Children's Bookshelf - January 2017
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Take a Stand By Learning About Black History
by Marie Jarry

“The time is always right to do what is right.”
        – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 15 marks what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 88th birthday, and in February we celebrate Black History Month. These books are a wonderful way to introduce children to the Civil Rights Movement and other important moments in African-American history.

Martin’s Big Words
by Doreen Rappaport
This beautifully illustrated picture book biography is a perfect introduction to King’s life. It follows him as a little boy growing up in the South, to the march in Montgomery and, finally, his untimely death. The powerful text is meaningful for all ages. Bryan Collier’s watercolor and collage illustrations are striking, and sure to spark as much conversation as the words themselves.

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down

by Andrea Davis Pinkney
This compelling picture book tells the story of the historic 1960 Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in by four college students in Greensboro, NC. Davis Pinkney skillfully weaves recipe metaphors throughout her story as she depicts their struggles. The author’s husband, Brian Pinkney, created the beautiful, watercolor illustrations.

28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World

by Charles R. Smith, Jr.
Admitting that he has a “love-hate relationship with Black History Month,” Smith decided to trace 28 important moments (one for each day in February) in African-American history. He begins with Crispus Attucks, the first man shot in the Boston Massacre in 1770, and ends with Barack Obama’s inauguration on January 20, 2009. Written in various poetic forms, each entry also gives supplemental background information about the person and event.


by Shane W. Evans
This books stands out for the way its simple text and bold images combine to create a powerful impact. Narrated by escaping slaves, this is a good introduction to the Underground Railroad. Journey with a family seeking their freedom, from the darkness into the light.

I am Rosa Parks

by Brad Meltzer
Written in a comic book style, this easy-to-read biography is narrated in the first-person by Rosa, herself. The visual format helps younger children relate to Parks as a little girl, and puts them in the scene with her. Meltzer has done other biographies in this style, including ones on Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet

by Nancy I. Sanders
A is for Abolitionists. G is for Great Migration. T is for Tuskeegee Airmen. Each letter is accompanied by a short, narrative paragraph, which can be shared with younger children, along with a longer, more informative sidebar for older kids who feel they have outgrown ABC books (and adults too).

The Story of Ruby Bridges

by Robert Coles
This year marks the 57th anniversary of Ruby Bridges becoming the first African-American child to integrate New Orleans schools. Coles’ powerful narrative will put you right there with Ruby hearing the shouts while being walked to school by federal marshals. Though the story ends a bit abruptly, there is an afterword with more information.

Events at the Hartford Public Library

The Hartford Public Library has programs and activities for kids of all ages at locations throughout the city. An up-to-date calendar of events can be found on the library’s website.

Our Leap Into Learning program offers a variety of services and programs for parents, caregivers and their children from birth-age 5. We invite you to join us for story time at our downtown location every Monday and Friday from 11 a.m.-noon, then enjoy our play area with toys especially designed to entertain and educate your little one.

You can check out one of our Launchpad Learning Tablets — the pre-loaded tablet for kids only! We also have Sprout Learning Backpacks available to take home. Each backpack contains books and toys centered on a theme that will help you and your child read and grow together.

Early childhood educators are invited to join our workshop on February 10 at 10:30 a.m. and noon focusing on The Big Idea and Essential Questions. The program assists educators by focusing their teaching on helping students gain that deeper understanding using Big Ideas and Essential Questions. Discover how this workshop can guide your units of study.

We are also offering a workshop on Friday, March 17 at 10:30 a.m. and noon on Creative Art, Music and Movement. Learn how to provide activities that are based on children’s interests and ideas using a wide range of creative materials and experiences. Being creative is more than drawing or painting. There’s also photography, music, field trips, working with wire, clay, paper, wood and more.

The Hartford Public Library is located at 500 Main Street in Hartford. For more information or to register, email our Early Literacy Librarian Rajranie Busgith at, call 860-695-6373 or visit

Marie Jarry is the Youth and Family Services Director for the Hartford Public Library.





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