Eragon - Book Image

Our November tweens-teens’ book club selection is Eragon by Christopher Paolini. Eragon is the first book in the Inheritance Cycle book series.  We were persuaded into selecting this book by one of our teens who is extremely fascinated by this series. He has read the entire series several times and suggested we read it as well.  I’ll admit, I’m drawn to books 200 pages or less primarily because I’m a busy mom of five. Nonetheless, I’m willing to give it a try. Additionally, I have heard a lot of wonderful and fascinating things about the book (and series) so why put it off any longer? Let’s read Eragon!

Book Overview: 

Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire.

Here’s what our teen has to say about the book (spoiler alert):

The book begins with an evil shade named Durza who tries to kidnap a mysterious blue stone from a female elf, but is unsuccessful because the elf uses magic powers to make the stone vanish. Eragon then appears. He is a 15-year-old boy who lives with his uncle, Garrow. While hunting in the forest spine, the stone suddenly appears before him. Soon, the stone (an egg in disguise) hatches and a dragon emerges.

Eragon secretly cares for the dragon and names it Saphira. The evil King Galbatorix soon hears of this and sends two servants (Ra’zac) to find and murder Eragon. Eragon and Saphira are forced to flee their city, as his uncle is attacked and murdered. They are then accompanied by a storyteller named Brom who mentors and  trains Eragon for future battles. They journey through cities, in search of the Ra’zac. They locate them and the battle begins. Unfortunately, the Ra’zac attack Brom, who later dies from the attack. Eragon is then joined by a young arrow specialist named Murtagh.

They continue on to the military city of the Varden, a group who wants to end Galbatorix’s rule. En route, Eragon is captured and later saved by Saphira and Murtagh. They also come across and save a female elf who turns out to be the same elf that sent Saphira to Eragon. They soon reach the Varden and another battle begins. The Varden is attacked by the evil forces led by the Durza, whom in turn is defeated by Eragon. Victorious, yet exhausted and overwhelmed,  Eragon faints after the battle, then awakes, and is told to go to the city of Ellesmera where a whole new adventure begins … and so does the next book in the series, Eldest.

The book is jam-packed with battles upon battles, adventures upon adventures, and a host of mystical characters, places, and figures. This is a great novel for young teens and up who are into fantasy novels. Not only is it action-packed but it has a good inspirational plot to it too. If you’re looking for a good read, check out Eragon.  —Gabe, 14.

Book Series:   Eragon …  Eldest … Brisingr … Inheritance

Eragon

As always, we love to hear your thoughts on books. You may leave us a comment or two about this book, the series, or other books you are currently reading. Happy reading!

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

 

Auggie & Me - Book

A year ago, we selected Wonder by R. J. Palacio as our tweens-teens’ book for October, in support of National Bullying Prevention Month. This year, we’ve decided to continue in our efforts to show support and spread awareness through books. We’ve chosen Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories by the same author, as our October book club selection.

While Wonder focuses primarily on Auggie, Auggie & Me focuses more on Julian, Christopher, and Charlotte. It contains three short stories (one for each character) that offer greater insights into their thoughts and actions and gives us a better understanding of their interactions with and reactions toward Auggie. It is a great read with a great anti-bullying message. Although this book is not a sequel to Wonder, it does give us a better understanding of each character’s life and behavior. Having said that, we recommend that you read Wonder first, if you haven’t already done so.

As always, we love hearing your thoughts on books. You may leave a comment or two about this book or other books you are reading. Happy Fall! Happy Reading!

Book Overview: These stories are an extra peek at Auggie before he started at Beecher Prep and during his first year there. Readers get to see him through the eyes of Julian, the bully; Christopher, Auggie’s oldest friend; and Charlotte, Auggie’s new friend at school. Together, these three stories are a treasure for readers who don’t want to leave Auggie behind when they finish Wonder.

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

Book Kids – Book of the Month – September

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch - Book

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. ” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture.

Have you ever picked up a book to read and thought you had some idea of how the story was going to end, only to find out you were nowhere close? The first time I picked up The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, I was absolutely certain that this would be a book about death and dying. I prepared myself for a very somber read (having followed Pausch’s story through the media).  I couldn’t have been more incorrect. After reading it, I found the book to be more about life and living. I came out with a deeper sense of appreciation for life and an increased motivation to live it to its fullest.

Pausch is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is given only a few months to live. All the while, he has been asked to give a lecture to a group of college students. Although he is uncertain whether his health or life would hold up long enough to allow him to give this lecture, he is determined to give it anyway (with the blessing of his wife). The bulk of the book then focuses on the preparation for what would be his last lecture, particularly its content. He names the lecture “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” in which he focuses primarily on all of his childhood dreams he has accomplished.

According to Pausch, accomplishing these childhood dreams means that he has his lived his life to its fullest potential, no matter how long or short of a lifespan he has been allotted. The more he lets the readers in on these accomplishments, the more we begin to understand that although “we cannot change the cards we are dealt,” we can change “how we play the hand.” This brings me to one of my favorite quotes, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.” ―Hilary Cooper.  Even if this is the only message one takes away from this book, it is well worth the read.

Our Teens Weigh In:  

This book was recommended as a school required reading, however, this is a book that I could easily choose as a recreational read. The Last Lecture is an inspirational and heartwarming book about Randy Pausch’s opinions and advice on what life is really about and what is most important. Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told by doctors he had a few months left of good health. He was then asked to give a lecture. He didn’t want it be like a “last will and testament.” That sounded so final, deathly, the end. He wanted it to be more about life. His main concern was to leave this lecture as a legacy for his young kids to always remember him. His lecture, however, has gone on to impact more than just his kids. It has gone on to influence millions of youth and adults around the world.

His lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” contains a mix of humor, inspiration, and emotion explaining how to go about accomplishing one’s goals. It also offers great insights and wisdom on appreciating life, not taking anything for granted, and making much out of little. Unfortunately Pausch lost his battle with pancreatic cancer but not before inspiring a bunch of people of all ages. The Last Lecture is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. I recommend it to children and adults. ―Gabe, 14.

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. ” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture. This is one of my favorite quotes in the book because it reminds us that brick walls are only temporary roadblocks that can be overcome, depending on how much we truly want something. It helps us to understand the reasons for obstacles and how to overcome them. The book is full of inspirational quotes and life lessons. It is packed with wisdom beyond anything I have ever read. It reminds us to appreciate life even in the midst of death;  to encourage oneself and others even in the midst of discouragements; to love even in the midst of unloving circumstances; to pick out the positives even in the midst of the negatives; and to remain grateful even in the midst of adversities. All in all, the book inspires us to continue to push forward even when life tries to pull us backward.  A must-read! ―Gabby, 15

Readers, weigh in!

The Last Lecture: Video

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

Book Club – Book of the Month – August

Serafina and the Black Cloak - Book

“Our character isn’t defined by the battles we win or lose, but by the battles we dare to fight.”  ― Robert Beatty, Serafina and the Black Cloak

We have chosen Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty as our tweens-teens’ book club selection for August. We first featured this book on our Facebook and twitter pages as one of our must-read summer picks and as a possible book club selection. Our initial attraction to the book was influenced by the fact that its setting, Biltmore Estate,  happens to be one of our favorite summer attractions. Our fascination grew after viewing the book trailer. Ultimately, our overall decision became set in stone after meeting the author at a local book signing event. The kids were particularly excited to meet and interact with him and the characters of the book; while the parents were highly impressed by his patience and willingness to sign all the books, take photos, and answer questions. What a great experience that was! But that’s a whole other blog post.

The book was released July 14, 2015 and immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. We bought several copies and our teens immediately dug in. The book is intriguing and addictive. This is a book that can easily suck you in and have you lose track of time because the storyline is extremely captivating. We are still reading and discussing the book, and are inviting  you to join us. Until everyone finishes, this is where we are so far:

Twelve-year-old Serafina lives with her pa in the basement of the Biltmore Estate that he helped construct. Her pa spends most of his time performing maintenance duties at the estate while Serafina spends most of her time secretly exploring the estate.  She is forbidden from venturing into the forest because “there are dark forces there that no one understands, things that ain’t natural and can do ya wicked harm.” She is restricted from interacting with dwellers and guests of the estate in order to avoid being noticed. She is also discouraged from inquiring about her past, all for reasons unknown to readers thus far.

Life, as usual as possible, for Serafina would soon take an unusual turn as she witnesses a man wearing a black cloak chasing and soon snatching a little girl. Serafina tries to save the girl but is unable to as the cloak consumes the girl. Serafina then resumes fleeing for her life, as the man in the black cloak chases after her. She is able seek refuge in one of her many secret hiding places. Nonetheless, this is just the beginning of this unusual and terrifying encounter. We can’t wait to see how this all turns out.  Hope you’ll join us in reading this book. As always, we love hearing your thoughts on books. You may leave a comment or two about this book or other books you are currently reading.  

Book Overview:
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s vast and oppulent home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She has learned to prowl through the darkened corridors at night, to sneak and hide, using the mansion’s hidden doors and secret passageways.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows the clues to follow. A terrifying man in a black cloak stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear, where she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must not only face her darkest enemy, but delve into the strange mystery of her own identity.

Book Trailer:

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

 

 

 

 

 

13 Children’s Books Honoring and Celebrating Dads

Books can be used for both educational and entertaining purposes during holidays. Some books may teach kids about the history and purpose of a holiday, while others may simply entertain and bring out the holiday spirit in kids. Some books do both. Here are 13 Father’s Day children’s books that will bring out the holiday spirit in kids, while honoring and celebrating dads.

My Dad Can Do Anything

1. My Dad Can Do Anything by Stephen Krensky (Author), Mike Wohnoutka (Illustrator) -Ages 3 – 7 years

Overview: What can your dad do? Can he climb the highest mountain? Or swim to the bottom of the sea? In this heartwarming story about how dads are strong, brave, and all-around great, dads can do anything. Includes a sheet of fun stickers!

The Night Before Father's Day

 

2. The Night Before Father’s Day by Natasha Wing (Author), Amy Wummer (illustrator) -Ages 3 – 5 years

Overview: It’s the night before Father’s Day, and Mom and the kids have a plan to surprise Dad with a special gift. When Dad goes for a bike ride, everyone gets to work. Dad wakes up the next day to find his garage newly organized and his car sparkly clean. So, of course, he celebrates by taking everyone for a spin! This book goes along with The Night Before Mother’s Day.

Hero-Dad

3. Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin (Author), Bryan Langdo (Illustrator) -Ages 3 – 5 years

Overview: A boy compares his father, a U.S. soldier, to a superhero. This book goes along with Hero Mom.

Father's Day Book

4. Father’s Day by Anne Rockwell (Author), Lizzy Rockwell (Illustrator) -Ages 4 – 8 years

Overview: In Mrs. Madoff’s class, it’s a book made just for him. First the kids think about their special moments with their fathers. Sam’s dad is so strong, he can carry Sam on his shoulders. Eveline’s dad sings to her when Maman has to work at night. Jessica writes about her father in Texas … and her stepfather at home. And when it’s time to celebrate at school, both of her fathers give Jessica the best surprise of all. This book goes along with Mother’s Day.

Up on Daddy's Shoulders 1

5. Up on Daddy’s Shoulders by Matt Berry (Author), Lucy Corvino (Illustrator) -Ages 3 – 5 years

Overview: Feeling taller than his big brother, his house, and the giraffes at the zoo, a little boy spends the day on his daddy’s shoulders as they go for a walk around their neighborhood.

A Father's Song

6. A Father’s Song by Janet Lawler (Author), Lucy Corvino (Illustrator) -Ages 3 – 6 years

Overview: How many ways can dad show his love? He can lift his son high in the air, gather him close for a ride down the slide, make funny faces to ward away tears, and fly him around “like an airplane that swoops.” Together, they’ll roll in the leaves, go on the swings, and roar like lions. Best of all, the verse offers fathers plenty of opportunities to play as they read–to tussle and hug, and to make silly sounds and expressions. And that means kids will want their dads to share this with them over and over again. What a delightful celebration of the bond between father and child–and a tale to make Father’s Day extra special. This book goes along with A Mother’s Song.

I Love My Daddy Because

7. I Love My Daddy Because… by Laurel Porter Gaylor (Author), Ashley Wolff (Illustrator) -Ages 1 – 3 years

Overview: The youngest nursery tots will appreciate how phrases and actions from their own experiences also apply to animal babies.  The book begins with an affectionate scene between a human parent and child, but moves on to caregiving in animal families.  “He sings me songs” shows a gray wolf and his cub.  In concept, text, and art, this is among the most warm and reassuring lap books ever. This book goes along with I Love My Mommy Because…

Daddy's Little Scout

8. Daddy’s Little Scout by Janet Bingham (Author), Rosalind Beardshaw (Illustrator) -Ages 4 – 8 years

Overview: It’s springtime, and Little Fox and Daddy Fox are visiting the animals of the forest to see their new homes. Mrs. Finch is building a new nest. The rabbit family is making new rabbit holes. And Mr. Mole is digging new tunnels. Little Fox is outgrowing their old den, and the Foxes will need a new home, too. Little Fox is glad that their new home will not be high in a tree, in a prickly bush, or in a cold wet stream. Little Fox realizes that the best home is snug and warm in a den . . . with Daddy Fox! This book goes along with Mommy’s Little Star.

Saturday Is Dadurday

9. Saturday Is Dadurday by Robin Pulver (Author), R. W. Alley (Illustrator) -Ages 4 – 8 years

Overview: For Mimi, the best day of the week is always Saturday, because she gets to spend it with just her Dad. Every “Dadurday” begins the same way–Mimi and Dad make silly-shaped pancakes, read the comics section of the newspaper and make lists of fun things to do together. But when Dad gets a new work schedule, “Dadurday” is ruined. Can Mimi find a way to still make it a special day for her and dad?

Daddy Calls Me Man

10. Daddy Calls Me Man by Angela Johnson (Author), Rhonda Mitchell (Illustrator)- Ages 3 and up

Overview: Inspired by his family experiences and his parents’ paintings, a young boy creates four poems. In four vibrant verses and spectacular oil paintings, a young boy revels in the everyday pleasures of growing up in a family of fine artists. A still life of shoes inspires Noah to measure his own little ones against the big ones of his father. The whirl of an abstract painting encourages him to spin with his older sister. The moon outside his window is the same one that glows on his mother’s canvas. But the subject that brings out the best in Noah — and inspires his daddy to call him a man — has her crib right there in his parents’ studio. With its bold colors and arresting perspectives, this book is a celebration of art and an exaltation of family.

SPECIAL BOOKS:

Father’s Day is a joyous holiday to celebrate and honor fathers. Unfortunately, not all children welcome it with open arms. In fact, many kids spend Father’s Day without their fathers, due to incarceration, divorce, and death. While it is never a pleasant experience to watch one’s parent(s) go to jail, go through divorce, or die, sadly, many kids are having to experience just that. As Father’s Day approaches, these books will serve to help these kids understand and cope with these difficult life challenges.

The Night Dad Went to Jail

11. The Night Dad Went to Jail: What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail (Life’s Challenges) by Melissa Higgins (Author), Wednesday Kirwan (Illustrator) -Ages 5 – 8 years

Overview: When someone you love goes to jail, you might feel lost, scared, and even mad. What do you do? No matter who your loved one is, this story can help you through the tough times.

Weekends with Dad

12. Weekends with Dad: What to Expect when Your Parents Divorce (Life’s Challenges) by Melissa Higgins (Author), Wednesday Kirwan (Illustrator) -Ages 5 – 8 years

Overview: When your parents divorce, it can feel like the world turns upside down. What do you do? Whether you live mostly at your moms or dads, this story can help you through the tough times.

Where Are You - Book

13. Where Are You? A Child’s Book About Loss by Laura Olivieri (Author), Kristin Elder (Illustrator) -Ages 4 – 8 years

Overview: Where Are You: A Child’s Book About Loss is a kind and supportive text with beautiful illustrations designed to help children of all ages cope with the loss of a loved one. It is created with love and care so that even the youngest readers will find comfort during this stressful and difficult time.

As always, we love to hear your thoughts on books. What books are you reading together to celebrate Father’s Day? You may leave a comment or two.

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

 

11 Memorable Children’s Books About Libraries and Librarians

Librarian -The Original Search Engine

“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead.” — Caitlin Moran

Librarian -The Original Search Engine

This week is National Library Week. There are several themes throughout the week to help you celebrate, including National Library Workers DayNational Bookmobile Day, and Celebrate Teen Literature Day. These are themes that can easily be celebrated throughout the year, and we encourage you to do so. Nonetheless, we particularly love these kinds of events because they thrust books and the people behind them in the spotlight. 

We hope that you will take full advantage of these opportunities to celebrate books and the people behind them. Moreover, we encourage you to take your kids to the library, and while you’re there, be sure to thank your librarians and tell them how much you appreciate what they do to impact literature and literacy. Without further ado, here are 11 memorable children’s books you can read with your kids to honor and celebrate National Library Week. As always, feel free to share some of your favorites, particularly those we may have missed. Happy National Library Week!

Library book 1

The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians (Ages 5 and up) by Carla Morris (Author), Brad Sneed (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis:  Every day after school Melvin goes to the library. Everything has its place in the library and Melvin likes it that way. And his favorite people–Marge, Betty, and Leola–are always in their places, behind the reference desk.

When something interests Melvin, his librarian friends help him find lots and lots of books on the subject. When he collects creepy bugs in a jar, they help him identify, classify, and catalog the insects. When he is cast as the Enormous Eggplant in the school play, Betty reads aloud from Organic Gardening to help him find his motivation. As the years pass, Melvin can always find the answers to his questions–and a lot of fun–in the library. Then one day he goes off to college to learn new things and read new books. Will he leave the library and his friends behind forever?

Library Book 2

Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians (Ages 4-8 years) by Jackie Mims Hopkins (Author), John Manders (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: Students will love our fractured fairy tale that puts a new twist on the classic story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Use the coordinating posters and bookmarks to reinforce the lessons taught in the book.

Deep in an enchanted forest, a little girl named Goldie Socks finds a storybook cottage. When she looks inside, she finds shelves and shelves filled with books. As she searches for 1 that is just right and a comfy place to read it, Mama, Papa and Baby Libearian discover that someone has been in their house!

Library Book3

Library Mouse (Ages 4-8 years) by Daniel Kirk (Author)

Book Synopsis: Beloved children’s books author and illustrator Daniel Kirk wonderfully brings to life the story of Sam, a library mouse. Sam’s home was in a little hole in the wall in the children’s reference books section, and he thought that life was very good indeed. For Sam loved to read. He read picture books and chapter books, biographies and poetry, and ghost stories and mysteries. Sam read so much that finally one day he decided to write books himself!

Sam shared his books with other library visitors by placing them on a bookshelf at night. Until there came the time that people wanted to meet this talented author. Whatever was Sam to do?

Library Book4

Tomas and the Library Lady (Ages 3-7 years) by Pat Mora (Author), Raul Colon (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: Tomás is a son of migrant workers. Every summer he and his family follow the crops north from Texas to Iowa, spending long, arduous days in the fields. At night they gather around to hear Grandfather’s wonderful stories. But before long, Tomás knows all the stories by heart. “There are more stories in the library,” Papa Grande tells him.  The very next day, Tomás meets the library lady and a whole new world opens up for him.

Based on the true story of the Mexican-American author and educator Tomás Rivera, a child of migrant workers who went on to become the first minority Chancellor in the University of California system, this inspirational story suggests what libraries–and education–can make possible.  Raul Colón’s warm, expressive paintings perfectly interweave the harsh realities of Tomás’ life, the joyful imaginings he finds in books, and his special relationships with a wise grandfather and a caring librarian.

Library Book5

I Know a Librarian Who Chewed on a Word (Ages 5-8 years) by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton (Author), Herb Leonhard (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: A most exciting word has the whole library abuzz. What combination of letters could possibly drive a person to do such absurd things? Fascinated children look on as Miss Divine dines on a table, chomps down a chair, and savors a shelf-all to chase down a single word. Written in the style of “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” this book reveals the only verb that could make a librarian practically purr, and that word is READ.

Library Book6

The Storyteller’s Candle (Ages 6 and up) by Lucia Gonzalez (Author), Lulu Delacre (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: The winter of 1929 feels especially cold to cousins Hildamar and Santiago—they arrived in New York City from sunny Puerto Rico only months before. Their island home feels very far away indeed, especially with Three Kings’ Day rapidly approaching. But then a magical thing happened. A visitor appears in their class, a gifted storyteller and librarian by the name of Pura Belpré. She opens the children’s eyes to the public library and its potential to be the living, breathing heart of the community.

The library, after all, belongs to everyone—whether you speak Spanish, English, or both. The award-winning team of Lucía González and Lulu Delacre have crafted an homage to Pura Belpré, New York City’s first Latina librarian. Through her vision and dedication, the warmth of Puerto Rico came to the island of Manhattan in a most unexpected way.

Library book8

The Lonely Book (Ages 4-8 years) by Kate Bernheimer (Author), Chris Sheban (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: When a wonderful new book arrives at the library, at first it is loved by all, checked out constantly, and rarely spends a night on the library shelf. But over time it grows old and worn, and the children lose interest in its story. The book is sent to the library’s basement where the other faded books live. How it eventually finds an honored place on a little girl’s bookshelf—and in her heart—makes for an unforgettable story sure to enchant anyone who has ever cherished a book. Kate Bernheimer and Chris Sheban have teamed up to create a picture book that promises to be loved every bit as much as the lonely book itself.

Library Book9

Lola at the Library (Ages 2-5 years) by Anna McQuinn (Author), Rosalind Beardshaw (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: Lola has a big smile on her face. Why? Because it’s Tuesday–and on Tuesdays, Lola and her mommy go to the library. Join Lola in this cozy celebration of books and the people who love them

Library Book 17

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile (Ages 4-8 years) by Gloria Houston (Author), Susan Condie Lamb (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: When Dorothy was a young girl, she loved books, and she loved people, so she decided that she would become a librarian. Dorothy’s dearest wish is to be a librarian in a fine brick library just like the one she visited when she was small. But her new home in North Carolina has valleys and streams but no libraries, so Miss Dorothy and her neighbors decide to start a bookmobile. Instead of people coming to a fine brick library, Miss Dorothy can now bring the books to them—at school, on the farm, even once in the middle of a river!

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile is an inspiring story about the love of books, the power of perseverance, and how a librarian can change people’s lives.

Library Book16

That Book Woman (Ages 4-8 years) by Heather Henson (Author), David Small (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: Cal is not the readin’ type. Living way high up in the Appalachian Mountains, he’d rather help Pap plow or go out after wandering sheep than try some book learning. Nope. Cal does not want to sit stoney-still reading some chicken scratch. But that Book Woman keeps coming just the same. She comes in the rain. She comes in the snow. She comes right up the side of the mountain, and Cal knows that’s not easy riding. And all just to lend his sister some books. Why, that woman must be plain foolish — or is she braver than he ever thought?

That Book Woman is a rare and moving tale that honors a special part of American history — the Pack Horse Librarians, who helped untold numbers of children see the stories amid the chicken scratch, and thus made them into lifetime readers.

library Book15

Goin’ Someplace Special (Ages 4-8 years) by Patricia C. Mckissack (Author), Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: There’s a place in this 1950s southern town where all are welcome, no matter what their skin color…and ‘Tricia Ann knows exactly how to get there. To her, it’s someplace special and she’s bursting to go by herself. When her grandmother sees that she’s ready to take such a big step, ‘Tricia Ann hurries to catch the bus heading downtown. But unlike the white passengers, she must sit in the back behind the Jim Crow sign and wonder why life’s so unfair. Still, for each hurtful sign seen and painful comment heard, there’s a friend around the corner reminding ‘Tricia Ann that she’s not alone. And even her grandmother’s words —  “You are somedbody, a human being — no better, no worse than anybody else in this world” —  echo in her head, lifting her spirits and pushing her forward.

Patricia C. McKissack’s poignant story of growing up in the segregated South and Jerry Pinkney’s rich, detailed watercolors lead readers to the doorway of freedom.

Special Bonus: “For me, the library was a doorway to freedom, to free thought. When you’re being taught, “you can’t, you can’t, you can’t” … the library says, “you can, you can, you can.” And I did.” — Patricia McKissack, on the inspiration behind Goin’ Someplace Special.  Watch video: An Excerpt from Goin’ Someplace Special.

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

The New Big Book of U.S. Presidents

In honor of Presidents’ Day we are highlighting The New Big Book of U.S. Presidents by Marc Frey and Todd Davis for ages 8-12 years. This is the ONE children’s book of U.S. presidents my kids swear by. I bought this book the moment my elementary schooler insisted that he was going to be the “next” U.S. president. I knew he was too young to be the next president, but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to feast on his new-found fascination. Let’s just say this book hasn’t been laid to rest since.  Furthermore, now that the other kids have followed suit, this has become one of the most frequently read books in our home. All our kids are intrigued by it. Here’s why:

1. The book offers fascinating facts. It is not just a “George Washington was the first U.S. president” kind of book. Kids need to know more than just that. It offers a lot more meat about each president’s personal and political life, going even further to include key historical events and achievements surrounding their presidencies, without being lengthy, redundant, or boring. 

2. The book is easy to read and comprehend. I love when a book explains its content to its kid readers so well to the point where adults have to do very little to no reiterating. Indeed, the book is jam-packed with lots of detailed facts and history, but don’t be overwhelmed; they are presented in the simplest, kid-friendly language that kids can easily grasp. Seriously.

3. The book includes a historical timeline. This timeline covers key historical topics that include arts, literature, politics, religion, science, education, etc., you name it. Again, don’t be overwhelmed. They are outlined in the simplest, chronological fashion that is a no brainer for your little reader to absorb.

4. The book has great illustrations. You can never go wrong with great illustrations, especially when your readers are primarily kids. These photos not only serve as a great supplement to the text, they add such incredible details to the point where without the text, they can almost easily stand alone. My kids particularly love associating each president’s name to his face. They also love in inclusion of old historical pictures of the events and persons highlighted in the text.

5. The book has a glossary of key terms. I particularly love a book that includes a glossary primarily because it helps kids review key terms mentioned in the book. It also serves as a summary of what is covered in the text. I see these as a great opportunity for a quick review or quiz to see how much information they actually retain from the reading.

Overall, this book is both educational and entertaining; there are both hilarious and serious aspects to it. This is a book the entire family will enjoy reading, while learning about presidential facts and figures. Let us know what you think. Until then, Happy Presidents’ Day! Happy Reading!   

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids