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by Dave Emke — January 11, 2017 at 2:45 pm 2 Comments

Of the 23 branches in the Fairfax County Public Library system, only one has a dedicated children’s desk.

That area, at the Reston Regional Library, is a bustling center of activity. So said Dorota Rodgers, the library’s youth services manager.

“It’s everything, from storytime to movies to art class,” she said.

The schedule of children’s events for the coming month at the library is jam-packed, featuring something for kids of all ages — from babies all the way up through teens. Programming for teens, for example, includes coding workshops and a Teen Advisory Board.

But Rodgers said there is a “very high demand” for programs geared toward babies.

“When registration opens, it is full in 20 or 30 minutes,” she said. “I think people are more focused on how to prepare their children to be successful as a reader and then at school.”

With that in mind, the library is putting a major focus on the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, which launched Nov. 1. The program encourages parents to regularly read to their young children, getting the kids to make reading an important aspect of their lives.

Rodgers said nearly 150 families have registered for the program at the Reston library in its first two months, and some have already reached the 250-book plateau.

“Children learn about pre-reading skills. They can start learning from birth,” she said. “It’s a very precious program.”

Getting children familiar with the importance of reading is a key component to their future success, Rodgers said. She said the all-volunteer teachers who provide programming at the library are a big part of getting kids excited about visiting.

One program sees trained therapy dogs brought into the library. Children read to the pups and gain a valuable learning experience in doing so, Rodgers said.

“They lay down with the dog, show pictures to the dog, whisper to them,” Rodgers said. “Nobody judges them, and they just love spending time reading in a 15-minute session, one on one.”

More intricate programs that require bringing in outside presenters, such as Little Twisters Storytime Yoga and Gymboree Music, are co-sponsored by the Friends of the Reston Regional Library.

“Thanks to the very supportive Friends of the Reston Regional Library, I can book many paid performers from outside, additional to our programs done by our staff members,” Rodgers said.

The library also offers programming for adults, including stress-relieving coloring sessions and courses in English as a Second Language.

For more information on upcoming programming at the Reston Regional Library, check out the online calendar, call the library at 703-689-2700 or pick up a schedule at the front desk.

by Karen Goff — April 29, 2016 at 1:30 pm 4 Comments

Grissom1A new book, Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom, hits shelves next week. Its author is Reston resident George Leopold, a veteran technology writer who chronicles the early space explorer who lost his life in a launch pad fire in 1967.

The book is published by Purdue University Press.

Reston Now had a few questions for the first-time author.

Reston Now: Give us a little background on your career as a writer and as a Restonian. How long have you lived here? Is this your first book?

George Leopold: The American space program and the early pioneers that included Gus Grissom were to say the least inspiring. We did what we said we would do. The Apollo moon landings were among America’s greatest technological achievements. We had to go to the moon to fully appreciate all we have here on Earth.

I can remember as a kid watching TV coverage of the Apollo 11 mission. After the dramatic landing and before the historic first moonwalk, NBC ran a two-minute spot that Sunday afternoon sponsored by the Gulf Oil Company about “a place called Reston, Virginia.” (The company had by then wrested control from Bob Simon).

Growing up in Wisconsin, I could not have imagined that one day I would call Reston home. My family moved here in 1998, largely because my wife, Ellen Seefelt, works as a biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. It was among the best moves we ever made. Needless to say, I was thrilled when my son attended Buzz Aldrin Elementary School.

I have worked as a technology journalist and science writer since the mid-1980s. Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Time of Gus Grissom is my first book.

RN: What makes Gus Grissom an appealing book subject?

GL: Gus Grissom is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, 20 miles as the crow flies from Reston. His death, along with his crewmates Edward White and Roger Chaffee, in a launch pad fire nearly 50 years ago was the defining moment of the Space Race. Their sacrifice shook NASA to its core, forced a thorough reassessment of the Apollo program that reasserted the absolute necessity for crew safety.

Without the sacrifice of Grissom and his crew, it’s unlikely we would have made good on our declaration to reach the moon by the end of the 1960s.

Grissom’s death at the age of 40 also meant his pivotal role in the Space Race is underappreciated. Unlike the other early astronauts, he never got the opportunity to publish his memoirs. Grissom faded from memory while others walked on the moon and returned as heroes.

My aim is to explain Grissom’s essential role in the race to the moon, placing his life and career in the context of the history of human space exploration and the Cold War competition between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.

Finally, I have sought to dispel the myth that Grissom was the “hard luck” or “lost” astronaut. He was neither. He knew always where he was going and how he would get there. As my biography illustrates, a series of calculated risks and faulty engineering decisions made in the early 1960s played a far larger role in the astronauts’ untimely death. (more…)

by Karen Goff — April 15, 2016 at 11:30 am 1 Comment

"Lovable Livable Home"/Credit: Young House LovePopular DIY interior design and lifestyle bloggers John and Sherry Petersik will be in Reston Friday afternoon.

The Richmond-based couple has posted about more than 3,000 home projects since starting their Young House Love blog in 2007. They will be signing books at TD Bank at 1750 Hampton Ave. N (next to Trader Joe’s) in Reston from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday.

The couple has been on a book tour with HGTV Magazine to promote its second book, Loveable Livable Home: How to Add Beauty, Get Organized, and Make Your House Work for You.

The book features makeovers from the Petersik’s own home, where they live with two small children.

From the publishers: “Your home shouldn’t just look pretty, it should make your life easier. And just because you have kids or pets doesn’t mean you’re sentenced to floors that are overrun with toys or furniture covered in plastic. Through never-before-seen makeovers in our own house, doable DIY projects, and a gallery of other inspiring spaces, Lovable Livable Home shows how beautiful homes can be functional too.”

The new book is already a New York Times bestseller.

Check out Young House Love online, as well as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

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