The Gift of Books

Our “big” display for December features the gift of books. We’ve wrapped both children’s and young adult books and labeled them with a descriptive teaser. The books can be read by adults, by children or read aloud to the whole family. As adults we often forget that books that are shelved in the children’s room are good books and can be appreciated whatever your age is.

Several of the library book discussion participants have recommended Kate DiCamillo books as their favorite for our Book Potluck. Over Thanksgiving dinner this year we got talking about books and my sister was trying to remember a book she had liked reading to her kids. After going through suggestions and her describing more about the book — a toy rabbit gets passed from person to person — we realized it was The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. This was the very book that had been recommended to me! Other DiCamillo books include Because of Winn Dixie, Tale of Despereaux and Flora and Ulysses.  Here’s DiCamillo’s take on reading: Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.

We suggest these books to you as a gift you may want to share with your family:

Auxier, Jonathan  The Night Gardener
Barber, Antonia   Catkin
Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker  The War That Saved My Life
Feiffer, Jules  Bark, George
Foreman, Michael  Memories of Childhood
Myers, Walter Dean   Patrol
Peck, Richard  A Long Way from Chicago
Pinkney, Andrea  A Poem for Peter
Pratchett, Terry  The Truckers
Thompson, Kay   Eloise
Wood, Audrey  King Bidgood's In the Bathtub

Which Children’s Books Stand the Test of Time?

Eunice and I were talking about the number of sets of Little House on the Prairie books that were donated this year. Her daughter loved that series when she was young, but when she read them as a mother, she couldn’t stand them. I reread some Nancy Drew books — I used to get one for my birthday and one for Christmas for several years — and I was disappointed in the writing and the characters. Which books did you read and love as a child would you still like as an adult?

My mother read the Christopher Robin/Winnie the Pooh stories and poems to us from books she had gotten as a child. I loved them then and I loved them when I read them to my children. The same goes for Kipling’s Just So Stories. I still hear my mother’s voice when I read them.  I loved The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett when I was in elementary school, but I don’t remember if I have read it as an adult. I think the Harry Potter books will be loved by the adults who loved them as children, just as the Lord of the Rings series still appeals to the teens who read it when it first came out.

Will most of the Scholastic Book Fair series — Junie B Jones, The Babysitter’s Club, Goosebumps — still be “readable” by the adults who loved them as children? I read all of the Childhood of Famous American series (mostly the ones about girls/women.) “The Childhood of Famous Americans series, sixty-five years old in 1997, chronicles the early years of famous American men and women in an accessible manner. Each book is faithful in spirit to the values and experiences that influenced the person’s development. History is fleshed out with fictionalized details, and conversations have been added to make the stories come alive to today’s reader, but every reasonable effort has been made to make the stories consistent with the events, ethics, and character of their subjects.” In other words, they were historical fiction. Nowadays children’s biographies stick more closely to the facts.

Which books did you love as a child? Have you read them as an adult?

Little Free Library Project Looking for Volunteers

Have you seen those little houses on posts/walls with clear doors and FREE BOOKS for the taking inside?  These Little Free Libraries are made possible by volunteers who have taken the time to build, install and through stewardship, maintain them.

The Friends of Richards Memorial Library is looking to sponsor this program and are looking for volunteers to build some boxes, hopefully using recycled/stashed/donated materials.  Plans and pictures of various types are available on the website: but these are basically small weatherproof cupboards with a roof and placed on a post or wall.  Check out the different types that have been built!

The locations for these need to be somewhere that is easily accessible and for someone(s) to become a steward for each and help maintain the Little Free Libraries.  Locations need to be approved before placement.  These could be by schools, on main neighborhood corners, near senior housing and so forth.  Books for these LLF’s would be provided from what is left after the Annual Book Sale in September.  Collections can also be helped by TOLO (take one, leave one).  Some supporters carry books they’ve finished in their cars and when they stop by an LLF, TOLO!

Friends of RML will sponsor each box by paying the $40.00 registration fee which places the location on a world map, easily searchable.  See the website above and find some nearby!

If you are interested in being a builder, have a location to suggest or would like to be a steward, please contact the Richards Memorial Library at 508-699-0122 and leave a message.  The coordinator of the project will get back to you ASAP.

Friday and Saturday Afternoons are Back

We will be returning to 5 o’clock closing on Fridays and Saturdays starting in September. That means we will be able to have programs on those afternoons. Right now we have a movie showing of RBG, the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, planned for September 7 at 1:30. A series on STEM activities for late elementary/middle school students is in the works as well.

What kind of programs would you like? Select any or all of the types of programs you might like to attend or make a suggestion for something else. (If the poll doesn’t show up, try a different browser or go to

Libraries Rock

The theme of the Children’s Summer Reading Program this summer is Libraries Rock. Certainly many of the adults at the library have grown up with rock music whether it was Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Backstreet Boys or Led Zeppelin. That may be why there are many biographies of rock musicians at our library and in the system. Maybe your favorite musician is among them. Mine is. My husband and I fell in love to Fleetwood Mac.

Check out this list: Libraries Rock

On Thursday, July 12, at 6:30 pm, we will be having a program on Led Zeppelin and the early rock influences on that band.

If you have some favorite memories of a rock concert you went to, please share them with us. We will be making a display in the downstairs gallery.


Great American Read

Our June book display will feature the books that PBS has selected for the Great great-american-read-622x916American Read. I must admit when I read the list, I was surprised at some of the choices. This isn’t Modern Library’s Best Books list. It is a mix of children’s, young adult’s, popular fiction, classics, and prize winners.  Here’s how PBS explains how the books were chosen:

“How were the top 100 books chosen?

PBS and the producers worked with the public opinion polling service “YouGov” to conduct a demographically and statistically representative survey asking Americans to name their most-loved novel. Approximately 7,200 people participated.

How did you narrow that list to the top 100?

The results were tallied and organized based on our selection criteria and overseen by an advisory panel of 13 literary industry professionals. The criteria for inclusion on the top 100 list were as follows:

  1. Each author was limited to one title on the list (to keep the list varied).
  2. Books published in series or featuring ongoing characters counted as one eligible entry on the list (e.g. the Harry Potter series or Lord of the Rings)to increase variety.
  3. Books could be from anywhere in the world as long as they were published in English.
  4. Only fiction could be included in the poll.
  5. Each advisory panel member was permitted to select one book for discussion and possible inclusion on the top 100 list from the longer list of survey results.”

Which of the 100 books will be the favorite of Richards Memorial Library readers? We will have a box on display to collect your votes. Everyone who votes at the Library will receive a coupon good for 2 free books at the September book sale. You can also vote to be part of the national count on the PBS site.

We will also be marking the staff favorites. Mine is To Kill a Mockingbird, Ellen’s is The Joy Luck Club, Joanna’s is Gone With the Wind and Meredith’s is The Help. The ones I’ve read the most often are Pride and Prejudice and the Harry Potter series, because those are both my “visiting old friends” books. Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy probably captured my love of Mockingbird when he talked about the need for justice for everyone that Scout embodies in the book.

Mothers and Fathers

I am listening to the book, The Sun Does Shine, by Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 28 years on death row for crimes he did not commit. He was finally released after the Supreme Court overturned his conviction. His devotion to his mother and hers to him is a powerful part of the book and so different from another good book I read, Educated, by Tara Westover, who had absolutely awful parents.

In honor of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, here are some books to read about good and bad parents. Do you have some suggestions for the list?

  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  • Liar’s Club by Mary Karr
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
  • Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
  • Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (some people like Mr. Bennet, but, really, can you be a terrible husband, but a good father?)
  • Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  • About a Boy by Nick Hornby
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Fortune’s Daughter by Alice Hoffman
  • Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
  • Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
  • Census by Jesse Ball
  • Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran