News from Youth Services Category: Family Friday

Explore the World with Food

family cooking

We can learn about what foods are grown and eaten all over the world by trying new restaurants or recipes. Cooking together as a family can be a learning and a bonding experience. Kids can practice following directions, the math of measuring, and the science of combining ingredients, all while learning about their family’s heritage or food from other cultures.

Gather your ingredients and get ready to add your special seasoning to your favorite dish. Need ideas? Check out a cookbook, website (such as RaddishKids), or the recipe database AtoZWorld Food.

Try a food from a different culture to earn the Food badge in the Summer Reading program. Just mark the activity in your Beanstack account!

Questions? Call 847/590-3320 or email

Maple Syrup Season

buckets collecting sap from maple trees in winter

Beginning in the middle of February and stretching into mid March, the Sugar Maple trees begin to prepare for spring by sending sap up to their branches to fuel the spring growth.  This is one of the first signs of spring in the forest and marks maple syrup season.  On days where the nights are freezing and the days are in the 40s the sap will flow up the tree. Once it is still above freezing overnight, the sap will turn cloudy and can no longer be used for syrup.  At this point the tree will begin spring growth.  

Maple syrup is made by collecting the sap from a maple tree, usually a sugar maple, and boiling it to allow the water to evaporate and concentrate the sugar.  Once enough water has evaporated, the sap becomes syrup.   

Sugar Maple trees are tapped because their sap has the highest concentration of sugar, but even so it takes 40 to 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  Straight from the tree, the sap looks like water and has a barely noticeable sweet taste.   

To see photos and videos of the maple syruping process, visit: 

To learn more making (and eating) maple syrup, check out these books!

Almost Time book cover
Bear Goes Sugaring book cover
Hey, Pancakes book cover
How is Maple Syrup Made book cover
Maple Syrup Season book cover
Maple Syrup from the Sugarhouse book cover
Pancakes in Pajamas book cover
From Maple Tree to Syrup book cover
Pancakes, Pancakes book cover


Happy Lunar New Year!

Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, Seollal, Tết, or the Spring Festival, is a holiday celebrated in many east Asian countries, as well as in the United States. According to the lunar calendar, a year is the amount of time it takes the moon to go around the Earth 12 times. The Lantern Festival is the last day of celebrations.  

lunar new year decorations

Lanterns are a way to make wishes for good luck, happiness, and fortune in the coming year. You can also write a riddle on your lantern to see who will guess the right answer.  


  • 1 sheet of red paper 
  • 1 sheet of yellow paper 
  • 1 strip of red paper 
  • Scissors 
  • Glue, tape, or stapler 


  1. Take your red paper and fold it in half along the long side. 
  1. Cut from the fold to about one-half inch from the edge of the paper.  
cutting slits in paper
  1. Keep cutting along the fold to make strips. Remember to LEAVE ½ INCH AT THE EDGE OF THE PAPER. This way, your paper will still be attached on the top and bottom. 
  1. Open up the paper and bring the ends together to make a circle with the top and bottom. The middle will fold out into a lantern shape. You can glue, staple, or tape the edges. Double sided tape is easiest if using tape. 
folding paper into lantern
  1. Use the strip of paper to make the handle. Attach the handle with tape, glue, or staples.  
  1. If you would like, you can put a liner inside your lantern. Form the yellow paper into a tube, and then tape the red lantern over the top of it. It looks a little like there is a light glowing inside. 
  1. Since you want the outside part to bow out a little, you’ll tape the bottom a little higher on the tube. You can cut off the bottom of the tube if you want your lantern to sit on a surface. Or, you can cut it into fringes. 
final paper lantern

Idea from: 

To learn more about Lunar New Year, check out one of these books from the library: Celebrate the Lunar and Chinese New Year

Warm Up with Winter Reading!

It may be cold outside, but you can enjoy books and activities from the warmth of your home. Read, attend virtual events, and get creative while earning digital badges and chances to win great prizes. Visit for all the details!

Register with Beanstack to join in the fun. Then, log each day that you read or that someone reads to you, and enjoy fun activities to earn chances to win prizes!  

Don’t have a smartphone or internet access? Call to request a paper log in English or Spanish (847/590-3320 for English or 847/590-4090 para español).   

Celebrate Diwali With Sweets

small Diwali candle

Diwali (dih VAH lee) is a Hindu festival and a national holiday in India. The word Diwali means “row of lights.” This year the holiday begins on November 14. The celebration usually lasts for five days, during which people decorate with small lamps made from baked clay, exchange gifts, and eat delicious food, especially sweets. Try this recipe with your kids at home, and find out more about this holiday with books about Diwali from the library or one of these websites:

Diwali sweets

Sweet Maida Biscuits

Recipe from Chitra’s Food Book


  • 1 cup all purpose flour (maida)
  • 2 TBSP melted butter
  • 3 TBSP powdered sugar + 2 more TBSP to sprinkle on top
  • 3 TBSP boiled milk (cooled to room temp)
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • water as needed
  • oil for deep frying


  1. Combine melted butter, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Mix with your hands until creamy.
  2. Add the flour, cardamom, and milk. Mix to make a crumbly mixture.
  3. Add water gradually to make a soft, stiff dough.
  4. Knead for a few minutes and then set aside and cover for 15 minutes.
  5. Separate into 5 balls of dough and dust each with flour.
  6. Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into small squares.
  7. Heat oil in a pan.
  8. Allow the dough to dry before frying. Deep fry the biscuits in batches over low to medium flame so they cook evenly and don’t brown too quickly on the outside. Be careful when turning the biscuits in the oil so they do not break.
  9. Drain them on a paper towel and sprinkle powdered sugar on top if desired.