Tag Archives: Children’s literature

Family Reading Night is coming!

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Family Reading Night
Clothespin Puppets Picture Book Show
Wednesday, November 15, 7-7:45 p.m.
All ages
See your favorite books come to life during a fast-paced mix of stories, puppets and audience participation. Get here early and meet the puppets and puppeteers starting at 6 p.m. Drop in.

Wonderstruck is coming!

A new movie based on one of Brian Selznick’s books is out in limited release and will be opening more widely soon.

A previous adaptation of one of his books, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, just made Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 25 Best Movie Adaptations of Classic Children’s Books. You can read about the making of the movie in The Hugo Movie Companion: A Behind the Scenes Look at How a Beloved Book Became a Major Motion Picture.

Nights at the Museum

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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was one of my favorite books as a kid, and I’m not alone. This month marks 50 years since the book was published, and many people are writing tributes— including some new children’s books.

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Ban This Book: A Novel by Alan Gratz
“A fourth grader fights back when From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is challenged by a well-meaning parent and taken off the shelves of her school library. Amy Anne is shy and soft-spoken, but don’t mess with her when it comes to her favorite book in the whole world. Amy Anne and her lieutenants wage a battle for the books that will make you laugh and pump your fists as they start a secret banned books locker library, make up ridiculous reasons to ban every single book in the library to make a point, and take a stand against censorship.”

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One Mixed-Up Night by Catherine Newman
“Frankie and Walter aren’t really running away. Just like the kids in their favorite book, they are running to somewhere. Specifically, a massive furniture store. They’ve been obsessed with the Ikea catalog for years. So they make a plan, pack their backpacks, give their parents the sleepover switcheroo . . . and they’re in.”

As you can see by the big gold sticker on the cover, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler won the Newbery Medal. Mrs. Konigsburg also won a Newbery Honor for Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and me, Elizabeth the same year. I’m not sure anyone else has managed to do that with two books in one year, and it’s even more impressive when you find out that these were the two books she wrote and illustrated! The book has also been turned into a movie under the title The Hideaways, which you can check out on DVD.

Thoughts of home

Lately the news has been making me think of the place I grew up, which was historically a Jewish suburb.  There was a centrally located Jewish Community Center, and I was familiar with seeing a sukkah outside in the fall or girls in knee-length skirts (the Jewish community was largely, but not exclusively, Orthodox and Hasidic) playing softball in the parking lot in spring or summer.

Last night I was on Facebook and saw one of my friends join in a conversation with several of her friends about how to talk to their young, Jewish children about recent acts of anti-Semitism.  One mom described her preschooler talking about lockdown practice (Many of the Jewish Community Centers receiving bomb threats house preschools, and they have to be prepared).

The first resources I thought about were ones I had turned to in other cases of violence, prejudice, and scary topics in the news.  The American Psychological Association has some resources for parents and Teaching Tolerance has classroom resources.  Not surprisingly, I found the most at the Anti-Defamation League, which has a whole section on confronting anti-Semitism and recommended books for children and teens (“The Best Kid Lit on Bias, Diversity and Social Justice”).

Here are some titles from their Jewish Culture and Anti-Semitism list:

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Always Remember Me: How One Family Survived World War II by Marisabina Russo
After many years during which her grandmother skirted the issue, a young girl finally hears the story of how several of her female relatives survived the Holocaust.

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I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
Traces the achievements of the celebrated Supreme Court justice through the lens of her many famous acts of civil disagreement against inequality, unfair treatment, and human rights injustice.

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Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen
Told to make a Pilgrim doll for the Thanksgiving display at school, Molly is embarrassed when her mother tries to help her out by creating a doll dressed as she herself was dressed before leaving Russia to seek religious freedom.

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Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco
A long-lasting friendship develops between Larnel, a young African-American, and Mrs. Katz, a lonely, Jewish widow, when Larnel presents Mrs. Katz with a scrawny kitten without a tail.

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Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp by Trish Marx
Photo-essay focusing on two Israeli children, one Jewish and one Palestinian, who, in spite of their differences and the longstanding conflicts in the region, learn to play, work, and share ideas together at Summer Peace Camp, a day camp located in Israel. Includes glossary, map, and resources for readers.

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The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren
In Denmark during World War II, young Annet, her parents, and their neighbors help a Jewish family hide from Nazi soldiers until it is safe for them to leave Annet’s basement.

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The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark by Carmen Agra Deedy
Retells the story of King Christian X and the Danish resistance to the Nazis during World War II.

If you’re looking for more books besides the ones on the ADL lists, you might try the page for the Sydney Taylor Book Award, presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries “to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.”  There are also children’s and young adult literature categories for the National Jewish Book Award (It looks like this year’s winners will be announced March 7).

The first time I encountered the story of the golem was when I pulled it out of a book display at the public library (I wasn’t really thinking about it at the time, but it was probably a Passover display).  That book was the first window I had to try to understand what it meant to be in danger from anti-Semitism.  This memory is part of why I try to do displays of everyone’s holidays– both so people can see themselves reflected, and also so people can see where their neighbors are coming from.

Quick Pick: The Tree in the Courtyard

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The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank’s Window by Jeff Gottesfeld, illustrated by Peter McCarty

“The tree in the courtyard was a horse chestnut. Her leaves were green stars; her flowers foaming cones of white and pink. Seagulls flocked to her shade. She spread roots and reached skyward in peace.

“The tree watched a little girl, who played and laughed and wrote in a diary. When strangers invaded the city and warplanes roared overhead, the tree watched the girl peek out of the curtained window of the annex. It watched as she and her family were taken away—and when her father returned after the war, alone.

“The tree died the summer Anne Frank would have turned eighty-one, but its seeds and saplings have been planted around the world as a symbol of peace. Its story, and Anne’s story, are beautifully told and illustrated in this powerful picture book.” -Random House

Tu Bi-Shevat (also spelled Tu Bishvat or Tu B’Shevat) is a Jewish holiday sometimes called the New Year of the Trees or “Jewish Arbor Day.” This year it begins at sundown on February 10. It is a time to appreciate trees (and plant them, if you live where the climate is right at this time of year). You can click on links above to see other stories and information about the holiday in our collection.

African American History, Library History

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Something unusual happened at the Youth Media Awards on Monday.  A single book, March: Book Three (written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell), won 4 major awards:

  • Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, recognizing an African-American author and of outstanding books for children and young adults
  • Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults
  • Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children
  • YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

The book already won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in November.  You might have heard Representative John Lewis give an emotional acceptance speech, in which he recalled “I remember in 1956 when I was 16 years old, going down to the public library, trying to get library cards, and we were told that the libraries were whites-only and not for coloreds…To come here and receive this award — it’s too much.”

The history of library services for African Americans has included both exclusion and inclusion.  Here are some books (for a slightly younger audience than March) that help tell the story:

Finding Lincoln
Finding Lincoln by Ann Malaspina
In segregated 1950s Alabama, Louis cannot use the public library to research a class assignment, but one of the librarians lets him in after hours and helps him find the book that he needs. Includes an author’s note with historical information about library segregation in the South.

Goin' Somplace Special
Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack
In segregated Nashville during the 1950s, a young African American girl endures a series of indignities and obstacles to get to the public library, one of the few integrated places in the city.

Richard Wright and the Library Card
Richard Wright and the Library Card by William Miller (also available in Spanish)
Based on a scene from Wright’s autobiography, Black Boy, in which the seventeen-year-old African-American borrows a white man’s library card and devours every book as a ticket to freedom.

Ron's Big Mission
Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne Naden
One summer day in 1959, nine-year-old Ron McNair, who dreams of becoming a pilot, walks into the Lake City, South Carolina public library and insists on checking out some books, despite the rule that only white people can have library cards. Includes facts about McNair, who grew up to be an astronaut.

Newbery and Caldecott Awards