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: Susie King Taylor: Nurse, Teacher & Freedom Fighter by Erica Armstrong Dunbar (ages 9-12)
Ashley recommends: 100 Things to Know About the Unknown by Jerome Martin (ages 9-12)
Did you know that there is a lot we don’t know about our world and the universe? Like why does Venus spin in the opposite direction of every other planet in the solar system, or that crocodiles can cry, but we don’t know why? If learning more about the mysteries of the universe sounds fun, then this book is for you. Full of all sorts of facts and information, this book tells readers about the edges of human understanding, and about how little we know, despite having figured out a lot about the world. Featuring a little bit of history, science, animals, and everything in between alongside some great illustrations, this book is guaranteed to have something that will grab your interest.
Joan recommends: The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead (ages 8-12)
This charming middle grade novel-part fantasy, part realistic fiction, and mostly mystery-is told via the rotating points of view of an 11 year old boy named Evan, a cat named Mortimer, and a ghost librarian named Al. Martinsville is a small town without a library. There used to be one, but it burned down 20 years ago and was never rebuilt. Evan’s fifth grade year suddenly becomes more interesting when a little free library, fiercely guarded by a large, orange cat mysteriously appears overnight. Intrigued, Evan takes two books from the little free library. He and his best friend Rafe find themselves in the roles of amateur sleuths when they discover a link between the little free library and the library fire of long ago. What started the library fire? Why do none of the adults want to talk about it? How is famous mystery writer H.G. Higgins involved? Check out The Lost Library to find out the answer to these questions as well as the rest of the mystery surrounding Al and Mortimer.
April recommends: We Dream A World by Yolanda Renee King (ages 4-8)
This is a children’s picture book written by Martin and Coretta King’s only granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King. Yolanda acknowledges that she never got the opportunity to meet her grandparents, however, she has come to learn the great impact that her grandparents have left on the world over the years. Yolanda has followed in her grandparent’s footsteps and is now a national civil rights figure in her own right. We Dream a World is one of RPL’s new books and a great starter book for elementary age children to learn about Martin Luther King and his family. As the Children’s Librarian of the Hull Street branch, I will be reading and sharing this book during story time for the month of January. Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King!!!
Heather recommends: Buffalo Fluffalo by Bess Kalb (ages 4-8)
Despite his adorable name, Buffalo Fluffalo is one grumpy buffalo! He gripes and grumbles to every kindly animal who tries to befriend him. Little do these friendly critters know that Buffalo Fluffalo is hiding a big secret…he is not quite as much of a fluffalo as he appears. However, when a giant rainstorm exposes Buffalo Fluffalo’s secret, he learns an important lesson about friendship and kindness. With silly rhymes, which serve the additional function of inserting (and sometimes creating) new words to the story, as well as engaging and colorful artwork, Fluffalo Buffalo is sure to be more than enuffalo to keep young readers entertained.
Richard recommends: Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio (ages 4-8)
This book was a really fun read for both children and adults, and fans of Mo Willems and Jan Thomas will love this selection. The kingdom has been besieged by a terrible dragon who is not nice to anyone. He tramples the flowers, spray paints the drawbridge, burps in church (not the done thing), and other mean things to all of the people who live there. The king tries to get the knights to tame him, the villagers try themselves, but, alas, they have no success. Can’t anyone help these people to make the dragon behave? Maybe the problem can’t be tackled physically, but mentally by a clever young man. A great book that teaches a valuable lesson while having fun on the way.
Madison recommends: Puppy in My Head by Elise Gravel (ages 4-8)
Having a puppy in your head sounds like fun, until it’s not! Puppy in my Head is a delightful story that teaches young children about anxiety, big feelings, and ways to manage those emotions. Through the metaphor of a puppy, readers explore different ways in which anxiety can manifest in our heads. Gravel takes care to go through different feeling words, like ‘scared’- making it easy for young readers to match the feelings with the puppy, Ollie’s, expressions. Just like a puppy, our feelings can be calm, excited, scared, and even curious! However, just like a puppy our feelings need to be taken care of, especially when things are overstimulating. So how do we take care of our puppies? Well, Ollie teaches us, most importantly, we need to “leash” our puppies by taking slow, mindful, deep breaths. Only then can our puppies calm down. As a yogi this is my favorite coping strategy, so I adore this book’s message. I would suggest it for any caregiver who wants to help their kids with learning about anxiety, how to work through tough feelings, and developing skills to calm down independently.
Rachel recommends: The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White (ages 14-18)
Despite his violet eyes, 16-year-old Silas Bell wants nothing to do with the Speakers, the Veil, or anything to do with the world beyond. Despite a body the world insists on seeing as that of a girl, Silas wants nothing more than to become a surgeon. After touching the Veil in a botched attempt to escape his arranged marriage, Silas is diagnosed with Veil sickness—an illness that drives violet-eyed women mad. He is sent to Braxton’s Finishing School and Sanatorium, where girls are either bent into proper wives or they simply disappear. When the ghosts of former students come to Silas, they give him one warning: STOP THIS HELP US BEFORE THEY TAKE YOU TOO. The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is a horror story where the ghosts aren’t the scary part. The author’s note provides a list of content warnings I strongly recommend reading first. That said, this is a book for trans and autistic folks who want to see themselves, those that have been silenced by the people who should have listened, and anyone whose favorite monsters are human.
Summer recommends: The Waiting Place by Dana Nayeri (ages 7 – 13)
This nonfiction book features photographs and interviews with children living in a refugee encampment in Greece – the eponymous Waiting Place. The children – some with their families, some alone – fled their home nations due to war, famine, or political persecution. The children cannot leave the camp except to go to school, so they make their own fun – riding bikes, piercing their ears, watching YouTube origami tutorials. The author, herself a refugee, deftly contrasts the brutal conditions with the vivacity of the children who fight against the idleness of The Waiting Place. The afterword gives more context to the status of refugees worldwide, and the glossary illuminates unfamiliar words and phrases. Adults and youth alike can learn a lot from this important volume.
Mirissa recommends: Sometimes I Am Furious by Joe Berger (ages 3-5)
January is the time for resolutions and self-improvement, but sometimes life is just too frustrating. The world is full of people telling our toddler main character what to do, keeping her from eating ice cream, or ruining her sand castles. And when that happens, she gets FURIOUS. Luckily, Grandma is there to give her some helpful advice: take deep breaths, count to ten, and sing a happy song. This rhyming picture book is a perfect introduction to self-management while also reassuring readers—both young and old—that tantrums happen and will always pass.
Well young readers, that’s a wrap. Check back again next month for some more fabulous reading recommendations. Until then, happy reading!