Category Archives: readers’ advisory

Updated resources for stressful situations

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This seems like a good time to talk about stress. Last year, I thought to myself how unfair it was that teachers were looking for books to help small children understand lockdown practice while parents were still asking for The Kissing Hand to help those same kids handle being away from their families all day. This year I wonder how much children are noticing news about nuclear tensions or white supremacists.

I’ve shared some resources in the past, but since some of them have been replaced with newer materials I wanted to provide an updated list:

The American Psychological Association provides lots of resources on its website, on topics ranging from school readiness to how to talk to children about the news. If you’re looking for resources in the library, you might try subject headings like stress in children, stress management for children or stress management for teenagers. We also have a lot of books from Free Spirit Publishing, designed to “support young people’s social-emotional health and their educational needs.” You can find books I’ve recommended in the past here.

There is not a lot on contemporary nuclear issues in the children’s collection (you can find somewhat more for teens). The Nuclear Age and the accompanying information in the Freedom Flix database might be helpful. When I was in library school and there was another instance of heightened nuclear tensions in the news, a boy asked me for “books about bombs.” Asking some clarifying questions, I found that he was wondering if the world could really be destroyed by nuclear warfare. Something I sought out for myself at that time was the story “A Midnight Clear” by Katherine Paterson, included in The Big Book for Peace.

This brings me to Comforting Reads for Difficult Times, a recent list of books for children and teens and recommended resources for adults. The books are grouped by themes like Grief and Resilience. If you can’t find an item that you want, just let us know. The resources for adults include many online resources covering how to talk to children about “Difficult News and Tragedies,” the excellent Teaching Tolerance website with classroom resources from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and an online article about using books to discuss tough topics with young children.

They have also released a new edition of Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide which you can access for free online. This includes suggestions for how to respond in the face of hateful incidents, both on the community level (such as how to plan a safer counterdemonstration) and on the personal or family level (how to actively teach anti-bias to children). I previously shared resources on racism and anti-Semitism and extremism. Parents and teachers can find more advice by searching for subjects like Prejudices in Children, Race Awareness in ChildrenMulticultural Education, Children and Violence and Violence in Children.

I recently attended a conference that addressed some of these topics. As awkward as it can be for adults to talk about race, they emphasized that it is important because kids will come up with their own explanations in the absence of information. They provided a handout with some tips. A child might ask embarrassing questions, but you can help them learn respectful and scientifically accurate language. Some of us might have been taught an ideal of color-blindness, but the current thinking is that children notice differences in appearance and “it makes it weird when you ignore it.”

Another update to a resource I suggested in the past is a new parenting title:

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My Brown Baby: On the Joys and Challenges of Raising African American Children by Denene Miller
A New York Times best-selling author and the creator of the critically acclaimed blog My Brown Baby speaks to the experiences, joys, fears, sorrows and triumphs of African-American motherhood, from pregnancy and child-rearing to relationships and the politics of parenting black children.
This is a whole 18 years newer than the last book I was able to share on this topic!

I currently have some books on display in Children’s Services with titles from the “Comforting Reads” list and some related picks. We have a wide variety to offer, and we are ready to help you find what you need.

 

 

 

Can you figure out what these books have in common?

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Fa Mulan: The Story of a Woman Warrior by Robert D. San Souci; illustrated by Jean & Mou-Sien Tseng
A retelling of the original Chinese poem in which a brave young girl masquerades as a boy and fights the Tartars in the Khan’s army.

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I’ll Pass for Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by Anita Silvey
Explores the secret world of women Civil War soldiers, discussing who they were, why they went to war, how they managed their masquerade, their wartime experiences, and what happened to them afterwards.

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Joan of Arc: The Lily Maid by Margaret Hodges
A biography of the fifteenth-century peasant girl who led a French army to victory against the English.

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My Last Skirt: The Story of Jennie Hodgers, Union Soldier by Lynda Durrant
Enjoying the freedom afforded her while dressing as a boy in order to earn higher pay after emigrating from Ireland, Jennie Hodgers serves in the 95th Illinois Infantry as Private Albert Cashier, a Union soldier in the American Civil War.

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Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss and John Hendrix
A story of a nineteen-year-old woman who disguised herself as a man to avoid an unwanted marriage and who distinguished herself as a male nurse during the Civil War, and later as a spy for the Union Army.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Shark Week!

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10 Fascinating Facts About Sharks by Rachel A. Koestler-Grack
Did you know that there are more than 500 species of shark? Or that they range in size from smaller than a ruler to longer than a bus? Those are just some of the fascinating tidbits kids will discover in 10 Fascinating Facts About Sharks.

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Amazing Sharks by Steve Parker
Provides an overview of sharks, describing key characteristics of such species as the great white shark, blue shark, sand tiger shark, and whale shark.

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Bow Wow by Spencer Quinn
Bowser the mutt lives with eleven-year-old Birdie Gaux and her grandmother in the normally quiet Louisiana bayou town of St. Roch, but news that a Bull shark has somehow made its way into the swamp has everyone excited, and the cash bounty for landing the shark has lured some very shady characters into town–one hunter in particular is prepared to go to any lengths to collect the money.

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Deadliest Sharks by Melissa Abramovitz
Profiles some of the world’s deadliest sharks, including the spotted wobbegong, shortfin mako, and bull shark.

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If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams
A nonfiction picture book tracing the repercussions of what would happen if sharks disappeared from our planet.

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Please Be Nice to Sharks: Fascinating Facts about the Ocean’s Most Misunderstood Creatures by Matt Weiss; photos by Matt Weiss & Daniel Botelho
A humorous book that humanizes the incredible, much-maligned shark through breathtaking underwater photography and incredible facts dispels many of the myths that have led to various shark species being hunted to extinction.

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Sharkpedia by Nancy Ellwood and Margaret Parrish
Through hundreds of photographs, diagrams, maps, and illustrations, readers will learn where sharks lurk, what they eat, and why they do what they do, as well as hear from scientists and shark-attack survivors.

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Sharks by Sarah Fowler
Get up close and personal with all kinds of sharks—from bullhead to cow to carpet sharks—and learn how to identify different types, which is strongest, and so much more with this exciting book full of amazing images, fun quizzes, and incredible information.

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Sharks and Other Sea Creatures senior editor Carrie Lowe; photographer Ruth Jenkinson
Packed with fun activities, crafts, reading games, and amazing facts, kids can take a dive under the waves and meet all the colorful creatures beneath–from clown fish to starfish to jellyfish–in this educational project book.

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Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks by Skila Brown; illustrated by Bob Kolar
From the enormous whale shark to the legendary great white to the enigmatic goblin shark to the small cookie-cutter shark, Slickety Quick is a delightful frenzy of shark mayhem. … Sneaky shark facts ripple through each spread to further inform the brave and curious young reader intrigued by the power–and danger–of these amazing creatures.

Read the book before you see the movie!

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The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Ferdinand likes to sit quietly and smell the flowers, but one day he gets stung by a bee and his snorting and stomping convince everyone that he is the fiercest of bulls.

I have to wait how many months?

So if you’re like my family, you might be captivated by a certain trailer that came out over the weekend:

It looks like a beautiful adaptation of a much-loved book. A lot of people watching and commenting on the trailer are surprised and excited to see an African American girl in the role of Meg.

I started thinking about what I might recommend to patrons who were excited about the movie. Madeleine L’Engle had a notoriously hard time finding a publisher for the manuscript, saying “It didn’t categorize. … ‘They’ like books that fit into pigeonholes, and Wrinkle didn’t.”

Novelist is a tool available in the online resources on the library’s website. It can provide book suggestions for fans of a certain book (in this case it recommends What Came From the Stars, When You Reach Me, Coraline, and the Missing series). You can also do an advanced search to find a books with certain characteristics.

I recently listened to a piece on the radio in remembrance of Octavia Butler, described as “one of the world’s premier science fiction writers, the first black female science fiction writer to reach national prominence, and the only writer in her genre to receive a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship.” I was curious what African American authors might currently be writing science fiction and fantasy for kids. Searching NoveList produced Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes, the Kulipari fantasy novels by Trevor Pryce, the futuristic Robyn Hoodlum adventures by Kekla Magoon, and the Christian fantasy series The Prince Warriors by Priscilla Evans Shirer (among others).

If you’re looking for kids’ science fiction movies with diverse characters, you might enjoy Earth to Echo or Home (based on the book The True Meaning of Smekday). Alternatively, if you’d like to find more movies that re-imagine a story with an African American woman or girl playing the main character– something like the most recent remake of Annie— you might like Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella or one of the versions of The Wiz. If you’d like a sneak preview of Storm Reid (who plays Meg Murry in A Wrinkle in Time) you might also want to check out the American Girl movie Lea to the Rescue, in which she plays Aki.

Quick pick: Who Says Women Can’t be Doctors?

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Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
An introduction to the life and achievements of the first American female doctor describes the limited career prospects available to women in the early nineteenth-century, the opposition Blackwell faced while pursuing a medical education, and her pioneering medical career that opened doors for future generations of women.

Thoreau investigations

You would expect Daniel Pinkwater, author of The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, to have a quirky taste in books. If you tuned in to the radio in 2003 you might have heard him introducing a series of picture books that has a number of unusual characteristics. For one thing, they feature a main character based on writer/naturalist/philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Secondly, the main character (and everyone he interacts with) is a bear. Third, the books are illustrated in a sort of Cubist Expressionist style that you hardly ever see in children’s books.

 

 

 

This July 12, Thoreau turns 200 years old. If you want to introduce your children to his work, the library has a few books that will let children enjoy his writings in his own words:

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Henry David’s House shares selections from Walden alongside beautiful illustrations. Singing America includes two of his poems in a collection with works by other authors.

There are also several books (past the picture book level) that feature Thoreau as a hero or icon. The Dragon Tree opens with a quote from Thoreau, and imagines a magical tree with quotes from all kinds of literature on it leaves. This book was the inspiration for the architectural “trees” decorating the Children’s Services department. It’s also the eighth book in the Hall Family Chronicles, which includes

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The Mysterious Circus, in which the Halls foil a new enemy’s plan to build a Henry Thoreau theme park across from their home (with humor and magic).

It’s not too different in theme from

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The Trouble With Henry: A Tale of Walden Pond, in which Thoreau defends his beloved woods from a toothpick factory.

Moving into the modern day, we have

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Octavia Boone’s Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything. Seventh-grader Octavia puzzles over lifes biggest questions when her mother seems to find the answers in a conservative Christian church, while her artist father believes the writings of Henry David Thoreau hold the key.

Kids who love humor might prefer

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Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters. When Alvin‘s father takes him camping to instill a love of nature, like that of their home-town hero Henry David Thoreau, Alvin makes a new friend and learns that he can be brave despite his fear of everything.

If you want to read more about the life of Thoreau, we have several biographies. There’s also a guide in our homeschooling section called Henry David Thoreau for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities. Or you could follow this link to see how he invented No. 2 pencils (no, really!). Be sure to check out our display of books!