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A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This is an amazing book that I read almost thirty years ago, but it is timeless. The family ties, the poverty, and the honesty of this book enrich this young girl's voice as she describes growing up in Brooklyn in the early 1900's. Her relationship with her father is especially touching and heart wrenching as only a young girl's vision of her imperfect father can be when set in the context of harsh reality. Francie is every little girl. Her hopes and dreams relate to all little girls' hopes for the future. Her intelligence, the influence of her mother's determination, and the impractical nature of her fun loving father combine to lift Francie above her situation. This is one of those stories that lives forever fresh in your heart. It was also made into a black and white movie, so if you like old cinema as much as I do, see if you can find it and enjoy a vision of an American family from the past.


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The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson

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This graphic novel is bursting with magical spirits and creatures. The illustrations of magic in action are bouncy, beautiful, and endlessly engrossing. 


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Breaking Out of a Rut

In a lot of different aspects of our lives, there are times that we can get stuck in a rut. To be honest, sometimes ruts are good and need to be there for reasons of safety or sanity. But at other times, ruts are stifling and prevent us from really moving forward. Being stuck can apply to our reading lives too and can also impact the reading lives of the children we care about. We can get stuck with one genre or author or even get caught in a habit of not reading. Whatever the case may be, we really need to look at our ruts and decide if they are for our good or maybe if it is time to stretch ourselves a little. When I recommend reading for children, I have found that there are times that reading ruts are good. This is especially true when a reader is struggling or is passionate about a topic, so reading the same type of books over and over is a great thing. But there are times when we do need to extend ourselves a little and try something new. So if you feel a little stuck or a little sad, or if you just need something fresh to reengage your reading mojo, here’s a few suggestions. First, try connecting with a new community of readers. Go to your local library and see what programs they have or connect with a book group or online discussion. Second, try finding a list with suggestions that give you new ideas. The PBS Great American Read list is a great place to start, or you can search the internet for the 100 best children’s books to find lists from Time or Amazon. Lastly, make friends with a great librarian and ask them what they might suggest for you to read. Librarians are great recommenders because they know so many books, and they can recommend new formats like graphic novels or audio books or new topics or even new genres that you have yet to experience. So in that vein, here’s a few recommendations from this librarian that might just be perfect to get you out of a rut.

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Try a Great Graphic Novel: Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

 Candlewick Press, 2016
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Try an Engaging Easy Reader: Grilled Cheese and Dragons (Princess Pulverizer #1) by Nancy E. Krulik, illustrated by Ben Balistreri

Penguin Workshop, 2018

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Lend an Ear to an Award Winning Audiobook: Ghost written by Jason Reynolds, narrated by Guy Lockard

Produced by Simon and Schuster Audio, 2017

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Explore an Interesting Topic: Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America’s First Bookmobile by Sharlee Glenn. 

Abrams Books, 2018

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Explore New Worlds: Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. 

Feiwel & Friends, 2018

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Keep on the Edge of Your Seat with a Thriller: Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Scholastic Press, 2018

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Find the Joy in Poetry: Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing by Marilyn Singer illustrated by Kristi Valiant

Dial Books, 2017

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See Through Another’s Experience:  Mommys Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow illustrated by Ebony Glenn. 

Reads/Simon and Schuster, 2018.