Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Staff Picks

Parent Category of Picks

Black History Month 2021

Today is the first day of Black History Month! According to Britannica Library for Children:

The month of February is African American History Month, also known as Black History Month, in the United States. It was first celebrated in 1926 as Negro History Week. It was created to highlight the contributions Blacks have made to American history and culture. Within a few decades, the event had become an important part of African American life and had spread throughout the country. The United States government declared it a monthlong celebration in 1976.

You can learn more about Black history by researching in our online databases, or come into the library and check our display on Black History Month, which features just a handful of the materials we have about the achievements and history of Black Americans.

Black History Month books
the Black History Month display in youth services

You might also enjoy checking out our Black Joy reading recommendations, featuring many #OwnVoices* authors.

*The term #OwnVoices was coined by the writer Corinne Duyvis, and refers to an author from a marginalized or under-represented group writing about their own experiences/from their own perspective, rather than someone from an outside perspective writing as a character from an underrepresented group. (thanks to Seattle Public Library for this concise definition.)

Christina Soontornvat

Christina Soontornvat
photo by Sam Bond Photography

Back in October, Christina Soontornvat visited MPPL to talk about her Diary of an Ice Princess series. Today she won several awards from the American Library Association for two of her other books!

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, published by Candlewick, won a Newbery Honor, a Siebert Honor, and was a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. A Wish in the Dark, also published by Candlewick Press, won a Newbery Honor.

While youth services staff knew about Christina’s books, we probably wouldn’t have booked her for a virtual author visit if we hadn’t had some encouragement from one of our patrons.

In the summer, staff presented a program called Fandom Friends, and the first program featured the popular series Dogman by Dav Pilkey. At the end of the program, staff encouraged the participants to please reach out if there were other popular series or characters they’d enjoy having a library program about. Patron Jackie quickly reached out to library staff with a request for a program about her daughter’s favorite book series, Diary of an Ice Princess. She explained that her daughter, Brooklyn, was such a fan of the books, and would love to meet the author. She thought other kids would be interested, too, and asked library staff if they could coordinate a vist with Christina. We said we would love to!

Christina was offering free thirty minute visits for groups who had read and discussed her books, so we reached out to her to book a visit. Christina was so great to work with and really excited about meeting kids who loved her books!

We scheduled two events for this fun series: a virtual visit with the author, and a book party to discuss the books and get ready for the author meetup. Jackie was happy to help spread the word, and many of the kids in attendance were friends of Brooklyn’s and also big fans of the books. We ordered additional copies of books in the series and put up a display with flyers. All the books were checked out by the day of the program! Staff also emailed a flyer to schools, created a Facebook event post plus an extra post with a video about the author, as well as word of mouth and social media shares from tpatrons. All of these efforts really helped! Feedback after the program told us that 4 attendees heard about the event from a friend, 3 from library staff, 6 from Facebook, and 10 from their teacher or school. 

Twenty-five people attended the book party on October 5 and 14 came back to Zoom with us and Christina two days later. Many kids had books with them and were super excited to share their favorite characters and things about the Diary of an Ice Princess series. Christina was so fun to talk to! She and the kids talked about their favorite characters and plots, and even tossed around ideas for what Christina can write about in future books in the series.  

After the programs, Jackie reached out to thank us. “Brooklyn had a fantastic time at the Diary of an Ice Princess event yesterday!  Thank you again for organizing-it was really great for her to have a chance to talk about the books she loves so much!” wrote Jackie. “Thank you so much for reaching out to coordinate this.” We also thanked Jackie for reaching out to share the idea with us! We love to hear from our patrons and create programs that they will enjoy.

You can learn more about Christina and her books at her website, soontornvat.com. You can also look for her books in our catalog and place them on hold!

If you have an idea for a program you’d like the Youth Services staff to consider, please email us at KidsRead@mppl.org. We can’t promise to take every suggestion, but we will try our best!

Meet Chicago Author Amy Alznauer

meet Chicago author Amy Alzauer

Join us for a fun evening with Chicago author Amy Alznauer! Amy has written several books for children, but this event will focus on her book The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity. This book tells the story of Ramanujan a boy who lived in India in the 1800s and loved math but didn’t enjoy school, but he ended up having a huge impact on modern mathematics. You’ll have to read the story to find out how! During the zoom event, we’ll hear about Amy’s writing process, play some fun math games, and answer questions that you have for Amy about her book or what it is like to be a writer!

You can read or listen to the book on Hoopla! There is a read-along version, a movie version, and an audiobook version!

Make sure you register! We can’t wait for you to meet Amy!

Amy made a special video greeting just for MPPL!

Inauguration Day Resources

entry on Inauguration Day from Britannica Library for Children
The entry on Inauguration Day from Britannica Library for Children

Inauguration Day in the United States is the day when the person elected to be president officially takes office.

Learn more about the history of this event and the incoming president and vice-president by checking out this list of resources. You can also find lots of information in our online resources, like Britannica Library for Children.

There will also be a live stream of the event on YouTube designed for young people, hosted by Keke Palmer, which you can watch here.

Youth Services staff have also gathered some resources that might be helpful if your children are asking you questions about recent current events.

GoNoodle’s post addresses how to talk about tough topics overall.

While this Teaching Tolerance post about talking about complicated subjects is directed at classroom teachers, it is also useful for parents and caregivers.

National Public Radio has a piece on how to talk to kids specifically about the riot at the Capitol, as well as a more comprehensive post about talking about civics and current events more broadly.

Youth Services staff are here for you. If you need resources or information about any topic, please reach out to KidsRead@mppl.org or call the library and we’ll be happy to help.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday became a federal holiday in 1986, and by 2000 all fifty states made it a state government holiday. In 1994, Congress designated it as a day of service, and since then Americorps has led the effort to connect people with volunteering opportunities on this day.

pebblego Martin Luther King, Jr. bio
screen shot of PebbleGo, an online resource for beginning readers

Learn more about Martin Luther King Jr’s life and work by looking him up in one of our many online resources, including PebbleGo for the youngest learners, and Bookflix, which pairs fiction titles with nonfiction titles to fully explore a topic.

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screenshot of Bookflix, a resource that pairs fiction with nonfiction titles for children

We also have plenty of print materials available! See some of them here, place a hold, and schedule a parking lot pick-up appointment!

You can also check out books that have won the Coretta Scott King book award. From the American Library Association’s site: “The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.”

Find Coretta Scott King author award winning books here, and illustrator winners here.