Library Corner – Book Recommendations & More…




April Thoughts

March 20 was the start of the Iranian New Year season! Nowruz has been celebrated in Iran and the Persian diaspora for more than 3,000 years. Our “haft-seen” table in the library teaches kids what it’s all about.

Nowruz is the Iranian (or Persian) New Year celebration that happens in the spring.  According to the Iranian calendar, it is the year 1401.  The display we have in the library is a representation of the decorative table every Iranian family puts out at the new year.  Each item has symbolic significance, as explained in the cards.  Tables very from family to family, but there are always the same basic 7 items which, in the Persian language, all start with the letter “s.” The haft-seen table literally means “seven s’s.”

Students also did a craft project where they made a goldfish out of yarn and cardboard.  Goldfish at the haft-seen table are symbols of life.

March Book Picks & Recommendations

Recently I spent a dream afternoon purchasing a large number of manga and graphic novels with a SPEF Grant awarded to the library this year.  While I was shopping, I came across a few graphic novel titles that I think are worth mentioning for this month’s book recommendations.  

But first, I’m often asked about whether or not graphic novels should be considered “real books.”  The short answer is, absolutely.  This excerpt from a 2020 Washington Post article written by children and teen services coordinator Karen MacPherson sums it up nicely:

As librarians, we see how so many kids readily connect to comics and how this connection to books is helping to create lifelong readers….We know that [graphic novels] are especially beneficial to struggling or reluctant readers, as well as English-language learners. These books also offer all readers a way to practice important reading skills such as building vocabulary, understanding a sequence of events, discerning the plot of a story and making inferences. And [they] give young readers training in visual literacy — helping them read and interpret images — an essential skill in our highly visual world.

So when letting your student choose their own books to read, don’t make the mistake of telling them to stay away from comics.  You may be doing them a disservice!

Here are some graphic novels worth checking out:

Frizzy written by Claribel A. Ortega; illustrated by Rose Bousamra

A middle grade graphic novel about Marlene, a young girl who stops straightening her hair and embraces her natural curls.



Swim Team illustrated and written by Johnnie Christmas 

Bree can’t wait for her first day at her new middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the Mighty Manatees–until she’s stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she’s forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears. Lucky for her, Etta, an elderly occupant of her apartment building and former swim team captain, is willing to help.


Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Novel adapted by Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky

The only graphic novelization of Anne Frank’s diary that has been authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation and that uses text from the diary–it will introduce a new generation of young readers to this classic of Holocaust literature.



Muhammad Najem, War Reporter written by Muhammad Najem & Nora Neus. Illustrated by Julie Robine

A teenage boy risks his life to tell the truth in this gripping graphic memoir by youth activist Muhammad Najem and CNN producer Nora Neus.


Himawari House by Harmony Becker

Living in a new country is no walk in the park as three young “foreigners” move to Japan and find a way to live together while learning the language. 



February Book Picks & Recommendations

Welcome to the first of what is hopefully many months of Book Picks and Recommendations lovingly selected by me, your SPMS librarian Ms. Baranets.

I say lovingly because this month’s suggestions are all about what we love most about February – love.  My aides and I put out a selection of books about love and romance earlier this month.  At first I was reluctant to do so, knowing full well that I’d be isolating about 50% of our student population.  (Sorry, but boys really don’t come asking if I can suggest any good steamy romances.)  Sadly, I was right.  But! I did get a surprisingly large group of girls standing around the table like office staff at the water cooler telling their friends which ones they’d read and chatting about which ones looked good.  Several were checked out, so – success!

My suggestions for this month come straight from the School Library Journal’s booklist of “Short and Sweet Love Stories.”  School Library Journal is a deeply respected source of library news and information, and my favorite place to go see what’s what in the school library world.

Kids can come up to the library and see if any of these titles are in our catalog.  If they’re not here, buying them at our favorite local bookstore Vromans, or on the PTA’s ongoing Amazon Smile fundraising page is the best way to go.

Happy reading!

SPMS Library – February Book Selection