Library Columns (2021)

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Teen Book Gift Guide– December 8, 2021

By Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

As previously promised, here is the book gift guide for teens for this holiday season. The books on this list are recommended for teen readers and are available to check out from the Litchfield Public Library.

Book Cover “We Light Up the Sky” by Lilliam Rivera: After struggling to deal with encounters with an alien, three teens must try to warn the world of a possible alien invasion of Earth.

Book Cover “American Jaguar” by Elizabeth Webb: This nonfiction title looks at the human impact on jaguars living along the United States-Mexico border and how the two countries are working together to overcome differences to protect this majestic animal and its environment.

Book Cover“Bluebird” by Sharon Cameron: This historical fiction novel follows Eva as she leaves Berlin behind for New York City following WWII. Eva has come to America for justice and the Nazi that escaped Project Bluebird.

Book Cover “Killers of the Flower Moon: Young Readers Edition” by David Grann: This nonfiction title is about the serial murders of the Osage people and the Texas Ranger who unraveled the mystery.

“The Reason We Play” by Marc Bona: This nonfiction title is more than a collection of athletes’ biographies; it also inspires the reader with in-depth stories, obstacles, and motivations of each story.

Book Cover “The Diamond Keeper” by Jeannie Mobley: This historical fiction novel is set during the Revolutionary War and is full of adventure, stolen jewels, and romance.

Book Cover “Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley: Daunis decides to delay college after graduation to care for her mother and reluctantly gets caught up in the investigation of a series of deaths.

Book Cover“The Taking of Jake Livingston” by Ryan Douglass: Can Jake survive high school when a murderous ghost starts to hunt him?

Contact Rachelle at the Litchfield Library for additional or more personalized suggestions. Until next time, happy reading.


Memory Maker Kits Available
November 24, 2021
by Beth Cronk, County Librarian

The Litchfield Library has something new and different to check out: memory maker kits. These kits are intended to be used with people who have dementia. Our three kits were funded by the Friends of the Litchfield Public Library. Thank you to them for helping us offer these to the community!

The memory maker kits at the Litchfield Library are from MEternally, a Minnesota company that specializes in kits made for reminiscence therapy. Reminiscence therapy, according to the National Library of Medicine, involves the discussion of past experiences with the aid of prompts such as photographs, items from the past, and music. The items in the kits from MEternally can serve as a springboard for sharing memories with loved ones and caregivers, and they can bring about the happiness and comfort that come from remembering familiar things.

Two of our new kits each contain a DVD and a pack of 40 large laminated cards in a zippered pouch. The themes are “farm” and “homemaker.” The cards in each kit feature photos of items related to the theme, as well as some activities that people can do together, such as suggested questions to ask, simple games to play, and songs to sing. The DVDs each have four slowly changing slideshow-style videos made up of photos and video clips with soothing background music.

The farm reminiscence kit has four topics on the DVD and cards: barns, farm fields, tractors, and vegetable gardens. The homemaker kit features housekeeping, sewing, laundry, and handicrafts such as knitting.

Our third kit is different. The hard plastic case contains two objects called busy bottles, which are sealed bottles filled with colored rice and small objects that fit the theme. To use them, you gently spin the busy bottles and look for the hidden items. This kit has a theme of the 1950s and 1960s, with one bottle for each. The kit also includes four laminated cards with pictures of the items in the bottles, along with two dry erase markers and two erasers, so that a pair of people can play with the bottles together and mark off each item when they spot it. Another activity about the ‘50s and ‘60s is on the back of each card.

These kits are currently on display above the DVDs, but once our dementia display comes down, we’ll find another place to store them. If you’d like to borrow one, you can ask a staff member or search the catalog for “Memory maker kit.” If you search the catalog, you’ll find that many other kits with different themes are available in our library system. You can order those just like other library items. The kits can be borrowed for four weeks at a time.

Although these kits are intended for use with people who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, they could be a good tool to use with any elderly person to reminisce together. They could also work well to spark conversations between children and senior citizens.

Once again, thank you to the Friends of the Library for their support of this new type of item in the library collection. I hope that they will be a good resource for local families, organizations, and individuals with dementia.

Children’s Book Gift Guide from the library– November 24, 2021

By Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

The warmth and joy of the holiday season has arrived with Thanksgiving this week. That means it’s time for the annual children’s book gift guide from the Litchfield Public Library. All the books on these lists are also available to check out from the Litchfield Public Library and have been published in 2021.

Children’s picture books:

Book Cover “I Am Every Good Thing” by Derrick Barnes– A young boy celebrates all that he is even when people try to push limits on him. Full of creativity, adventure, spirit, and humor this book is uplifting for boys of all ages.

Book Cover “Orange is an Apricot, Green is a Tree Frog” by Pascale Estellon– This beautifully illustrated book connects colors and everyday objects to learn new vocabulary. Suggested for toddlers and preschoolers but can be enjoyed by lower elementary grades as well.

Book Cover“Our Table” by Peter H. Reynolds– This is a story of a close-knit family that grows apart due to the overuse of technology,  and how one little girl brings the family back together through a simple project. This book’s emphasis on family and spending time together makes it a great story for all ages.

Children’s chapter books:

Book Cover “Pony” by R.J. Palacio– From the author of “Wonder”, this adventurous western story features a ghost, a mysterious pony, and a boy who must face his fears to find his father. This book is poised to become an instant classic. Recommended for readers ages 10 and up.

Book Cover “Clarice the Brave” by Lisa McMann– Mouse siblings separated at sea must learn to be brave and bold to survive and keep their promise to find each other.  Recommended for ages 9-12 years.

Book Cover  “How to Win a Slime War” by Mae Respicio– A typical story of being the new kid in school takes a wild turn when Alex decides to sell slime to gain popularity, while his father wants him to join the school soccer team. Recommended for readers aged 8-12.

Book Cover “Astrid & Apollo and the Puppy Surprise” by V.T. Bidania– This is the eighth book in the Astrid & Apollo series. This series follows Hmong-American twins and their family as they go on everyday adventures togethers. This is a wonderful, heart-warming easy reader series for ages 6-8.

Contact Rachelle at the Litchfield Library for additional or more personalized suggestions. Look for the teen book gift guide coming soon.  Until next time, happy reading.

Practical Books from the Library

by Beth Cronk

When we think about library books, we often think about novels. But library books can also be practical tools to give you the information to accomplish things you need to do.

One new book at the Litchfield Library that fits this description is Bicycle Repair Manual from DK Publishing. DK is known for publishing big, beautifully-illustrated informational books that cover everything from space to history to sports. This book is a small paperback with basic do-it-yourself information on maintaining and fixing your bike.

Any cookbook could be seen as a do-it-yourself book. The library has just added a new book from the Minnesota Historical Society Press, The Good Berry Cookbook: Harvesting and Cooking Wild Rice and Other Wild Foods by Tashia Hart. This cookbook goes beyond recipes to give instructions on foraging and gathering wild foods, emphasizing the need to protect the environment.

Fishing is another way to gather wild foods, and two books on fishing have just been added to the Litchfield collection. The first is Fishing by Greg Schwipps, which is part of the for Dummies series. The other is The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Fly Fishing: Tips, Lessons, and Techniques for Tying Knots, Reading the Water, Casting, and Catching More Fish by John Symonds, a licensed fishing guide.

The library has recently added a number of law books written for those of us who aren’t lawyers, published by Nolo Press. Nolo has been known for do-it-yourself legal books since the 1970s, adding software in later decades. The books used to come with CD-ROMs, but now they direct readers to forms available online. The publisher does say that the books are not a substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially for complicated matters. The updated Nolo books in the library’s collection are these titles:

Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law;

Becoming a U.S. Citizen: A Guide to the Law, Exam, & Interview;

The Employer’s Legal Handbook: How to Manage Your Employees & Workplace;

Special Needs Trusts: Protect Your Child’s Financial Future;

The Essential Guide to Family & Medical Leave;

How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation;

Divorce Without Court: A Guide to Mediation & Collaborative Divorce;

Contracts: The Essential Business Desk Reference;

How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim;

Nolo’s Patents for Beginners; and

The Executor’s Guide: Settling a Loved One’s Estate or Trust.

Many things you may want to learn to do are covered by a library book or DVD. If you’d like help finding a book you need, talk to someone on the library staff and we’ll be glad to assist.

Watch and Learn
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

The nonfiction DVD collection at the Litchfield Library includes things like documentary films, National Geographic specials, instructional and exercise videos, and a whole bunch of PBS programs. This collection has moved around the library through the years as the number of DVDs has grown, and until recently it was a little difficult to find. We have now moved it to a prominent spot, right next to the new adult books and across from the new DVDs.

So what new nonfiction DVDs can you find at the Litchfield Library? The following are some examples:

American Masters is a PBS biography series that has been running since the 1980s. The library has just added an episode from 2020, Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Page. It’s described as an unvarnished look at the beloved author who was first published at age 65 and went on to write tremendously influential novels about her early life on the American frontier. The program includes interviews with some of the stars of the television show that was loosely based on the books.

Volume one of Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths & Secrets is another new DVD addition. Worsley is the Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces in the UK. She’s also an author and the host of a number of television programs on the BBC. This volume of the series covers Elizabeth I, Queen Anne, and Marie Antoinette, and explores the ways that royal history is a mixture of facts, exaggeration, manipulation, and mythology.

Mary Chapin Carpenter: One Night Lonely is a concert film that was aired on PBS in August. Country music artist Carpenter recorded the solo concert in November of last year in an empty concert venue in Virginia.

Mysteries of Mental Illness is a four-episode PBS documentary from 2021 on the history of mental illness and the ongoing question: what is the best way to treat it? The episodes explore the historical issues of whether mental illness was a manifestation of evil or a disease, what defined “normal,” and the rise and fall of the asylum system, before looking at current treatments and the movement for inclusion.

Nova is a PBS science program that has been airing since 1974.  Our library has recently added the Nova episode Great Electric Airplane Race, which was broadcast this year. This installment explores the possibility of emission-free electric planes.

Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway is a 2017 documentary about the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical “Hamilton.” When the documentary was made, the wildly-popular Broadway show about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton was still quite new. It features interviews with the musical’s writer and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the rest of the cast, as well as footage from the production.

Original Cast Album: Company is a new release of a documentary from 1970. This film is a peek behind the curtain at how the cast, composer, and director worked intensely to record the cast album for the Broadway musical Company by Stephen Sondheim.

Other newly added nonfiction DVDs include Riverdance: 25th Anniversary Show Live from DublinSit and Be Fit: Ready Set & MoveReal Rail Adventures: Swiss International Hubsseason seven of Finding Your Roots, and Sharks of Hawaii.  Learn something new by watching one of these or one of many other DVDs available at the library.

National Pumpkin Day- October 26th

By Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

It is officially pumpkin season. Pumpkins are the favorite autumnal decorations and with some added spice, one of the favorite tastes of the season as well.  Pumpkins are so popular in the United States that they have their own special day. National Pumpkin Day is celebrated on October 26th.

Here are some fun facts about pumpkins:

  • Pumpkins have been growing in the United States for longer than the U.S. has been a country. Scientists have found evidence of pumpkins and pumpkin seeds that date back to between 7000-5000 BC.
  • In the United States, pumpkins were first grown by the indigenous people of North America. Pumpkins were a very important part of their diets through the winter months because they are high in nutrients and will last a long time before spoiling.
  • The practice of carving jack-o’-lanterns came to the United States through Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 1800s. For many families this is a traditional part of celebrating fall and Halloween today.
  • Pumpkins are a fruit and are delicious to eat in many recipes. There are many recipes for pumpkin breads, muffins, cake, soups, and even risotto. Try roasting the seeds from your jack-o’-lantern pumpkin for a healthy and tasty snack.

Reading books about pumpkins is another great way to get into the pumpkin season. Here are some fun children’s books featuring pumpkins that can be found at the Litchfield Public Library.

Book Cover “We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt” by Mary Hogan Wilcox– A group of children set out at night to find the largest pumpkin. Along the way they encounter a scary Jack-o-lantern and overcome their fears to return home for pumpkin pie.

Book Cover “Pumpkin day!” by Candice Ransom– In this easy-reader picture book, a boy and his family visit a pumpkin patch where they ride on a cart, see farm animals and pick out the perfect pumpkin.

Book Cover“Froggy Picks a Pumpkin” by Jonathan London– Froggy goes to the pumpkin patch with his class and has an adventure picking out a contest-winning pumpkin.

Book Cover “Life Cycle of a Pumpkin” by Ron Fridell– This nonfiction picture book introduces the plant life cycle of a pumpkin.

Check out the pumpkin-themed storytime video posted on the Litchfield Library’s website,  OR directly from YouTube at

Until next time, happy reading!


Sifting Through Information
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

Sorting fact from fiction is a challenge in our social media era. Many people have never been taught how to recognize misinformation and find reliable data and experts, so it’s not surprising many of us struggle with that. Librarians are trained to evaluate sources for credibility and to research beyond the claim to find out the source of information. I’m happy to share a few easy techniques you can apply to evaluate information.

The SIFT method is a good tool that I recently learned about at the Minnesota Library Association virtual conference. The name suggests the action of using a sifter to find the solid pieces of information in a flood of everything that comes through to us. The letters stand for Stop, Investigate the source, Find better coverage, and Trace claims, quotes, and media to the original context.

The first step is Stop. When you feel strong emotion, surprise, or a strong urge to share something you come across online, that’s a signal that your emotions might be getting in the way of your evaluation skills. We are all vulnerable to this. “This is outrageous!” “This is astonishing!” “This is exactly what I thought was true, and I want everyone to know it.” These kinds of thoughts and feelings about things we read and hear are just part of being human, but they can lead us to sharing misinformation if we don’t take the next steps.

The next step is Investigate the source. That can mean clicking on the small “i” next to a story on Facebook, looking for the blue checkmark for an account on Twitter or Facebook, or checking to see which website you’re on. Is it what you thought it was? Is it a believable source you’ve heard of before?

If you don’t recognize a source, do a quick search of the source name or website address with the word “Wikipedia” to see if there’s easy information available about that source. Wikipedia isn’t always accurate, but most of the time it’s an easy and reasonable place to start when you’re unfamiliar with something, and it has links to more information. If it’s a major publication or organization, you’ll probably be able to tell from the Wikipedia entry. Sometimes you’ll find out easily that your source is not worth trusting.

If you don’t find evidence that your source is trustworthy, the next step is Find better or other coverage. Do a quick internet search of the story. Most stories that are true are covered by multiple news outlets. Many times, you can find better coverage of the information in a different source; it might be the original story that other news outlets picked up. You might even find that someone has written an article to fact-check the information that you saw. If no one else is covering it and it seems like it should be a major story, that can be a red flag that it isn’t true.

The final step, if you haven’t already gotten to the truth of the matter, is Trace the claim, quote, or media back to the original context. Sometimes that’s as easy as clicking on the link within the story you first read; it may lead you right to the source material. If not, the search you did for other news coverage may bring you to the source of the information.

Make sure to look at the date of that source. Is it recent?

Look over the original source of the information. Does it seem to be saying the same thing as the story you’re trying to verify? Sometimes people take a news story or piece of information and purposely misrepresent it.

There are many more skills to learn about evaluating information, but these four steps are quick things that most people can do to make a big difference. The SIFT method is often taught to beginning college students; it was created by Mike Caulfield, who is a digital literacy expert who works at Washington State University. For more details, visit his website about the technique at

If you would like to dig deeper and find out whether some information you’ve heard is true, please contact me or Rachelle at the library. We have had extensive training in researching questions for library users and finding reliable information, and it’s part of our jobs to do that for you. We’re always glad to help.








Homework Help

October 13, 2021

By Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

With school in full swing, the homework assignments are starting to pile up. The Litchfield Public Library has many resources available to help your students get those assignments completed. Whether your student needs to complete a monthly reading log, do a book report, find some resources for a project, or perhaps needs some extra study materials to help them with a class, the Litchfield Library can help you to find those resources.

The Litchfield Library has a wide collection of picture books and chapter books for school-aged children as well as for middle and high school students.  These books will provide a variety of reading materials to get those reading logs filled in each month, and we can often locate a specific title for book reports. There is also a nice collection of nonfiction books for all grades at the Litchfield Library. These books can help with any homework assignment and can be used as credible resources for reports.

The Pioneerland Library System also provides free access to Brainfuse HelpNow with your library card. Brainfuse is an online homework help service for all grade levels. They offer real-time live tutoring, and college test preparation help, as well as online skill builders in your choice of topics.  Brainfuse also offers a 24-hour writing lab where you can submit your writing assignments for proofreading and constructive feedback.  If you have a homework assignment that you are struggling with, you have the option to send it in for advice and live tutoring.  Wow! This is a great service for all students and it’s free with your library card!

To utilize Brainfuse, you can use a computer at the Litchfield Library or bring your own device into the library and use the library’s free Wi-Fi. You can also access this service at home on your device. You will need your library card number and internet access.  If a child does not have a library card of their own, they can use their parent/guardian’s library card number to access this service. If you wish to get your child their own library card, please contact the Litchfield Library for more information. Follow these easy steps to access this free tutoring and homework help service:

  1. Open your internet browser and go to the Litchfield Library’s website:
  2. On the left side of your screen, click on Learning Tools
  3. Brainfuse should be the top option on the Learning Tools page. Click on: Brainfuse HelpNow
  4. You should now see a screen that states “Welcome to Brainfuse HelpNow” at the top of the page. In the box that says, “Get started”, enter your library card number in the box. Your library card number can be found on the back of your library card under the barcode lines. It is a long number. Once you have it typed into the box, click on Login to HelpNow.
  5. To set up an account with Brainfuse, click on the Login box. You will be prompted to create a username and password. You can use the service without an account, but it will not save your progress in lessons without one. The account is free to set up.
  6. From the home page, you will see multiple options to choose from. Find the option that best fits your needs and click on it.

The Litchfield Library is always happy to help if you need to locate resources or need assistance to log into the Brainfuse HelpNow service that is provided by the Pioneerland Library System.

Until next time, happy reading!

Award-Worth TV at the Library
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

The Emmy Awards are so different now, with few shows nominated from broadcast television, and many programs available only on streaming services. The quality of the programs is extremely high, but we know that many rural residents can’t use streaming services or access cable television for one reason or another. Unfortunately, many streamed television programs are not available to purchase on DVD, but the library acquires many of the top-quality shows that are released on disc. The following television shows were nominated or won at the 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards on September 19, and they are available to check out in our library system, many of them at the Litchfield Library.

Mare of Easttown won most of the acting awards in the limited or anthology series/TV movie category. Kate Winslet won the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a limited series, Julianne Nicholson won as supporting actress, and Evan Peters won in the category of supporting actor. This HBO series is a crime drama, with Winslet playing a detective in a small Pennsylvania town who investigates a local murder while trying to keep her own life from falling apart. This 7-episode mystery series is available to check out from the Litchfield, Dassel, and Cosmos libraries as well as a number of other libraries in our region.

The Crown is a Netflix drama about the life of Queen Elizabeth II and the rest of the British royal family. Season four won nearly every one of the Emmy Awards for drama, including best drama series, writing, and directing. The series also won all four major acting awards for a dramatic series: Josh O’Connor for lead actor as Prince Charles, Olivia Coleman for lead actress as Queen Elizabeth, Gillian Anderson for supporting actress as Margaret Thatcher, and Tobias Menzies for supporting actor as Prince Philip. The fourth season is set in the years 1979 to 1990, covering Margaret Thatcher’s years as Prime Minister and most of Princess Diana’s years with the royal family. Seasons one through three are available at Dassel Library as well as other libraries in our system; season four is on order and should arrive in early November.

Genius is a dramatic biography series on the National Geographic Channel. Each season focuses on a different innovator; so far they have featured Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, and Aretha Franklin. Cynthia Erivo was nominated in the category of lead actress in a limited series for season three, titled “Aretha.” Litchfield Library has this DVD set on order.

The new HBO series Perry Mason is nothing like the TV series of the same name from the 1960s, although it is based on the same series of detective novels. Matthew Rhys was nominated for best lead actor in a drama series for playing Mason, and John Lithgow was nominated for the supporting actor award. In the new TV series, the writers imagined what was happening in Perry Mason’s life 2 years before the first novel, placing him in an edgy 1930s Los Angeles with a seedy private eye career, when he begins investigating the kidnapping and murder of a child and develops a sense of justice. The nominated first season is available to check out at Litchfield Library and several other libraries in Pioneerland.

Lovecraft Country was nominated for outstanding drama series as well as for acting and writing. This horror series is based on a novel by Matt Ruff, telling the story of a Korean War vet traveling throughout America in the 1950s, facing monsters from H.P. Lovecraft novels along with the racial terrors of the Jim Crow era. This DVD set is available to order from two Pioneerland libraries.

TV on DVD at the library runs the gamut from PBS Kids shows to Hallmark Channel movies to Stephen King’s The Stand, so there’s something for everyone. Take a look at the display above the DVDs at the Litchfield Library to browse for more TV-watching ideas.

Spooky stories for Autumn

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

Autumn is a great time to read a spooky story, especially with Halloween right around the corner.  Here are some great scary stories for children and teens to enjoy this fall:

Book Cover “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything” by Linda Williams: This picture book is great for all ages! A little old lady who lives in a forest must deal with spooky objects following her through the woods trying to scare her.  With repetitive phrasing, children will love to read along with you!

Book Cover “Creepy Carrots” by Aaron Reynolds: This picture book is a laugh-out-loud hoot to read. Jasper Rabbit starts to see carrots from Crackenhopper field in the most peculiar places. Are the carrots following him? What’s a little rabbit to do? Check out the sequel, “Creepy Pair of Underwear.”

Book Cover “Scary Stories for Young Foxes” by Christian McKay Heidicker: This chapter book features a collection of six connected stories which follow a group of fox kits as they survive in the wilderness. Great for ages 9 and older.

Book Cover “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman: This story follows a girl, Coraline, who discovers a world that is similar yet very different from her own. She must face a gruesome entity to save herself, her parents and three other souls from this world. This chapter book is recommended for ages 8 and older.

Book Cover“The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein” by Kiersten White: This story is a re-telling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein from the perspective of Elizabeth, who is an adopted child of the Frankenstein’s. She was adopted as a companion for their unpredictable son, Victor. Recommended for teens.

Book Cover “Eat Your Heart Out” by Kelly DeVos: This story follows six teens as they are forced to spend their winter break at camp during the worst blizzard in a century. These campers find out that the neighboring camp is literally crawling with monsters. Recommended for teens.

You might need to leave the lights on after reading these scary stories.

All Litchfield Library children’s programs will be either digital or a take-home kit for the month of October. No in-person children’s programs will be held. Please check the library’s website for up-to-date information on programs and services, and to view the recorded storytimes:

Until next time, happy reading!

A Bumper Crop of Fall Books
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

This fall brings a bumper crop of new books from beloved and respected authors. Whether they’ve already been released or they’re anticipated for later this fall, these books are causing as much buzz as the yellow jackets we’re dealing with these days.

Beautiful World, Where Are You is the third novel by Sally Rooney. Her other two novels, Normal People and Conversations with Friends, both made it onto multiple best-of-the-year lists and were bestsellers. Her newest is also a bestseller, and the critics love it.  It’s a coming-of-age novel about four young adults in Ireland, exploring their friendships and romantic relationships. Critics use words like “exacting,” “sharp,” “taut,” and “precise” to describe her style, and they say she writes with the sure and confident hand of an older and more experienced author, while serving as an authentic voice of the Millennial generation. This novel is available now.

Colson Whitehead has won two Pulitzer Prizes, one in 2017 for his novel The Underground Railroad and the other in 2020 for his novel The Nickel Boys. His new novel Harlem Shuffle is one of the big books of this fall. It’s described as a heist novel/family saga/morality play/social novel about race, set in 1960s Harlem. Ray is an upstanding furniture salesman who comes from a family of criminals, a fact he hides. His cousin is a thief who plans a heist at a fancy hotel, and he involves his respectable cousin as a fence for the stolen goods, sending his life and business into chaos. Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novels were heavy, but this one is described as fun and entertaining. “Harlem Shuffle” was just released September 14.

Anthony Doerr is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, winning the award in 2015 for the bestselling and beloved novel All the Light We Cannot See. His newest, Cloud Cuckoo Land, is being published September 28. This epic novel connects stories of a teenage girl in the siege of Constantinople in 1422, an elderly man in a 20th century library where a bomb has been set, and another teenage girl on a spaceship in the future. All of them are somehow related to an ancient Greek story that has survived through history. With themes of hope and stewardship, this book celebrates books, stories, and librarians.

Amor Towles’ novel A Gentleman in Moscow was a bestselling book and a favorite of critics in 2016. His upcoming novel, The Lincoln Highway, is coming out on October 5. Set in the ‘50s, this road trip novel starts when 18-year-old Emmett is released from a juvenile work farm in Nebraska after serving his sentence, intending to head to California with his one remaining family member, his 8-year-old brother. He discovers that two of his friends stowed away with him to escape the farm, and they intend to take them all to New York City.

Other anticipated novels this fall include The Sentence by Louise Erdrich, which will be released on November 9; Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout, coming out on October 19; The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, which is newly available; and Matrix by Lauren Groff, which is already available.

The fall looks like a satisfying time for those who like to read well-crafted literature by top authors. You can request these books through our library catalog, even if they aren’t published yet; library staff are happy to help you order them, too.

Not Your Grandmother’s Christian Fiction
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

Christian fiction, also called inspirational fiction, can appeal to readers who want a faith-based perspective in their reading. According to Amy Green, a publicist for publisher Bethany House, “The common stereotype from 20 years ago was that Christian fiction was mostly sweet and not very controversial. Someone picking up a book [now] might be surprised to find that it’s not what their grandmother’s Christian fiction looked like.”

Many inspirational fiction readers use the Litchfield Library regularly, so we get some traditional Christian fiction automatically in large print each month. We have recently added some other inspirational novels that have gotten good reviews and have won awards.

Whose Waves These Are is a novel by Amanda Dykes that was named Book of the Year in 2020 at the Christy Awards, which are given for outstanding Christian fiction. A fisherman from a tiny town in Maine publishes a poem in the newspaper in 1944, asking people to send him a rock for the person they lost in the war, and promising he would build something with them. The poem goes viral (before that was a term), and when his niece comes to help him in 2001, she finds boxes of rocks still in his house and stone ruins on an island. This work of romantic historical fiction is described as moving and subtle, with believable characters and themes of grief, atonement, and hope. The novel was published in 2019 but is new to the Litchfield collection.

Dykes also wrote Set the Stars Alight, another seaside novel set in both the past and the present day. In this book, the events of the past take place 200 years before. A marine archaeologist discovers an artifact in her late parents’ home in London, and her astronomer friend helps her explore its link to a story of three young friends at an estate on the coast, generations earlier. Reviewers say it has surprising twists and heartwarming friendship, and that it should appeal to both inspirational and secular fiction readers.

The Girl Behind the Red Rope is a novel by Ted Dekker and his daughter Rachelle Dekker. Ted is a bestselling author of many Christian thriller, fantasy, and historical novels. “The Girl Behind the Red Rope” is a thriller about a girl living in an isolated religious community in Tennessee, following the rules that will keep her safe and pure, and staying behind the barrier surrounding them. The arrival of the first outsiders she has seen in a decade cause her to question everything. Reviewers say it’s a suspenseful and provocative novel about the world of religious extremism, but ultimately hopeful. It won the 2020 Christy Award in the best mystery/suspense/thriller category.

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner was a finalist for the 2020 Christy Award in the category of general fiction. Set in 1967, the novel features an estranged family in a small town who are learning to come together while the main character’s brother is serving as an army medic in Vietnam. Reviewers describe it as realistic and beautifully written, featuring believable characters who reach the end of the book with greater faith and mutual respect.

Other recent additions to the Litchfield Library’s inspirational fiction collection include A Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham, Fragments of Light by Michele Phoenix, and On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jamie Jo Wright.

The finalists for the 2021 Christy Awards will be announced soon. Look for those lists if you enjoy Christian fiction and are looking for top-notch writing.

Back to School Titles

By: Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

The first days of a new school year can be filled with anticipation, excitement, and nervousness for children of all grades and formats of schooling. Sharing picture books with your child can help them experience those first day-jitters through the viewpoints of characters in a story and let them gain a sense of security and acceptance about starting a new school year. These five picture books are in the Litchfield Library children’s collection along with many other “first day of school” and school-themed stories.

Book Cover “Time for School, Little Blue Truck” by Alice Schertle: In this story we tag along with a favorite book character, Little Blue Truck, and his animal friends. What will Blue do when his friends miss the school bus?

Book Cover “The Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson: This picture book reminds us all that it can be hard to start something new. Remember that we are all unique, and that sharing our stories with others allows friendships to grow.

Book Cover  “The First Day of School” by Ester Van Der Berg: It’s Robin’s first day of school and he is not looking forward to it. After going to school though, he realizes how much fun he had. This is a great picture book to share with children heading to preschool or kindergarten for the first time.

Book Cover  “Chu’s First Day of School” by Neil Gaiman: Chu learns about all the special things his classmates can do on his first day of school. After some experimenting, Chu finds and shares what is special about himself.

Book Cover “Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes: This is a sweet story about a little mouse who loves her name, Chrysanthemum, until she goes to school where other children make fun of her name. A teacher and her parents come to her rescue while also teaching her classmates that teasing is not okay.

Make sure to get your summer reading logs turned in by August 28th to be entered into the bonus prize drawings.

Until next time, happy reading!

Resources to Get a Jump-Start on Back-to-School

By: Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

While many of us are still enjoying summer activities, back to school is right around the corner. Research has shown that kids who participate in library reading programs or have a daily habit of reading return to school in the fall with strong literacy and math skills as opposed to the children who do not read regularly throughout the summer months. The Litchfield Public Library can help you give your children a head-start with a variety of materials and resources.

The Litchfield Public Library and Pioneerland Library System have a large collection of children’s books for all ages. From picture books, to easy readers and beginner chapter books, to full sized novels the Litchfield Library can find something for everyone. Spending at least 20 minutes per day with your early readers is important. These 20 minutes can be split into smaller chucks of time if needed. Bedtime and nap times are a great way to develop a designated time and habit for sharing books with your children. As your child becomes an independent reader it is important to show interest in what they are reading. Ask them to tell you about the book that they are reading. Perhaps read a book together or have a family book club.

Audio books are a great way to incorporate stories that might be at a higher reading level for your child. They are a great way to pass the time during car trips or just passing the afternoon when it is too hot to play outside. Pair an audio book and its matching title in book format for kids to read along.  Audio books are available for picture books as well as chapter books.

Libby and Overdrive are the two digital libraries provided by Pioneerland. These digital libraries include picture books, chapter books, magazines, and audio books for kids, as well as a good collection of modern and classic books for teens.

Storytime is a library program that is currently meeting on Fridays at 10am. This is a fun relaxed program which includes a variety of picture books read aloud and more. For fall programming starting in September, storytime will also feature an arts & craft project. Storytime is planned for preschool ages; however, all ages are welcome to attend.

BrainFuse is a free online tutoring service through the Pioneerland Library System for grades K-12. Tutoring is available in English and Spanish and covers all major subject areas. Click the BrainFuse graphic found on the left sidebar on the Litchfield Library’s website to access this service.  You will need your library card to access this online service.

Day by Day online storytimes is a web based storytime with songs, video links, and suggested activities for children.  Click the link found on the left side bar on the Litchfield Library’s website to access this resource.

Learning Express Library includes online tutorials, practice tests, and e-books. It includes subjects such as writing, math, science, career skills and job search, college test prep, and more.  You will need your library card to access this online service. To access this resource, click on ‘Learning Tools’ located on the left sidebar on the Litchfield Library’s website.

eLibrary MN (ELM) is a digital library for the state of Minnesota. This is a great resource for nonfiction children’s and teens’ books. There is also a large collection of digital graphic novels and fiction books for kids and teens.  This is a free service to anyone in the state of Minnesota. To access this resource, click on Learning Tools located on the left sidebar on the Litchfield Library’s website.

Enjoy the last days of summer and get a head-start on school by checking out these awesome resources for children and teens.  If you need help to access any of these resources, please ask a librarian; we are happy help!

Until next time, happy reading!


Summer Digital Programs bring music and culture from Australia

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian


The Pioneerland Library System just launched a system-wide dual digital program for all 32 library branches, including the Litchfield Public Library. These exciting video programs for all ages are made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and are currently available for viewing through August 6th.

Tails and Tales: Australian music, animals and more is an energetic fusion of Australian music, culture, comedy, character building, storytelling, and audience movement! This program is recommended for all ages.

Aussie Funk Jam is a hands-on video program. Participants will learn how to make a didgeridoo from household items and how to play it. You will also learn about Australian and Aboriginal culture.  You can even participate in a virtual jam session with the video! This program is recommended for older children and teens; however, all ages are welcome to watch.

Both video programs are created and performed by Rob Thomas of Didgeridoo Down Under. Rob has been making and playing didgeridoos for 30 years and has performed throughout the United States. He has recorded many CDs and has even created music for several films. Rob loves to inspire children to become better global citizens through his music and motivational talks about literacy, character, and environmentalism. After traveling the world and living in Australia, Rob currently resides in western North Carolina with his wife and their many pets.

To access these video programs, go to your library’s website and click on the link to register for the program. The Litchfield Public Library’s web address is Immediately after you have registered you will get a message with the link to access the video program. The programs are posted in a Google Classroom. If you wish to watch the program at a later time, simply bookmark the link and save the access code for the Google Classroom so you can easily find it again on your computer or internet device. Each program has its own registration; if you would like to watch both programs you will need to register for each program.

Be sure to complete the program evaluation form after watching each video! These evaluations are important to the Pioneerland Library System as well as to the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. By completing the short evaluation form found in each of the programs Google Classrooms, you will help your library to bring in future programming.

Until next time, happy reading!

Music Speaks to the Heart
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

“Where words fail, music speaks.” Author Hans Christian Andersen is known for writing beloved stories such as The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid, but he also wrote this famous quotation celebrating the power of music.

The Litchfield Library has many music CDs, books about music and musicians, and DVDs featuring music in one way or another. Some new additions to the local collection are available for checkout or to request:

This year’s Grammy Award in the category of Best Roots Gospel Album went to Celebrating Fisk: The 150th Anniversary Album by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The Fisk Jubilee Singers are an American a cappella ensemble that performs spirituals originally sung by slaves before the Civil War. This album includes favorites such as “Wade in the Water,” “Blessed Assurance” featuring Cece Winans, and “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Taylor Swift’s album folklore won the Grammy for Album of the Year. This album has proved difficult to categorize, with some calling it alternative music, pop, or folk. I would call it primarily folk music, with her country and pop roots affecting the mature, poetic songs. If you enjoy folk music but think you don’t like Swift based on her earlier songs, I would suggest you give this album a listen; you might be surprised at its complexity.

Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album has been a best-selling album this year. This is the second album for the country singer, and it features duets with Chris Stapleton and Ben Burgess.

All three of these music CDs are available to check out from Litchfield Library.

Filmed stage productions of musicals are only occasionally available to the public, but perhaps the tide is turning with the pandemic shutting down live theatre for so long and with Hamilton leading the way with its filmed version available on Disney Plus. The UK production of 42nd Street is available on DVD to check out from the library. This musical is based on a 1932 novel and a 1933 movie, plus other songs of the ‘30s written by the movie musical’s composers. The original stage show opened in 1980; the filmed production is a revival that opened in 2017.

The book Odetta: A Life in Music and Protest is a biography by Ian Zack. Called “the Voice of the Civil Rights Movement, Odetta was an opera-trained singer who wrote and sang folk songs that inspired protestors and activists, as well as many artists through the decades from the 1960s to the present. The author interviewed Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, and many other musicians who worked alongside her.

If the Litchfield Community Theatre’s production of The Sound of Music puts you in the mood for more of the musical, you can come to the library for a fix. Litchfield Library has the Julie Andrews movie from 1965, the movie soundtrack on CD, the 2013 television production The Sound of Music: Live!  and the book The Sound of Music Story: How a Beguiling Young Novice, a Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time by Tom Santopietro.

As Maria sings in the musical, “the hills are alive with the sound of music.” I hope music that you enjoy surrounds you this summer.

The Joy of Listening to Stories
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

More and more people are discovering the joys of audiobooks. If you’re taking a road trip this summer, if you commute for work, or if you like to have something to entertain you while you accomplish something like cleaning or cooking, audiobooks can be a fun and interesting way to pass the time.

Pioneerland Library System has a substantial collection of downloadable audiobooks on the Overdrive e-book service. You can access those with your library card through the Overdrive and Libby apps, and listen with your phone, tablet, or computer. These audiobooks are very popular, because you can check them out from home or anywhere you have an internet connection for your device, and play them on the go, even if your vehicle doesn’t have a CD player.

The newest additions to Pioneerland’s downloadable audiobook collection include The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story by Kate Summerscale, The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States by Walter Johnson, and Cold Mourning, a Stonechild and Rouleau mystery by Brenda Chapman.

Our libraries continue to get new books on CD, as well. If you like to play audiobooks in your CD player, you can choose from a large collection of those at Litchfield Library and other libraries in the Pioneerland system.

Litchfield Library has recently added Susan Mallery’s book Meant to Be Yours as a book on CD. This is the fifth book in the Happily Inc. series of romances. Wedding coordinator Renee believes she isn’t meant to get married. Then she meets author Jasper, a former military man who thinks he’s too damaged for relationships. Together they have to decide whether to take a chance on love.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is another new addition to the Litchfield collection of books on CD. Actress Carey Mulligan reads this fantasy novel, which has been a big hit with general readers. The library in the title contains an infinite number of books. For each person, there’s one book telling the story of a person’s life as it happened, and another book for each of the lives they could have lived if they’d made different choices. Some compare it to the movie It’s a Wonderful Life or the TV show The Good Place; the premise also reminds me of the new TV show Loki. Despite the somewhat unsettling premise, reviewers say it’s a feel-good book.

James Patterson comes out with a new book about once a month, and they are always popular. The Litchfield and Cosmos libraries recently added his book 1st Case on CD. Co-written with Chris Tebbetts, this technothriller features hacker Angela who gets kicked out of MIT and recruited to the FBI. Angela has very little training before starting on her dangerous first case, tracking a pair of serial killer brothers.

The other libraries in Meeker County have a selection of new books on CD available, as well. Grove City Library has recently added The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, Walk in My Combat Boots by James Patterson and Matt Eversmann, and The Bounty by Janet Evanovich. Dassel has recently gotten a couple of classics: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Cosmos Library’s new additions are Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, and The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter.

Does it count as reading books when you listen to audiobooks? Yes! It’s just another format. If you like to read by listening, the library supports you in doing that. Stop in or go online to find your next listening adventure.

Graphic Novels

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

Summer reading at the Litchfield Public Library has kicked off to a great start. You can still pick up your reading log anytime throughout the summer. All sorts of books are flying of the shelves and into the hands of eager summer readers. The graphic novel is one type of book that has seen a huge growth in popularity across all ages.

Graphic novels and comics have a history of being recognized as less challenging or fluff reading; however, graphic novels are full-length novels with complex plots, characters, and vocabulary, just formatted similarly to that of comic strips. Graphic novels are a great place to start for reluctant readers as the combination of text and images helps the reader to decode and comprehend the story at a higher level than that of text-only novels. This combination of text and high-quality illustrations make graphic novels a high-quality, sought-after reading material for all ages.

Graphic novels help the reader to build reading and comprehension skills like vocabulary, fluency, grammar, figurative language, inferencing, sequencing, and more. The text formatting in graphic novels can vary throughout the story to show emotions, thoughts, and feelings which also directly relate to the images provided on each page; making graphic novels a wonderful resource for building and learning social and emotional skills through the relationships found between the text and images.

Graphic novels can be found in every genre including fiction and nonfiction categories. Classic literature is also being retold through graphic novel formats for children and teens. These graphic novels can introduce classics to children at an earlier age in a format that is more easily understood. It will also help children and teens to relate to the unabridged classic texts when they are ready to tackle them.

The Pioneerland Library System and the Litchfield Public Library have a wide selection of graphic novels for all readers, including popular series titles such as “Dogman” by Dav Pilkey and “Wings of Fire” by Tui Sutherland.  The Litchfield Library orders new upcoming graphic novel titles on a regular basis. Check out the ‘New Books’ shelf in the children’s area to find the newest graphic novels. The Litchfield Library also has a designated section just for children’s and young adult graphic novels located in the children’s area. Some graphic novels that have recently arrived on the ‘New Books’ shelf at the Litchfield library include:

“Blue, Barry & Pancakes” by Dan & Jason- Litchfield has both volumes 1 and 2 of this new graphic novel series recommended for ages 6-8 (volume 3 will be out this fall). Blue, Barry, and Pancakes are the best of friends and often find themselves on wild space adventures.

“Miles Morales Shock Waves: A Spider-Man Graphic Novel” by Justin A. Reynolds. This Spidey-themed novel is recommended for ages 9-11. Can Miles, or uh, Spider-Man, save a new student’s missing father?

“Dragon Hoops” by Gene Luen Yang. This big action, high school basketball story is recommended for teen readers. This year’s epic basketball season is going to change lives including his own.

Until next time, happy reading!

Beach Reads for Hot Days
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

In the summer, some people look for books referred to as “beach reads.” Some look for a good book to take on vacation or to the lake. (And yes, now and then a library book does get dropped in a lake.) Some just want an absorbing book to read while they sit still and try to stay cool. The Litchfield Library has a variety of new books that would be fun for different kinds of readers.

If you’re looking for a contemporary romance, Anchored Hearts by Priscilla Oliveras might interest you. An award-winning photographer returns home to Key West after traveling the world. He faces the complications of restoring relationships with his estranged family and seeing the woman he loved who he left behind years ago. This is Oliveras’ second romantic comedy set in Key West, Florida, featuring Latinx families.

If fluffy mysteries are your thing, pick up Cat Me if You Can by Miranda James. This is the 13th book in the Cat in the Stacks cozy mystery series, and it’s a crossover with James’s Southern Ladies series. Charlie Harris and his cat Diesel travel to Asheville, North Carolina, with Charlie’s fiancée. They stay at a fancy hotel and attend a meeting of the mystery book club at the public library. An uninvited guest at the book club meeting is murdered; let’s hope THAT never happens when our mystery book club meets! Charlie, Diesel, and the Ducote sisters from the Southern Ladies series team up to solve the crime.

If action and adventure are more fun for you, you could try Critical Point by S.L. Huang. It’s described as a sci-fi thriller, and it’s the third book in the Cas Russell series. Cas is a math genius and a vigilante with superhuman abilities. She works to stop a dangerous group that’s trying to brainwash the world, and the people involved target her friends in retribution. Reviewers say it should appeal to people who like morally-ambiguous superheroes.

For a realistic thriller rather than a sci-fi thriller, look for The Devil May Dance by Jake Tapper. Tapper is an anchor on CNN, and this is his second book in the Charlie and Margaret Marder mystery series. Set in the ‘60s, this one involves Bobby Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, the Sands in Las Vegas, the Rat Pack, Hollywood, and Scientology.

If you prefer real to imagined history, Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II may be what you’re looking for. Author Daniel James Brown wrote the bestselling “The Boys in the Boat” about the U.S. Olympic rowing team in 1936. This time he tells the story of four Japanese-American families and their sons who fought for the U.S. overseas, while their families were put in concentration camps here at home.

Another work of real history, the memoir My Remarkable Journey tells Katherine Johnson’s life story in her own words, with the help of authors Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore. If you enjoyed the book or movie “Hidden Figures,” you know about the contributions NASA mathematician Johnson made to America’s first flights into space. This memoir covers her entire life, from her origins as a child prodigy in West Virginia to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom at age 97. Johnson died in 2020 at the age of 101.

Whatever you find fun, suspenseful, or fascinating to read, you usually can find it through the library. You can search the online catalog and place requests there, call the library to request a book, or walk in to peruse the shelves. The doors are unlocked and the library isn’t making appointments for visits anymore; just drop by any time during normal library hours, and you can take all the time you want picking out your books. Curbside pickup is still available, as well.

Summer Reading Program

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

The Litchfield Public Library will have a full summer reading program starting on June 1st. The program will run through the summer and end on August 28th, 2021. This summer’s reading program will be bold, bright and colorful with the theme “Reading Colors Your World”.  The summer reading program will include reading logs to earn prizes, bonus prize drawings, activity packets, take-home kits, digital programs, outdoor small group programs and an outdoor storytime.

  • Storytime will be held outdoors on Friday mornings at 10am starting June 11th through August 20th. There will not be a storytime program on July 2nd in celebration of the Independence Day holiday. Storytime is geared towards preschool and elementary grade levels but is open to all ages.
  • Maker Space for grades 3-5 is where kids will create a hands-on STEAM based project. This will be held on June 16th, July 14th, and August 11th at 1pm. This is an outdoor program and all participants will need to register in advanced with the library in order to attend. There are capacity limits for this program.
  • Australian Music Animals & More is a digital video program for all ages. Learn about Australian culture and animals through this upbeat musical performance. This will be available from July 12th through August 6th. Registration is required for access to the video. More information will be posted on how to register as we get closer to the program date.
  • Aussie Funk Jam Didgeridoo Workshop is a digital video program recommended for ages 10-18. This will be available from July 12th through August 6th. This program will also include a take-home kit with materials to construct your own digeridoo along with the video program. Registration is required for access to the video. More information will be posted on how to register as we get closer to the program date.
  • Take & Make kits for children will be available each month. These kits are geared towards preschool and elementary grades.
  • The library will continue to offer activity packets with a variety of coloring and activity pages throughout the summer months. You can pick one up during your next visit to the library.
  • In the event of bad weather, all outdoor programs will be cancelled. Examples include rain, storms, and excessive heat warnings, etc. Notices will be posted in the event of a cancelation online and at the library.
  • All library take-home kits and activity packets are available while supplies last.
  • Bonus prize drawings will take place at the end of the summer reading program. There are multiple ways to earn entries to your choice of three children’s bonus prize drawings and three teens’ bonus prize drawings. Five names will be drawn for each of the bonus prize choices.

Make sure to visit the Litchfield Public Library’s website for the most up-to-date information regarding programs and activities. You can also call the library at (320) 693-2483.

Until next time, happy reading!

Summer Slide

By Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

Summer break is right around the corner.  Many of us are looking forward to a break from Zoom classes and navigating the many digital education tools that we had to learn in a crash-course fashion to keep our students going with digital education this school year. While educators and parents deserve a well-earned break there is still hard work ahead of us this summer as we enter the season of summer slide.

Summer slide refers to the academic losses which happen over the summer months when schools are not in session. When students are not actively engaged with learning opportunities, they forget some of the knowledge and skills that were learned during the school year.  Children that do not read during the summer months can lose up to two months of learning by the start of the next school year. While the summer slide has been a long-time worry, this summer is different as we must also include what is being called the COVID slide. The COVID slide refers to the learning losses that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic year in which many schools experienced closures.

Families can get help with negating some of the effects of the summer slide through summer programs such as those provided by schools, community education, and libraries. Students that participate in library summer reading programs can: score higher on math and reading achievement tests at the beginning of next school year; have access to ongoing learning opportunities to practice and learn skills; and learn to use the library as a lifelong source for learning and information.

The Litchfield Public Library will be offering a full summer reading program with activities such as reading logs, storytime, maker-space, take-home activities, and digital programs. Summer reading starts on June 1st.  All the summer programs provided by the Litchfield Public Library are free to all children. Some programs are limited by age-appropriateness or by group capacity limits. Please check with the library for more information regarding any program questions you may have. Just a reminder that all outdoor programs will be canceled in the event of bad weather. Here is a quick overview of the programs aimed to decrease the effects of summer slide at the Litchfield Public Library:

Storytime: This outdoor storytime can be enjoyed by children of all ages. It is geared towards preschool and lower elementary grade levels, but all are welcome. During storytime, we will explore and learn literacy skills through stories, fingerplays, songs, and movement. Since this program is outdoors please dress in weather-appropriate clothing and bring a blanket or lawn chair for seating.

Maker-space: This outdoor small group program will explore STEAM concepts through hands on projects for grades 3-5. This program will be held once per month and is planned to be a 1-hour long program. You must be registered ahead of time to participate in this program. Please contact the library to register.

Tails & Tales Australian music, animals, and more! Digital program: An energetic fusion of Australian music, culture, comedy, character building, storytelling, and audience movement! Video access available July 12-August 6. Must register for video access. For all ages. Watch the library’s website for more details to come.

Aussie Funk Jam Didgeridoo workshop: Digital video program recommended for ages 10-18. Must register for video access. Watch the library’s website for more details to come.

Reading logs with incentive prizes: The goal is to make reading a joyful, long-lasting experience for children and teens. Reading books of your choosing and earning small prizes along the way creates a positive reading experience that lasts. Logs will be available starting on June 1st at the Litchfield Public Library.

Take-home activities: There will be monthly activity packets that feature a variety of coloring pages, pencil and paper puzzles and games, along with reading, writing, and math practice pages. There will also be monthly take and make kits for children to explore arts and crafts materials through a different project kit each month. All take-home activities are available while supplies last.

Until next time, happy reading!

How Can I Watch the Oscar Winners?
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

The Academy Awards happened with a delayed and COVID-adapted ceremony recently. It’s an understatement to say it has been an unusual year for movies. It’s also true that access to movies has had something of a shift in the past few years, as some are available only through streaming services and not on DVD, making them unavailable for library purchase. Some of the Oscar-winning and nominated movies are available now to borrow from the library, some will be soon, and others may never be.

Promising Young Woman is available in Pioneerland libraries now, including at Litchfield Library. The film won the Academy Award for best original screenplay, and it was nominated for best picture, best actress, best director, and best film editing. Described as a revenge movie mixed with dark comedy, the movie stars Carey Mulligan as a brilliant, grieving woman leading a double life.

Soul is the new Disney/Pixar movie directed by former Minnesotan Pete Docter. This children’s film appeals to all ages, with gorgeous animation and a storyline about finding your passion and the beauty in life. It won the awards for best animated feature film and best score., and it was nominated for best sound. “Soul” is currently available in many Pioneerland libraries, including Litchfield.

Judas and the Black Messiah is newly available on DVD at Litchfield Library and others in the system.  Based on a true story, the movie tells the story of William O’Neal, who infiltrated a chapter of the Black Panther Party as part of a plea deal with the FBI in order to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton. Daniel Kaluuya won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Hampton. The movie’s song “Fight for You” by H.E.R. won the award for best song. The film was also nominated for best picture, best original screenplay, best cinematography, and best supporting actor, LaKeith Stanfield playing O’Neal.

The best international feature film honor went to Another Round, which is currently available through the libraries. This Danish tragicomedy stars Mads Mikkelsen as a high school teacher who begins an experiment with four other teachers: they decide to drink daily and maintain a constant blood alcohol level to see if it improves their lives. The movie’s director was nominated for an Oscar, as well.

The visual effects category at the Academy Awards is normally full of action, fantasy, and sci fi movies. This is usually the group of movies I’m most familiar with! On the NPR podcast “Pop Culture Happy Hour,” the hosts mentioned that this year there weren’t many of the big action blockbusters to fill that category, so they believed the winner, Tenet, was lucky to get such an honor. In any case, this Christopher Nolan sci-fi thriller about a man fighting for the survival of the world was also nominated for best production design. It’s available through the libraries now.

Minari will be available for checkout later this month. This drama about a Korean-American family starting a farm in 1980s Arkansas was nominated for best picture, best actor (Steven Yeun), best director, best original screenplay, and best score. Yuh-Jung Joun won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her performance as the family’s grandmother.

The family drama The Father will also be available in Pioneerland libraries in the second half of May. Anthony Hopkins won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of a man with dementia, and the movie won the award for adapted screenplay.

Many of the nominated movies are also available through the library now or will be soon. Stop into the library to browse the DVD collection, search the online catalog from home, or give the library a call to request the movie you’d like to watch. You can pick them up through curbside, or you can walk in to check them out; the library doors are unlocked for drop-in visitors.

Children’s Bilingual Books

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

Hello! Hola! Did you know that the Litchfield Public Library has a wonderful collection of bilingual books in Spanish and English? The bilingual books in the children’s collections are getting a new look with an added spine label sticker. The purpose of the new bilingual spine label is to help patrons to easily find children’s books that are in both English and Spanish. Bilingual books are great for teaching and learning multiple languages or for children who are growing up with multiple languages in their homes. These books are also great for readers of only English or Spanish, as the books can be enjoyed by children in both languages.

Bilingual books are great to read aloud to your children, as well as, for independent reading. For children who do not know Spanish, reading bilingual books allows children the opportunity to see, compare, and relate the Spanish words with the English words. The Litchfield Library has several bilingual first words and beginner picture dictionaries; this type of book is wonderful for all readers who are learning a new language. These books show a picture along with the word for the picture in both languages. This can help readers gain vocabulary in both languages. For those who already know or are learning Spanish or English reading bilingual books helps the reader to focus on both languages within the text, as well as, helps them to gain vocabulary and comprehension of both languages. Bilingual children’s books are a great resource for teens and adults who are learning Spanish or English and want to practice reading. The shorter length of children’s books makes the task of reading in a language other than your own first language seem less daunting.

Bilingual books are also a great way to read stories about cultures, people, and places that are different from you and your own experiences. Reading diverse books inspire empathy and can help children to look at the world with multiple points of view. The Litchfield library has a variety of children’s fiction and nonfiction bilingual books. Some suggested titles that can be found in the Litchfield children’s collection include: ¡Pío Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes: Ada, Alma Flor, Campoy, F. Isabel, Schertle, Alice, Escriva, Vivi: Books “Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes” selected by Alma Flor Ada

My 1st Spanish Word Book / Mi Primer Libro De Palabras EnEspanol: A Bilingual Word Book: Angela Wilkes: 9781564582553: Books “My First Spanish Word Book: mi primer libro de palabras: a bilingual word book” by Angela Wilkes

Book Cover “Calor: A Story of Warmth for All Ages” by Junita Alba illustrated by Amado Peña

We also have a nonfiction children’s series that is trilingual. It features English, Spanish, and American Sign Language.  Some titles in this series written by Kathleen Petelinsek include: “Family and Friends/ Familia y Amigos”, “Clothes/Ropa”, and “At Play/Jugando”.

Whether you are looking for books in Spanish, English and even American Sign Language the Litchfield Public Library has a unique collection of bilingual books for children of all ages. As always, the staff at the Litchfield library are happy to help if you need assistance locating a title.

Until next time, happy reading!


Magazines for Chilly Days
by Beth Cronk

After an early start, spring has slowed down, which makes for good reading weather. One kind of reading material you might forget about is magazines. Our library offers a variety of magazines in print and electronic form for you to check out.

In pre-pandemic times, our newest magazine issues could only be read in the library. These days you’ll need to limit your time in the library, so even the most current magazines are available for checkout. Newspaper issues can also be checked out, with the exception of the Litchfield Independent Review.

Some popular choices in the Litchfield magazine collection include People, The Atlantic Monthly, Country Living, American Patchwork and Quilting, and HGTV Magazine.

Magazines can be requested from other libraries, too. You can search for a magazine title in the catalog. You can tell it’s a magazine because it will say “magazines” where the call number goes, and it will say “serials” along the left side of the page. You can also call the library to ask if we can order a particular magazine for you. Some popular choices you can request from other libraries include Quilting Arts, Ranger Rick, Better Homes & Gardens, Country Woman, and the Scooby-Doo comic books.

Pioneerland Library System added e-magazines back into the Overdrive e-book service during the pandemic, so that people would have easier access to magazines from home. To find them, go to your Libby or Overdrive app and look for the magazine category, or go to the library catalog on a computer and click on “Download ebooks,” then look for the magazine category along the top of the screen.

Pioneerland’s e-magazines include magazines that cover travel, health and fitness, food, and home and garden, among many other topics. There are 1,200 electronic issues available to borrow from the comfort of your home.

Not sure which magazine you want to read? You can come into the Litchfield Library to take a look at the shelves. The doors are unlocked and you don’t need an appointment to browse the collection or check out your holds. You’ll need to limit your time to about fifteen to twenty minutes and wear a mask correctly throughout your visit. Visiting the library works mostly the same way it has for several months, but now with no need to call ahead unless you need a computer or the small study room. If we reach capacity, we may ask you to wait outside until someone else leaves.

Age limits have returned to normal policy: children age seven and younger need to be supervised in the library by someone twelve years old or older.

Curbside pickup remains available during all library hours. Call from outside and staff will be happy to bring your things out.

Whichever way you use the library – in person, through curbside service, or from home – we are happy to help you find the library materials you want.

Books for Mystery Fans

by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes said some version of this in many stories. Mystery readers enjoy trying to solve puzzles as they read, and usually they are voracious readers. Are you looking for a new mystery novel? Litchfield Library has many to check out.

Who Speaks for the Damned is a recent novel in the Sebastian St. Cyr series by C.S. Harris. Sebastian is a viscount, an Army officer, and a master of disguise in Regency England. The author describes him as Mr. Darcy with a James Bond edge.  In this fifteenth book in the series, a disgraced British nobleman believed to be long dead is found murdered during London’s celebration of the defeat of Napoleon. The latest novel in this series, What the Devil Knows will also be available soon.

Author Robert B. Parker died in 2010, but his book series go on through the work of other authors. Mike Lupica is a prominent sports writer:  a columnist, a co-writer of athlete autobiographies, and the author of many sports-focused novels, especially for kids. He has written a few books in Robert B. Parker’s Sunny Randall series for adults, and reviewers say he captures the original writing style. One in the series recently added to the Litchfield collection is Robert B. Parker’s Grudge Match. In this installment, a gangster comes to private investigator Sunny for help, even though she double-crossed him in a recent deal by tipping off the FBI to one of his activities. He wants her to find his girlfriend who has disappeared. Sunny doesn’t trust him but wants to help find the woman, who has risen through the ranks of the mafia.

Dead Land is Sara Paretsky’s latest in the V.I. Warshawski series. V.I. is a private eye in Chicago, and in this novel, she encounters political corruption in the city when her goddaughter’s boyfriend is murdered because of the community group he’s working for. She discovers a far-ranging conspiracy involving Chicago’s parks and lakefront property plus South American politics.  Reviewers say it’s a high point in this long-running series.

Murder at the Capitol by C.M. Gleason is the third book in the Lincoln White House mystery series. Washington, D.C. is celebrating the 4th of July in the midst of the Civil War. A body is found in the unfinished Capitol building, and Lincoln’s friend Adam Speed Quinn investigates the situation with the help of a doctor and a journalist. Reviewers love this one, with its mix of fictitious and real people and events.

The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart is another historical mystery. In 1703 London, a woman named Cecily who studies plants visits Sir Barnaby Mayne to view the huge collection of rare items he has collected. But Barnaby is murdered and Cecily’s attention to detail makes her doubt the confession of the supposed killer, sending her on a quest to solve the mystery herself.

Anne Perry has been a popular mystery writer for decades. Her novel One Fatal Flaw is a recent installment in the Daniel Pitt series, set in Edwardian England. Young lawyer Daniel and his scientist friend Miriam work to clear a man of murder charges by proving a fire was accidental, only for the defendant to die in the same way. The next book in the series, “Death with a Double Edge,” is coming out soon.

Is it a mystery to figure out how to find more mysteries to read? You can search for the keyword “mystery” in the library catalog and sort by date to see the most recent books first, or you can stop in and look for the light blue mystery stickers on books. And of course, library staff are always glad to help you find what you need.

Library Computers Can Help Connect You to a Vaccine

Are you looking for a vaccine appointment, but you don’t have access to a computer or the internet? I know that’s a major barrier to many people in our area, especially for some senior citizens who are currently eligible to get a shot. Public libraries offer access to computers, and library staff can give you some basic help to navigate them.

To use a library computer, call the library to schedule a one-hour computer appointment. We offer appointments during all operating hours. You will need to wear a mask the whole time you’re in, and you will be limited to that one hour per day.

Limited computers are in use to allow space for physical distancing, and we have 6 feet marked around each computer so that others can stay out of that space. Staff members wipe down the keyboards, mice, and desk surfaces after each use, and we put out a new keyboard and mouse between users.

Getting help from library staff on the computers works a little differently these days, since we can’t stand right next to you to help. We have software on our staff computers now that allows us to view your screen and give you assistance with getting to websites, clicking on things, and printing, if you want us to do that. We can’t fill out a form for you, but we can help you get to it. We are far away at our front desk computers while we’re helping, and behind plexiglass, so hearing us can sometimes be a challenge. If you have a family member you can bring along to help you on the computer instead, that can sometimes be easier and more private. Two people are allowed to use a computer together.

The state of Minnesota has a website everyone can use to sign up to be notified when they’re eligible for the vaccine and get connected to resources to schedule an appointment: You don’t have to be part of a currently eligible group to get signed up for future opportunities. If you don’t have access to a computer or you aren’t comfortable signing up that way, you can call the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector Hotline at (833) 431-2053 to get on the list. You can also call that number to have someone assist you with the sign-up process when you use the website. The link to the state website is available on the left bar of Pioneerland libraries’ websites.

If you have a laptop, tablet, or phone you can use to sign up and you just need wifi to use with it, you can park in the library parking lot any time, even when it’s closed, and use the library’s wifi. No password is necessary.

The library also offers mobile hotspots for checkout. If you have your own computer, tablet, or smartphone, but not your own internet connection at home, or one that’s slow or limited, you can check out a hotspot that will give you a wifi connection to high-speed internet. The hotspots are from T-Mobile, so the strength of the signal where you live depends on how good T-Mobile service is there.  Cosmos Library doesn’t offer the hotspots because the signal is too weak in that area.

If you’d like to check out a hotspot, call the library and have your library card number at the ready, or stop in with your card. Most of the time they’re all checked out so you can’t get one immediately, but you can reserve one, and we’ll let you know when it’s ready for you to pick up. You can keep it for up to 4 weeks.

If you’d like to come into the library, you can call ahead to schedule a 15-minute time to pick out books and audiovisual materials, make photocopies, or get a library card, or you can just call from outside when you’re at the library: (320) 693-2483. We have capacity limits, so we may ask you to wait outside for a few minutes, but most of the time you’ll be able to come in right away. I strongly recommend you call in advance to schedule your computer appointment so that you’re not waiting outside for a long time until a computer is available.

Children age 12 and under need to be accompanied by an adult in the library these days. Masks must be worn at all times in the building, in accordance with the state requirements. Curbside service remains available during all library hours, and we are very happy to deliver your items that way.

Read Across America is more than Cat in the Hat

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

March 3, 2021

As we move into the month of March, we look forward to warmer spring days ahead and think about the little flowers that will begin to emerge with all of their bright colors. Like bright spring colors, Dr. Seuss loved to find creative uses for colors within his illustrations and with his words as he authored many children’s books now thought of as classics.  Read Across America is celebrated this year on March 2nd. Often, we associate Read Across America with Dr. Seuss and the famous Cat in the Hat.  However, Read Across America is much more than the Cat in the Hat.

The National Education Association (NEA) initiated Read Across America in 1998 as a year-round program to motivate children and teens to read through books chosen around a specific yearly theme. The themes are selected to motivate, excite, and teach children and teens about reading, as well as, teach the students about themselves and others who are different from themselves. The suggested books offer a diverse collection of children’s and young adult titles. While many still honor Dr. Seuss during Read Across America, the program is currently independent of any particular book, author, publisher, or character.

The monthly themes for 2020-2021 include: Empower Student Voice, Foster Inclusiveness, Activate Young Citizens, Celebrate Indigenous Peoples, Explore Identity, Explore Families and History, Practice Empathy, Cultivate Compassion, Inspire Stewardship, Develop Passion and Perseverance, Promote Respect, and Build Community.

The Litchfield Library has a list of books suggested by NEA for each of these themes for picture books, children’s chapter books, and young adult or teen books. This list is also available on the Read Across America website hosted by the NEA. The suggested titles for this month include:

 Picture book: Tiara’s Hat Parade by Kelly Starling Lyons

Book CoverChildren’s chapter book: Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya; and

Book Cover Young adult: They Called Us Enemy by Eisinger Scott Becker

Anyone can celebrate Read Across America. Schools, libraries, athletes, actors, authors, illustrators, grandparents, parents, teachers, and kids of all ages can celebrate Read Across America. Here are a few ways you can celebrate:

  • Read through the suggested titles provided by the NEA. The full list of books can be found on their website at or you can Google Read Across America and easily find the website.
  • Read a book with a child or teen
  • Create your own reading challenge or book list that goes with the monthly themes.
  • Check with your child’s teacher to see if there is a school celebration.

The Pioneerland Library System does have many of the titles suggested within the book list by the NEA; however, if you cannot find one we are happy to help you find it at another library just ask a librarian if you need help. You can also check out the book display at the Litchfield Library.

Until next time, happy reading!

Escape to Another Era in a Book
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian
February 20, 2021
Reading books set in other times of history can give us insight into those times and sometimes our own. It can also be a good escape, especially these days when we’re living through our own difficult and interesting time in history. Won’t it be interesting to see what novels will be written about our current era in the future?

A number of new books at the Litchfield library are classified as historical fiction.

Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson is a novel set in the South in the 1800s. Pheby, the main character, is born a slave. Light-skinned, the daughter of the plantation’s medicine woman, and doted on by the master’s sister, Pheby grows up sheltered and is promised her freedom upon her 18th birthday. Instead, she is sent to the infamous slave jail, Devil’s Half Acre. Once there, she has to contend with the notoriously cruel slave trader Robert Lumpkin, and her life goes in a surprising direction. Based on a true story, this novel is described as well-researched and moving with a compelling narrator.

Another novel inspired by a true story, The Paris Children by Gloria Goldreich is a novel set during World War II. Madeleine Levy was the granddaughter of World War I hero Alfred Dreyfus, and she stepped up to do her own part to fight for France as a member of the resistance under German occupation. Madeleine was a young social worker when she began rescuing Jewish children and smuggling them out of the county. The novel illuminates the good that was done amidst this bleak and dangerous time.

World War II is an ever-popular time period for novels. Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson is another of our new books set in that time. Antonina is a young Jewish woman in Italy, where the Nazis are occupying most of the country. In an attempt to survive, she leaves Venice and poses as the new bride of a man who left seminary to run his family’s farm. Nina and Nico must put on a convincing front for the neighbors and for a Nazi official who harbors a vendetta against Nico. This novel is also inspired by real-life events.

Minneapolis writer Amy Lynn Green is a finalist in the genre fiction category of this year’s Minnesota Book Awards for her debut novel Things We Didn’t Say.  This epistolary novel (a novel in letters) tells the story of U of M linguistics student Johanna Berglund who is sent to her small Minnesota hometown to work as a translator at a German POW camp during World War II. Johanna finds townsfolk hostile to the Germans, while she becomes sympathetic to the POWs after interacting with them and censoring their letters. This Christian fiction novel examines issues of prejudice, compassion, and treason.

Another work of Christian historical fiction, If I Were You by Lynn Austin is set in and after World War II. Audrey is a widowed war bride from England who comes to America with her young son in 1950, seeking her American in-laws whom she has never met. She discovers that her longtime friend Eve has been impersonating her in the U.S. for four years. Eve’s mother was Audrey’s mother’s servant, and the pair of young women had worked together as ambulance drivers in the war. The focus on the pair’s friendship in the midst of class differences gives this a bit of a new spin on the World War II novel.

Other recent additions in the historical fiction vein include Endless Mercy by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse, The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, and When We Were Young & Brave by Hazel Gaynor. Whether you pick them up curbside or set up a Library Express appointment to come inside the library, library staff are happy to help you order and check out novels that carry you away to different times and places.

Binge Award-Nominated TV on DVD

February 10, 2021
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

During this past year, many people have found comfort in binge-watching TV shows. That’s easy to do when you have a subscription to one or more streaming services and high-speed internet, but what if you don’t? Some television series are available to check out at the library on DVD. Currently DVDs can be checked out for two weeks.

The Golden Globe nominations were just announced, and several of the TV series available through the library were on the list.

The new series Perry Mason is the latest adaptation of the series of detective novels by Erle Stanley Gardner that began with The Case of the Velvet Claws, published in 1933.  Six movies, a radio show, and now three TV series have been based on the books, however loosely. The first season of the new HBO series premiered last year; reviewers say it’s stylish, violent, and slower than the classic Perry Mason series of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Matthew Rhys plays the famous detective in this origin story set in 1932, and he has been nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor in a dramatic series. Litchfield Library and others in Pioneerland Library System have this available to check out.

The comedy series Schitt$ Creek is a fan favorite that ended this past year after six seasons. This Canadian series finds humor and heart in the story of an extremely rich and spoiled family who loses everything and has to relocate to a shabby motel in a tiny town.  The final season of the series won the Emmy this fall for Outstanding Comedy Series, the awards for directing and writing, and awards for all four lead actors.  All four are also nominated for the Golden Globes: best actress for Catherine O’Hara, best actor for Eugene Levy, best supporting actress for Annie Murphy, and best supporting actor for Daniel Levy. The first three seasons are available to check out at Litchfield Library and another library in the system.

The AMC series Better Call Saul is a prequel to the TV series Breaking Bad, telling the story of a small-time lawyer in the years leading up to his involvement in criminal activities.  Bob Odenkirk is nominated for the Golden Globe for best performance by an actor in a dramatic television series. Grove City Library and some other libraries in Pioneerland have all five seasons available to check out; one more season is in the works.

The Crown is a popular Netflix series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.  Because the series covers so many decades, new actors are cast as the members of the royal family every two seasons.  The most recent season has five actors in the running for Golden Globes:  Olivia Coleman for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth, Emma Corrin as Princess Diana, Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles, Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret. Dassel Library, plus a few other Pioneerland libraries, have all three seasons that are currently available on DVD.

The Villanelle book series by Luke Jennings is the basis of the BBC comedy-drama Killing Eve. Sandra Oh stars as a British security officer with a desk job who dreams of being a spy. Jodie Comer plays Villanelle, a psychopathic assassin. The two become obsessed with each other while the investigator tries to catch the assassin. Comer is nominated for the Golden Globe for best actress in a dramatic series; she has won an Emmy for the role in the past. All three seasons are available from Dassel Library plus a few other locations in our system.

Other recent award-winning or -nominated TV series available through the library include The Comey RuleThe GreatSuccessionThis is UsWatchmen, and Rick and Morty. Give the library a call or go to the online catalog to request these or other DVDs you’d like to check out.

Audiobooks are great for families!
Library column for February 3, 2021

Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

Audiobooks can offer a new or different way to experience the world through books. As adults, we know that audiobooks are a great way to pass the time while commuting to work or during a long road trip. I enjoy listening to audiobooks while I am cleaning, sewing, or working on house projects like painting a room. Audiobooks are a great option for children and teens as well.

There are many audiobooks to choose from within children’s and young adult/teen collections within the Pioneerland Library System. Most libraries, including the Litchfield library, have audiobook collections on CD for checkout. There are even books that include an audiobook CD; these kits are awesome for children who like to read along with the audiobook or need the book for the illustrations. You can schedule a 15-minute browsing appointment to come in and look through the available audiobooks on the shelf.

Pioneerland offers digital audiobooks as well through the Libby and Overdrive apps. These digital collections have materials for very young children through adults. It’s fast, easy, and free to set up Libby for access to these materials. Libby works well on most mobile devices and computers and is very user friendly. Another perk is that there are never any late fees when you use Libby as the digital items that are checked out are automatically returned on their due date. There is the possibility to renew the item though if you are not quite finished with it. You will need a Pioneerland Library card to access the materials in our digital collection in Libby. If you need assistance with setting up your account, please give the Litchfield library a call.

Audiobooks can be used as a form of entertainment for kids as they work on projects, cleaning their rooms, or share a story together during car rides. However, audiobooks offer a lot more to children and teens than entertainment.  Audiobooks can help youth improve their literacy skills such as comprehension and vocabulary. Audiobooks take away the barrier of books which are too hard for them to read on their own and helps them to decode and pronounce words they may otherwise not know yet.  Children and teens can become immersed in a story without the need to struggle with words and comprehension. Many audiobooks help expand the story as the reader adds emotion and voice to the words for the child. Children are often exposed to a larger quantity of higher-level vocabulary when they are read aloud to or listen to audiobooks. When children listen to a book read aloud and follow along with the book with their eyes, they are getting a multisensory approach to the story. They are truly immersed in the story.

Children’s audiobooks are fantastic for parents and caregivers as well. They give parents a break from reading aloud, provides a story that can be shared between the children and parents during otherwise dull tasks like driving, cleaning, etc. Audiobooks can also give parents the opportunity to provide an independent reading activity that can increase interest in reading and improve literacy skills.

There might be some concerns that using audiobooks is cheating on reading programs. This is not true! Audiobooks are counted as reading in all of the children’s and teens’ reading programs within the Litchfield Library.  We currently have a non-fiction reading challenge for both teens and children at the Litchfield Library and non-fiction audiobooks will count towards this reading challenge.

Until next time, happy reading or listening!


Adult Winter Reading and the most popular books of 2020
by Beth Cronk, County Librarian

This year’s Adult Winter Reading Program began January 15 at the Litchfield Public Library and runs until March 15. Sign up any time in January or February.

As in previous years, participants read and rate books to earn prizes. Winter can be a good time to have a reading goal, and this year it’s true more than ever. Participants get one prize after reading 3 books, and another after reading 3 more.

It’s possible to participate in this year’s program without ever setting foot inside the library if you choose. Everything can be done either inside the library or through curbside service.

To participate in the program, ask to sign up when you call from outside to pick up your things curbside, or sign up when you’re in the library for a Library Express appointment. Participants will get a reading log, a bookmark, and a small portable hand sanitizer container with a clip. The hand sanitizer is this year’s sign-up incentive instead of the usual tote bag. Bags will be available as a prize choice.

Any type of book can be counted for the program: new or old, library book or your own, fiction or nonfiction, ebook, audiobook, or print. Write down your books on the reading log and rate them.

When you have read 3 books and again when you have read 3 more, you can turn in your reading log inside the library at your Library Express time and claim your prizes on the spot, or you can put your reading log in the book drop to get your prizes through curbside pickup. Before dropping the sheet into the book drop, be sure to write down your prize choice. Library staff will be in contact if that prize is no longer available. If you have your heart set on a particular prize, turn in your sheet after reading 3 books so that it’s more likely to still be available. We’ll return your sheet to you with your first prize so that you can complete the program.

Prize choices this year include a mug, a tote bag, a memo book, a large candy bar, and an insulated bottle cover.

So what will you read if you participate in the adult winter reading program? You could look for ideas among the most popular books at the library from this past year.

The most popular adult novel in Pioneerland Library System in 2020 was This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. Krueger is a beloved and best-selling Minnesota author, known for his Cork O’Connor mystery series set in northern Minnesota. “This Tender Land” is his newest novel, released in late 2019, but it is not part of that mystery series. It’s a standalone coming-of-age novel about 4 orphans, set in the 1930s. Hutchinson Library has chosen this book for their One Book, One Community read for this year.

The other novels in the adult fiction top 10 for last year were Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, Camino Winds by John Grisham, Long Range by C.J. Box, Masked Prey by John Sandford, Blue Moon by Lee Child, A Walk Along the Beach by Debbie Macomber, The Guardians by John Grisham, and A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci.

The most popular adult nonfiction book in the library system last year was Educated by Tara Westover. This memoir from 2018 tells the author’s story of growing up in a survivalist family in rural Idaho and how she educated herself to transform her life.

The other books in the adult nonfiction top 10 for 2020 were Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by Judy Pace Christie, Becoming by Michelle Obama, The House of Kennedy by James Patterson and Cynthia Fagen, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, and Finding Chika: A Little Girl, and Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom.

Whether you like to read the most popular books or you want to find something obscure, the library staff is always happy to help you find a book you want to read.

Library column for January 20, 2021

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

The Litchfield Public Library is currently offering a nonfiction reading challenge for children and teens. The reading logs can be picked up from the Litchfield library during a 15-minute browsing appointment or during curbside pickup. Just ask the library staff for a copy of the children’s or teen log for your children.  You can also print your own copies from the children’s page on the Litchfield Library website. Please note that this nonfiction reading challenge is separate from the adult winter reading program.

Even very young children can participate in this reading challenge if they have someone read the books aloud to them. The library does have many easy to read and understand nonfiction books that are specifically written for our youngest readers. Children can learn a lot from books that are read aloud to them even if the book is at a higher level of reading. This can often prompt lots of questions and lead to new discoveries for the very young reader as well as older readers. It is wonderful to let children select books that they are interested in even if the reading level is too high or too low- this is about encouraging a love of reading and developing a reader identification for themselves. This is not about finding the perfect leveled reader for the child, unless that is what the child wants to do.

Nonfiction books are an excellent way to allow kids to safely explore their world and investigate topics that they are interested in. Nonfiction books also are great for building vocabulary and expanding background knowledge and can also help children and teens create connections and understanding of their own personal experiences. Reading nonfiction varies from reading fiction as the reader is reading for content and information, however, this does not make nonfiction boring and unenjoyable. Quite the opposite in fact! Nonfiction reading sparks a child’s imagination and curiosity about the world and gives them the resources they need in order to find answers to their many, many questions.

Sometimes finding nonfiction books at a library can be intimating with the rows of bookshelves and all those numbers on the book spines. The library staff at the Litchfield Public Library are always happy to help you locate materials. If we do not have it on the shelf, most often we can find it and order it through interlibrary loan. For those of you who like to browse the shelves, I have a simplified explanation of the Dewey Decimal System for you; this is the method that we use to organize the books on the shelves within the Pioneerland Library System, which Litchfield is a part of.

A quick break down of Dewey:

000: general knowledge, encyclopedias, journalism

100: philosophy, paranormal, psychology, logic, ethics, morals and values,

200: religions

300: society, community, education, government, politics; fairytales and folklore are in the 390’s

400: languages, alphabet books, early picture dictionaries

500: math, sciences, plants, dinosaurs and animals

600: technology, health & medicine, farming, buildings, vehicles—find those farm books and cars and trucks books here

700: arts, music, sports

800: literature, poetry

900: geography and history- find some awesome biographies and books about countries and states!

So, whether your child or teen needs a nonfiction book for a school project or a sudden new interest they must know everything about, I hope you will be brave and dive into the world of nonfiction books. However, if you ever feel lost within these shelves, the Litchfield Library is happy to point you in the right direction or dive deeper to locate a title for you.

Until next time, happy reading!

Getting Through Pandemic Winter with the Library
by Beth Cronk, County Librarian

January is here, with the hope that comes from the start of a new year. Even so, we have a way to go before our pandemic winter is over. We know that having books to read and DVDs to watch is even more important these days, as they help us pass the time at home and escape the stresses of life. The library continues to be available to help you check out the things you need.

Curbside pickup remains available during all of the library’s business hours, as is help over the phone. You never need to set foot in the library to get the books and other library materials you want to check out; we’re happy to work with you to order things and then deliver them to the table in front of the library when you call from outside to pick them up. Curbside is a bustling business for us these days.

If you would like to come in, you can do that, too. The library is open; you just need to call to make a reservation, and there are time, age, and capacity limits. (Anyone age 12 and under must have an adult with them.) You can call to reserve a 15-minute Library Express appointment to browse the shelves and pick things out, to get a library card, or to make photocopies. If you need a computer, you can schedule a 1-hour appointment for that. Both types of appointments are available all day and evening and they can almost always be scheduled on short notice. If you’re running errands, feel free to call us and see if the library can be your next stop. For Library Express, the answer will almost always be yes, even if you’re calling from the parking lot.

We work hard to make the library a safe place for everyone to visit, and we strive to keep our staff healthy to keep the library operating for you. Face coverings are 100% required inside except for children age 5 and younger. We have plexiglass in place at all of the service desks. The computer keyboards and mice are cleaned and switched out between users, and space is blocked off around the computers to avoid having other people wandering into their 6-foot space. Staggering visitors and limiting the length of visits also helps make the building safer. As renowned epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm says, we need to “stop swapping air,” and all of these measures – and especially the curbside service – help reduce your chances of sharing air with others when you do your library business.

We have reduced the quarantine time for returned library materials to 24 hours, instead of the 72 it had been. The science is showing that surfaces don’t play a big role in transmitting coronavirus, so setting them aside for even 24 hours is precautionary. There may still be that little delay in getting your items checked in, but we set the date back to the day you actually returned them when we check them in.

Here’s the urgent question I’ve been getting lately: Is the adult winter reading program happening this year? Yes, it is! Like many other things these days, our materials for the program are taking extra time to get here. I’ve been holding off on starting until we have more than one of the prizes for you. Even if we’re still waiting for things to arrive, we’re going to start the program by January 15th. I know many people like to have that goal to read their three or six books to earn prizes during the winter when things are quiet and they stay home more, and that’s even more the situation this year! We will have mugs as a prize choice again this year, plus other options. If you come into the library for an appointment, you can turn in and pick up your winter reading things then, or you can pick up your reading log and prizes through curbside and drop off your completed sheet in the book drop. You can definitely participate in the program without ever having to come inside the library.

One last thing: if you’re looking for a virtual book club to keep life interesting this winter, we have a couple of choices. The Litchfield Library Adult Book Club meets on the second Tuesday of each month at noon, reading a variety of types of books. In recent months and for most of last year we’ve been meeting on Zoom, although we met outside a few times in the fall. That group has been going for years and will be for the foreseeable future.

We also have the Deep Dive Book Club: Reconstruction & Redemption, which is meeting on Google Meet every other Tuesday night at 7:00 through March. That’s a 7-session program that’s more like a class, taught remotely by a Black Studies scholar, with a wide variety of readings, podcasts and videos for gaining a more robust understanding of the Black American experience from 1865 through 1920. The first Deep Dive book club we did this fall was wonderful, and I highly recommend it.

Contact me by phone or email if you’re interested in signing up for either book club, or if you need help getting something to read or watch. I wish you health and happiness in 2021!

Library column for Jan. 6, 2021

by Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

Happy New Year from the Litchfield Public Library! With each New Year, I like to spend a little time reflecting on the past year and thinking about the year to come. In the past, as part of this ritual, I have included reading goals. I have used reading challenge lists, notebooks for lists, and various apps to track my reading. I like to use the Goodreads app. because it is quick to add a title and it keeps track of what I have read throughout time, but this only works when I remember to add the titles that I am reading to the app.

As I have been reflecting on the year 2020, remembering the stressful and even scary times we have had this year, I am also remembering the good times and silver linings. This makes me think that perhaps, rather than trying to reach a number goal for reading I will focus more on the experience of reading. With everything that must be done each day trying to hit number goals for reading can have its downfalls. Yes, it does help some of us to stay on track and keep reading but it can also cause added stress. When trying to hit numbers, I find that I also will skip over books that might take too long to read (I say that I am saving them for later) and chose more fluffy reads that I can get through quickly just so I can reach my reading quotas.

Creating reading lists and goals for children can be a fun way to help encourage children to keep reading. But like adults, it’s about finding the right balance and method for tracking their reading. We do not want reading to become a chore or an “I have to” experience as it takes the joy of reading away. The main goal is to create an encouraging and supportive environment for children to explore books in their way. This way children grow to love reading and will continue to read throughout their lives. However, here are a few low-stress, easy, and fun options to help children to track their reading:

  • A blank calendar where the child can write down the number of minutes or the title of the book that they read each day
  • A sticker chart: for time read or to mark off chapters in a book or even to mark off titles.
  • Let them decorate a notebook and they can start a list of the titles they read in the notebook.
  • Older children and teens can track their reading in an app or make a Google Sheet.
  • Find any number of reading challenges listed online for children and teens. Many have printable logs. Check with your library if there are any current reading challenges available.

The Litchfield library has a winter nonfiction reading challenge for children and teens. This kicks off on Monday, January 4th. You can get your reading log by printing it off from the library’s website or request a copy of the log at your next curbside pickup or 15-minute browsing appointment. Instructions for the reading challenge are included in the reading logs.

Make sure to check out the library’s website for current library news, programs, and services. And to print off reading logs for the nonfiction reading challenge for your children and teens.

To make reading a stress-free activity, this year I am going to focus on just reading the titles I want to read and settle into the full experience of each book rather than trying to hit a number goal. What are your 2021 reading plans? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Until next time, happy reading!

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