In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day I wanted to republish this post, first posted Feb 13, 2017.

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is a celebration of accomplishments by African Americans. It’s also a time to recognize how African Americans helped shape this nation. The US is not the only country who dedicates a month to celebrating black history, Canada and the United Kingdom do, as well.

Black History Month actually started out as a single week called ‘Negro History Week’, by Carter G. Woodson in 1926. They chose the second week of February because of the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

In decades that followed, cities across the country issued yearly proclamations recognizing the week. In the late ’60s, around the same time as the civil rights movement and the growing awareness of black identity, the week evolved into the month. President Gerald R. Ford was the first president to officially recognize the month in 1976

To help celebrate Black History Month, below are some books showing African American History.

      

 

 

Picture Books About Scientists

Children are naturally curious about the world around them! As parents, we always want to find ways to nurture that curiosity. We can provide them with a wide variety of learning activities, including lots of books that lead to more and more questions for us to explore with them. Here are some great picture books about famous scientists, paired with a related storybook.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamda relates the story of a young boy from Malawi who brought electricity to his village by building a windmill out of scraps. It would be a perfect book to share after a day of playing with Legos or blocks with your child. Dreaming Up pairs block play with famous buildings around the world in a celebration of creativity.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba   Dreaming Up by Christy Hale

Big Al by Andrew Clements is a story of friendship and will also introduce kids to fish that live around a coral reef. Follow the story up with Manfish by Jennifer Berne, a book about legendary marine scientist Jacques Cousteau.

Big Al by Andrew Clements   Manfish: The Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne

If you and your family enjoy watching birds at a feeder, these next two books are perfect for you! Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward explores all ways that birds build their homes. For the Birds shares the story of Roger Tory Peterson, the creator of many bird guidebooks.

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward   For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson by Peggy Thomas

Creativity is the name of the game in Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. When you’re through playing with boxes, read about a scientist who thought outside the box in On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein, another biography by Jennifer Berne.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis   On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne

Trees are always interesting to kids, for playing under and around. Share A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry, then read about The Tree Lady who changed San Diego from a desert town to a garden-filled oasis.

A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry   The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins

These are all book pairs that work well with younger kids. The following picture book biographies are better suited for upper elementary students or older. There is a new research study that shows that teens who read about the struggles of famous scientists do better in their science classes, so keep the books coming and keep talking about the way that scientists persevere through many mistakes!

   Look Up! The Story of the First Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh  

  

Author Biographies: Eloisa James

eloisa-james

The name Mary Bly might not be one you are familiar with, but you might have heard of her alter-ego Eloisa James. Eloisa James writes romance fiction set in England’s Regency and Georgian periods, while Mary Bly is a tenured professor of Shakespeare at Fordham University in New York City. Mary Bly is also the Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department as well as the head of the Creative Writing Program at Fordham University. So how in the world does she find the time to write novels between her staggering academic workload?

Mary Bly is the oldest of four children born to the poet Robert Bly and the short story writer Carol Bly. The family did not own a television; instead they had over 5000 books. At a young age, Mary Bly became hooked on romance novels and convinced her father to let her read one romance novel for every classic novel she completed. Mary Bly graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from Harvard, went on to receive a Master’s of Philosophy from Oxford, and then her doctorate in Renaissance Studies from Yale.

ugly-duchess

Bly only began writing romance novels when her husband wanted to postpone having a second child until they had paid off their student loans. She wrote Potent Pleasures and had two publishers fighting over it, which allowed her to receive a sum of money that paid off her student loans in full. Bly decided to write under the the pseudonym Eloisa James because she was worried that her colleagues wouldn’t take her seriously as an academic if they found out she wrote romance novels.

Bly disguised herself by wearing contacts instead of glasses when she was Eloisa James. When one of her novels made it onto the New York Times Bestseller List, Bly decided to “out” herself at a faculty meeting on February 16, 2005. Once she had revealed herself, she wrote a piece for The New York Times defending the romance genre.

Currently, Bly still works as a professor as well as writing her novels, which allude heavily to Shakespearean themes. She still continues to write under her pen name. Currently, we have several available print and digital books available by James. Start with Much Ado About You.

Happy Reading!

Author Biographies: Suzanne Collins

suzanne-collins

Suzanne Collins is most likely a household name at this point. Of course, everyone recognizes her to be the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, but did you know she used to write for children’s television programs? She never would have gone into writing books for children and young adults if it weren’t for children’s author James Proimos.

Suzanne Collins was born in Hartford, Connecticut as the youngest of four. Her father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, so the family moved around a lot while Collins was growing up. She graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham as a Theater Arts Major. She also received her Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University and her Master of Fine Arts in dramatic writing from New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

gregor-the-overlander

In 1991, Collins began her career as a writer for children’s television shows, including Clarissa Explains It All, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Little Bear, and Oswald. She was also the head writer for Clifford’s Puppy Days.  It wasn’t until she met children’s author James Proimos that she decided to write children’s books herself. She started with a picture book about a boy who is addicted to video games.

Her first novel, Gregor the Overlander, was released in 2003. For the next four years, Collins released one novel per year in The Underland Chronicles. In 2008, the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy was released and remained on The New York Times Bestsellers List for 60 consecutive weeks. The following two books in the series were released in 2009 and 2010, respectively. In 2011, The Hunger Games began the process of being adapted into a movie, which was co-written by Collins and released in 2012. Also in 2012, Collins was named the best-selling Kindle author of all time.

Author Biographies: Jeffrey Archer

I thought it would be interesting to do a series of blog posts about the biographies of different authors. It is always fascinating to see what lies outside of the novels that authors write. What gives them their inspiration? Is each novel really just a tiny autobiography of the author? Are there pieces of the author’s own personality and story in each book he or she writes?

jeffrey-archer

Jeffrey Archer was born in London, England and raised in Somerset. He attended Wellington School in Somerset and also Brasenose College, Oxford, where he excelled in sports and became President of the University Athletics Club. At the age of 29, Archer was elected as a Member of Parliament for Louth. However, after only five years of serving on Parliament, Archer resigned after becoming victim to a fraudulent scam and losing almost £500,000. Fearing bankruptcy, Archer began writing his first novel, which was then made into a BBC radio serial and later a television show for the BBC in 1990.

eleventh-commandment

Jeffrey Archer returned to politics in the 1980’s, where he became Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in 1985. However, he once again resigned after only a year in office due to another scandal that ended in a trial in 1987. In 1999, Archer was selected by the Conservative Party as a candidate for the London mayoral election in 2000. After a few months, Archer withdrew his candidacy after it was discovered that he committed perjury in his 1987 court case. In February 2000, Archer was expelled from the Conservative Party for 5 years. Later that year in September, Archer was charged with “perjury and perverting the court of justice” from his 1987 libel trial. He was sentenced to four years in prison, but was released in 2003 after serving half of his sentence.

Throughout his tumultuous life, Archer continued to write, publishing over twenty-five novels, short stories, and plays over the years. Archer writes political thrillers as well as historical fiction and family sagas. His novels will keep readers second-guessing every detail, right up until the very end. Start with The Eleventh Commandment.

Happy Reading!

Funny Women, Funny Lives

Need a break from all the holiday hoopla? Then have a laugh with some of the funniest women around.

When you’re stressed and can’t laugh at your own life, spend some time laughing at the lives of the funny women of comedy and turn that frown upside down.


the-girl-with-the-lower-back-tattooThe most in-demand comedian of the moment is Amy Schumer, who started her comedic career in stand-up and earned her first break on the reality show “Last Comic Standing.” She continued that success with a Comedy Central Stand-up special and skit show “Inside Amy Schumer.” In her first foray into non-fiction writing, she chronicles some hilarious, heart-wrenching, and explicit experiences in a collection of essays. From her observations as a child of divorce and love of New York City to working with her siblings to create her first feature-length film, Trainwreck, which won the Hollywood Film Award for “Comedy of the Year” in 2015. Just like her stand-up, Amy’s sarcastic, snarky, uproarious, and ultimately genuine voice is center stage in The Girl with the Lower Back TattooAmy reminds us that we can find the funny in any situation, no matter how awkward, sad, or just plain disgusting. Ultimately, Amy reveals how she received and now feels about that crooked lower back tattoo, and expresses her opinion about what she thinks that tattoo conveys to society. This collection of essays is not just a narcissistic way for Amy to talk more about herself, but a full-fledged attempt at displaying who she really is, how she came to be who she is, and the causes she is passionate about. Also, by the time you finish the audio book of The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo recorded by Amy herself, you will feel like you have spent an evening getting to know Amy at her beautiful New York City apartment: sipping wine, eating pasta, sharing entertaining stories of the past, and discussing current events and social issues.


More Funny Women Found on Our Shelves

yes-pleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler

Bossypants by Tina Feybossypants

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Chelsea Handler

chelsea-handlerAre You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

chelsea-chelsea-bang-bangChelsea Chelsea Bang Bang

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Uganda Be Kidding Meuganda-be-kidding-me


More Funny Women Found on the

Indiana Digital Download Center

More from Chelsea Handler

my-horizontal-life My Horizontal Life

Audio book

Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me lies-that-chelsea-handler-told-me

Audio book

by Chelsea’s Family,

Friends,

and Other Victims.

is-everyone-hanging-out-without-meBy Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?: And Other Concerns

Audio Book.

Why not me?why-not-me

Audio Book

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self-inflicted-woundsSelf-inflicted Wounds:

Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation

by Aisha Tyler

 


More Funny Women Coming Soon

talking-as-fast-as-i-canTalking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything In Between by Lauren Graham

Release Date: November 28, 2016

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scrappy-little-nobodyScrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Release Date: November 15, 2016

New Book Reads

I have a great job.  All new incoming books come to my desk to be processed.  I am the first one to browse through new fiction, biographies or non-fiction books.  I love it!!  I can decide what my next book is every day.  Of course, that can be a problem too….finding the time to read them!  If I’m in the mood for a good crime drama, I might try Scandalous Behavior by Stuart Woods. Sometimes, if I just want to read about someone else, I might choose the new biography by Gloria Steinem My Life on the Road.  So many choices, so little time.  Oh my!

9780399174681                            My Life on the Road

Music to our Ears!

Would you like to see your child grow up to excel at Science or Technology? Perhaps there is a future inventor living at your house! A recent study at Michigan State University (more info) shows that musical training throughout childhood leads to success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. That’s why more educators today use the acronym STEAM, to include Arts.

The Aurora Public Library District offers lots of books to introduce your children to music and famous musicians. Check out a few and then pull up some of the artists’ music on-line to get the whole family tuned in.