Tag Archives: children’s books

Six Books I’ve Read So Far for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

21 Feb

There are 24 tasks in the 2018 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, and as of this writing I have finished 6! I have written before about taking on past Read Harder Challenges, and haven’t finished one yet. For 2017 I read 13 of 24 books, the best I’ve done so far. My approach this year is to aggressively tackle the challenges early on as life happens, which can impede my reading. So far the cold winter has inspired me to stay indoors and read lots of books.

These are the six completed tasks and the corresponding books.

The Task: A children’s classic published before 1980.

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Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

I chose Julie of the Wolves as one I can read with my nieces to discuss–I’m still waiting for their thoughts! The story is about a thirteen-year-old girl named Julie who is escaping an unstable home situation. Her goal is to travel from Alaska to San Francisco and live with her pen pal. In the frozen tundra she struggles to survive by observing wolves and eventually becoming part of the pack by mimicking their behaviors. I appreciated how deeply passionate Jean Craighead George was about this book: the story grew from a rejected proposal for a magazine article she wrote about wolves and the Alaskan tundra. 

The Task: A celebrity memoir.

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Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

This task was pretty easy to accomplish as I lead the Lady Memoir Book Club at Little City Books, and have read plenty of celebrity memoirs as part of the group and on my own time. I picked Year of Yes for the January 2018 discussion as the premise was how Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and Shondaland, changed after she committed to saying yes to opportunities that scared her, a good theme to start off a new year. The book was fun to read and has a positive message about making the most of our lives. 

The Task: A book of social science.

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Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

The premise of Option B is how Sheryl Sandberg coped after her husband’s sudden death in 2015. Adam Grant provides solid research about grief and resilience that are masterfully woven into Sheryl’s story (this is why I consider Option B social science) and those of others who have faced tragedy. This book has incredibly sad moments–Sheryl’s retelling of finding her husband unconscious, and having to tell her children that their father died are heartbreaking–but is ultimately hopeful and encourages people to not retreat from life’s hard moments. From this book came the Option B organization.

The Task: A one-sitting book.

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The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz

At first I was stymied by this task. But then I found The Four Agreements in my TBR (to-be-read) pile. This book clocks in at 138 pages, and I blew through it while at my dad’s bedside as he waited to go in for a recent surgery. Ruiz uses Toltec wisdom to frame the four agreements around which people should live their lives to be happy. This is a good book to buy and refer to when needed–in particular for the reminder that other people’s behavior is not about you.

The Task: A book of true crime.

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Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History by Maureen Orth

I planned to read Vulgar Favors, the source text for American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, last summer but didn’t get around to it until January. While a lot isn’t known about Andrew Cunanan’s motives (he committed suicide before authorities could capture him) this heavily reported book includes stories from Andrew’s friends, as well as authorities from multiple jurisdictions that pursued him during his 1997 murder spree. What stands out in this book was how misunderstood gay communities were by police in the 1990s, which negatively impacted the investigation into Cunanan’s crimes.

The Task: A romance novel by or about a person of color.

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Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

I considered describing Hate to Want You by using like 10 fire emoji–it’s that steamy. Author Alisha Rai and her heroine Livvy Kane are women of color, so this book doubly completes the task. The book blogs I read highly praised this title. In addition to the sexy stuff, this book has a compelling story about a long-running family feud. I am now obsessed with Rai’s work and will soon read the next book in the Forbidden Hearts series Wrong to Need You, which features Livvy’s twin brother Jackson and her sister-in-law Sadia. Note: If you prefer your romance novels chaste then this series is not for you.

I feel quite accomplished being one-fourth of the way through the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. Hopefully I can maintain this momentum! I will update you when I finish another six books.

Are you following any reading challenges? Tell me in the comments!

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

1000 Books Before Kindergarten: My Goth Remix

7 Apr

Recently I attended a convention, and attended a panel about Goth parents.  The thing it made me realize is that though parents may not all look the same on the outside or have exactly the same parenting style, one thing we all have in common is wanting the best for our children and hoping they have happy and fulfilling lives.  To me one of the ways we can set them on that journey is by encouraging a love of learning and reading. I had written previously about the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Campaign with some of my son’s top picks.  Now here are 10 of our Gothy Picture Book Favorites featuring baby bats, cute vampires, a ghost boy, a skeleton girl and spooky adventures for you to share which are available at BCCLS libraries.  Stop by the Children’s Desk to learn more about the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Campaign and how you can take part.

1.  The Sleepless Little Vampire, by Richard Egielski

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I picked up this book on a babymoon trip to Sleepy Hollow when I was pregnant with my son.  Poor vampire thinks he can’t sleep at night because of a variety of other spooky creatures.

2. Jampires, by Sarah McIntyre and David O’Connell

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When the jam goes missing from Sam’s donuts he learns that some vampires have a taste for fruity fillings. The Jampires take Sam on a magical adventure to their homeland. This book is a silly sweet treat.

3. Dracula: A Counting Primer, by Jennifer Adams (Author), Alison Oliver (Illustrator)

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This simple board book is a fun way to introduce your little one to the ultimate gothic novel and counting. My son also enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, another in the BabyLit series by Adams and Oliver which provides an introduction to colors.

4. Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon

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Perhaps the best known of our picks, Stellaluna, titled after a fruit bat fostered by a family of birds, is a story of differences and acceptance that will resonate with children and their parents. You can also borrow the animated movie adaptation on DVD.

5. Nightsong, by Ari Berk (Author), Loren Long (Illustrator)

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Chiro (named for the Latin name for bats) learns to be self-sufficient and explore the world on his own in this charming and beautifully illustrated picture book. A nice tale for a child who may be nervous about the first day of school or other new experiences.

6. Bats at the Library, by Brian Lies

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My son loves coming to visit the library with me. Of course if kids enjoy libraries, how can the bats resist?  This beautifully illustrated picture book recounts an evening when the bats sneak in to explore the library.  If your child enjoys this book, Lies also has written further adventure about the bats at the beach, ballgame, and in the band.  Spanish speakers can borrow a Spanish language translation by Carlos Mayor of Bats at the Library here at the Hoboken Public Library.

7. Frangoline and the Midnight Dream, by Clemency Pearce (Author), Rebecca Elliott (Illustrator)

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This first book by Clemency Pearce features a little girl who is well behaved by day but goes on a naughty spooky adventure at night.

8. Skelly the Skeleton Girl, by Jimmy Pickering

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Fans of Tim Burton should enjoy Skelly the Skeleton Girl, a whimsical take on the creatures that go bump in the night, which features a helpful little skeleton girl looking for the owner of a lost bone.  If your child enjoys this book they may also want to check out Pickering’s second Skelly book, Skelly and Femur.

9. Leo: A Ghost Story, by Mac Barnett (Author), Christian Robinson (Illustrator)

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Leo is a ghost looking for a place to belong after the new family who moves in to his house mistakes his acts of kindness for a haunting. A gentle story of friendship.

10. The Wolves in the Walls, by Neil Gaiman (Author), Dave McKean (Illustrator)

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Of course I couldn’t resist including a book by my favorite author Neil Gaiman on this list. I have a signed copy my best friend got for me which has a little wolf doodle from Gaiman.  The Wolves in the Walls was inspired by his daughter’s nightmare about wolves living in the walls.  It shows that sometimes our worst fears don’t mean that everything has to be all over. This story will be enjoyable for fans of Coraline, but this picture book is a bit more suspenseful than the others I have mentioned so I have another year or two before I plan to share it with my son; reading to your kids shouldn’t stop at Kindergarten!

Remember even when children start reading on their own, reading to them is a great way to reinforce a love of the written word and to provide wonderful bonding experience with the child/ren in your care.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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