Librarian Prep Post for March

By Tom Czech

The new year may have arrived, but things are still far from normal. Some libraries are open, most aren’t. Even so, basic practices are probably difficult to manage with the precautions required to overcome the pandemic.

One of those things may be book displays. Usually a great tool to drive students in all kinds of different literary directions, book displays are much harder to execute in an online atmosphere. Students can’t thumb through early pages, compare covers as easily, or share their shiny new books with friends. Too much touching and germ spreading!

Here at Lerner, we understand those concerns and how stressful it can be to try to enhance a student’s library experience within the online constraints of today’s world. Below is our reader’s advisory and collection of booklists for March, complete with quick descriptions of how our titles can work in your library and how you might be able to get those kids invested in reading again (along with some additional resources)!

We hope that this can get you thinking about how to innovate within your library. Things may be strange now, but we’re working to help you find a solution!

Deaf History Month Booklist

Deaf History Month is something that we feel is important to discuss with younger students. This list features three major book types:

  1. Nonfiction stories of real people throughout history that have accomplished amazing things within and beyond the deaf community.
  2. Informational titles on the science behind hearing loss and what we’re doing to help those grappling with it.
  3. Fictional tales of perseverance and hope.

With this well-rounded list, most bases are covered. These titles offer a plethora of ways for children to learn the basics of deafness and how to be empathetic towards the the cause in whichever method works best for them.

♦️ Some titles include downloadable eSource material to help students think critically about the themes within them. Try using this discussion guide attachment to The Silent Journey to get started!

Gender Equality Month Booklist

March marks Gender Equality Month! As a society, we’ve made a little headway in procuring a more welcoming, understanding world for those that have been misunderstood for centuries. However, we still have a long way to go, and teaching our children about the complexity of gender and sexuality at an early age will greatly help us achieve true equality.

While the titles in our display, and many of those used in the booklist, have been used in the past, they remain profoundly important and offer a diverse palate of subject matter for students to choose from.

♦️ If you’re looking for more consistency between titles or an extended, comprehensive series that is easy for students to read and pick from, give the Lorimer books a try!

  • Lorimer Deal With It series; great nonfiction series to get kids thinking about the truth of tough topics like gender, race, and bullying.
  • Lorimer True Love series; young adult fiction titles that feature diverse teen characters and how they handle tricky issues and relationships.

National Craft Month Booklist

National Craft Month is a great excuse to get kids working on their kinesthetic learning! While a lot of our crafty titles are about miscellaneous topics, characters, and book series, many of them are also educational. Combining hard-to-discuss issues with fun activities is often a great way for teachers and librarians to help their children to start looking at things from another perspective.

From holidays to climate change to culture, this booklist is full of crafts for every occasion or lesson.

♦️ Check out this page with information on Crafts for Kwanzaa and click “Read Excerpt” to see how these books look for yourself. This particular series, Holiday Crafts for Kids, is an eBook series perfect for your virtual library and coincidentally optimized for children to “work from home!”

Women’s History Month Booklist

In school, not everyone learns about how much Coretta Scott King contributed to the Civil Rights Movement or that Toni Morrison altered the course of American literature forever. However, March marks National Women’s History Month: a perfect time to show off our collection and the incredible things that women throughout our history have accomplished, often against impossible odds!

This display and booklist include titles about the history of women and how we’ve gotten to where are today as well as success stories about women who are influential, gifted, and accomplished. Meant to empower young readers, these titles are tools to teach them about hardship, hard-work, and harmony.

♦️ Women’s History Month is an excellent time to start teaching children about intersectionality and how various forms of inequality operate together and amplify one another. Take a look at these titles that could make for a diverse, inclusive display :

Shakespeare Week Booklist

March 16th – 22nd hosts Shakespeare Week, something that I remember vividly from my elementary school days. I’m not sure if Shakespeare Week is still celebrated in schools, or if mine was just one of the outliers that ever did, but it’s a fine justification to start introducing classic literature to young readers. Besides, as an English minor, I’d be remiss not to include it in this post, right?

Titles range from narrative adaptations to semi-Shakespearian fiction to biographical subject matter.

♦️ An earlier post from April of 2020 called “Help at Home” included a free Shakespeare coloring book that can be accessed at the website in this hyperlink, a great online resource that could be done using a number of different apps!

International Peace Booklist

While many of these titles cross over with our list for Women’s History Month, we feel that March 8th is important to recognize because it also focuses on peace, kindness, and unity. The world of today is ridden with argument and vitriol; it’s always liberating to center ourselves and remember what’s important.

The titles included in this list are fairly prestigious, three of the cover titles earning starred reviews and/or awards (namely Sachiko, Peace and Me, and A Bowl Full of Peace), meaning it’s a perfect resource for librarians and teachers to get children pondering the predicament of peace with high quality, deeply profound literature.

♦️ A lot of these titles have some incredible resources and background information to go with them. Read the inspiring true story of Sachiko and how her life eventually became the subject of a renowned children’s book, or listen to this booktalk with author Caren Stelson about A Bowl Full of Peace.

Harriet Tubman Day Booklist

Harriet Tubman is an iconic figure in American history. Harriet Tubman Day is a perfect time to reflect and look back upon our nation’s past. In addition, it gives librarians and teachers an opportunity to drive their students in the direction of literature that will teach them about histories, cultures, and figures they may have otherwise missed.

These titles are informational and diverse in both genre and subject matter. This list should include something for everyone! It is also a great time to continue discussions from February about Black History Month and African-American history more generally. Our Black History Month booklist also has some great resources and upcoming material to share with students.

♦️ This day could also be a good jumping off point to get students thinking about racism, inequality, and what we’re doing to right the ship (and how we’re failing!) Take a peek at this “Fight for Black Rights” blog post that goes over our upcoming Spring 2021 series The Fight for Black Rights.

Muslim Culture Day Booklist

It’s always good to know as much as you can about other religions, especially ones as prominent as Islam! Learning about the faiths of our fellow human beings can open our minds and hearts to acceptance, empathy, and companionship in all aspects of life.

World Day of Muslim Culture is an excellent day to promote the Islam faith and get children to connect with cultures from both across the world and in their own backyards. Equipped with informational titles and experiential stories, this list can help build children intellectually and socio-emotionally.

♦️ For librarians and teachers that see mostly late-grade students or high schoolers, give this TIME Magazine article titled “How to Compete in the Olympics While Fasting for Ramadan” a look. This could be turned into a graphic or image on how sports and religion relate, perhaps a way to get children’s attention and subsequently encourage more reading.

Sleep Day Booklist

If there’s one thing everyone needs, it’s SLEEP! And an abundance of it . . . well, maybe that’s just me. Regardless, this is a fun micro-holiday that can get children thinking critically about those 8 hours a night that they shut down.

On topic I feel is sneakily important, this World Sleep Day list includes nonfiction titles on what sleep really is, as well as fiction titles about what happens when you don’t get enough of it! It’s full of friends, facts, and fun and should cater to any audience a librarian might be working with.

♦️ We have a new title on this topic coming out in April: Running on Empty: Sleeplessness in American Teens. I’m excited for this one! Could’ve used it when I was in high school . . .

Pi Day Booklist

Ahhhh, 3/14. Pi Day. The day teachers bring in their months-old Thanksgiving leftovers and every kid challenges their friend to list off as many digits in the decimal as they can. Pi Day is a blast!

In this display, we have a book on pi itself, a book about pies, and a book about a pi superstar. The 14th also hosts “Celebrate Scientists Day,” so a number of titles in this list are STEM based biographies.

♦️ The series STEM Trailblazers Bios offers great diversity within the STEM field and has a title for everyone. The series also includes a downloadable teaching guide.

St. Patrick’s Day Booklist

The holiday that needs no introduction. If you have Irish descent, this is one of the most exciting days of the year. Filled with family, friends, and green food and drink, it’s a celebration of heritage and kinship.

The titles in this St. Patrick’s Day booklist are mainly informational, but some offer fun mythical tales and craft activities. There is plenty of material for students to choose from, if they’re interested in taking a deeper look at this holiday!

♦️ Author Rosanne Parry talks about her novel Last of the Name, a historical fiction based on her experience as an Irish immigrant and her infatuation with Irish dancing in this article!

Water Day Booklist

I lied earlier when I said sleep was the one thing we all need: it’s water! This topic is extremely important and only becomes more relevant as climate change worsens. It is necessary for us to understand how water operates within our world or we will lose it. Knowing our limits will help us maximize them without destroying them!

These titles are educational, both about water and its place on earth, as well as in how it affects and is affected by climate change. However, they’re also moving. Some titles are powerful narratives about towns hit by natural disasters and what they can do to communities. This range of subject matter should be desirable to all audiences.

♦️ Check out our title Plastic Ahoy which tackles the problem of pollution and looks to the ocean to discover just how much plastic we really waste. Its book trailer includes footage of photographer Annie Crawley capturing her breathtaking images at sea!

Thanks so much for reading! We hope that these quick lists, book tidbits, and online resources will aid you in your quest to create the perfect display and reading environment for the children to enjoy.

Lerner wishes you all the best.

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