they look like a wasp that means to hurt you, but apparently, they live to hunt cicadas for their young. I wanted to learn more about cicadas and their killers, so naturally I went to the library shelves for more information.

Books are the best for info

In Backyard Bugs by Jaret C. Daniels, I learned that the female cicada killer will deliver a powerful sting if provoked. They are the ones who hunt down cicadas, sting them, and bury them with the eggs they lay so that their young can feed on the cicada carcasses.

In The Songs of Insects by Lang Elliot and Wil Hershberger, I learned that the songs cicadas make are produced by special organs called “tymbals.” I also learned that the cicada eggs are laid in the bark of a tree, and the nymphs that hatch from the eggs fall to the ground and burrow to eat roots. The skins that are found all over the place are the last skin that they shed after they emerge from the ground.

Personally, I’d rather have the cicadas around and will try to eliminate their killers from my garden.

Come on by and check out our books on insects to learn more about the creepy crawlies and flying nuisances that are around your place.

As always, catch us on social media or comment below. If you have a library question, call 972-780-5052 or email

Homeschooling, distance learning, and COVID-19

When my daughter’s school went to online learning, I felt the irony in my bones. As a child, I was homeschooled and assumed I would homeschool my own children. That had not happened, for various reasons, and my daughter thrived in first a public, then a charter school. And now… now she was learning at home.

It quickly became clear to me that homeschooling and distance learning were not the same, though many people used the term homeschooling for both. In distance learning, the school was still running the show, and in our situation the lessons seemed to rely heavily on online learning and worksheets. In homeschooling, the parent is in charge, and the curricula vary widely and wildly. I watched as the families of the United States learned the paradox of home versus classroom settings; with one or two students and none of the structure and social interactions of in-person school, the time required to finish assigned work shrinks. Through the still magical internet, I learned about the experiences of parents all over the US as their schools tried to adjust to the new situation, with varying degrees of success.

Summer passed by as normally as it could for the kiddos, while the adults goggled at the enormity of the local COVID-19 case numbers and the schools grappled with what to do in the fall. More and more parents with means, faced with the prospect of an indefinite length of distance learning, turned their eyes toward the possibility of homeschooling. Everyone faced what seemed like impossible decisions.

Staying in school

For those who stay in school, resources are available to help them navigate the system. You, Your Child, and School: Navigate Your Way to the Best Education by Sir Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica (2018) gives an overview of educational options and suggestions as to how to decide what is best and what steps to take going forward. Education a la Carte: Choosing the Best Schooling Options For Your Child by Kevin Leman (2017)and Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education by Susan Wise Bauer (2019) also discusses educational options and strategies to make things work best for your family, in whatever situation you find yourselves.

For those now tasked with distance learning, books like How to Tutor Your Own Child by Marina Koestler Ruben (2011) and Help Your Kids With Study Skills: A Unique Step-By-Step Visual Guide by Carol Vorderman (2016) may be helpful for parents helping their children at home. While written for college students, Cal Newport’s How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less (2007) may be helpful for high school students as well. And of course, A Teen’s Guide to Getting Stuff Done by Jennifer Shannon (2017) may help high school students keep themselves on task.

While the local school districts are sailing new waters as they cope with the switch to distance learning, some public schools have existed as distance learning only options for several years. The Texas Education Agency lists public schools that are part of the Texas Virtual School Network at

The world of homeschooling 

With as many reasons for homeschooling as there are families who homeschool, there is no universal homeschool experience. My own homeschooling experience was fairly isolated, as my parents were conservative Christians who didn’t have money for things like homeschool co-ops. I spent much of my free time reading and…well, I became a history major and then a librarian! Others talk of spending lots of time in groups at co-ops or in sports leagues. In some states (though not Texas), homeschoolers can even participate in some public school classes.

Sometimes homeschooling is used by families to maintain a separation from the world that can even be unhealthy. I found echoes of my own experience in Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu (2015), which provides a glimpse into the world of a conservative Christian family through a daughter limited by its assigned gender roles. New York Times bestseller Educated (2018) is Tara Westover’s memoir of life in an abusive family which used “home schooling” in order to maintain their religiously-prompted isolation.

Of course, many people had a positive homeschooling experience, including Paula Penn-Nabrit, the author of Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African American Sons to the Ivy League (2003).Rachel Gathercole discusses the social benefits of homeschooling in The Well-Adjusted Child (2007). Quinn Cummings shares her experience of exploring homeschooling in The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling (2012). My own home education provided an excellent basic foundation for learning in high school and college.

Finding resources at the library

The library has many books on homeschooling—or home schooling, as it is spelled in the subject heading used in the records. Most of these books are found at 371.042.

Opposing Viewpoints is a series of books that gives both sides of a debate.

Some works focus on making the decision for whether or not to homeschool, including The Homeschooling Option by Lisa Rivera (2008). The Opposing Viewpoints volume Homeschooling (2010), edited by Noah Berlatsky, contains a variety of essays on many aspects of homeschooling’s pros and cons, including those unique to a Christian setting.

For those who decide to homeschool, many resources exist. Lorilee Lippincott’s The Homeschooling Handbook: How to Make Homeschooling Simple, Affordable, Fun, and Effective (2014) aims to make getting started easier. For those with younger children, The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life, by Julie Bogart (2019), focuses on how to create an environment conducive to curiosity and wonder. For those with ambition and a love of the classics, The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer (2016) may be a source of inspiration. Using the classical (as in Greeks and Romans) framework of three learning stages, it gives a wealth of information and recommendations for education from pre-K through grade 12. And of course, a Google search will bring up a wealth of information and curriculum options. It is worth noting here that many homeschool curricula still have an evangelical Christian slant, especially in science.

No matter what decision parents make or are forced into in regard to education, we all agree that we want the best for our children. In these stressful times, hopefully that commonality will bring us together instead of apart.

As always, catch us on social media or comment below. If you have a library question, call 972-780-5052 or email

Introducing Library Granola

Granola (that crunchy-munchy goodness) is made up of a lot of different ingredients.

This blog will be like granola; posts may vary in style and they’ll definitely vary in content.

Some posts might be straight-up book reviews. Others might be commentary on daily happenings. Still others will let you in on a few of the library’s secrets.

All of them will offer recommendations of items from our catalog. There will be links to take you to our catalog so you can sign in and place holds on the items you find most fascinating.

We hope our posts will entertain, inform, and inspire you. Leave us comments to let us know what you think and to share your ideas. You can also catch us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Please keep your comments friendly and courteous. We reserve the right to delete any inappropriate comments.

If you have a library question, call 972-780-5052 or email

Getting Lost in Time Travel

Warning: there are a few spoilers. Then again, the spoilers might just entice you enough to crack open these really fun books.

Imagination gone wild

I often imagine after reading such a story how characters from that different era would react to the world today. (Covid-19 pandemic aside.) What would they think about zooming 60 or more miles per hour on a freeway? Getting to a place far away on a map in a short period of time compared to horse travel.  Cooking food in minutes in a microwave. I imagine how they would marvel at how cool a building can be with air conditioning. How immodest or bizarre would we look with our modern clothes? How would synthetic fabrics feel to them? I imagine the looks on their faces walking around in shoes that have comfy memory foam in them. What would they think of watching a movie on a big HD 4k TV, and the ability to stream hundreds of movies with a remote? What would they think about as we talk at a screen at a drive-thru and the result is getting hot food ready to eat? No butchering required! What would a trip to a grocery store feel like to them? So many choices! I like to put a favorite character in my imagination in these scenarios and think out how they would react to our way of life in their way with their personalities.

History made fun

The best stories have rich characters and relationships- not just romantic entanglements, but also rivalries, great friendships, and reading about what drives these characters.

Here come the spoilers

These exact things can be found in the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon. The series revolves around Claire, a WWII nurse who travels back and forth in time. She ends up being married to different men in the different whens, getting pregnant in one time and raising the child in another. She encounters numerous historical figures and has so many amazing adventures, both good and bad.  Her child and grandchildren also have the ability to travel in time. In this particular series, not everyone can time travel.

Staff thoughts

I asked other staff who love these books as much as I do what their favorite books and moments are. Tech Services Librarian, Hannah, said that she couldn’t pick a favorite book.  Community Services Librarian, Stephanie, says the second book (Dragonfly in Amber) was most memorable to her because of how it jumped in time 20 years. “It nearly drove me nuts thinking I had missed a book,” she said.

Hannah most enjoyed reading about the Revolutionary War. “That was the most fun to read for me. And the most memorable part was in ‘The Fiery Cross‘, which begins with an eventful day – which lasts over 100 pages,” she said.

Stephanie also enjoyed the scene where the men go off on a buffalo hunt, but one buffalo gets past them and winds up in the front yard of Claire and Jamie.

The author has crafted so many intriguing stories around the many characters in her books. This is the kind of series where you cheer on your favorite characters and hope bad things-I mean justice- will happen to the unsavory characters.

Bringing Jamie to life

In my imaginings, I bring Jamie, Claire’s second husband, to modern times. I imagine the things he would say, and how he would react to how we live. I imagine calming down the alarm he might feel and showing him the sights, explaining why certain things are done and others must not be done, like engaging in vigilante behavior. I imagine what kind of attention he might draw, especially if he insisted on walking around in a kilt. I also imagine what adventures we might have. Would we spring someone from jail who was unlawfully incarcerated, or rescue someone in peril? Would we hike around North Carolina, and would he hunt down something that would then be cooked on a fire? What could he teach me as we go along hiking? Who would we meet and how would those stories get played out?

Concluding hopes

I look forward to reading about Jaime in his own time in the next book. I hope the people who would do harm to his grandson meet his justice. I wonder if Bree, the daughter, will have another child. Will the Revolutionary War be brought up again in the story? And what graphic medical procedures will Claire be doing in the next book? Claire’s doings in her surgery bring up a mixture of revulsion and fascination in me.

Hannah is hoping for a family reunion and fewer intense situations of peril. Stephanie prefers not to think about it. She hates spoilers.

As always, catch us on social media or comment below. If you have a library question, call 972-780-5052 or email

Census 2020 Student Poster Contest

Census 2020 Student Poster Contest

The Census 2020 Complete Count Committee and the City of Duncanville are sponsoring a poster contest to engage students in a discussion about the Census. The accurate counting of all people affects the entire community, and involving children in the process helps them understand the Census and its importance in our everyday lives.

Poster Contest Information

The Census 2020 Student Poster Contest is open to all Public, Private and Homeschooled students in grade categories K-5 and 6 – 12 living or attending a school in the Duncanville city limits.

Poster Theme: Middle & High School Students Theme: “Count Me”

Poster Theme: Kindergarten – 5th Grade Students Theme: “Count Me Too”

Entry Deadline: Friday, February 28, 2020


  • Posters must have a positive visual and verbal message and illustrate this year’s theme.
  • Any two-dimensional medium may be used (crayon, paint, pencil, marker, photos, etc).
  • Suggested Poster size is 11” x 17”.
  • Student’s Registration Page MUST be attached to the back of the poster to qualify. Please complete both sections.
  • No professional or copyrighted material or images.

Art, Science & Math Teachers, Guidance Counselors and Home School teachers are encouraged to use this contest as part of their curriculum. All students are urged to submit a poster. The winning posters will be used by the Duncanville Census 2020 Complete Count Committee through the campaign in various avenues to promote the mission.

Posters are judged in two categories: Best Message and Most Creative

Posters can be mailed or dropped off at City Hall at 203 E. Wheatland Road, Duncanville, before 5:00 pm on the deadline. Winners and Duncanville ISD will be notified by email and invited to a City Council meeting for recognition, date TBA. Questions about the poster contest should be directed to Athena Seaton at or 972-707-3878.


About the Census

The Constitution mandates that the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency, conduct a count of its population once every 10 years. The 2020 Census counts the population in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. Each home will receive an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire—online, by phone, or by mail. This year mark the first time that citizens will be able to respond to the census online.

The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding goes to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data. The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790. Participating in the census is required by law, even if you recently completed another survey from the Census Bureau. A complete and accurate count is critical for you and your community, because the results of the 2020 Census will affect community funding, congressional representation, and more.


2019 Duncanville State of the City

On January 16, 2020, the Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Celebrate Duncanville: State of the City event at Hilton Garden Inn. Approximately 200 attendees from various businesses and community organizations came together to celebrate Duncanville’s progress over the past year, including awarding Duncanville’s Man and Woman of the Year, as well as the Mayor’s Choice Award for two local businesses.

The State of the City presented by Mayor Barry Gordon shares community highlights and city accomplishments for the year.

State of the City Video

The Mayor’s speech and PowerPoint presentation is also available in its entirety.

Mayor’s Speech & Presentation

2019 Duncanville Man and Woman of the Year

Man of the Year was awarded to Duncanville Police Officer Doug Sisk, pictured center with Mayor Gordon and wife Marlyse.
Woman of the Year was awarded to community visionary Betty Dunn, pictured with husband Weymond.

2019 Mayor’s Choice Award: Businesses

Redbird Skateland
Quality Aspirators

Congratulations to the 2019 Leadership Academy Graduates

Congratulations to the 2019 Duncanville Leadership Academy graduates! Fourteen Duncanville city employees from various departments graduated from the City’s annual Leadership Academy on Wednesday, December 11, 2019. The purpose of the Leadership Academy is to recognize and develop upcoming leaders amongst the staff who exhibit qualities of integrity, accountability, empathy, humility, resilience, vision, influence and positivity.

2019 Duncnaville Leadership Academy Graduates

Members of the 2019 Duncanville Leadership Academy

  • Esther Wright, Senior Code Enforcement Officer
  • Jose Torres, Crew Leader Streets
  • Stephanie Lott, Librarian
  • Duaine Mayo, Police Officer
  • Christopher McCaleb, Police Lieutenant
  • Ronald Wilcots, Police Lieutenant
  • Richard Jones, Fieldhouse Operations Supervisor
  • Derrick Downs, Crew Leader Utility Billing
  • Daisy Guillen, Court Clerk
  • Mike Forester, Crew Leader, Irrigation
  • David Dunn, Assistant Utilities Operations Manager
  • Angelica Garcia, Building Inspections Coordinator
  • Ervey Morales – Skilled Maintenance Worker Parks
  • Jimmy Shelley – Maintenance Worker Streets

The Leadership Academy is a one-year program that meets monthly for leadership training, which also includes city-related topics such as Introduction to City Values and Culture, Community Engagement, Council Relations, Strategic Planning, etc. Midway through the program, academy members divide into three groups and select a city-related project they are responsible for researching, developing, and implementing. The group projects for the 2019 academy program include:

  1. City University – Establish and implement a city-wide training and development program for employees
  2. Senior Center Expansion – Research and recommend expanded programs/services for the Duncanville D.L. Hopkins Jr. Senior Center
  3. Employee “Walk In Your Shoes” Day – Create a program where employees rotate through departments/divisions to learn/observe what each department does in the city