Month of May: Older Americans Month


Suggested reading:


Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

Wilfrid lives next to a retirement home, and his favorite old person is 96-year-old Miss Nancy. Everyone says Miss Nancy has lost her memory, and despite the fact that Wilfrid doesn't even know what a memory is, by accident he helps her find it.


Activity Guide for the book:


Suggested Middle School Reading:


Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf

It’s a short and very powerful read that has superb pacing and character development. It is the tender and poignant story of Addie Moore and Louis Waters, two widowed people in their senior years who are neighbors and both extremely lonely. The story opens simply and plainly, with Addie walking over to Louis’s house and making what, to him (and most people) an unusual proposition that would cure the loneliness they both feel, especially in the evenings. She proposes that he comes over to her house some nights, to spend the night in her bed with her and just talk, to help them both get through the lonely nights. She was not suggesting anything sexual and she tells him so; rather just lying in bed with another person to talk about themselves, their thoughts, their hopes and their dreams.



No One Writes to the Colonel by Gabriel García Márquez; narrated by Armando Durán

The story is set during the years of "La Violencia" in Colombia, when martial law and censorship prevail. It is the story of an impoverished, retired colonel, a veteran of the Thousand Days' War, who still hopes to receive the pension he was promised some fifteen years earlier.

Every Friday, the Colonel puts on his only suit and goes to the dock to await a letter announcing the arrival of his pension. But the townsfolk all know that this pension will never come. His wife also knows it, and even he knows it. But he is still waiting . . .

The action opens with the colonel preparing to go to the funeral of a town musician whose death is notable because he was the first to die from natural causes in many years.




Neighbors by Megan Lindholm; Narrated by Lee Meriwether

"Neighbors" is ostensibly about a hidden world accessible only to certain people when they realize time doesn't matter and are therefore free of the constraints of time. It's also a story about memory, aging and the importance of seeing and knowing people. The protagonist, Sarah, finds which memories are worth keeping, and which she can let go. From the outside she's degenerating into senility or Alzheimer's, but in her mind she's taking with her the things that matter most.

Sarah’s detachment from the present leads her to become “completely unhooked from time,” realizing it no longer applies to her: “Why not shop for groceries at one in the morning, or read the day’s news at eight o’clock at night while eating a microwaved dinner? Time doesn’t matter!





Friday, May 1: International Workers' Day

Suggested reading:


Please Please the Bees by Gerald Kelley

Life is sweet for Benedict. Every morning he wakes up to find jars of fresh honey on his back porch. He makes honey toast for breakfast, bakes honey cake in the afternoon, and drinks honey tea before bed. But one day, the jars on Benedict’s porch are empty. The bees in his backyard have gone on strike! They are tired of doing all the work around the hive. What can Benedict do to make the bees happy and bring sweetness back to his days?


Family Activity Guide for the book:


Suggested Middle School Reading:


Nettles by Alice Munro and narrated by Kymberly Dakin

Observations by a child of a well driller.



Sunday, May 3 - Saturday, May 9: National Pet Week


Suggested Reading:


Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

Harry is a white dog with black spots who loves everything…except baths. So one day before bath time, Harry runs away.


Activity Guide for the book:


Me and My Cat by Satoshi Kitamura

Late one night Nicholas sees a witch enter his bedroom and hears her say some magic words. When he wakes up the next morning, it doesn't take him long to realize something very strange is going on -- especially when he pulls at his whiskers!


Activity Guide:


Suggested Middle School Reading:


Hotel for Dogs by Lois Duncan; Narrated by Katherine Kellgren

The Walkers are moving to a new town, and staying with an aunt who's allergic to dogs. Too bad for Andi and her brother Bruce, who love dogs -- and happen to meet a stray dog that needs help. Soon, Andi thinks of a plan, turning the abandoned house down the block into a hotel for dogs. But as more and more "tenants" move in, the secret gets too big to keep. Can the kids save their canine castle? Or will the hotel have to close?





Tuesday, May 5: Teachers' Day


Suggested Reading:


Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale

Clark is a shark with zing, bang, and boom. Clark zooms into school, crashes through the classroom, and is rowdy at recess. Clark loves life – but when his enthusiasm is too much for his friends, Clark’s teacher, Mrs. Inkydink, helps him figure out a way to tone it down. Clark the Shark celebrates boisterous enthusiasm – and knowing when it’s time for indoor voices.


Family Activity Guide:


Suggested Middle School Reading:


Beekeeping for Beginners by Laurie R. King; Read by Robert Ian Mackenzie

Sherlock Holmes is fending off a particularly dark mood as he roams the Sussex Downs, in search of wild bees. He is saved by an encounter with headstrong, young Mary Russell, who soon becomes the Master’s apprentice not only in beekeeping but in detection.

Holmes spots her remarkable ability, but his sharp eyes also see troubling problems. Is she herself the center of a mystery? These are questions that the great detective must answer quickly lest his protégée, and his own new lease on life, meet a sudden, tragic end.

“A fascinating and often moving account of a friendship so unusual and so compelling that one almost accepts it as being historically real.”





Sunday, May 10: Mother's Day


Suggested Reading:


The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary.


Activity Guide:


Suggested Middle School Reading:


For One More Day by Mitch Albom

For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?

As a child, Charley "Chick" Benetto was told by his father, "You can be a mama's boy or a daddy's boy, but you can't be both." So he chooses his father, only to see the man disappear when Charley is on the verge of adolescence.

Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been crumbled by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits bottom after discovering his only daughter has shut him out of her wedding. And he decides to take his own life.

He makes a midnight ride to his small hometown, with plans to do himself in. But upon failing even to do that, he staggers back to his old house, only to make an astonishing discovery. His mother--who died eight years earlier–-is still living there, and welcomes him home as if nothing ever happened.

What follows is the one "ordinary" day so many of us yearn for, a chance to make good with a lost parent, to explain the family secrets, and to seek forgiveness. Somewhere between this life and the next, Charley learns the astonishing things he never knew about his mother and her sacrifices. And he tries, with her tender guidance, to put the crumbled pieces of his life back together.

Monday, May 11: Eat What You Want Day


Suggested Reading:


Carla’s Sandwich by Debbie Herman

When Carla brings weird sandwiches to school, her classmates have plenty to say about them. “That’s sick!” says Leslie. “That’s disgusting!” says Natie. But Carla thinks otherwise. “It’s unique. It’s creative.” - Just like Carla.



Family Activity Guide:

Suggested Middle School Reading:


Unauthorized Bread by Cory Doctorow; Narrated by Lameece Issaq

In Cory Doctorow's Unauthorized Bread, corporations provide welfare: but only if you use their 'protected' devices: toasters that won't toast third-party bread, dishwashers that won't wash third-party dishes. It all started with Salima. Fresh out of a refugee detention centre, she's housed in the exclusive apartments of Dorchester Towers. For the first time in months, she has her own bedroom and a bathtub she can almost lie down in. But it's a tower block divided into 'us' and 'them': elevators with a poor-person door and a rich-person door. Even the pettiest amenity is denied to subsidy tenants like Salima - unless the landlord is forced by law to provide it. Then one day Salima's Boulangism toaster won't accept her overpriced Boulangism-approved bread. So she hacks into the toaster - with its USB ports and Ethernet jacks - to reprogramme and toast unauthorised bread. If she can hack a toaster, then maybe she can hack an elevator.

Now it's a tower block that has decided to fight back . . .