October is my favorite month of the year. I love the chill in the air and the spooky vibes that come along with Halloween. It’s the perfect time of year to curl up under a cozy blanket with a scary story! There are many horror stories written for middle grade readers ranging from the mildly creepy to downright terrifying! I have some recommendations below that can be found in our children’s collection. Click on the titles that interest you to request your copy straight from our catalog.
Ease young readers into horror stories with this ghostly murder mystery! 12 year-old Amy has an extended visit with her aunt who is cleaning out her deceased great-grandparents’ home. Their deaths happened many years before Amy was born and have always been a mystery to her. The mystery begins to unravel when she uncovers a beautiful dollhouse modeled after their house, stashed away in the attic. The dolls in the dollhouse seem to move on their own. Are they trying to tell her something? Any mention of the dollhouse or the great-grandparents upsets her aunt, so Amy has to do her own research to uncover what really happened to her family years ago. This story has a low level of supernatural creepiness that pairs well with its fascinating family mystery.
Interactive picture books provide an engaging reading experience. They are fun for young listeners/readers, and are an especially great option for those not ready to sit for a full story. These books require active participation in the story by encouraging readers to complete a small task before turning the page. The story may request for you to shake or tilt the book, blow on or trace a picture with your finger, spin the book or your body, clap your hands, or even count to a certain number to help move the story along. Once you’ve completed your task, turn the page to see the effect your action had on the story! There are many entertaining interactive children’s books available in our library. I’ve listed some of my favorites below!
You will be busy taking care of your cat in this fun book. Once you’ve woken him up, you will have to pet him, squish some fleas, dry him off after he gets wet, try to scare away a bird so he doesn’t eat it, and then help him go to sleep. Readers of all ages will enjoy interacting with this cute kitty!
You are likely familiar with the phrase “the movie was good, but the book was better”. But is that always true? Many movies are based on books, and oftentimes readers prefer the book over the movie. Sometimes as readers we may even feel like a movie ruined the story we had read and loved. Nothing beats reading a well-written story, and reading can feel like an intimate experience for the reader. We allow the words on the pages to guide us into envisioning the settings and characters to the extent that our imaginations take us. Movies on the other hand, can really bring these stories to life in a way that we, as readers, may not have even been able to imagine. I love watching movies based on books I’ve read and comparing their portrayal to how I’d imagined the story. There are many movies based on children’s literature. Your family may enjoy reading a book together and then watching the movie version of the story with a movie night! Have fun sharing your opinions with each other on which one you liked better, or maybe you’ll decide they were both well done. Take a look below for some great books that also have movies based on their stories.
Twelve-year-old Heidi has a lot of questions about where she came from, but it hasn’t been easy finding the answers. She lives in an adjoined apartment with her mother who has an intellectual disability, and Bernadette – her unofficial guardian who has agoraphobia. She doesn’t know who her father is, or how she and her mother came to live in their apartment. Her mother doesn’t have the ability to give her the answers to her questions. Bernadette doesn’t know where Heidi and her mother came from, but cares for Heidi as if she were her own daughter. A box of old photos of her mother is eventually discovered that provides clues to a location she’d lived. A determined Heidi sets out on an emotional adventure to that location to find out who she is. This is a touching story, and the movie can be requested here.
School is out and summer vacation is upon us! This is a great time for kids to read for pleasure and also to keep up with the reading skills they worked hard to develop during the school year. If you have a new reader transitioning into reading chapter books, I have some early chapter book series suggestions for you. Early chapter books are written for readers that are still building up their reading stamina, and include stories with illustrations and short chapters. Click on the links below if you are interested in reading more about the individual books in these series and would like to reserve a copy from our catalog.
This series is written like a diary with chapters for each daily entry. The short text and colorful illustrations will appeal to beginning readers. A young owl named Eva records her daily experiences in her diary. Readers will enjoy following Eva’s life as she learns valuable lessons in these easy-to-ready books with high-interest stories.
The Bad Guys want to do good things in this funny series that flips the script on these normally bad characters. With short text and fun illustrations, even reluctant readers will enjoy the hilarious situations these bad guys get into as they set out on their missions to be heroes.
Now that the weather is warming up, you may be looking for activities for the kids to do outside at home. If you haven’t already, give gardening a try! Gardening provides a relaxing outdoor activity while adding beauty to your space, or food for your tummy. Whether you have a large yard or no yard – there are plenty of ways to incorporate gardens into your life. You could plant a bunch of veggies in your yard, grow a small potted plant, create a fairy garden, plant a tree, or even paint some rocks to create a colorful rock garden. Aside from being a fun activity, kids will activate the creative side of their brain by planning their garden. They will also apply some math and science skills through measuring the spacing/depth when planting seeds, observing garden insects, and making observations on the growth of their plants. Gardening is a great stress reliever as well – listening to the sounds of nature and digging in the soil can feel quite soothing. And seeing the growth of whatever they decide to plant will provide a sense of accomplishment. Picky eaters may even be willing to try new foods if they grow them themselves! I have some picture book recommendations with garden themed stories that may inspire your kids to want to try planting their own gardens. An additional book recommendation has some fun garden experiments to try as well. Even if you decide not to plant a garden, these stories will encourage creative thoughts about gardens that will lead kids to imagine what they’d want to grow in their own garden. This may further inspire an enjoyable discussion and possibly motivate them to want to draw or create their own garden from other materials. Happy gardening!
The simple, yet descriptive rhyming text of this story pairs with delightful illustrations to describe a community garden. Children will see how gardens take work, but also how rewarding they are. The people in this story put a lot of work into their garden, but find ways to enjoy themselves while they wait for their plants to grow. Then they all come together to celebrate the fruits of their labor with a garden feast.
Does your child need additional practice with literacy skills? Or are you looking for an additional resource to add some entertainment to your child’s day? If so, TumbleBooks may be a great option for your family. TumbleBooks are animated picture books that highlight sentences as they are read aloud. You can access them with your library card number through their website, or you can download the app to your device. There are unlimited copies of each title, and there are no limits to how many books you may access at a time. TumbleBooks users have access to storybooks, read-alongs, ebooks, graphic novels, non-fiction books, language learning, National Geographic videos, music, puzzles, games, and playlists. If you’re interested in reading, browse the individual book titles or take a look through the playlists. Playlists are a series of saved stories that are played one after another. You can use them as a storytime, or to group stories together surrounding a theme of interest. Create your own playlists, or choose from a selection that have already been created. You can browse playlists by a variety of time ranges and different themes. I will be highlighting a few of these below.
Here is a playlist to help your kids unwind at the end of the day. Included are the stories Go Back to Bed! by Ginger Foglesong Guy, Into the Tub! by Laura Beaver and Jill Nolen, and Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. You can choose to read one story, or all three for a total of 13 minutes. Go Back to Bed! Is a funny story of a boy that keeps finding excuses for getting out of bed. Each time he gets up, he finds his parents doing wild and fun things without him. Into the Tub! is a rhyming story of a little mouse that must be patiently persuaded by her mom to get ready for bed. Little Hoot is an adorable bedtime story about a little owl’s late bedtime. Little Hoot just wants to go to bed early like his friends do, but he must stay up late and play.
With busy days of working and doing schoolwork at home, you may be looking for ways to break up the day a bit. Have you considered having a storytime at home? How about a family storytime that caregivers can sit back and enjoy? You can even set it up for the kids and take advantage of having a bit of free time for yourself while the kids are occupied by their story. Mead Library cardholders have access to Hoopla. Hoopla offers a variety of media for both children and adults to check out – up to 10 items per month. Included in this media selection are thousands of children’s audiobooks. There are short stories for younger listeners, as well as chapter books for older listeners. You can search for specific books, or simply browse the children’s selection. I have some recommendations for chapter books that will appeal to school-age children. Try pairing a story up with another relaxing activity, such as coloring or doing a puzzle. Listen to a couple of chapters, and enjoy a screen-free break in your day!
I want to acknowledge all of the parents and caregivers that are adjusting to this whirlwind of lifestyle changes due to the pandemic, while trying to hold yourselves together for the kids in this uncertain time. If your social media feeds are anything like mine, you are being bombarded by free educational resources for families right now – which is pretty great! But it also may feel overwhelming at a time when you are simply trying to mentally process what is currently happening in your life. Aside from protecting ourselves and others from illness, we all need to pay attention to our overall wellness. This can be hard to do while in the midst of these major changes and while feeling cooped up inside. If you are experiencing feelings of anxiety, stress, or grief over the current situation – please, acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to feel them. Something that has given me a sense of peace is knowing we are all going through this together, even at a social distance. Try to take some time to yourself and trust that things will eventually fall into place with new routines. Some suggestions you may want to consider to help give your mind a break: go for a walk, meditate, listen to music, read a book, create something with your hands, journal, or exchange funny memes with friends – laughter is a great stress reliever! We have many ebooks about mindfulness and mental wellness that can currently be accessed through our catalog that may be helpful to you during this time. I’ve highlighted a few below. You can also view videos to help with stress management through Kanopy’s movie streaming site – I’ve included the link to one I’ve found helpful below as well.
This book promotes methods of mindfulness that allow parents to acknowledge their emotions and to be present in the moment. It is broken down into small subject areas that make for easy reading. There are tips for creating a relaxing home, dealing with emotions, handling change, handling loss and grief, the benefits of spending time outdoors, and many other subjects that are relevant to families. You will find these methods helpful with managing stress at home during this time, and any time going forward.
The American Library Association recently announced the winners of the 2020 Youth Media Awards. Materials for children and teens were selected by committees of literature and media specialists under different categories for their excellence. Below is a list of some of the notable award recipients. Be sure to click on the titles of those that interest you to reserve your own copy through our catalog.
John Newbery Medal
The John Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. This year’s winner is New Kid, written and illustrated by Jerry Craft. This is a graphic novel about a boy of color who begins attending a prestigious school in an upscale neighborhood, with a mostly white student body. He finds himself struggling to belong in his new school, as well as in his own neighborhood with old friends.
Four Newbery Honor Books were also named this year:
The Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the ALSC to the artist of the most distinguished illustrated American children’s book. This year’s winner is The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander. This is a beautifully illustrated poetic picture book about the trials and tribulations of black Americans.
There were also three Caldecott Honor Books named this year:
Bear Came Along, illustrated by LeUyen Phamand and written by Richard T. Morris
The Michael L. PrintzAward is administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association and sponsored by Booklist. It is awarded annually to a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. This year’s winner is Dig, written by A.S. King. This is a surreal story of white privilege and a legacy of hate as experienced by five teenage cousins in a dysfunctional family.
Four Printz Honor Books were also named this year:
Pura Belpré Awards are awarded annually by the ALSC and REFORMA. They are awarded to a Latinx writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latinx cultural experience.
The Pura Belpré Author Award winner this year is Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, written by Carlos Hernandez. This is a story about Sal, a thirteen-year-old magician, who teams up with Gabi, the student council president. Together, they try to uncover the mystery of how Sal breaks the universe.
The Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner for this year is Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln, illustrated by Rafael López and written by Margarita Engle. This is a delightfully illustrated picture book about the life of the Venezuelen born pianist Teresa Carreño, who by the age of nine, played the piano for President Lincoln at the White House.
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal
The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal is awarded annually by the ALSC 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 winner is Fry Bread Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. This book shares the story of fry bread as a tradition for Native Americans across tribes and time. A recipe is included, along with an author’s note with more information on the history and cultural ties to fry bread.
Coretta Scott King Awards
The Coretta Scott King Awards are awarded annually by the ALA’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table. They are awarded to African-American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The King Author Book winner for this year is New Kid, written by Jerry Craft. The King Illustrator Book winner is The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander. New Kid also won the Newbery Medal and Undefeated also won the Caldecott Medal this year, scroll up for a summary for each of these.
Create warm memories with the kids in your life while baking a delicious treat together! Baking is a fun and relaxing activity that also provides kids with experiences in measuring, reading/following directions, and developing fine motor skills. Kids will also have opportunities to express their creativity. The following baking books from our collection are great options for kids of all ages. In addition to delicious recipes, they include information on kitchen safety and hygiene, guides to cooking equipment, and cooking skill levels are listed on each recipe. Be sure to read through the entire recipe and organize your supplies and ingredients before getting started. Have fun and enjoy your delicious creation!
This is a really well-illustrated book with photos paired with each step of the recipes. It also includes an illustrated baking vocabulary section and photos to inspire different ways to decorate your baked creations. There are also sidebar tips with the recipes. One of the tips makes the connection between baking and chemistry, and others include creative ways to alter the recipes. Included in this book are recipes for cookies, muffins, cakes, pies, toaster-oven tarts, garlic bread sticks, and brownie pizza.
This baking book includes loads of information and pictures for over 100 recipes. The very detailed instructions make these recipes easy to follow. There are a variety of sweet and savory recipes for a variety of skill levels. There are many recipes for cookies, cakes, muffins, and bars. There are also recipes for empanadas, pizza rolls, Brazilian cheese bread, and soft pretzels.
The beginning of this book provides information on basic ingredients, how to measure accurately, nutrition info, baker’s lingo, and a guide to equivalent measurements. There are recipes for a variety of cookies, bars, brownies, cakes, pies, muffins, and pizzas. There is a statement from Good Housekeeping that gives a “Triple Test Promise”, which means each recipe in this book has been tested at least three times and is determined to be delicious, family-friendly, healthful, and easy to make.
There is something for everyone in this book that is loaded with 150 recipes for cakes, muffins, pies, tarts, cookies, and breads. There are even some delicious no-bake recipes. A photo guide for baking equipment, and step-by-step instructions with photos for baking techniques are also included in this baking book that is designed for a variety of skill levels.