Would you like to know a library secret? You don’t have to be a kid to read “kids’ books.” In fact, I would say that not only are good picture books individually wrapped, bite-sized morsels of art, but they can still teach you something and, most importantly, make you feel something.

Need a little life pep-talk? Read “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. Feeling cranky? Pick up “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. I hear a lot of people say that they don’t have time to read novels, but the good news is that most picture books can be read and savored in 5-10 minutes. Chapter books and teen books can be read in just a few short hours and many have complex characters and intriguing plotlines. If Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were the last chapter books you read, you may be surprised at what’s available now. Head on down to the lower floor of the library and check out some of our new books! Here are two of my favorites:

“This is Our House” by Hyewon Yum, a picture book

This is Our House tells the story of three generations that have lived in the same house. Rather than describing the details of the house, the speaker talks about life events that took place there, starting with the arrival of her grandparents from “far away with just two suitcases in hand.”

 Each two-page spread features one illustration in a frame, designed to look like a family photo one might see in a hallway, and a full-page story illustration on the opposite page. The young speaker, together with the design of the illustrations, creates an effect of oral storytelling; one gets the sense that a child is looking at photos and describing her family to the reader as if one were at that very house visiting. This book is a sweet and nostalgic retelling of a family’s history and would be a great way to bring up topics of familial generations and life cycles with kids.

“The Killing Woods” by Lucy Christopher, for older teens

It’s the middle of the night and Emily’s dad comes crashing out of the woods and into the house carrying her schoolmate, Ashlee. Emily’s dad is in the middle of a war flashback and Ashlee isn’t breathing. Overnight her dad is labeled a murderer and a whole town turns against her and her boyfriend, Damon. Damon and Emily’s dad, the two main witnesses, are unable to recount what happened, Emily’s dad because he was in a PTSD flashback and Damon because of the mixture of drugs and alcohol he had taken that night.

 Told in alternating perspectives between Emily and Damon, the reader is faced with changing loyalties as the author slips in little nuggets of information that have the reader doubting everyone and unsure of exactly what happened in the woods that night.

Shasta Barnes is the volunteer coordinator at West Linn Public Library.

Contract Publishing

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