Kids will love these excellent and thought-provoking books

Discovering the intricacies of life is not easy for any of us, and trial and error is more constant than we would like. For children, who have less experience than adults, it can sometimes be difficult to understand all the things they are trying to tackle.

Reading books that address questions and concerns is an excellent way to increase awareness and understanding. Since children often ask why and sometimes not at all because they are not sure how they are feeling, books can serve as a springboard for further ideas and discussions.

The books reviewed today fit this idea well. From generating critical thinking about true events during the Salem Witch Trials, to addressing the wide and beautiful range of emotions that make us uniquely human, and a story about shame, each offers something of value that concludes in a great story.

What a great opportunity to expand a child’s understanding. Just open a book and read.

Books to borrow

The following book is available in many public libraries.

“The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery of History” by Jane Yulin and Heidi Elizabeth Yulin Stemple, illustrations by Roger Roth, Simon and Schuster, 32 pages

Read aloud: Ages 8 and up.

Read for yourself: from ages 8-9 and up.

In Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, a group of girls became seriously ill. When the doctor could not find a diagnosis in his medical books, he and the townspeople declared themselves bewitched, and the girls were asked who was bewitching them. They named three women: Sarah Judd, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba. From there, more and more people were accused of witchcraft, and the hunt for witches was in full swing.

By the end of 1692, the trials of witches ended, but not without a huge price – more than 141 people were arrested, 20 were executed and four more died in prison, awaiting trial.

One of the many books in the Unsolved Mystery of History series, this smart, fast-paced book presents facts as well as thought-provoking questions to encourage readers to find their own answers to this dark and disturbing chapter in American history.

Choosing a librarian

Library: Southeast Branch Library, 1426 Bercumen Street, Reading

Executive Director of the Library: Melissa Adams

Senior Branch Manager: Emily McNulty

This week’s picks: “Mother Bruce,” directed by Ryan Higgins; “The World of Frogs” by Pamela S Turner; “Brave Irene” directed by William Steig

books to buy

The following books are available in favorite bookstores.

“Patchwork” by Matt De La Peña, illustrations by Corinna Luyken, Putnam, 2022, 42 pages, hardcover $18.99

Reading Aloud: Age 4-8.

Read for yourself: 7 to 8 years old.

Since we are born, we change and keep changing all the time. Author De La Peña and illustrator Luyken gently and profoundly illustrate this point in “Patchwork.”

Crossing the wide range of emotions that make us human, this important book is a celebration of the infinite possibilities that every child has. Discover the talents, dreams, and habits that may help you develop into the adult you are meant to be.

Grief, hurt, and tears will also shape you as you progress, and that’s okay because everyone goes through the hardest parts of life.

In the end, you are “…sounds taken from all the places I’ve been to all the people I’ve met and all the feelings I’ve ever felt… all pieced together in a kind of patchwork.”

Reassuring, thought-provoking and a true tribute to children and all they can do now and in the future, “Packing” is a must-read.

“Bravo, bucket head!” By Helen Lister, illustrated by Lynne Munsinger, is an uplifting story about feeling uneasy and overcoming personal preconceived notions and fears. (courtesy of Atheneum)

“Bravo, bucket head!” By Helen Lister, by Lynn Munsinger, Atheneum, 2022, 32 pages, $18.99 hardcover

Reading Aloud: Age 4-8.

Read for yourself: from 6 to 8 years old.

Musita, the little field mouse, always walked back because she was very shy and didn’t want to worry about meeting anyone. Unlike other young field mice, especially the famous rat, Musetta would hide at every opportunity.

One day, Musetta saw an advertisement in the newspaper for Dr. Gladbow’s private workshop on how to become open. As much as Musita did not want to attend, she knew she had to. For added protection, Musetta put a bucket on her head and walked backwards to Dr. Gladbow’s workshop.

She had barely arrived when the other attendants showed up, each of them wearing a different covering over their heads so that their faces could not be seen and all of them walking backwards. But before the workshop began, hungry foxes arrived and everyone froze. Musita knew this was the wrong thing to do unless the mice wanted to eat dinner for the foxes. And Musita made a bold decision without realizing that she had the guts.

A delightful story about feeling uncomfortable and overcoming preconceived notions and personal fears, “Bravo, bucket head!” It is the case in everything.

Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature collectively nationally. She can be reached at

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