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February Book Chat with the Youth Services Team

Posted about 4 months ago by Ashley Edmiston

Welcome to the another installment in our series of blog posts featuring children’s books we’re currently loving! “Book Chat with the Youth Services Team” features one book recommendation from each of our Youth Services team members. We cover a variety of books from fiction to non-fiction, picture books to chapter books, graphic novels and more! We hope that this month’s reading recommendations get you excited about some awesome new books we’ve added to our collection as well as some oldies but goodies. Enjoy!


Beth recommends: Find Out About Animal Camouflage by Martin Jenkins (ages 5-9)


Ashley recommends: Egyptian Myths by Jean Menzies (ages 9-12)

Are you a fan of Greek and Norse mythology and looking for something new? Try learning more about the fascinating world of ancient Egypt and its myths! This book serves as an introduction to the major gods and goddesses, as well as some of the most important and fun stories surrounding them. Each story is accompanied by colorful illustrations that make this book both fun to look at and to read. There’s also a part in the back of the book that discusses some of the historical elements seen in the myths, for readers who are interested in learning more.


Lisa recommends: Flying High by Michelle Meadows (ages 4-8)

In honor of Black History Month, my book recommendation is Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by Michelle Meadows. Beautifully illustrated by Ebony Glenn, this picture book tells the story of modern-day Olympic champion Simone Biles’ upbringing, and the challenges she faced along the way to gymnastics glory. Simone is an energetic and happy child being raised by her grandparents when a rainy day changes the course of her life. On that day, her brother takes her and her sister to a recreation center and introduces her to the sport of gymnastics. The book shows the obstacles and the sacrifices Simone had to make to reach her Olympic dreams. Its underlying message is one of persistence and determination. An extended biography is included at the end to provide additional information on Biles.  Perfect read for an Olympic year!


April recommends: William Still and His Freedom Stories by Don Tate (ages 6-12)

To celebrate Black History Month I choose the book, William Still and His Freedom Stories, as my February book selection. This powerful picture book biography begins with the story of Levin and Sidney Still who in the 1700’s were held captive in Maryland and forced to work along with their four children. Levin eventually purchased his freedom using money he earned working extra hours but was unfortunately unable to take Sidney or his kids when he left for the north. Eventually Sidney escaped slavery along with two of their children and reunited with Levin near Washington Township, New Jersey and over the next years their family grew. In 1821, the youngest child was born and they named him William. As a young man, William went to work at Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, where he raised money, planned rescues, and helped freedom seekers who had traveled north. William Still became known as the Father of the Underground Railroad. Mr. Still collected the stories of thousands of freedom seekers, reuniting families and establishing a remarkable resource still available to us today. As an African American Children’s Librarian, it is an honor to recognize William Still and the positive impact that he has made in history. Happy Black History Month!


Heather recommends: The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabine Khan (ages 14-18)

Rukhsana Ali is an 18 year old Bangladeshi-American girl who has spent a lifetime hiding her true self from her traditional Muslim parents, all the while trying to make her friends understand the huge role her culture plays in her life. Her parents don’t understand anything besides their traditional Muslim values. Her friends and, most importantly, her girlfriend Ariana, don’t understand the serious consequences of Rukhsana simply coming out and defying her family and their beliefs. An unexpected trip to Bangladesh, coupled with the looming threat of arranged marriage, brings these issues to a head in alarming ways that force everyone in Rukhsana’s life to evaluate who they are and what is truly important. The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali is a fast-paced, engaging, and heavy (at times) read that does not shy away from the tough situations that make life challenging for LGBTQ+ teens.


Nicole recommends: Wildblood by Lauren Blackwood (ages 13-18)

If treacherous Jamaican jungles teeming with ghostly monsters sounds like a fun reading adventure to you, then Wildblood is your next favorite book. Follow Victoria as she does her best to navigate the wilds, all while protecting those she loves – and finding new loves along the way. Wildblood is a YA novel told from a first-person perspective that would appeal to older teens. With plenty of adventure, magical realism, and romance to be had, this book will keep you turning the pages until the very end. And bonus – it’s written by a Virginia author!


Sarah recommends: The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther (ages 14-18)

Meredith Fox is coming back to Martha’s Vineyard for the first time since her sister, Clare, died eighteen months ago. She and her family come here every year, but this year is extra special because her cousin is getting married and everyone has gathered on the island for the festivities. As a nod to Clare, one of these festivities is a group-wide game of Assassin and Meredith is laser-focused on winning to honor her sister. However, she meets a groomsman who may steal her attention – but who may also bring her back to herself. This is a feel-good summer romance read tailor-made (Taylor-made?) for Swifties, but appeals to anyone who appreciates a great love story. Sit back, relax, and be immersed in the world of summertime on Martha’s Vineyard and a story of love, grief, heartbreak, heartbeat skips, and water gun antics sure to please!


Madison recommends: My New Friend is So Fun! by Mo Willems (ages 4-8)

This Valentine’s Day, celebrate friendships with your little one by reading, My New Friend is so Fun! by Mo Willems. Gerald (Elephant) and Snake are worried that their best friends, Brain (Piggie) and Bat won’t be their best friends anymore. Gerald and Snake begin to spin out with worry! However, they soon learn friendships flourish when there’s many people. Mo Willems has written many books that I love to use in my story times, including this one. The repetitive text helps with word recognition, and the drama in the dialogue presents parents with a great opportunity to emphasize and play with phonics. My New Friend is so Fun! is no expectation, with the bonus of teaching young children about love in friendships. If you want to skip the frilly Valentine books (though those are fun too!) this holiday season, and check out My New Friend is so Fun! by Mo Willems.


Rachel recommends: Boxitects by Andrew Joseph White (ages 4-8)

Meg is a genius boxitect (that’s an architect that works with boxes, of course) whose inventive creations convince her mother to send Meg to a Maker School! Maker School is full of kids who use a variety of materials to build, such as blankets, tin foil, pasta, and more! But Meg is the only boxitect, until Simone joins the class. An intense rivalry quickly forms between the two boxitects and comes to a boiling point when they are forced to work together on a project. When going it alone has disastrous results, can Meg and Simone set aside their creative differences to build something that is more than the sum of its parts? Boxitects is a lovely story of learning to share the spotlight, valuing differences, and building friendships.


Summer recommends: Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston (ages 9 – 13)

In the early 20th century, celebrated Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston interviewed one of the last survivors of the Middle Passage, Cudjo Lewis/Oluale Kossula. (While kidnapping Africans to traffic and enslave them in the US was outlawed in 1808, the practice still occurred illegally.) Taken from his homeland in what is now the nation of Benin, Kossula arrived in the US in 1859 or 1860 and was enslaved until 1865. After his enslavement, he and his fellow survivors of the slave ship Clotilda established AfricaTown, a small settlement outside of Mobile, Alabama where they could live independently of oppressive White society. Kendi’s adaptation of Hurston’s work makes Kossula’s story relatable and accessible to modern-day young readers. Powerful and insightful, this book is an asset for anyone’s Black History Month reading list.


Mirissa recommends: Will Ladybug Hug by Hilary Leung (ages 2-5)

A perfect age-appropriate introduction to the vital concepts of consent and body autonomy, this board book follows Ladybug as she says goodbye to her friends before leaving on a journey. Some of her friends love to hug while others prefer to not be touched—and that’s just fine! The important thing is to ask and be respectful of the answer. Little readers will enjoy acting out froggy jump hugs or even just mimicking the sounds of a crocodile or sheep. This one was a hit when I read it to a group of toddlers, so try it with yours!

Well young readers, that’s a wrap. Check back again next month for some more fabulous reading recommendations. Until then, happy reading!

Ashley Edmiston

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