Posts Tagged ‘books’

Kids: Vote at ICPL for the 2018 Children’s Choice Book Award!

by Anne Wilmoth on March 2nd, 2018

Kids, here’s your chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box: vote for the Children’s Choice Award in the ICPL Children’s Department throughout the month of March!

The Children’s Choice Award is the only national book award given only by children and teens. There are five books nominated (also chosen by kids in school libraries around the country) in each of three age group categories: kindergarten to second grade, third to fourth grade, and fifth to sixth grade.

Visit our voting booth and fill out the secret ballot for your age group category. The winners will be announced when voting ends everywhere on May 6!

For a full list of this year’s nominees, click here.

Kids can also vote online (instantly and without entering any personal information) by visiting







Happy Library “Shelfie” Day!

by Anne Wilmoth on January 24th, 2018

In 2014, the New York Public Library declared the fourth Wednesday in January to be National Library Shelfie Day – that’s a day dedicated to snapping selfies in front of library shelves, of course! Launching an Instagram campaign encouraging library users to post “shelfies” alongside the hashtag #libraryshelfie, NYPL hoped to reach tweens, teens, and young adults – those demographics for which the selfie seems to be omnipresent.

Well, I’m a late adopter of the smartphone and not totally comfortable with the selfie as a concept, but I do love libraries and books. And I realized this morning that in just one day of work as an Iowa City Public Library children’s librarian, I encountered numerous library shelves beyond the traditional downtown building. We are out in the community bringing the library to you! 

Here’s my #libraryshelfie on the bookmobile!

Find our current bookmobile schedule here.

The bookmobile is a “boutique” library service – we have limited space, so only the best books make it to the shelves here. Better yet, new and popular books that are perpetually checked out at the downtown building can often be found on the bookmobile!

Next I snapped a #libraryshelfie in front of our outreach collection at the Pheasant Ridge Neighborhood Center. The Neighborhood Center serves as a family resource center for the residents of the Pheasant Ridge Apartments, where a large portion of Iowa City’s immigrant and refugee population settles. The library maintains a collection here for residents to enjoy – and each month, we stop in and switch up the books on display, reshelve items, and ensure it’s looking tidy and inviting. Find out more about the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County here.


Then I went to Alexander Elementary School for storytime with the preschoolers there! Each month, ICPL children’s librarians visit over thirty-five preschools to extend their classroom curriculum with early literacy activities and encourage them to visit the library with their families. At some sites, students also visit the bookmobile and select books for their classroom.

After I shared books, flannel board stories, fingerplays, and musical instruments with these kids, I asked them to pose for a #libraryshelfie in front of their classroom library!

And then I was back at the downtown library for one last #libraryshelfie. Happy Library Shelfie Day! 




Reading the Night Away With the Jólabókaflóð

by Amanda on December 15th, 2017

What the heck is Jólabókaflóð? Literally, it means “Christmas Book Flood,” and it’s pronounced “Yo-la-bok-a-flot.” Maybe you’ve heard of it, since all things Nordic are very trendy right now (hygge, Nordic noir, Scandinavian minimalism, et cetera). It’s the Icelandic tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve, then spending the night reading those books. In Iceland, the holiday season kicks off in November with the delivery of the Bókatíðindi—the annual Book Bulletin, distributed by the Icelandic Publishers Association for free to each Icelandic home.

This tradition began during World War II after Iceland gained its independence from Denmark. Paper was one of the few commodities not rationed during the war, so books became the gift of choice, as other types of gifts were scarce. Iceland loves its books: 93% of Icelanders read at least one book a year (compared to 73% of Americans), and it is the third most literate country in the world (Finland and Norway are the first and second). In Iceland, one in ten people will publish a book in their lifetime, and in 2011 Reykjavík was designated a UNESCO City of Literature, three years after Iowa City received the same distinction.

Jólabókaflóð is easy to adapt to your family’s needs. While the original tradition is tied to Christmas, yours doesn’t need to be! Simply gather your family together, and enjoy each other’s company while exchanging your favorite books. Check out used bookstores, thrift stores, and library sales to get the best deals on your Book Flood gifts, or use library books for a totally free exchange (just be careful about overdue books). This article has some really fun ideas for creating your own Book Flood tradition.

This sweet tradition is very close to my heart. I grew up in a family of readers—which is probably not surprising, now that I’m working in a library and getting my Master’s in Library Science. For a lot of other families, Christmas day is a loud, boisterous occasion. For my family, it was all about the books. On Christmas Eve, we would gather around the tree and read classic picture books together; the next day was usually spent in pajamas, scattered around the house, reading all the new books we’d received as gifts. To me, there’s almost nothing better than being with people you love, reading.

What books will you give to your loved ones this holiday season?

Family Traveling for the Holidays? Bring Along an Audiobook!

by Anne Wilmoth on November 8th, 2017

Each year, while traveling literally over the river and through the woods to southeastern Michigan for Thanksgiving, I’m determined that the family unity and togetherness will start the moment we back out of the driveway. Translation: no screens, kids. Instead, I cue up an audiobook I’ve carefully selected for family listening pleasure. It can be a challenge to find something that everyone is engaged by – but when I do, it makes the miles zip by. Some we’ve enjoyed recently:

Thumbnail The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, 2014

This was a hit with everyone in the car – my 55-year-old mother-in-law, my husband, my “tween” daughter and my 6-year-old. It moves fast, and it’s written in verse – who doesn’t enjoy listening to poetry read aloud? Those who are into sports will enjoy it, as it’s about a pair of basketball-star twins and their exploits on the court, but it has plenty for the non-sports-fan as well – it’s just as much about family relationships, loyalty, and coming-of-age.



Wonder by R.J. Palacio, 2012

This book about a fifth-grader with a facial abnormality is an excellent bridge to a family discussion about inclusion and kindness. The life of the protagonist has been shaped by the reactions of others to his striking physical differences, despite being a totally “regular kid” on the inside, and now he’s about to start at a new middle school. Different actors narrate the sections of this book, which are told from the perspective of a variety of characters. The dialogue and situations feel very authentic, and the message hits home without being heavy-handed or precious. You’ll be ready to see the screen adaptation that comes out this month!



When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, 2009

A one-of-a-kind historical sci-fi/mystery so suspenseful that you won’t want to press pause at a rest stop! Miranda tries to unravel who – or what – is behind the prophetic notes that keep appearing in her personal items. Other mysterious characters and unexplained events pop up, and there seems to be no earthly way all these intriguing but disparate elements could possibly be tied together by the end – but they are. Also, time travel, if you’re into that.



Ghost by Jason Reynolds, 2016

Ghost is a gifted sprinter, and when he impulsively tries out for a local track team, a tough-love coach sees potential in him. But Ghost has to learn to control his anger to become a team player and succeed on the track. The audiobook is engagingly narrated by the author, who brings laugh-out-loud personality to the coach’s dialogue. This book was recently named the 2018 All Iowa Kids Read selection, so listening to it would be a great way for all your kids to participate at once.



Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm, 2016

10-year-old Beans Curry cooks up schemes and gets into scrapes during one summer in Depression-era Key West. Adults will be fascinated by the historical details of how Key West was deliberately remade from an isolated and impoverished island community into a hot tourist attraction – this novel is based on true events – while kids will thrill to Beans’ wacky adventures and wonder what he’ll do next. Narrated by the author, fans of Holm’s popular Babymouse series will not be disappointed in this listening experience.


These audiobooks are available on CD at the library, or in digital, downloadable format via OverDrive. Happy listening, and happy, harmonious traveling this season!


Video Staff Picks with Terri: October 2017

by Bond Drager on October 18th, 2017

Terri’s back with more great picks from Iowa City Public Library’s nonfiction collection.

Items mentioned include

directed by Keith Maitland

directed by Kim A. Snyder

Gimme Danger
directed by Jim Jarmusch

Eat that Question: Frank
Zappa in his Own Words
directed by Thorsten Schütte

The New Bloody Mary
by Vincenzo Marianella and James O. Fraioli

In Julia’s Kitchen
by Pamela Heyne and Jim Scherer

Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family
by Kathy McKeon

Twenty-Six Seconds: a Personal History of the Zapruder Film
by Alexandra Zapruder

JFK: a Vision for America in Words and Pictures
edited by Stephen Kennedy Smith and
Douglas Brinkley

Last Man Standing: Mort Sahl and the Birth
of Modern Comedy
by James Curtis

What do I read next?

by Melody Dworak on October 11th, 2017

What do I read next?Whether you are a super reader who has run out of books to read or a parent looking for the perfect book to give your kid, the staff at the Info Desk have tools to help you discover the Next Great Read.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read to Get Ready for STEAM Fest!: Picture Book Biographies of STEAM Pioneers

by Anne Wilmoth on May 15th, 2017

There’s nothing I love more than a good picture book biography of a little-known historical figure; something that makes you let out a surprised “Huh!” when you turn the final page.

In honor of this week’s STEAM Festival for children (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) here are a handful of books on STEAM trailblazers that promise to fascinate the adult reading them aloud just as much as the child listening.

ThThumbnaile Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman

When Paul Erdos was four years old, he liked to amuse strangers by asking them their age, then announcing how many seconds they’d been alive, after just a moment of mental calculation.  Paul grew up into a brilliant but eccentric mathematician – “he didn’t fit into the world in a regular way” and needed his mother and friends to see to his basic needs – who traveled the world working with other mathematicians, doing math up to nineteen hours a day, and coming up with new kinds of math.  Numbers are sprinkled throughout this simply-told, charming story.

Thumbnail Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone

Society tried to thwart her at every turn, but the first female doctor in America (she graduated from medical school in 1849), wouldn’t be dissuaded.  In a situation that seems laughable today but was all to real in our country’s history, all the other tenants in the building where she opened her first practice were so horrified that they immediately moved out.  Today, more than half of all U.S. medical school students are women, thanks to Elizabeth Blackwell.

Thumbnail Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wellmark

Who wouldn’t be fascinated by trying to wrap their mind around the leap from the first computer to the sophisticated, lightning-fast information machine that we all now carry around in our pocket?  Women have been instrumental in computer technology since its inception, starting with Ada Byron Lovelace.  This thinker, tinkerer, and girl fascinated by numbers went on to write the algorithm that allowed her colleague’s Thinking Machine to work – making her the world’s first computer programmer.

Thumbnail Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis

The Ferris wheel, that mainstay of summer amusement parks across America, got its start at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., a mechanical engineer, won a contest seeking a design more spectacular than the Eiffel Tower, which had wowed attendees at the previous World’s Fair.  The fair committee thought his design couldn’t possibly work and refused to give him the money to build it.  George, despite being laughed out of most banks, eventually secured a loan and paid for the wheel himself; he and wife took the first ride.  The story of this feat of engineering and nostalgic piece of Americana is depicted in illustrations washed in blue and purple that evoke twilight at a state fair, alongside text bursting with fascinating bits of detail.

Thumbnail Balloons Over Brodway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

The little boy who designed a rope-and-pulley system so he could feed the family’s chickens while lying in bed grew up to become the entirely self-taught “father of American puppetry,” the man behind those giant character balloons that millions of people watch on TV every Thanksgiving.  When Tony Sarg came to America, he designed mechanical marionettes for a Macy’s window display.  Later, Macy’s asked him to come up with something more spectacular for the parade than live animals, which were frightening the children – and Tony Sarg’s innovative balloons have risen on Thanksgiving Day every year since 1928.

After finding some inspiration in these books, come down to ICPL’s STEAM Festival and do some problem-solving and discovery of your own!  The STEAM Festival takes place on Friday, May 19 from 9:30-2:30 and Saturday, May 20 from 10-4.

ICPL celebrates Drop Everything and Read in April

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 31st, 2015

April is D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Month and we plan to celebrate by sharing pictures of Library staff dropping everything to read.

D.E.A.R. is the acronym beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary penned in Ramona Quimby, Age 8. In this story, Ramona’s third grade teacher, Mrs. Whaley, tells the students they will have Sustained Silent Reading every day after lunch, during which children could read whatever they want without having to write a book report. To make Sustained Silent Reading sound more fun, Mrs. Whaley decided to call it D.E.A.R.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 was published in 1981. Since then, Drop Everything and Read promotions have been held on April 12 in honor of Beverly Cleary’s birthday, but HarperCollins Publishers decided to extend the fun, and the reading, by making D.E.A.R. a month-long celebration.

How will you celebrate?

Visit for more information, resources and other information – and don’t forget to check out ICPL’s D.E.A.R. photos on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram.

Book Madness Update: And then there were four

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 30th, 2015

It wasn’t easy, but you managed to whittle 64 titles down to four in ICPL’s Book Madness.BookMadness

In the teens and adults bracket, How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal was the winning title in our Humor Me category, while Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale won the Books That Blow Your Mind category. Local author Sarah Prineas was voted the winner of the Iowa Writers category and The Lord of the Rings was named the best Big Book Worth the Effort.

In the children’s bracket, Percy Jackson edged out The Pigeon to win the Beloved Character category, while Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White won the Books That Got You Hooked on Reading category. Elephant and Piggie were named the Best Series and Bill Thomson’s Chalk took the Wordless Picture Book category.

How will these books fare against each other? Your votes decide!

Voting for the Finals begins now and continues until 6 p.m. Saturday. Be sure to stop by the Library this week to vote for the books you want to see go head-to-head. We will update the bracket Sunday morning.

We are open from noon to 5 p.m. on Easter Sunday.

If you can’t make it to the Library before Saturday, you can vote on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @ICPL using the #ICPLBookMadness hashtag! We’ll accept social media votes until 6 p.m. Saturday.

You can find the list of all books in this year’s Book Madness literary competition here. We also have extra brackets at the Children’s Desk, Help Desk and Info Desk if you’d like to pick one up as a reading list.


How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal vs. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien vs. The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas


Percy Jackson vs. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Elephant and Piggie vs. Chalk by Bill Thomson

Book Madness Update: We have our Elite Eight!

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 28th, 2015


The votes are in! Below are the titles and beloved book characters that are our 2015 Book Madness Elite Eight!

Be sure to visit the Library this weekend to vote for your favorite book(s) to advance to the Final Four! We’ll update the brackets on Monday!

If you can’t make it to the Library this weekend, you can vote on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @ICPL using the #ICPLBookMadness hashtag! We’ll accept social media votes until 8:30 a.m. Monday.

And if anyone knows how to choose between Island of the Blue Dolphins and Charlotte’s Web in the Books That Got You Hooked on Reading category, please let us know. It’s too hard!

You can find the list of all books in this year’s Book Madness literary competition here. We also have extra brackets at the Children’s Desk, Help Desk and Info Desk if you’d like to pick one up as a reading list.

Book Madness 2015: Adults and Teens


  • How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey


  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card


  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien


  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
  • The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas

Book Madness 2015: Children’s


  • Percy Jackson
  • The Pigeon


  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White


  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Elephant and Piggie


  • Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
  • Chalk by Bill Thomson