Saturday, January 18, 2014

Celebrating The Life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 20th, 2014 we honor Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his life's work- helping create freedom and equality for all, regardless of race.  
Beginning in 1983, the third Monday in January of each year serves as a reminder of King's determination to seek social justice.  President Obama has made his annual proclamation, an important announcement marking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a federal holiday.  

King achieved many great accomplishments and his inspiring I Have a Dream speech, made during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, may be his most famous. Another notable oration is his Nobel Peace Price acceptance speech. King's Letter from Birmingham Jail  is also very well known and historically important to the Civil Rights Movement in America.

King's day of remembrance is a remarkable call to action, and citizens are encouraged to spend the day giving back to others and their communities.  This day of recognition offers many opportunities to celebrate King's legacy, such as signing up to volunteer on a community service project.  Serving on King Day helps communities come together by removing barriers to success, helping to solve social issues, and strengthens our bonds as 'a beloved community'.  You can also search for service projects in your area by using the All For Good web site.

For more information on Dr. King, check out the King Center and The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.

We are so pleased to see many books highlighting Dr. King's inspiring life for children.  We'd like to share some of our favorites with you!

 Kadir Nelson's beautiful paintings help illustrate King's famous speech, I Have a Dream.  This book also comes with a CD so readers can hear the speech in its entirety.  

Family and friends of King came together to create this wonderful homage, Martin Luther King, Jr. A King Family Tribute.  His siblings, friends, and extended family members share special memories, photographs, and even letters exchanged in this book.

 We have Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney to thank for the gem Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song.  Bringing together King's spoken word and Mahalia Jackson's gospel songs, readers can recognize how powerful voices can be. Calling for change and asking others to join in, they both used their gift for good.  

I'd like to finish with my personal favorite, a book where King's impact and dedication to change are seen to fruition.  Dr. King's powerful words helped facilitate positive social changes, as seen in Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, again by the Pinkney duo.  King is quoted throughout this picture book, and his vision for peaceful unity is seamlessly integrated with Andrea Davis Pinkney's lyrical writing.  My favorite part is the very end when we are given a successful 'recipe for integration'. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Winter Reading With Your Family: Teens

What a frigid winter week it has been! Schools have been closed the past couple days and everyone has been staying safely tucked inside their homes. Hopefully you have been taking advantage of this confining weather and read some great books! I know that I have been spending more time than usual curled up on the couch with a blanket and book. This week, we are highlighting some great teen titles to read in this icy cold weather.

 Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne (HarperTeen, 2007).                                       A light-hearted romance set in the car-less land of Mackinac Island near Michigan with wonderfully realistic characters. A great vacation read if you are still in that easy going mindset!

 Whispering to Witches by Anna Dale (Bloomsbury USA Children's, 2005).    A boy encounters witches while spending his Christmas holiday with his mother and stepfather in snowy Canterbury, England. A great fantasy choice for tweens as well as older teens, especially those who are Harry Potter fans.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin's Griffin, 2013).
Two misfits fall in love, bonding over comics, alternative music and mutual awkwardness. This realistic and touching story set in 1986 also tackles mature themes such as bullying and abuse, with an ending sure to warm your heart. 

Blankets by Craig Thompson ( Top-Shelf Productions, 2003).
At 592 pages this graphic novel may seem intimidating, but fear not! This wonderfully personal coming of age story, featuring Craig himself as a boy in blustery Wisconsin, is sure to fly by quickly even for reluctant high school readers.

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) by Phillip Pullman (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996).
 A thrilling fantasy that follows orphaned pre-teen Lyra as she ventures to find her kidnapped friend and uncle, complete with danger, witch encounters (both good and bad) and a helpful armored polar bear. Another great read for tweens and teens, it will be hard for them to not race through the next two books in this trilogy.