Children's Book Columns
Whether your children go back to school this week or have already been at it since August, it is a time for settling into school routines. Books and stories are great ways to help children understand and become more comfortable with changes and challenges they might experience in school, can help open the door to conversations about difficult or uncomfortable topics, or can simply be a way to share a laugh.
Summer was made for reading: carefree vacation days, sitting at the beach or by the pool, relaxing outside in a deck chair or hammock. I’ve been enjoying my summer reading time immersed in teen fiction, ranging from fantasy to books that delve into realistic explorations of characters' lives. I’ve read several books this summer that have met my reading needs, whether I’m looking for escape and entertainment or to get a window into someone else’s life.
Though some of our area kiddos are still wrapping up the school year, the Summer Reading program is in full swing at the public library, with registration open for all ages - and kids and teens already earning incentives for reading. Keeping kids and teens reading over the summer is vital to prevent “summer slide” (summer learning loss), and Central Rappahannock Regional Library makes it easy to keep books in their hands. Reading suggestions for all youth are easy to come by at CRRL. Librarians love to help readers find their next great reads and have created Good Reads lists, available at every branch and online, for reading suggestions for students in kindergarten through high school. For middle schoolers, there is also CRRL’s Cafe Book Top Picks list, where they will find the titles that over 800 area 7th and 8th graders selected as their favorites from this year’s Cafe Book reads. In addition to booklists, CRRL also offers the Book Match and My Librarian services, where CRRL librarians give personalized reading recommendations to readers of any age.
We are in the midst of National Poetry Month, a great time to put a renewed focus on incorporating poetry into the reading habits of our children. Poetry is special in the way it captures imaginations with so few words, making it perfect to explore with children, who enjoy the short verses, succinct phrasing, rhythm, and rhyme that make poetry unique.
Children are big dreamers, but it can be hard for them to sustain those dreams when faced with adversity or even just plain apathy they sometimes face. I am especially reminded of this now, during Women’s History Month, when I am reading about women throughout history who had to fight hard to achieve their goals and dreams, and thinking about how hearing these stories can inspire children today to keep pursuing their dreams. Children can see in these tenacious women examples of what is possible with hard work and dedication.
Around this time of year, I always feel like I have gotten out of all my routines, and I think our children sometimes feel the same way. After weeks of staying up later than normal, traveling, and attending special events, it can be a challenge to get “back into the swing of things” after the holidays. Along with re-establishing school night bedtimes and homework schedules, January is a great time to refocus on a reading routine. Sharing some new stories with children can remind them how fun reading is and rekindle their passion for reading time. Try these fun stories with unexpected twists to delight the young ones.
In my first few years as a librarian, I was responsible for serving library customers of all ages and read children’s books as well as books for teens and adults, so I could recommend books to someone of any age. In the last few years, I have been focused on serving children and teens and now read almost exclusively for those age ranges. Sometimes my non-library friends pity me because they feel I am deprived in some way, reading only books for youth, but I don’t feel that way at all. My literary world is rich with books that have been written with children or teens in mind but are just all-around good books and excellent reads for adults. As I wind up this year of reading, I am recommending books written for youth that are great reads for adults.
Holiday shopping for children can be great fun and also challenging. You want to give children something they will love and hopefully enrich their lives. The perfect gift? A book, of course!
The beginning of a new school year always feels like a new chapter, with students from preschool to college starting fresh on a year full of learning and growth, working toward goals, like reading independently, conquering quadratic equations, creating a website, or writing a research paper. Whatever level you or your student are at, the public library has resources to help you be successful.