Reaching and Reading

Celebrating Black Authors

 

February is Black History Month! We’re celebrating by highlighting some books in our collection by Black authors! Click on the book covers to place holds online.

Adult Fiction

The Parable of the Sower Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosely

The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

Adult Nonfiction

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Teen Fiction

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Black Boy White School by Brian F. Walker

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Gilly Segal


Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Juvenile Fiction

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

New Kid by Jerry Craft

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

Easy Books

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick D. Barnes

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson


 

The Underground Railroad

As we begin African-American History Month, you may want to consider some picture books to share with your family. One of the topics that is popular with our Library patrons is the Underground Railroad. Students often study this in school, so a Library book on the same topic is a perfect way to expand on their classroom activities.

A Good Night for Freedom by Barbara Olenyik Morrow

 

A Good Night for Freedom is especially noteworthy because it is set in Indiana at the home of Levi Coffin, a Hoosier who helped thousands of slaves escape to freedom. The Levi Coffin House, located in Fountain City, Indiana, is now a registered National Historic Landmark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The journey to freedom was extremely hazardous, and slaves relied on the North Star to point the way to Canada. Deborah Hopkinson also uses the common belief that slaves looked for safe houses designated by certain quilt patterns in her book, Under the Quilt of Night.

Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah HopkinsonFollow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter

 

 

 

Shane Evans uses minimal text in Underground, but the illustrations brilliantly show the danger of escape and the triumph of arriving in a place of freedom. Moses by Carole Weatherford focuses on the religious faith which led Harriet Tubman to become the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Underground by Shane Evans Moses by Carole Weatherford

If your children become really interested in this topic, we also have some chapter books that would be great to read together.

Trouble Don't Last by Shelley Pearsall River Runs Deep by Jennifer Bradbury Bright Freedom's Song by Gloria Houston

 

The Imaginative Worlds of Chris van Allsburg

You are probably already familiar with author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg from his best known children’s books: The Polar Express and Jumanji. Both have been turned into extremely successful feature films. They also both earned Van Allsburg a Caldecott Medal for best illustrated children’s book in the year they were published.

Van Allsburg’s work features detailed drawings in a limited range of colors and with unusual perspectives. Look closely and you’ll almost certainly find something surprising, or even other-worldly. Although his books are usually in a picture book format, they are suitable for older kids and adults, as well. You’ll need to spend some time on each page, soaking up the words and the illustrations, to appreciate the richness of the art form.

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi by Chris van Allsburg Jumanji by Chris van Allsburg

Queen of the Falls by Chris van Allsburg Just a Dream by Chris van Allsburg Zathura by Chris Van Allsburg

The Widow's Broom by Chris van Allsburg  Ben's Dream by Chris Van Allsburg

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg and others

 

In 1984, Van Allsburg published an unusual book called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, consisting almost entirely of strange and haunting illustrations. These illustrations were often used in schools as writing prompts. In 2011, a group of young adult authors were asked to write a collection of short stories based on the Harris Burdick illustrations. You can read the stories in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.

 

 

 

Chilly Chatter

Join Jamie and Olivia for Chilly Chatter, a snowy storytelling on our YouTube Channel! We’ll be reading some books, singing some songs, and doing some relaxing yoga to help us enjoy the winter!

Make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel so you don’t miss out on any of our other upcoming virtual programs.

Retellings by Jerry Pinkney

A new book by Jerry Pinkney is always a thing to celebrate! His latest is an adaptation of Han Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid and it’s available at both library branches. Pinkney is one of the most celebrated illustrators of children’s books in America. He’s adapted and illustrated several well-known fairy tales and fables for a picture-book format, winning the Caldecott medal for The Lion & the Mouse.

The Little Mermaid, retold and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney The Ugly Duckling by Jerry Pinkney Puss in Boots by Jerry Pinkney

The Grasshopper & the Ants by Jerry Pinkney  The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

The Tortoise & the Hare by Jerry Pinkney

 

Pinkney doesn’t limit himself to retellings.  If you love his artwork (and I know you will), you should also check out his other picture books. Just search our online catalog or ask at the circulation desk for more suggestions!

Ra the Mighty

I always enjoy seeing which books appear on the Young Hoosier Reading list each year. These books are chosen by Indiana educators, and schools across the state encourage students to read a selection of the books chosen for their grade level. Near the end of the school year, participating students have a chance to vote for their favorite book. The Aurora Public Library District makes most of these titles available in our collections, and we also try to follow up with sequels to the selected titles.

Here’s a unique series that has been been added since Book 1 was selected for the Young Hoosier list for 2020-2021.

 

All three books in the series are available at both the Aurora and the Dillsboro Public Libraries and are located in the chapter book area.

Ra the Mighty Cat Detective by Amy Greenfield The Great Tomb Robbery by Amy Greenfield The Crocodile Caper by Amy Greenfield

After you read these, you might want to also check our some of our non-fiction books about Egypt!

Egyptian Myths and Legends by Fiona Macdonald Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Ancient Egypt Mummies by Joyce Milton

I Am … Biographies for Kids

Over the past year, we’ve been adding some great biographies to our children’s book collection. This series by Brad Meltzer provides an easy introduction to a variety of famous people and is written to appeal to younger children. The books in the series are divided between the Dillsboro and the Aurora collections, so make sure you ask if you don’t find the one you want on the shelf. The images shown below represent about half of the books in the series.

I Am Amelia Earhart I Am Albert Einstein I Am Anne Frank

I Am Benjamin Franklin  I Am Jane Goodall I Am Abraham Lincoln

I Am Jackie Robinson I Am Sonia Sotomayor I Am Gandhi

I Am Neil Armstrong

This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great–the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. Each book tells the story of one of America’s icons in a lively, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers and that always includes the hero’s childhood influences. At the back are an excellent timeline and photos.

Books to Share with Your Dad

I know you must be already planning what you can do to make next Sunday a very special Father’s Day! Maybe you’re thinking about a scrumptious breakfast, or going fishing, or grilling out. Just make sure that you save a little bit of time for kids, Dads and Grandfathers to curl up together to share a picture book. We have plenty of choices that will make you smile (or giggle) and that will help you think about all the ways you can show your love to that special Dad or Granddad.

A Perfect Father's Day by Eve Bunting Bl;ue-Ribbon Dad by Beth Raisner Glass Daddies by Lila Prap

Father's Day by Anne Rockwell Just the Two of Us by Will Smith My Father is Taller than a Tree by Joseph Bruchac

  Grandfather and I by Helen E. Buckley My Father the Dog by Elizabeth Bluemle  I Love My Daddy by Sebastien Braun

Looking Around Outside

We’ve been cooped up and kept inside. We’ve spent lots of time on computers and other electronic devices. Now, as restrictions are slowly lifted, and as e-learning days have ended, this is a great time to get back to exploring the world outside. Here are a few picture books to share with your children as you take a close look at nature in your backyard and in your neighborhood. At the end of the post, you’ll also find some chapter books for older kids who love exploring nature.

Taking a nature walk is a wonderful way to build up your power of observation. Go slowly, and try to really notice all the little details of the world around you!

On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole  Tiny, Perfect Things by M.H. Clark

Round by Joyce Sidman  Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman

My Forest is Green by Darren Lebeuf  Step Gently Out by Helen Frost

Jane Goodall, one of the world’s most famous scientists, spent her childhood observing nature, too. You can read about her in Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell. Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Studying the environment or animals can be a life-long hobby or career. If your older children are still fascinated by the natural world, point them to these chapter books, or ask for help in locating some great non-fiction for them!

Lanie by Jane Kurtz   Wild Wings by Gill Lewis   The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Playing Around with Words

One of the best things you can do to encourage your child as a reader is to show them that language can be playful. Word play, including rhymes, made-up words, idioms and all kinds of silliness, builds awareness of the ways that words are composed of distinct sounds. Here are some great picture books that will help build skills, but just as importantly, will make you laugh!

Double Trouble in Walla Walla by Andrew Clements  Word Play by Ivan Brunetti

Even More Parts by Tedd Arnold  How do You Wokka-Wokka by Elizabeth Bluemle

Word Wizard by Cathryn Falwell  Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier  Eight Ate by Marvin Terban

Here are some great ideas from the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read Program:

  • Read a book with lots of made-up words. Try How do You Wokka-Wokka by Elizabeth Bluemle or a book by Dr. Seuss. Trying making up more words to go with the story.
  • Silly poems are fun and can teach new vocabulary.
  • Kids love riddles and jokes, which often use a “play on words”. Laugh along as you talk about the answer to the riddle or joke.
  • Having fun with words helps your child become more conscious of words and eager to learn more.