Thursday, November 1, 2018

#OwnVoices or, Walking a Mile in Another’s Shoes

November is a busy time: there’s Election Day, the start of the holiday season, never-ending piles of leaves to rake, and one less hour of daylight to do it all! While normally we would never want to add more to your already overflowing plate, we’d like to pose a challenge to you this month: read an #ownvoices book.

Before we go on, you may be wondering what an #ownvoices book is. You may have already seen the hashtag floating around social media, or this may be a totally new term for you. It’s simple. An #OwnVoices book is a book written about a marginalized group by a member of that marginalized group. Historically, the children’s publishing industry has been dominated largely by white, straight, cisgendered males despite the fact that those actually consuming children’s literature represent a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.

Books have the power to act as both mirrors and windows for children. It is critical for children to not only see their own experiences reflected in what they read, but to also learn about the experiences of those living completely different lives. Kayla Whaley, a novelist, essayist, and editor at Disability in Kidlit, articulates this point especially well in a post on Brightly:

Even when portrayals of diverse characters by majority-group authors are respectfully and accurately done, there’s an extra degree of nuance and authority that comes with writing from lived experience. Those books that are #OwnVoices have an added richness to them precisely because the author shares an identity with the character. The author has the deepest possible understanding of the intricacies, the joys, the difficulties, the pride, the frustration, and every other possible facet of that particular life — because the author has actually lived it.

You can read Kayla’s full post here.

Below, we’ve listed some #OwnVoices books you can check out in GMPL’s Children’s Department. Additionally, in celebration of National Native American Heritage Month, we have a display of books written by Native American authors on the shelves across from the train table you won’t want to miss!

Click the title of the book or call us at the Library (440-926-3317) to place a hold on it.

All descriptions are from Goodreads.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood.

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story's heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

 The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Corinne La Mer isn't afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They're just tricksters parents make up to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest. Those shining yellow eyes that followed her to the edge of the trees, they couldn't belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

When Corinne spots a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch at the market the next day, she knows something unexpected is about to happen. And when this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne's house, cooking dinner for Corinne's father, Corinne is sure that danger is in the air. She soon finds out that bewitching her father, Pierre, is only the first step in Severine's plan to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and learn to use ancient magic she didn't know she possessed to stop Severine and save her island home.
 El Deafo by Cece Bell

Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece's class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends. 

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school--in the hallway...in the teacher's lounge...in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it's just another way of feeling different... and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

 Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

Stella lives in the segregated South; in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can't. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn't bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they're never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella's community - her world - is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don't necessarily signify an end.


Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bong√≥s. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

 Amina's Voice by Hena Khan

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

 The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin

When Pacy's mom tells her that this is a good year for friends, family, and "finding herself," Pacy begins searching right away. As the year goes on, she struggles to find her talent, deals with disappointment, makes a new best friend, and discovers just why the Year of the Dog is a lucky one for her after all.

 The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly’s always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward.

His path isn’t clear—and the pressure to join a “crew,” as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape—and an unexpected bridge back to the world. 

 I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

On a simple trip to the park, the joy of music overtakes a mother and daughter. The little girl hears a rhythm coming from the world around her- from butterflies, to street performers, to ice cream sellers everything is musical! She sniffs, snaps, and shakes her way into the heart of the beat, finally busting out in an impromptu dance, which all the kids join in on!

 Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. 


Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

 The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.

Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?

 One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Summer 2018's Greatest Hits

While summer vacation still has a few weeks left, since the official summer reading program is over, the library has been quieter and we've had a little bit of extra time to do some research and find out what kids loved to check out this summer. Thankfully we have access to a program that does the bulk of the grunt work, but we decided to make a fun infographic to showcase these titles. Some we weren't surprised by (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Minecraft, and Fly Guy, for example), but others in the lead gave us some valuable insight into what our youngest readers are enjoying. We use these reports to help us figure out what to include in our collection as well as what we shouldn't include any longer.

Without further ado, here are this summer's greatest hits. Click the links below the infographic to place a hold on any of these titles, and enjoy the last few weeks of your summer!







Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Muscle We Can't Forget to Exercise: Our Brains!

One of the many reasons libraries have summer reading programs is to help prevent "summer slide", or the loss of knowledge that occurs during the several months of summer vacation. Our brain is a muscle, and just like any other muscle, it needs to be regularly exercised to stay in shape!

The children's librarians at GMPL love finding new books to add to our collection, whether it's the next Owl Diaries or a Caldecott contender, a gripping graphic novel or a biography bursting with interesting facts. One great thing about reading is that, no matter what you choose to curl up with, your brain is getting that workout it craves.

Our nonfiction section in particular has gotten some awesome books recently that provide many opportunities for hands-on learning far removed from sitting at a desk copying down facts. From creating and uploading your own videos to genealogy, we have something for everyone. Check out some of our favorites below. To place one of these books on hold, simply click the title of the book or call us at 440-926-3317.

My Weird School Fast Facts: Dinosaurs, Dodos, and Woolly Mammoths by Dan Gutman (J/NF 560 Gut)











Make and Upload Your Own Videos by Karen Latchana Kenney (J/NF 777.38 Ken)











National Geographic Kids Guide to Genealogy by T.J. Resler (J/NF 929.1 Res)










Real Stories from My Time: Pearl Harbor by Jennifer Swanson (J/NF 940.54 Swa)












Who Is the Dalai Lama? by Dana Meachen Rau (J/BIO DALAI LAMA)











Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker's Story
by Joseph Bruchac (J/BIO NEZ)












There's also still plenty of time to sign up for our summer reading programs (kids, teens, and adults). We may be biased, but the kid's program is especially cool because you get to collect beads for every 20 minutes you read! Stop into the Library to sign up today.