31 Books About Witches

by Britney Reed-Saltz

For centuries the witch has been a powerful archetype. Feared or revered, emulated or persecuted, her position in society has evolved throughout history, but one thing has remained certain: her presence.

What better time than now, as Halloween approaches, to sit for a spell and read tales of witchcraft? Whether you prefer fantasy, romance, horror, mystery, or nonfiction, this list will point you to the grimoire you seek.

Garden Spells  Sarah Addison Allen (magical realism, series)witches 1

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman (magical realism, series)

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (fantasy, series)

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (humorous fantasy, series)

The Good House by Tananarive Due (horror)

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (horror)

witches 2The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston (historical fantasy, series)

Bell, Book, and Murder by Rosemary Edghill (mystery, series)

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M. J. Rose (historical fiction)

Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood (YA short stories)

The Goblin Wood by Hilari Bell (YA fantasy)

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (fantasy, series)witches 3

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay (historical fiction)

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan (historical fiction)

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé (historical fiction)

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (fiction)

Circe by Madeline Miller (historical fiction)

witches 5The Witching Hour by Anne Rice (historical fiction, series)

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (YA historical fiction, series)

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (YA Afrofuturism/fantasy, series)

Sister Light, Sister Dark by Jane Yolen (YA fantasy, series)

The Graces by Laure Eve (YA paranormal fantasy, series)

Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan (YA paranormal fantasy, series)witches 6

The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw (YA paranormal fantasy, series)

Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts (romance, series)

Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell (cozy mystery, series)

The King of Bones and Ashes by J. D. Horn (urban fantasy, series)

witches 9Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (urban fantasy, series)

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (urban fantasy, series)

Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler (nonfiction)

Witches of America by Alex Mar (nonfiction)

 

 

 

 

 

The Authors Who Made Me Love Horror

By Brittney Reed-Saltz

So, I love horror. But what made me this way?

Despite what people who don’t like horror novels might assume, it wasn’t a traumatic childhood event, or at least, not exactly. I did begin reading horror at a young age, and each title I picked up drew me farther down the road to becoming the reader I am today.

(As for what set off that initial spark of interest that made me pick up my first scary book, who knows for sure? I’m tempted to blame a mixture of genetics, great trick-or-treating experiences, and exposure to Tim Burton.)

In honor of that journey, here are the authors who had the biggest influence on my discovery of my favorite genre. I also identify what made me love their work, so if you’re struggling to understand a burgeoning young monster kid in your life, maybe this will help.

Alvin Schwartzauthors who 1
Where would I be without Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? Not reading horror, that’s for sure. As a child, I didn’t realize that these were urban legends and folklore, and to be honest, I didn’t really care where the stories came from. They were terrifying and timeless, and accompanied by absolutely perfect illustrations by Stephen Gammell, and they scared me out of my wits. This series left an indelible mark on me, and looking at them even now gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I even have a pair of earrings featuring two iconic images from the series.

R. L. Stineauthors who 2
I grew up in the ’90s, a time when R. L. Stine was everywhere. I adored the Goosebumps series and lived for the times when my mom would take me to the bookstore that used to be in the Stones River Mall. I would sit on the floor and make the agonizing decision of which book I would pick to take home. When I aged out of Goosebumps, Fear Street was there waiting for me. Meant for teens, I read them when I was much younger, and I loved the covers as much as the stories. It seems silly and quaint now, but the Fear Street novel Goodnight Kiss is actually the only book I have ever stopped reading because it was too scary for me. I loved R. L. Stine because his books really scared me, featuring monsters and ghosts that felt actually dangerous, and adrenaline-fueled situations. But he also has a sense of humor, using lawn gnomes and ventriloquist dummies as villains. The mixture of laughs and thrills is still greatly appealing to me, as in movies like What We Do in the Shadows and books like My Best Friend’s Exorcism. And of course, I’m excited that he has continued the Fear Street series with You May Now Kill the Bride.

Edgar Allan Poeauthors who 3
I discovered Poe around fifth grade, thanks to “The Raven.” I already knew that I liked poetry thanks to Shel Silverstein, but I had not yet realized that you could write scary poetry, so Poe was a revelation. I also loved his short stories, especially “The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Masque of the Red Death.” I don’t know if I even realized that I was reading classics; I just loved the dark twists and hypnotic language. A couple of years later I would go on to portray the Red Death in a school production of “The Masque of the Red Death,” which I greatly enjoyed because I got to wear a black cloak and be utterly dramatic.

Anne Riceauthors who 4
Anne Rice is one of the adult authors that I read at a young age. I discovered her through the film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire, which I rented from the local video store obsessively. Years later, I started reading the Vampire Chronicles books. My teachers were scandalized. I was in love with Rice’s flowery writing, dripping in angst and innuendo, and with her unforgettable characters. Lestat de Lioncourt is still my favorite fictional vampire. I mean, who wouldn’t admire the bravado and panache of a vampire who decides to break vampiric law and reveal his identity in the grandest possible way: Becoming a rock star?

Stephen Kingauthors who 5
My teachers also weren’t exactly thrilled about my budding love of Stephen King, either. I remember needing to obtain a special permission letter from my mom allowing me to order On Writing from the Scholastic book catalog (remember those?). In middle school I also read my way through Misery, Carrie, and other King classics. I even attempted IT, but stopped because at the time I thought that it was too adult and boring. (That’s the great thing about precocious kids: We test boundaries, but we also know how to set them for ourselves.) King is a consummate storyteller, and I loved his tangents and backstories that he wove into a colorful tapestry of story. He appealed to me as a kid because I saw him as the real deal, a writer who knew his stuff. When I realized that I wanted to become a writer, too, he was the writer I aspired to be.

Christopher Pikeauthors who 6
I discovered Christopher Pike in junior high, and I responded really well to his more sophisticated but still accessible level of horror. One of my most vivid reading memories centers around silent reading time in eighth grade, on a late Spring day. The door was open to let in warm breezes, I was wearing my beloved Ramones T-shirt, and I was totally lost in Whisper of Death. Around that same time, I read all of the Last Vampire series, which is now available in omnibus editions under the title Thirst. They’re sort of like a light version of Anne Rice, featuring an ancient immortal and weird Christopher Pike touches. I’m remembering them as being sort of like Queen of the Damned for kids.

Billy Martin (who published under the name Poppy Z. Brite)authors who 7
By the time high school rolled around, I was an established horror fan, and so I’ll end this list with the author who expanded my horizons and catapulted me firmly and irrevocably into the realm of adult fears. I found the books like Lost Souls, Drawing Blood, Wormwood, and Exquisite Corpse by researching books with goth characters when I was about fourteen. I wanted to read about people who were like me… Or at least, like older and more exciting versions of me, who spent their weekends doing things much more dangerous than writing Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction. Martin’s books are like if an Anne Rice novel and a Cure album had a baby. I adored their glamorous atmosphere, their characters, and the fact that they were set in the South.

 

3 Dark Fantasy Short Story Collections by Women

By Brittney Reed-Saltz

For a long time I thought that I disliked short stories. Maybe this was the result of only encountering the form in school, where stories were assigned as examples of form or technique, read quickly and squeezed of all their juice and left, at the end of a class discussion, wrung out dry. I spent so much time reading short stories in school that I didn’t seek them out for leisure reading, preferring novels.

But as an adult, I rediscovered the short form and how downright enjoyable stories can be. True, they’re not the full-blown escape of a novel, but they are portals, little interludes into other worlds, and they can do things that novels can’t. Their brevity affords them the freedom to be more poetic and occasionally less logical. They can experiment and confound and beguile. They’re great fun.

Here are three collections of short stories that I love, all of which were written by women. All of them are, more or less, dark fantasy, though each author’s interpretation of the genre reflects different influences, and provides something for very different readers.

her body and other parties

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Recently I wrote about book hangovers, and this is the specific book that inspired that post. Machado’s work blends magical realism, horror, and absurdism to comment on the everyday horrors of existing as a woman: sexual assault, body image issues, sexism. To say that Machado is unafraid to tread into weird territory or to leave readers with lingering questions is an understatement. On occasion I would finish a story and wonder what I had just read, but if you’re okay with open-ended resolutions that will make you keep thinking about the stories after you finish them, you’ll be at home with this collection.
Favorite stories: 
– “Inventory,” which charts an apocalyptic pandemic through a list of the narrator’s lovers.
– “The Husband Stitch,” a feminist retelling of “The Green Ribbon” that name-drops a litany of beloved urban legends.

the poison eaters

The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black
Holly Black is one of my most beloved authors. She always delivers a mixture of beauty and darkness that I find irresistible, and she’s among the best writers working within the framework of faerie folklore today. Some of the stories in this collection are more memorable than others, but all of them are enjoyable, and this would be a good introduction to Black’s writing if you’ve never read her before.
Favorite stories:
– “The Night Market,” an atmospheric faerie story that recalls shades of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market.”
– “The Coat of Stars,” which features a tender and affecting love alongside lush descriptions of fabrics that made me want to dust off my neglected sewing machine.
– “Going Ironside,” which fits into Black’s Modern Faerie Tales series, one of my favorite urban fantasy trilogies.

the bloody chamber

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
If you want fairy tales in the Brothers Grimm sense, this book is a must-read. Carter captures the darkness of the original stories that Walt Disney edited out in favor of singing birds and helpful mice, and she adds her own shades of darkness. Female characters in fairy tales often exist in more shadow than might initially be made apparent by the unadorned, matter-of-fact language in which they’re usually written, and Carter delves into those shadows with eagerness and intelligence. Her writing is lyrical, bawdy, and sharp, perfectly tuned to her subject matter, timeless while maintaining an underlying modernity of attitude.
Favorite stories:
– “The Erlking,” a folkloric story about a woman drawn to a wildman in a forest despite the dangers he poses.
– “The Lady of the House of Love,” the profoundly Gothic tale of a vampire Countess living in a moldering Romanian castle on the eve of World War I.

Is It Clutter or a Hoard?

by Marlene Kupsch

Yes, I am referring to the people who collect things–a lot of things–and yet they believe they still do not have enough. Most of us have a Hoarder/Collector in our own families. Their collection may not be as big as the ones you see on the TV show Hoarders that airs on A&E, but they are there. We are told that the reason people hoard is a compulsive need to acquire things that comes from a traumatic experience. Roughly 16 million people in the U. S. are affected by it.

Well, what do we do when we see the signs, whether in ourselves or someone else? I can tell you first-hand that it is frustrating to want to help someone, and they refuse to acknowledge it is even a problem. This is not an easy subject for me or my family. I believe most of us would rather speak about death, and even that is taboo! So, my hope is to give you a few options on reading material so that you can try to understand a bit more.

There are two little fantastic hardcover books, less than 150 pages each, that will help you in the hinting department to your loved one. The Art of D*scard*ng, written with lots of joy by Nagisa Tatsumi, would make a great stocking stuffer! This books gives you the permission your loved one needs to throw it away!

I love to throw things away and I get such euphoria every time I accumulate a bag or two to drive over to the dump. When I get back and see that space empty and clean, I feel like I cleansed my soul. Truthfully!

The other one is The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson. I like the way Margareta draws little pictures in the book. I think it is her way of trying to lighten the mood and not make you feel like you are being targeted and should be punished for what you have accumulated. She gives you tips on sorting and cleaning, and helps you focus on what is really important. Cleaning used to be a compulsive need for me. Everything had to be in its place, and every dust bunny must be chased into the field, especially if company was planned. Oh dear, then I spent all night the night before making sure everything was spotless. I was unable to sleep till it was. I certainly do not recommend this extreme, either! I lost a lot of time cleaning instead of spending every moment I could with my daughter when she was growing up.

So if you have A&E or Hulu and feel like bingeing some episodes (it becomes addictive) of Hoarders, watching the transformation of the people and the houses they clean, is utterly amazing. Max Paxton, who is one of the cleaning specialists on the show, has written a book called The Secret Lives of Hoarders : True Stories of Tackling Extreme Clutter. We also have a few more books here in our library catalog that are worth a gander: Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul by Ruth Soukup and Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. 

Happy cleaning!

Taboo: Death and Grief

by Marlene Kupsch 

I find that when faced with the words death or dying people often tend to shy away or run as fast as they can. Death is not something that can be undone; yes, we all understand that, but it should not take over your life. We must find a way to move forward. Not forget, by any means, but live our lives as best we can. Your loved one would not want you to grieve for the rest of your life.

For me, the best way to get through a difficult situation like this and carry on is to talk about it. With anyone! Always seek professional help if the feelings become too powerful for you to talk through them with your family or friends. There are times were a book is exactly what is needed. That is when the library and the endless supply of reading material becomes a great lifeline. The more we can learn, the less scared we will be! My picks:death 1

Dying to Know… About Death, Funeral Customs, and Final Resting Places by Lila Perl
If you want to know the history on why certain customs or rituals have come to be, Perl is your woman! Why did the custom of putting a headstone on top of the grave start? Did Queen Victoria start the fashion of mourning in black when her husband passed away? When did we start the practice of embalming and why?

death 2One of the newest books that I have had the great fortune of finding is Grief Works by Julia Samuel. The author is a grief psychotherapist, who has written about some of the people she has counseled overthe years and the steps she helped them take to try to move forward with their lives. She has a lot of helpful information throughout the book.

For children, The Saddest Time by Norma Simon is something death 6worth reading to your little ones. This book gives you three different stories on why death might occur. It talks about the ways you might feel and what you could do to help your loved ones or yourself. It explains death in a way that is not overwhelming or scary.

We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman is about a nurse who writes letters for the patients under her care in a hospice facility. She promises to post them once the patient death 3passed, but what if she can give the chance for redemption by breaking that rule? Should she let things in her personal life interfere with a promise she made the patient?death 4

There is a series written by Neal Shusterman that makes you wonder about the future and all the advancements of science and technology. What if all diseases were cured? What if the world conquered death? How would we “thin” out the population? Scythe is a young adult novel that I was not able to put down. I was in this world all night long, cover to cover, wondering if I was given the opportunity to become a Scythe, would I want the power? How would it feel to be the person who was given just a few hours left to live? How would I choose the method of death for me?

death 5Last but not least, for those young’uns, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst is a must read! The story starts after the family pet has died. The little boy is understandably heartbroken and struggles to come up with all ten good things about his cat that his mother asks him to say at the funeral. Letting go is never easy. Barney was very much loved.

There are so many books and so little time. I could easily turn this into a 100-book-plus list. The important thing is that you can find at least one book that gave you a smile or gave you that “I’m not alone” feeling. Death is no stranger to me. I have gotten that 3 am phone call that you hope you never get, I have sat by the bedside of family members as they have taken their last breaths, I have lost friends and family, young and old. Death does not discriminate, and it is not usually welcomed. You must grieve for each and every one,and sometimes in all different ways. There is no wrong or right way to grieve, and there is no time limit. From all my experiences, as long as you do not stand still for too long, you are on the right path.

Thank you for giving me your time!!

True Crime Books I’m Reading After ‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’

by Brittney Reed-Saltzi'll be gone in the dark

After waiting on the holds list for weeks–see, it happens to librarians, too!–a copy of Michelle McNamara’s posthumous true crime blockbuster I’ll Be Gone in the Dark came in for me. It was exactly what I needed: I had been in a reading slump, but I tore through the pages. It would be hyperbole to say that I became as engrossed in McNamara’s writing as she did in the Golden State Killer case, because I’ve never seen anyone so doggedly obsessed with a project. But this book haunted me in a way that I haven’t been haunted by my reading in a long time. My tastes are hard-boiled, yet this book gave me nightmares.

The truth is, I’m a true crime newbie: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is only the second true crime title I’ve ever read, along with Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. I remember flipping through my mom’s beloved true crime paperbacks as a tween, poring over the glossy photo inserts with a mixture of disgust and fascination, but I never got into the genre.

Well, until now.

Here are the true crime books that I’m planning to read next, despite the havoc they will wreak on my sleep schedule.

the fact of a body

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and A Memoir by Alexandra Marzano-Lesnevich
Marzano-Lesnevich took a summer job working at a law firm in Louisiana when she encountered the case of Ricky Langley. Her reaction was so visceral and so contradictory to her anti-death penalty stance that she felt compelled to investigate more deeply. After I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, I’m ready to follow another DIY sleuth down a dark, obsessive rabbit hole, and The Fact of a Body sounds like just that.

midnight in the garden of good and evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
This book has shimmered in my periphery for a long time. It’s an atmospheric examination not just of a murder, but of a unique town and its equally unique inhabitants: Savannah, Georgia, home to criminals, drag queens, society ladies, and voodoo priestesses, to name only a handful. I share McNamara’s opinion that the most interesting part of a crime isn’t the act itself, but the people it impacts, and I think that Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil satisfy this interest.

my friend dahmer

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (available through Hoopla)
When someone’s crimes are as lurid as Jeffrey Dahmer’s, it’s easy to conceive of the perpetrator as an inhuman monster. The thought that they were just a human being taxes the mind and inspires terror, because we don’t want to acknowledge that people are capable of such things. This graphic memoir, written by Dahmer’s former classmate and friend, presents the chilling truth: serial killers are people, and you might know one.

green river running red

Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule
The Green River Killer was another serial murderer who, like the Golden State Killer, amassed a large number of victims and eluded capture for decades, which for me is the most bloodcurdling aspect of the GSK case. I have read reviews that attest to Rule’s focus on the victims, which is something I admire about McNamara’s approach, as well. This book also has the added scare factor of proximity to the killer: Gary Ridgway ended up living within a mile of Rule’s house.

helter skelter

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
It’s hard to look into true crime without encountering Helter Skelter. This classic is massive both in terms of its size and the notoriety of the case it documents: the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders committed by the Manson Family. Readers have described Helter Skelter as engaging to the point of dizzying, packed with twists, aliases, and chilling details aplenty about Charles Manson’s hold on his cult members. I feel like my exploration of the genre would be incomplete without giving this one a try.

2018 Eisner Award Winners Announced!

By Brittney Reed-Saltz

What better reason for a bonus blog post this week than the announcement of the newest batch of Eisner Award winners? The honorees were unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con, and RCLS has several of them available for you to check out!

You can peruse a full list of nominees and winners here.

monstress monstress 2

Best Continuing Series and Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17) and Best Cover Artist and Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art): 
Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

kindred

Best Adaptation from Another Medium:
Kindred by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings

world of wakanda

Best Limited Series: 
Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Alitha E. Martinez

tea dragon society

Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12) and Best Webcomic: 
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

my favorite thing is monsters

Best Graphic Album – New and Best Writer/Artist and Best Coloring:
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris

my brother's husband

Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia:
My Brother’s Husband, Vol. 1, by Gengoroh Tagame, translated by Anne Ishii

 

 

Rediscovering Riverdale

By Brittney Reed-Saltz

If it weren’t for the Piggly Wiggly in my hometown, I might not be the comic book reader that I am today. Every shopping trip, I would situate myself in the magazine aisle while my mom gathered our family’s groceries. Alongside the teen magazines and copies of the incomprehensible-looking Farmer’s Almanac was a spinning wire rack of comics. And that’s where I would amuse myself.

I didn’t actually know anyone else who read comic books. My dad and I both liked the funnies in the newspaper, but I was on my own when it came to figuring out which comics to read. As a result, I often came into arcs in the middle, or would pick something based on the cover only to find that I didn’t know who any of the characters were.

But I always knew that I was safe with Archie comics. I could pick up any of them without losing the thread. There was consistency: Betty and Veronica would always have their own brand of embattled friendship, Archie would always be clumsy, Jughead would always be jonesing for another hamburger at Pop’s, Reggie would always be a jerk. But regardless of the unchanging nature of Riverdale and its denizens, I was never at a loss for a new adventure to read.

Years have passed. Archie, already old for a perpetual teen back then, is now over 75. Plenty in the world has changed, even that old Piggly Wiggly, which has moved across town. But as I recently discovered, I still love Archie comics as much as an adult as I did back then. Luckily, there is plenty of new and exciting material to choose from in the Archieverse now.

Here are some that I’ve enjoyed so far.

archie vol 1

Archie by Mark Waid
The new Archie updates the characters in a way that doesn’t ignore modern realities like social media while refusing to sacrifice the integrity of the characters. While there are serious and emotional moments, Waid doesn’t try to write a grimdark Archie here. This series is big on humor and on heart, telling new stories about the same characters that readers have loved for years, and reading it feels both fresh and reassuringly timeless.

riverdale season 1

Riverdale (TV show)
If you want a snarky, high-school-noir revamp of your favorite characters, look no further than Riverdale. The first season centers around the very sudden, very suspicious death of Jason Blossom. There’s plenty of intrigue beyond the potential murder, though: illicit affairs, dark family secrets, and revenge. I’ve not finished watching yet as of the time of this writing, but I’ve enjoyed it so far. There are some definite changes in characterization–Archie is not the lovable klutz of the comics, and I’m continually surprised to see a much more sympathetic version of rich-girl Veronica–but the casting is superb, and the twists are fascinating to watch.

jughead vol 1

Jughead by Chip Zdarsky
When I read Archie as a kid, Jughead was sort of a non-entity to me, so I’m continually pleased and surprised by how much depth authors are bringing to his character across titles. This is on display especially in his own headlining graphic novel series, penned by the seemingly unlikely but deft hand of Chip Zdarsky, known for his work on Sex Criminals. By contrast, Jughead is an all-ages-friendly comic that centers Jughead in his efforts to thwart a new regime at Riverdale High, indulging in many flights of fancy along the way.

chilling adventures of sabrina

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Sabrina Spellman inhabits one of my favorite fringes of the Archieverse. Chilling Adventures takes everyone’s favorite teenage on a wild ride through the haunted woods by way of vintage occult horror, blending a 1960s aesthetic with chilling storytelling that echoes the “24 Hours” issue from the first arc of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. As a horror fan, I adore this twisted version of Sabrina, but the subversive re-characterizations and explicit gore won’t be for every reader.

What Kids are Reading For Fun This Summer

by Brittney Reed-Saltz, with input from Mindy Barrett and Liz McLuckie 

Book recommendations. It’s why you read this blog, right? You want to hear which titles we, the librarians who are trained to find books you’ll love, think are worth your time.

And that’s what this blog seeks to do, but today I’m turning the model on its head a little bit. Today’s recommendations aren’t coming from me… They’re coming from the kids who visit our libraries.

As an adult, it can be difficult to figure out what the kids in your life will want to read. Recommending books that you liked at their age can be a good start, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. After all, everyone has their own interests, and sometimes the books that we view through the rosy light of nostalgia just don’t resonate with younger generations in the same way. Times change, and sometimes they change very quickly.

So, what’s an adult to do?

I always pay attention to what my younger patrons are checking out and reading, and I love when they tell me about particular titles that they think are awesome. Not just because it means that they’re enjoying books, which is sort of the whole goal, but because it helps me build a mental list of books that I might recommend to other kids.

Do you know a kid who’s struggling to find their next great read? Or are you at your wits’ end trying to help a reluctant reader? Try out one of these titles, selected from books that kids have been checking out at all of our branches this summer. kids read 1

The Geronimo Stilton series by Geronimo and Thea Stilton
Fast-paced illustrated stories featuring the adventurous newspaper mouse Geronimo Stilton and his sister, Thea (both the pseudonyms of author Elisabetta Dami… look for them under Stilton).

The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer
Middle-grade fantasy focusing on a set of twins who fall into a book of fairy tales and find themselves face-to-face with the characters they have read about.

Dog Man graphic novel series by Dav Pilkey
kids read 2From the creator of the long beloved zany chapter book series Captain UnderpantsDog Man follows the adventures of a new kind of crime fighter: one with the body of a man and the head of a police dog.

The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel series by Raina Telgemeier
The plots you might remember from Ann M. Martin’s classic series get an update with art by Raina Telgemeier. Kids also love Telgemeier’s other graphic novels: Smile, Sisters, Ghosts, and Drama.

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
A graphic novel about an 11-year-old girl trying to adjust to public school after being homeschooled, and to find her place in the Renaissance Faire where her parents work.kids read 3

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Kinney’s stories of a kid trying to survive school and documenting his misadventures are perennial favorites. For a readalike with a female protagonist, try Rachel Renee Russell’s Dork Diaries series.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Wonder has been in the spotlight a lot over the past few years as the result of being included in school reading lists and being adapted into a movie. It continues to be popular with kids who enjoy realistic fiction.

Stick Dog series by Tom Watson
Burgers, hot dogs, pizza, ice cream, and more… This light-hearted series follows an insatiable dog on his quest for food. These books promise to make kids laugh, and make kids read 4them hungry.

Peter Powers series by Kent Clark 
Although Peter comes from a family of supeheroes, he has the worst superpower ever: making ice cubes with his fingertips. Can he somehow use his power to save the day? Find out in a chapter book series perfect for fans of The Incredibles. 

My Weird School series by Dan Gutman 
A.J. goes to a very weird school, where teachers don’t know math, kiss pigs, wear dresses made out of potholders, and more. Each book introduces a new teacher, each one weirder than the last. Gutman’s series is a good readalike for Louis Sachar’s older Wayside School books.

Goosebumps series by R. L. Stinekids read 5
The Goosebumps books are an example of books from our childhoods (if you’re somewhere in your early 30s, at least) that are still captivating new audiences. The books stand alone, so don’t worry about reading order. Your kids can jump in anywhere and be assured of a good scare with a unique premise, whether it’s ventriloquist dummies, garden gnomes, or a haunted mask providing the chills.

Minecraft books
The library has tons of books about Minecraft, from how-to guides to middle grade novels set within the world of the game. What if your kid isn’t into Minecraft? Try searching the library for books that fit their interests, whatever they might be! Even in the rare occasion that we don’t have something about a particular topic they love, we can always help you put in a request for the library to purchase a particular book.

 

 

Girl Power Graphic Novels for the Young and Young at Heart

by Brittney Reed-Saltz

When I need a quick read that will pick me up and put me in a great mood, I frequently turn to all-ages graphic novels. There’s no drawback to reading them: I can usually polish one off during my lunch break, I add titles to my list of potential recommendations for younger readers at my branch, and I get to enjoy great stories I might otherwise have missed.

My favorite stories often feature girls and young women finding–and using–their strength. It’s refreshing to read about girls who speak their minds, fight for what they believe in, or find the quiet power inside of themselves to endure or to reach out to others when things are tough.

Want to read a great girl-powered story, or find one to recommend to the younger readers in your life? Try one of my picks:

lumberjanes nimona

Lumberjanes by Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
If I left either of these off of my list, I would probably get complaints, and well-deserved ones at that. Lumberjanes follows the supernatural-tinged adventures of campers at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types and would be a great suggestion for fans of the show Gravity Falls. On the other hand, Nimona blends sci-fi and fantasy with a bushel of tongue-in-cheek humor to tell the story of a shapeshifter employed as a villain’s sidekick. It tends more toward YA territory.

jonesy

Jonesy by Sam Humphries and Caitlin Rose Boyle
Jonesy is a “cool dork” with an unusual superpower: She can make anyone fall in love with anything… except herself. If you think that sounds like a recipe for chaos, you have no idea. Jonesy is a zine-making, fangirling powerhouse, and like most protagonists who are great fun to read, she has plenty of flaws. But at the end of the day, her love for her family and friends wins out, and she finds ways to make amends for her mistakes. Read this if you want a funny series with bold, colorful graphics and shades of Scott Pilgrim.

tea dragon society

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
This is a high fantasy story about a young, part-goblin girl named Greta who learns the art of blacksmithing from her mother. When Greta comes across a timid little dragon in danger, she discovers the world of tea dragons. With catlike temperaments, these little dragons grow tea leaves and flowers from their antlers. Soon Greta is learning the almost lost art of tea dragon keeping from a dragon named Hesekiel, and striving to befriend a timid young woman named Minnette. This is the epitome of a comforting read for me: a gentle and emotional story, lavish illustrations, and inclusion of different races, physical abilities, and sexual orientations. It’s appropriate for young readers, though it might hold adults’ attention more easily.

phoebe and her unicorn

Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson
A young girl named Phoebe makes a new best friend when she throws a rock across a pond, only to hit a unicorn in the face. That unicorn is none other than Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, and the adventures that she and Phoebe have as they deal with goblins, parents, and elementary school are just as delightful as Marigold’s name. These comics are written as strips united by common characters and a loose plot, and are sort of like a more fantastical, female Calvin and Hobbes.

help us great warrior

Help Us! Great Warrior by Madeleine Flores 
Originally a webcomic, Help Us! Great Warrior is an action-packed fantasy title about a warrior who loves looking good while kicking butt, and who is harboring a secret that could endanger her position as a hero. It’s big on humor and surreal settings that remind me a bit of Adventure Time and should appeal to fans of Finn and Jake.

jane the fox and me

Jane, The Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ourieu
Sometimes, power is quiet. It’s not being happy and confident all the time. It’s also having the strength to endure a challenging or hurtful situation and to come out on the other side. This is the type of power on display in Jane, the Fox, and Me, which follows a young girl named Hélène as she copes with bullying through the companionship of fiction, a fox, and finally a friend who helps her see that there’s nothing wrong with her, regardless of what the mean girls say. This emotional graphic novel will resonate with anyone who has dealt with social ostracism. It’s quieter than all the other suggestions on this list, but it shows that strength comes in many forms.