February Book Chat with the Youth Services Team

Posted about 1 year ago by Louis Maranski

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!


April recommends: Nelson Mandela: Words and Paintings by Kadir Nelson (ages 5 – 11)

In honor of Black History month I selected to dive into Kadir Nelson’s Nelson Mandela: Words and Paintings. Kadir Nelson did an excellent job in telling Nelson Mandela’s life story in a way that children can understand. This book gives great details about Mandela’s upbringing including that he grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa and that his traditional South African name which was Xhosa. The book chronicles Nelson Mandela’s life all the way up to his emancipation from twenty-seven and a half years of surviving life in prison during Apartheid in South Africa. The end of the book shows Mr. Mandela walking out to a sea of colorful people who loved and respected his fight for the freedom of South Africa. This an excellently written book with amazing illustrations and educational information for any child interested in learning about Nelson Mandela.


Ashley recommends: Find Spot at the Library by Eric Hill (ages Baby – 3)

There’s a costume party at the library, and Spot can’t wait to join.  Can you find spot and all of his friends as they talk about their favorite books?  This lift the flap book is perfect for introducing young readers to the library and all of the fun they can have there.


Beth recommends: Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (ages 2 – 6)

This is a fun-filled book about a little girl and her amazement with her grandmother’s purse because things just keep coming out of it. It’s like pure magic. What a wonderful story of a little girl and her visit with her grandma. It’s always a special time when we get to spend time with ones we love isn’t it! This happy story just goes through an ordinary day when Grandma Mimi comes to visit. Everywhere they go, they find something in the purse that s just right. This special book shows how important it is to spend time with family… they are the most magical thing in our lives. This book is in picture and board book form. Check it out today!


Heather recommends: Love Monster and the Last Chocolate by Rachel Bright (ages 3-7)

Friendly monsters! Chocolate! Friendship! What’s not to love about this cute and colorful story? Love Monster and the Last Chocolate follows Love Monster as he laments over whether or not he should consume an entire box of chocolates himself, or share with his friends. Kiddos will love the lively illustrations and Love Monster’s enthusiasm for his chocolate treats, and parents will love the message at the end: “…sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others that you start to find out just how much they think of you.”



Joan recommends: I’m Hungry! = ¡Tengo Hambre! by Angela Dominguez (ages 2-6)

Bird meets dinosaur, who is feeling out of sorts. Why? He’s hungry! When the bird finds out, he offers a variety of food suggestions, but nothing seems to work. This adorable picture book introduces basic Spanish and English vocabulary through a conversation between bird and dino. The bird speaks in English, and the dinosaur responds in Spanish. With context clues and Dominguez’s simple, expressive illustrations, even the youngest listener will understand the story. Both children and adults will appreciate the silly twist and surprise ending. I like this book because it’s simultaneously entertaining and educational for beginning learners of both languages.


Louis recommends: Journey by Aaron Becker (ages 3 – 6)

Follow the amazing story of a young girl who uses her imagination and a magic marker to go on an incredible journey through a fantasy world, escaping various dangers and overcoming obstacles with her wits and creativity. Completely textless, Journey tells a wonderful tale without saying a single word!


Mirissa recommends: Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison (ages 3 – 8)

A wonderful year-round read, Vashti Harrison’s Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History is especially perfect to pick up for Black History Month. The book is full of bite-size biographies of amazing women from Nichelle Nichols (a pioneering actress familiar to all Star Trek fans) to abolitionists like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. Each biography is paired with a beautiful illustration showing each woman in the midst of what they do best, whether that’s science or sports. What makes this book stand out is that women are celebrated for being groundbreaking in a variety of ways: art, teaching, activism, and more. Harrison also writes another version featuring male heroes (Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History), which is just as inspiring.


Nicole recommends: The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor by Shaenon K. Garity and Christopher Baldwin (ages 12 – 17)

During a dark and stormy evening, while on her way home from school, Haley sees a man drowning in a nearby river and (like a true heroine) jumps in to save him. She soon finds herself lost in a gothic-inspired fantasy world where an ancient evil is trying to break free – and she’s the only one who can save Willowweep Manor. Fans of gothic literature will enjoy how this story plays with classic literary tropes. There is also plenty of dry, witty humor, so don’t be surprised if you end up laughing out loud quite often!


Summer recommends: Te Haré Tu Propio Librero / I’ll Build You a Bookcase by Jean Ciborowski Fahey (ages Baby – 3)

This picture book is a delightful story in Spanish and English about the magic of reading, especially reading together. The art features all different kinds of children and their families, as well as their diverse communities. The text itself rhymes in both English and Spanish, making it fun and melodical to read aloud. At the end of the story comes a list of helpful tips for encouraging early literacy – which we librarians love to see! Additionally, even for families with no familiarity with the Spanish language, I highly recommend checking out and reading bilingual books. You never know what your child’s mind can absorb!


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

Louis Maranski

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