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Children's Bookshelf - Archives

December 2020: Beyond the Giving Tree

by Lydia Holland, E.C. Scranton Library, Madison

As the giving season begins, I often get patrons asking me for book recommendations on the act of giving. Sometimes, they ask me for the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. A classic, to be sure, but a story that always makes me feel a little sad for the tree. She gives (and gives, and gives, and gives) until she’s nothing but a lonely stump. And what does she get in return? Not much. Yes, she loves the boy and that’s why she gives unconditionally, and that can be a good lesson for children. Sometimes you give, and get nothing in return, and the point is the giving. But the tree doesn’t seem to find much happiness in giving.   When I recommend books with the theme of giving, I like to focus on ones where someone gives joyfully and is changed in the process for the better. Mostly, this change is intangible; there is joy in generosity in and of itself, and giving doesn’t always mean receiving something material in return. It’s about what the giver can learn about themselves and the world around them in the process. The following books focus on the act of giving and the joy it brings for kids of all ages. 

November 2020: Why Love Can't Wait Until Valentine's
by Clivel Charlton, Silas Bronson Library, Waterbury

 “What the world needs now is love sweet love, it's the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love sweet love. No, not just for some but for everyone”; lyrics from the timeless pop song by Dionne Warwick. Even Stevie Wonder can see that many of us are not being fair, do not like to share, and refuse to be kind. Where is the love? Where is cupid when we need him? Young children may not quite grasp what is happening around them yet, but they have an innate feeling that something is wrong. Children are observing how we interact with each other. They are hearing the discussions at the dinner table. They are seeing the frustration on their parents’ faces while they are watching the news. Our children are asking about the signs on neighbors’ lawns; the positive ones, and the destructive ones. Our kids are watching our actions, so maybe it is time for us grownups to act like adults. Let the children see us acting lovingly and peacefully. Let us show them that we can get along with each other. Let us give them a chance to learn to live with others. Love cannot wait until Valentine’s Day. The following books highlight love, kindness, sharing, and caring; these elements are prevalent in the books and reflect what humanity needs right now. Our children can benefit from these books.  

October 2020: Frightening Fiction

by Jane Manners, The Pequot Library, Southport

Autumn brings not just a full palette of fabulous fall colors, but a thrilling reminder that Halloween is right around the corner. As a way to celebrate, Southport’s Pequot Library invites children of all ages to take part in a spooky, safe and socially distanced scavenger hunt.   Registration for Pequot Library’s Halloween Scavenger Hunt begins October 1 and runs through October 30. Registration is required. You will be sent instructions on how to play, along with a spooktacular list of things to photograph. When you’re done, just email those photos as attachments to and you will receive confirmation of your submission. Those who successfully complete the challenge will be notified to pick up their treats at the library on Saturday, October 31 — Halloween! To get in the right mood for Halloween, we recommend some frightening fiction. Read if you dare.

September 2020: Go On an Adventure Without Leaving Home

by Alexandra Holley, Bristol Public Library, Bristol

As summer draws to a close, we reflect on all the fun we’ve had and the adventures we’ve gone on. This summer was certainly a unique one for children, parents and libraries. But despite all the changes we faced, libraries did their best to adapt. An adventure doesn’t have to be a grand journey. It can be learning a new skill, trying something different, or exploring close to home. For those of us missing a more traditional adventure, books still offer us the opportunity to travel to far off places and times. Here are some great adventure chapter book series to start off fall.

August 2020: Graphic Novels Galore

by Emily Mills, Cromwell Belden Public Library, Cromwell
In the past, graphic novels have often been given a bad rap with many not seeing them as “real books.” This couldn’t be further from the truth! Yes, graphic novels are full of pictures, but those images serve to teach children critical thinking, grab the attention of reluctant readers, bring the story to life and so much more. Graphic novels are excellent tools for teaching visual literacy in our increasingly visual society and, most importantly, they attract young readers like bees to honey. Below are some recently released graphic novels, sure to appeal to children of all ages.

June/July 2020: Imagine Your Story This Summer

by Deirdre Sullivan, Greenwich Library, Greenwich

Imagine your library. Some see the children’s room where their child took their first steps at story time, amidst rows of books, singing and laughter. Others see the learning lab where their child attended STEAM workshops and learned to code, knitted a scarf, or made their own paper-bag puppet. Maybe your family visited the library for book club discussions, homework help and music performances, or your child looked forward to sharing their favorite books with librarians and listen to their advice on what to read next.


May/June 2020: Emergent, Beginning & Early Readers: What Does It All Mean?

by Carly Lemire, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford

Do you have an emergent, beginning or early reader? All of these terms feel interchangeable and can make your head spin when school reading levels are thrown into the mix. Plus, publishers have produced their own ways to measure with MY FIRST READ, I CAN READ and more. It’s no surprise that we might not know where to begin.

April 2020: Buffet of Books

by Ashley Donecker, Manchester Public Library, Manchester

Who doesn’t love talking about food? From salads to donuts, these scrumptious stories have something for everyone!

March 2020: Turning Story Time into Art Class

by Audrey Heneage, New Canaan Library, New Canaan

One of my favorite things to do is to use the illustrations in a picture book to engage children’s creativity. Children’s book illustrators are incredible artists whose various techniques can be used to expose children to a range of artistic expression. By carefully choosing the level of the book and preparing materials appropriate for the age of the child, a successful experience can be had at most any age.

February 2020: Why Do We Read?

by Margaret Girgis, New Haven Free Public Library, New Haven

I think it is really important to consider this question when we are introducing children to books and to reading. Children, as we all know, are the masters of “Why?”; so before any lesson or experience, we should be ready with an answer to this very valid question. 

January 2020: Mystery at the Library

by Shana Shea, Windsor Public Library, Windsor

Suspense in literature, yes even children’s literature, is about capturing interest and creating anticipation. It’s important that the reader feels connected to the characters and what happens to them, whether the character is a dog, a girl, or a squirrel. What follows is a selection of varied, fun and suspenseful books for children of all ages.

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