Bertha Bartlett Public Library news

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

—by Kolleen Taylor

We talk about how busy the library becomes during the summer, and the heavy influx of child friendly activity. We talk about the importance of keeping our youth engaged during these crazy, lazy days of summer. We talk about the importance of reading at appropriate levels, encouraging our children to challenge themselves by reading a few more difficult books, stretching their brains, and imagination.

We can talk all we want, but it takes family members who know their children to really encourage this. At one of our library training sessions, we were told that children who see their parents reading are more likely to be children who read. And children who read are typically more successful as adults. So as we begin the final month of summer programming, (while reading and reading logs should continue until school starts on August 23), we are hopeful this is happening. Our staff works hard to find books which will entertain and challenge, making those brain cells energize, not retreat. And we think we are doing a pretty good job at that.

This is true for our adults also. As our book discussion group talks about books we are reading, the diversity of our selections are important for brain health. We hear frequently after our discussions that most would never choose the books we just completed, but they are usually glad they read it. That’s a step in that very direction.

Reading for pleasure is what most of us do. But reading for knowledge or understanding is also important. When we read for pleasure, we often get caught into a trap, choosing the same type of book over and over again. I love a good mystery or thriller. But because there are so many aspects of a book which make them exciting or engaging, I find those elements in other types of books.

Recently we read the book “The Martian”, written by Andy Weir. Most assumed this was a science fiction novel as did I. But it didn’t feel like a science fiction novel, even though we haven’t put men on Mars yet. It yielded a wealth of knowledge, accurate, well-researched information about so many things, that inadvertently, we all learned from this book. And we were forced to visualize things we hadn’t experienced yet. Overall the book received great reviews from those who read it, and I agreed with them. It was a surprisingly good book discussion, and tested our imaginations.

I had a chance to test out my interpretation of the book when I watched the movie during my vacation. Overall I did a pretty good job, although the structures for space travel did surprise me as the living spaces were larger than I expected. It was one of the few times that I found even by reading the book, I enjoyed the movie alot as together they gave me a better picture of the storyline.

So as I checked out a dozen books (just to be sure I didn’t run out), and tried to pull a spectrum of genres, I discovered my selections were not as diverse as they should have been. I only selected one non-fiction book, and one romance novel. I choose a few different authors than I had read before, and a few different age levels, stepping into the YA materials for a few choices, but in general, I stayed in the mystery/thriller. I did exactly what I’m encouraging others not to do.

So as I put the books back on the shelves, and try to step back into a professional level of librarianship, I am putting on my list several different non-fiction selections and a biography, and I plan to read those before summer ends. If you haven’t done the summer reading program for the kids, there is still plenty of time to do this, but you can also engage in an adult summer reading challenge also. In that challenge there are “activities” that include choosing from different subjects, in addition to getting out and doing some things related to that genre. And those activities will certainly “stretch” your brain a bit, and you’ll be doing something good for yourself.

So enjoy summer! Enjoy reading! But be sure to try a few books outside your norm and encourage the rest of your family to do the same.