Celebrate Your Freedom To Read With Banned Books Week!

Every year, certain books are challenged in public schools and libraries for a number of different reasons, including profanity, vulgarity, LGBTQIA+ content, references to magic and witchcraft, going against “family values/morals, being sensitive, controversial, or politically charged, and so on. In order to inform the public about this censorship, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top challenged books based on reports and media stories. 

566 books were targeted in 2019, and of those books the most challenged are listed below. You can check all of them out in at least one format from Abbot Public LIbrary, and many are in multiple physical or digital formats. Some even have movies or TV shows based on them, which you can reserve in DVD format for curbside pickup, currently with no charge! 

George by Alex Gino (print, Overdrive/Libby app ebook and e-audiobook, hoopla e-audiobook)

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (print and Overdrive/Libby app ebook

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller (Overdrive/Libby app ebook and hoopla ebook)

Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth (print and hoopla ebook)

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis (print only)

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas (print only)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (regular print, large print, book on CD, related TV show Seasons 1-3, and Overdrive/Libby app ebooks)

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier (print and Overdrive/Libby app ebooks)

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling:

All the Harry Potter books are also available on hoopla in different languages in ebook and audiobook format.

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole (print and hoopla e-audiobook)

Celebrate your freedom to read what you choose by reserving the above titles for Curbside Pickup (please read about the process here for reserving titles and setting up an appointment to pick them up), or checking them out online through our digital services.

Find out more about Banned Books Week on the American Library Association website or the Banned Book Week website, including the history of Banned Books Week, virtual events taking place this week, the Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books or the decade, and more! 

Full STEAM Ahead to Children’s Learning!

Get kids ready for the upcoming school year with STEAM materials they can check out online or in print for Curbside Pickup with Abbot Public Library! If you are new to our Curbside Pickup Service, please carefully read these instructions for how to reserve items and set up an appointment to pick them up after they come in.

Hoopla’s STEAM Lookbook Collection has a number of items for students of all levels. STEAM Lab For Kids not only has science projects, but Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math activities as well. The book explores the connection between art and other STEM subjects, giving kids tools for problem solving and critical thinking. Check out even more fun projects in Math Art and Drawing Games for Kids which combine artistic skills with STEM concepts, such as making pixel art with graph paper. Overdrive also has fun STEM activity ebooks such as STEM Lab, in which you can learn concepts by racing wind up cars or making a homemade guitar.

A similar book in print format to reserve for Curbside Pickup is 100 Easy STEAM Activities: Awesome Hands-On Projects for Aspiring Artists and Engineers. Included are games and projects to help kids learn concepts in science, technology, engineering, art, and math such as shaving cream rain clouds or a pool noodle obstacle course. 

For young science lovers, the Bill Nye the Science Guy DVDs may be just the thing to help kids learn about friction, animals, light optics, pressure, energy, and more! During Curbside Pickup service, there is no checkout fee for DVDs, so you can explore science with Bill Nye for free! Some fictional characters that can help kids learn about STEM concepts are Ada Twist, Scientist (in print and on Overdrive/Libby app and hoopla) and Rosie Revere, Engineer (in print and on Overdrive/Libby app and hoopla).

These are just a few of the library’s offerings! Browse through hoopla’s STEAM Lookbook Collection or search for more online science, technology, engineering, art, and math items for kids on hoopla and Overdrive/the Libby app, or reserve physical titles through the library catalog for Curbside Pickup. Read about how the Curbside Service works here.

Learn About Thunderstorms!

Boom and flash! Oh, my! What do kids know about these storms? Here are some conversation starters for different ages that explain the phenomenon. Some you can download from hoopla, and some are print books you can put on hold and pick up as part of the Curbside Pickup Service. Please read these instructions to get started! 

A Party for Clouds: Thunderstorms by Belinda Jensen

Part of the Bel the Weather Girl Series

Bel the Weather Girl and Dylan are having a slumber party, but thunder and lightning send Dylan hiding under the covers! Bel tells him that thunderstorms aren’t so scary once you understand them. Will Dylan overcome his fear?

Thunderstorms for Kids by Bold Kids 

Thunderstorms happen a lot, and sometimes they can be either mild or severe. In this book, your child will learn about the different aspects of thunderstorms, and some other cool facts that they may not even know, along with facts that will help enrich their mind.

Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

“It’s a mad dash for shelter as rain sweeps into an urban neighborhood. Where to go? The subway! It’s the perfect place to wait out the wind and weather. Strangers share smiles and umbrellas and take delight in the experience of a city thunderstorm.”

Thunderstorms by Matt Doeden

Part of the Pull Ahead Books – Forces of Nature Series 

What is a thunderstorm? What dangers do thunderstorms bring? How can people prepare for a thunderstorm? Read this book to discover the answers!

Thunder Boomer! by Shutta Crum, illustrated by Carol Thompson

A farm family scurries for shelter from a violent thunderstorm that brings welcome relief from the heat and also an unexpected surprise.

Reserve more thunderstorm books for Curbside Pickup, or check them out in ebook format on hoopla!

Who Also Comes to the Picnic?

There are, of course, the people that you invited. But sometimes there are also the uninvited! Bees, flies, mosquitoes, squirrels, and other animals. Let us not forget the ants! Here are books for early readers that are filled with facts about ants, as well as stories starring an ant. Learn about the tiny uninvited visitors to your next picnic. You might appreciate them more! 

How Strong is an Ant? by Kurt Waldendorf

Part of the Comparison Fun Series 

Learn about the characteristics, habitat, and the role in nature of ants. 


The Adventures of Mr. Ant by Lloyd Shores 

Sweet stories of an ant’s mild adventures. 


Ants are Farmers and Other Strange Facts by Gary Sprott 

Learn surprising facts about ants. 


Ants by Sophie Lockwood

Part of the World of Insects Series

More about species of ants and their characteristics and activities.


Anthony Ant by Linda Dennis 

He is noble and he is an ant. 


Anthony and the Ants by Gemma Raynor 

Things start going wrong with the arrival of ants, but turn out alright in the end. 


Common Critters: the Wildlife in Your Neighborhood by Pat Brisson 

Learn about the usual creatures (including ants), that live and thrive in your backyard or neighborhood.


Explore more ant books for children on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla. Now you can also request print copies of children’s ant books for Curbside Pickup. And, for even more facts about ants, visit the Abbot Public Library’s Gale Elementary database!

Swimming Stories For Young Readers

On hot summer days, we need to get cool in the water. If you are not at the beach, pool, or lake yet, here are some books to get kids thinking about it. Below are charming stories for young readers based on swimming and learning to swim. 

*All book descriptions are from the publisher.

Maisy Learns to Swim by Lucy Cousins

Today Maisy and her friends are going swimming for the first time. Eddie is a natural, but Maisy and Tallulah get into the pool slowly—ooh, it’s freezing! But soon they are kicking and floating and even blowing bubbles with the rest. Whether water-shy or raring to go, young readers will relate to Maisy as she learns to make a splash!

Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure

For one young boy, it’s a perfect summer day to spend at the beach with his family. He scours the high tide line for treasures, listens to the swizzling sound of barnacles, and practices walking the plank. But mostly he waits for high tide. Then he’ll be able to swim and dive off the log raft his family is building. While he waits, sea birds and other creatures mirror the family’s behaviors: building and hunting, wading and eating. At long last the tide arrives, and humans and animals alike savor the water.

Another beautiful ode to life lived in harmony with nature, and by the labor of one’s own hands, from an artist of great warmth and clarity.

Peppa Goes Swimming, a Scholastic book

An all-new storybook featuring Peppa—a lovable, slightly bossy little piggy! Peppa and George are going swimming, but George is a bit scared. How will Mummy and Daddy pig ever convince him to get in the pool?

Duck & Goose Go to the Beach by Tad Hills

In this delightful follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Duck & Goose and Duck, Duck, Goose, Duck wants to go on an adventure. Goose doesn’t. He doesn’t see the point. After all, why would they go anywhere when they’re happy right where they are? But then Goose sees the ocean and loves it. Who doesn’t? Well, Duck, for one! 

This Read & Listen edition contains audio narration.

Check out more swimming stories for kids on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla!

Visit Popular Children’s Authors Online!

Kids can visit an author or illustrator of their favorite books being read aloud online. Popular authors are hosting their own very funny programs, providing entertainment and activities for kids at home:

Mo Willems

“Lunch Doodles” is a program of daily videos in collaboration with The Kennedy Center by the author Mo Willems. Kids are invited to draw, craft, and create with Mo Willems weekdays at 1:00 pm (ET). Go to The Kennedy Center website or to YouTube and enjoy!

You can also read or listen to books by Mo Willems on either hoopla or Overdrive, including Knuffle Bunny!


Dav Pilkey 

In collaboration with the Library of Congress, series author Dav Pilkey has created fun videos for his fans. He reads aloud from his stories and helps kids learn how to draw his famous characters. Visit YouTube to see his schedule. Kids can also visit Dav Pilkey’s Extra Crunchy Website-O-Fun for additional activities.

Check out some Dav Pilkey’s titles as either ebooks or downloadable audiobooks on Overdrive or hoopla through the library with your library card, including the Dog Man series


Mac Barnett

Barnett has created two very quirky and funny digital spaces for kids, which you can find on his Instagram page. First, there is Mac Barnett’s Book Club Show, where he uses his trademark humor, multiple hats, and many picture books in live daily videos at noon. (PT). Then he performs Chapter Books After Dark at 5:00 pm (PT) on Fridays, where he reads chapters aloud from his book series Mac B. Kid Spy, #1 Mac Undercover while in a tuxedo.

Find and enjoy some of his books on Overdrive and hoopla, including the first two books of the Mac B., Kid Spy series.

Fictional Kid Mastermind Series

Can a twelve-year-old save the world? Maybe not, but it is a lot of fun for kids to imagine. Here are three action fantasies that feature genius kids with hyper skills and inexhaustible resources who can defeat dangerous forces.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, a fantasy/adventure for ages 10+ (also in audiobook and graphic novel format)

Artemis Fowl, criminal mastermind, techie millionaire, 12-year-old genius, decides to steal the gold of a secret, a dangerous race of fairies. Lots of trouble ensues. Essentially parentless Artemis teams up with a pixie and a dwarf, and his adult protector named Butler. There are nearly non-stop battles and peril for Artemis and his sidekicks, with the use of clever machinery on both sides. 

Disney has come out with a PG movie based on the book series.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, a fantasy/adventure for ages 9+ (also in audiobook format)

This adventure series features four precocious gifted kids who are recruited and trained by a mysterious millionaire (Mr. Benedict) for a secret mission. They are sent to infiltrate a secret boarding school run by an evil genius who wants to take over the world. Their special skills and their teamwork will be tested in various ways throughout the series. Ethical behavior and pooling talents are portrayed as important as cleverness in this series.

A TV series has been developed based on the books, available on Hulu.

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibbs, a spy thriller/adventure for ages 10+ 

Twelve-year-old math prodigy, thief, code-breaker. and super athlete Charlie Thorne is recruited by CIA agents for a vital mission. She needs to find and solve the final secret equation of Albert Einstein that unlocks the secret of unlimited power that can either save or destroy the world. She must use her ability to see the world in terms of calculations and probabilities to defeat a secret group out to get the equation first.

Explore Newbery Award-Winning Author Grace Lin’s Books!

While sheltering in place with kids, try exploring different authors each week. This week, borrow ebook, e-audio, and video copies of Newbery award-winning author Grace Lin’s books on hoopla and Overdrive/Libby. Extend the experience with a YouTube video of her showing how to draw a Chinese dragon. Then listen to another video of her reading aloud from her book Mulan: Before the Sword, her story prequel to the live-action Disney movie, Mulan. Below are three books at different reading levels: middle grade, picture book, and early reader.

Mulan: Before the Sword, written and illustrated by Grace Lin. This is a middle grade fantasy for ages 8-12. 

A mixture of traditional tales and previous adventures of the legendary Mulan character. Young Mulan, accompanied by an immortal healer in the shape of a rabbit, journeys to the garden of the Queen Mother of Immortals to obtain a plant that will heal her sister of poisoning. In the process, Mulan grows in courage and faith in her own abilities.

A Big Mooncake for Little Star, geared towards ages 3-8.

Watch the short video of this picture book. It has a read aloud function to follow along and practice early reading. The illustrations are lovely of the story of Little Star and her Mama making a Mooncake in the night sky. Hint: the mooncake is more than a cake in this story.

This title is also accessible as an ebook in Overdrive/Libby and as a movie on hoopla.

Ling & Ting: Twice as Silly (#3 the Ling & Ting series), an early reader book for ages 5-8.

Listen to this charming collection of stories about Chinese-American twin sisters and their silly  and sweet adventures. Lighthearted stories reveal their sibling jokes and humor in their play. The girls plant cupcakes, paint their toys red, swing “to outer space,” and, in the last story, create a story to recount their escapades.

This title is also accessible as an ebook in Overdrive.

Entertain Your Kids With hoopla Bonus Borrows!

Looking for a way to entertain your young children? Bonus Borrows on hoopla have been extended through May 31! There are quite a few titles children can read, watch, and listen to without it counting towards your monthly limit. Enjoy characters such as Captain Underpants, Winnie-the Pooh, and Percy Jackson.

You can have a movie marathon with movies from hoopla’s Movies for Kids collection. Join Curious George on a series of adventures in Curious George Rides a Bike. Help catch a creature of fantasy in the How to Catch a Unicorn read along. For something a little more serious and historical, take a trip back to 1869 and ride a train on America’s new transcontinental railroad in the movie Locomotive.

Perhaps you want to help your children learn from home while schools are closed. Check out the Homeschool with hoopla collection, which was discussed in a previous blog post. Or you can give your kids a break from looking at a screen with the Children’s Favorite Music collection. Get up and move with one of Sesame Street’s most popular characters in Elmo’s Dance Party, and later you can get your kids ready for bed with Bedtime songs with Mr. Rogers.

Browse through hundreds more Bonus Borrows titles for kids and enjoy before May 31! 

Shoot for the Stars: Resources for Stargazing and Learning About Outer Space

A Boston Globe article from May 6 highlighted a family-friendly quarantine activity that is out of this world: stargazing! The current lockdown has led to a reduction in light and air pollution, resulting in better conditions for observing the night sky. Caity Sullivan, education associate at the Charles Hayden Planetarium of the Museum of Science, outlines some tips and tricks in the article for at-home stargazing with your family, including free star-viewing apps and what to look for in the night sky.

Though you can’t visit the Hayden Planetarium in person, Sullivan and the folks at the Museum of Science have made it possible for the Planetarium to come to you! Check out their Facebook page for Virtual Planetarium events — you can view past presentations and stay informed about upcoming events, including livestreams of what to view in the night sky. If you miss the presentations, take a look at the Museum’s handy May Sky Chart & Viewing Guide — May is a great month to start backyard stargazing as there will be a rare Mercury sighting the week of May 19th!

For even more space-related fun, listen to Pulsar: A Podcast from the Museum of Science. Their episode on Living in Space, featuring Sullivan, is a must listen, as well as their namesake inaugural episode, All About Pulsars. And for young astronomers, learn about our universe through hands-on activities, such as the Museum’s Our Place in Space family STEM activity and Boston Children’s Museum’s treasure trove of Beyond the Chalkboard NASA-inspired activities, including inventing your own constellations, building paper rockets, and keeping a sky observation journal.

Want more galactic goodness? Check out these fiction and nonfiction titles for all ages — some of many available on Overdrive/Libby with your library card number — to keep your whole family shooting for the stars:

8 Little Planets by Chris Ferrie
Moon! Earth’s Best Friend by Stacy McAnulty (audio) 
Stars! Stars! Stars! by Bob Barner
Fly Guy Presents: Space by Tedd Arnold
Ada Twist’s Big Project Book for Stellar Scientists by Andrea Beaty
Midnight on the Moon (Magic Tree House #8) and its companion Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Space by Mary Pope Osborne

Junior Genius Guides: Outer Space by Ken Jennings
How to Be A Space Explorer by Lonely Planet Kids
Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly (audio)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown

And for some further space exploration, check out encyclopedic text about the solar system in Salem Press, or take a peek at our selection of Great Courses videos about astronomy and the mysteries of the universe:

Our Night Sky
Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe
The Search for Exoplanets: What Astronomers Know
The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries
The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy

Happy stargazing!