28 #BlackJoy Middle Grade Novels

Back in March, I posted about 28 #BlackJoy Picture Books because #weneeddiversebooks that feature Black protagonists just living their lives. The post was inspired by my frustration with the book lists faithfully trotted out every February for Black History Month. They were all full of books about Black trauma. So I decided to make a list which turned out to be much more popular than I expected—a big thank you to everyone who commented to let me know the recommendations were useful!

I didn’t want to leave out the older kids (sorry it’s taken so long), so here are 28 #BlackJoy Middle Grade Novels. In order to highlight authors who are writing right now, the list features predominately newer titles (most published within the last five years). Most titles are #ownvoices.

As I said in my previous post books about slavery are important. Books about Jim Crow America are important. Books about the Civil Rights Era are important. Books that feature Black characters experiencing joy are also important. These #BlackJoy books are great reads for Black History Month and all year long!




Children’s Room & North Branch

P.S. Click on images to enlarge. When you click the “Click here to request!” link a new tab will open. In the new tab, click on the title of the book you’re interested in to check availability/request it.


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Summer Eats at the Library

Through a partnership with Project Bread, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Cape Cod YMCA, the Falmouth Public Library is excited to offer free lunches for ages 0-18 between July 9 – August 22, 2018 at the East Falmouth Library. Directions


No registration is required for reserving lunches or attending events.


*Parking is limited at the East Falmouth Library. Please plan accordingly.


2018 Event Schedule

In addition to free lunch, youth are invited for free entertainment on Mondays starting at noon (July 9, 16, 23, 30 & August 6, 13, 20). Plus, children can join Donna for a special storytime on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m.

*On July 30, the Coastal Explorer Van will be parked and available for visiting between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Monday, July 9: Crooked Coast Band

Monday, July 16: Pitter Patter Puppets

Monday, July 23: A visit with Bella from Serenity Farm

Monday, July 30: A visit with the Coastal Explorer Van

Monday, August 6: Big Ryan

Monday, August 13: Art workshop with Susan Beardsley

Monday, August 20: Learn the ukulele with Julie Stepanek

For more information about the Summer Eats program, read this article published in the Falmouth Enterprise.

Project Bread

With the help of our community partners and policy makers, Project Bread promotes the summer meals program, Summer Eats, to serve free meals to kids and teens while school meals are on summer vacation.

  • The Summer Food Service Program, known as Summer Eats in Massachusetts, is a vital resource for the more than 400,000 children across the state who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals during the school year.
  • The meals and program provided at Summer Eats sites helps to ensure that children have continued access to nutritious food during the summer months and can return to school healthy and ready to learn.
  • Summer hunger can lead to learning loss & weight gain, putting low income youth at a disadvantage when they return to school in the fall.

Find more Summer Eats sites:

Visit: www.meals4kids.org

Text: “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877

Call: 1-800-645-8333 (Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline)

Download: “SummerEats” App for iPhone and Android

USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

Summer Food Service Program

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by mail, fax, or email.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

fax: (202) 690-7442


This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

USDA February 2016

MA ESE March 2018

Everything I Need to Know …

I often remark that if I want to know about a person, event or place with which I am unfamiliar, there is no better place to look than the Children’s Room. The books have the all the important information in a concise format with easy to understand vocabulary and are often illustrated! My kind of information!
The other day I processed a book by Laura Veirs entitled “Libba.” It’s about Elizabeth Cotten, an apparently well known blues/folk  singer/songwriter. I had never heard of her. For those who share my ignorance, she was born in the late 1800s to a musical family and taught herself to play the guitar and banjo, backwards and upside down because she was left handed! She was writing songs by her teens. Life got in the way of her music, but in her 50s she started working as a housekeeper for the Seeger family. The story goes, one of the family heard her playing her song, “Freight Train” which she composed as a child. She began to perform and “Freight Train” became a hit. Many other well-known musicians including Pete Seeger, Jerry Garcia, and Bob Dylan, recorded it. I thought I must know the song, but when I listened to her rendition and then Pete Seeger’s I didn’t recognize it.
Monday night at dinner we were listening to WMVY radio’s “blues at 8” and a song started playing. I looked at my husband and said, “That is Elizabeth Cotten singing “Freight Train.”
Just goes to show:
Martha Murphy, Children’s Department
Ed: If you’d like to hear Elizabeth Cotten playing and singing “Freight Train,” the song that made her famous, go to Smithsonian Folkways Recordings artist spotlight for Elizabeth Cotten.  At the top of the page there’s a short 30 second recording of her picking the beginning of the song, but if you scroll about halfway down there’s a video recorded in 1957 of her playing the whole song at the Seeger family home.

28 Children’s Books about #BlackJoy


It’s often said Black History Month should be celebrated all year long–and it should! In that spirit, here is a list of 28 books that are good reads all year round! This list also provides titles that feature #BlackJoy: Black characters just living their lives. Books about slavery are important. Books about Jim Crow America are important. Books about the Civil Rights Era are important. Books that feature Black characters experiencing joy are also important. So, here’s to these 28 #BlackJoy picture books!

1) Crown by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

2) Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins, illustrated by Bryan Collier

3) All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Mike Curato

4) Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Patrice Barton


5) How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder


6) Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

7) In Plain Sight by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

8) I Got a New Friend by Karl Newsom Edwards

8) Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

9)  We Love You, Rosie! by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Linda Davick

10) Looking for Bongo by Eric Velasquez

11) Sunday Shopping by Sally Derby, illustrated by Shadra Strickland

12) Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

13) Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

14) My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

15) Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin


16) If I Had a Raptor by George O’Connor

17) Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by Renato Alarcao

18) One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck, illustrated Yasmeen Ismail

19) Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated Christian Robinson

20) Lizard from the Park by Mark Pett

21) Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

22) The New Small Person by Lauren Child

23) On the Ball by Brian Pinkney

24) My Pen by Christopher Myers

25) Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning

26) I Had A Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn, illustrated Julia Denos

27) Grandma’s Records by Eric Velasquez

28) Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington, illustrated by Shelley Jackson

Happy Reading!
Children’s Room

Kind Book Recommendations

World Kindness Day was November 13th, but every day is a good day to be kind! Here are five book recommendations for humans ages 3-99 that are great conversation starters about kindness:

Those Shoes

By Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Jeremy is desperate for a pair of the cool new shoes all his classmates seem to have at school, but his grandmother can’t afford to buy him anything but sensible shoes. He finally gets a pair, but has to make a difficult decision when he notices a schoolmate with worn shoes.


Sidewalk Flowers

By Jon Arno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith

A wonderful wordless picture book (wordless books are woefully underappreciated—more on that in another post!) about a girl who picks flowers on a walk through her city and gives them away to those she passes along the way.


A Sick Day for Amos McGee

By Philip C. Stead, illustrated Erin E. Stead

When an elderly zookeeper who takes fastidious care of each of his charges falls ill, the animals in his care decide it’s time to tend to their sick friend.


Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

retold & illustrated John Steptoe

In this retelling of a folktale from modern-day Zimbabwe, Mufaro has two daughters: Nyasha, who is kind and generous, and Manyara, who is selfish and rude. When the two girls journey to meet the Great King, they are both rewarded according to their behavior.


Each Kindness

By Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Chloe’s generosity and courage is challenged when a new girl, Maya, comes to school and is mocked for being different. This story is different in that it deals with the consequences of choosing to be unkind.

Happy Reading!
Children’s Room & North Branch

Windows and Mirrors

Stephanie Seales, a library staff member who works both in the Children’s Room at the Main Library and at the North Branch, (and in her spare time is a book critic in the Young Readers division for Kirkus!) was recently on the radio:

“I was recently privileged to be featured on NPR station WCAI’s The Point for a short segment on children’s books (you’ll find me around the 25:00 minute mark). I shared a few new, quality titles that feature racially and ethnically diverse protagonists. When children and teens read books that serve as both windows & mirrors, they increase their capacity for empathy and expand their worldview. The following titles are the ones I highlighted on The Point and have appeal to a broad audience:

PICTURE BOOKS (roughly ages 3-8)

One Word from Sophia illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail and written by Jim Averbeck

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music, illustrated by Rafael López and written by Margarita Engle (sadly, didn’t make it onto the show)

MIDDLE GRADE (roughly ages 8-12)

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander


Princeless, written by Jeremy Whitley and illustrated by M. Goodwin & Jules Rivera

Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur, Volume I: BFF by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, and Natacha Bustos

Young Adult (roughly ages 14 & up)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson (sadly, also didn’t make it onto the show)”


Movies & Popcorn

Need a break from the heat? Come by and join us for a matinee movie beginning this month in the Hermann Meeting Room! The Page to Screen Film Series will continue through the end of the year and will held on select Thursdays at 2:30pm.

2017 Showing Soon Schedule

Thursday, September 72:30pmThe Sense of an Ending (2017)
Thursday, September 142:30pmArrival (2016)
Thursday, September 212:30pmThe Martian (2015)
Thursday, September 282:30pmSilence (2016)
Thursday, October 192:30pmLive by Night (2016)
Thursday, October 262:30pmMy Cousin Rachel (2017)
Thursday, November 22:30pmThe Girl on the Train (2016)
Thursday, November 92:30pmTBA
Thursday, December 72:30pmTBA
Thursday, December 142:30pmTBA
Thursday, December 212:30pmTBA
Thursday, December 282:30pmTBA

@ the Library: Summer 2017

@ the Library: Things to Do

Summer is here and skies are blue, and we have a lot of free fun activities for teens and adults this July and August! Check out the Build a Better World program schedule for kids, too.


Build a Better World: Programs for Kids!

Teens! (Grades 6-12)

Teen Summer Programs Brochure

View our Teen Brochure above to see the full list of programs we’re offering. Some activities are open to adults as well. Visit the Registration Page to register for our programs. If a program encourages advance registration, you may sign up one month in advance.

Wednesday, August 9: Escape Room: Escape the Wizard’s Tower [more information] Two sessions: 3:00pm or 6:00pm

Saturday, August 12, 3:00pm: iPhotography for Beginners [more information] Open to ages 12 to adult.

Tuesday, August 15, 6:00-7:30pm: Studio Art with Marika McCoola [more information]

Wednesday, August 16, 6:00-7:30pm: Mini-Figures with Marika McCoola [more information]

Thursday, August 17, 3:30-5:00pm: Mixed-Media Creations with Marika McCoola [more information]

Monday, August 21, 3:30-5:00pm: Art Cards with Green Art Workshop [more information] Open to ages 12 to adult.

Tuesday, August 22 – 25, 1:30-4:00pm: Get Your Act On: Theatre Camp [more information]

Movies and Popcorn

The Teen Movie Club is meeting this August. Join us for a PG-13 movie with free popcorn in the Hermann Meeting Room.

Friday, August 4, 2:30pm: Before I Fall [watch trailer] based on the bestselling novel by Lauren Oliver. Reserve the book.

Friday, August 18, 2:30pm: Everything, Everything [watch trailer] based on the bestselling novel by Nicola Yoon. Reserve the book.


2017 Books & Authors Festival

Page to Screen Film Series: Thursdays at 2:30pm beginning on July 27

Visit the Registration Page to see a full list of our programs for adults.

iPhotography for Beginners with Lori Cooney [more information]

Art Cards with Green Art Workshop [more information]


Black Literature Matters

On Saturday, March 4,  Sara Hines (co-owner of Eight Cousins) and I hosted “Black Literature Matters: A Book Talk”. The event was a huge success and our thanks go out to everyone who braved the cold to hear about these important titles. As a part of a larger series entitled, “Books Build Conversations,” we focused on #ownvoices books. #OwnVoices is a hashtag coined in 2015 in order to highlight stories written by authors from marginalized communities featuring protagonists who are also a part of those same communities. For our purposes, we chose books by black authors with black protagonists.

A few days ago, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center released a graph on their blog chronicling the rise and fall of children’s books with black protagonists both by non-black authors and #ownvoices authors.

This graph would have been perfect to include in our talk. As the author of the blog points out, authenticity matters: books about black characters written by non-black authors, while well-intentioned, may fall into the problematic tropes and reinforce stereotypes and negative ideologies. Also, as the author of the blog states, black authors and illustrators need to be “given the same opportunities to tell their own stories”.

In order to give attendees the opportunity to really connect with each title, Sara and I limited our scope by each selecting one book from four categories: picture book, middle grade, teen/young adult, and non-fiction. We committed to reading each other’s selections to ensure an in-depth conversation. During the talk, we shared background on the #ownvoices hashtag, the need for diverse representation in children’s literature, and described how books serve as windows or mirrors depending on the reader. In addition, we dialogued about each of our eight selections, discussing the stories and our thoughts about them.

Each attendee was given a pamphlet that included all of the books highlighted during the talk, as well as additional recommended #ownvoices titles. You can view and print the pamphlet below and if you click on the booklist link, you will find a list with additional titles that feature black protagonist by authors/illustrators that may or may not be #ownvoices. All books are available within the CLAMS system. Both the pamphlet and the list are free and may be reproduced. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Sara (sara@eightcousins.com) or I (sseales@falmouthpubliclibrary.org) directly.

–Stephanie Seales
Falmouth Public Library Children’s Room

Click here to view the handout

Click here for the booklist


Holiday Party on Tuesday, December 13

Take a break from the holiday season at the library “paw-ty” together with Falmouth’s Companion Animal Program on Tuesday, December 13 beginning at 4:00pm.

We will have happy, soft, and sweet guests who will be visiting the library to help relieve stress. No, not teddy bears —but trained therapy dogs. Trained and experienced therapy dogs to be exact. These furry canines will be available to pet, hug, and cuddle while you take a break from the busy and stressful holiday season. Stop by the library midway through your Main Street shopping spree or grab a bite-sized snack to eat before you head home for dinner. You’ll be glad that you did!

All ages are invited to join us in the Hermann Room for dog and human-friendly treats and refreshments while supplies last.

More information:

Tuesday, December 13, 4:00-5:00pm, Hermann Room

CAP is an all-volunteer organization of pet owners, who visit, with their pets, at nursing & care facilities, programs serving children and adults with disabilities, the college, a hospital, libraries and schools on Cape Cod from the Canal to Provincetown. CAP is non-profit and self-sustaining with no paid employees.