Archive | August, 2017

Summer Reading with My 3 Nieces: The Hate U Give, Into the Wild, and Everything, Everything (and Read Harder Task 10)

11 Aug

In my last post I wrote about recommending books to my eldest niece for her summer reading assignment. This gave me the idea to assign myself the same books she and her two sisters are reading this summer so we can discuss them. This is the first post of that series.

Aimee wrote last week in her post about 1000 Books Before Kindergarten about how she enjoys reading with her son, and the importance of parents and caregivers reading to children before they start school. My nieces are all past kindergarten now, but I think it’s important to keep talking to kids about books even after they’ve learned to read independently. My friend Jenny has a whole blog about this idea called Books, Babies, and Bows, where she writes about reading with her daughters that is worth exploring.

My niece read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (my recommendation!) for fiction, and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer for nonfiction.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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This debut novel by Angie Thomas, whose title references rapper Tupac Shakur and is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, is hands-down one of the best books I have read this year. Sarah reports that she enjoyed this book, too. After finishing it I took to my social media channels to tell everyone to read it. And I am telling you, dear reader of this blog, to read it too. 

Starr Carter is a typical teenager who loves a fresh pair of Jordans, LeBron James, and Harry Potter, and believes she is somehow related to Jay-Z (aka Sean Carter, aka Mr. Beyonce Knowles) because they share a last name. She finds herself in an extraordinary situation after witnessing her friend Khalil’s murder by a police officer she refers to as One Fifteen. This book follows that aftermath in her gritty community and at her suburban private school interacting with her rather un-woke classmates, including one she considered a close friend.

I was more interested in the adults in The Hate U Give. Starr’s parents, Momma and Daddy (proper names Lisa and Maverick), are well-written and multifaceted. They too struggle with staying loyal to their community and their desire to give Starr and her siblings a better life. I will have to ask my niece for her thoughts about Starr’s parents, but they’re the ones I’m still thinking about after finishing the book.

Reading this book completed the Read a Debut Novel task for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, which I am still working on. More about that journey at this link.

The most important lesson that Starr learns in this story is to use her voice, even when it’s hard and scary and the circumstances are not ideal. I hope that is the takeaway for my niece. 

The Hate U Give will become a film. Click here to see which actors will play Starr, her parents, and her older brother Seven. But … please read the book before you see the movie!

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

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Sarah chose this book (which was published in 1996, seven years before she was born!) on her own. I have long heard of it, but hadn’t read it until now. Into the Wild appears on many school summer reading lists (an edition written for a young adult audience exists), and after reading it I understand why. This story includes science, geography, family drama, mystery, human psychology, history, practical information about survival, and even ethnography. Truly, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this book.

After his 1992 graduation from Emory University in Atlanta, Chris McCandless donated his savings to charity and drove to the American West with the goal to reach Alaska. Two years later his emaciated body was found in an abandoned bus used at shelter in the Denali region of Alaska. The book grew from an article that Jon Krakauer wrote for Outside magazine published in January 1993 about McCandless.

The biggest questions about Chris McCandless start with “why”. Why did he start this adventure? Why did he cut off contact with his family, including his sister Carine, to whom he was close? (Carine wrote The Wild Truth, published in 2014, about her and Chris’s life growing up.) Why did he take on the name Alexander Supertramp? Into the Wild explores those questions, with in-depth reporting from Chris’s family and friends and the people he encountered on his journey to Alaska.

Sarah reported that she is reading the adult edition and had trouble understanding the story at the beginning, but she likes it. What I noticed in the book was what my mother calls “ten dollar words”. Some of the language Krakauer used in the book tripped me up! My hope is Sarah remembers those words when she takes the SAT in a few years.

Sean Penn’s film adaptation of the book is remarkable. Emile Hirsch’s performance, especially in the final scenes of the movie, is haunting. Don’t make my mistake of watching this movie before going to sleep.

Sarah also read Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, which she said was an easy read and really good. Now I feel compelled to add this to my bursting summer reading list because I’ve heard lots of good things about, and was recently made into a movie.

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Stay tuned for the next post, where I write about the books my second niece Alyssa (who I wrote about here) read this summer.

How is your summer reading going? If you have young people in your life, do you talk about books with them?

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

The Last Books Before Kindergarten: A Few More Recommendations from my Son and I before September

4 Aug

I have written two previous posts (click here and here) about the fun and important campaign 1000 Books Before Kindergarten which encourages parents to read to newborns, infants, and toddlers to foster an early love of reading as well as an important bonding opportunity.  Of course grandparents, older siblings, cool aunts, and other caregivers are also encouraged to help meet the goal that before Kindergarten every child has 1,000 books read to them.  As we get ready for my son’s first day of Kindergarten this autumn, we continue to read together; one of the best parts of my day is reading him books before bed.  Several books from the previous post continue to be favorites, but here are several more that we’d like to recommend.  Now is the perfect time to check them out and sign up your child(ren) and yourself for our summer reading challenge (hobokenlibrary.beanstack.org) where reading doesn’t just entertain and educate, but also wins you prizes!

Penguin Problems by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith

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You may have heard of First World Problems, well they are nothing compared to penguin’s problems.  Jory John’s Penguin Problems look at the troublesome annoyance that plague a grumpy little penguin.  The message about focusing on the larger positives in one’s life instead of minor daily aggravations is one that I find important to be reminded of not just for my son, but for myself as well.

The Secret Life of Pets by Dennis R. Shealy

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The Secret Life of Pets is my son’s favorite book right now.  We have to read it every night, and as we start him on his journey of reading himself, he is beginning to pick out sight words and sometimes will attempt to read the book to me.  The book is based on the popular animated movie and in my opinion is better since it focuses on the best part the cute and quirky animals that live in a New York City apartment building and what they do when their owners are away, and leaves out the convoluted rescue plot that makes up the second half of the film.  My son’s favorite pets are the zaftig cat Chloe and the hyper Pomeranian Gidget.

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

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Another book on almost nightly rotation continues to be the Very Hungry Caterpillar, but Tommy is also a fan of other books by Eric Carle as well.  There are many books that emphasize the special bond between moms and their children, but this is the perfect choice for all the dads out there.  As Mister Seahorse swims around waiting for his own babies to emerge from his pouch he encounters the other paternal caregivers of the fish world including Mr. Tilapia, who shelters his eggs in his mouth.  Mr. Seahorse also swims right past some camouflaged fish as well who are depicted “hiding” behind clever translucent foregrounds.  This is often Tommy’s choice for times his dad reads to him.

The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan

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Who is creating the beautiful topiary around town?  My son loves a good mystery and has a good heart so he can relate to the little boy in the story who not only finds out who the mysterious man who is creating the arboreal masterpieces is, but also helps him with his work in this charming picture book by the Fan brothers.

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems

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The quirky rhymes and bright colors are enjoyable fun as a cute little frog living in France attempts to run her very first errand with tongue twisting hilarity in Nanette’s Baguette, a recent work by the always popular Mo Willems.  My son is a fan of both fresh made baguettes as well as this silly story.

The Man in the Moon and The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie by William Joyce (Books 1 and 2 Guardians of Childhood Series)

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The Guardians of Childhood Series has been adapted as animated feature, but even more engaging are the original stories.  The first two in the series, The Man in the Moon and The Sandman were gifts from my artistically inclined Aunt and Uncle and the illustrations are gorgeous.  The Man in the Moon tells the story of the very first guardian of childhood who started out as a little orphan on the moon.  My favorite of the two The Sandman tells the story of the guardian who brings children good dreams.

The Gingerbread Man by Nancy Nolte and illustrated by Richard Scarry

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There are many types of literary gingerbread men to choose from including The Library Gingerbread Man (Dotti Enderle), The Ninjabread Man (C.J. Leigh), or Gingerbread Baby (Jan Brett), but my son frequently devours the classic Golden Book about the constantly on the run version that is the same one my mom would read to me as a child and was one of her favorites to have her mom read to her.  This is one of the early books illustrated by Scarry, author/illustrator of the popular Busytown series.

Biscuit Loves School by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

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My son was introduced to the Biscuit series about an energetic little puppy by my mom (aka Meme to my son) and any time he sleeps over Meme and Pepe’s house she would have to read him a Biscuit book before bed. He has started working to read a few at home to himself.  You may want to start your children with Hello, Biscuit which introduces the little pup and explains how he got his name.  If your little one is getting ready for the first day of kindergarten or preschool have them check out Biscuit Loves School.

The Popcorn Book written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola

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The Popcorn Book was a baby shower gift from a family friend who enjoyed reading it to her own son. It turned out to be a great choice since my son LOVES popcorn and finds science and history interesting so this classic work which discusses the background of popcorn is his favorite nonfiction book on our rotation.  Also check out one of my favorite fictional picture books from my childhood Popcorn by Frank Asch which features a bear’s party overrun by popcorn when all the guests bring some to share.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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