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! 

Staff Pick: A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas

Enter Prythian, land of the fae, if you dare! Here, you won’t find humans scrapping out an existence as they do on the lower side of the wall. Instead, creatures from nightmares abound, waiting with sharp teeth and curved claws to lure humans to the other side of the wall, where they will be enslaved… or worse. And, as if that isn’t enough to worry about, there are the High Fae with powers that can shake mountains, powers that can transport you across the world in the blink of an eye, powers beyond imagination. But are all fae bad?

In the first book of this fantasy series (previously mentioned in the Beauty and the Beast Retellings post), Feyre is just a 19-year-old girl who hunts in the forest to keep food on the table for her and her family. But then one day, something happens that will change her life forever. She’s forced to leave her family and go to Prythian, where everything is not what it seems. Could her captor be good, or is he the monster she has always believed the fae to be? And what is happening in Prythian that makes even these immortals shudder? 

As you read through the series, the characters continue to face overwhelming obstacles which only seem to get worse and worse, leading to a war with the lives of both human and fae alike in jeopardy from an evil far worse than anything that has been thrown at the world for a very long time, an evil that may not have been as dormant as everyone hoped over the past 500 years…

With violence and graphic images, this book is not for the faint of heart. 

Reserve physical copies of Sarah J. Maas’s popular ACOTAR series for Curbside Pickup, or check them out online in ebook format on Overdrive or through the Libby app. The first book is also available on Overdrive as an audiobook.

The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More

Spring is in full bloom, and most of us are itching to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer us. We admire the trees for their blossoming buds, and we plant gardens full of colorful flowers and aromatic herbs. In Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More, readers learn how to connect more deeply and spiritually with the natural environment they live in. 

Living in Salem’s neighboring cities and towns, we’re all familiar with the terms witch and witchcraft. A common misconception about witchcraft is that it is the same as Wicca. Wicca is a specific and formal nature-based religion, whereas witchcraft (as Hiscock describes) “refers to the practice of working with natural energies to attain goals, without the specific religious context” (p. 14). 

There are many forms and focuses of witchcraft, but the path of the green witch is defined by her relationship to the world around her, by her ethics, and by her affinity with the natural world. With green witchcraft, there are no unique prayers, no uniforms, no holy texts, no obligatory tools, and no specific holiday. Instead, green witchcraft is a practice that combines the use of herbs and other green matter with seven basic energies: harmony, health, love, happiness, peace, abundance, and protection.

Throughout Hiscock’s guide, readers will learn how to use the various elements of nature—the sun, the moon, trees, stones, flowers, and herbs—to connect more closely with the Earth, to create and craft green witch magic, to become a natural healer, and much more.The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More is now accessible in Overdrive and the Libby app!

Minds Behind the Magic: Favorite Children’s Authors in Audio and Film

Chances are, you’ve been spending a good bit more time with the kids recently. Are you struggling just to remember how it feels to be a child, let alone figuring out how it feels to be one in the middle of a global crisis? If so, you might turn to some old friends for inspiration–writers who, Peter Pan-like, never seemed to lose their passports to the realm of childhood, and who have made the lives of their readers all the richer for their magic.

If you’d like to get to know these remarkable personalities better, why not have a listen to the biographies curated in a brand-new hoopla audiobook collection: 2020 APL Minds Behind the Magic Audio? Here, you’ll find portraits of imaginations born out of the crisis of World War I in books like A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and the Great War by Joseph Loconte or Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle Earth by John Garth. (To enjoy a glimpse of Tolkien’s own parenting approach, you might also take a look at his playful Letters from Father Christmas, a richly-illustrated ebook available on hoopla.)

In a similar vein, Louisa May Alcott’s life and writing were undoubtedly shaped by crisis: childhood privation and the Civil War loom large in her biographies. For a well-rounded study, try Susan Cheever’s Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography; to observe the strong mother-daughter bond that shaped Alcott, listen to Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eva LaPlant. 

In the memoirs of Christopher Robin Milne, we have a different sort of perspective: the complicated influence of famous children’s author A. A. Milne and his works on his own son. While the two-part autobiography (The Enchanted Places and The Path through the Trees) is not all sunshine, it offers some fascinating windows onto Winnie-the-Pooh’s world and its creator. Even more compelling is The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest That Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood, a biography-cum-ramble through rural England.

For further insight into the minds behind the magical worlds of classic children’s literature, have a look at a companion film collection in hoopla, available here.

Explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

If you’ve visited Overdrive in April, you may have noticed that you could read or listen to the first Harry Potter book with no wait. The ebook and audiobook have also been available as Bonus Borrows on hoopla. Exciting, right? Whether you’re new to the wizarding world or a longtime follower of the series, you’ll be pleased to know that J.K. Rowling is now bringing Hogwarts right to you at home.

By visiting the Wizarding World: The Official Home of Harry Potter, you’ll get your very own Wizarding passport, be sorted into your house, matched with your wand, and paired with your Patronus. And it doesn’t end there! J.K. Rowling has gotten together with a few friends to help children, parents, carers, and teachers add a touch of magic to our daily lives. Find fun articles, craft videos, quizzes, and puzzles for your enjoyment. Play Wizard’s hangman and Harry Potter Bingo, draw a Niffler and make a paper craft Howler, test your knowledge with a First Year Muggle Quiz, and so much more! This is Harry Potter like we’ve never seen it before!

For more Harry Poter enjoyment, you can also play a Hogwarts Digital Escape Room created by librarians at Peters Township Public Library in Pennsylvania.