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Star Wars Reads Day 2015

photo of boy posing as Darth Vader. Star Wars Reads Day October 10, 2015

The force is strong in Manhattan, Kansas! On Saturday, October 10th, from 11:00am to 3:00pm, Manhattan Public Library will celebrate Star Wars Reads Day with an Empire-sized party for all ages.

For the second year, Manhattan Public Library is getting in on the fun of this national celebration with a full schedule of activities. The party begins at 11:00am in the auditorium with crafts and activities including Star Wars Trivia, a Yoda ears creation station, and selfie photo booths with costumed characters. Dress as your favorite character and make sure you enter the selfie contest by tagging the library @ManhattanPL for a chance to win Star Wars prizes!

Then, after you’ve made your Yoda ears, wear them to compete in the Yoda Impersonation Contest at 12:30.  Have courage you must!  Prizes will be awarded to the best impersonators in the kid, teen, and adult categories.

At 1:00pm, sit down for a few laughs at the Star Wars Spoofs screening, then cheer as the winners of the trivia contest are announced.

The fun doesn’t stop there! At 1:30, get your popcorn and Yoda soda, then settle in for a screening of the movie that started it all.

Star Wars Reads Day was started in 2012 by Lucasfilm and its publishing partners as a way to highlight the vast number of books written about Star Wars, its characters, and its universe. Last year, there were over 2,000 schools, bookstores, and (of course) libraries that marked the day with read-a-thons, movie showings, and creative activities that feature the beloved sci-fi series and its characters.

For more information visit the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue,  call (785) 776-4741 or email us at Find the library on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too.

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Super Reader Success

Readers in the Manhattan Public Library’s 2015 summer reading program broke all the records. This year, 2,488 kids younger than age 13 read an impressive total of 950,197 minutes. Teen reading doubled, with a total of 625,941 minutes read by 428 participants between the ages of 12-17, and adult participation reached an all-time high with 526 people over the age of 18 joining the fun.

Assistant Director John Pecoraro attributes the success to effective outreach efforts in schools, excitement about the new children’s library, and an increased effort to include teens and adults in the program.

Prizes were also a big incentive for participation.  For the first time, the library was able to reward kids with two free books when they reached different reading goals. Thanks to generous donations, including a grant from the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, the library gave 2,800 free books to kids and 263 free books to teens.  Librarians will search for special funding opportunities for the 2016 program with the hope of providing prize books again next year.

Books weren’t the only fun prizes awarded to readers. Local businesses donated gift certificates for ice cream cones, donuts, chocolates, sandwiches, and passes to Sunset Zoo, the Flint Hills Discovery Center, and Exploration Place in Wichita.  Summer reading wouldn’t be possible without their support.

Teens also had a chance to enter special prize drawings this year. For every 250 minutes of reading time, teens could drop a ticket into the prize basket of their choice. Prizes such as movie passes, pizza, and gift certificates helped make reading exciting for kids ages 12-17. For the grand prize, every teen who completed the 1,000 minute reading challenge was entered into a drawing for two Kindle Fire HDs.

The adults were just as excited as the kids.  One library patron tweeted “Can’t wait! I usually get my year’s goal done during the summer reading program!” Special prizes such as custom floral arrangements, t-shirts, and gift certificates to local restaurants provided extra incentive for adult readers.  Participants logged their progress in number of hours or number of books, and set a fantastic example for kids by showing how much fun reading can be at any age.

“Summer reading is all about fun. Everyone gets to choose what books to read, earn exciting prizes, and visit the library for fun activities.  By making sure reading is fun, we can help foster a life-long love of reading that will bring countless benefits.” says Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager.

Activities are also a big part of the fun.  The new children’s library was filled with kids attending summer storytimes, clubs, and special events.  Attendance by more than 3,300 kids and 174 teens was recorded for library events in June and July.

Summer is definitely the busiest time of year at the library, and all the extra activities would not be possible without the help of volunteers.  24 teen volunteers donated a total of 698 hours this summer.  Volunteers kept busy helping with storytimes, staffing the prize desk, and creating crafts for kids’ activities.  Adult volunteers donate time to the library every week, assisting librarians with a variety tasks and activities and allowing staff the time to conduct special events.

This year’s theme “Every Hero Has a Story” let kids, teens, and adults show their super reading powers. The city can rest assured, knowing that thousands of super kids will start school with improved reading skills, ready to learn and conquer the curriculum this fall.

Summer reading will begin again in June 2016. Businesses or organizations interested in sponsoring the program should contact Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager, at or (785) 776-4741 ext. 156.

The library would like to give special thanks to all of the 2015 sponsors: Manhattan Library Association, Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, Pediatric Associates of Manhattan, Applebees, Carmike Cinemas, Chick-Fil-A, Chili’s, Coaching for Literacy, The Dusty Bookshelf, Exploration Place Wichita, Flint Hills Discovery Center, Hazel Hill Chocolates, Manhattan Kiwanis Club, Noodles & Company, Panera Bread, Papa John’s Pizza, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N Bake Pizza, Pizza Hut, Ray’s Apple Market, Sunset Zoo, Taco Bell, Target, Varsity Donuts, Vista Drive In, Westloop Floral, Wheat State Pizza, and Which Wich.

child holding prizes from summer reading 2015

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Electronic Devices and Resources for Kids

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

Tired of your child making off with your iPad, tablet or phone?  Soon the library will have kids’ tablets available for check out, preloaded with fun and engaging learning apps for children as young as 3 years old. Playaway has come out with a new product called the Launchpad, a tablet created for libraries to circulate. While many tablets or devices for kids work fine at home, Launchpad touts durability and security as top qualities that make it possible for libraries to lend them out.

The library will eventually have 30 Launchpads available for check out this fall, each with a different theme and various apps for a target age group of 3-5 years, 5-7 years or 8-10 year olds.  The state library has also acquired some Launchpads for a “floating collection” throughout the state, which will be available through interlibrary loan to all libraries in Kansas.

“Beep Beep, Vroom Vroom” is the theme for a Launchpad that will be available at Manhattan Public Library. It includes apps for ages 3-5 for learning letters and numbers, exploring colors and solving puzzles with games featuring cars, trucks and other vehicles. The “Little Picasso” tablet for ages 5-7 encourages imagination and creativity with artistic games and stories.  For older kids, “Math Planet” will challenge their math skills as they explore the galaxy.

Science, reading, cooking, problem-solving and many other areas are covered in apps on different tablets, making each one unique and fun. You can place a request on a specific title if it is checked out.  Take one home for a week and see what the kids can do!

Library account holders also have access to two excellent online learning and literacy databases for kids: BookFlix and TumbleBooks.  Both resources are available through the library’s webpage with a valid library card number and password.

BookFlix is Scholastic’s read-along database with the wonderful Weston Woods video adaptations of popular children’s books.  You can choose “read-along” mode so the words will show up along with the video, highlighting each word as it is read.  They stay completely true to the storybooks, just enhancing the illustrations to create movement, and often well-known actors are the narrators.  “All the World” is favorite picture book of mine, and Scanlon’s poetic text is heightened with narration by Joanne Woodward and the perfect background music touches.  My kids’ favorite is Kate & Jim McMullan’s “I’m Dirty,” the muddy story of a busy backhoe, narrated by Steve Buscemi. Each of their high-quality videos is paired with a nonfiction book that relates to the topic. Kids can try out links to simple games related to story comprehension, a Meet the Author link, and more web pages that are approved by Scholastic.

TumbleBooks is similar to BookFlix and has been around for a while, with many of the local schools using it to enhance language arts and reading skill building.  It also has created videos by animating picture books but still retaining the book-like quality of the stories. You can let the story play in read aloud mode, or adjust the pacing to “manual” so your child can choose when to “turn the pages,” or even mute the narration so your child can read the story on his or her own.  Lots of popular titles are available including “Scaredy Squirrel,” “Mercy Watson” and all of Robert Munsch’s humorous stories narrated by the author. Longer chapter books are available for more advanced readers, including some classics such as “The Wind in the Willows.”  The interactive features make these literacy databases enjoyable for parents and children to view and play together.

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The Taller the Better: Bigger-than-life American Folk Heroes

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Is there anyone who doesn’t know the legend of Paul Bunyan? How it took five storks to deliver him, and how he formed the Grand Canyon by dragging his axe along behind him as he walked. The Paul Bunyan myth also explained the Great Lakes, formed as a watering hole for Paul’s Blue Ox, Babe.

Bunyan’s character originated in tales circulated among lumberjacks in the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada, possibly as early as the Papineau Rebellion of 1837. Michigan journalist, James MacGillivray, published the first Bunyan stories in 1906. William Laughead reworked the stories for a logging company’s advertising campaign in 1914. The 1922 edition of Laughead’s tales inspired a host of imitators and spread the Paul Bunyan legend far and wide.

Today young readers can learn about Paul Bunyan in several books including “Paul Bunyan: a Tall Tale,” by Steven Kellogg; and “The Tall Tale of Paul Bunyan,” by Martin Powell. In “The Story of Paul Bunyan,” Barbara Emberley tells the tall tale of the legendary woodsman, the biggest man who ever lived. His shirt buttons were wagon wheels, and his double-edged axe took an entire town a whole month to build.

Pecos Bill is another big man among American folk heroes. Pecos Bill was said to have fallen out of a covered wagon near the Pecos River in Texas. He was raised by coyotes, used a rattlesnake as a lasso, and his favorite food was dynamite. He rode a horse named Widow-maker, when he wasn’t riding a mountain lion, and he had a girlfriend by the name of Slue-foot Sue (who Pecos was smitten with when he saw her riding a giant catfish down the Rio Grande). Pecos Bill was actually the creation of Edward O’Reilly, who first published stories of the larger-than-life cowboy in 1917.

Young readers who want to know more about Pecos Bill should check out “Pecos Bill: a Tall Tale,” by Steven Kellogg, or “Pecos Bill, Colossal Cowboy,” by Sean Tulien.

John Henry was more powerful than a steam-powered hammer. This African-American steel-driver may have been based on a man who worked on and died at the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad’s Big Bend Tunnel around 1873. It could be that John Henry was based on a 20-year-old New Jersey-born African-American freeman, John William Henry. Henry drifted down to Virginia to work on the clean-up of the battlefields after the Civil War. Henry was arrested and tried for burglary, and released by the warden to work as leased labor on the railway. The story of John Henry is told in a classic folk song, which exists in many versions, and has been the subject of numerous stories, plays, books and novels. In “John Henry, Hammerin’ Hero,” by Stephanie True Peters, the bigger-than-life folk hero challenges a steam-powered steel driver to prove that he is the match for any machine.

Our own Johnny Kaw is younger than most other big men of American folklore. His legend was created in 1955 by George Filinger to celebrate Manhattan’s Centennial. He might be younger, but Johnny Kaw is no slouch. He dug the Kansas River Valley, planted wheat, invented sunflowers, and grew giant potatoes. Johnny Kaw chopped the tops off tornadoes and ended droughts by wringing out clouds. His pets were a wildcat and a Jayhawk (what else?), who caused the dust bowl with all their fighting. You can read more about this Kansas hero in several books including “Johnny Kaw: a Tall Tale,” by Devin Scillian, “Johnny Kaw: the Pioneer Spirit of Kansas,” by Jerri Garretson, and George Filinger’s own “The Story of Johnny Kaw: the Kansas Pioneer Wheat Farmer.”

Finally, editors David Leeming and Jake Page have gathered together the great myths and legends of America in “Myths, Legends, and Folktales of America: an Anthology.” Beginning with the creation stories of the first inhabitants, the editors reveal how waves of immigrants adapted their religion and folklore to help make sense of a new and strange land. This collection illuminates the myth making process, and sheds light on what it means to be American.

Today is Paul Bunyan Day, but the giant lumberjack and his big blue ox aren’t the only larger than life heroes in American folklore. “Every Hero Has a Story” is the theme of this year’s summer reading program. Visit Manhattan Public Library to read about your favorite hero.




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Reading is Your Superpower!

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

This summer, reading is your superpower! We are highlighting literacy and encouraging reading for all ages with our superhero summer reading program at the library.

Popular shows like Teen Titans Go, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ninjago have comic book series in our graphic novels neighborhood, along with many titles for the popular DC and Marvel characters.  Here are some more fun superhero books for kids:

The Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka has silly plot lines with the school lunch ladies saving the day using tools such as the mustard grappling hook, fish stick nunchucks, the spork phone, whisk whackers and the spatula-copter.  Watch Krosoczka’s TED talk to find out why lunch ladies and men are true heroes in our midst!

Sidekicks by Dan Santat is a longer stand-alone graphic novel with fabulous illustrations and an enticing story.  Captain Amazing is growing older and needs a new sidekick.  Unbeknownst to him, his pets decide to take on superhero personae and help him out.  With help from a former feline sidekick, the pet dog, hamster and chameleon learn some crime fighting skills, but will they be able to defeat an evil villain and save Captain Amazing? Prepare to have this book passed around among all your kids and their friends.

Squish by Jennifer and Matthew Holm features Squish the Amoeba as its main character. He is an ordinary amoeba, but he is inspired by his favorite comic book hero, Super Amoeba. While he may not be a superhero himself, somehow Squish and his best friend Pod end up finding courage to do the right thing, including saving their friend Peggy the Paramecium from the very hungry new kid in class.

These funny, action-packed graphic novels are a great fit for kids who say they don’t like to read.  It’s like sneaking spinach into the lasagna – they will enjoy reading, learn vocabulary words, and sharpen their skills for following both text and illustrations without complaining.  In fact, you might catch them trying to sneak in more reading time because they can’t wait to see what will happen next.

In our early chapter books row, there are plenty of exciting superhero books for kids at a second or third grade reading level. These chapter books are shorter, have larger text and still include frequent illustrations.  Stone Arch is a book publisher that has many options for this age group, including a series of DC Super Heroes chapter books that are 50-80 pages long with full color illustrations of favorite characters in action: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern.

Another fun option from this section is Captain Awesome by Stan Kirby.  Second-grader Eugene McGullicudy turns into an awesome super hero to solve crimes, protect his town and win the spelling bee.  Kids who like Captain Awesome will probably also enjoy Zapato Power by Jacqueline Jules, The Adventures of Jo Schmo by Greg Trine, and Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot books by Dav Pilkey, who also writes the ever popular series Captain Underpants.

Shannon Hale’s The Princess in Black is another great read with colorful illustrations by LeUyen Pham.  Princess Magnolia is a very proper princess taking tea with the Duchess Wigtower when her monster alarm rings.  She quickly excuses herself and does what princesses do not do: “Princesses do not stuff frilly pink dresses into broom closets…Princesses do not slide down secret chutes and high-jump castle walls,” but this princess has a secret. She is the Princess in Black, with a mask, cape, tall black boots and her tiara, of course.  Her job? Stopping the monsters who sneak up from Monster Land.  She is pretty good at it, and luckily book two in the series comes out this fall.

Super readers can still sign up for the library’s free summer reading program to earn coupons for free stuff around town and choose up to two free prize books to keep.  It is a fun way to encourage more reading for the whole family. More than 2,000 children and teenagers have already signed up, along with about 400 adults, and have logged more than 300,000 minutes of reading time!

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Summer Reading Begins May 30

Every Hero Has a Story summer reading theme

Summer reading has an important mission: to motivate kids, teens, and adults to read for fun, and help prevent learning loss while school is out. To accomplish this mission, the Manhattan Public Library has partnered with local businesses and organizations to give out great prizes for reading, such as free books, gift certificates to local restaurants, and passes to the Sunset Zoo and the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

The gift certificates and prizes for summer reading have been purchased by the Manhattan Library Association or donated by local businesses and organizations.  The library would like to thank these generous sponsors: Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, Pediatric Associates, Applebees, Carmike Cinemas, Chick-Fil-A, Chili’s, Coaching for Literacy, Exploration Place Wichita, The Dusty Bookshelf, Flint Hills Discovery Center, Hazel Hill Chocolates, Manhattan Kiwanis Club, Noodles & Company, Panera Bread, Papa John’s Pizza, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N Bake Pizza, Pizza Hut, Ray’s Apple Market, Sunset Zoo, Taco Bell, Target, Varsity Donuts, Vista Drive In, Westloop Floral, Wheat State Pizza, and Which Wich.

Last year more than 2,200 children, 370 teens, and 460 adults participated in the summer reading program and together logged more than 1,000,000 minutes of reading time. This year we hope to top all of those numbers.

Summer reading will begin with a huge kickoff party on May 30 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Visit the library for crafts, games, and a magic show with Ken Garwick starting at 11:00! Sign up for summer reading while you’re here, or sign up online. (Sign up links will become active May 25.)

The theme for 2015 is “Every Hero Has a Story,” and it’s all about heroes and adventure. After you sign up, simply keep track of the time you spend reading or listening to books in June and July to earn great prizes. Different prizes are earned based on your age group, and can be picked up at the library until August 1. People of all ages, from babies to grandparents, can participate in the summer reading program for free.

Exciting activities for kids and teens are also offered throughout June and July. All activities are free and open to the public. For more information about Storytimes, After Hours Parties, Summer Clubs, and all summer events, check the event schedule on the library’s website or pick up a calendar at the library.

Visit Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, call (785) 776-4741. You can also find the library on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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Celebrate Screen-Free Week May 4-10

Screen-free week is an annual, international celebration when families, schools, and communities swap digital entertainment for the joys of life beyond the screen. Instead of watching tv, surfing the web, or playing with apps, they read, play, think, create, get active, and spend time with family and friends.

Starting May 4, you and your children can participate by pledging to go seven days without using a screen. Talk about your pledge with family and friends, and help spread the word about the benefits of going screen-free. For activity ideas for all ages, download the free organizer’s kit at, or check out fun activities for babies at Lemon Lime Adventures.

You are invited to bring your children to the library anytime to explore activities and check out a bag of books to take home. We’re also hosting a special storytime for kids age 0-5 on Thursday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. Join us for a fun evening of stories, songs, and dancing!

When we stop to consider the amount of time we spend using screens, it becomes a little shocking. On average, preschool children spend over four and a half hours a day consuming screen media, while older children spend over seven hours a day in front of a screen (including multitasking). Excessive screen time is linked to a number of problems for children, including childhood obesity, poor school performance, and problems with attention span. Try going screen-free for a week and see how it changes your life!

Screen-Free Week (formerly TV-Turnoff) is coordinated by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a national advocacy organization devoted to reducing the impact of commercialism on children. Since the Week’s founding in 1994, it has been celebrated by millions of children and their families worldwide. For more information, visit Local participation in Screen-Free Week is organized by USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden Parents as Teachers.

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ZOOfari Tails Storytime: Llama Drama

cover art for Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna DewdneyThe next ZOOfari Storytime is this Friday, April 24 at 10:00 a.m., and it’s all about llamas! Bring your kiddos ages 0-5 to the library on Friday  to hear Mr. Brian and staff from the Sunset Zoo read the stories Maria had a Llama, Llama Llama Red Pajama, and Is Your Mama a Llama. We’ll sing and dance to fun llama songs and rhymes, too! Plus, zoo staff will bring animal biofacts to share.

Since ZOOfari is so popular, you may need a few extra minutes to find a parking spot. We hope to see you there!

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A Playful Destination

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

kids climbing on furniture in children's room

The new layout of the Children’s Room has provided opportunity for more interactive features to engage children while they are at the library looking for books, learning about something new, or just playing. Having time to play and pretend is important to a child’s cognitive, social and emotional development, from early childhood on. With busy schedules and more structured activities, spending a few hours at the library can be the perfect time to encourage children’s freedom. They can choose from thousands of books to look through, play with different games or activities, or draw their parents into some free play as well.

Kids using the Beginning Readers and Early Chapter Books area are learning to read or becoming more confident readers. Some fun activities we have had on the magnet/dry erase board include Mad Libs with magnet words to fill in the blanks, and letter stencils to trace and spell. Now, kids can try out a Velcro rhyming tree by sticking leaves with rhyming words on the same branch. Finding fun ways to play with language and words gives kids another way to practice their reading.

In the Arts and Crafts Neighborhood, a craft project is always available at the table. We have used fun die-cut shapes for kids to create pictures, cards, door hangers, headbands and other take-home crafts. To celebrate spring, kids can glue cut-outs of the stages of a growing plant, from a seed under the soil to a tall, leafy stem.

This craft leads nicely into our Science and Nature area next door. One or two games or manipulatives are available at a table or from the Children’s Desk to encourage kids to build, experiment or test their science knowledge. For example, kids can build the “food chain” in order with Mega Bloks, or put together an intricate Lego machine from the Lego Crazy Action Contraptions Set.

Creativity abounds with children, and new outlets for their ideas are exciting. In another section, children are encouraged to create their own comics, using dry erase crayons on the Graphic Novels Neighborhood sign. Blank comic book panels encourage kids to draw and write a short comic strip. Some of our favorites have included librarian superheroes!

The gear wall in the Transportation area is a fun experiment for kids of all ages. Magnetic gears have to be connected to reach a pulley that will spin an airplane propeller high on the wall. Some skill is involved, since the gears tend to slip away if they are turning too fast. We’ve watched kids try different tactics until they get it going just right.

In the Geography space, a two-foot diameter globe with more than 1000 place names spins at just the right height for young knowledge seekers. Families who have moved here from abroad or visited places around the world love finding beloved spots on the globe, and sometimes kids just like to spin it and see where their fingers land. A unique feature is that the globe does not use conventional North American names for places, so Germany is Deutsche Land and China is Zhong Guo, giving children a chance to learn more about the world.

Our History area contains a large portion of the children’s nonfiction and is another great stop along the way. A bulletin board highlights historical facts or events, and a display case showcases special items. Currently, kids can view a collection of vintage model cars and trucks with amazing detail, on loan from Doug Schoning.

Slide down to the Animals Neighborhood to get a glimpse of a baby ball python, borrowed from Sunflower Pets. Our pet snake enjoys basking under the heat lamp, resting in a pool of water, or hanging out under her log. Earlier this winter, two Oriental fire-bellied toads occupied this space, and we hope to switch out with a new pet every few months.

The Fairy Tale and Folklore Neighborhood is a popular stop, with dress-up clothes to reenact stories or make up a new one. It is common to find moms, dads or grandparents sitting on the fairytale bench with a tiara or a wolf hat on their heads. Kids love to see their parents dressed up and playing along.

Putting on puppet shows is another favorite activity in our Early Literacy Center, along with magnet and felt board manipulatives and a variety of puzzles. A table dedicated to “6 By 6” early literacy skills includes fun activities for preschoolers revolving around a great children’s picture book. This month, it is Andy Rash’s “Are You a Horse?” with options to act out the story using puppets and stuffed animals, as well as “sewing” the letters for the word HORSE with mini lassoes.

Each area of the Children’s Room features wonderful collections of books to keep kids interested and coming back for more. We love seeing the library used, not just a stop on the way somewhere else, but a destination – a place to hang out for a while and spend some quality time together.

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Nonfiction for Young Readers

By Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

When you think about your reading life as a child, do you remember going through phases?  Maybe you couldn’t get enough of the Berenstain Bears as a preschooler?  Maybe there was a time when Nancy Drew was the only fiction you would read?  A lot of readers might remember devouring nonfiction in the early elementary years.  This trend is still true today, with boys and girls alike asking for nonfiction throughout their elementary years.  Publishing companies invested in children’s reference books have made great strides in producing quality material for all ages.  In the Children’s Room, we have nonfiction books for preschoolers, sixth graders, and every age in between.  Here are some great series of books to consider for your young nonfiction reader.

dk“DK Kids”:  Dorling Kindersley is the world’s leading illustrated reference publisher, and it is very apparent in their kids’ publications.  DK Eyewitness books are aimed at older elementary readers and teens, while DK Eyewonder books are intended for younger elementary readers.  Full of color pictures and information on subjects like animals and history, these books are perfect for children wanting to explore new topics.

“Let’s Read and Find Out Science”: Books in this series range from topics on weather and the earth, to how our bodies work.  Hand-drawn illustrations are used, helping children to transition from picture books to nonfiction.  These books are shorter, intended for preschoolers or younger elementary age students.

“National Geographic Kids”: The National Geographic Society has a wealth of information and photos about the world around us, so it should come as no surprise that their children’s publications are stellar.  The titles are a great stepping stone for early readers, as they each contain a picture glossary, captions, and large text.  This series comes in four reading levels, allowing students to “graduate” to the next level of reading but stay in the same format of book.  National Geographic Kids also has many titles for older readers, such as bird guides, almanacs, and atlases.

“You Wouldn’t Want To” series: Aimed at older readers starting to think critically about science and history, this series examines what it was like to live at a certain time period.  Titles include “You Wouldn’t Want To Sail with Christopher Columbus” or “You Wouldn’t Want To Work on the Great Wall of China.”  Told in second-person narrative, these books allow readers to truly enter into the lives of people in history.

amelia“Childhood of Famous Americans”: This series explores the early years of important American figures.  Though each book is a fictionalized account of one life, the stories are true to the values and experiences of Americans during that time.  Readers can find out what gave Thurgood Marshall a passion for justice, or what made Mark Twain such a gifted and honest writer.

If your children are interested in nonfiction reading, make it a priority to encourage them down this path.  There is so much to learn about history, nature, and how things work.  If you don’t know where to start, ask a librarian.  We will be your advocates in exploring this part of your child’s reading life.



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