Tag Archives: readers’ advisory

Comforting Reads for Difficult Times


The Association for Library Service to Children has released a new list of recommended books called Comforting Reads for Difficult Times, which you can download and print here:

In addition to suggested books for different ages on topics like depression, resilience and violence, ALSC also suggests resources for adults. These books, articles and websites provide additional book suggestions and advice on topics like talking to children about the news.

Yes, it’s OK to read audiobooks!


Did you know you can count listening to audiobooks for the Summer Adventure? If you find yourself hesitating, the article Audiobooks Are Not Cheating (FREE poster offer) | Books on Tape has some great arguments in favor of recorded books. My favorite reason is that you can listen to a book in the car without getting a headache (the way you would reading with your eyes).

If you want to check out audiobooks from the library, you have a couple of options. We have books on CD (pretty self-explanatory), Playaways (those things in the orange boxes), and downloadable audiobooks.

Playaways are a little like having an iPod with something already downloaded on it. These are getting popular because not everyone owns something to play CDs on anymore. All you need to do is stick in your headphones and press play. Alternatively, you can use a cable to connect a Playaway to a car stereo so that everyone can listen to it together. The Findaway World company has details here: playaway-cars

Another option that you might not notice if you’re just looking at our shelves is downloadable audiobooks. The Digital Collection page of our website lists the different options for downloading audiobooks. At the bottom of the page, you can find help pages for the different apps and some guides to device compatibility.

Need a recommendation for a good audiobook? There are awards especially for audiobooks, like the Odyssey Award (for titles for children and young adults) and the Audies (for books for adults, children, and teens). The Association for Library Service to Children also puts out of yearly list of Notable Children’s Recordings, which includes both audiobooks and music (lists from past years are also available).

Help, I need something to read!


The summer reading program is just about to start! What if you can’t figure out what you want to read? Don’t worry, we have some tools for you to use!

When you’re in the library, you’ll see some brochures with suggestions for different grade levels. We also have a list of staff favorites.

Already read all of those? The Association for Library Service to Children creates lists of recommended books all the time. This includes new lists of suggested summer reading every year.

Print their lists for

Birth-Preschool: 170426_ALSC_SummerReading17_Birth-PreK

Kindergarten-2nd grade: 170426_ALSC_SummerReading17_K-2

3rd through 5th grade: 170426_ALSC_SummerReading17_3-5

6th through 8th grade: 170426_ALSC_SummerReading17_6-8

Or search our catalog:


Kindergarten-2nd grade

3rd through 5th grade

6th through 8th grade

Since these lists were created by an outside group, there might be some books on the list that are not in our collection. If you place a hold, the library that owns the book will send it to Fountaindale and you can pick it up here. There is no charge for this service– just be sure to pick the book up within 5 days after we let you know it has arrived. You can also use the fill-in form on our website to ask us to purchase an item.

If that’s still not enough books, you can also look at the nominees for the Illinois Readers’ Choice Awards.

Bluestem in OPACIf you type in “Bluestem” or “Monarch” or “Caudill” as a keyword search in our online catalog, at the top of the results you will get a “You might also like” box. When you click on the first sentence, the catalog will do a search for the 2018 nominees of the corresponding award. All of the different formats that we own are included. You can then sort by title or author to look at the results.
Don’t forget that your librarians are also a great resource for finding books you want to read! Just stop by and ask. We’ll talk to you about what you like and what you’re in the mood to read and help you come up with suggestions. The library has something for everybody, even kids (and parents) who tell you they don’t like reading.

African American History in Poetry

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves’ duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square.
This title received honors as a Caldecott Honor Book and a King Illustrator Honor Book this year.

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxanne Orgill; illustrated by Francis Vallejo
When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day. Francis Vallejo’s vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. Includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author’s note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane’s famous photograph.

Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin, and Turn It Out! Games, Songs, & Stories from an African American Childhood collected by Patricia C. McKissack; illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Parents and grandparents will delight in sharing this exuberant book with the children in their lives. Here is a songbook, a storybook, a poetry collection, and much more, all rolled into one. Find a partner for hand claps such as “Eenie, Meenie, Sassafreeny,” or form a circle for games like “Little Sally Walker.” Gather as a family to sing well-loved songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Oh, Freedom,” or to read aloud the poetry of such African American luminaries as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. And snuggle down to enjoy classic stories retold by the author, including Aesop’s fables and tales featuring Br’er Rabbit and Anansi the Spider.

One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking. This special book also includes original artwork in full-color from some of today’s most exciting African American illustrators, who have created pieces of art based on Nikki’s original poems.
Nikki Grimes is the 2017 winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney
A celebration of the extraordinary life of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day. The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and … it was many years before Keats’s greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book. For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his — and Keats’s — neighborhood. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford; art by Jeffery Boston Weatherford
This history in verse celebrates the story of the Tuskegee Airmen: pioneering African-American pilots who triumphed in the skies and past the color barrier.

Ted Williams, record-setting hitter

No Easy Way: The Story of Ted Williams and the Last .400 Season by Fred Bowen; illustrations by Charles S. Pyle
Ted Williams hit .406 for the season in 1941–a feat not matched since. In this inspirational picture book, authentic sports writing and rich, classic illustrations bring to life the truly spectacular story of the Red Sox legend, whose hard work and perseverance make him the perfect role model for baseball enthusiasts of all ages.

Ted & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure by Dan Gutman
When Stosh travels back in time to 1941 in hopes of preventing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II, he meets Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. Includes notes about Williams‘ life and career.

There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived by Matt Tavares
Ted Williams, the legendary Red Sox slugger, lived a life full of dedication and passion. From his days as a young kid playing ball in North Park to his unmatched .406 season in 1941 to his stints as a fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, the story of Teddy Ballgame is the story of an American hero.”–P. 2 of cover.

The Unforgettable Season: The Story of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and the Record-Setting Summer of ’41 by Phil Bildner; illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Tells the story of baseball greatest heroes Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams and how during the summer of 1941 they each set records that still stand.

Faster, Higher, Smarter: Bright Ideas that Transformed Sports by Simon Shapiro
Ted Williams and the art of swing speed” is just one of the topics in a book that also covers pole vaulting, cycling, and bungy jumping.

Why sing “Happy Birthday” when you can listen to this?

Composer Anton Dvorak was born 175 years ago.  You can learn a bit about him in this book:

Two Scarlet Songbirds: A Story of Anton Dvorák by Carole Lexa Schaefer; illustrated by Elizabeth Rosen

While visiting Iowa in 1893, the Czech composer Anton Dvorak hears the song of a scarlet tanager and is inspired to create a new piece of music.

You can listen to the music here http://www.openculture.com/2013/06/philadelphia_orchestra_gets_stuck_on_a_plane.html (the music starts approximately one minute into the video).

Celebrating National Parks

100 years ago (August 25, 1916), the National Park Service was established.  We have some stories to share with you to celebrate!

Ms. Kathy:

Grandparents with the kids at Bryce

We got our first National Parks Passport and completed our first Junior Ranger packet in 1998 while visiting Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, when my children were ages three, four and seven.  From that moment on, we were hooked.  Our travels have taken us from Acadia in Maine, to the Everglades in Florida, to Haleakala in Hawaii, to Denali in Alaska, and so many places in between.  We have enjoyed a snowball fight in July at Glacier National Park in Montana and another at Lassen Volcanic National Park, California and later that day hiked on the icy floors of the lava tubes in Lava Beds National Monument.  We learned about Spanish Colonists in the San Antonio Missions National Park and walked the steps of Pocahontas and John Smith in Jamestown Virginia, Colonial Historic Park. We learned new words like Hoodoo which is a rock formation made famous in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, where we also learned that the bark of a ponderosa pine smells a lot like vanilla when you are up close.   My children are grown now so the vacations are a little different but we did chose to celebrate this 100th anniversary of America’s National Parks by visiting several Parks this year alone.  Most recently I visited Everglades National Park with my two daughters and Fort Sumter National Monument with one daughter and two Aunts.  HAPPY CENTENNIAL TO OUR NATIONAL PARKS SERVICES!

My kids and me at Yellowstone NPS

Ms. Sarah:

moon by night

I never visited the U.S. national parks growing up.  When I think of them, I always think of reading The Moon by Night when I was middle school age and trying to get my hands on all the Madeleine L’Engle I could.  (In this book, Vicky meets nihilistic Zachary for the first time as both their families go camping.  He’s a key character in A Ring of Endless Light, one of my all-time favorites, and for thematic reasons I would recommend both books to anyone who loves The Fault in Our Stars.)

Oddly enough, the one national park I did spend a lot of time in was Canadian: Point Pelee.  Living in the Detroit suburbs, it was only a short drive away.  You didn’t need a passport to enter Canada from the U.S. back then, and this was where my family went when we drove to the beach.  Point Pelee is on the monarch butterfly migration route, and the T-shirts and other souvenirs we would buy always had pictures of the black and orange butterflies.  That childhood connection is why efforts to save the monarch butterfly mean a lot to me.

Ms. Nancy:

nancy pic 1nancy pic 2

It was the Spring of 2005 and I wanted to start planning my family’s summer vacation. I had been to the Grand Canyon as a child but had not been back since. I thought my kids should see the Grand Canyon as it truly is an amazing sight and the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World located in North America. We flew to Arizona and then stayed in Williams, Arizona to ride the Grand Railway train in to the Park to see the Grand Canyon. There was music on the train and we were robbed by [pretend] train robbers on the way to the Canyon. Once to the Grand Canyon we stayed in the park at the Maswik Lodge so, we could really enjoy the Canyon during the day and the evening. I believe this was truly one of our best family vacations!