Yes, it’s that time of year when ovens across America are heating up, sprinkles are purchased, and cookbooks are inspected for the perfect selection of Christmas cookie recipes. Whether you’re baking only for your family, or whether you’ll be gifting dozens of cookie trays, now is the time to choose your recipes and gather your ingredients. Yes, you can find individual recipes online, but why not check out a whole book?
We have great cookbooks in print at the library, and we have a nice selection of digital cookbooks, if that’s what you prefer. Check out these seasonal selections as you plan your holiday baking. Some have cookie recipes only, but others contain a variety of items for every sweet tooth.
Well, I’m inspired to drink a cup of tea now that I know January is National Hot Tea Month!
Turn on the kettle, drop in the tea leaves and settle into one of Laura Childs’ cozy Tea Shop mysteries. The long-running series began with Death by Darjeeling and Gunpowder Green and continues through Broken Bone China, published in 2019.
You’ll also want to check out The Charms of Tea: Reminiscences and Recipes by Victoria magazine. The book includes information about serving tea, suggested menus and recipes, and charming tea passages from literary classics like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Don’t forget that the library also has copies of Tea Time magazine to turn to for inspiration!
Don’t worry if you’re more of a non-fiction reader! You can learn about how the English managed to smuggle tea out of China in For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose.
Make sure you include your children and grandchildren in a tea party this month, and share one of these children’s books with them.
Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham is a short chapter book with the delightful feel of a legend or fable.
Of course, there are also tea-themed books for the very youngest readers.
“Yes, that’s it!” said the Hatter with a sigh. “It’s always tea time.”
– Lewis Carroll
The days are getting shorter, the wind is getting colder, and all over the world animals are on the move. This is a great time of year for you and your family to learn more about the earth’s phenomenal animal migrations. Ducks, geese, butterflies, whales, wildebeest and many more kinds of animals make yearly journeys to find better food and shelter as the seasons change. Here is a selection of Library resources on migrations for all members of your family.
For the very youngest, we have some terrific picture books that discuss migrations in very simple terms. April Pulley Sayre always has great non-fiction books for kids, so pick up a copy of Here Come the Humpbacks! If you enjoy that, Following Papa’s Song presents whale migrations as more of a story, for even younger readers.
Many children’s books have been written about butterfly migrations. Here are a couple of my favorites. Gotta Go! Gotta Go! by Sam Swope features repetition that will stick with your kids for months. Read one of these picture books and then check out the PBS video of butterfly migrations.
Don’t stop with whales and butterflies! Move on to the migrations of turtles, songbirds, caribou, and owls.
The book Animal Migration by Jeanie Mebane and the Disneynature Migration DVD both give good overall information about migrations.
Older kids may by interesting in learning how scientists investigate migrations. Tracking Animal Movement is part of our Animal Trackers series of non-fiction books for upper elementary age kids. Moonbird is a great read for older kids or even adults.
For adults, David Wilcove’s No Way Home provides an in-depth look at how animal migrations are changing in response to degraded or threatened ecosystems.
I recently listened to Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. It was fascinating and made me realize all over again how much I love reading (or listening to) non-fiction books. Bomb is part scientific discovery and part espionage thriller. It’s written to entertain as well as educate; it can be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys a good story, with the added benefit of being 100% true.
Because I work with library patrons of all ages, I made a point of reading books from all areas of our library. That, unfortunately, does not leave me as much time for non-fiction as I would like. That’s one reason I love to reach for books like Bomb that are marketed for a Young Adult audience. School Library Journal recommended this book for grades 5 and up, and at 272 pages, it’s perfect for readers of any age who don’t want to get too bogged down by every tiny detail.
Steve Sheinkin is really making a name for himself in the world of Young Adult non-fiction. This was my second Sheinkin book; I also really enjoyed The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights. We also have books by Sheinkin about Benedict Arnold, Jim Thorpe and Daniel Ellsberg.
Other authors that are writing truly excellent non-fiction for middle school kids and up include:
Because we do not have a separate collection for Young Adult non-fiction, please ask for help if you need suggestions or have trouble locating a particular book. There are some books in the Adult Biography area that are of definite interest to teens.
You might also look for recommendations on the Robert Siebert Book Award website. The annual Eliot Rosewater Book List always includes some non-fiction suggestions as well. This year’s Rosie list has The Boys Who Challenged Hitler (Hoose) and Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown.
Have you read a great non-fiction book recently? Post the title in the comments so we can help share the word!
We’re about one month into the school year, and unfortunately some kids may soon be feeling discouraged about math. One way to counteract the “Math is hard” complaint is to show your kids the playful, creative side of math. Certainly, for the youngest kids, we have great choices of books about counting and shapes. However, we have many wonderful books that present more complicated mathematical skills in an enjoyable way (through art, riddles, games and even poetry).
Greg Tang has made a career out of math education and is the undisputed master of making math fun for kids. Here are just three of our Greg Tang books.
Sometimes authors choose to present math concepts in a story format. Here are two picture books that explore counting money and ways to take measurements.
This next book introduces tangrams, a type of shape puzzle which has been played for hundreds of years. You can read the book and then make your own tangrams out of paper or cardboard. Use the shapes to create your own pictures or go online to see some classic tangram puzzles.
Geometry terms and concepts are explored in these three medieval tales by Cindy Neuschwander.
Don’t stop there! We’re just getting warmed up! Check out these books with games, puzzles, riddles and more fun facts about math.
Another way to help your children develop math skills is to make a point of showing them how often you use math. Both of the following books are from series that discuss how math is actually applied. The first book series is aimed at young kids, but the second series is great for upper elementary and up.
Kids’ biographies are also a great jumping-off point for discussions of math, as well as history and science. Your child may be amazed to learn that world-famous mathematicians may have struggled with schoolwork as a child. All of these choices will be more fun if you read them with your child. Don’t be surprised if you learn something, too! And, isn’t learning together the most fun of all?
The Aurora Public Library District is happy to partner with Home School families and groups to provide the resources you need for your child’s education. We also welcome any opportunity to provide programs on literary or other themes. Home School families who stop by the library during March may enter to win a collection of books and other resources. Drawing boxes will be available at both APL and DPL. One entry per family per visit, please.
While you’re at the library, be sure to take a look at our display of educational resources. I would be glad to discuss our resources with you at any time and help you locate the best items for your family’s education.