Library Columns (2022)

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Movies for the Holiday Week
by Beth Cronk

Are you snug at home this week, with a little extra free time around the holidays? The library offers a wide range of movies and TV on DVD, perfect for curling up on the couch to watch with your family or on your own.

DC League of Super-Pets is an animated movie for kids that showcases the adventures of Superman’s pet, Krypto the Super-Dog. Superman and the rest of the Justice League are captured, and Krypto needs to work with shelter dog Ace and a variety of other animals to save them. Listen for the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, and Diego Luna in this new movie.

If your family is a fan of VeggieTales, you might want to watch Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie with your young ones.  Litchfield Library recently acquired the 20th anniversary edition of this children’s DVD, which was in theaters in 2002. This wacky but meaningful cartoon tells a version of the story of Jonah from the Bible. The cast of characters includes the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, a funny group of pirate vegetables.

For a new family movie full of nostalgia for the 1980s, pick up 8-Bit Christmas. In this live action movie, a ten-year-old boy goes out on a quest to get the greatest Christmas gift of the era: the newest video game system. Neil Patrick Harris stars in this funny and heartfelt holiday movie that’s geared toward Gen X and their children.

If you enjoy the Wallace and Gromit movies and TV shows, you’ll want to watch A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon. Shaun the Sheep is a British claymation TV series based on a character from the Wallace and Gromit short film A Close Shave. An alien with special powers crashes her spaceship at Mossy Bottom Farm where Shaun lives, and the farm animals need to help her get home before a sinister organization can capture her. This gently funny movie is nearly wordless other than the soundtrack music.

If your family enjoys dinosaurs and/or science documentaries, you may want to watch Dinosaur Apocalypse. This BBC documentary is narrated by Sir David Attenborough, who has been narrating and producing nature series for the BBC since the 1950s. Fun fact: he’s the brother of Richard Attenborough, the actor who played the creator of Jurassic Park in the movie of the same name. This movie looks at the lives of dinosaurs that were fossilized in North Dakota when the gigantic dinosaur-destroying asteroid hit the earth 66 million years ago.

If you have enjoyed theDespicable Me movies and the Minions and you still want to go back for more, check out Minions 2: The Rise of Gru. This movie is the villain origin story of Gru, the main character of the Despicable Me movies, who is voiced by Steve Carrell. In the 1970s, suburban teenager Gru is a fan of a group of supervillains. With the help of the Minions, he builds his first lair and carries out his first missions.

Of course, if you’re not looking for children’s movies when you’re choosing your DVDs, the library offers many choices for you, too. New additions to the collection include the movies Bullet Train, Nope, Pearl, and Top Gun: Maverick. We’ve also recently added the first and second seasons of the HBO series Euphoria, and the first season of the Showtime series Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.

Pioneerland libraries will be closed on Saturday, December 24, and Monday, December 26. The libraries will be open regular hours on Saturday, December 31, but closed on Monday, January 2, for the New Year’s holiday. Happy holidays!

Traditions for All

Miss Rachel


As we find ourselves immersed in the holiday season, it’s a good time to reflect on the traditions that we hold dear while considering adding in new customs to add to our holiday experiences. Here are some examples of different holiday traditions from around the world.

In Finland, it is common for people to visit the sauna on Christmas Eve. Families gather and listen to the national “Peace of Christmas” radio broadcast. Finns also have a tradition of placing ice candles on family members’ graves on Christmas Eve.

American minister to Mexico Joel R. Poinsett brought a plant to the United States in 1828. As you probably imagined, that plant with perfect red and green Christmas coloring is now known as the common poinsettia, which we see in many Christmas and holiday displays.

The good old “figgy pudding” that we sing about in “We Wish You a Merry Christmas is an English dish that goes back to the Middle Ages. It’s still often served as Christmas pudding at English gatherings. The English are also responsible for the tradition of sending out Christmas cards; so whether you have your ducks in a row each year to send them out, or if you never seem to have the time or energy to make that happen, we can thank/blame the English!

On the other side of the globe, Australians take time outside to enjoy warm weather and beach time. During the warm and sunny Australian Christmas season, beach time and outdoor barbecues are common. Traditional Christmas day celebrations include family gatherings, exchanging gifts and either a hot meal with ham, turkey, pork or seafood, or barbecues.

On a less merry note, many people in Greece believe in kallikantzeri, which are goblins that cause mischief during the twelve days of Christmas. But after all is said and done, they typically exchange gifts on January 1.

But one of my absolute favorite Christmas season traditions comes from Iceland. It’s a national tradition: Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood.” “The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday,” says Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association. “Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading. In many ways, it’s the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland.”

What could be cozier than snuggling up the night before Christmas with a stack of books in hand? Here are some of our new holiday reads to enjoy with your little readers!

“Latkes and Applesauce” by Fran Manushkin

As the Menash family settles in to enjoy their Hanukkah traditions, a blizzard comes unexpectedly, making their plans seem impossible. But the arrival of two cuddly visitors may save the Hanukkah hope! The end of this book includes information about Hanukkah, latkes and applesauce, and the dreidel.

Classic Christmas Stories selected by Ian Whybrow

Here is a collection of fourteen Christmas stories that will help you celebrate the season. Some of these authors and stories will sound familiar, while others from various cultures may be new to you. Find a story fit for everybody in this anthology!

The Christmas Pine by Julia Donaldson

Where did the idea of a Christmas tree come from? This story travels back in time to illustrate the tree’s journey and history as a gift of friendship and peace. The tree captures the spirit of Christmas and love with all the people who admire it.

The Littlest Night Before Christmas by Mary Engelbreit

This rendition of the well-known story starts off all familiar, but Engelbreit brings a new twist to this story. Be prepared for the traditional Saint Nick to be a little fuzzier here!

In addition to all of our new selections, we still have tons of other holiday books to choose from here as well. If you’re feeling a bit Grinch-y, we can find you some less festive books too. We might be done with holiday stories at storytime, but make sure to bring your little ones again starting the week of January 9 where we will be reading lots of other kinds of wonderful books (toddler storytime on Wednesdays at 10:15 and preschool storytime on Fridays at 10:00). Perhaps you want to try out Jolabokaflod this year and stay up on Christmas Eve reading all the books you’ve checked out from the library!

“Christmas Traditions Worldwide.”, A&E Television Networks, 27 Oct. 2009,

Teicher, Jordan G. “Literary Iceland Revels in Its Annual ‘Christmas Book Flood’.” NPR, NPR, 25 Dec. 2012,

Gift Ideas for Grown-Up Book Lovers
by Beth Cronk

Books make wonderful gifts, but finding the right book for each person on your list can be challenging. This time of year, it’s fun to look through the book gift guides to see what different reviewers and retailers are recommending. Many of the books in these popular guides are available to check out from the library. If you’d like to take a look at a book before you decide to put it on your shopping list or your own wish list, make use of our collection and borrow it first!

Book Lovers by Emily Henry has been one of the most popular books of 2022, and now it’s in many gift guides and best-of-the-year lists. This novel is a fun choice for fans of rom-coms. Cutthroat literary agent Nora is the typical villain in a Hallmark movie: the workaholic big-city girlfriend dumped in favor of a small-town love interest. She goes on a vacation with her sister to a rural area of North Carolina, and she keeps running into a brooding, big-city book editor named Charlie. Comedy and romance ensue for these antiheroes.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus came out in April and is still a bestseller months later. You’ll see it being praised in most of the gift guides and best-of-2022 lists. This literary novel is a funny and pointed look at women’s lives and opportunities (or lack of them) in the 1960s. Elizabeth is a chemist working in an otherwise all-male team of scientists who belittle her. Life takes a turn, and Elizabeth becomes a single mother and the host of a major cooking show. Television provides her a platform to teach about science and to challenge the status quo.

The Maid by Nita Prose is a cozy mystery, good for mystery readers who like something gentle and character-driven. It was very popular this year, and book reviewers love it, too. Molly is a 25-year-old neurodivergent maid in a fancy hotel. She loves the routine and orderliness of her job, but then she discovers a hotel guest dead in his suite. Will Molly and the unexpected friends who come to her aid be able to solve this locked room mystery and prove she isn’t the killer?

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin is on many gift guides right now, and Amazon has chosen it as THE best book of 2022. It might seem like a novel that would appeal mostly to people who play video games; it’s about a pair of friends who bond in childhood while playing computer games at a hospital and go on to create a video game empire. But the story is broader than that, appealing to anyone who would enjoy a well-written novel about friendship, creativity, and vocation.

For someone who wants an entertaining, science-based book that they can read a little at a time, consider What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. This is a sequel to the first What If book that was published in 2014, and reviewers have recommended both books. Munroe takes preposterous questions: what if you built a billion-story building, made a lava lamp out of real lava, or jumped on a geyser as it erupted? Then he analyzes the situation with math and science to figure out the answer. I think fans of the television show Mythbusters are likely to enjoy this book.

The Wok: Recipes and Techniques by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is a cookbook that has shown up in a number of holiday gift guides this year. The author goes beyond sharing recipes (although the book has plenty of those); he explains the science behind the techniques of cooking in a wok. Reviewers say it’s a master class in getting stir-fries, dumplings, tempura, and other foods to turn out in a home kitchen.

Whether you’re looking for popular fiction (such as Carrie Soto is Back or Horse), history (The Escape Artist or And There Was Light), cookbooks (Good Eats 4 or Mi Cocina), or coffee table books like Photo Ark Wonders, chances are good that you can preview a book by borrowing it from the library.

Stop in to browse, or visit the online catalog. Sample a few books to help you make gift-buying decisions for your loved ones, and make their holiday merry and bright.

Nonfiction November
by Miss Rachel

November encompasses a few different themes and holidays: Thanksgiving, Native American Heritage Month, Veteran’s Day, No-Shave November, elections, and many more. If you’re a bibliophile (lover of books), you may be familiar with the idea of Nonfiction November. Parents and educators can find it difficult to get kids interested in reading nonfiction for enjoyment. While we encourage all kinds of reading, nonfiction choices can benefit your young reader in various ways.  So how do we find choices that will excite our younger readers? The good news is that the ways in which authors are addressing nonfiction have evolved to make the genre seem less textbook-like and more like a good novel you can really sink your teeth into!

Reading about true events or real people can help everyone to learn more about a topic they are interested in or about something they’ve never known before. But additionally, informational (nonfiction) texts in comparison to literary (fictional) texts become more of a focus in education as they get older (especially in terms of testing). Any additional nonfiction reading that a student does can benefit them as they move through each grade level. Just like any other activity or sport, practice makes progress.

The graphic novel format is becoming more common in the world of nonfiction, too. That’s right: you can find graphic novel memoirs, graphic novel accounts of specific events in history, even a graphic novel history of the world! But we also have a large number of picture books, easy readers, middle-grade books, and YA books too. Whatever topic your young reader is looking for, we can find a text to fit!

We have a ton of new nonfiction books at the library to check out with your young readers. Here are just a few that you can check out when you visit!

For the younger readers:

“Pizza! A Slice of History” by Greg Pizzoli: It’s hard to say no to pizza! This book features a narrator “pizza rat” to help readers explore the history of pizza and how pizza varies all over the world. This is quite a flavorful choice for a picky reader!

“Being A Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness” words by Maria Gianferrari and pictures by Pete Oswald: As meditation and mindfulness continue to grow in popularity, authors are finding ways to teach even young readers about how to be mindful. This book follows a dog and his owner as they find ways to be present through each moment of the day.

“Finding My Dance” by Ria Thundercloud: Ria’s debut picture book is an account of her own experiences as a dancer. She recounts how dance helped her find ways to express herself, especially when she felt like an outsider. The beautiful illustrations bring this true story to life.

For the middle grade readers:

“Inaugural Ballers: The True Story of the First US Women’s Olympic Basketball Team” by Andrew Maraniss: This is the story of the origin of women’s Olympic basketball. The 1976 U.S. women’s basketball team came together from various schools around the country to lay the groundwork for the future of women’s sports. The photos throughout this book help readers to feel the impact in history.

“Why Humans Build Up: The Rise of Towers, Temples and Skyscrapers” by Gregor Craigie: Packed with information, this book explores history, functionality, utility, and so many other aspects of towers, temples, and skyscrapers around the world. With tons of illustrations, photos, and diagrams all spread throughout the clearly-labeled chapters, readers can find whatever structure they are looking for!

For the teen readers:

“Race to the Bottom of the Earth: Surviving Antarctica” by Rebecca E.F. Barone: This book reads so much like a novel that you forget you’re actually reading nonfiction! Barone incorporates two different journeys to the South Pole in two very different time periods. This is a good choice for anyone who likes stories of survival!

“Storybooth” by Marcy Kaye and Josh Sinel: The inside cover of the book says it best. “The book you are about to read is one hundred percent real. Its stories are told by brave teens bold enough to share a piece of themselves with the world. These are their true confessions, secrets, struggles, embarrassments, heartbreaks, and the truths that make up their lives.” If your teen is needing connection, this book brings it.

These books are just a small sampling of the new nonfiction books we’ve acquired lately for our younger readers. Come take a look at our new books bookshelf to check these and other nonfiction books out – maybe Nonfiction November can bring everyone together, much like a tasty Thanksgiving turkey!

A Case for Comics: Graphic Novels
by Miss Rachel
November 9, 2022

Graphic novels are a growing library staple, especially in juvenile literature. If you’re unfamiliar with graphic novels, think of them as a comic book with a longer narrative. All graphic novels combine pictures with text, but they can be any genre of literature and any reading level. From historical fiction, to classic literature, to manga, to personified animal heroes, graphic novels offer something for everyone! As the popularity of graphic novels rises, you may see your young readers coming home with these increasingly prevalent picks.

Why should we care about graphic novels? When trying to encourage younger patrons who struggle with reading, there can be a lot of pressure to find a book that they can enjoy, read independently, and not feel embarrassed about their own reading level. Sometimes our young patrons become overwhelmed by the idea of reading an entire novel on their own; however, graphic novels may be the gateway to excitement for books. Louise Baigelman, MEd., Co-founder of Story Shares, offers five reasons why graphic novels can help kids with reading:

They look and feel more approachable.

They feel mature and cool, too.

They can help with reading comprehension.

They can help kids feel a sense of accomplishment.

They can prepare kids for other types of books.

With such a variety of topics, characters, tones, settings, etc., there’s bound to be a book out there for your reader. Once they find whatever storyline catches their interest, the illustrations on each page can also support comprehension by providing scaffolding for what is happening in the text. If your reader struggles with independent reading, they don’t have to question whether or not they understood the narration. An added bonus is that many graphic novels are written as a series, so if your reader gets hooked, it might be hard to get them to put down the next book!

Here at the library, we have graphic novels of all genres and levels. Some of our younger readers enjoy reading “Blue, Barry & Pancakes” by Daniel Abdo and Jason Patterson and “Narwhal” by Ben Clanton. These series feature animals as main characters who go on fun and often silly adventures together. The vibrant illustrations engage young patrons, and the storylines about friendship keep readers wanting more.

For more elementary/middle grade level reading, our patrons love “Dog Man” and “Cat Kid” by Dav Pilkey. His name might be familiar as the author of the “Captain Underpants” series. He continues his hilarious style with these two series where our two heroes are a dog and a cat. You might also remember “The Baby-Sitters Club”; this has recently been adapted into graphic novels.


Manga encompasses a sector of graphic novels that originate in Japan. This particular type of graphic novel also has books of all different reading levels and subjects, but stylistically, they have some distinguishing features. For example, you actually read these books from right to left. Some of the popular manga series that we have here at the library include “Naruto,” “Bleach,” and “Yu-Gi-Oh.”

On a very different level, we also have graphic novels of familiar classics such as “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “Les Misérables,” and even “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” While reading these versions might not suffice for a class reading assignment, they can be very helpful, especially to read alongside the original text to support comprehension. Or perhaps you never got around to reading some of these classics, and now you’ve decided to see what it’s all about. Either way, graphic novels can be a new format for everyone to enjoy.

Baigelman, Louise. “Why Graphic Novels Are Good for Struggling Readers.” Understood, 3 Mar. 2022,

Easy Browsing for Easy Reading

by Miss Rachel Clark
October 26, 2022
Easy readers, Beginning Reader books, I Can Read books: these are all ways to describe the first books that our youngest patrons can read on their own (or with some help). When you have a patron at this particular stage of life, you want to encourage them to try things independently, such as reading. Finding a book on their own can also bring them a sense of pride and growth. Now, when you come into the library, you’ll have an easier time finding books your new reader can handle. We have done some rearranging over in the children’s section of the library. We now have a dedicated section of books that are all designated as early reading books (although every publisher sets up the levels a little differently). You can confidently send your little reader over to this section, knowing that whatever they choose should be within their reach (literally and figuratively). You’ll also notice that these books are smaller than typical picture books, allowing your little readers to stack up several at a time! Red stickers on the sides of the books also help to distinguish the beginning reader books from the rest of the collection.While there is a ton of variety in this section of books, there are some well-loved series that you and your little reader may enjoy.“Fancy Nancy”: For the readers who love over-the-top glam and glitter, the Fancy Nancy books deliver. Through all of the fancy-ness, Nancy and her family demonstrate love and support. There are a lot of new vocabulary words introduced and defined in this series too! With Saturday night sleepovers, super-secret surprise parties, too many tutus, and peanut butter and jellyfish, this series has something your glamorous reader will love.“Biscuit”: How can you pass up this sweet little pup? Biscuit goes on many adventures with his owner and ends up in some pretty typical puppy situations. Visiting the community garden, flying kites, going camping, and playing ball are just a few of the experiences that Biscuit enjoys.“Bones and the Cupcake Mystery”: Detective Jeffrey Bones is the star of this series. Each book has him solving a curious mystery that your little readers can follow. From cupcakes to dinosaurs, Bones goes everywhere!“Katy Duck”: This series is the flip side of Fancy Nancy; here, we have a dancing duck working on building up her confidence. Katy’s sweetness shines through in this easy to read series. With tip-top tap shoes, secret Valentines, and a happy Halloween, Katy Duck brings joy and friendship to light.If you’re trying to encourage your little reader to choose books that you remember from your childhood, don’t worry! We have a great selection of Berenstain Bears books, Little Critter books, and Amelia Bedelia books, to name just a few.Take a moment to come check out some of our reorganizing in the children’s section of the library. While your little reader is out perusing their own section of books, make sure to take a look at our creepy Halloween displays at the library. There may be a spooky story just waiting to be checked out as a treat!

Cozy Cookbooks for Fall
by Beth Cronk, County Librarian
October 28, 2022

Fall is a great time to make your kitchen a cozy place by cooking and baking. Looking for some new recipes? The library has several new cookbooks you may enjoy, including three written by well-known Minnesota cooks.

Beatrice Ojakangas is a world-renowned Minnesota cook, baker, and author. Her first book, The Finnish Cookbook, was published in 1964 after she moved for a time to Finland and then worked at Sunset magazine in California. She went on to publish more than 30 additional books, to advise Julia Child and Martha Stewart on Scandinavian food and appear on their TV shows, to own a restaurant in Duluth, and to write for Twin Cities newspapers. And who would have thought: she’s the inventor of pizza rolls! University of Minnesota Press has published many of her books, and this year they reissued her classic The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever. This cookbook defines “casserole” as a baked version of a one-pot dish, and Ojakangas includes everything from appetizers to dessert.

Another (much younger) Minnesota cook, Molly Yeh is the star of the Food Network show Girl Meets Farm and the author of the bestselling cookbook Molly on the Range. Yeh grew up near Chicago and graduated from Julliard in New York. Then she met her husband and moved with him back to his hometown of East Grand Forks. Her new cookbook is called Home is Where the Eggs Are: Farmhouse Food for the People You Love. It draws inspiration from her Chinese and Jewish heritage and her husband’s Scandinavian heritage, plus local, seasonal ingredients. And yes, she does have laying hens on her farm.

Minnesotan Justin Sutherland is a classically trained chef and Iron Chef winner who owns multiple restaurants in St. Paul and Roseville, and he stars in the cooking shows Fast Foodies and Taste the Culture. His first cookbook was published last month: Northern Soul: Southern-Inspired Home Cooking from a Northern Kitchen. He shares his unique take on Southern cooking, which is influenced by his family-centered childhood in the Twin Cities. Through the years, he loved spending time cooking and eating with his grandparents, who have roots in Mississippi, Japan, and Norway.

Ina Garten published her first Barefoot Contessa cookbook in 1999 – the first of many bestsellers. She went on to star in a long-running Food Network cooking show, also called Barefoot Contessa. Her new cookbook, called Go-To Dinners: Make Ahead, Freeze Ahead, Prep Ahead, Easy, Assembled, is her thirteenth book. This one covers strategies for making uncomplicated dinners that turn out well every time. Some are dishes to make ahead of time, others are quick to prepare, and some are simply boards with assembled components.

Jen Hatmaker is a bestselling author and well-known speaker and podcaster who made her name in women’s ministry beginning in the 2000s; she has expanded her topics and reach in recent years. Feed These People: Slam-Dunk Recipes for Your Crew is her first cookbook. She is not a chef, but she’s a mother to five mostly-grown children. The recipes are designed to be practical for home cooks, and the book is written with humor, with chapters that include “Food for your picky spouse or spawn” and “Food for when you want to seem fancy.”

The King Arthur Baking Company has just published a new cookbook called Baking School: Lessons and Recipes for Every Baker. I’m familiar with King Arthur flour, but I didn’t know that the company has baking schools in Vermont and Washington State, and that they offer online classes, too. This new book puts their curriculum in written form, accompanied by photos, with plenty of explanation about how and why baking works like it does.

Whatever type of cooking or baking you like to do, you can find a cookbook to check out from the library that will suit your tastes. If you’d like to find a second-hand cookbook to purchase for a low price, chances are good that the Friends of the Litchfield Library will have some available at the last book sale of the year. A wide variety of used books will be for sale on November 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the library’s meeting room, and proceeds benefit the library.

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

By Miss Rachel


New parents/caregivers are overwhelmed with so many tasks, responsibilities, and priorities with babies and preschool-age children. We all want our kids to be as happy, healthy, and successful as possible. But with the doctor appointments, food preparation, cleaning, up-ended sleep schedules, potty training, and all the other interruptions that sneak up on you, how can we make sure our youngest are ready for school when that day comes?

Simply put, all the research suggests reading to your young ones. According to the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning, infants pick up on language earlier than we tend to realize. Exposing children to all kinds of books expands their vocabulary, even before they can utilize that vocabulary on their own.

How many books should you be reading to your youngest? That’s a great question to which we librarians like to respond with “as many as you can!” But we have a program that is a bit more concrete for anyone who needs more tangible goals: 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.


Let’s break this down: let’s say you only have time for one picture book per day. That’s already 365 books in one year. In just three years, you’d have read more than 1,000 books to your little one if you were able to read one single book a day to your child. Reading one picture book a day feels a bit more conceivable than thinking about the idea of reading 1,000 books.

Getting into this program is incredibly simple: just stop by the library, ask to sign up your young reader, and get your first book log. From here, keep track of each book your child reads (with you, with another adult caretaker, with another family member, at daycare, etc.). The first book log is for the first 100 books; when the first one is completed, come on back to the library to collect a prize and the second log!

What if my child wants to read the same book over and over?

Great! That’s really beneficial to your child’s development. Your child has a better opportunity to hold on to the vocabulary from the books you read to them over and over. Plus, kids get more chances to comprehend the plot points and details about the characters in stories if they hear them multiple times.

But we all know how life goes; sometimes, events happen that might not allow for even one picture book a day. Good news: we have two different storytimes available here at the library where they could get up to three stories at each – that means you’d only have to read one to two books a week to your child, and we’d read the rest! Our infant-toddler storytime is from 10:15-10:45 on Wednesday mornings, and our preschool storytime is on Friday mornings starting at 10:00.

While reading might seem like one more task to do, it can be one of the best ways to bond with your children.  By instilling a love for books early in life, you open up many opportunities for your young ones. As I mentioned in a previous column, reading books about tough topics can also open up conversations later on when life gets more complicated and confusing. Starting this practice from infancy makes open and honest conversation a little easier. Plus, your child has a better chance for success in school when they have a close relationship with books.

1,000 books might seem overwhelming. But even just one book a day will get you there in less than three years. Don’t forget that the library storytimes are another way to squeeze in a handful of books a week! If you don’t know where to start or which books might be a good fit, come on in and talk to any of our library staff here at Litchfield – we love helping our littlest get their hands (or teeth) on a good book!

“Read It Again! Benefits of Reading to Young Children.” Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 10 June 2022,

See Life from a Different Point of View
October 5, 2022
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

Biographies and memoirs can tell stories that are as fascinating as novels, and they have the added benefit of allowing us to see life from another person’s point of view. Biographies used to go in their own section in libraries, which made browsing easier for people who love to read them and gain insight for life through true stories of others’ lives. Nowadays, libraries catalog them under the topic the person is associated with: scientists’ biographies are in the science section, chefs in the cooking section, and so forth.

At Litchfield Library, when a new book for adults is clearly a biography or autobiography, I add a green biography label to make them easier to spot. Memoirs are not always equivalent to autobiographies, so those aren’t always labeled with a sticker. The library has gotten several biographies and memoirs recently that you can find with the new books.

Jann Wenner is the founder, co-editor, and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine. In his new memoir Like a Rolling Stone, Wenner describes his life and work in the age of rock and roll. Through the decades, he interviewed many of the great musicians, from John Lennon and Aretha Franklin to Bono and Bruce Springsteen, as well as U.S. presidents and other prominent people. He also helped to develop the careers of significant writers and photographers, such as Hunter S. Thompson and Annie Leibovitz. This memoir is cataloged with books about journalism and publishing.

Solito is a bestselling memoir by Javier Zamora that is a “Read with Jenna Book Club” pick for the Today show. Zamora was born in El Salvador in 1990. His parents each had to flee the country when he was very young because of the Salvadoran Civil War, and they told him one day he would take a trip to be reunited with them. At the age of 9 he left his aunt and grandparents to travel with a smuggler and a group of strangers across Guatemala and Mexico and into the U.S. The trip was supposed to take two weeks, but it took two months. This memoir is cataloged with books about refugees and immigrants.

Alice Wong is the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project. Her new autobiography Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life is described as an impressionistic scrapbook about her life, incorporating essays, interviews, photos, and art. Beyond telling her life story, Wong addresses the fight for disability justice with a balance of humor and anger. This autobiography is cataloged with books about people with disabilities.

A Visible Man is a new memoir by Edward Enninful, the first Black editor-in-chief of British Vogue. Enninful was born in Ghana to a seamstress mother. At age 16, he became a model, and at 18 he became the fashion editor for an international magazine. In the memoir, he tells the story of his personal successes and struggles as an outsider in his field, with a reputation for being one of the kindest people in the industry. He also shares his inclusive vision for his work, in which he has featured first responders, 80-year-olds, activists, people of color, and plus-sized models. This memoir is cataloged with books about fashion.

Jenifer Lewis is an actress, sometimes called “the mother of Black Hollywood” because of how often she has played mothers in movies and television shows. She is currently playing a mother on the series Black-ish, she played Whitney Houston’s mother in The Preacher’s Wife, and she voiced the character of Mama Odie in The Princess and the Frog, among more than 300 roles throughout her life. Her new memoir-in-essays is called Walking in My Joy: In These Streets. Lewis has traveled the world extensively, and she is a mental health advocate due to her own experience of bipolar disorder; she incorporates both of these aspects of her life into this collection of funny and inspirational stories about her experiences. This memoir is cataloged with books about movies, radio, and television.

Other new biographies at the Litchfield Library include Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley, A Man of Iron: The Turbulent Life and Improbable Presidency of Grover Cleveland by Troy Senik, and Not My First Rodeo: Lessons from the Heartland by Kristi Noem.

Curious about others’ lives or looking for inspiration for your own? You can read about the life stories of a vast variety of people in books from the library.

A Case for Audiobooks
by Miss Rachel
September 28, 2023

Remember when you would sit and listen to your elementary teachers read aloud to you? If you were extra lucky, you may have been blessed with middle school and high school teachers who read to you too. These educators enlivened characters (hopefully), varying vocal and facial expression, changing volumes for intensity, maybe adding sound effects where necessary. Maybe you also remember family members doing the same thing: bringing books to life. It might not be easy to find someone who is willing to read to you on a whim (unless you have some wonderfully literary people in your life); however, audiobooks are not far away. No matter what genre(s) you prefer, audiobooks can bring an additional dimension to your reading.  Fantasy books can be read with mystical sound effects to help strengthen the world-building of your experience with that novel.  Realistic fiction can demonstrate language dialects and accents that can’t be easily sensed through written text.  This can help transfer you to a different time and place while also deepening your own connections to the characters.

While there are some people tend to think that that listening to an audiobook doesn’t count as reading a book, we hope that doesn’t deter them from still enjoying audiobooks. Even if you don’t choose to add those books to your “Read” bookshelf on Goodreads, you can still benefit from listening to audiobooks – and so can your kids! As quoted in an article on, Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D. details how the brain is activated in whatever format you’re reading:

“The brain is differentially activated when processing speech versus print,” Dr. Willeumier says. She explains that understanding what you’re reading activates the left brain (in areas associated with language processing), while understanding what you’re listening to activates both (in order to process speech and acoustics).

The benefits to your brain may be different; however, you’re still benefiting from an audiobook experience. Your brain is still working on comprehending the incoming words. As kids are learning how they best absorb information, encourage them to try out listening to an audiobook. It may help them comprehend the story better than they thought they could.

Accessibility is one of the biggest advantages when it comes to audiobooks. For those who struggle to see the print or who are completely unable to see, audiobooks may be their only option. For those who struggle with attention disorders, audiobooks may be more comprehensible. For those with physical handicaps that make turning pages difficult, audiobooks may be the more user-friendly option. As Meredith Monday Schwartz on the “Currently Reading Podcast” often says, “Reader, know thyself.” Do what works best for you. Encourage others to do the same.

But how does one get access to audiobooks? We have many CD audiobooks here at the library available to be checked out, including children and young adult audiobooks. You also have access to online audiobooks through the Libby app with your library card. By downloading Libby, you can access tons of different audiobooks or ebooks wherever you go.  Warning: you may have to be patient and put books on hold just like you do with physical books at the physical library!

Maybe life has become too crazy and hectic for you to sit down and read an old-fashioned printed novel (or even a Kindle copy). Don’t let that stop you from enjoying a book! Audiobooks allow us to absorb all the goodness of a book while multitasking and completing that mile-long list of chores – or maybe just sunbathing with our eyes closed. Whatever the choice, “Reader, know thyself.”

Laurence, Emily. “Reading versus Listening: What’s Better for Brain Health?” Well+Good, 6 Aug. 2021,

Emmy-nominated TV Available at the Library
by Beth Cronk, County Librarian

Looking for high-quality television shows but can’t get them on your TV? You can find Emmy-nominated and Emmy-winning TV shows on DVD at the library, with new ones being added all the time.

The first season of ABC’s Abbott Elementary was a network TV hit this past year. Nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, this workplace mockumentary features a group of teachers in an underfunded Philadelphia public school. Critics say it’s hilarious, empathetic toward teachers, and intelligently critical of the education system. The show won for Outstanding Writing, and Sheryl Lee Ralph won the Supporting Actress award. The series also had nominations in the categories of Lead Actress (Quinta Brunson) and Supporting Actor (Tyler James Williams), as well as a second nomination for Supporting Actress (Janelle James). Litchfield Library’s copy will arrive in mid-October when the season is released on DVD, but you can get on the hold list now.

Nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, season one of Yellowjackets is a horror-mystery-dramedy on Showtime. An extremely talented high school girls’ soccer team survives a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness, leading to a situation similar to the classic novel Lord of the Flies or the TV series Lost. The characters are also shown as adults 25 years later. The series was additionally nominated for Outstanding Directing, Writing, Lead Actress (Melanie Lynskey), and Supporting Actress (Christina Ricci). Litchfield Library has this DVD set available to check out now.

The HBO satire The White Lotus won the Emmy for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series. Critics describe it as an uncomfortable but effective comedy-drama that skewers wealth and entitlement in an exclusive tropical resort setting. The series also won in the categories of Outstanding Directing, Writing, Supporting Actress (Jennifer Coolidge), and Supporting Actor (Murray Bartlett). Jake Lacy and Steve Zahn were also nominated in the Supporting Actor category. Litchfield Library has this DVD set available now.

Also nominated for Outstanding Limited Series, Pam & Tommy is a Hulu drama based on the true story of the marriage of actress Pamela Anderson and musician Tommy Lee and the theft and sale of their infamous home movie. The show was also in the running for three acting awards: Sebastian Stan for Lead Actor, Lily James for Lead Actress, and Seth Rogan for Supporting Actor. This miniseries is currently available at the library.

In these days of streaming, the Emmy category Made for Television Movie is an odd holdover from the past. Many major movies go straight to streaming services now without being shown in a theatre. Regardless of how the movies are chosen for this category, you can find two of them at Litchfield Library. Ray Donovan: The Movie is a follow-up to the seven-season crime drama of the same name. Reno 911!: The Hunt for QAnon is a supplement to the eight-season Reno 911! parody series.

Litchfield Library has the series that won in the Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series category. The Beatles: Get Back is a documentary about the band’s recording sessions, and it includes the Beatles’ last live performance as a group, a rooftop concert in London. Peter Jackson also won an Emmy for directing this 3-part Disney+ series. The DVD set is available now at the library.

Also nominated for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series, Showtime’s We Need to Talk About Cosby explores the complicated life and career of Bill Cosby. Writer and director W. Kamau Bell talked with comedians, journalists, Cosby’s victims, and others to examine the comic’s legacy and the industry that enabled his crimes. This DVD set is available to check out from the library.

For quality television that you may not otherwise be able to access, check out the library’s collection. More television series are available to order from libraries across our system, and even from around Minnesota. Search the catalog to request them yourself, or talk with a library staff member for assistance.

Forward to Fall

By Miss Rachel

As Minnesotans, we know exactly how hard it can be to say good-bye to summer. But here at the library, we truly appreciate all of the time and energy that our wonderful patrons spent on our Summer Reading Program this year. Our theme was Read Beyond the Beaten Path, and kids weren’t afraid to wander from the trail! We had 265 people signed up for our Summer Reading Program, and so far, we have had more than 600 challenges turned in total – that’s a lot of reading! Even with that big number, our young readers are still able to turn in the challenges they have at home until the end of August: come on in and get yet another prize! We’re proud of our young patrons and all they have accomplished this summer.

While our Summer Reading Program is coming to an end, we know that that means school is right around the corner. While schedules can become chaotic, here are still a number of opportunities for fun and learning at the library.

Storytimes are going to be starting up again after Labor Day. We will actually be offering two separate storytimes to cater to your littlest patrons’ learning. On Wednesdays from 10:15-10:45 a.m., our storytime will be centered around infants through age 3. We want to offer some wholesome bonding time with your babies and toddlers. On Fridays from 10:00-11:00 a.m., we will still have our storytime for age 3 through Pre-K. We will read stories, sing songs, make crafts, and play games.

Don’t forget about the STEAM Labs! This summer, we had fun with LEGO blocks, friendship bracelets, and birdhouse building. These fall labs will be offered for kids in kindergarten through 5th grade from 3:30-4:30 p.m. after school on the last Tuesday of the month. Make sure to sign up in advance to reserve a spot for your kiddo. More information about specific STEAM labs will be posted closer to the date.

We also have our awesome 2nd Saturdays Teen/Tween Program from 1:30-3:00 p.m. which happens on the second Saturday of the month (in case you didn’t catch that!). This program is designated for ages 11-18. No sign up is needed for this exciting time; just come out to enjoy crafting and other cool activities.

You may have enjoyed some of the take-and-make crafts that we’ve continued offering here at the library. No need to worry – you will see more of those this fall! Each child can take one kit, but kits are only available while supplies last.

Our library staff are also more than willing to help your little patrons to find books that they’ll enjoy. We’ve purchased some new books on a wide range of topics and in a variety of formats that might be just what your little reader is searching for. But we also know the familiar classics that you may want to share with your little ones!

As fall approaches, we want to keep the energy of summer going here at the library. Don’t forget to enjoy all the opportunities we have for your young patrons!

Full STEAM Ahead!

By Miss Rachel

Most people by now have heard of the term “STEM” to cover the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. But “STEAM” is an important concept more recently brought to light. According to The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM, “STEAM is a way to take the benefits of STEM and complete the package by integrating these principles in and through the arts.  STEAM takes STEM to the next level: it allows students to connect their learning in these critical areas together with arts practices, elements, design principles, and standards to provide the whole pallet of learning at their disposal.”

This all sounds very overwhelming, especially for busy parents and caretakers. So how can we intentionally incorporate more STEAM into our little learners’ lives?

STEAM doesn’t require fancy toys or gadgets (although they can be fun at times). You can find opportunities in everyday life to teach your little learners. Encourage questions and exploration. Odds are, you’re probably already doing more than you think!

Questions to ask your little learner:

What happens when we…

              -run our fastest (noticing heartrate, breathing, sweat)?

              -play multiple keys on the piano at the same time?

              -put something (maybe a paper towel with marker designs) in water?

The more observations that can be made, the more your little learner will think critically (which is the ultimate goal).

How else can we use…

              -ladles (or other not sharp kitchen utensils)?

              -empty boxes?

              -a deck of cards?

For this question, prompt them to think outside the box: the more creative, the better. Maybe the ladle is a tiny boat for some small creatures, a wand with an extra magical handle, a crazy paintbrush, or a super fancy drumstick!

No matter what activity you’re doing (whether it’s an everyday task like laundry or a specially curated STEAM kit), make sure to ask your little learner What is happening? Ask them to describe what they see, hear, feel, smell, and taste (only when safe). This inspires them to think about processes and develop observational skills.

But if you’re still looking for more ways to get some STEAM, the library has some fun programs for your little scientists! Make sure to check the calendar for some explorative opportunities that will get the creative juices flowing! Once a month, we have a free STEAM Lab for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. We do all sorts of fun activities, so make sure to look for those opportunities and sign up as soon as possible – the limited spots can fill up quickly! Or check out one of the STEAM Discovery Boxes that includes all the materials that you need to do innovative projects.

We also have many books about different activities and games that encourage your little learner to explore and grow. Check out a book about space that gets your little one(s) excited to look at the stars. Or maybe you’ll find a book that gets your little learner excited about making music. At the library, we can help you find materials for whatever sparks your little learner’s curious mind!

Good Books, No Waiting
by Beth Cronk, County Librarian

When a book is the hottest new thing, it’s not unusual to find it has a waiting list at the library. You can always reserve a book you want, and those waiting lists move pretty quickly in our system. But what if you want to find something that’s available now, or with only a short wait? Litchfield Library has some brand-new books on the shelf that have gotten good reviews, with no waiting lists – at least at the time this post was written.

Edgar Award-winning author George Dawes Green is the founder of The Moth, which you may be familiar with from the podcast or from The Moth Radio Hour on NPR. It has been more than a decade since his last novel. The Kingdoms of Savannah is his new mystery, praised by reviewers as a chilling, layered work of Southern gothic noir. Green shows the two versions of Savannah: the beautiful, gracious city, and the ugliness of its history. A man is murdered and his companion vanishes, and a mature society woman becomes the unlikely detective investigating the crimes.

Author Bernard Cornwell publishes novels regularly, but late last year he came out with a book in his Sharpe series for the first time since 2007. Richard Sharpe is the hero of this long-running historical fiction series, a lieutenant-colonel in the English army who started life as a foundling. In the newest installment, Sharpe’s Assassin, the Duke of Wellington needs a favor from Sharpe now that the Battle of Waterloo has brought an end to the Napoleonic Wars. The Duke actually led the allied forces occupying France in 1815, and Cornwell places his fictional hero in the midst of this history.

A light contemporary romance with a Christian fiction perspective, In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh delivers a fun fairytale with a fresh angle. Brielle Adebayo is a public school teacher in New York City when her mother reveals that she’s a princess in the island kingdom of Ọlọrọ Ilé, off the coast of Africa. Her grandfather the king is dying, and Brielle must take her royal position as heir to the throne. The royal council announces that she is required to marry before her coronation because of an old rule, and the princess must decide if she really wants the throne or to attempt to find love so quickly. Oprah Daily has named it a best romance novel of 2022, and Library Journal gave it a starred review.

Hopeful and gentle science fiction is hard to find, but the Monk and Robot series by Becky Chambers fits that description. Sibling Dex is a renowned Tea Monk, and Mosscap is a robot on a quest to figure out what humanity really needs. In A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, the second book in the series, the pair visit the towns and cities of the moon they live on, make new friends, and ponder issues of entropy, sustainability, and what people want.

A locked-room mystery is a fun puzzle in detective novels, featuring a situation where it seems impossible for a perpetrator to have gotten in and out of the crime scene. Death and the Conjuror is a locked-room mystery, the first in a planned series by Tom Mead. Set in 1930s London, this novel features retired stage magician and part-time detective Joseph Spector, who is brought in by Scotland Yard to figure out how someone could have murdered a celebrity psychiatrist in his locked study. Apparently the clues are there for astute mystery readers to solve the puzzle themselves, as in some of the best classic whodunnits.

A few of the other brand-new books at Litchfield Library available with no waiting include We Do What We Do in the Dark by Michelle Hart (a coming-of-age novel), Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin (dystopian sci-fi), and First Time for Everything by Henry Fry (pop fiction).

Of course, if you’re looking for one of Colleen Hoover’s booksWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, or the upcoming William Kent Krueger novel, you can always reserve a copy of those extremely popular books, too. I hear that the waiting lists in Pioneerland move much more quickly than in the Twin Cities libraries! If you need some help requesting a book, talk to a staff member; we are always happy to help.

Summer Slide

by Miss Rachel

When you hear the words “summer” and “slide,” you probably think of a playground or a water park with lots of fun. But if you have experience in the field of education, you might put them together as the less pleasant “summer slide” that can occur to young learners each year.

According to a Scholastic article from 2019,

“The concept of the summer slide has been on researchers’ radar since at least 1996, when one of the first comprehensive studies on the phenomenon was published. The study showed that kids lose significant knowledge in reading and math over summer break, which tends to have a snowball effect as they experience subsequent skill loss each year.”

Students everywhere are already working hard to make sure they are academically on track from the Covid-19 interruptions in learning. Educators everywhere are working tirelessly to ensure students are successful. But combining this with a summer slide can make things more difficult for everyone. So what can we do?

Go to the library!

I’m not just promoting the library because I work here – we have resources that can help everyone! The most effective activity we can promote to young learners is to simply read. Read what you want. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or nonfiction, a Lexile level that’s way lower than what you’re capable of reading or right at your level: just read what you like! If your young reader needs help figuring out what they like, bring them to the library and we will gladly help!

During the summer months, we have our summer reading program to help our younger patrons get excited about reading. Kids and teens are challenged to read along with other fun and healthy endeavors, and then they can come in for their prize when the challenge is completed. You thought that was all? Think again! They can take more copies of the challenges home and do them again to earn even more prizes.

If you have little ones at home, come over on Friday mornings at 10:00 for our storytimes. We like to sing, read, make crafts, do fun activities – all the good stuff! We even invite some guest speakers/readers occasionally to bring in some expertise on things like wildlife in Minnesota and dairy farming. We try to get your little ones excited about books and learning.

It’s also a good idea to get crafty in the summer to get imaginations flowing and the brain wheels turning. Putting together crafts isn’t your thing, you say? The library has you covered there too! We offer a monthly take-and-make craft kit for our young library patrons. Don’t stop there though: we have plenty of books on making different kinds of crafts to help inspire all kinds of ideas!

The Southwest Initiative Foundation awarded the library some money to help us with some awesome Discovery Boxes for young children. These boxes offer a wide variety of activities to help little ones learn about letters and numbers, music, money, and community! The STEAM boxes give families opportunities to learn about astronomy, fossils, magnets, microscopes, and even gravity! All of these are available to be checked out to patrons.

Get everyone in the family on board with reading! Our little ones look up to us. If they see us reading and enjoying it, they’re more likely to get excited about reading. Don’t think you can handle doing weird voices for all the stories your child brought home from the library? Just remember that a good rule of thumb is that the more embarrassed you are, the more entertained your child is! You stumbled on a word? Good! Show them it’s okay to make mistakes. Don’t know a word? Even better! Look it up and use it as an opportunity for everyone to learn. By reading throughout the summer, you can instill good habits in your lifelong learners.

Austrew, Ashley. “How to Prevent Your Kids from Losing What They Learned in School during Summer Vacation.” Scholastic, 5 June 2019,

New Resource for Crafters: Creativebug
by Beth Cronk

Pioneerland Library System is now offering access to Creativebug, a website with thousands of award-winning art and craft video classes. This service is being provided by Prairielands Library Exchange, an organization that exists to help support public and school libraries in southwestern Minnesota. We are excited that our library users can now use their library cards to access these online classes taught by recognized design experts and artists.

You can find the link to Creativebug on the left bar of the Pioneerland website or the Litchfield Library website:

Once you have entered your library card number, the site will prompt you to create an account. Through your account, you can keep track of where you left off in a class and which videos you have watched, and you can be notified of new classes on topics you’re interested in. You can even upload photos of your own projects to share, if you’d like.

Class topics include art and design, sewing, quilting, paper, knitting, crochet, food and home, jewelry, holiday and party, and kids.

One interesting feature the website offers is daily practice. Intended to be a way to challenge yourself to a month of making, the website offers 30-day prompts for daily art practice. There are over 60 daily practice series to choose from, such as hand stitching, watercolor and colored pencil, bookmaking, and rubber stamp carving.

Beyond the video classes, the Creativebug website also offers downloadable knitting and crochet patterns.

New classes are being added to the website all the time. Recent classes are titled “Magpie Sketchbook: Collecting a Resource of Imagery,” “Make Watercolor Marbled Hair Clips with Polymer Clay,” and “Keeping a Sketchbook: A Daily Practice.” Upcoming classes include “Design Your Own Crochet Shawl,” “Sew a Puzzle Ball,” and “Make the Rainbow Road Mini Quilt.”

If video classes aren’t your thing but you enjoy art or crafting, you can choose from a wide variety of books in the library to learn more. One new addition to the Litchfield collection is The Unofficial Book of Cricut Crafts: The Ultimate Guide to Your Electric Cutting Machine by Crystal Allen. This book explains the difference between different Cricut models, gives the beginner a general orientation to their machine, and includes forty projects using a wide range of materials.

For those interested in painting, look for the new book A Complete Guide to Chinese Brush Painting: Ink, Paper, Inspiration by Caroline Self. Considered a meditative discipline to train the body, this artistic style has been used for thousands of years. This book teaches beginners step by step to paint with black watercolor or ink on white paper, working through 35 projects that include bamboo stalks, a pine tree, and a waterfall.

Litchfield Library has an especially large collection of fiber arts books, plus books on most other craft and art topics at a variety of levels of skill. As always, more books can be ordered from other libraries throughout the library system and across Minnesota that cover your area of interest.

Crafting and art have many benefits: they can reduce stress, improve mood, and reduce cognitive decline, as the activity brings you into a focused, almost meditative state. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist or crafter, the library can be a resource for your creativity.

New Magazines at the Litchfield Library
by Beth Cronk, County Librarian

Many local people enjoy sitting at the Litchfield Library to read newspapers and magazines. Others like to check out magazine issues to take home and read. Both groups will have much more selection beginning this summer as we expand the library’s subscriptions back to pre-pandemic levels.

When library traffic was limited in 2020 and then still much slower than normal in 2021, we reduced the number of subscriptions. Now that library use is much more like a typical busy summer, the number of magazine titles Litchfield Library offers is doubling.

The following magazines for kids are either returning to the library or are brand-new titles for our location:

National Geographic Kids
Sports Illustrated Kids

Magazines are a great way to encourage kids to read, with plenty of photos and illustrations to go along with short, current readings.

These magazines for adults are either resuming or are new titles for Litchfield Library:

AARP the Magazine
American Legion
Family Handyman
Food Network
Good Housekeeping
National Geographic
Men’s Health
Midwest Living
People en Español
Popular Mechanics
Reader’s Digest large type edition
Real Simple
Sports Illustrated
Taste of Home

The library’s USA Today newspaper subscription has also resumed.

More magazines and newspapers are available beyond these lists, so stop in to take a look at all of your choices. Whether you sit in an armchair at the library to read them or you check out a magazine issue for two weeks to read at your leisure at home, you can be entertained and informed through the library’s subscriptions.

Celebrating America Through Books
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian
June 30, 2022

The Fourth of July is quickly approaching. One way to celebrate the United States is by exploring it through books. New books are available at Litchfield Library that take you to California, Massachusetts, and places in between.

If you’re planning a trip or just dreaming about one, two new books from Moon Travel Guides could come in handy. U.S. & Canadian Rocky Mountains Road Trip: Drive the Continental Divide and Explore 9 National Parks covers a huge region from Calgary to Denver. Moon’s guidebook simply named Ohio has a much smaller focus, but it offers advice for both country and city adventures.

Novels are another way to visit faraway places in your imagination. The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews is a beach read set in Savannah, Georgia. If you like home renovation shows, murder mysteries, and romance, this may be the ideal escapist book for you. Hattie has worked in home restoration for years but has fallen on bad luck, until she gets the opportunity to star in a beach house renovation show. Will her co-host be her romantic interest or her enemy? This novel is on a few lists of the best summer books and best romances of the year so far.

Vigil Harbor is a new novel by Julia Glass, set in a small town along the Massachusetts coast ten years in the future. Locals are dealing with a high number of divorces, increasingly severe storms, and terrorist acts in the big cities. Two strangers come to town, one a stranded traveler and the other looking for information about a long-lost love. A touch of mythology blends into the ordinary world in this character-driven exploration of the ways people depend upon and support each other.

Overboard is the newest V.I. Warshawski novel by Sara Paretsky.  Warshawski is a detective in Chicago, and in this installment she and her dogs discover a badly injured teenager along the shore of Lake Michigan. The girl disappears after Warshawski brings her to a hospital, leading the detective to discover a group of Chicago mobsters behind a conspiracy to prey on the vulnerable.

The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Mallery features a combination bookstore, gift shop, and bakery on the California coast. Three strangers with different skills rent a space on the beach and open the Boardwalk Bookshop, becoming best friends as they work together. This beach read explores each character’s challenging relationships.

For a novel set in Washington State, pick up Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. A woman begins working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium after her husband dies. She develops a friendship with a giant Pacific octopus named Marcellus, who helps to answer the question of what happened to her 18-year-old son who disappeared on Puget Sound over thirty years earlier. This heartwarming and witty book is recommended for fans of A Man Called Ove.

Visit Nantucket by checking out Summer Love by Nancy Thayer; Charleston by reading Twisted Tea Christmas by Laura Childs; 1920s New York City in Trust by Hernan Diaz; or Virginia in the novel Bitter Roots by Ellen Crosby.

Books can take you virtually anywhere in America. Visit the library in our own small town in Minnesota to find one you enjoy.

Read Beyond the Beaten Path in this year’s summer reading program

by Beth Cronk, County Librarian
June 1, 2022

This summer, the Litchfield Public Library and other libraries in the area invite kids to “Read Beyond the Beaten Path.” This summer reading program at the Litchfield Public Library begins June 1. We’re excited about the camping and nature vibe of this theme. Look in the children’s department for an inflatable campfire, posters that look like signs you’d see in a park, and some other outdoorsy décor, which should present some fun photo ops for parents and grandparents.

To participate in the summer reading program, kids can sign up any time all summer from June 1 until August 19. When they sign up they’ll get a book bag, a pencil, a bookmark, and a reading log. They can also take some bonus activity sheets if they’re interested. The program is open to kids from preschool to age 18.

The summer reading program is always self-paced. Children work their way through the reading game sheets (printable from home here if you wish: LF SRP22 kids reading logs), earning spaces by reading or being read to for 20 minutes (counting up to an hour a day) and by doing other activities like going for a nature walk, reading aloud to a person or a pet, or asking library staff for a book recommendation. Teens have a different reading log (printable from home here if you wish: LF SRP22 Teen reading log) which simply counts hours spent reading. Whenever kids bring in a completed sheet, they can choose a small prize, and they’ll be entered into a monthly prize drawing as well.

The goal of the summer reading program is to encourage kids to read all summer long so that they keep up their reading skills and return to school in the fall ready to learn. Because of that, kids can do one sheet after another all summer until late August and keep earning prizes.

Storytimes will be held at 10 a.m. on Fridays in the empty lot next to the library, from June 10 to August 19. These are geared to age 6 and younger, but older siblings are welcome to come along. Bring chairs or a blanket to sit on.

Two of our storytimes will be special events in June. On Friday, June 17th, a presenter from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be here to talk about wild animals in Minnesota. On Friday, June 24, the Meeker County Dairy Princesses will be presenting a storytime and making ice cream in a bag with the kids. Both of these programs should be fun for older kids, too.

STEAM Lab is a science, technology, engineering, arts, and math program for elementary school-age kids. During the summer the program will be held in the lot next to the library. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, it will be held in the library’s meeting room. Kids need to sign up in advance for the program since attendance is limited, but it is free to attend like all library programs. The programs will be at 10 a.m. one Wednesday morning a month, June 8, July 13, and August 10.

We will continue to offer Take & Make kits for kids this summer. They will be craft kits that fit the camp theme.

Tales the fox will be hiding around the children’s department all summer. When kids spot the stuffed animal, they can tell a library staff member and get a sticker.

Kids in DasselGrove City, and Cosmos can also participate in Read Beyond the Beaten Path at their local libraries, beginning June 6. Those libraries will also be festively decorated for the theme, and they’ll offer the same self-paced reading program and a variety of fun prizes, as well as a June storytime in each location with the Dairy Princesses. Visit the websites or Facebook pages of any of the four Pioneerland libraries in Meeker County or visit them in person to learn more about what they’re offering for kids this summer.

Minnesota Book Award-winners available to check out
by Beth Cronk

The 2022 Minnesota Book Award winners were announced on April 26. We Minnesotans like books with Minnesota connections, so it’s always fun to see what wins, as well as which books are finalists.

This year’s award in the category of novel and short story went to Diane Wilson for her novel The Seed Keeper. The story follows four generations of a Dakota family and their struggle to preserve their way of life. Rosalie Iron Wing loses her father, a science teacher who taught her about plants and Dakota traditions, and she is sent to a foster home in Mankato. After decades of farming with her white husband, Rosalie returns to her childhood home and traditions, learning about the family members who came before her. Wilson is Dakota herself; this is her second Minnesota Book Award. This book can be requested from other libraries in Pioneerland Library System or checked out as an e-book.

Abby Jimenez won the genre fiction award for Life’s Too Short, a romantic comedy. Vanessa Price is a YouTube star traveling the world, choosing to seize each day and live with spontaneity because both her mother and sister died young from ALS. But when her step-sister drops off a baby and skips town, Vanessa is stuck at home with no experience taking care of a child. Luckily her handsome neighbor is great with babies and happy to help. The pair start to fall for each other despite being polar opposites, and Vanessa has to decide whether to let other people into her life and her heart. Besides being a popular author, Jimenez is the founder of Nadia Cakes, the fabulous cupcake shops in Maple Grove and Woodbury, Minnesota, and Palmdale, California. She has also been a Food Network contestant on multiple occasions. Life’s Too Short is available in the Litchfield Library collection.

The award for general nonfiction went to The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic by Jillian Peterson and James Densley. Peterson is a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Hamline, and she’s an expert on mental illness and crime, school-shooting prevention, and mass violence. Densley is a professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University and an expert on street gangs, youth violence, and cyber violence. The two authors built the first comprehensive database of mass shooters in the U.S. and conducted one of the largest studies on these individuals and their lives. In this book, they share 34 specific data-driven solutions that individuals, communities, and the nation can take to prevent mass shootings. This book is available from Grove City and Litchfield libraries.

Hampton Smith won the award for Minnesota nonfiction for his book Confluence: A History of Fort Snelling. This comprehensive and beautifully illustrated book marks the 200th anniversary of the construction of the fort and explores its complicated history. Smith is a former reference librarian at the Minnesota Historical Society Library. This book is available at the Litchfield Library.

The award for memoir and creative nonfiction was given to Ranae Lenor Hanson for her book Watershed: Attending to Body and Earth in Distress. Hanson explores climate change, the stories of environmental refugees, and her personal experience of diabetes, making connections between the health of our bodies and the health of the ecosystem. She is a long-time instructor at Minneapolis College. This book is available at the Litchfield Library.

The children’s literature award went to David LaRochelle for the picture book How to Apologize, which is available at Litchfield, Dassel, Grove City, and Cosmos libraries. Jacqueline West won the award for middle grade literature for her novel Long Lost, which is available at Litchfield Library. Other award-winning books will be arriving in the future.

Minnesota authors and publishers produce some wonderful books. You can read the list of all of the finalists on the Minnesota Book Awards website. Our library system has many of these quality books available to you.

Literary Fiction at the Library
April 15, 2022
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

Winter has been overstaying its welcome this year. While you wait for better weather, pick up a new book or two that feature top-notch writing. All of the following novels are newly available at the Litchfield Library:

Disorientation is Elaine Hsieh Chou’s debut novel. A Taiwanese American like the author, the novel’s main character is PhD student Ingrid Yang, who is struggling to complete her dissertation on a Chinese poet. She discovers a cryptic note in the archives, leading her to try to solve a mystery that makes her question everything about her life. The book is described as a sharply observant, hilarious campus satire.

Chorus is a novel about a dysfunctional family by Rebecca Kauffman. The seven siblings in the Shaw family each share their memories surrounding their mother’s mysterious death and one sister’s teenage pregnancy, looking back on the first half of the twentieth century as adults in the 1950s. Complex and hopeful, this novel is written like a collection of related short stories, and it has been compared to the work of Alice Munro and Elizabeth Strout.


The Cartographers is a work of magical realism by Peng Shepherd. This novel is described as a fantastical thriller that could appeal to fans of Ray Bradbury, Erin Morgenstern, or Dan Brown. A legendary cartographer is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with a strange map hidden in his desk. His daughter, also a cartographer, has been estranged from him because of that map, and she discovers that a mysterious map collector has been hunting down every copy of it in existence.

Tove Ditlevsen was one of Denmark’s most prominent authors. Her writings only began to be widely available in English a few years ago, even though she died in 1976. The Trouble with Happiness: And Other Stories is a collection of her short stories that were written in the 1950s and ‘60s but only published in English for the first time this month. Her writing is described as spare, subtle, bleak, and brilliant.

Nobody’s Magic is a coming-of-age novel in three parts by Destiny O. Birdsong. Each story is about a different Black woman with albinism in Shreveport, Louisiana. One is a pampered young woman whose family has sheltered her from the outside world until she begins a romance with a mechanic. The second lives and works in a motel, shutting herself away from the media and her family after her mother is murdered. The third lives and works far from home, and she attracts a man who thinks she is somehow magical and wants her to become his wife and the stepmother of his child. With themes of grief, self-discovery, and family, this novel has been widely praised for its vivid, realistic characters.

Other recent additions to the Litchfield collection have also gotten praise from book reviewers for sophisticated writing. They include the coming-of-age allegory The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund; Wildcat, a funny and touching novel about motherhood and female friendship by debut author Amelia Morris; and To Paradise, the bestselling novel by Hanya Yanagihara, which is set in three time periods in an alternate America: 1893, 1993, and 2093.

Author Jeanette Winterson said, “Books and doors are the same thing. You open them, and you go through into another world.”  You can find many doorways into lives and worlds like and unlike your own on the shelves of the library.

New Juvenile Books at the Litchfield Library  March 30, 2022

By Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

Spring has arrived in Minnesota complete with all the snow melt, chilly days, slush, and the promise of warmer days to come. Check out these new juvenile books available at the Litchfield Public Library while we wait for the mud and slush to dry out.

Book Cover “Where Wonder Grows” by Xelena Gonzalez: In this picture book, a grandmother explores her garden with her granddaughters. They discover many simple but wonderful treasures and spend time thinking about each treasured item and its story.

Book Cover “Pretty Perfect Kitty-corn” by Shannon Hale: In this follow up picture book to “Itty Bitty Kitty-corn”, Unicorn and Kitty-corn learn a lesson about the bonds of friendship when Unicorn embarrasses himself in front of Kitty.

Book Cover “Doggo and Pupper Save the World” by Katherine Applegate: This chapter book is the second book of the Doggo and Pupper series. In this book, Doggo and Pupper try to help a little bird who has big worries. Doggo and Pupper might not be able to fly but they are very good helpers, maybe even heroes.

Book Cover “The School for Whatnots” by Margaret Peterson Haddix: This chapter book follows a fifth grader, Max, as he searches for his best friend who mysteriously disappeared leaving only a strange note behind.

Book Cover “The Secret of Glendunny: The Haunting” by Kathryn Lasky: In this new chapter book series, a secret colony of beavers have been hiding in plain sight safe from humans in the wilds of Scotland until a young beaver exposes them and they must face their fates.

Book Cover “American Shoes: A Refugee’s Story” by Rosemarie Lengsfeld Turke: This young adult nonfiction book details the childhood of a young American girl and her family trapped within a country overseas during World War II.

Book Cover “Being Mary Bennet” by J.C. Peterson: This young adult modern day re-telling of “Pride and Prejudice” comes from the point of view of Mary Bennet. This is sweet and cute teen romance.

The Litchfield Library has many more new titles available on our New Books shelves. Stop in to browse the collection. Until next time, happy reading.

by Beth Cronk

Just for fun, I’m going to approach my column a little differently this week. Here are some useful facts about the library in a Frequently Asked Questions format. I hope you learn a little something you didn’t know before!

How much does it cost to get a library card?
A library card is free! It’s part of the public services available to you as a resident of Minnesota. Once you have a library card, it’s also free to check out anything in the library collection, both ebooks and physical items. If you had a library card and it’s lost, there is a $3 charge for a replacement card.

How many books are in the Litchfield Public Library?
The library has about 44,000 books. It also has about 2,300 DVDs and about 1,200 CDs.

What if I want to check out a book or DVD that the Litchfield Library doesn’t have?
You can request things from other libraries in the Pioneerland Library System, which has a collection of about 620,000 physical items. If Pioneerland doesn’t have something, you can often request it from another library in Minnesota, using the MNLINK catalog. You can search both the Pioneerland and MNLINK catalogs online and request things yourself, or library staff can help you and place those requests.

Does it cost money to order things from other libraries?
No, the service is free to you as part of the interlibrary loan network in place in Minnesota. Our state is outstanding at providing access to library materials! Litchfield Library gets two deliveries of those interlibrary loan materials each week.

How long can I keep a book?
Most books are loaned for four weeks. Some bestsellers are limited to just two weeks while they’re new; you’ll recognize these by the sticker on the spine that says “14 day loan.”

How long can I keep a DVD I’ve checked out?
DVDs are now loaned for two weeks.

Can I check out magazines?

Yes, magazines can be checked out for two weeks.

A book I checked out had a due date coming up soon, but now I found out that it’s not really due for a few more weeks. What happened?

Automatic renewals! This is a brand-new service our library system is offering. If no one has a hold on an item that you have checked out, and you haven’t renewed it before, the library’s computer system will automatically renew it for you once, three days before its due date. If you are signed up for email updates about your account, you’ll be notified by email when those renewals happen and when you have items that will be due soon.

I’m late returning a library item. How much will I be charged?

There is a charge of ten cents per day for late items, although there is a three-day grace period before those start being charged. Materials for children and teens no longer have late fees. If your item is a month overdue, you’ll get a bill for the replacement of that item. If that happens, once you return the item the charge will drop to a $3 late fee (or to $0 for materials from the kids’ section). If an item is damaged or lost, talk to library staff about how you can resolve that charge.

Can I use my library card in other libraries?

Yes, you can. Your Pioneerland library card will work in all libraries in the system. Our system stretches from Graceville to Glencoe and from Canby to Dassel. If you want to use a different library system in Minnesota, you can do that, too. Bring your card to them, and they will help you register as a reciprocal borrower in their system.

If you have more questions, stop in or call the library, and we’ll be happy to answer them.

Discovery Boxes

March 16, 2022

By Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

The Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) recently awarded grant funding to the Litchfield Public Library. SWIF is a nonprofit organization that represents eighteen counties in Southwest Minnesota, working to create a better Minnesota through a variety of projects including the Grow Our Own grant. The Grow Our Own grant has made it possible for the Litchfield library to create ten educational kits for children and families to check out. The Litchfield library is very excited to share these kits with our library families and community. The kits are full of hands on, interactive materials and books to help children learn through play and exploration. These educational kits have been named Discovery Boxes and include five early childhood concepts and five STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) concepts.

The early childhood Discovery Boxes include:

  1. Rhyme & Rhythm: This box includes child-safe percussion instruments such as wooden egg shakers and a tambourine, three DVDs that feature preschool songs and rhymes, and three books about rhyming.
  2. Letters: This box includes a wooden alphabet puzzle, foam letters, sandpaper letter cards, two DVDs about letter sounds and the alphabet, and two alphabet books. The sandpaper cards are a great way to include sensory experiences with learning the look and shape of a letter or number.
  3. Numbers: This box includes a wooden number puzzle, foam numbers, two counting books, a set of sandpaper number cards, jumbo counting and sorting bears with cups, and a DVD about colors, shapes and counting. The jumbo counting bears and cups can also be used to teach counting, colors, patterns, and sorting.
  4. Money: This box includes materials to help children learn how to count money. A wooden toy register, play money, flash cards and two books are included. This kit includes a variety of play money. The smaller coins can be left out of reach of a younger child while the rest of the materials are explored.
  5. My Community: This box includes a wooden play city, a large set of wooden people, and a set of community helpers paperback books. Create towns and families, and learn about people and community helpers through play.

The STEAM Discovery Boxes include:

  1. Astronomy: This box includes a child-friendly telescope, a star map, a wooden solar system model and books about exploring and understanding space.
  2. Microscope: This box includes a microscope, a large set of prepared slides and books about the microscopic world.
  3. Magnets: This box includes a magnetic robot building kit, a set of magnetic blocks, and a set of magnet movers to help your child explore the concepts of magnetism. This box also includes two books about magnetism.
  4. Fossils: This box includes a fossil collection with twenty different fossils, ID cards, a time-period scale, two books about fossils and six insects in amber.
  5. Gravity: This box includes a marble run set and two books about gravity.

The Discovery Boxes will be available for families to check out from the Litchfield library soon. Contact the library for more information about the new Discovery Boxes, as well as other kit options available at the Litchfield Public Library. Until next time, happy reading!

Beginning Chapter Books March 2, 2022

By Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

Are your young readers ready to try a chapter book? The Litchfield Library has many beginner chapter book series for early readers who are ready to move up to reading chapter books. Beginner chapter books often have short easy-to-read chapters along with plenty of illustrations to capture the reader’s attention as well as help them to understand the story. Beginner chapter books should be enjoyable and fun to read for the child. It is often best practice to let the child choose these books for themselves. Book series are usually a great way to get a young reader hooked on a continuing story line or follow favorite book characters on many adventures.

A beginning chapter book might not be a good fit if the book is too easy or too difficult to read, becomes boring for the reader or is just not interesting to the reader at this time. It’s okay if a child starts and stops a series or finds that a book just isn’t working for them as long as they are reading each day. The wonderful thing about getting beginning chapter books from the library is that you can try a wide variety of books without the costs that come with purchasing multiple books. If your child does not like the book you can simply return it to the library and try other titles.

There are several methods that children can use to help them to find a “good fit” book.  A “good fit” book is one that the child can read on their own and enjoy while also discovering a few new words along the way. The method I like the most is called the five-finger rule. Have your child choose a book they think they will like.  The child then opens the book to any page in the middle of the book and reads one page. For each word the child does not know they hold up a finger to count it. Just one finger up means the book is easy for your reader. Two fingers up mean that the book is just right for your reader; three fingers means the book is probably a little hard but they can read it. Four fingers mean the book is difficult and five fingers up mean the book is very difficult and you should wait to try it at a later time. Teaching this trick to your beginning readers will help them to find books that they will be able to successfully read and learn from which makes reading a more enjoyable activity.

The Litchfield library has recently added several more beginner chapter book series. Some of the more popular series are:

Book Cover“Astrid and Apollo” by V.T. Bidania: This series follows a brother and sister, who are twins, through everyday activities that always turn into an adventure.

Book Cover“Bobo and Pup Pup” by Bikram Madan: This is an early graphic novel series that follows a little monkey and a puppy as they create adventures and friendships.

Book Cover“Simon and Chester” by Cale Atkinson: This early graphic novel series features a little boy and his ghost friend. They cure a case of boredom by becoming detectives.

Book Cover “Rescued! Animal Escapes” by James Buckley Jr.: This nonfiction graphic novel series features a new animal rescue adventure in each book and all the stories are based on real rescues.

Book Cover“Cornbread & Poppy” by Matthew Cordell: This story follows two mice who are best friends with very different personalities.

Book Cover“Wind Riders” by Jen Marlin: This series follows Max and Sofia on their magical sailboat as they meet new friends and rescue animals along the way.

Until next time, happy reading.

An Assortment of Romances
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

When you think of romance novels, do you picture small Harlequin paperbacks with racy covers? In reality, romance novels offer a vast variety of styles and plots (and cover designs!). The number of novels falling into the contemporary romantic comedy category has exploded since the recent resurgence in rom-com movies, and many other types of romance novels exist, as well.

Romance novels date back to Jane Austen’s books in the early nineteenth century, and there are a few examples from even earlier. Whether fun or serious, the one requirement for romance novels (other than the love story) is that they need to have a happy ending.

Colleen Hoover’s contemporary romance Reminders of Him is a bestseller right now, and it’s new to the Litchfield Library collection. A troubled young woman released from prison returns to the town where she made a tragic mistake years before, and she tries to reconnect with her young daughter. Everyone in the community turns a cold shoulder except for a bar owner, who begins building a relationship with her and helps her make amends. More than a romance, this novel is also a redemption story about grief and family.

The Runaway Duchess is a Victorian romance by Joanna Lowell, and a sequel of sorts to The Duke Undone. A young Englishwoman is forced into marrying a man described as “the most vile duke in England,” and she runs away on her honeymoon. The owner of a nursery mistakes her for a botanist he was expecting to meet at a train station and, to save herself, the new bride pretends to be the other woman. The two fall in love, but then the real botanist arrives.

Another Victorian romance, The Siren of Sussex is Mimi Matthews’ first book in the Belles of London series. A bluestocking from an aristocratic family falling into ruin knows that she won’t find a high-society husband, so she decides to make her way in the world with her talent as an equestrienne. She turns to a British Indian tailor to make her high-fashion riding habits, and the two become a couple, despite the scandal over their class and racial differences. Reviewers say the author did careful research and that she makes the forbidden romance believable.

Electric Idol is a steamy contemporary romance based on Greek mythology and is the second book in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series. This novel features the love story of Psyche and Eros. Goddess Aphrodite sends her son Eros to kill Psyche in retribution for an attempt at overthrowing Zeus by Psyche’s family. Eros finds he can’t bear go through with the job when his target is kind to him, so he instead marries Psyche to protect her.

The Roughest Draft is a contemporary romantic comedy by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka. The pair of real-life authors wrote this novel about a pair of bestselling cowriters who ended their partnership acrimoniously. Katrina and Nathan haven’t spoken in years, but they’re required to complete one final romance novel to fulfill their contract. Working through drafts of the novel helps them work through the issues in their own relationship.

Other new romances that will be arriving soon for the Litchfield collection include The Family You Make, a contemporary romance by Jill Shalvis; The Lady’s Mine, a Christian historical romance by Francine Rivers; Riverbend Gap, a contemporary Christian romance by Denise Hunter; House of Sky and Breath, a fantasy romance by Sarah J. Maas; Weather Girl, a rom-com by Rachel Lynn Solomon; and One Night on the Island, a rom-com by Josie Silver.

If you’re looking for a novel that focuses on relationships and ends with a happily-ever-after, check out a romance novel; there’s something for everyone.

Black History Month  By Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian, February 16, 2022

February is Black History Month. This annual observance originated in the United States, but is also observed in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. In the United States, Black History Month is observed to honor African Americans and raise awareness of Black history. Carter G. Woodson, American historian and the “father of Black history,” worked towards the creation of a designated time to promote and educate people about Black history and culture. This idea grew, and February became officially recognized as Black History Month by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976.

The Litchfield Public Library has many children’s books that celebrate and honor Black history and culture. The following picture book titles are available for check out at the Litchfield Public Library:

Book Cover “Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race” by Margo Lee Shetterly: This picture book edition, explores the contributions of NASA’s African American women mathematicians and the pivotal work that they provided for NASA.

Book Cover “All Because You Matter” by Tami Charles: This award-winning picture book features lyrical text full of love, pride, and joy reminding readers of their family roots and strength for the future.

Book Cover“The Undefeated” by Kwame Alexander: This picture book was the 2020 winner of the Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and it was also a 2020 Newbery Honor book. It is a poem and love letter to Blacks in the United States that highlights both the trauma and triumphs of Black history.

Book Cover“Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre” by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper: This nonfiction picture book is the 2021 winner of the Coretta Scott King awards for both author and illustrator and is a Caldecott honor book.  This book introduces young readers to the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 with sensitivity and a call for a better future.

Book Cover  “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” and Book CoverLittle Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History” by Vashti Harrison: These nonfiction books are collections of short, illustrated biographies of amazing men and women throughout Black history.

The Litchfield Public Library also has Black History books for older children, teens, and adults. The Litchfield library staff are happy to help you find materials.

Until next time, happy reading!

Youth Media Awards By Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

It is the season of youth book awards. The Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, and Printz awards are just a few of the book awards that we eagerly anticipate each year. The Newbery Medal was named after a British bookseller from the eighteenth-century. The Newbery award was established in 1922 and became the first children’s book award in the world. This award is given each year to an author of the most distinguished contribution to American children’s literature. The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of Randolph Caldecott, a nineteenth-century English illustrator. This award was created in 1937 to honor the illustrators of children’s books and is given annually.

The Coretta Scott King Award is also an annual children’s book award. This award was first given in 1970 in honor of Coretta Scott King. The award is given to children’s and young adult books by African Americans and reflect the African-American experience. This award is given to both authors and illustrators. In addition, the Coretta Scott King Award committee also gives out the Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement and occasionally a John Steptoe Award for best new talent. The Michael L. Printz Award is given annually to the best book written for teens and is based on the book’s literary merit. The Printz Award was established in 2000. It is often regarded as the Newbery Award for Young Adult books. These awards also include honor books that are “runners up” to the awarded book. Each of these awards are administrated by separate committees. The awarded books have all been published in 2021.

The 2022 award winners include the following:

Newbery Award:

Book CoverWinner: “The Last Cuentista” By Donna Barba Higuera

Honor books:

Book Cover“Red, White, and Whole” by Rajani LaRocca

Book Cover“A Snake Falls to Earth” by Darcie Little Badger

Book Cover“Too Bright to See” by Kyle Lukoff

Book Cover“Watercress” by Andera Wang

Caldecott Award:

Book CoverWinner: “Watercress” by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin

Honor books:

Book Cover“Have you Ever Seen a Flower” by Shawn Harris

Book Cover“Mel Fell” by Corey R. Tabor

Book Cover“Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre” by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Book Cover“Wonder Walkers” by Micha Archer

Coretta Scott King Award:

Book CoverWinner: “Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre” by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Book CoverSteptoe new talent winner: “Me(moth)” by Amber McBride

Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award: Nikki Grimes, author

Printz Award:

Book CoverWinner: “Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley

Honor books:
Book Cover“Concrete Rose” by Angie Thomas

Book Cover“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo

Book Cover“Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People” by Kekla Magoon

Book Cover“Star Fish” by Lisa Fipps

Look for these books at your library.  Until next time, happy reading!

The Best New Suspense
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

Winter is a perfect time of year to lose yourself in a good novel. Pick up a new suspenseful book from the Litchfield Library and you may find the hours flying by while you turn the pages.

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins is a psychological thriller set in the South Pacific. A couple from Hawaii take a job sailing two women to remote Meroe Island. They arrive to find another boat there, with a rich, stylish couple living in it. The six of them settle in to enjoy life off the grid, until a suspicious stranger arrives who disrupts the peace of the group. Secrets, lies, and disappearances ensue.

Robert B. Parker’s Bye Bye Baby is the 50th book in the Spenser mystery series.  Ace Atkins has been writing the series since Robert B. Parker died in 2010. In this new book, Boston private investigator Spenser is hired to help with security for a young, progressive congresswoman facing numerous death threats. An FBI agent warns Spenser that the political star may be facing a credible threat, possibly from someone within an extremist group called The Minutemen.

Find Me is a new mystery/thriller by Alafair Burke. Burke is both a novelist and a professor of law, and she is the daughter of crime novelist James Lee Burke. In this suspenseful new novel, a woman suffering from amnesia for fifteen years goes missing, the only clue at the scene a drop of blood matching the DNA of a notorious murderer from across the country. Her best friend, a New York attorney, reaches out to a homicide detective from Kansas who has a connection to that murderer’s case. Together they search for answers in this story full of twists and turns.

David Guterson is known for his award-winning first novel Snow Falling on Cedars. His latest novel is The Final Case, a literary legal thriller. In a small town in Washington State, an Ethiopian girl adopted by a white fundamentalist family is found dead of hypothermia in her backyard. A criminal attorney in his 80s takes on the defense of the mother when she’s charged with murder. The attorney’s son drives his father to the rural area each day to work on what will be the final case of his career, and the son narrates this gracefully-written story.

P.J. Tracy is the pseudonym of the mother-daughter writing duo P.J. and Traci Lambrecht, the bestselling and award-winning authors of the Monkeewrench series. P.J. Lambrecht died in 2016, and her daughter Traci is continuing to write alone under the P.J. Tracy name. In addition to continuing the Monkeewrench series, which is set in Minnesota, she has begun a new thriller series featuring Detective Margaret Nolan, set in Los Angeles. The second book in that series, Desolation Canyon, was just published in January.

Author Elizabeth George has a long-running mystery series featuring Inspector Lynley. The latest is Something to Hide. Lynley and his partner, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, investigate the death of a police detective who had been working on a special task force in a Nigerian community in London.

One Step Too Far is Lisa Gardner’s newest mystery/thriller, a sequel to her novel Before She Disappeared. This installment finds Frankie Elkin searching for a young man who has gone missing in a national forest in Wyoming.

While we’re still in the deep freeze of winter, suspenseful books can make life a little bit more exciting. To find more mysteries and thrillers, search the subjects “thrillers fiction,” “detective and mystery fiction,” and “mystery fiction” in the Pioneerland catalog, or ask library staff for assistance.



Consolation and Context for the Pandemic
by Beth Cronk, County Librarian

The past two years have been difficult for many of us as the world has gone through the COVID-19 pandemic and everything that has accompanied it. Authors are beginning to release books intended to help people deal with the challenges of this time. Others have published books that are starting to put the pandemic in context. Litchfield Library has new books available that cover those topics

The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change is a book by University of Minnesota Emeritus Professor Pauline Boss. Dr. Boss coined the term “ambiguous loss” in the 1970s as part of her research with families of pilots who were missing in action in Vietnam. As she describes it, ambiguous losses are those that are missing official certification or community rituals. In addition to loved ones missing due to war, kidnapping, and other traumatic events, ambiguous losses include things like divorce and separation, adoption or abandonment, immigration, incarceration, dementia, mental illness, and addiction.

Throughout the pandemic, many people have experienced ambiguous losses: loss of employment, education, time with loved ones, significant life events, and trust in the world as a safe place. People are sometimes experiencing grief over this without realizing it.  Dr. Boss’s new book explains what people may be feeling and why, and she provides strategies for coping with pandemic losses and looking ahead with hope.

In the book On Consolation: Finding Solace in Dark Times, author Michael Ignatieff draws from works across history to find ways to face the difficulties of our current situation.  Ignatieff references the Psalms, Job, and the epistles of Paul from the Bible. He also draws from the writings of Marcus Aurelius, the art of El Greco, the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, and the music of Gustav Mahler, among the works of many other writers, artists, and musicians through the centuries. In the book, he proposes that modern life has lost touch with the language of consolation, and that by reconnecting with it we can find courage and resilience.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright tackles the massive topic of the first year of the pandemic in The Plague Year: America in the Time of COVID, published last summer. Wright provides a broad perspective on the medical, economic, political, and social aspects of the pandemic while still including details likely to surprise readers. He brings in historical context with accounts of the Black Plague and the 1918 influenza pandemic, and he celebrates America’s medical professionals and their courage.

Other new books on this subject in the collection include The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and The Blind Side; Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine by Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley; Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World by Fareed Zakaria; and Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health by public health professor Leana Wen.

And as always, the library offers a huge variety of books that provide comfort and a temporary escape from the stresses of the world. Stop in or search the library’s online catalog to choose something that brings you hope and consolation.

1000 Books Before Kindergarten is now at the Litchfield Library
January 19, 2022

By: Rachelle Golde, Children’s Librarian

The Litchfield Public Library is excited to announce a new children’s reading program, 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. We launched the program on January 7th.  This program is for children ages 0-5 years old and encourages families with young children to read together. Developing the habit of reading with your child will help them gain a love of reading and learning. The program also helps children to establish strong early literacy skills and gain the confidence they need to become strong readers when they start school.

To sign up for the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program, visit the Litchfield Public Library and let library staff know that you want to sign up. If you have more than one child in the 0–5-year-old age range, you can sign up all your children at the same time.  Once you have signed up, you will get your first book log. As you read together simply write down the titles of the books you read on the log. When the log is completed, visit the Litchfield Library to turn in the completed log and get the next book log. Your child will also get to choose a prize from the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten prize basket for each book log that they complete. When you have completed all 1000 books, your child will receive a grand prize book of their choosing from a selection that they can keep. The grand prize book will also have a special bookplate with your child’s name, and they will receive all their completed reading logs which will be made into a booklet. It is always fun to go back and see all the books you read throughout the program.

You might be wondering if it is hard to read 1000 books. While 1000 books seem like a huge number of books, it does not take very long to complete all 1000. Making reading a part of your daily routine can help with developing a habit of reading as well as help you add titles to your book log each day.  For example, if you read one book each night at bedtime you will have read 365 books in a year. That’s 730 books in two years and 1,095 books in three years. If you read more than one book per day you can complete the program in less than three years. The pace at which you complete the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program is up to you, just remember that the goal is to have read 1000 books before your child starts kindergarten.

Where can you find 1000 books to read to your child? The Litchfield Public Library is a great starting point. When you sign up for the program you will receive a book list of suggested titles from the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten organization. You do not have to follow this list; however, it can be helpful when deciding what books to read with your child. You can also count the same book each time you read it. So, it is okay to count each time you read your child’s favorite book over and over.

Other places you can find free books for your child include Libby, our free e-book library that has e-books and audiobooks for all ages; the Tumble Books interactive e-book library for children is also offered by our library system; the Friends of the Library’s free book cart and book sales; or books you already have at home. We are always happy to help you find books at the Litchfield Public Library.

The Litchfield’s 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program is sponsored by the Litchfield Friends of the Library. Thank you, Friends, for helping to make this program possible!

Until next time, happy reading!


Library News: Fine-free juvenile materials, Chromebooks for checkout, adult winter reading program
by Beth Cronk

So many exciting new things are happening at the library these days. I’ll highlight a few: fine-free youth materials, Chromebooks, and the adult winter reading program.

As of January 4, Pioneerland Library System is no longer charging late fees on youth materials. This applies to children’s and teens’ books, CDs, and DVDs. You can identify them by the call number on the spine label and in the catalog: they’ll start with J, E, B, and YA. It doesn’t matter whether the person who checked them out is an adult or a child.

If youth materials are a month overdue, a replacement bill will still be issued for them. But once they’re returned, no late fees will be charged and that bill will be removed. Damaged items will still be billed for replacement.

You might be wondering why our library system is doing this and whether people will still return books when potential late fees aren’t hanging over their heads. Library systems around the country have been moving to this policy in recent years, some for children and some for everyone. What they’ve found is that people do still return things, that people check out more when they don’t have to be afraid of late fees, and that it improves access for people who can’t afford to pay fines. Public libraries exist to give people access to materials, and what’s more important to our mission than making books as accessible as possible to children?

If you have old late fees on your account for juvenile or YA materials, talk to library staff about getting those removed. If you have items that you’ve had out for months or years, drop those off. If they’re kids’ materials, your bill will be reduced to zero. If they’re adult materials, the fine will drop to $3 per item.

Next new development: Chromebooks and mobile internet hotspots. Our library system applied for funding to get basic laptops, called Chromebooks, that can be checked out and brought home. We have had laptops and iPads available to checkout for use inside the libraries for years. The new Chromebooks check out for four weeks and can be taken out of the library. We have had mobile wi-fi hotspots available to borrow since 2020, but we are about to get some more that will be available until June. If you don’t have wi-fi at home or in the location where you’ll be using the library laptop, you’ll want to also request a hotspot.

The adult winter reading program, called Winter Reads 2022, is underway and will run until March 15. Prize choices include a mug, a stainless-steel tumbler, a bag clip, a carabiner key chain, a book light, lip balm, and an extra-large candy bar, while supplies last. Stop into the library to sign up anytime between now and early March, and set yourself a goal of reading three or six books before the program is over. The entire program can be done via curbside pickup if you wish.

People still ask if the library is open. It is, and it has been without restrictions for many months. Walk in anytime the library is open, and you can check out kids’ materials without worry about late fees, check out or reserve a laptop and/or internet hotspot, and sign up for the adult winter reading program. You can still use the library without coming inside, as well, by using curbside pickup, ebooks (including our new Tumble Books service for kids), and staff assistance via phone or email. Whether you visit the library or use the services from home, we are always happy to help.

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