Kindness is Contagious

In honor of Valentine’s Day (February 14) and Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 14-20), we thought it would be fun to create a list of some love and kindness themed books that the library offers for young readers. It is never too early to teach and share the value of love and kindness.

One of my favorite things to do each year is create Valentine’s Day cards with friends and hand them out at local nursing homes and hospitals. Just a simple way to spread joy. (This is double the fun if you have kids who can deliver cards with you.) Below are some of my top pick books to encourage kindness in young readers. Click on the book title to check library availability. Happy reading!

Start Early Books:

Book cover for How Kind by Mary Murphy

“How Kind!” by Mary Murphy
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Books We Love: Jinx

Jinx coverJinx” is a juvenile fiction book that was first brought to my attention when participants in DBRL’s own Heavy Medal: Mock Newbery program decided it their winner last year. Its win nudged me into giving it a read, and I am so glad I did.

Jinx” is the story of an orphan (of course he is an orphan, you have to get those pesky parents out of the way so that our young characters can have any sort of adventures, right?) who lives in a magical world with fantastical facets presented though humorously matter-of-fact narration. The story kicks off with a stepfather attempting to leave young Jinx in a dense and dangerous forest, called the Urwald, that surrounds all of the cities in Jinx’s world. After an unlikely rescue by a grumpy old wizard named Simon, Jinx finds himself a wizard’s apprentice and gathers some sidekicks along the way. Adventure naturally ensues, and the story does a lovely job of examining the fact that “good” versus “bad” is not always a black-and-white concept. Jinx’s internal ruminations on the subject are particularly touching. Continue reading

“But I’m Not Tired!”

boy asleep with bookThe bedtime story already has been deeply planted in the early literacy landscape, the collective nostalgia and routines for tricking little ones into falling asleep. We have heard the benefits of reading to your baby bumpkins and terrible twosers daily touted near and far, but does the time of day a child is read to actually make any difference?

The answer is, um…well, probably. Maybe. Depends?

While there is some research on that question, obviously everyone is different. Personally, I am a big fan of the bedtime story, so what follows will be my case for the institution.

For one thing, your children are put to bed every day, so there’s a built-in “reminder” that allows reading to easily become part of a routine that’s already necessary. Plus, “bedtime story” rolls off the tongue a lot easier than, say, “after-school snack story.” If you have a snugglebunny or two who land closer to the reluctant side of the sleeper spectrum, sometimes a calming routine can help. According to chair of the Early Childhood Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Peter Gorski, M.D., the most cognitive benefits from reading are reaped when the child’s experience with books is enjoyable and associated with love, safety and comfort. Well, what is more loving and comfy than being tucked in, surrounded by a beloved stuffed animal or two, while mom and/or dad tell you a story? Letting your nugget choose the story they want to hear can be both a bedtime selling point and encourages a positive association with being read to. Continue reading

But Series-ously: Juvenile Historical Fiction

Book cover for With the Might of Angels, a book in the Dear America seriesConfession: One of the most satisfying questions to get from an early reader is something like, “I really liked so-and-so book, do you have any more like that?” when you know that yes, yes, burgeoning reader, you have picked a book in a series! Let’s get as many books as possible into your hot little hands! Read! Read, you young absorbent mind – read like the wind!

While I am a firm believer in the theory that whatever a child is reading, within the parameters of law and reason of course, is good because they are reading, it is such a cherry on top when there is an educational facet to these series. See? Interdisciplinary learning can be recreational fun! Okay, maybe don’t take it that far with your child/student/patron, as you’ll likely send them running from the stacks and your vicinity in general, but hopefully you see my point.

The further good news is that while the classics of juvenile historical fiction, such as the Little House on the Prairie series, are still popular and valuable, this particular genre has really expanded over the past decade or two, especially in series form. And again, that series factor can be crucial if you need to strike while the enthusiasm for reading – I mean, the iron – is hot.

An American Girl bookBesides becoming a mega-doll industry, American Girl has managed to pump out some (and by “some,” I actually mean “oodles of”) pretty good books that cover a wide range of American demographics, periods of time, geographical location, etc., while still retaining a relevance to things girls today experience. Continue reading

‘Ology: A Branch of Learning

Book cover for IllusionologyDo you have a young reader interested in fantastical subjects, such as wizards, vampires and pirates? We have the series for you. The books in the “Ology” series are located throughout our nonfiction collection, but don’t be fooled – they are not your typical encyclopedias. Common among books of this nature are a variety of illustrations and items to open, explore and touch (for example, ground dinosaur horn can be found in “Dinosaurology.”)

Similar to these “ology” books are the titles in the Girls’ Guides to Everything Unexplained series. These books provide information for young ladies on subjects such as wizards, mermaids, vampires, fairies and zombies. These titles also include manipulatives, stunning drawings and photographs. These books are great introductions for young readers to the world of nonfiction. Who says nonfiction can’t be just as fun as fiction? Seek out your nearest librarian for more information!