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Book Talk provides intermediate must-reads

Jane Freiss gave a book talk at Elise Diaz's fifth-grade Prairie Trail School classroom Feb. 6.
Jane Freiss gave a book talk at Elise Diaz's fifth-grade Prairie Trail School classroom Feb. 6.

Kids today have more demands on their free time and tend to read less than kids did 20 years ago, said Prairie Trail School fifth-grade teacher Elise Diaz.

“Electronic devices have affected kids’ love of reading,” Diaz said. That’s why it helps to have a visit from a Warren-Newport Public Library to demonstrate a love of literature and give reading options, she said.

Jane Friess, youth services librarian and school liaison, visited Diaz’ fifth grade class Feb. 6 to give a live presentation similar to PBS’ “Reading Rainbow,” discussing the plots of six must-reads.

“It shows your face to the community – librarians don’t just sit behind a desk,” Freiss said. Freiss trained to be a teacher and loves visiting youngsters to foster a love of reading.

Freiss’ last book talk at Prairie Trail School was on the fantasy and science fiction genres. This time, she focused on historical fiction.

“Books may have a sticker for historical fiction [on the library shelves], but they could have adventure, romance or mystery inside,” Freiss told the class.

When the class was asked if they became interested in a genre they wouldn’t normally read after Freiss’ last visit, most of the students raised their hands. When asked if they prefer to read on paper books or their school-provided iPads, the class responded that they prefer paper.

Here are Freiss’ six historical fiction picks for intermediate-aged readers, with her descriptions.

‘The Birchmark House’
by Louise Erdrich

Similar to “Little House on the Prairie,” this story is about a family in a village in 1847. A stranger comes to the village and stays with the protagonist’s family. Unfortunately, he brings smallpox with him, and after he dies, the disease affects the whole village.

‘The Great Trouble’
by Deborah Hopkinson

This is a great story for boys. Eel’s a teenager with trouble – he needs to make money, keep a secret and stay away from the most dangerous man in 1854 London. But things get worse when the Great Trouble known as cholera comes and wipes out 600 people in one month.

‘Sylvia And Aki’
by Winifred Conkling

This is the story of a Japanese-American and Mexican-American who become pen pals during World War II. Aki’s family is placed in an internment camp, and Sylvia’s family rents Aki’s home. What makes this story cool is that Sylvia and Aki are real people and are still friends.

‘Elijah of Buxton’
by Christopher Paul Curtis

Elijah lives in Buxton, Canada in a community of freed slaves from the United States. After a runaway slave comes to the village and steals the money Elijah’s friend needed to buy his family’s freedom, Elijah journeys south to catch the thief.

‘Journey to the River Sea’
by Eva Ibbotson

Maia is a young orphan who is told she has family on the Amazon River in Brazil, but when she goes there she finds out there don’t have great intentions.

‘Moon Over Manifest’
by Clare Vanderpool

A girl is sent by her father to live in his hometown of Manifest, Kansas, which is a dud of a town. Things get interesting when she finds a cigar box full of clues to the town’s mysteries, including one connected to her father and a spy.

Check out these books at Warren-Newport Public Library, 224 N. O’Plaine Road. For information, call 847-244-5150.

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