Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Libraries

Libraries and Librarians

We’re post­ing this when it’s Nation­al Library Week, but we believe every week should be Library Week. If you love pub­lic, school, and spe­cial libraries as much as we do, add these books to your read­ing list and share them with your favorite read­ers.

As always, if you have a book you believe should be on this list, let us know in the com­ments or send us an e‑mail. We’ll most like­ly add it, with a thanks to you.

Bats in the Library  

Bats in the Library
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Bri­an Lies
Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2008

Join the free-for-all fun at the pub­lic library with these book-lov­ing bats! Shape shad­ows on walls, frol­ic in the water foun­tain, and roam the book-filled halls until it’s time for every­one, young and old, to set­tle down into the enchant­ment of sto­ry time. Bri­an Lies’ joy­ful crit­ters and their noc­tur­nal cel­e­bra­tion cast library vis­its in a new light.


Book Scavenger  

Book Scav­enger
writ­ten by Jen­nifer Cham­b­liss Bert­man
Hen­ry Holt, 2015

The first of a three-book series joins Emi­ly and James as they try to crack Gar­ri­son Griswold’s online game to find books hid­den in cities all over the coun­try. They work hard to solve puz­zles and sort our clues. Gris­wold has been attacked and lies in a coma in the hos­pi­tal. Will they com­plete the game before and find the secret before Griswold’s assailant comes after them?


Dewey the Library Cat  

Dewey the Library Cat: a True Sto­ry
writ­ten by Vic­ki Myron and Bret Wit­ter
Lit­tle, Brown, 2011

When a cat is aban­doned in a library book drop in the mid­dle of win­ter, he is adopt­ed by Spencer, Iowa’s pub­lic library, quick­ly becom­ing a favorite with library patrons. Dewey Read­more Books, a real cat and a true sto­ry, is the cat­a­lyst for a love­ly sto­ry about hope and friend­ship.


Down Cut Shin Creek  

Down Cut Shin Creek:
The Pack Horse Librar­i­ans of Ken­tucky

writ­ten by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Can­nel­la Schmitzer
Harper­Collins, 2001

From 1935 to 1943, the WPA paid women to ride into the Appalachi­an hills of Ken­tucky to deliv­er books, mag­a­zines, pam­phlets, and oth­er read­ing mate­ri­als to peo­ple who lived in hard-to-reach loca­tions. The Pack Horse Library Project was inno­v­a­tive in help­ing to raise peo­ple up dur­ing the Great Depres­sion. The pho­tos in this book are evoca­tive of the era. Very inspir­ing.



writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Yuyi Morales
Neal Porter Books, 2018
(con­tributed by Dr. Hei­di Ham­mond)

Shar­ing her own sto­ry about immi­grat­ing to this coun­try from Mex­i­co with her young son, we learn that they did not have an easy time of it. By vis­it­ing the pub­lic library, they learned the lan­guage of their new home. It is a book about becom­ing a cre­ative artist despite heart-break­ing chal­lenges. It is a beau­ti­ful book, illus­trat­ed with Ms. Morales’ charis­mat­ic vision. “We are two languages./ We are lucha./ We are resilience./ We are hope.”


Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library  

Escape from Mr. Lemon­cel­lo’s Library
writ­ten by Chris Graben­stein
Ran­dom House, 2013

Kyle Kee­ley, who would rather play board games and video games than do any­thing else, is invit­ed to a sleep­over at his hometown’s brand new library, cre­at­ed by Lui­gi Lemon­cel­lo, the game inven­tor Kyle admires most. There are games galore and lots of fun but when morn­ing rolls around, the doors mys­te­ri­ous­ly stay locked. Kyle and the oth­er game-play­ers have to solve the games and puz­zles or they won’t get out. Lots of fun.

The Haunted Library


The Haunt­ed Library
writ­ten by Dori Hillestad But­ler, illus­trat­ed by Aurore Damant
Gros­set & Dun­lap, 2014 (a series)

There’s a ghost haunt­ing the library. Kaz is a boy ghost who is forced to move when the build­ing he and his fam­i­ly haunt is torn down. He meets a real girl, Claire, who can see ghosts. She lives above the library. Will the two of them be able to solve the mys­tery to fig­ure out who the library’s ghost is and what they’re doing there?

The Imaginary  

The Imag­i­nary
by A.F. Har­rold
illus­trat­ed by Emi­ly Gravett
Blooms­bury, 2015

Aman­da Shuf­fle­up has an imag­i­nary friend, Rudger. Nobody else can see Rudger … until the evil Mr. Bunting knocks on the door. He wants to eat Rudger because that’s how he con­tin­ues to live. Aman­da dis­ap­pears and Rudger is alone. He must find her and he has to escape from Bunting. Soon, he finds him­self in a library filled with imag­in­ery friends who are try­ing not to fade out of exis­tence … or be eat­en. It’s a delight­ful­ly spooky and off­beat mid­dle grade nov­el.


Librarian of Basra  

Librar­i­an of Bas­ra: A True Sto­ry from Iraq
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Jean­nette Win­ter
HMH Books for Young Read­ers, 2005
(con­tributed by Ani­ta Dualeh)

Alia Muham­mad Bak­er is a librar­i­an in Bas­ra, Iraq. For many years, her library has been a meet­ing place for those who love books. Until war comes to Bas­ra. Alia fears that the library, along with thir­ty thou­sand books in its col­lec­tion, will be destroyed for­ev­er.

In a war-strick­en coun­try where civil­ians, espe­cial­ly women, have lit­tle pow­er, this true sto­ry about a librar­i­an’s strug­gle to save her com­mu­ni­ty’s price­less col­lec­tion of books reminds us all how, through­out the world, the love of lit­er­a­ture and the respect for knowl­edge know no bound­aries


Libraries of Minnesota  

Libraries of Min­neso­ta
text by Will Weaver, Pete Haut­man, John Coy, Nan­cy Carl­son, Mar­sha Wil­son Chall, David LaRochelle, and Kao Kalia Yang
pho­tog­ra­phy by Doug Ohman
Min­neso­ta His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety Press, 2011

Does your state have a book hon­or­ing its many libraries? If it doesn’t, you’re miss­ing a treat. This book shares the sto­ries of a num­ber of children’s and YA book authors who fond­ly remem­ber their expe­ri­ences at the library, accom­pa­nied by a mas­ter­ful photographer’s images from those and many oth­er libraries.


The Library  

The Library
by Sarah Stew­art
illus­trat­ed by David Small
Far­rar, Staus, Giroux, 1995
(con­tributed by Beth Raff)

Eliz­a­beth Brown loves to read more than she likes to do any­thing else. She col­lects books and soon they are mak­ing it hard to open the door to her house. So many books! What to do? Why, start a lend­ing library of course! A charm­ing book with beau­ti­ful illus­tra­tions.


Library Lil  

Library Lil
by Susanne Williams
illus­trat­ed by Steven Kel­logg
Pen­guin, 2001

From the day she was born, Lil had a book in her hand…so it’s no sur­prise when she grows up to become a librar­i­an her­self. She even man­ages to turn the peo­ple of Chesterville—who are couch potatoes—into read­ers. But then Bust-’em-up Bill roars into town with his motor­cy­cle gang. Just men­tion read­ing to him and you’re toast. Has Lil final­ly met her match? This orig­i­nal tall tale by a real-life librar­i­an, com­bined with Steven Kel­log­g’s trade­mark humor, is great fun.


Library Lion  

Library Lion 
by Michelle Knud­sen
illus­trat­ed by Kevin Hawkes
Can­dlewick Press, 2006

Miss Mer­ri­weath­er, the head librar­i­an, is very par­tic­u­lar about rules in the library. No run­ning allowed. And you must be qui­et. But when a lion comes to the library one day, no one is sure what to do. There aren’t any rules about lions in the library. This is an endear­ing book and a good read-aloud.


Lola at the Library


Lola at the Library
writ­ten by Anna McQuinn
illus­trat­ed by Ros­alind Beard­shaw
Charles­bridge, 2006

A good sto­ry for intro­duc­ing young read­ers to the library. She and her mom­my go to the library every Tues­day, where Lola has dis­cov­ered friends. They share books, lis­ten to the librar­i­an tell them sto­ries, and engage in play. They don’t even have to be qui­et! No won­der Lola loves the library.

Lost in the Library: a Story of Patience and Fortitude


Lost in the Library: A Sto­ry of Patience and For­ti­tude
writ­ten by Josh Funk
illus­trat­ed by Ste­vie Lewis
Hen­ry Holt, 2018

Did you know that the lions in front of the New York Pub­lic Library are named Patience and For­ti­tude? Well, now you know. When Patience goes miss­ing, For­ti­tude does his best to find her. Where should he look? He begins at the Library …

The Man Who Loved Libraries


The Man Who Loved Libraries:
The Sto­ry of Andrew Carnegie

writ­ten by Andrew Larsen
illus­trat­ed by Kat­ty Mau­rey
OwlKids, 2017
(con­tributed by Beth Raff)

Andrew Carnegie arrived in Amer­i­ca in the 1840s, hav­ing emi­grat­ed from Scot­land. His work­ing class fam­i­ly raised him to believe in hard work and deter­mi­na­tion. He worked hard and invest­ed in telegraphs and rail­roads, even­tu­al­ly becom­ing the rich­est man in the world. He believed in phil­an­thropy, donat­ing more than 2,000 libraries around the world. He changed the land­scape of pub­lic libraries and how peo­ple think about books and read­ing.

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise


Miss Moore Thought Oth­er­wise: How Anne Car­roll Moore Cre­at­ed Libraries for Chil­dren
writ­ten by Jan Pin­bor­ough
illus­trat­ed by Deb­by Atwell
Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2013

There was a time when Amer­i­can chil­dren couldn’t bor­row library books. Many thought it was­n’t impor­tant for chil­dren to read. Luck­i­ly Miss Anne Car­roll Moore thought oth­er­wise! This is the true sto­ry of how Miss Moore cre­at­ed the first children’s room at the New York Pub­lic Library, a bright, warm room filled with art­work, win­dow seats, and most impor­tant of all, bor­row­ing priv­i­leges for the world’s best children’s books in many dif­fer­ent lan­guages.

No. T.Rex in the Library


No T.Rex in the Library
writ­ten by Toni Buzzeo
illus­trat­ed by Sachiko Yoshikawa
Mar­garet K. McElder­ry Books, 2010

It’s a qui­et morn­ing in the library until a lit­tle girl roars out of con­trol! Tess resigns her­self to a time-out, but finds that she must be the one who has to main­tain order when T.Rex leaps from the pages of a book into real life. Will the library ever be the same?

Pete the Cat Checks Out the Library


Pete the Cat Checks Out the Library
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by James Dean
Harper­Collins, 2018

When Pete the Cat vis­its the library for the first time, he takes a tour and reads some of the cool sto­ries. With­out even leav­ing the library, Pete goes on groovy adven­tures. All Pete needs is a lit­tle imagination—and of course, his library card!

Planting Stories


Plant­i­ng Sto­ries:
The Life of Librar­i­an and Sto­ry­teller Pura Bel­pré

writ­ten by Ani­ka Aldamuy Denise
illus­trat­ed by Pao­la Esco­bar
Harper­Collins, 2019

When she came to Amer­i­ca in 1921, Pura Bel­pré car­ried the cuen­tos folk­lóri­cos of her Puer­to Rican home­land. Find­ing a new home at the New York Pub­lic Library as a bilin­gual assis­tant, she turned her pop­u­lar retellings into libros and spread sto­ry seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush land­scape as gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren and sto­ry­tellers con­tin­ue to share her tales and cel­e­brate Pura’s lega­cy.

Properly Unhaunted Place


Prop­er­ly Unhaunt­ed Place
writ­ten by William Alexan­der
Mar­garet K. McElder­ry Books, 2017

Ingot is the only ghost-free town in the world. When Rosa moves to Ingot with her moth­er, she can’t fig­ure out why they’re there. Rosa’s moth­er is a ghost-appease­ment librar­i­an. Her job is to keep ghosts out of the library, but there are none. Or is that true? Rosa joins forces with Jasper, long-time Ingot res­i­dent, to solve the mys­tery and keep the angry spir­its from attack­ing the town and the library. It’s a fast-paced and humor­ous tale. A page-turn­er for mid­dle grade read­ers.

A sec­ond book, A Fes­ti­val of Ghosts, con­tin­ues the sto­ry.

Ron's Big Mission


Ron’s Big Mis­sion
writ­ten by Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden
illus­trat­ed by Don Tate
Dut­ton, 2009
(con­tributed by Dr. Hei­di Ham­mond)

Nine-year-old Ron loves going to the Lake City Pub­lic Library to look through all the books on air­planes and flight. Today, Ron is ready to take out books by him­self. But in the seg­re­gat­ed world of South Car­oli­na in the 1950s, Ron’s obtain­ing his own library card is not just a small rite of passage—it is a young man’s first coura­geous mis­sion. Here is an inspir­ing sto­ry, based on Ron McNair’s life, of how a lit­tle boy, future sci­en­tist, and Chal­lenger astro­naut deseg­re­gat­ed his library through peace­ful resis­tance.



Schom­burg: The Man Who Built a Library
writ­ten by Car­ole Boston Weath­er­ford
illus­trat­ed by Eric Velasquez
Can­dlewick Press, 2017

Amid the schol­ars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renais­sance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schom­burg. This law clerk’s life’s pas­sion was to col­lect books, let­ters, music, and art from Africa and the African dias­po­ra and bring to light the achieve­ments of peo­ple of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg’s col­lec­tion became so big it began to over­flow his house, he turned to the New York Pub­lic Library, where he cre­at­ed and curat­ed a col­lec­tion that was the cor­ner­stone of a new Negro Divi­sion. A cen­tu­ry lat­er, his ground­break­ing col­lec­tion, known as the Schom­burg Cen­ter for Research in Black Cul­ture, has become a bea­con to schol­ars all over the world.

That Book Woman


That Book Woman
writ­ten by Heather Hen­son
illus­trat­ed by David Small
Atheneum, 2008
(con­tributed by Ani­ta Dualeh)

Cal does­n’t like to read so he has a hard time under­stand­ing why that book woman rides up to his house over some of the tough­est ter­rain in Appalachia just to bring his sis­ter more to read. He admires the per­sis­tence of this Pack Horse Librar­i­an, though, and read­ers of this book will be awed by how this WPA lit­er­a­cy projects turned so many peo­ple into life­long read­ers.

Tomas and the Library Lady


Tomás and the Library Lady
writ­ten by Pat Mora
illus­trat­ed by Raul Colón
Knopf, 19972

Based on the true sto­ry of the Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can author and edu­ca­tor Tomás Rivera, a child of migrant work­ers who went on to become the first minor­i­ty Chan­cel­lor in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia sys­tem, this inspi­ra­tional sto­ry sug­gests what libraries—and education—can make pos­si­ble.

When the Library Lights Go Out


When the Library Lights Go Out
writ­ten by Megan McDon­ald
illus­trat­ed by Kater­ine Tillot­son
Atheneum, 20015

When the library clos­es at night, have you imag­ined what goes on inside? Three sto­ry-hour pup­pets believe the “closed” sign means “open for adven­ture.” At first there are only Rab­bit and Lion. Her­mit Crab is miss­ing. Where can she be in the library dark­ness? Find out for your­self when—magically—only pup­pets are mov­ing about in the library.

Who Stole the Wizard of Oz?


Who Stole the Wiz­ard of Oz?
writ­ten by Avi
Knopf, 1981

When a rare edi­tion of The Wiz­ard of Oz is miss­ing from the local library, Becky is accused of steal­ing it. She and her twin broth­er Toby set out to catch the real thief and prove her inno­cence. Clues clev­er­ly hid­den in four oth­er books lead to a hid­den treasure—and a grip­ping adven­ture. A good read-aloud for ear­ly grades.


Joining Forces

Cre­at­ing a Library Exchange Net­work

Last year, I had the dis­tinct hon­or to attend a pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ty at MIT (Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy). As part of the train­ing, we were giv­en a chance to see some of the projects stu­dents and pro­fes­sors are work­ing on in fields such as edu­ca­tion, fash­ion, and health­care. I was sur­prised to learn from Dr. Chris Bourg, Direc­tor for MIT Libraries, about the Pub­lic Library Inno­va­tion Exchange (PLIX) where MIT researchers work with pub­lic librar­i­ans to exchange ideas to devel­op new cre­at­ed learn­ing pro­grams. Scratch Cod­ing and the Duct Tape Net­work are exam­ples of their pre­vi­ous projects. After return­ing home, I cre­at­ed a Library Exchange Net­work with both com­mu­ni­ty and state part­ners to devel­op new learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for library patrons and the com­mu­ni­ty by reach­ing out to indi­vid­u­als in a vari­ety of dis­ci­plines such as the arts and engi­neer­ing.

From small to large libraries, any size library can cre­ate a Library Exchange Net­work with THREE easy steps:

Step 1: Part­ner­ship Radar

A part­ner­ship radar pro­vides you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to map out poten­tial part­ners for your exchange. Cre­ate a list of poten­tial part­ners who could poten­tial­ly offer a library pro­gram (this is some­thing you might already have com­plet­ed). Some exam­ples might include a con­struc­tion com­pa­ny who could help chil­dren cre­ate bird­hous­es, a uni­ver­si­ty or col­lege who could pro­vide a STEM pro­gram, or a gar­den­ing group who could pro­vide chil­dren the oppor­tu­ni­ty to plant a bulb. Your map can include local and or non-local part­ners. Your part­ner­ship radar will con­tin­ue to grow.

Storytime with WrigleyStep 2: Throw­ing the Line Out

As with fish­ing, you need to throw a line out to poten­tial part­ners by email or phone, express­ing the library’s inter­est in devel­op­ing a library pro­gram relat­ing to their pro­fes­sion or skill. For exam­ple, I reached out to a local teacher who has a ther­a­py dog to estab­lish a new Sat­ur­day sto­ry­time pro­gram where fam­i­lies enjoy not only sto­ries, songs, and a craft but also enjoy time with her ther­a­py dog. Con­clude your email by wel­com­ing them to your library for a brain­storm­ing ses­sion.

Step 3: Idea Exchange

The idea exchange is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for you and the poten­tial part­ner to brain­storm ideas on poten­tial pro­gram oppor­tu­ni­ties for the com­mu­ni­ty. For exam­ple, I had our local train muse­um vis­it with me to brain­storm new pos­si­bil­i­ties for fam­i­lies to learn about the his­to­ry of trains through expe­ri­ences includ­ing an inter­ac­tive kiosk and a live pre­sen­ta­tion. The goal at the ini­tial exchange meet­ing is to throw out as many pro­gram ideas as pos­si­ble even if they seem impos­si­ble. The meet­ings that fol­low will be reserved for the design of the pro­gram. 

10 Ben­e­fits of a Library Exchange Net­work

  1. Pro­vides new learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for the com­mu­ni­ty.
  2. Increas­es the library’s vis­i­bil­i­ty.
  3. Lim­its staff time to devel­op new pro­grams.
  4. Requires lit­tle or no cost. Many employ­ers require employ­ees to com­plete com­mu­ni­ty ser­vices.
  5. Shares both tal­ents and resources.
  6. Fos­ters coöper­a­tion.
  7. Reach­es new audi­ences.
  8. Re-images the pur­pose of the pub­lic library.
  9. Expands both ser­vices and pro­grams.
  10. Ensures the library con­tin­ues to be an enjoy­able place with­in the com­mu­ni­ty.

Nation­al Part­ners:

Code NinjasOur local part­ner­ship is exten­sive; how­ev­er, here are some of our non-local part­ner­ships who have chains through­out the Unit­ed States.

  1. Cod­ing Nin­jas
  2. Syl­van Learn­ing
  3. Bricks 4 Kids
  4. Boy and Girls Club
  5. After­school Alliance
  6. Engi­neer­ing for Kids

Arti­cles to Enjoy on Library Part­ner­ships:

The Who, What, Where, Why, When, and Hows of Pas­sive Pro­gram­ming,” by Aman­da Ben­nett, OLC Small Libraries, 17 March 2014

How Pub­lic Libraries Help Build Healthy Com­mu­ni­ties,” by Marcela Cam­bel­lo and Stu­art M. But­ler, Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion, 30 March 2017  

Books to Gen­er­ate Pro­gram Ideas

books for programming

Some Pro­gram Exam­ples Pro­vid­ed by Our Part­ners

Two Programs


Paws and Read

Cel­e­brat­ing Our Fur­ry Friends with a Pet Read­ing Pro­gram

Ani­mals are such agree­able friends—they ask no ques­tions, they pass no crit­i­cisms.”

—George Elliott

Oliver Jones

Oliv­er Jones, Mr. Z’s good friend

In Octo­ber 2011, I was in a state of tran­si­tion. I had just returned from intern­ing at the Library of Con­gress to a full-time job as head of a children’s depart­ment. I was excit­ed about this new adven­ture but, to move for­ward, I was miss­ing a fur­ry friend. One day, a patron came into the library and walked up to me and said, “I have this male kit­ty cat I need some­one to adopt. Do you know any­one who might want to adopt him?” I looked up, and it was an orange tab­by cat. I smiled and told her I would adopt him. His name is Oliv­er Jones, and he has been with me for almost eight years through many highs and lows. I reflect on this sto­ry from time to time to remind myself how impor­tant ani­mals are to the human jour­ney.

Through­out my time as a children’s librar­i­an, pro­grams that com­bine read­ing with ani­mals have been suc­cess­ful. My library’s pet read­ing pro­gram occurs one Sat­ur­day each month. A local teacher and her dog Wrigley vis­it the library and pro­vide a sto­ry­time pro­gram for 2- to 5‑year-olds. Pet read­ing pro­grams can be for any age group.

Steps in Cre­at­ing a Pet Read­ing Pro­gram:

  1. Decide on the objec­tives for a pet read­ing pro­gram at your library. Some ques­tions to ask might include: Will the ani­mal be part of a sto­ry­time pro­gram where fam­i­lies have time to inter­act with them? Should a new read-with-a-pet pro­gram be cre­at­ed where chil­dren can reg­is­ter a time to read to them?
  2. Research cer­ti­fied pet ther­a­py pro­gram web­sites for a direc­to­ry of cer­ti­fied mem­bers in your area. The ani­mals vis­it­ing the library should be a cer­ti­fied ani­mal, not your pet or a patron’s or a coworker’s. Ther­a­py Dogs Inter­na­tion­al is one resource for you to check.
  3. Reach out to local cer­ti­fied indi­vid­u­als to pro­pose the new pet read­ing pro­gram. At the ini­tial meet­ing, ask them to send a copy of their cer­ti­fi­ca­tion along with any insurance/liability infor­ma­tion. Keep this infor­ma­tion on file.
  4. Sched­ule your first pro­gram. Do you want this to be part of a morn­ing sto­ry­time or a new after-school pro­gram? I have done both types of pro­grams with great suc­cess.
  5. Iden­ti­fy the space for your pro­gram and col­lect resources spe­cif­ic to this pro­gram. Chil­dren can bring their own book to read or search the library col­lec­tion with the ani­mal.

The fol­low­ing are my top pic­ture book, chap­ter book, and non­fic­tion book sug­ges­tions. Although each of these choic­es have an ani­mal theme, a child can choose any book to read to the ani­mal.

Picture Books






Pic­ture Book Sug­ges­tions

  1. Drag­ons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin (inter­est lev­el: K‑3)
  2. Moth­er Bruce by Ryan T. Hig­gins (inter­est lev­el: K‑3)
  3. If You Give a Dog a Donut by Lau­ra Numeroff (inter­est lev­el: K‑3)
  4. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae (inter­est lev­el: K‑3)
  5. There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins (inter­est lev­el: K‑3)
  6. Stel­lalu­na by Janell Can­non (inter­est lev­el: K‑3)
  7. A Uni­corn Named Sparkle by Amy Young (inter­est lev­el: K‑3)
  8. Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey (inter­est lev­el: K‑3)
  9. The Bear Ate Your Sand­wich by Julia Sar­cone-Roach (inter­est lev­el: K‑3)
  10. Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cum­mings (inter­est lev­el: K‑3)

Chapter Books






Chap­ter Book Sug­ges­tions

  1. Mag­ic Ani­mal Res­cue (series) by E.D. Bak­er (inter­est lev­el: 2–3 grade)
  2. The Chick­en Squad (series) by Doreen Cronin (inter­est lev­el: 2–3 grade)
  3. Ranger in Time (series) by Kate Mess­ner (inter­est lev­el: 2–5 grade)
  4. Almost Home by John Bauer (inter­est lev­el: 4–6 grade)
  5. A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Mar­tin (inter­est lev­el: 4–6 grade)
  6. Cap­tain Pug (series) by Lau­ra James (inter­est lev­el 1–4 grade)
  7. Mr. Popper’s Pen­guins by Richard Atwa­ter (inter­est lev­el: 3–6 grade)
  8. Stu­art Lit­tle by E.B. White (inter­est lev­el: 3–6 grade)
  9. Dog Man and Cat Kid by Dav Pilkey (inter­est lev­el: 2–5 grade)
  10. Drag­on Mas­ters by Tracey West (inter­est lev­el 2–4 grade)






Non­fic­tion Book Sug­ges­tions

  1. The King of Sting by Coy­ote Peter­son (inter­est lev­el: 2–6 grade)
  2. Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Read­ers: Woof! 100 Fun Facts About Dogs (inter­est lev­el: 1–4 grade)
  3. I Sur­vived True Sto­ries (series) by Lau­ren Tarshils (inter­est lev­el: 2–5 grade)
  4. Ani­mals that Make Me Say (series) by Dawn Cusick (inter­est lev­el: 2–5 grade)
  5. Dog Days of His­to­ry: The Incred­i­ble True Sto­ry of Our Best Friends by Sarah Albee (inter­est lev­el: 2–4 grade)
  6. The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Sto­ry of Bal­to by Natal­ie Stan­di­ford and Don­ald Cook (inter­est lev­el 2–4 grade)
  7. Oh, the Pets You can Get: All About our Ani­mal Friends by Tish Rabe (inter­est lev­el 2–4 grade)
  8. 50 Wacky Things Pets Do (series) by Hei­di Fiedler and Mar­ta Sorte (inter­est lev­el: 2–5 grade)
  9. Gross Me Out (ani­mal series) by Jody Sul­li­van Rake (inter­est lev­el: 2–5 grade)
  10. Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Kids 125 True Sto­ries of Amaz­ing Ani­mals by Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Kids (inter­est lev­el 2–5 grade)

Tam­pa Bay Humane Soci­ety Pet Read­ing Pro­gram

Here’s a video about a suc­cess­ful pet read­ing pro­gram at the Humane Soci­ety of Tam­pa Bay. This video adds that these pro­grams are not only essen­tial to help a child with their read­ing, but they also help chil­dren build their self-esteem in a non-judg­men­tal envi­ron­ment.

Read to a Dog Pro­gram at Pima Coun­ty Pub­lic Library

Enjoy watch­ing this video about a suc­cess­ful dog read­ing pro­gram at Pima Coun­ty Pub­lic Library. This video stress­es the impor­tance that this pro­gram helps to boost a child’s con­fi­dence. 


Gobble up a Good Time

It is amaz­ing how quick­ly depart­ment stores move all of the Hal­loween items out and bring out Christ­mas lights, wrap­ping paper, reli­gious items, dif­fer­ent sized San­ta Claus­es and orna­ments. Oh, and who can for­get about the start of Christ­mas music at the begin­ning of Novem­ber? I love Christ­mas, but for the longest time, I’ve been con­fused about why depart­ment stores do not ded­i­cate space for Thanks­giv­ing. Thanks­giv­ing is a hol­i­day that sym­bol­izes the impor­tance of gath­er­ing with oth­ers to give thanks. Before we begin to hang a tree or wrap presents, it is impor­tant to give thanks to our friends and fam­i­ly mem­bers. Spend­ing time togeth­er is a great way to give thanks to each oth­er.

Why not include a few crafts and a sci­ence exper­i­ment as part of your cel­e­bra­tion? Read on! You’ll find a few tips on how you can involve the entire fam­i­ly in each craft project.

leafCraft 1: Giv­ing Light to Leaves

The chang­ing of leaves is the sign that autumn has arrived. For this craft, you will first need a lunch bag. Go out­side and spend time walk­ing around look­ing at all of the fall­en leaves. Ask ques­tions like, “what do they feel like?”, “what col­ors do you see?”, or “are they smooth or rough?” Grab a few larg­er-sized leaves and put them in your lunch bag. Head on indoors. Gath­er the fol­low­ing:


  • The leaves you brought in
  • Glue ($2.28 for two, priced online)
  • Tis­sue Paper (Could be no cost if you have some left over from wrap­ping presents, $10.43, priced online)
  • Waxed Paper (Could be no cost if you have it in your kitchen, $2.94, priced online)
  • Crayons (Could be no cost if you have them at home, $5.04 for a pack of 12, priced online)
  • Scis­sors (Could be no cost if you have them at home, $4.50 per one, priced online)
  • Twine ($3.50 for one roll of twine, priced online)

Total esti­mat­ed cost: $28.69 if you need to buy every­thing new

tissue paperSteps

  1. On a sheet of paper, tape down a leaf and work with your child to trace the leaf’s out­er shape. Remem­ber, the shape does not need to be per­fect. Just like snowflakes, all leaves do not look the same.
  2. Help your child cut the leaf pat­tern out.
  3. Work with your child to tear dif­fer­ent col­ors of tis­sue paper and put them in a pile.
  4. Glue the leaf pat­tern on wax paper and help your child cut around the leaf to make a leaf shape.
  5. Put glue in the mid­dle of the leaf.
  6. Work with your child to glue the tis­sue paper pieces to the mid­dle of the leaf.
  7. Let it dry.
  8. Glue twine on the back of the leaf and find a win­dow to hang it from
  9. Wait for the sun­light and be amazed.


  1. Con­nect the leaf project by first read­ing the book, Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
  2. Show them a book with the types of trees to help them learn how to iden­ti­fy the type of leaves they find out­side. I sug­gest Trees, Leaves, & Bark by Diane Burns.
  3. Dis­cuss: “when I look at my leaf this is what I see, what do you see?”
  4. Talk with your child about the col­ors that the sun­light is shin­ing through.
  5. Talk with the child about the shape of the leaf.

pumpkinCraft 2: The Tube Pump­kin

Jack-O-Lanterns are a sym­bol for Hal­loween, how­ev­er, pump­kins are also a sta­ple at a Thanks­giv­ing table. From pump­kin pie to pump­kin bars, pump­kins are an impor­tant ingre­di­ent for Thanks­giv­ing din­ner. Pump­kin-themed crafts are also a fun way to cel­e­brate the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day. This craft is called The Tube Pump­kin because all you need is a paper tow­el tube to make the pump­kin shape.


  1. Paper tow­el tube
  2. Orange and green paint (Could be no cost if you have them at home, cost, $2.32 for one, priced online)
  3. Plain white paper
  4. Paint Brush (Could be no cost if you have them at home, cost, $7.96 for a pk of 10, priced online
  5. Tape

Total esti­mat­ed cost: $10.28 if you need to buy every­thing new


  1. Help your child make a pump­kin shape using a paper tow­el tube. I found it best to bend one of the ends of the tube inward.
  2. This will act as a stamp.
  3. Pour some orange paint on a plate.
  4. Take the paper tow­el tube and dip it in orange paint.
  5. Place the paper tow­el tube on the paper to make your pump­kin shape.
  6. Help your child paint the pump­kin using a paint brush.
  • It is impor­tant to note that if your child decides to use a dif­fer­ent col­ored paint besides orange that is just fine. Allow­ing for cre­ativ­i­ty is impor­tant.

The RUnaway PumpkinCon­nec­tions

  1. Read the book, The Run­away Pump­kin by Kevin Lewis before you do the craft.
  2. Ask them what oth­er things are also orange (or what­ev­er col­or they used to cre­ate their pump­kin).
  3. If you have a pump­kin at home and it is cut open, have them smell it and describe what they smell.
  4. Con­sid­er roast­ing and eat­ing the pump­kin seeds. Talk about how seeds grow into plants.

Apple Volcano suppliesApple Vol­ca­noes,
a Fall Sci­ence Exper­i­ment

Apples are also impor­tant to a Thanks­giv­ing menu. From apple pie to apple crisp, apples are a crunchy delight. This fall sci­ence exper­i­ment uses apples, not for bak­ing, but for sci­ence.


  1. Apples, any kind will do (Could be no cost if you have them at home, cost for 1 apple is $.076, price from Wal-Mart).
  2. Bak­ing soda (Could be no cost if you have it in your kitchen, cost for 1 store brand box, $0.98, price from Wal-Mart).
  3. Dish soap (Could be no cost if you have it at home, cost for small store brand dish soap, $3.75, price from Wal-Mart).
  4. Food col­or­ing (Could be no cost if you it in your kitchen, cost for 1 box of Wilton food col­or­ing, $3.19, price from Wal-Mart)
  5. Knife

Total esti­mat­ed cost: $8.68 or free if you have the items on hand


  1. Use a knife to cut a small hole in the top of the apple about half way down.
  2. Place the apple on a cook­ie sheet with a rim or in a cake pan.
  3. Have the kid­dos put a cou­ple spoon­fuls of bak­ing soda in the hole.
  4. Add a drop of dish soap to the bak­ing soda for a foami­er reac­tion.
  5. Add a drop of food col­or­ing.
  6. Pour vine­gar into the hole of the apple and wait to be amazed!
  7. Search on YouTube for apple pie vol­cano to view the exper­i­ment.


  1. Pair this activ­i­ty with the sto­ry, The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall. Read the sto­ry before the exper­i­ment.
  2. Ask your child what col­or apple they enjoy the most.
  3. Ask, “are apples chewy or crunchy?”
  4. Ask, “do apples grow in the ground or on a tree?”
  5. Ask, “why do you think the apple began to fizz?”

Cel­e­brate fall! Give thanks! Have fun!


Skinny Dip with Becky Kruger

Becky KrugerWe are so for­tu­nate to have ded­i­cat­ed and inspir­ing librar­i­an edu­ca­tors work­ing with chil­dren in many schools through­out our land. Becky Kruger not only serves as the librar­i­an at Ray Miller Ele­men­tary School in Mis­souri but she also helps orga­nize the annu­al Tru­man State Uni­ver­si­ty Chil­dren’s Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val.

Which book you read as a child has most influ­enced your life?

It is not so much that the sto­ry influ­enced my life – but the book that I remem­ber most from my child­hood is The Five Lit­tle Pep­pers and How They Grew. My Mom and Dad gave it to me for Christ­mas when I was in the 3rd grade and I still have it and trea­sure it!!

What’s your favorite form of exer­cise?

My favorite form of exer­cise is work­ing in my veg­etable and flower gar­dens!

Who’s at the top of your list of Most Admired Peo­ple?

The per­son that I admire most in this world is my daugh­ter. She is the most kind, car­ing, fun­ny, hard work­ing and intel­li­gent per­son that I have ever known. She nev­er ceas­es to amaze me.

 What for­eign lan­guage would you like to learn?

I wish that I could speak flu­ent Span­ish.

Do you keep your book­shelves in a par­tic­u­lar order?

I orga­nize my books by sub­ject (non-fic­tion) or author (fic­tion). I also group my children’s books togeth­er.

What’s your food weak­ness?

Dessert. Def­i­nite­ly dessert.

What’s your favorite flower?

I have nev­er met a flower that I didn’t love, but if I had to choose, I would say that peonies are prob­a­bly my favorite. It is unfor­tu­nate that they are so fleet­ing.

Copy­right Tere­sa Kasprzy­c­ka |

What’s your favorite word because you like the way it sounds?

I love words! Rather than name a favorite word, I would like to name a few books that I love because of the author’s use of words: Natal­ie Lloyd’s A Snick­er of Mag­ic and Kather­ine Hannigan’s Ida B. If you haven’t read them, you should!!

Do you read the end of a book first?

Nev­er!! But…I do have this very annoy­ing habit of skim­ming a few pages in advance when a book gets very sus­pense­ful, or I am wondering…is the dog going to die? Is she going to tell the secret? Are they going to move again? It is like I just have to know before I real­ly read it!! Ha! Does any­one else do that??

If you could be grant­ed one wish, what would you wish for?

I would wish that every per­son in this world had access to clean water and abun­dant, nutri­tious food and that we could all live in har­mo­ny. (If it is all in one sen­tence, can it count as one wish?)

Child drinking clean water

Copy­right: bor­gog­niels / 123RF Stock Pho­to


Skinny Dip with Lester Laminack

Lester Lam­i­nack

Lester Lam­i­nack is sought after as a speak­er in school dis­tricts all over the coun­try. A retired pro­fes­sor, active­ly involved in lit­er­a­cy on many lev­els, he’s thought­ful, artic­u­late, and has a sparkling sense of humor.  We’re pleased that this very busy author and speak­er took time to share his thoughts with Bookol­o­gy’s read­ers this month.

What’s the weird­est place you’ve ever read a book? 

Well, it isn’t real­ly all that weird, but most of my read­ing hap­pens on air­planes. I fly a lot to work with kids and teach­ers around the coun­try.

Do you keep your book­shelves in a par­tic­u­lar order? 

I do. Most of my books are arranged in alpha­bet­i­cal order by author’s last name. How­ev­er, I have sev­er­al sets of books that I like to keep clus­tered by theme. I have some books on shelves next to my desk and those rotate depend­ing on the project I’m work­ing on at the moment.

How many book­cas­es do you have in your house?

I have a room for books. I call it my library. Then, there is my office and it also has lots of books. And I have books in crates at my house.

Lester Lam­i­nack: book­cas­es and art

Lester Laminack meeting table

Lester Lam­i­nack: a meet­ing table sur­round­ed by books

Lester Laminack books in crates

Lester Lam­i­nack: Books in crates

Lester Lam­i­nack: desk

Lester Laminack a place to read

Lester Lam­i­nack: a place to read

What’s the pre­dom­i­nant col­or in your wardrobe?

Blue. I like lots of col­ors and wear reds and orange and pink and green and gray and black, and I have most­ly plaids and checks, but the col­or you’ll see most in my clos­et is blue.

Which library springs to your mind when some­one says that word? What do you remem­ber most about it?

I have spent a lot of time in many libraries, but that word most often con­jures mem­o­ries of the library in the ele­men­tary school I attend­ed as a child—Cleburne Coun­ty Ele­men­tary in Heflin, Alaba­ma. I can still hear the voice of Mrs. Hand, our librar­i­an, read­ing The Box­car Chil­dren. She had the best read aloud voice.

Which book you read as a child has most influ­enced your life?

Hmm­mm, I think that would be The Wiz­ard of Oz. When I was in the fifth grade my fam­i­ly moved to Key West for a year. In that year I read The Wiz­ard of Oz and for the first time I fell inside and lived in the book. It was an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence to be there, in the sto­ry, with that cast of char­ac­ters. That expe­ri­ence changed the way I read.

What’s your food weak­ness?

Hmmm, bread. Oh, and did I say bread? OK, and éclairs. I do love a good éclair.

What’s your favorite form of exer­cise?

Walk­ing and yoga, but I have fall­en out of the habit of doing yoga. So, if you don’t do it, does it still count as a favorite? Hmmm, I need to get back into that again. Maybe I’d lose that 20 pounds I found. Note: If you have lost 20 pounds in the last 24 months please con­tact me. I think I found them.

What do you con­sid­er to be your best accom­plish­ment?

My son.  He is a kind, decent, car­ing young man with a love­ly, con­fi­dent, intel­li­gent wife and a beau­ti­ful young daugh­ter.  He is also a col­lege Eng­lish pro­fes­sor. 

What’s your favorite flower?

Daylilies. And dahlias. Oh, and Aza­lea and rhodo­den­drons and moun­tain lau­rel and dog­wood and camel­lia and peony. I almost for­got crêpe myr­tle. Say, did I men­tion zin­nias?


Have you trav­eled out­side of your state? Which state draws you back? (How many states have you vis­it­ed?)

I have trav­eled in 47 of the 50 states, all but North Dako­ta, South Dako­ta, and Mon­tana. But, I’m going to speak in Mon­tana in 2018. I grew up in Alaba­ma, but I have lived in North Car­oli­na since 1982. North Car­oli­na is my home now and no mat­ter where I trav­el I am always delight­ed to return to these moun­tains. With that said, I do love the area around Sedona, Ari­zona,  and Taos, New Mex­i­co.

Have you trav­eled out­side of the Unit­ed States? Which coun­try is your favorite to vis­it? Why?

I love Italy. The lan­guage is music. Din­ing is an expe­ri­ence. Art is an essen­tial part of life. I adore Paris. And I’m trav­el­ing to Scot­land in about three weeks, so I may have a new favorite.

Who’s your favorite artist?

Any child who makes art with joy and aban­don. I have long admired the art of Mary Cas­satt. I great­ly admire the art of Jonathan Green in  Charleston, South Car­oli­na. At present I col­lect the art of two artists from the South Car­oli­na Low­coun­try.  Mary Segars and Cas­san­dra Gillens.

What’s the last per­for­mance you saw at a the­ater?


What’s your favorite word because you like the way it sounds?

Dénoue­ment and aspara­gus and cor­duroy and bour­bon …

What would you wear to a cos­tume par­ty?  

I’m not a cos­tume par­ty guy. I’m sort of a char­ac­ter in reg­u­lar clothes. When I’m work­ing you’ll almost always find me in Levi jeans, a but­ton down shirt, and a bow tie. Oth­er­wise I’m like­ly to be in jeans and a sweat­shirt or t‑shirt.

Who’s at the top of your list of Most Admired Peo­ple? 

Mr. Rogers.

When you walk into a bak­ery, what are you most like­ly to choose from the bak­ery cas­es?

Hands down I will go direct­ly to the éclair. And a real­ly good look­ing slice of car­rot cake can eas­i­ly get my atten­tion.

What are your favorite piz­za top­pings? 

Mush­rooms, green and black olives, ham, lots of cheese.

Do you remem­ber your dreams?

Some­times, not always. I don’t usu­al­ly make any sense out of them, but I can some­times remem­ber snip­pets. About once a year I will have a dream that I am rush­ing like crazy and final­ly get to school with all the kids busy at work not even notic­ing that I’m late.

What for­eign lan­guage would you like to learn? 

I took French in high school. I wish I could speak flu­ent­ly. I love the sound of Ital­ian and I’d love to have it flow from my mouth like a water­fall. But, to be prac­ti­cal I would like to learn Span­ish because I believe it would be most use­ful. 

Do you read the end of a book first?

Nev­er. And I nev­er eat dessert before din­ner either.

If you had a choice, would you live under the ocean or in out­er space, and why? 

Nei­ther. I am just fig­ur­ing out how to live on this earth. I’ll stay right here if you don’t mind.

Peace symbolIf you could write any book and know that it would be pub­lished and tens of thou­sands of peo­ple would read it, which book would you write?

A mem­oir writ­ten for adults. 

If you could be grant­ed one wish, what would you wish for?

Peace on this globe. If I could have one wish grant­ed it would be for all peo­ple to have enough, to live in kind­ness and har­mo­ny with oth­ers and to be good stew­ards of this earth.


Skinny Dip with Laura Purdie Salas

Laura Purdie Salas

Lau­ra Pur­die Salas

Lau­ra Pur­die Salas is a poet, a researcher, and a pop­u­lar vis­it­ing author in ele­men­tary and mid­dle schools. Sev­er­al of her books have turned heads and stirred up a buzz, includ­ing Water Can Be … and If You Were the Moon. She has pub­lished many books about writ­ing for chil­dren and fre­quent­ly speaks at con­fer­ences. We’re pleased that this very busy author is spend­ing some time with Bookol­o­gy this month.

What’s the weird­est place you’ve ever read a book?

Perched in a tree and lying under­neath a tram­po­line in the shade were two favorite spots when I was a kid grow­ing up in Flori­da. I have also read books on bor­ing car­ni­val rides, dur­ing recitals (don’t tell!), and while canoe­ing. There is pret­ty much no place I would not be hap­py to read a book.

Laura Purdie Salas, reading in a tree

Lau­ra Pur­die Salas, read­ing in a tree

What is the pre­dom­i­nant col­or in your wardrobe?

Black, but that sounds so sad! I live in yoga pants in my dai­ly life, and black ones are the most flat­ter­ing. My top half is usu­al­ly more colorful—I swear!—and blues and pur­ples are my favorite col­ors to dress in.

Which library springs to your mind when some­one says that word? What do you remem­ber most about it?

The orig­i­nal Win­ter Park, Flori­da, Library. I would ride my bike to the small, ancient-look­ing build­ing once or twice a week. When I would walk between the tall white columns to go inside, it was like enter­ing anoth­er plan­et. Big wood­en card cat­a­logs. The bustling hush of peo­ple walk­ing pur­pose­ful­ly around. The children’s area, where I knew I was sup­posed to be. The rest of the library, where I wan­dered around and learned about the world beyond the hap­py lit­tle children’s books. I can still pic­ture the wall around the cor­ner that had all the mys­ter­ies, where I worked my way through the Agatha Christies. I felt like every­one there was smart and hap­py, and I knew books were the rea­son. l always checked out as many books as I could jug­gle home. Halfway through my child­hood, they built a new library, which was very nice and mod­ern­ized and big­ger. I know I used that one con­stant­ly, too. But my mem­o­ries are all of the first one—my very first library.

Which book that you read as a child has most influ­enced your life?

The Figure in the Shadows John BellairsI devoured books like they were pota­to chips, and I went for quantity—and escapism. I lost myself in books, and they were sort of like lost dreams after­ward. I don’t remem­ber too many indi­vid­ual books, but The Fig­ure in the Shad­ows, by John Bel­lairs, was a big favorite. It showed me that fam­i­ly isn’t restrict­ed to your bio­log­i­cal fam­i­ly. And it scared the bejee­bers out of me—I loved it! Two oth­ers I read around (I think) 7th grade, Crooked House, by Agatha Christie, and Flow­ers for Alger­non, by Daniel Keyes, still haunt me a lit­tle. SPOILER ALERT: In Crooked House, the mur­der­er is a child, which total­ly shocked me. Not a mis­un­der­stood child. Not a men­tal­ly ill child. A greedy, self­ish child the same age I was when I read the book. It made me think about the enor­mous capac­i­ty for good and evil human beings have. Flow­ers for Alger­non, which I recent­ly reread, shaped my thoughts about love, intel­li­gence, kind­ness, and the lim­its of sci­ence. And it broke my heart.

Have you trav­eled out­side of the Unit­ed States? Which coun­try is your favorite to vis­it? Why?

In the past ten years, I’ve got­ten to vis­it Scot­land twice, Ire­land, France, Aus­tria, the Czech Repub­lic, and Ice­land. So far, Scot­land is my favorite—so beau­ti­ful and with so much his­to­ry. Famil­iar enough to be com­fort­able, but for­eign enough to be an adven­ture. But see­ing the North­ern Lights in Ice­land was my favorite sin­gle event while trav­el­ing. This world is just so amaz­ing.

Lau­ra Pur­die Salas, on the shore of a loch in Scot­land

Lau­ra Pur­die Salas with her hus­band, Randy Salas, tour­ing a lava tube cave in Ice­land

the north­ern lights as viewed from Ice­land

What’s the last per­for­mance you saw at a the­ater?

Improv com­e­dy at Com­e­dyS­portz in Min­neapo­lis. Improv is so much fun—watching peo­ple cre­ate sto­ries, live, in the moment, is incred­i­ble. It’s like being thrown into a thun­der­storm of a first draft, and you nev­er know when light­ning will strike.

When you walk into a bak­ery, what are you most like­ly to choose from the bak­ery cas­es?

Some­thing frost­ed! Or with gooey caramel. Or with a mousse. When I buy cup­cakes, I always ask the bak­er to choose the one with the most frost­ing for me. It dri­ves me nuts on bak­ing shows when a judge will say with dis­dain, “This cream cheese frost­ing is just too sweet.” Or “You have way too much but­ter­cream on this cake.” Sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble state­ments, in my opin­ion.

If you had a choice, would you live under the ocean or in out­er space, and why?

Out­er space fas­ci­nates me, but I’d want to live in the ocean. The idea that there are still so many mys­ter­ies and unex­plored places on our very own plan­et is crazy! Plus the ocean is so … water­col­ory and gor­geous and tran­quil. Out­er space seems less hospitable—all dark­ness and sharp­ness and emp­ty space.

If you could write any book and know that it would be pub­lished and tens of thou­sands of peo­ple would read it, which book would you write?

I would write a pic­ture book, maybe a poem, that would reas­sure kids that they are who they choose to be. They are not defined by their home, their fam­i­ly, or their family’s jobs, income, cars, edu­ca­tion lev­el, ill­ness­es … But with­out sound­ing preachy, of course! :>)


Caps for Sale

Caps for SaleMy col­lege boy is home this week. So far his spring break has been spent fight­ing a doozy of a virus, lying about fever­ish and wan. Per­haps there is slight com­fort in Mom mak­ing tea and soup, vers­es the non-homi­ness of the dorm, I don’t know. He seems grate­ful. I asked if he want­ed some­thing to read and went to his book­shelves to see if there was some­thing light a98nd fun—an old favorite, perhaps—to while away the lan­guish­ing hours on the couch.

I’d imag­ined a nov­el he could lose him­self in—Swal­lows & Ama­zons or Har­ry Pot­ter, maybe, but I found myself flip­ping through pic­ture books. Most of the pic­ture books are in my office these days, but some of the extra spe­cial ones are kept on each of the kid­dos’ book­shelves. Caps for Sale: The Tale of a Ped­dler, Some Mon­keys and Their Mon­key Busi­ness by Esphyr Slo­bod­ki­na is one such pic­ture book for #1 Son.

Good­ness how he loved that book when he was a lit­tle boy! For awhile we had it per­pet­u­al­ly checked out from the library. I renewed and renewed until I could renew no more, then I found a sym­pa­thet­ic librar­i­an who checked it back in and let me check it right back out. She did this for us twice. Then I lost my nerve to ask for such spe­cial favors yet again and I bought the book.

I bet we read that book every day for over a year. It was before he was real­ly talking—he called mon­keys key-keys and he thought they were hilar­i­ous. He’d shake his fin­ger, just like the ped­dler in absolute delight. “You mon­keys, you! You give me back my caps!” Then he’d shake both hands, again just like the ped­dler; then kick one foot against the couch when the ped­dler stamped his foot, and both feet when the ped­dler stamped both feet. Each time he’d make the mon­key reply “Tsz, tsz, tsz!” as well.

Caps for Sale

He liked to pile lay­ers of hats (or shirts or socks) on his head like the ped­dler stacked his caps, and he loved to throw them on the ground, which is how the ped­dler even­tu­al­ly gets the mon­keys to give back the caps they’ve stolen from his nap­ping head. I watched him re-enact the entire book once when he was sup­posed to be tak­ing a nap.

He learned sort­ing as he noticed the dif­fer­ent col­ors and pat­terns of the caps and how the ped­dler stacked them up to take his inven­to­ry under the tree. He did this with play­dough disk. “Caps!” he’d say when he made tall columns of red cir­cles, blue cir­cles, and yel­low cir­cles. I remem­ber think­ing this was uncom­mon­ly bril­liant for an under two-year-old.

I offered to read it to him this after­noon. He declined, but the smile was wide, if still weary, when I showed him the book. I left it next to the couch, just in case he starts to feel bet­ter and wants to revis­it it.


Libraries in the USA are at Mission Critical

There is not such a cra­dle of democ­ra­cy upon the earth as the Free Pub­lic Library, this repub­lic of let­ters, where nei­ther rank, office, nor wealth receives the slight­est con­sid­er­a­tion.” —Andrew Carnegie

Hamel Public Library, Minnesota

Hamel Pub­lic Library, Min­neso­ta

Libraries in the USA are at mis­sion crit­i­cal. Those who went before us worked hard to estab­lish free pub­lic libraries so we could have access to what we need to know. How can we let their lega­cy erode?

We’ve already seen our pub­lic school libraries dam­aged by bud­get short­falls in which libraries are deemed non-essen­tial and degreed librar­i­ans are con­sid­ered eas­i­ly replaced by a vol­un­teer.

Pub­lic libraries have suf­fered as well via con­sol­i­da­tion, replaced by pick-up-your-book kiosks, and out­right clo­sure.

For read­ers, it is under­stood how vital libraries are as a free source of edu­ca­tion, essen­tial ser­vices, and enter­tain­ment that might oth­er­wise be too expen­sive for fam­i­lies and indi­vid­u­als. Beyond books, pub­lic libraries offer free pro­gram­ming in edu­ca­tion, craft­ing, music and dance, cit­i­zen­ry, and busi­ness. Some libraries have become a place to check out sel­dom-need­ed but impor­tant items like fish­ing rods, elec­tric drills, sewing machines, and gar­den­ing tools.

gardening tools library

Read­ing is still at the heart of the library. The abil­i­ty to learn, whether by fic­tion or non­fic­tion, and the priv­i­lege of ask­ing a librar­i­an who can help you find what you need and what you don’t yet know that you need—that is a library. No com­put­er algo­rithm, no mat­ter how well-mean­ing, can take a librarian’s place.

Many of us take our pub­lic library for grant­ed. We walk a few blocks, ride our bikes, dri­ve a few miles or 30 miles to check out books and mag­a­zines. We can call the staff on the phone to make sure they know what we’re look­ing for and have it. If they don’t have it, they can order it from a library far, far away. This is one of the most reli­able ser­vices of being an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen.

This access to infor­ma­tion and resources was hard-won. The gen­er­a­tions before us rec­og­nized how vital books and read­ing are to a healthy, cit­i­zen-engaged coun­try.

Down Cut Shin CreekIn Down Cut Shin Creek: the Pack Horse Librar­i­ans of Ken­tucky by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Can­nel­la Schmitzer (Harp­er Collins, 2001), we learn the riv­et­ing true sto­ry of women, pri­mar­i­ly, who were hired by the Work Projects Admin­is­tra­tion (WPA) in 1935, dur­ing the height of the Depres­sion, to ride hors­es or pack mules to the often inac­ces­si­ble small com­mu­ni­ties and indi­vid­u­als of east­ern Ken­tucky. Even­tu­al­ly these librar­i­ans would serve more 100,000 peo­ple in 30 coun­ties as part of the Pack Horse Library Project. It’s an inspir­ing book. Read­ing the account of how impor­tant these librar­i­ans were because they knew their com­mu­ni­ties, their read­ers’ tastes, and felt a sense of duty … it’s eas­i­er to under­stand why libraries have been so vital in Amer­i­ca.

A con­gress­man from Ken­tucky, Carl D. Perkins, spon­sored the Library Ser­vices Act in 1956 “that made the first fed­er­al appro­pri­a­tions for library ser­vice.” More than like­ly, he was influ­enced by a Pack Horse Librar­i­an while he taught in rur­al Ken­tucky.

That Book WomanFor a pic­ture book about the Pack Horse Librar­i­ans, read Heather Henson’s That Book Woman, illus­trat­ed by David Small (Atheneum, 2008). Writ­ten by a Ken­tucky native, this sto­ry of Cal, liv­ing high in the Appalachi­an hills, depicts a young boy who wants noth­ing to do with read­ing until he real­izes the extra­or­di­nary lengths his Pack Horse Librar­i­an is achiev­ing to bring him books.

Books in a BoxIn north­ern climes, Stu­art Stotts wrote the mar­velous Books in a Box: Lutie Stearns and the Trav­el­ing Libraries of Wis­con­sin (Big Val­ley Press, 2005). Lutie Stearns grew up near Mil­wau­kee, read­ing all the time. She is drawn to library ser­vice where, thank­ful­ly, she has big ideas. She teams up with Frank Hutchins (anoth­er big idea per­son, he start­ed the Wis­con­sin State For­est Depart­ment, and intro­duced East­er Seals to the Anti-Tuber­cu­lo­sis Asso­ci­a­tion) to cre­ate trav­el­ing libraries.

Melvil Dewey (he of the Dewey Dec­i­mal Sys­tem) intro­duced pub­licly-fund­ed trav­el­ing libraries in New York State in 1893. (The first trav­el­ing libraries were like­ly those in Scot­land and Wales in the ear­ly 1800s, but they were part of a school­ing sys­tem.)

The next year, Lutie and Frank peti­tioned lum­ber baron and Wis­con­sin state sen­a­tor James Stout to fund trav­el­ing libraries in Dunn Coun­ty. They want­ed him to intro­duce a bill in the leg­is­la­ture to fun the Wis­con­sin Free Library Com­mis­sion. You must read this book for the engross­ing expe­ri­ences Lutie encoun­tered as she tried to estab­lish trav­el­ing libraries, books in a box, around the state in post offices and stores.

Lat­er, Lutie would help cit­i­zens apply for funds from Andrew Carnegie to con­struct a library. These Carnegie libraries, some of which are still in use, brought edu­ca­tion and enter­tain­ment to gen­er­a­tions of cit­i­zens, tax­pay­er sup­port­ed but oth­er­wise free, through­out the Unit­ed States. Lutie Stearns could cel­e­brate the growth of books-in-a-box to full-fledged libraries through her per­sis­tent efforts and those of Frank Hutchins.

Dunn County

Demo­c­rat Print­ing Com­pa­ny — (1897) Free Trav­el­ing Libraries in Wis­con­sin: The Sto­ry of Their Growth, Pur­pos­es, and Devel­op­ment; with Accounts of a Few Kin­dred Move­ments

The desire to have a good influ­ence and a decent place to go, instead of the many saloons and dance halls, led me to vis­it one com­mu­ni­ty no less than twelve times before I could get the town pres­i­dent, also own­er of a dance hall, to appoint a library board.” (Lutie Stearns, Books in a Box, pg 49)

Twelve times? That’s deter­mi­na­tion.

Can we do less?


The ear­li­est libraries-on-wheels looked way cool­er than today’s book­mo­biles,” by Rose Eveleth,

Trav­el­ing libraries,” by Lar­ry T. Nix, Library His­to­ry Buff


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