This week is National Children's Book Week, and both Adair County librarians are enthusiastic about sharing the wealth of books they have.
Kathleen Connelly-Brown, Stilwell librarian, encourages families to take advantage of their time out of school to stop by and either renew their library cards or sign up for new ones.
“Reading for pleasure is a wonderful way to escape the difficulties in the world for a little while. We have so many terrific stories, knowledgeable staff, and the desire to help kids find just the right book to enjoy,” said Connelly-Brown.
With the holidays coming up, reading is a great way to spend "down" time, she said. The libraries always have new books available for checkout.
“We highlight them with a 'new books' display in each section, picture books, chapter books, fiction, graphic novels, etc. We do this to engage readers and catch the eye of our regular browsers so they can find the new books quickly and easily this way,” Connelly-Brown said.
The circulation of books for children remains about the same as pre-COVID, she said.
“We would love to have more kids discover the joys of reading for pleasure,” she said.
Some of Connelly-Brown’s favorite children's books are available at the library.
“I’m a big fan of nonfiction, so Steve Sheinkin is my favorite author of informational text for young people. He writes about American historical events in a way that is accessible and dramatic; it feels like reading fiction," she said "I'm also really into Jason Reynolds. His books have a modern feel and describe events with feelings kids are dealing with daily. He respects young people and speaks to them on their level through his writing. He just 'gets' kids and I admire that connection he has with his readers."
With COVID, the libraries undertake extra cleaning.
“We've always cleaned returned books, but now, we are also cleaning more in general: wiping down surfaces more frequently, door handles get wiped down regularly, and we clean computer stations between each use,” she said.
Staff are vigilant in washing hands and using hand sanitizer between washes. Masks are required for both staff and patrons, which helps slow the spread.
“I love children's books,” said Stephanie Freedle, branch manager at John F. Henderson Public Library in Westville. “I could come up with a huge list, but here are some of my newest favorites off the top of my head."
For picture books, she cites "Mootilda's Bad Mood" by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call.
“Mootilda is a cow that's just plain having a terrible day. We follow her through the day as she attempts to overcome each setback,” said Freedle.
"Llama Destroys the World" by Jonathan Stutzman is another good one.
“A hilarious book about a llama, his love for cake, his dancing pants, and how he destroys the world,” Freedle said.
The "Ranger in Time" series by Kate Messner is recommended.
“This series is all about an adventurous, time-traveling golden retriever who helps kids during real events in history, like on the Oregon Trail and during the American Revolution,” Freedle said.
And that's not even beginning to touch on the audiobooks and graphic novels they have, said Freedle.
“We have a little bit of everything for all reading levels and preferred means of engagement. I have seen many kids who aren't big readers get into audiobooks and graphic novels. Parents have told me about how their kid loves listening to books while building with LEGOs or how the whole family is able to get into a book together while riding in the car,” she said.
Besides just being great to read, graphic novels are often a great way to engage reluctant readers, she said.
“The combination of pictures and words really helps some kids engage with the material and make connections that strengthen their reading comprehension,” she said.
Overall, checkouts of physical items are down a little bit, but in addition to the physical collections, the libraries have large collections of online children's books.
“As a whole, our library system is seeing an increased use of the online children’s books,” Freedle said. “We clean every book that comes in. We clean computer stations after each patron uses one. We clean counters, door handles, and other touch points often."