Reaching and Reading is the Aurora Public Library District’s children’s book blog.
I first wrote about the book imprint “Rick Riordan Presents” back in 2019. Since then, the publisher has continued to roll out a great collection of books for a middle school audience based on based on world mythologies that have not been fully represented in children’s literature. These books will appeal to the same kids who devoured the Percy Jackson series, but with a wider geographical reach. Here’s what Rick Riordan had to say about the publishing venture:
“Our goal is to publish great middle grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage. Over the years, I’ve gotten many questions from my fans about whether I might write about various world mythologies, but in most cases I knew I wasn’t the best person to write those books. Much better, I thought, to use my experience and my platform at Disney to put the spotlight on other great writers who are actually from those cultures and know the mythologies better than I do. Let them tell their own stories, and I would do whatever I could to help those books find a wide audience!”
Here’s the Rick Riordan Presents list, so far:
By Roshani Chokshi (Hindu mythology): Book 4 is coming in April of 2021.
By J.C. Cervantes (Mayan mythology)
By Yoon Ha Lee ( a stand-alone with ties to Korean mythology)
By Carlos Hernandez (Science-fiction with ties to Cuban mythology)
By Kwame Mbalia (African American folk heroes and West African gods)
By Rebecca Roanhorse (Navajo mythology)
By Tehlor Kay Mejia (based on the Mexican legend of the Crying Woman)
By Sarwat Chadda ( based on Mesopotamian mythology)
By Gracie Kim ( based on Korean mythology and coming in May 2021)
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.
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
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
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
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
New Kid by Jerry Craft
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
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
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 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.
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.
If your children become really interested in this topic, we also have some chapter books that would be great to read together.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
After you read these, you might want to also check our some of our non-fiction books about Egypt!
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!
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.
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!