School days have returned, and right on their heels is, of course, homework. And following right behind all that homework? Break time!

At the nearest branch of the Multnomah County Library, staff can help you with resources for that homework, and give you some good ideas for reading in your free time, too.

Although the return of school and homework has been a constant on the calendar, the way in which that homework is accomplished has changed remarkably in recent years.

The biggest factor in the change in approach? The Internet, of course.

There are so many terrific web pages out there full of facts to help with any and every assignment … but how do you sort through all of those search results, to find the really good stuff? Don't waste your time wading through irrelevant websites or poorly-formatted pages with errors and broken links. Go directly to the library's Homework Center (

This site features thousands of links to librarian-reviewed sites on K-12 homework topics. You'll find everything from biographies to geology to social issues, like sweatshops and euthanasia. You can research your report about New Hampshire, or find out about pirates. Homework Center sites are selected with local school curricula in mind and with input from area educators. Best of all, you'll know that the sites you find on Homework Center have accurate, relevant information.

After all that research, you'll surely need a break, and your local library branch has lots of new school stories to help you find the humor in the end of summer. First up is 'Phineas L. MacGuire… Erupts! The First Experiment', by Frances O'Roark Dowell. This is the first in a planned series of chapter books for third through fifth graders, featuring fourth-grade science whiz Phineas L. MacGuire.

In this installment, Phineas is forced to team up with the new boy in class on a science fair project, but the boy's quirky personality causes Phineas to wonder if they have any chance of winning. After you read about the cool science projects the duo whips up (including erupting volcanoes, and exploding film canisters), you can recreate them at home with the help of the explanatory epilogue.

'Regarding the Bathrooms, A Privy to the Past', by Kate and M. Sarah Klise, is another new title that will help you laugh off September's arrival. In this novel--told through letters, newspaper articles, and police reports--a middle school Principal's bathroom renovation project leads to the discovery of stolen Roman antiquities. A heavily illustrated chapter book for grades four through six, this mystery is filled with puns and silly bathroom humor.

For older readers in middle and high school, Ally Carter's debut novel, 'I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You', features a promising setting: A secret boarding spy school for girls. As a sophomore at this unusual school and the daughter of a former CIA operative, Cammie is sheltered from 'normal teenage life' until she meets a local boy while on a class surveillance mission. The novel has already been optioned for a film, so read this light-hearted, frothy romance before it comes to your neighborhood cinema!

Whether for your school assignments or your pleasure reading, this fall spend some worthwhile time at your nearest branch library!

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