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Resolutions for Reading

By: Deanna Siegel, Youth Programming Associate

As it goes, with each start of the new year comes new resolutions. People vow to go to the gym, to eat healthier, to travel more, to work less, and my personal favorite, to read more books. It can be hard getting back into the swing of things after a busy holiday season, so my advice is to start slow.

Oftentimes, it’s best to narrow your search by the genres or authors that you tend to like. For example, I love the author Lemony Snicket and plan on beginning his current series All the Wrong Questions. Maybe you like to read funny stories, so you could read the Justin Case series. Whichever book you choose, make sure you choose it wisely. The more passion you have to read it, the better the chances are of you finishing it! Ultimately though, your resolutions should be fun and exciting — not stressful.

Here’s a few books you might like to get you started!

It can even be fun to make your own chart like the one below, so you can track your progress as you read.

Title Pages Read Pages to Go End Goal Date Rate out of 5 stars
The Wishing Spell 438 0 Finished! 4 out of 5
Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty 32 0 Finished! 5 out of 5
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier 15 241 1/22/17 Undetermined

However, the most important part of all is that you are reading. Try not to get too bogged down by numbers and crossing books off of your list. Just enjoy the book!

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Saying Goodbye

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Sometimes goodbye isn't the hardest word -- especially when the word you're trying to say is hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian.As a rule, I’m not adept at saying goodbye. I mean, sure, I can give my parents a hug before I leave, or fist bump my brothers when they’re heading back to their out of state homes. But when it comes to being real — for instance, saying things like “I’ll miss you” — I’m not so great. In fact, it’s only been in the last year or two that I’ve started telling my parents I love them at the end of a phone conversation. So please bear with me while I try to make a decent go at something I’m bad at.

Next week, I’ll be saying goodbye to GEPL and moving on to a new position. There are a lot of things to be excited about — I’ll have a whole new community to get to know and work with, I’ll have a shorter commute (but still long enough for audiobooks!) and I’ll be managing a whole department. But it’s also hard to be leaving Glen Ellyn. This is a truly special community, and getting to know all of you high school students and teens in particular has been the greatest joy of being here. Visiting your clubs, hosting programs for you, working with volunteers and my teen leadership council, and chatting with you at the desk is something I’ll miss the second I’m gone.

The good news is, I’m here next week — I’ll be serving pizza, petting the therapy dogs joining us for Late Night Study, and generally trying to make your finals experience the best it possibly can be. So when you come for the food, the hot chocolate, and the dogs, keep an eye out for me and see if you can do a better job than I can at saying goodbye.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Judge a Book by Its Cover

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

Let’s talk about book covers. There are usually two teams when it comes to book covers. Some readers say book covers are a key element to what draws readers to the book. Other readers firmly believe that the synopsis is the best way to decide whether or not a book is for you.

I’m with the first team, especially when I’m browsing in the library. I’m a sucker for a beautiful book. I definitely found some eye-catching book covers in 2016, as shown below in this blog. Some of my favorite book covers feature gold foil, simple typography, clever illustrated art, or a really great color scheme. Synopses of my latest book selections are included for readers that want them, but feel free to go ahead and judge these books by their covers.

Wolf Hollow: A Novel by Lauren WolkGrowing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.

Check out School's First Day of School by Adam RexIt’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?

The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he’s not the only one going through first-day jitters, as described in School’s First Day of School.

Things are only impossible if you stop to think about them. . . .

Check out Hour of the Bees by Lindsay EagarWhile her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina — Carol — is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible — and what it means to be true to her roots. Readers who dream that there’s something more out there will be enchanted by this captivating novel of family, renewal, and discovering the wonder of the world in Hour of the Bees.

Check out A Child of Books by Oliver JeffersA little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy. She invites him to go away with her on an adventure into the world of stories… where, with only a little imagination, anything at all can happen.

Irresistibly engaging characters by Oliver Jeffers set sail and chart their way through Sam Winston’s fascinating typographical landscapes in this extraordinary ode to the power and promises of storytelling. Forty treasured children’s classics and lullabies are featured in the pictures, providing endless opportunities for discovery, memories and sharing.

Woven together by a simple story line, the one-of-a-kind illustrations in a A Child of Books provide an unforgettable reading experience that will inspire and encourage readers of all ages to explore, question, and imagine timeless stories of their own.

Check out Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane OrgillWhen Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? Jazz Day is a captivating collection of poems, in which author Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day. Francis Vallejo’s vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. This book includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author’s note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane’s famous photograph.



Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Play is All Around

By: Stephanie Rivera, Youth Director

Librarian with a new Playpack over her shoulder.Play is an essential literacy skill and an important part of how children learn. Allowing time for your child to play can help to build confidence, problem-solving skills, and a stronger imagination. If you’re looking for ways to entertain your young children over winter break, try checking out a Playpack at the library. Our new collection of Playpacks are a circulating collection of toys designed to promote early literacy. Each Playpack features two to three toys centered on a specific concept or theme. Featured items include toys such as puppets, puzzles, games, or pretend play sets. Playpacks are available to GEPL cardholders and they circulate for three weeks (no renewals). Below are a few featured playpacks; please check our catalog for the full list of items available.

Getting Dressed Playpack: Learn how to get dressed with three dressing frames that have easy-to-grasp features. You can also learn how to lace and tie shoelaces with a wooden lacing shoe and extra-long lace.

Music Playpack: Introduce your child to making music with instruments such as bells, maracas, a xylophone, and a drum. Children can also learn the sounds of eight instruments by using a sound puzzle where removing each piece produces a different sound.

Sorting Playpack: Introduce your child to sorting and different shapes to help develop hand-eye coordination. Toys such as ring stacks and blocks provide an introduction to size, stacking, identifying and matching shapes.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Winter Break at GEPL

By: Emily Richardson, Youth Programming Associate

Snowman stuffed toy in snow.Ah, winter break. The time for snowball fights, sledding, and hot cocoa with marshmallows. But then the boredom hits. And suddenly, it’s “what are we going to do today? There’s nothing to do.”

Good thing the library has some great resources to keep you busy, learning, and having fun during your winter break.

If you’re in middle school, come check out our awesome board games and art cart available at any time in The Middle. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 3:30-5 pm, you can join other middle schoolers for Crafternoons. You can also check out a MacBook from the Youth Information Desk (just bring your library card or school ID). If you forgot your ID, there’s plenty of desktop computers, too.

Our 3D printers have been busy lately; stop in to see them at work sometime over break.

If you’re in elementary school and love action and history, come by this morning from 11 am – Noon for I Survived, based on Lauren Tarshis’ I Survived series. Or check out one of our new Launchpads. Each Launchpad has different games and activities, so feel free to try your hand at a few in order to find what level or game you like best. Our desktop computers are available, too.

You may have noticed our collection display cases in the front of the Youth Department. Our wait list is down from four years (!) to a little over a year, so it’s the perfect time to get your name on the list to show off all your cool Lego creations, book collection, stuffed animals, or more.

You don’t even have to leave your warm house to enjoy the library. We have some great online databases for the whole family to enjoy. Whether you’re learning a new language, reading books, or watching movies, check out all our databases for all sorts of inspiration and fun from the comfort of your living room.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Speech and Debate

By: Saaniyah S., Teen Blogger

Joined speech and debate club, feel awesome..Efficient communication is the backbone of success in our society today. It lets us form connections, influence change, and express our ideas and viewpoints. Through sharing with others our thoughts on how to benefit the world around us, we truly make a footprint. The ability to cause change through words is an essential skill which can be honed and practiced, slowly making its way into efficiency and perfection.

In the fast-paced world we live in today, getting thoughts and ideas across as quickly as possible is necessary. Throughout school, it’s easy to get away with staying quiet in class and not having a great impact. In the working world however, it’s not quite that simple. Public speaking is a vital skill to acquire. It involves simple, everyday interactions between coworkers, bosses and employees, marketing professionals, etc., and it can have an enormous effect on your career path and your level of success in your industry.

In preparation for the future, it is imperative that teenagers start developing their speaking skills as soon as possible. My school, College Preparatory School of America, takes part in the Illinois High School Association Speech tournaments. Members of the school’s speech team are free to choose one of the many categories of speech these tournaments allow. Choices are made based on personality, which one can use to their advantage.

My category of specialization is Prose Reading, in which I find a piece of literature and convey it to the audience using vocal inflection and facial expression. I find this category quite fitting to my personality, as I am a person who enjoys thinking, and expressing my thoughts. While addressing the audience, I am able to be myself, helping me push away my fears of public speaking.

With all this being said, I encourage all teens, or people of any age, to try out a skill they dread — one they may think is not suitable for them, or one they find themselves feeling insecure doing. You never know what could be on the other side. Use my experience for example. My fears of public speaking haunted me before I made a run at trying out for the speech team. Now, with enough dedication and practice, I am able to tackle my hesitancy about conveying my thoughts to a crowd.

It’s imperative that every teenager should try a speaking-related activity. For as long as anyone can remember, it is youth that have been at the forefront of the battle lines, the brinks of changes, the birth of ideas. Who knows? One day, with the words you pick and choose to convey to the world, you could spark an enlightenment and inspire those who wish to come out of the shadows.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

This Year’s Book Gifts

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

It’s that time of year! Many of us are thinking about gifts, and as you may recall from previous holiday seasons, I am a big fan of giving books. I’ve already covered why books make great gifts, and some good choices for book-lovers in your life. This year, I thought I’d go a little more personal — here are some books I’m planning on giving to the book lovers in my life this year!

Check Out Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire SáenzTo my mom: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Aliré Saenz (audiobook)While I could think of a number of great books for my mom — Sorcerer to the Crown for the woman who introduced me to Jane Austen, X: A Novel for the person who taught me that learning history could be fun — I think the winner has to be Aristotle and Dante. Mom will love the lyrical language, and the sweet story of love and friendship at the heart of it. As a children’s librarian, this will give her a great, much-lauded book to recommend to older patrons who have outgrown kid’s books. Plus, the Hamilton fan in her will appreciate Lin-Manuel Miranda’s narration.

Check out Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi CoatesTo my dad: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi CoatesWhile my dad certainly enjoys reading (hello, we’re related) he tends to read shorter books and non-fiction. Luckily, I’ve read a great, short, non-fiction work this year — Between the World and Me. This 2015 Alex Award book’s relevance to current events will only make my dad like it more, and I confidently predict he’ll be filing away some quotes thanks to the excellent writing.

Check out The Paper Bag Princess by Robert MunschTo my niece: The Paper Bag Princess by Robert MunschI don’t care if you’re practically an adult now, if you haven’t read this picture book classic, get thee to the library! While my niece (6 months old) is a little young to read this one yet, I can’t think of a book I’d rather give her. When I was a kid, Princess Elizabeth and her adventures taught me I could be happy without a prince and defeat the enemy with my own smarts, plus this book is probably responsible for my life-long love of dragons. I can only hope my niece appreciates it as half as much.

Check out Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoTo my youngest brother: Six of CrowsWhile all three of my brothers are readers, the one whose taste is closest to my own is my youngest brother. We’ve bonded over the immersive world-building, compelling characters, and exciting plots of a number of high fantasy books. I know he’ll appreciate all these aspects, as well as the fun of a heist and touches of humor, that make Six of Crows such a joy to read.

Check out Modern Romance by Aziz AnsariTo one BFF: Modern Romance by Aziz AnsariAziz Ansari’s book (print or audiobook) is sure to appeal to my Parks and Rec loving best friend. The research and numbers will appeal to her smart side, while the humor will hold her interest. And in the life of a busy grad student, a non-fiction book with no can’t-put-it-down plot is definitely better in terms of graduating on time!

Check out The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae CarsonTo my other BFF: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (audiobook)My busy lawyer best friend listens to a lot of audiobooks while she works, works out, and multitasks, so the excellent narration for this series will be a big plus. She’ll also love Elisa’s smarts and bravery, and revel in the political intrigue. Add in a swoony love interest, and I think this will be a big hit.

Check out Year Of Yes by Shonda RhimesTo everyone: Year Of Yes by Shonda RhimesYear of Yes was one of my favorite reads (and listens — I can’t recommend the audiobook enough) of 2016. I can’t think of anyone on my list who wouldn’t enjoy this book, whether for the humor, the inspiration, or the inside look at the life of a TV producer.

Are you giving any books this season? How do you pick the right book for the right person?

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

National Gluten-free Baking Week December 17-23

By: Megan Stepniewski, Youth Programming Associate

So you poured your sweat and tears into making batches upon batches of cookies to give as a loving gift to family, friends, and coworkers. You go around handing them out basking in the glory of your own handiwork getting praise from everyone around you until you get to that one person who looks up at you and says:

Man sitting on the ground with words "I'm gluten free."

Wut? You were sure that making homemade delicious sugar cookies — painstakingly hand decorated mind you — would please everyone (making up for last year’s marshmallow blow dart fiasco). You could just sincerely say you are sorry and go on your merry way, maybe make them a card to make up for the lack of cookies. But no! This cannot be! Everyone must enjoy your handiwork, after all those cookies were delicious!

Anime woman tries to pour flower into bowl, instead it explodes everywhere.

Have no fear! This week is National Gluten-Free Baking week and unlike ten years ago, there are so many actually delicious recipes out there now. I’ve included here my favorite Gluten-Free Christmas Cookie Recipe perfect for any desire to appease your family, friends, and co-workers — yes, even the gluten-free ones. It’s all so easy now it’s hard to fail, and if you do, at least you can binge on chocolate chips like I often do…

Anime woman binge eating chocolate chips.

Happy Gluten-Free Baking Week!

Check out these amazing Gluten-Free Baking Books here at the Library!
Check out Gluten Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly

Cool Wheat-Free Recipes (J641.56318)
Gluten-Free and Other Special Diets (J641.56 LUS)
Incredible Edible Gluten-Free Food for Kids (641.5638 SAN)
Gluten-Free Baking (641.5638 REI)

Gluten-Free Cookbook (641.5638 WEI)
Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread (641.5638 HUN)
Gluten-Free Baking (641.5638 KID)

Additional Resources:
Royal Icing: Great for the Christmas Cookies – just double check ingredients for gluten, technically it’s gluten-free.

French Bread: Sooooo good. Perfect accompaniment with any nice warm soup!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting: I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t want to indulge with these?

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Oblivion by Sasha Dawn

By: Ally K., Teen Blogger

Oblivion by Sasha DawnLet me start by saying that this book was very well written. This psychological thriller was full of romance and mystery which kept me hooked after each page. As I uncovered the secrets of the main character, Callie’s, life, and her graphomania (an impulse to write), I found myself more and more invested in the story. Oblivion messed with my mind and constantly kept me on the edge of my seat.

One thing that I loved was how Dawn portrayed the relationships in the book as flawed but real. She did not glorify love, but made it messy, which drew me in as something different than most novels that I have read.  Not only were the relationships flawed, but so were the people. I loved how every character had their dark side and I especially loved going deeper into the mind of every character, darkness and all. Dawn left no character perfect but kept everyone imperfect and real, which contributed to the authenticity of each character’s personality.

Sasha Dawn’s writing style was different in the sense that it was jumpy, repetitive, and vague at times. There were points in the story where I would have to go back and re-read in order to make sense of what had just happened, and although her style takes some getting used to, I think that it matches the story very well. The writing style added to the intricacy of Callie’s damaged mind and allowed me to delve deep into her thoughts in order to better understand her character. One thing that I particularly liked about the story is how Callie’s graphomania is used to enhance and unfurl the mystery of the story. It was different and original which is one of the main draw points to the story.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a unique mysteries and messy love triangles.  Oblivion has definitely achieved the title of one of my favorite books.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What I Just Read – Girl Mans Up

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check out Girl Mans Up by M. E. GirardOnce again, I’ve found a great audiobook to talk about in this edition of What I Just Read. Solid contemporary, with relatable (if sometimes infuriating) characters, with my favorite elements of family, friendship, and a pretty awesome main character.

What I Just Read: Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

What’s It About (Jacket Description): All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.

Do I Like It: Totally.

Thoughts: Girl Mans Up is somehow a perfect example of everything contemporary realistic YA books should be, and yet also something totally unique (at least in my reading experience). It has all the elements I want from my realistic fiction — a compelling main character, conflict that is real and not forced, multi-layered and well developed supporting characters, deep and complicated relationships, and some great dialogue. But I’ve also never met characters quite like Pen, her older brother Johnny, or her exceptionally hate-able best friend Colby.

At its core, Girl Mans Up is about Pen learning to exist independently of the people around her. She’s spent most of her life friends with Colby, who has very specific ideas about how friendship works and how to treat women. Her parents want her to be a traditional Portuguese daughter, which runs counter to who Pen feels she is. She leans on her older brother Johnny for companionship, acceptance, and protection from her parents. But as the book progresses, all these layers of influence and shelter are stripped away, until Pen has to learn to stand on her own feet, and make her own judgments. It’s a rocky road, but reading about it was so immersive, and Pen’s journey was so relatable to anyone of any gender who has had a rocky road to independence.

Along the way of Pen’s journey, we get a great supporting cast of character. One of things I think Girard did best was to really show why Pen is friends with Colby in the first place. As a reader, it’s easy to hate him (in fact, it’s practically mandatory to hate him) but we do get glimpses of the fun Pen and Colby have together, the times he’s come through for her, and the things they have in common. It makes it believable that Pen would stick around for so long despite his jerkiness. Pen’s older brother Johnny has his own issues, but his unwavering love and support for Pen are among the highlights of the book, and the Johnny scenes are a huge relief after the frustrations of reading about Colby. Pen’s oldest friend Tristan, new friend, Olivia, and girlfriend, Blake, are also well-developed characters who each have their own story, and their own way of relating to Pen, which makes them interesting to read about.

Girl Mans Up is a great blend of drama, coming-of-age, romance, and family. Add in some almost uncomfortably realistic dialogue and an incredible narrative voice, Pen’s complete awesomeness (despite some flaws like her terminal hot-headedness), and Emma Galvin’s fantastic narration, and I couldn’t wait to get back in my car and keep listening. Girl Mans Up is a perfect choice for anyone looking for a good contemporary read or coming-of-age story.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School