Take a Trip to Your Local Library | Kids Out and About

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Take a Trip to Your Local Library

Compiled by Karin Gaffney

Summer is about life slowing down just a bit, enjoying days at the beach, barbecuing with family and friends in the backyard, taking time to walk with your kids through the park on a warm summer morning -– but don’t forget trips to your local library as you seek fun activities.

Vacation from school provides a great opportunity for kids to read for pleasure as they take a break from books assigned for class.

But Elizabeth Hollinger, librarian at Jefferson Road School in the Pittsford Central School District, says getting children to take a break from outdoor activities and even time in front of the computer won’t happen without a parent’s help.

“Why not establish ‘DEAR’ time – Drop Everything and Read,” Hollinger suggests. “Take your children to the public library and let them explore their own interests. Free choice, with the time to exercise it, can be very motivating.”

Hollinger also suggests parents check out some books themselves. “Modeling your own love of reading is a great way to foster the same appreciation in your child,” she says.

So visit the library this summer and ask the children’s librarian for their favorite book picks. Or make use of the following picture book and chapter book suggestions by Elizabeth Hollinger, and Catherine Anderson, librarian at Winslow Elementary School in the Rush-Henrietta Central School District:

Picture Books

The Raft, by Jim LaMarche

A young boy passes his summer days at grandma’s cottage in the woods. As he drifts down the river on a raft, he is spellbound by the sight of turtles, herons, foxes, otters and other wildlife. This gentle story with its glorious illustrations invites us to slow down and pay attention to the natural world around us.

Scrambled States of America, by Laurie Keller

The 50 states have a get-acquainted party and decide to trade places for a while. Poor, lonely Kansas, having switched with Hawaii, lands out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean singing the blues, while Florida, having traded spaces with Minnesota, is freezing to death. If you’re planning a vacation in the states this summer, sharing this wacky book would be a great way to kick off your trip and impart a painless geography lesson at the same time.

Oh No, Gotta Go! By Susan Middleton Elya

A little girl riding in a car with her parents emphatically announces that she has to go – now! The parents frantically drive around looking for a bathroom while the girl narrates their adventure. This bilingual rhyming book is a hoot and provides an important reminder to families setting out on long car trips.

Shell Book, by Barbara Hirs Lember

If you’ll be dipping your toes in the surf this summer, bring along a copy of this exquisitely illustrated shell guide.

Bark, George, by Jules Feiffer

Hilarious! Poor George can't bark. He can meow and quack, but not bark. George's mother takes him to the vet to get to the bottom of the problem. Laugh-out-loud ending.

Alice the Fairy, by David Shannon

Alice is a temporary fairy who can make cookies disappear and turn oatmeal into cake, but can't get her clothes to get off the floor and dance into the closet. “A fairy's life is filled with danger. Broccoli is often poisoned by the wicked Dutchess and never should be eaten.”

Chapter Books

Wild Willie and King Kyle Detectives, by Barbara Joose

Willie and Kyle’s plans for the best summer ever are ruined when Kyle’s family has to move to “Stupid Cleveland, Stupid Ohio.” But things start looking up when a mysterious new kid moves in next door and the boys decide Willie will spy on her and send reports to Kyle. This read-aloud is always a hit when Elizabeth Hollinger reads it to her second-graders, and it’s the first in a very funny series just right for children making the leap from “I Can Read” books to short chapter books.

Heir Apparent, by Vivian Vande Velde

As the result of an equipment malfunction, 14-year-old Giannine becomes trapped in a total immersion virtual realty game. The only way out is to successfully complete the game and be crowned king. The feisty heroine’s task is complicated by barbarian invasions, peasant uprisings, palace plots and a hungry dragon. This is a thoroughly enjoyable blend of humor, sci-fi and fantasy by a talented Rochester author.

Jim Ugly, by Sid Fleischman

It’s 1894 in Blowfly, Nevada, and Sam Bannock has just been laid to rest. But his son, Jake, has reason to believe that Sam’s not really six feet under. Would this have anything to do with some missing diamonds that Sam was accused of stealing? Jake and his dad’s dog, Jim Ugly, set off on a manhunt. Unfortunately for them, they’re not the only ones looking for Sam. This is an entertaining parody of Western melodrama with plenty of plot twists and suspense.

Gooney Bird Greene, by Lois Lowry

A laugh-out-loud chapter book with a feisty second grader Gooney Bird Greene, who arrives for her first day dressed in PJs and cowboy boots and wants a “a desk smack in the middle of the room, because I like to be right smack in the middle of everything.”

Chet Gecko Mysteries, by Bruce Hale

This series stars fourth-graders Chet Gecko, “the best lizard detective at Emerson Hicky Elementary.” A fast-paced read with lots of suspense and witty wordplay. Fun black and white illustrations.


Karin Gaffney is a children’s writer who lives in Rochester, NY. Her work has been published in magazines such as Grit and Guideposts for Kids. To contact Karin, email her at karinwrites@hotmail.com.

©Karin Gaffney, 2005. All rights reserved.