Teen Reads in Social Justice

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and for anyone interested in reading diverse, exciting fiction in the vein of social activism, make these treasured titles in young adult fiction a part of your reading list for the new year!


All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely: Rashad is absent again today. That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all… Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi: They killed my mother. They took our magic. They tried to bury us. Now we rise.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone: Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan: Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women’s Rights Club. They post everything online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine’s response to the racial macroaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson: Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong…

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson: Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful…


There are many new voices and fresh perspectives in current young adult fiction that explore social and racial issues with warmth, humor and conscience.  These and other authors are just a beginning; ask us at your Lorain Public Library System branch for recommendations and new titles for incredible, diverse reads.  Let us honor the work of Dr. King and other advocates of social justice by choosing thoughtful, involved stories that will enlighten as well as entertain.

Life and Legacy: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Celebrate the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this month through books, film and other materials from our e-resource collection!


Adults might be interested in these books:

The Heavens Might Crack: The Death and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by Jason Sokol

April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr’s Death and How It Changed America by Michael Eric Dyson

Mine Eyes Have Seen: Bearing Witness to the Struggle for Civil Rights by Bob Adelman and Charles Johnson

I Have A Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Younger people might enjoy these books:

Dream March: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the March on Washington by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Meet Martin Luther King Jr. by Johnny Ray More


“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” 

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Check out BookFlix, our online resource for preschoolers and early readers, for  a few books on Martin Luther King, Jr.  paired with short videos about Dr. King. Use the “People and Places” option to find these titles.

Our Kanopy service has fifteen films about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s to view for free. Titles to watch out for include the PBS documentary In Remembrance of Martin and King: A Filmed Record. You will need to create an account using your email account at our Kanopy landing page if you are new to the service. 

Out of this World Sci-Fi Coming in 2021

Happy New Year everyone! I know every year in January, I make a big list of all the things I want to read in the new year, and 2021 looks like it’s going to be a great year for science fiction fans! I want to share with you a few titles I am looking forward to reading this year as well as some older titles that are worth your time.


Coming in 2021

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Release Date: January 5, 2021

Hailed as a mash up of Cowboy Bebop and The Mandalorian, Persephone Station is sure to be a wild ride! Angel, a down and out ex-marine, leads a ragtag group of assassins, soldiers, and criminals on Persephone Station. She works for bar owner Rosie doing jobs that aren’t fit for daylight and on one of these jobs, Angel and her crew uncover something horrific that they can’t ignore. The group finds themselves pitted against a powerful corporation for the fate of Persephone Station and the secret it holds.

I just started this! And it is as good as the blurbs say it is. If you read only one space opera this year, Persephone Station should be it!

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Release Date: January 19, 20201

If you haven’t read anything by Nnedi Okorafor, you have to fix that immediately. Award winning author of the Binti trilogy and Who Fears Death (which has been optioned for early production by HBO) Nnedi Okorafor brings us the story of a young girl who is turned into Death’s adopted daughter by an alien artifact. Remote Control sounds amazing.

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Five Reading Challenges to Try in 2021

With a new year comes the opportunity to challenge yourself and what better way to do that then with books! Whether it’s just selecting the amount of books you hope to read in a year or attempting to read books outside your comfort zone, there is a challenge out there for everyone. So take a gander at the compiled list below and pick and choose which are the best for you!


2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge – Goodreads is a social platform for books where you can keep track of what your currently reading, what you want to read, and all the books that you’ve already tackled. Each year you are able to choose the number of books and then its off to the races.

NovelKnight’s Beat the Backlist Challenge – Rule 1. For a book to count towards the challenge it must be published in the previous year or earlier (basically anything before 2021). Rule 2: It must be read from start to finish in 2021. If you want to make things a little more challenging there are prompts and graphics available at the link.

Read Native 2021 – The American Indian Library Association crafted this challenge to celebrate and support Indigenous authors, creators, legislators, scientists, and more all year round.

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge – Every year Book Riot puts out a new challenge designed to get you out of your reading comfort zone and encourage readers to pick up books off their radar. With just 24 prompts to complete, you can space these books throughout the year.

Booklist Queen’s 2021 Reading Challenge – If you want the ultimate challenge, Booklist Queen offers one that features a book a week! That’s 52 prompts to follow along with! Best thing is you can make it work for you.


Here at Lorain Public Library System, we have a Winter Reading Challenge running through February 15 which can be found in Connections on page 26. Tell us what challenges you are participating in this year and what reading goals you’ve set for yourselves in the comments below!

Recent Album Releases on Hoopla (3rd Edition)

We’re back with another list highlighting new music releases available to patrons on Hoopla. Check out the below titles that have been released in the last 30 days for some new tunes to stream.


Evermore – Taylor Swift

Soul (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Various Artists

McCartney III – Paul McCartney

The Mandalorian Season 2 – Vol. 2 (Chapters 13-16) – Ludwig Goransson

Wake Up, Sunshine – All Time Low

Music to be Murdered By – Side B (Deluxe Edition) – Eminem

Phoenix (Deluxe Edition) – Rita Ora

Man on the Moon III: The Chosen – Kid Cudi

Wonder Woman 1984 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Hans Zimmer

K-12 – Melanie Martinez


Have you been listening to any of these albums? One that didn’t make this list?

Let us know in the comments below!

Ring in the New Year by Learning Something New!

2020 was certainly a year that none of us will ever forget for many reasons. For those of us who are as anxious to turn the calendar page as much as 2021’s arrival, here are some intriguing things you can teach yourself how to do to ring in the new year. Use our collections and eLibrary resources at your friendly neighborhood library to take up that new hobby or explore a topic that you have been wanting to learn about for a long time! Happy New Year!!! 😊


Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by B.J. Fogg, PhD – If you have a hard time sticking to your new year’s resolutions every year, this might be the perfect guide to help you form lasting new habits by understanding Dr. Fogg’s revolutionary understanding of human behavior.

The Book of Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the Most of Every Moment, the Japanese Way by Héctor García and Francese Miralles – As simply stated on the back cover of the book, “Learn to make every moment a once-in-a-lifetime experience with this definitive guide to the Japanese art of ichigo ichie.”

Working in the Cloud: Using Web-Based Applications and Tools to Collaborate Online by Jason R. Rich – For those of you who have been working or learning from home, this book will be a handy guide to learning terminology, understanding cloud concepts, and teaching you how to use these resources securely and efficiently.

Python Without Fear: A Beginner’s Guide That Makes You Feel Smart by Brian Overland – This could be the perfect time to teach yourself computer programming and coding.

Teach Yourself Visually Windows 10 – 3rd Edition by Paul McFedries – Here is an instructional book that clearly shows you how to get the most out of the Windows 10 operating system.

The Mythology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by DK Publishing – If you have ever been curious about myths and legends around the world, The Mythology Book is a great introduction to who’s who and how these stories of the past still influence our societies today.

The Self-Care Solution: A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter – One Month at a Time by Jennifer Ashton, M.D., M.S. – Start the New Year off on the right foot by focusing on a different area of health and well-being each month to unlock your best self by the end of the year.

The Dietitian Kitchen: Nutrition for a Healthy, Strong, & Happy You by Kerri Major – Kerri Major, a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer, will help you eliminate the confusion around fad diets and get back to the basics of well-balanced nutrition and implement exercises that fit in with your busy lifestyle without adding stress while adding enjoyment to your daily routines.

The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food by Marcus Samuelsson – Add some wow to your kitchen this year by exploring Black cooking today with Marcus Samuelsson (chef, author, and television star) who will take on a journey through culinary delights, culture and history with some of the top chefs across our country.

American Sign Language Demystified by Kristin Mulrooney, Ph.D. – This self-teaching guide includes a DVD that will help you learn American Sign Language to communicate confidently and comfortably.

Complete Language Pack: Spanish by DK Publishing – This complete Spanish language pack comes with three books and free audio apps to help you get started in learning Spanish in 15-minute lessons over 12 weeks.

Budgeting 101: From Getting Out of Debt and Tracking Expenses to Setting Financial Goals and Building Your Savings, Your Essential Guide to Budgeting by Michele Cagan, CPA – Whether you would like to get out of debt or save for retirement, this crash course book on budgeting will help you build financial security and expand your savings to achieve your financial goals and dreams.

The New Gardener’s Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Grow a Beautiful & Bountiful Garden by Daryl Beyers – Winter is the perfect time to begin planning your garden for spring planting whether you would like to grow beautiful flowers or harvest a bounty of vegetables.

Shuffle and Deal: 50 Classic Card Games for Any Number of Players by Tara Gallagher – Rediscover some classic card games along with many that you may never have played before for your next Game Night!

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing the Ukulele by David Hodge – This could be the year for you to take up a fun instrument and learn how to play the ukulele! The updated edition includes the corresponding audio track guides that can be downloaded from their website or you can get the book with the CD.

Nature’s Beauty Secrets: Recipes for Beauty Treatments from the World’s Best Spas by Dawn Gallagher – It’s time to pamper yourself for the new year! Learn natural beauty secrets from spas around the world that you can receate at home.

The Weather Detective: Rediscovering Nature’s Secret Signs by Peter Wohlleben – Discover rich new meanings in the world around you by learning how to read the signs of nature and gain a deeper understanding of weather using everything from the latest discoveries to ancient lore.

How to Fix Anything: Essential Home Repairs Anyone Can Do by Popular Mechanics Press – You will learn how to confidently handle issues in any room in your home, yard or garage with this handy guide that also covers simple lessons in plumbing and electricity.

See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors by Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi – This summer, many of us will hopefully hit the road to travel with our families and friends. For those of us that enjoy the great outdoors, check out this wonderful guide created by Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi, who are young parents that have become seasoned campers along with their children.

What We See in the Stars: An Illustrated Tour of the Night Sky by Kelsey Oseid – Winter’s longer nights lend for perfect stargazing conditions! This beautifully illustrated guide will help you identify celestial bodies in the heavens and learn the stories behind them. Check out one of our backpacks with high-powered binoculars to view the moon, stars, and planets in greater detail.

Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America -7th Edition by Roger Tory Peterson – Check out this field guide with one of our birding backpacks with binoculars and you can enjoy the birds in your own backyard or go explore the birds you can see in our wonderful community parks.

eLibrary Highlights:

Chilton Library gives you the detailed information you need to tackle vehicle maintenance and repairs.

Creativebug has more than 1,000 award-winning art & craft video classes taught by recognized design experts and artists.

Gale Courses offers a wide range of highly interactive, instructor-led courses that you can take entirely online. Courses run for six weeks and new sessions begin every month.

Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center offers detailed “how-to” instructions and creative ideas to meet the interests of virtually every hobby enthusiast. Full text is provided from leading hobby and craft magazines.

Home Improvement Reference Center – Through a collection of comprehensive full-text content, this database provides users with detailed, user-friendly “how-to” information covering a variety of home improvement and repair projects.

KnowledgeCity provides in-demand training for business, computer, safety, compliance, and finance enabling users to update skill sets and advance careers. All courses are crafted by industry experts and college professor s from around the world. Courses can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Each course provides a skills test and certificate of completion. Receive unlimited access to KnowledgeCity using your library card. Follow the link to KnowledgeCity from the library’s web site, log in using your library card, and start learning. KnowledgeCity’s service is available in both English and Spanish.

Lynda.com – Learn business, technology, and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals using these free video courses on the latest software, taught by industry experts. Online videos are available for Developer, IT, Business, Marketing, Photography, 3D + Animation, Video, Web, and more. Both in-library and remote users must enter their library card number and PIN to access Lynda.com.

The Ohio Web Library includes: popular magazines, trade publications, scholarly research journals, newspapers, encyclopedias, dictionaries, speeches, poems, plays, maps, satellite images of Ohio, and more.

Oxford Research Encyclopedias – With today’s overabundance of information, and misinformation, students and researchers alike can be overwhelmed in identifying what’s trustworthy, what’s up-to-date, and what’s accurate. Oxford University Press has invested in the Oxford Research Encyclopedias to meet this challenge. Working with international communities of scholars across all fields of study, we are developing new comprehensive collections of in-depth, peer-reviewed summaries on an ever-growing range of topics.

Small Business Reference Center offers exclusive full text for many top consumer small business reference books, as well as tools to address many small business topics. It includes business videos, a help and advice section and details on how to create business plans.

Transparent Languages helps millions learn over 100 foreign languages. Download free language-learning software and start learning a language now.

Very Short Introductions – Discover a new topic or subject with these intelligent and serious introductions written by authors who are experts in their field. Brilliant. Sharp. Inspiring. Now online.


Give the Gift of Reading

Looking for a last-minute gift idea? Give the gift of reading! Our booklist of bestsellers, new releases and classics is sure to delight each toddler or preschooler in your life. Whether you are looking to purchase a book or check out a title from the library, there’s something on the list for everyone! Enjoy time together, either in person, virtually or over-the-phone, with an entertaining family read aloud.


Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty: Inspired by real-life makers Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, this beloved #1 bestseller champions STEM, girl power and women scientists in a rollicking celebration of curiosity, the power perseverance, and the importance of asking “Why?”  

Intended for ages 5 to 7-years

The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak: You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . .BLORK. Or BLUURF. Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY. Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. 

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Do You Hear What I Hear? – Holiday Albums to Enjoy from Hoopla!

It’s now that time of year – if you go out shopping, or even turn on the radio, Christmas music is all around. And generally speaking, there seems to be two kinds of people – those who love playing holiday music, and those who detest it. Really, both are valid opinions, but I find particularly on the radio there’s an oversaturation of particular songs (thinking specifically how Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Canon Rock was on once an hour, every hour a couple of Christmases ago). Which means even for the most enthusiastic listener, the songs on the radio can get really old, really fast. However, if you’re looking for a variety of Christmas music, without paying for streaming or hearing commercials, there is a pretty great variety of Christmas albums you can download or stream on Hoopla just using your library card! Here’s a sampling of some Christmas music you can enjoy!


A Charlie Brown Christmas – Vince Guaraldi Trio: I feel like this album should be considered quintessential for the holiday season. It’s so whimsical that listening to it makes you feel like you’re drinking hot cocoa during the first snowfall of the season.

The Nightmare Before Christmas – Danny Elfman: This edition on Hoopla includes not only the original soundtrack (which I feel works for both Halloween and Christmas – “What’s This” is especially fun and describes all of the joy of the holiday season), but it also includes the film music reimagined by artists such as Fiona Apple, Panic! At the Disco and Fall Out Boy.

A Christmas Together – John Denver and the Muppets: This album has been around for 30 years, and I’m sure you’ve heard the “12 Days of Christmas” as it’s almost a regular radio staple. But it’s John Denver and the Muppets singing classic Christmas carols. What’s not to love?

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Festive Feature Films

There’s nothing quite like the joy of snuggling up with a holiday film.  Picture it: tree lit, blankets galore, and hot cocoa in hand.  The simple joy of staying in has taken on a whole new meaning.  This holiday season is looking a little different, but it’s still important to take time to decompress.  Below are some fun holiday films sure to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling.  


Charming Classics: 

It’s a Wonderful Life – This 1946 classic tells the story of George Bailey as he learns what the world would be like if he was never born.  This year has forced us to appreciate the small things in life.  Capping off 2020 with a viewing of this heartwarming tale could be just what you need.  

White Christmas – This classic starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye features some recognizable songs and rousing production numbers.  If old-fashioned music and romance are your thing, then look no further for a feel-good holiday show.   

Miracle on 34th Street – This is the story of what happens when the real Santa Claus steps in to appear at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Filled with nostalgia and wonder, it’s sure to reaffirm your belief in Santa Claus.   

Family Favorites: 

The Santa Clause – Christmas wouldn’t be complete without this magical story starring Tim Allen as the dad who becomes Santa Claus.  If you like this one, there are two sequels that keep the adventure going. 

Christmas with the Kranks – Imagine wanting to cancel Christmas!  Tim Allen is back (with a different take on Christmas) with Jamie Lee Curtis in this wacky farce.  Kids and adults alike will enjoy watching the Kranks get themselves into and out of holiday trouble. 

The Polar Express – No holiday movie list would be complete without some magic.  This classic tale of a young boy who boards a magic train bound for the North Pole on Christmas Eve night is sure to warm your heart.  Keep an ear out for Tom Hanks and his many characters! 

Goodies for Grownups: 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – If you ever feel like your holidays are a total wreck, then this is the movie for you!  Join Clark Griswold and family on their quest to make the perfect family Christmas.  Hopefully you won’t see anything too familiar!  

Four Christmases – They say telling a lie will always catch up with you, and that’s certainly the case here.  Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn play a couple whose holiday vacation plans get thwarted, forcing them to visit all four parents on Christmas day.  Let’s just say it’s definitely an adventure.  

The Holiday – Do you ever wish you could switch lives with someone?  That’s exactly what Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet do in this holiday rom-com.  Not only does this movie have plenty of charming characters, there’s also a fair amount of real estate eye candy (hello English countryside cottage!).   


Navigating a Pandemic Through Picture Books

So you’re at home with your littles and you’ve binged every episode of their favorite show. You made so many crafts that you’ll never manage to peel the dry glue off your table and you’ve given up on keeping all of the toys in one room. What next?!

How about some pandemic picture books. Well, not literally pandemic centered but some engaging and lesson filled books that could give you and your child some new and inventive ideas on how to manage the big feelings we’re all trying to manage right now. They are missing their friends, the playground, their cousins, and story time at the library. Why not bring the library to them?  We’ve got some wonderful books in our biblio-therapy and picture book areas to help with the sadness, anger and anxiety they are feeling. Just come in to any Lorain Public Library System branch and we will be more than happy to help you find what you need.

Your child will definitely enjoy The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld. Our main character, Taylor, is feeling sad and a bit angry as a project he spent lots of time working on is destroyed. He searches for someone to understand how he feels and doesn’t have any luck at first. But eventually an unexpected friend turns out to be just what he needs. Do you think the friend is able to listen to Taylor? Do you think the friend is able to show he cares? This book would make a wonderful bed time read.

Next, Kevin the Unicorn: It’s Not All Rainbows by Jessika von Innerebner. This funny page turner follows Kevin who is having a less than glittery, rainbow-filled day. As Kevin tries to smile through the pitfalls; getting glitter in his eyes and clam juice on his shirt (YUCK!!!) he manages to find a like-minded friend who will commiserate with him. Come follow Kevin and his new friend on a day that isn’t so…perfect.

And my final recommendation is, In a Jar by Deborah Marcero. This is a heartwarming story of friendship and memories. Llewellyn, a bunny, collects memories in jars. Things like the whistle of the wind, the colors of the rainbow and the glow of the stars at night. He collects and shares them with as friend who suddenly moves away. He is heartbroken but through the power of another friendship manages to remember his old friend and send new memories her way. This book speaks to the power of friendships near and far and making memories.

We hope to see you at the library soon!