Enriching Our Children’s Collection

Photo credit: Chen Mizrach at Unsplash

Earlier this year, Baxter Memorial Library was selected as one of 300 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities. The competitive award came with a $3,000 grant to help BML support area youth, including those being educated at home, with an updated and enhanced collection of educational materials and other resources.

Originally, the focus was on the homeschooling community in the area, so we held a virtual discussion with homeschoolers to find out what would enrich their homeschooling experiences. After that discussion, we decided to open it up to suggestions from all families.  We crafted a survey that asked what Sharon families would like to find when they walk into the library – what would make the library more appealing and more useful for them, especially when it comes to educational resources – and not surprisingly, the answers from both groups were nearly identical: themed learning kits and equipment available to check out were the clear winners, with an inviting children’s area, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math) resources, more nonfiction children’s books, and board games also making a show. 

Sounds great!  Now, where to begin?

First, we’ll be creating themed kits and adding them to the collection in the coming months.  Imagine being able to check out books on bird identification, along with binoculars, a notebook for observations, and a CD filled with birdsongs.  Or, checking out a book on yoga for kids that comes with a mat and cards showing the positions, or books on gardening that come with gardening tools, or books on addition and subtraction that come with fun math games, or even books on juggling that come with balls!  How cool is that? 

Next, we’ll put out a call for fun equipment that might be languishing in closets or basements so that we can begin circulating outdoor/sports gear, microscopes, art supplies, and whatever else comes our way.  We’ll also adorn the children’s area with cushions for the sitting nook, more soft seating for little readers, and children’s book-themed decor. Finally, we’ll add more nonfiction books, puzzles, and educational (and fun!) board games for checkout. 

Happily, we’ve received additional American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant money from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Vermont Department of Libraries which will allow us to purchase STEAM and makerspace resources in the coming months. Look for robotics, coding, engineering, and architechtural toys, as well as lots of fun art and craft supplies to be added very soon!

Thank you for helping us to reimagine what our children’s area can be! 2022 is already shaping up to be a spectacular year at Baxter Memorial Library!

Survey for Families

The survey has ended. A hearty thank you to all who participated! If you have ideas for enriching the library’s educational resources, please email your suggestions to sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com.

What would you like to find when you walk into your library? What would make BML more appealing to your family? Themed learning kits? Educational games available to check out? Youth project fairs? Let us know – we’re all ears!  Recently, the library received a grant to update and enhance our collection of educational materials, programs and other resources.  While a portion of the grant has allowed for the purchase of lots of new nonfiction children’s books, the remaining funds are to be spent however the community would find most helpful.  After talking with homeschoolers in the area about what would be most beneficial for them, we’re opening the conversation to ALL families in the Sharon area!

So, tell us what you’d like to see at your library!  

BML’s Annual Appeal

Dear neighbor, 

2021 has been quite the year, hasn’t it?  And on the heels of 2020, no less!  Thank goodness the library has been here through it all.  Baxter Memorial Library is a unique and incredible place that serves EVERYONE – young and old, rich and poor, regardless of race, gender, religion, or political affiliation – providing unfettered access to almost limitless knowledge.  The library is here to make it possible for those without reliable Internet access to apply for jobs or unemployment, sign up for services, file their taxes, or complete homework assignments.  During the pandemic, it has even allowed some people to work from “home” when they otherwise wouldn’t have been able.  The library offers opportunities to engage our curiosity and discover new passions.  And, of course, it provides more than 6,000 books and audio-visual items (and access to tens of thousands more through the interlibrary loan system) for both research and relaxation – and who doesn’t need a little relaxation after the last few years? 

We’re so happy we’ve been able to keep our doors wide open this year!  Not only is it delightful to see everyone, but part of the wonder of a library is browsing, being inspired by the shelves, and taking something home you weren’t searching for, something that might change your life.  We’ve seen that happen again and again this year.  Check out these statistics from the past year:

  • 53 new patrons
  • over 2000 patron visits (even with the pandemic!)
  • 3382 checkouts
  • 1055 ebook & digital audiobook checkouts
  • 435 interlibrary loans from other libraries
  • 8 museum passes used over 50 times
  • 472 new items added to the collection

Wow!  If you haven’t visited the library in a while, stop by and see all you’ve been missing!  Those statistics are only the beginning, though.  This year we applied for and received grants that have enabled us to add new technology for patrons, continue our popular interlibrary loan service, greatly update and enhance our collection of children’s nonfiction books, and begin to implement educational opportunities for Sharon’s youth, including installing a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) makerspace!  (Be sure to look for it in early 2022!)

Baxter Memorial Library relies on donations from the Sharon community to continue to provide quality programming for children, digital literacy assistance for adults, new books and movies for all ages, and community programs and services – from scarecrow making to summer reading to workforce development with Vermont job center specialists – all for free to everyone in our community.

Our goal is to continue to be the heart of Sharon, Vermont, but we can’t do that without your help. The gift that you offer today will provide the stability we need to continue to serve our community.  Can we count on you?  Please consider any amount you give to be an investment in the future of Sharon and a gift to your children and grandchildren as well as to the entire Sharon community. 

Thank you for considering Baxter Memorial Library in your annual giving.  Gifts to the library are tax deductible.

The BML Trustees: Mary Stoddard, Stephanie Gergely Davis, Marian Weatherbee, Emma Basham, and Kit Hood; and Library Director Shana Hickman

Please make checks payable to: Baxter Memorial Library P.O. Box 87, Sharon, VT 05065

Email: ___________________________________________________________________________________

                           ☐ Add me to the mailing list              ☐ I would like to volunteer

Saturday – Make Your Own Scarecrow!

Well, the leaves are turning and the mornings are crisp. Looks like fall is here whether we’re ready for it or not, so why not celebrate? Remember the scarecrows in front of the library, 7 Stars, and the town offices last year?  Want to make one of your own?  We’ll have the frames, hay, burlap and fabric paint; all you need to do is bring some funky clothes!  Let’s decorate the town with fun fall scarecrows!  This is a FREE event that’s perfect for all ages.  Please email the library at sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com and let us know you plan to attend so we can bring enough frames for everyone.

The Annual Plant, Book & Bake Sale Is Almost Here!

Plant, Book and Bake Sale – Saturday, June 5

Baxter Memorial Library is preparing for our annual Plant, Book & Bake Sale on Saturday, June 5th!  That’s right, it’s back, and you – and your plants, books, and baked goodies – are invited! 

Plant Donations

Right now, we’re asking gardeners to contribute whatever they grow best: perennials, annuals, veggies or houseplants – all are welcome.  If you’d like assistance digging plants to donate, we have volunteers to help.  Drop off donated plants in the back of the library Tuesday, June 1 through Friday, June 4.  Email questions to kithood3@gmail.com or give us a call at 763-2875.

Book Donations

Have books, DVDs, or audiobooks on CD that are looking for new homes? We’d love to have them for our sale! You can drop off items the week of the sale: June 1 – June 4, 12-6pm. Please don’t leave donations on the porch. Because finding homes for unwanted books is extraordinarily difficult these days, we are only able to accept sellable items in good condition:

What We Can Accept

• Hardbacks in good condition
• Paperbacks in good condition
• DVDs
• Audiobooks on CD

What We Can’t Accept

• Encyclopedias
• Textbooks
• Computer manuals
• Travel guides
• Condensed books
• Magazines
• Vinyl records or cassette tapes
• VHS tapes
• Items in poor condition

Baked Goods Donations

Want to help the library by baking something scrumptious?  We’re looking for pies, tea breads, cookies, cakes, bars, or anything else that would satisfy a sweet tooth!  Please let Shana know what you plan to contribute by emailing the library or calling 763-2875.

BML Awarded $3,000 National Grant for Small and Rural Libraries

Baxter Memorial Library has been selected as one of 300 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities. The competitive award comes with a $3,000 grant that will help BML support area youth, particularly those being educated at home, with an updated and enhanced collection of educational materials, programs and other resources.

The public library is at the heart of homeschooling for so many reasons – financial, social, and inspirational. As a former home educator, I was dependent upon the public library to provide engaging resources, rich programming and unique inspiration for my (now grown) son. Now that I’m a library director, I see how the spirited curiosity and energy of homeschooling students and the dedication and passion of their parents make the library a better place for everyone.

But, without access to quality educational materials and experiences, homeschooled children are in danger of falling behind their public schooled peers. Through this grant, Baxter Memorial Library hopes to prevent that from happening.   

Rather than sitting back and waiting for homeschooling families to ask for what they need, Baxter Memorial Library would like to take the initiative and find out how we can best support both those who are seasoned home educators and those who are new to alternative education.  What resources would enrich their lives?  How can we best serve them?

As part of the grant, I’ll host a conversation with area residents about how the library can best support home educators and make use of the grant funds to update and enrich the educational resources available to homeschooling – and, ultimately, all – families. It’s my hope that, with this grant and a bit of dedication, Baxter Memorial Library can become a hub for homeschooling resources in the Upper Valley community. New homeschoolers will be able to find local support to help them get started, connect to fellow homeschoolers, learn about the incredible resources scattered throughout the area, and even find local experts tailored to their children’s interests – and veteran homeschoolers will appreciate an enhanced children’s collection, regular meetups, and engaging programs.

An incredibly wonderful bonus, of course, will be that all children, not just homeschoolers, will benefit from an enhanced selection of books and other circulating materials as well as inspirational and educational programming.

If you are interested in getting involved or taking part in the conversation, please contact me at sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com or call 763-2875.

“Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL).”

BML’s Annual Appeal

Hi, library friends. It’s the season of giving in this year of great need, and as you begin to think about how your year-end donations can make a difference, please remember Sharon’s own Baxter Memorial Library.

As 2020 comes to a close, we at the Baxter Memorial Library (BML) can’t help but feel grateful – grateful that this year is ending!  It’s been a year of unrelenting challenges, changes, and worry for all on planet Earth, but we are also brimming with hope.  BML has been through a series of transitions, but one thing remains constant: our little library’s place at the heart of our community, a place of simplicity and comfort – because who isn’t comforted by books?  This vestige of peace in our world of conflict is made possible by the support of the Sharon community.

Librarian Shana Hickman has put tremendous energy into her service to our library, instilling the work with creativity and gentleness.  The role of small town librarian goes far beyond just the handling of books, both in scope and kind.  Here is a glimpse of Shana’s work in her own words:

“Of course, there’s checking books in and out for patrons, suggesting things to read, and ordering material that they’ll enjoy, but that’s been just the beginning.  I’ve hosted game nights, author talks, and coffee and cake gatherings for community members each week in a town that had nowhere else to gather.  I’ve found myself helping older patrons with new technology, creating a safe and engaging space for children to gather after school before their parents finish work, showing people how to apply for government assistance, finding shelter for the night for a homeless man passing through town, talking with a bereaved widower about how much the library meant to his wife, discussing empathy with a sixth grade boy, learning Russian from a high school student who was also just learning, helping a nurse get recertified so she would be able to find a job, and much more.”

And then, the pandemic arrived, and everything shifted.  Parents were struggling to educate their children, fear of job loss took over people’s minds, and anxiety about the coronavirus was a constant companion for nearly everyone, including children.  Even though the doors were closed, the library was still the most important place in town.   The library’s small parking lot was often filled with people using the free wi-fi.  Checkouts of online audiobooks and ebooks skyrocketed.  The website was rearranged to highlight online resources – instructions on applying for unemployment, how to join recovery meetings such as AA and NA online, how to find childcare and food and legal assistance. There were resources to help families homeschool, as well as resources to calm their fears about homeschooling.  And Shana curated activities for children and adults to keep their minds off their fears, even if just for a little while – online museum tours, fun and educational podcasts, open-mic poetry readings, backyard scavenger hunts, and more.  In order to engender a sense of community, she set up a weekly craft hour for children online and a “show-off show” for Sharon residents of all ages to “show off” the things they’d created during the quarantine.

The role of our library is much more than a place to find books – it offers a humanitarian service to our community.  Because our town does not have a public community gathering space, our library is the tether to our neighbors and to our small town life.  

The BML budget is small, and now, due to the pandemic, the trustee-sponsored fundraisers will not be able to fill in the gaps.  Last year, in part through donations from community members, we were able to purchase new laptop computers which we are eager to share with patrons.  Looking toward the future, we have big dreams for our library – new books, new programming, a fenced yard with comfortable seating where neighbors young and old can gather.  You have the power to make these dreams a reality.  

Please visit Baxter Memorial Library in the coming year – there are so many ways to do so now: curbside, appointment, drop-in! – and consider volunteering.  We are eager for your ideas as we continue to shape this special place of community, education, enjoyment, and literacy to meet the future needs of Sharon.  We look forward, with hope and conviction, to a time when we can all gather together to hug, laugh, cry, and know that we came out on the other side of 2020 with full hearts.

Thank you for considering Baxter Memorial Library in your annual giving.  Gifts to the library are tax deductible. You can send us a check through the mail (see the address below) or simply drop it into the book return slot in the front door.


The BML Trustees: Mary Stoddard, Carole Bando, Stephanie Gergely-Davis, Marian Weatherbee, and Emma Basham

I/We would like to support Baxter Memorial Library.

_____$25             _____$50         _____$100           _____$250   ____Other

Please make checks payable to: Baxter Memorial Library P.O. Box 87, Sharon, VT 05065

Name/Address: ______________________________________________________________

Email: _______________________________________________________________________

______ I would like to volunteer.

Storytree with Jools – Saturday at 4:00!

Celebrate the coming of fall with Storytree with Jools Skeet on Saturday, October 3 at 4:00 at Baxter Memorial Library! (Rain date: October 4 at 4:00) Jools will offer a fantabulous, interactive story adventure IN PERSON outside the library! Please bring your own blankets, and remember to consider social distancing guidelines (including masks and six feet of separation between you and other families).

Have you ever wanted to teleport to another world? Solve a mystery? Dig for hidden treasure? Well now is your chance! Storytree will give you the opportunity to participate in an exciting interactive storytelling adventure. Using the magic of our imagination and an array of enticing, colorful story bags that contain weird and wonderful objects, you will be part of a journey that could take you ANYWHERE!!

Each child will receive a book and a take-home craft!

Register now by emailing sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com

2020 Summer Reading Program Guide

Library dragon
drawing by Puput Wira Satya

Welcome to Baxter Memorial Library’s summer reading program! I’m Baxter, your helpful library dragon. Included in your packet are reading and writing challenges, lots of fun writing prompts, stickers, notebooks, magnetic bookmarks and more!

Do you have to do everything?  Of course not!  Pick and choose what looks most fun to you.  Do you like to color?  (There are some pretty cool coloring sheets.)  Maybe you prefer to draw.  (Did you see the create-your-own-books?  Or the blank comic strips?)  Or write.  (Check out the 100 crazy writing prompts!)   Hey, I’ve even included an invitation to a weekly virtual craft hour!

What about the usual reading log?  It’s here, too!  You can track any way you like! 

1. You can use the sticker sheet and small stickers that are included.  Write on the sticker sheet how much reading time each sticker stands for: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, a half hour – it’s up to you! 
2. You can write down the names of the books you read.
3. You can write down the names of the books you read and how long you read them.
4. You can draw a picture of each book you read.
5. You can take a photo of yourself with each book and send them to sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com.

Have another idea?  That probably works, too!

How do you get books from the library these days?  Curbside pickup!  Just call or email to let us know what books you want to read, and we’ll gather them up, get them ready for you, and put them on the porch for you to pick up.  Keep track, and at the end of the summer, turn in your reading log, and you’ll receive tickets that you can use to enter our end-of-summer raffle.

“How can I earn extra tickets?” I hear you asking.  (I have very good hearing.  I am a dragon, after all.)  Completing the reading challenge on the yellow sheet, or the writing challenge on the orange sheet will earn you extra tickets.  (Yes, yes, I hear you.  That writing challenge is huge!  Okay, even just completing a line – like in BINGO – will earn extra tickets.)  Use the create-your-own-books in the packet and earn extra tickets.   Or, maybe you have a better idea!  If it’s reading or writing related, it very well might earn you some extra tickets – just show me what you’ve got!

Now for the part you’ve been waiting for… the PRIZES!  The library will be raffling off some stellar prizes later this year, including lots of brand new books! At the end of the summer, you’ll be able to use your raffle tickets on whatever prizes you like most – maybe you’ll win!  More info on prizes will be coming soon.

Have fun reading and writing all summer long! If you need anything from me (another sticker log, some coloring pages, more books – you name it), just let me know.  A library dragon always loves to help.

Happy reading!

Using Books to Talk about Racism

America in 2020 seems to insist that we have several difficult conversations all at once, conversations about politics and power, economies and trade-offs, illness and death and safety and fear…

…and race.

Racial conversations are difficult enough for adults, but if you have young children, you may be struggling to know how or where to begin – or whether to begin, at all. How much are children already learning from television and the Internet – and what, exactly, are they learning? How can we help them make sense of what’s happening? How can we answer the questions they will inevitably ask?

A good place to begin is with books. Books beg us to slow down and consider things. They give us time to assimilate or question the information they present, unlike a television program that moves quickly from scene to scene.

And books, when read to a child, seem to insist on closeness, a closeness that helps to allay fears and unease. They encourage parents and children to talk. They suggest things to discuss, and they offer ways to enter into those difficult conversations.

Baxter Memorial Library has many books that can help with these discussions. From board books and picture books to graphic novels and books for older, independent readers, the list below highlights some of our offerings.

Picture Books on Inclusion and Kindness

Books on kindness are always a good place to begin. Here are several choices for the youngest among us.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (we also have this title on DVD)
“Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect—until her first day of school. “You’re named after a flower!” teases Victoria. “Let’s smell her,” says Jo. Chrysanthemum wilts. What will it take to make her blossom again?”

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
“Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.  When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine…. This gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.” 

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
“Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.”

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.
“There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.”

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli (ON ORDER) 
“Mr. Hatch is a drab, predictable gentleman who leads a painfully ordered and uninteresting life, his dreary routine at the shoelace factory barely broken by the same joyless lunch day after day. One Valentine’s Day a giant candy-filled heart is delivered to Mr. Hatch with a note that reads, ‘Somebody loves you.’ Just the thought of someone taking an interest in him completely changes the way Mr. Hatch interacts with his neighbors and co-workers. The newly adorable gentleman becomes so much a part of people’s lives that when it is disclosed that the heart was delivered by mistake, his friends and neighbors rally around him in a loving demonstration (Publishers Weekly).

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller
“When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better, wondering: What does it mean to be kind? From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend. With a gentle text from the award-winning author of Sophie’s Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller, and irresistible art from Jen Hill, Be Kind is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.”

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
“Can one child’s good deed change the world? It can when she’s Ordinary Mary―an ordinary girl from an ordinary school, on her way to her ordinary house―who stumbles upon ordinary blueberries. When she decides to pick them for her neighbor, Mrs. Bishop, she starts a chain reaction that multiplies around the world.”

Picture Books on Ways of Seeing

One scene, many accounts. Why? How can one person see a situation in one way, and another person, another? These books show how each person’s (or, in this case, creature’s) perspective can be different.

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . . In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?”

A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel
A Stone Sat Still tells the story of a seemingly ordinary rock but to the animals that use it, it is a resting place, a kitchen, a safe haven…even an entire world. This is a gorgeous exploration of perspective, perception, and the passage of time, with an underlying environmental message that is timely and poignant.”

Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
“‘It’s a pillar,’ says one. ‘It’s a fan,’ says another. One by one, the seven blind mice investigate the strange Something by the pond. And one by one, they come back with a different theory. It’s only when the seventh mouse goes out-and explores the whole Something-that the mice see the whole truth.”

Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne
“Different characters tell the same story from their own perspectives in this timeless children’s story book, which explores the themes of alienation, friendship, and the bizarre amid the mundane. Four people enter a park, and through their eyes we see four different visions. There’s the bossy woman, the sad man, the lonely boy, and the young girl whose warmth touches those she meets.  As the story moves from one voice to another, their perspectives are reflected in the shifting landscape and seasons.”

Books that Specifically Talk about Race

The Family Book by Todd Parr
For the youngest readers/listeners, a board book about how families are different – and the same.  “The Family Book celebrates the love we feel for our families and all the different varieties they come in. Whether you have two moms or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, Todd Parr assures readers that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way.  Parr’s message about the importance of embracing our differences is delivered in a playful way. With his trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes, this book will encourage children to ask questions about their own families.” Includes two pages that talk about the color of families (“Some families are the same color. Some families are different colors.”)

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
“Clover’s mom says it isn’t safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups’ rules by sitting on top of the fence together.” A “moving, lyrical narrative told in the hopeful voice of a child confused about the fence someone else has built in her yard and the racial tension that divides her world.”  

That Is My Dream!: A picture book of Langston Hughes’ “Dream Variation” by Langston Hughes
“Dream Variation,” about the dream of a world free of discrimination and racial prejudice, is one of Langston Hughes’ most celebrated poems.
To fling my arms wide

In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done….
Langston Hughes’ inspiring and timeless message of pride, joy, and the dream of a better life is brilliantly and beautifully interpreted in Daniel Miyares’ gorgeous artwork. Follow one African-American boy through the course of his day as the harsh reality of segregation and racial prejudice comes into vivid focus. But the boy dreams of a different life—one full of freedom, hope, and wild possibility, where he can fling his arms wide in the face of the sun.

Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights by Rob Sanders
“A primer for peaceful protest, resistance, and activism from the author of Rodzilla and Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag. Protesting. Standing up for what’s right. Uniting around the common good—kids have questions about all of these things they see and hear about each day. Through sparse and lyrical writing, Rob Sanders introduces abstract concepts like “fighting for what you believe in” and turns them into something actionable. Jared Schorr’s bold, bright illustrations brings the resistance to life making it clear that one person can make a difference. And together, we can accomplish anything.

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz  
“Seven-year-old Lena is going to paint a picture of herself. She wants to use brown paint for her skin. But when she and her mother take a walk through the neighborhood, Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades. Through the eyes of a little girl who begins to see her familiar world in a new way, this book celebrates the differences and similarities that connect all people.”

Can I Touch Your Hair: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Sean Qualls and Selina Alk
“Two poets, one white and one black, explore race and childhood in this must-have collection tailored to provoke thought and conversation. How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade poetry project? They don’t know each other . . . and they’re not sure they want to. Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners.”

ABC of African American Poetry by Ashley Bryan
And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I’m lonely — I’ll make me a world.
~ James Weldon Johnson
“Thus begins Coretta Scott King Award-winner Ashley Bryan’s collection of inspiring excerpts of poems by celebrated African American poets. Beautifully illustrated with his own tempera and gouache paintings, Ashley Bryan’s unique alphabet book will delight readers of any age.”

Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson
“Soonie’s great-grandma was just seven years old when she was sold to a big plantation without her ma and pa, and with only some fabric and needles to call her own. She pieced together bright patches with names like North Star and Crossroads, patches with secret meanings made into quilts called Show Ways — maps for slaves to follow to freedom. When she grew up and had a little girl, she passed on this knowledge. And generations later, Soonie — who was born free — taught her own daughter how to sew beautiful quilts to be sold at market and how to read. From slavery to freedom, through segregation, freedom marches and the fight for literacy, the tradition they called Show Way has been passed down by the women in Jacqueline Woodson’s family as a way to remember the past and celebrate the possibilities of the future. Beautifully rendered in Hudson Talbott’s luminous art, this moving, lyrical account pays tribute to women whose strength and knowledge illuminate their daughters’ lives.”

Let’s Talk about Race by Julius Lester  
“‘This wonderful book should be a first choice for all collections and is strongly recommended as a springboard for discussions about differences’ (School Library Journal). In this acclaimed book, the author of the Newbery Honor Book To Be a Slave shares his own story as he explores what makes each of us special. A strong choice for sharing at home or in the classroom. Karen Barbour’s dramatic, vibrant paintings speak to the heart of Lester’s unique vision, truly a celebration of all of us. ‘This stunning picture book introduces race as just one of many chapters in a person’s story’ (School Library Journal). ‘Lester’s poignant picture book helps children learn, grow, discuss, and begin to create a future that resolves differences’ (Children’s Literature). Julius Lester says, ‘I write because our lives are stories. If enough of these stories are told, then perhaps we will begin to see that our lives are the same story. The differences are merely in the details.’”

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carol Boston Weatherford
Where is our historian to give us our side? Arturo asked. Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg’s collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny), he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.”

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport
“Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life. With stunning art by acclaimed illustrator Bryan Collier, Martin’s Big Words is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose dream changed America-and the world-forever.”

Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome
“An evocative poem and stunning watercolors come together to honor an American heroine in a Coretta Scott King Honor and Christopher Award-winning picture book. We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. As Araminta she was a young girl whose father showed her the stars and the first steps on the path to freedom.”

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan
“Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away. Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than a chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as…a lantern. You, an object. An object to sell. In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN’T be bought or sold—dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his “workers”, Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about—their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen.”

And for older readers:

New Kid a graphic novel by Jerry Craft
“Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?” Winner of the Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Author Award, and Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature.

Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow a graphic novel by James Strum and Rich Tommaso
“Baseball Hall of Famer Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige (1906 – 1982) changed the face of the game in a career that spanned five decades. Much has been written about this larger-than-life pitcher, but when it comes to Paige, fact does not easily separate from fiction. He made a point of writing his own history . . . and then re-writing it. A tall, lanky fireballer, he was arguably the Negro League’s hardest thrower, most entertaining storyteller and greatest gate attraction. Now the Center for Cartoon Studies turns a graphic novelist’s eye to Paige’s story. Told from the point of view of a sharecropper, this compelling narrative follows Paige from game to game as he travels throughout the segregated South.

March I, II, and III a graphic novel trilogy by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
“Discover the inside story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of one of its most iconic figures, Congressman John Lewis. March is the award-winning, #1 bestselling graphic novel trilogy recounting his life in the movement, co-written with Andrew Aydin and drawn by Nate Powell.”

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds and Irbram X. Kendi (ON ORDER)
“The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited. Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas–and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.”

Why Do We Fight?: Conflict, War, and Peace by Niki Walker
“Battles, protests, standoffs, strikes. We hear about them all the time. On the surface, a battle and a protest don’t seem to have much in common, but they’re really just two ways of handling a dispute. One uses violence, the other uses signs and picket lines. But both start as a disagreement between two groups of people. Both are conflicts.”  This book will spur many good discussions.

Racial Profiling: Everyday Inequality by Alison Narie Behnke
“In the United States, racial profiling affects thousands of Americans every day. Both individuals and institutions―such as law enforcement agencies, government bodies, and schools ― routinely use race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of an offense. The high-profile deaths of unarmed people of color at the hands of police officers have brought renewed national attention to racial profiling and have inspired grassroots activism from groups such as Black Lives Matter. Combining rigorous research with powerful personal stories, this insightful title explores the history, the many manifestations, and the consequences of this form of social injustice.”

Life on the Underground Railroad (Way People Live) by Stuart A. Kallen
“Kallen presents his material in lively, yet objective prose, buttressed by well-chosen quotations from relevant 19th-century documents. The introduction and the first chapter review the history of slavery in America to 1861 and describe a slave’s treatment, labor, cabin, and diet. Subsequent chapters describe terrifying journeys on the “railroad,” and how runaway slaves worked with underground conductors and stationmasters to outwit bounty hunters. A brief final section links the impact of the Underground Railroad experience on African-American military service for the Union and the events of Reconstruction. The text is supplemented by a generous selection of black-and-white maps and period photographs and illustrations, all with much sharper images than found in other volumes in this series. Shaded boxes highlight major figures and interesting facts.” (School Library Journal)

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone
“World War II is raging, and thousands of American soldiers are fighting overseas against the injustices brought on by Hitler. Back on the home front, discrimination against African Americans plays out as much on Main Street as in the military. Tanya Lee Stone examines the little-known history of the Triple Nickles, America’s first black paratroopers, who fought in an attack on the American West by the Japanese. The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, in the words of First Sergeant Walter Morris, ‘proved that the color of a man had nothing to do with his ability.’”

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin
“On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution. The Port Chicago 50 is a fascinating story of the prejudice and injustice that faced black men and women in America’s armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights.” A National Book Award Finalist, a YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Other Books for Young Readers Featuring Black Characters

Here are some of the picture books and easy readers at Baxter that feature black characters:

Love Is by Diane Adams
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer
Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer
Have You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow
Dragons and Marshmallows (Zoey and Sassafras #1) by Asia Citro
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Island Born by Junot Diaz
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes
Yo, Jo by Rachel Isadora
Ben’s Trumpet by Rachel Isador
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Flossie and the Fox by Patricia C. McKissack
Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner
Thank You, Omu by Oge Mora
Raising Dragons by Jerdine Nolen
The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey
Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco
I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison
How to Find Gold by Viviane Schwarz
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe
The Jones Family Express by Javaka Steptoe
My Name is Blessing by Eric Walters
Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson
The Jones Family Express by Javaka Steptoe
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe
My Name is Blessing by Eric Walters
Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson

And nonfiction picture books:
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander
Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters by Michael Mahin
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant

For Older Readers

The library also owns quite a few junior fiction and young adult novels that deal with issues of race.

Junior Fiction Novels

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis by Jeannine Atkins
The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd
Sarny: A Life Remembered by Gary Paulsen
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee
Jason Reynold’s Track Series: Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Paperboy by Vince Vawter
My Name Is Not Friday by Jon Walter
The World Beneath: A Novel (One South African Boy’s Struggle to be Free) by Anice Warman
The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Young Adult Novels

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Solo by Kwame Alexander
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Booked by Kwame Alexander
Dread Nation: Rise Up by Justina Ireland
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Letters from a Slave Girl by Mary E. Lyons
Light It Up by Kekla Magoon
Handbook for Boys: A Novel by Walter Dean Myers
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Miles Morales: Spider-man by Jason Reynolds
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (also on DVD)
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
American Street by Ibi Zoboi

We also have junior reader biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Toni Morrison. 

If you’d like to discuss specific titles or offer suggestions on purchasing, I’m always more than happy to talk. You can email me or give me a call at the library on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays (763-2875). If there’s any way I can help you navigate these turbulent waters, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Wishing kindness and understanding for all,