Say Yes to Graphic Novels!

Most parents would agree that reading for pleasure is a habit we want our children to cultivate. But what if your child only wants to read graphic novels? You might be tempted to think this kind of reading “doesn’t count” or “isn’t real reading,” but this assumption is false. Teachers and librarians have long known that graphic novels are a great way for kids to read and in fact are a valuable tool to engage the reluctant reader. Firstly, they provide an opportunity to read words while also picking up on context clues from pictures. Secondly, some graphic novels are short (these are often called comics), allowing the reader to get through one fairly quickly and feel a sense of accomplishment. Lastly, they often jump-start interest in a new series, which leads to kids wanting to read the next books to find out what happens in the story.  And guess what? The experts agree! The prestigious Newbery Medal for 2020 recipient is none other than the graphic novel New Kid by Jerry Craft! We have digital copies of this award-winning book as well as many other graphic novels available through our online resources. So the next time your child wants to read a graphic novel, take a look at this wonderful collection and feel confident in saying, “YES!”

Graphic Novels for Kids

Let Your Child Do it Himself!

Does your 3-year old pick up his own toys and put them away? Can your 8 year old use a vacuum and mop properly? Your teen is a wiz with his tablet and smart phone but can he plan and prepare a family meal? Staying at home for this extended period of time offers a unique opportunity to check in on your children’s “life skills.” Classroom teachers are conducting virtual lessons and sending links for academic subjects, but parents can take part in their child’s education by addressing important hands on skills. With sports, clubs and other extra curricular activities on hold there is ample time to take a look at these often neglected but important competencies that foster independence. Some of these skills fall under the category of good old fashioned chores and they give your children the chance to contribute to the household and feel useful. Psychologist Dona Matthews Ph.D. writes in Psychology Today, “Kids feel better about themselves when they contribute to the smooth functioning of the household.” Need some suggestions to get your kids started?  Check out the following links. Remember, you know your child best and the ages are merely guidelines to give you a framework of skills to consider. Get your kids involved and turn chores into a fun family activity!

Children, Chores and Happy Productivity at

I Did it All By Myself at

Life Skills by Age at

Coming Soon: a Library of “Things”!

Traditionally, libraries have loaned patrons items such as books, Music CDs, Books on CD, and magazines. In the last few years, video games, iPads and academic lecture series such as The Great Courses have been added to catalogs. Some libraries even have seed exchanges whereby patrons “borrow” seeds to grow vegetables and then “return” seeds to the lending library for a future growing season.

In the past year, Beekman Library has added some “things” to its collection such as an Energy Use Monitor Kit, a Bird Watching Kit, a Thermal Leak Detector Kit, an Early Language Development Kit and an Orion Telescope Kit. All Beekman cardholders have borrowing privileges for these items.

In the near future, when we are able to re-open, we plan to have other interesting “things” available for borrowing, such as a ukulele, a microscope, Wi-Fi “hotspots,” and a GoPro Camera.

A Library of Things allows residents to borrow an item they need for one-time use or something they simply can’t afford to purchase. Stay tuned as your library continues to evolve and provide sharing services for its community!

Random Things Libraries Will Let You Check Out for Free from

Art to Inspire You!

Every year during the month of May, the Library community looks forward to the Union Vale Middle School Art Display. At the opening of the display, a reception is hosted by students and art teachers. It is an opportunity for students to see their work presented in a public venue, and for proud family members, friends, and other admirers to visit the Library for the reception and throughout the duration of the display.

This year’s display is different because of the pandemic, but just as special. It is even more so! Please, take some time to view and read what the students have presented in this virtual display. We are very grateful to the students, UVMS staff members, and parents who came together to allow this tradition to continue despite current happenings in the world. This display would not have been possible in this format without the special dedication of Sheri Altieri who is the 6th and 7th grade art teacher at Union Vale Middle School. Enjoy and be inspired!

Letting Children Find Their Interests

STEAM Explorers, a program for children ages 8-11, allows children to explore areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math by creating simple projects. Problem-solving and the “how and why” are part of the program. Sometimes a project works, and other times it does not. With each project, a child has the opportunity to figure out why it worked and how to improve it. Additional websites and topic-related books are provided to promote further learning and exploration of project topics. While the Library building remains closed to the public, short videos, featuring simple projects that can be completed at home, are being posted on this blog and Facebook every Wednesday. We would love to see your projects, so send a photo to

A Little science with some fun!
Start your own Nature Journal.
Watch an acid and base interact to create a bubble jar.
Make a physical map of the USA
Model Rocket of Saturn V with Apollo 11 mission
Build your own biosphere!

Stuck at home? Start a garden!

In these uncertain times, it is natural to be feeling restless. If you have thought about starting a garden in the past but never actually gotten around to it, this may be a perfect opportunity to do so. There are innumerable positive benefits to backyard gardening, both physical and mental. Many studies over the past years have indicated that a lot of kids have no idea where their food comes from. This is a perfect time to teach them by starting a backyard or deck vegetable garden. While engaging in this family activity, you can teach your children self-sufficiency, grow food organically, get outside for some physical activity and make fewer trips to the grocery store! It’s a win-win situation with great rewards.

Today, seed companies are reporting incredible surges in seed demand. It is not too late to start many seeds indoors such as zucchini, yellow squash, beans and cucumbers, all of which may also be directly sown into your garden after the last frost. Most Garden Centers and Nurseries are open for business if you prefer to purchase their vegetable or flower packs.

The links below can help you get started. Happy Gardening!

Building Raised Beds with Gardener Scott

How to Start a Garden with Common Sense Home

Find Garden books on Hoopla or Libby/Overdrive with your Library card

Give the Classics a Try!

No doubt parents have been flooded with book and video suggestions to entertain their children while at home right now. But have you given any thought to suggesting some classic literature to your school-aged kids?  What I mean by classic, are those books that have stood the test of time, with universal stories of triumph and tribulation that speak to children and adults alike. I myself have enjoyed going back and re-reading my well-worn copies of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. A fun idea for your children might be to read the book, either on their own or with a parent, and follow up by watching a film version. If you do not have the hard copy of the book, check out our online resources for an e-book or audio version. A quick search on Hoopla found both e-books and e-audiobooks as well as an accompanying film version of my beloved Anne of Green Gables! Some other classics I found included Gulliver’s Travels and The Adventures of Robin Hood.  There are so many titles to explore!

Top 100 List of the All Time Best Classic Literature for Children and Young Adults

4 Historical Fiction Reads Available on Hoopla

Are you a historical fiction fan? I love the fact that I can read an absorbing novel but also immerse myself in a period of history. Many times, as an added bonus, I find myself learning about a little known piece of history. Hoopla, our newest digital resource, has an excellent collection of historical fiction which is always available with no wait time. These are some of the titles that caught my eye:

The Engineers Wife, by Tracey Enerson Wood, is based on the true story of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge which is a fascinating story in itself, but this novel adds the complex relationship between the bridge engineer and his wife who carries on his work after he is injured.

Carnegie’s Maid, by Marie Benedict, takes us inside the domestic life of Andrew Carnegie and his family and his foray into philanthropy that changed the face of public libraries in the United States.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and The Alice Network are two bestsellers that I have yet to read. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson, is Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s. According to a Library Journal starred review, “The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn, is a compelling blend of historical fiction, mystery, and women’s fiction. Quinn’s complex story and engaging characters have something to offer just about everyone.”

If any of these pique your interest, download the hoopla app, set up an account with your library card and get reading! As always, if you have trouble logging in, let us know and we’ll be happy to walk you through the process.

April is National Poetry Month!

National Poetry Month was launched by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 to remind the public of the important role poets play in our culture and literary world.

In these challenging, stay-at-home times, Poetry can offer wisdom, solace and inspiration.  Teachers, Students and Librarians can find many ways to virtually celebrate National Poetry Month.  To inspire you, please check out the links below.

My favorite link is a beautiful rendition of a poem by a Harvard student, Amanda Gorman, who was named the first Youth Poet Laureate in the United States in 2017.  She has gained immense renown as an author and literary advocate for underserved youth. She performs an uplifting poem from an empty Los Angeles Central Public Library.  Despite Libraries being shut down, there is still magic in words!

Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman offers words of hope amid pandemic on CBS This Morning, April 17, 2020

30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

Download ebooks featuring Poetry by using your library card on Hoopla

3 Ways to Keep Reading Library Books while on PAUSE

by Kathy Reilly, Assistant Director/Adult Programs

While reading books on your device may not be your first choice, there are definitely some benefits!


Newly published books are added to this platform on a regular basis. When placing a hold, it tells you how soon the ebook will be available. Libby/Overdrive also automatically returns the ebook for you. While reading, you can touch a word and the definition will appear.


With Hoopla there are no holds! All items are available immediately. As with Libby/Overdrive all items return on their own. Looking for a new author that writes books similar to those you read? Hoopla provides suggestions.


Full access to the Tumblebook Library is available until August 31st. They offer many reading genres, read-along stories, lesson plans, and so much more for children of all ages, including teens.

Libby/Overdrive and Hoopla allow for font type and size changes as well as different spacing and lighting schemes. All three services offer apps that can be downloaded to your device. We hope these benefits can lure you into eReading! Library staff can assist you. Call or email us and we can help you get started.