Reaching and Reading is the Aurora Public Library District’s children’s book blog.
I hope that you and your family are having lots of fun exploring the world of animals during our Summer Reading Program “Tails and Tales.” We have so many great animal books, but don’t forget to check out the nature magazines we also have for kids. These magazines all feature lots of amazing photographs, fun facts, and short articles. They’re perfect for sharing together or for your children to read on their own. The format makes a magazine an especially appealing choice for reluctant readers of all ages.
Reading about nature with your children will encourage their curiosity and increase their vocabulary. That can be reinforced with a nature walk around your community. Another option would be completing the Library’s Animal Scavenger Hunt (for Aurora or Dillsboro).
In addition to our printed magazines, you can also read digital magazines through the Indiana Digital Download Center. Just select the Aurora Public Library District and login with your library card number (no spaces) and PIN. Then look for the Collections tab and select Magazines. All of our digital magazines are simultaneous use, so no waiting ever! You’ll find National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Little Kids, and Animal Tales.
If you ever need help using our digital resources just call 812-926-0646, and we can talk you through the process.
I can tell you exactly why I love reading children’s books about animals. During my childhood, my home-town library had a summer reading program where you could read any kind of book and THEN there was a Smokey the Bear program where you needed to read books about animals. My sister just tolerated the nature books, but I loved them. Thank you, St. Simons Public Library!
I think one of the best author/illustrators of animal books for children is Steve Jenkins. His primary medium is cut paper, and he has illustrated his own books, he’s written and illustrated with his wife Robin Page, and he’s illustrated books for other authors like April Pulley Sayre. Jenkins’ books typically focus on one aspect of the animal world, such as relationships, habitats, camouflage, etc. You are guaranteed to learn something amazing with each of his books!
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises — some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter. But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.
After reading A Boy Called Bat, you’ll want to dive right into the next two books in the series.
For more “unusual pet” stories, give these books a try! Rascal and The Tarantula in My Purse are juvenile biographies (J 912), and Flora & Ulysses and Pax are juvenile novels found in the juvenile fiction of the library.
Join FunJungle’s resident zoo sleuth, Teddy Fitzroy, as he solves mysteries and strives to protect the animals at the zoo with these funny and suspenseful novels in the bestselling FunJungle series from author Stuart Gibbs.
When Teddy Fitzroy moved into FunJungle, the nation’s largest zoo with his scientist parents, he expected things to be kind of quiet. There’d be the occasional elephant stampedes and water balloon fights with the chimpanzees, of course, but when Henry the Hippo dies from not-so-natural causes, Teddy suspects foul play. And that was just the beginning. He begins to realize that the zoo is far more exciting than he thought it was, and soon the mysteries at FunJungle are piling up…
If you enjoy the books in this series, you’ll also enjoy The Wolf Keepers by Elise Broach.
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!