Suggested Reading: The Printz Award

You have to love a literature prize called the Printz Award. Named for Topeka librarian Michael L. Printz, this award honors literary excellence in young adult literature. We’re pleased to share the 2015 winner and honor books, and hope that you’ll read and enjoy them for yourselves.

2015 Winner

Printz Award Winner

I’ll Give You the Sun

By Jandy Nelson

Published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company

Once inseparable, twins Noah and Jude are torn apart by a family tragedy that transforms their intense love for each other into intense anger. Timelines twist and turn around each other in beautifully orchestrated stories of love and longing.



2015 Honor Books

Printz Award And We Stay

And We Stay

By Jenny Hubbard

Published by Delacorte, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., a Penguin Random House Company.

Reeling from her boyfriend’s dramatic suicide, Emily hides her anguish at a new boarding school, where she finds healing through poetry. Hubbard’s gem-like prose beautifully balances Emily’s poetry.



Printz Award The Carnival at Bray

The Carnival at Bray

By Jessie Ann Foley

Published by Elephant Rock Books.

In 1993, Maggie is dismayed to leave Chicago and her beloved Uncle Kevin behind when she moves to a small Irish town. Yet it is within this evocative setting that Foley unwinds Maggie’s exceptional coming-of-age tale, where Maggie discovers music and forgiveness as antidotes for grief.



Printz Award Grasshopper Jungle

Grasshopper Jungle

By Andrew Smith

Published by Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.

Historian Austin Szerba is in love with his best girl friend, Shann. He is also in love with his best boy friend, Robby. Mastermind Smith takes these tender facts and swirls them into a whirlwind tale of carnivorous praying mantises, the history of the world, the role of the individual, and the end of all we know.



Print Award This One Summer

This One Summer

By Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Published by First Second

Adolescence in its precarious first bloom is the subject of this sensitive graphic novel. The team of Mariko and Jillian Tamaki show and tell us of one special summer in Rose’s life, in a brilliant flow of pictures and text.

Summer reading

Summer’s Summer Reading


Ah the lazy days of summertime. What I wouldn’t give to be able to experience summer break again. But today’s teen has it even better—there is now an exploding genre of funny, frightening, heart-stirring, literary, inspiring books written just for them. No more pawing through the classics or sci-fi shelves to find something interesting. Just sticking a toe into the teen end? Here’s a list of ten books you should check out. It’s not necessarily the “top ten” or the ten latest releases, but ten books that should be read. The first five are particularly attuned to the season, the rest just incredibly good books. Happy Reading!



  1. The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt—I call this a bridge book since it is pitch perfect for kids waving good-bye to middle grade novels and taking their first steps into young adult.
  2. This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki—Award-winning graphic novel of two girls leaving adolescence behind as their annual summer vacation at the lake just feels different this year.
  3. Going Bovine by Libba Bray—Crazy, weird, hallucinatory road trip narrated by a wonderfully unreliable narrator with Mad Cow Disease.
  4. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson—Take this one to the beach. Or on a plane. Purely joyous story of the summer Scarlett spends covering for her older brother, and crushing on his actor friends, all while saving the family hotel from ruin.
  5. Ashfall by Mike Mullin—Two teens must survive an environmental apocalypse. Cliff hangers on every single chapter. Luckily it’s the first in a trilogy.
  6. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson—This year’s Printz Award winner was my favorite book of 2014. Poetic study of love and identity in all its forms. A masterpiece.
  7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell—I have wondered if the author secretly stole my high school diaries for research. I feel like I lived this book of finding first love and your place in the world set in the ’80s.
  8. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton—Hauntingly beautiful debut novel of three generations of women trying to break a family curse…or is it a blessing. Hand it to an adult friend, just don’t say it’s YA.
  9. Graceling by Kristen Cashore—High fantasy at its very best. Read all three in the trilogy. Then read them again.
  10. Grasshopper Jungle or 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith—I couldn’t choose between these two. Intense, gritty, raunchy, fresh, and true. No one writes a male teen voice like Andrew Smith.

Summer Laurie is a freelance editor and children’s specialist at Books Inc. The members of Team Pickle would like to offer a huge “Thank you!” to her for compiling this top-notch summer reading list. Which one will you read first?


Photo courtesy of

Robot Test Kitchen

Robot Test Kitchen

Can traditional sources of information such as libraries meld successfully with new and increasingly innovative forms of technology? At Robot Test Kitchen, the answer is YES!

With scientific knowledge advancing at an unheard-of rate, two of the best ways to learn remain the same: reading and hands-on experience. The librarians of Robot Test Kitchen know this, and have outlined their plan in a mission statement.

“We are Robot Test Kitchen, a group of Youth Services and Teen librarians. We believe that when imaginations play, learning happens. We aim to use simple robotics as a means to expand our learning experience for other new technologies. Our goal is to provide an entry point of simple robotics in a way Youth and Teen Librarians can understand.”

Kids love to try things for themselves, especially when it’s something really cool like creating mini-sculptures with a pen, or practicing computer coding by making robotic bees follow a maze. Robot Test Kitchen takes this enthusiasm and channels it into grand avenues of learning and potential.

You grow with what you know. By catching kids early on and giving them a love of learning and creating, we can open the door to a vast realm of possibilities. Organizations such as Robot Test Kitchen hold the key to that door.

The United States of YA

The United States of YA

(Cue anthem)

Reading is a portal into a new world—many times, that world is a fantastical realm or a faraway land. Sometimes, that place can be found on a map! The good people at Epic Reads put their cartography skills to use and mapped out a young adult book for every state in the Union.

Th United States of YA

I’ve only read four of the titles on the map. I’m going to pick up a copy of Mead’s Bloodlines because I now feel obligated to read the book from California (born and raised!).

The United States of YA—how many  have you read through?

Click here to enjoy the original post at Epic Reads! 

The Children's Museum of Manhattan

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan

As kids, we’re constantly told to keep our eyes open, our mouths shut, and our hands to ourselves. Then grownups wonder why we don’t relate to the world around us. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan has taken this into account, and built accordingly.

Imagine a whole museum full of cool stuff that you’re supposed to touch and rattle around and make a mess with! Though the many interactive displays and stations are sanitized regularly throughout the day, there is nothing sterile about the learning experience provided by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

For the preschool set, there’s PlayWorks™, a 4,000-square-foot installment that encourages creative play and establishes a foundation for a love of learning. Older kids will enjoy the EatSleepPlay™ exhibit, which gives families an up close and personal look at how our choices affect all aspects of our health. Energize a brain, feed a digestive system, and discover why play is a super power!

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan welcomes visitors of all abilities and learning levels. More than 350,000 people are served each year by the museum and its outreach programs, and new programs are in the works. If you’re planning a trip to New York, the CMOM is definitely a “must-C.”

Humble Bundle

Humble Bundle: A Visit with Kelley Allen

This May, the members of Team Pickle were delighted to be included in Humble Bundle’s first children’s bundle. To tell us more about the company (and to whet your appetite for future bundles), here’s Kelley Allen, Director of Books for Humble Bundle.

How do you describe Humble Bundle to people who have never heard of it before?

​At Humble Bundle, we put the power directly in the hands of consumers. You pay what you want for downloadable content and choose where your money goes. Through this model and the help of the Humble Bundle community, we’ve raised over $59 million for charity.

So how does it work? We put together bundles of games and books that can be purchased at whatever price you think is fair. Once you’ve chosen a price, you can choose whether you want your money to go to the game developer or book publisher, charity, or Humble Bundle.

Why did Humble Bundle launch an eBooks program?

​In 2012, Cory Doctorow curated our first Book bundle and it was a resounding success. Our cofounders decided it was time to expand into that vertical.   ​

To date, which bundle has been most successful?

In May of 2014, we launched the Humble Doctor Who Comics Bundle Presented By IDW. It went on to earn $563K over the course of two weeks! ​

To what do you attribute that success?

​The Doctor Who Comics Bundle was quite the event! It was the first bundle to be launched on our Book tab. I am most “unhumble” to admit that we signed up Doctors Without Borders (MSF) as a charity just for that particular bundle. Since then, we have worked with MSF on many other promotions, raising over $700K  for MSF since Doctor Who!

You’ve worked in digital publishing since 2000​. What’s the most dramatic change you’ve noted since then?

​The acceptance of eBooks as a format. Back in 2000, the eBook industry was a mere $10M worldwide! Only a few adventurous publishers and authors took the format seriously or had any interest. In those very early days, many of my (print) publishing peers used to encourage me to find another industry to work in since “eBooks have no future.” Now eBooks are a hot commodity with the eBook retailer wars raging.

Also, it’s encouraging to see all the new business models emerging as well, including Humble’s. We now have subscription models, charity as good business models, and more bundle models like Lootcrate. It’s still the wild, wild West in many regards.

What’s next for Humble Bundle?

​A-ha! Good question. There has been a lot of interesting discussions internally at our Humble offices in San Francisco as of late. I can’t say too much, except to say that we are looking into being a book retailer and perhaps becoming a subscription service as well.

Thank you for joining us, Kelley. Here’s to a long and happy future of beautiful bundles!

Forever Julia

First Friday Book Review: Forever Julia

Forever Julia is not your typical YA offering.

There is no stilted, forced dialogue. There is no endless parade of ultra-perfect high school students. There are no (thank heavens) zombies or sparkly vampires.

There is honesty.

Sometimes friendships can be tested to the breaking point. Sometimes terrible things happen to those we love. Sometimes the good guy isn’t so good after all.

And sometimes we can come through the fire without being burned.

Julia lost her father six months ago. Living with her mother over the bookstore hasn’t been easy, but Julia finds refuge in her fiercely close friendship with Annika and her blossoming relationship with Jeremy, the biggest catch at school.

As her romance with Jeremy deepens, Julia fails to see the warning signs as her family and friends are gradually sidelined. When his behavior becomes controlling and even dangerous, it’s a race between the mind and the heart to an emotional finish that not even Julia can foresee. Will she make the right choices? Will she make them in time?

Forever Julia is a solid, thoughtfully-crafted story that touches on loss, friendships, abuse, and self-esteem. The characters and situations ring true; the choices and consequences will have you nodding in agreement and shaking your head in sympathy. As a story, it sings.

As a window into the heart of Everyteen, it shines.

Partner violence and domestic abuse aren’t just plotlines. If you find yourself in an abusive situation and need help breaking free, there are people standing by. Call Kids Help Phone in Canada at 1.800.668.6868, or The National Domestic Violence Hotline in the US at 1.800.799.7233.

Forever Julia author Jodi Carmichael

Jodi Carmichael is the author of the award-winning Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons. A native of Canada recently transplanted to England, she is an advocate for Asperger’s Syndrome. Find her online at Writing … and other life lessons.

Emma D. Dryden

A Chat with Emma D. Dryden

The world of Young Adult publishing is as complex and ever-changing as the audience for whom the books are intended. As Little Pickle Press moves into this world with a new imprint, Relish Media, we’re taking some time to consult with Emma D. Dryden, a leading editor and publisher, about the “once and future” state of YA.

Why is the Young Adult genre so important?

[EDD]  Young adult literature—YA—has, over the years, come to be categorized by publishers and booksellers as works for readers between the ages of twelve and eighteen, often simply labeled as “12 + Up,” in which protagonists are generally between the ages of fifteen and seventeen.

Teens between the ages of twelve and eighteen are going through some of the most complex growth of any other age. They are children transitioning to adults; they are moving from dependence towards autonomy; they are experiencing a myriad of emotional, physical, and psychological changes and developments; they are moving from concrete to abstract thinking. According to scientific study, teens are constantly confronting challenges, pressures, stresses, temptations, and asks in brains that are not yet fully developed. It’s not just that teens haven’t had the time and experience to acquire a wide sense of the world; quite simply, their brains haven’t physically matured yet. So, given all of this, it makes sense to me that the YA genre has flourished and is so important because teens are utterly fascinating. Not only are teens fascinating for writers to explore and dramatize, but they’re fascinating for teens to read about. Young adults often see themselves in YA books in ways they don’t feel seen by society, adults, their parents, or even their peers. Young adults often find inspiration to figure out ways to make decisions and choices and to sort out challenges and pressures in YA books that they can’t otherwise find or figure out on their own or by talking with adults or peers.

Teens become adults and define their paths in part by the choices and decisions they make under pressure. And let’s face it: Don’t all of us define ourselves and our paths in most part by the choices and decisions we make under pressure? It’s no accident that protagonists in stories are defined by the choices and decisions they make under pressure—and the greater the pressures, the more significant the choices and decisions a protagonist must make and the more we will relate to them at a deep emotional level. Teens are starting to figure out what “choice” and “decision” really mean to them and their lives; teens are starting to experience the (good and bad) repercussions of their choices and decisions; teens are confused at some level by what becoming an adult really means to them. YA books can and do offer up reflective pools to readers in which they can see someone like themselves following through on all sorts of choices and decisions, right and wrong, good and bad. YA books can and do offer up possible answers to the “What if?” questions with which teens are constantly grappling: What would happen if I did this? What would happen if I didn’t do that? And by so doing, a YA book at its very best provides a teenager with roadmaps he or she can use to assist in setting their course for adulthood. The importance of the YA genre becomes even more meaningful if we recognize how valuable these books can be to assist in the development and evolution of teens into thoughtful adults. It’s no surprise, either, that so many adults are gravitating towards YA books since very often YA books can be more complex and perceptive than books meant for adults.

How have you seen YA change over the years and what trends are you seeing emerge now? 

[EDD]  I don’t like to talk about trends; the moment a trend is happening, it’s over and we’re on to the next thing.

I think the topics being explored in YA know no bounds. There is nothing off limit in YA these days that I can think of. This wasn’t the case many years ago—when there wasn’t such a defined YA genre at all, actually, and when the lines between middle grade and young adult often blurred. It’s not that books for young readers being published in the 70s, 80s, and 90s didn’t feature characters making choices and decisions pertaining to sexuality, romance, alcoholism or drug addition, abuse, danger, violence, and what are considered “darker” subjects—they certainly did. But in my estimation, the ways in which these subjects and characters are being explored and put onto the page have become deeper, more graphic, more psychologically and emotionally complex—more real, if you will.

I have to pause for just for a moment here to wonder, why are real subjects—the subjects of life as it really is—called “dark” with a specifically negative connotation? Life is not all or always pretty or good or happy or easy; much of life is, in fact, gritty, ugly, confusing, complicated, and hard—and I think YA writers perhaps know better than most that these aspects of life—the very aspects that make us appreciate all that is pretty or good or happy or easy—are real and are particularly real to teens who are experiencing the complexities of life as it really is for the first time. This is not a matter of light and dark, it’s a matter of recognizing and contending with the grays and the textures in between. So what other obligation of the YA author is there than to offer a picture of life as it really is?

I’ve heard people claim the endings of YA books are too negative, too hopeless, not happy enough. I would argue that many YA books in the past did not have happy-ever-after endings by any means. Life isn’t wrapped up neatly with a bow; our books shouldn’t end this way either. But when it comes to teens, who, as noted above, are still figuring out how to be in this world and whose brains are not fully developed, I think we absolutely have an obligation in any books we offer them to get teens feeling safe and confident enough to keep going on into adulthood, and therefore the endings of YA books (and I’d say all books, really) ought to be hopeful—not in a saccharin “Don’t worry about anything!” way, but in more thoughtful and meaningful ways that encourage and inspire teens to think and wonder, to look ahead to their possibilities. I’m happy to say I am seeing these sorts of endings in most YA right now, where I may not have several decades ago.

Who are some YA authors you think everyone should know about?

[EDD]  This is a hard question to answer, as there are so very many YA authors creating extraordinary and important works. I hope anyone interested in writing for teens will read every YA author they can find, and I hope teens will do the same. I’ll list just a few authors in alphabetical order by last name, as I feel the works of these authors together represent a brilliant array of formats, writing styles, topics, emotional complexities, richly-realized protagonists and richly-explored degrees of humanity:

Sherman Alexie
David Almond
Laurie Halse Anderson
Judy Blume
E. E. Charlton-Trujillo
Sarah Dessen
Nancy Farmer
Neil Gaiman
Ellen Hopkins
Jandy Nelson
Meg Rosoff
Ruta Sepetys
Elizabeth Wein
John Corey Whaley
Ellen Wittlinger

You began your career in publishing and editing, but you recently co-authored a book. How does the former enhance or impede your creative writing?

[EDD] I’ve recently co-authored a picture book with Rana DiOrio that’s neither fiction nor non-fiction, but a wonderful hybrid—WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR? In working on that book as an author, it took all I had not to self-edit and second guess myself too much as I was writing.

At the same time, I found my experiences as a publisher and editor to be quite valuable because I felt totally confident when it came to knowing how children respond to language and concepts, how the book would be experienced being read aloud, what I could leave out for the illustrator to handle in the artwork, and more.

I will say it was wonderful having an author collaborator with whom to bounce ideas around and with whom to come to mutual agreement or comfortable compromise. We were able to support and encourage each other as we each contributed something new to the final text, and that’s a luxury most writers don’t actually have when they’re on their own with their text. Additionally, we weren’t working on a manuscript that necessitated significant character building or world building, so it was a much easier writing process overall than another sort of book would have been.

Writing is an exercise I have always loved, though a discipline I’ve never been confident about. Writing is hard! I know that as an editor and publisher; I experienced that as a writer.

Knowing my name is going on a published book is a thrilling experience and one that feels quite different from knowing I’ve had a hand in the publishing of a book from the background as editor and/or publisher. Reading reviews and wondering/worrying about sales of the book? That will be nerve-wracking indeed—much more personal on many levels than what I’ve experienced as an editor or publisher.

What makes (your latest YA project) Breath to Breath so compelling?

[EDD]  BREATH TO BREATH is a special project that came about in an unusual way, with a publisher meeting a man whose life she felt could inspire an important story for young adults. The man’s not himself a writer, so the publisher was in a position to bring together an author and an editor whom she trusted to figure out how to let this man’s life inspire a fictionalized YA story that would resonate with readers. It’s been exciting to be part of a hand-picked team of this nature—and it’s been a great responsibility and rewarding challenge to work on a manuscript that not only needs to resonate as a fiction with a deeply-realized protagonist, supporting characters, plotline, and subplots, but that also needs to honor the man whose experiences inspired the work to begin with.

There’s no question BREATH TO BREATH is a tough story. It’s a story about abuse, about survival, and about recovery. It’s a story about the choices we sometimes need to make when our very life is at stake. It’s a story that explores wrong choices and, ultimately, it’s a story about embracing the right choices. It’s to my mind a quintessential YA that explores a memorable sixteen-year-old protagonist as he finds himself on paths he never expected, as he discovers things about himself that are confusing and confused, as he determines right from wrong, and as he recognizes what he needs inside himself that will allow him to take the next breath towards his own future.

I’ve been lucky to know the author, Craig Lew, for a while and I think he’s a remarkably sensitive, creative soul. It’s exciting to be working on this project with him—his first full-length novel and his first foray into writing in verse. I love novels in verse, have edited and published a lot of them, and think this format is beautiful and significant for a story like BREATH TO BREATH, not only because the protagonist is a highly sensitive artist, but because tough stories can be tough on readers. In what some may find to be  an emotionally overwhelming story, poetry’s spare language, line lengths, and rhythms afford opportunities and strategically thoughtful moments for readers to reflect, breathe, regroup, and pause as they need to so they can ultimately experience the character and the story fully.

This is a book that’s not only a rewarding, emotional read, but a book that absolutely offers hope to anyone who thinks they’re in a hopeless situation and a reminder that support is available not only from others, but from within—if you only let yourself find and trust it. This book is not about the one right way to recover from abuse; this book is about one kid who figures out what he needs to start on a path to recovery—and in meeting this kid, readers may see themselves or they may see someone they know, or they may just gain some insights into life and how living life works. And what’s a better way to instill empathy than that?

Emma D. Dryden

Emma D. Dryden is the founder of drydenbks, a premier children’s editorial and publishing consultancy firm which she established after twenty-five years as a highly regarded children’s book editor and publisher. She consults and/or collaborates with authors, illustrators, agents, domestic and foreign publishers, students, and with app & eBook developers.

During the course of her career, Emma has edited hundreds of books for children and young readers and during her tenure with Atheneum and  McElderry Books, many of her titles hit bestseller lists in USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and other national publications. Books published under Emma’s guidance have received numerous awards and medals, including but not limited to the Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor, and Caldecott Honor.

Emma speaks regularly on craft, the digital landscape, and reinvention, and her blog “Our Stories, Ourselves” explores the intertwined themes of life and writing. She is on the Board of Advisors of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and can be followed online at Twitter (@drydenbks), Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.


Featured B Corp of the Month: Kammok

A revolutionary brand bringing technically innovative outdoor products designed to equip and inspire you for Life Changing Adventure™.

Summer is coming to San Francisco in full force and we have zero complaints. Beautiful, warm weather means fun in the sun! What better way to celebrate Mother Nature than to spend some quality time enjoying the great outdoors? Our fellow B Corp, Kammok, produces sustainable and responsible outdoor gear and equipment perfect for life changing adventure. Their sleek line of quality products includes hammocks, insect nets, upcycled totes, and fun apparel. Their new comfy hammock quilts, the FireBelly and the Koala, are available now for pre-order!

The design of the Roo hammock was inspired by the unique qualities of the Kangaroo. The Austin-based company developed LunarWave, a diamond ripstop fabric, to enable the Roo to be incredibly lightweight, tear resistant, breathable, and roomy enough for two, so bring a friend!

In addition to their unique products, Kammok donates and invests at least 1% of their total revenue to environmental and sustainable initiatives around the world. They recently partnered with CTC Internationals to help bring holistic development to communities in Kenya.


Embrace #TheRooLife.

Visit them at, on Facebook, and check out their gorgeous Instagram at @Kammok.

Why libraries are important

Kids Say the Smartest Things:

Why Are Libraries Important?

Most often, when there’s polling to be done, it’s the grownups who get to answer the big questions. Here at Little Pickle Press, we (like you) know that out of the mouth of babes comes wisdom. Also some super funny stuff sometimes, but hey. We asked a bunch of kids why libraries are important, and they’ve hit the nail right on the head. The answers range from sweet to profound; read on and enjoy their answers.

“Libraries are important because if you don’t have a computer in your home, you can use one at the library. And if you don’t have any books, you can read in the library, and it’s free. And they have a bunch of fun and games at every library.” —Katie, 8

“Because it is like reading. You go in there and find books and read them.” —Simmie, 12

“They let families like us who don’t have much money read so many books we would NEVER be able to read otherwise!” — Maryam, 9

“Because books are important to help us learn.” —Kate, 5

“Well, so you can read and learn! And if Mom and Dad can’t buy you books you can barrow them at the library, and if you don’t have any toys you can go to the library for story time and you get to make stuff.” —Kamberlyn, 7

“Because there are books there.” —Kaylor, 6

“It’s good for us to go because people see us and find out that Muslims are people like them. And they have the Hardy Boys.” —Mu’aadh, 11

“I don’t know.” —Isaac, 3

“Because you can find out all sorts of things in books.” —Tanis, 6

“If some kids don’t have access to books at home, they can go to the library and get them, or just read there if their parents are mean … like Matilda!” —Lily, 9

“Because [the] Summer Reading Program starts next week!” —Shirley, 7

“Because you HAVE TO READ!” —Kinz, 3

“I like it because we get books, and ice cream after. I like books, and I like ice cream, so that’s good! Right?” —Asmaa, 4

A huge thank you to all of our wonderful interviewees, and an equally huge thank you to their families for giving these kiddos a love of reading. How about you? Why do YOU think libraries are important?

Little Free Libraries

10 Pinterest Boards: Little Free Libraries

I love this trend; people and organizations set up cheerily decorated boxes, fill them with books, and invite the world to stop by and read. Take a book, leave a book, share a book, love a book.

In addition to the generosity of spirit that goes into building and maintaining little free libraries, there’s a ton of imagination. Birdhouses, miniature replica schools, or even my personal favorite: a T.A.R.D.I.S. library! Hopefully you can find more time to read on the inside …

We’ve assembled a list of ten of our favorite Little Free Library boards from Pinterest. They’re all loaded with cool stuff, so I’m just going to mention my favorite from each one. If you have a board of your own, be sure to share the link in the comments section.

  1. Katherine Reinhart: As a Kansas resident, I was especially taken with the little cabin library perched atop a twig “twister” a la Wizard of Oz.
  2. Helen Wahl: The one to watch for here is a big inverted bowl. It stands up on legs tall enough to allow patrons to step underneath and view the circular shelves, while keeping book and readers out of the elements.
  3. Mar Schaeffer: I love the theater library on this board. It’s done up to look like a classic movie theater, complete with marquee.
  4. Storytime Standouts: Science fiction fans, unite! The pin to pine for is a bigger-than-life-size R2-D2 library. These are the books you’re looking for …
  5. Kelly Morgan: A favorite here is the little library with a roof shaped like an open book. What could be more inviting?
  6. Kath Lucas: On this board you’ll find a little free library made from a converted microwave. It’s just the thing for when you’re “not quite done” with your book.
  7. Katie Lopez: A truly stunning library is the one created using a grandfather clock. With one of these, you’ll always have time to read!
  8. Mary Catherine: This board feature a number of re-purposed phone booths, each one enjoying new life as a library. Move over, Superman. Super Reader needs some room!
  9. Jabones Violet: A friend of mine is an amazingly talented woodworker. The wooden library with the beautiful sunburst roof on this board looks like something he might design.
  10. Judy Arnold: What’s special about this board? Most of the pictures feature smiling Little Free Library patrons, from tiny tots choosing their first volumes to young men completing their Eagle Scout projects. This board proves that libraries, no matter what size, are a vital part of our lives.

Are there little free libraries in your town? What design features would you build? Spread the word, and share a book!

Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin-based Little Free Library initiative.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress

To a bibliophile, the Library of Congress has got to be pretty much the coolest thing ever. Eight hundred thirty-eight miles of shelves? Count me in.

Our national library is the research arm of Congress. Open to the public at no charge, it is believed to be the largest library in the world. While the Library of Congress doesn’t house every book published in the United States, it is home to more than thirty-six million books (including all of the Little Pickle Press titles currently available) and more than one hundred twenty-one million other media offerings.

According to the Library’s website, the Library of Congress has four main priorities. “First, to make knowledge and creativity available to the U.S. Congress on a continuing basis. Second, to acquire, organize, preserve, secure and sustain for the present and future use of Congress and the nation a comprehensive record of American history and creativity and a universal collection of human knowledge. The Library’s third priority is to make its collections maximally accessible to Congress, the government and the public through such means as its website. Its fourth priority is to add interpretive and educational value to the basic resources of the Library to highlight the importance of the Library to the nation’s well-being and future progress.”

In addition to providing information to Congress, a major function of the Library is copyright registration and research. The bulk of the collection is made up of copyright deposits; the process was centralized by Congress in 1870.

Although volumes are restricted to the premises, anyone age sixteen or older is welcome to use the reading rooms and collections. The Library welcomes 1.6 million visitors each year, and offers guided tours to visitors of all ages.

Say what you will about Congress (not here, please; this is a family show), they definitely have the most amazing library. And it’s ours, too! The next time that you’re in Washington, D.C., be sure to visit the Library of Congress.

International Youth Library

The International Youth Library

When you think about libraries, what’s the first image that pops into your head? The local library a few blocks away? One of those tiny little lending libraries in someone’s front yard? The bookmobile that cruises by every Tuesday?

What if your library were housed in a castle, complete with towers, a protective ring of trees, and its very own lake?

It’s not a fairy tale; it’s the Internationale Jungendbibliothek, the International Youth Library. Located in Blutenburg Castle in Munich, Germany, the International Youth Library’s stated mission is: “supporting international children’s and youth literature through collection, cataloguing, and outreach efforts. The Library’s mission is the preservation of cultural diversity as it is manifested in the world’s literature.”

In addition to workshops, panel discussions, and exhibitions, the library hosts the White Ravens Festival, a six-day gathering of authors and illustrators from around the world. A showcase for both new and renowned authors, the festival aims to share the best in literature for children and young adults, and inspire more of the same.

From its start in 1949 with eight thousand volumes, the International Youth Library has grown to more than half a million titles. More than one hundred thirty languages are represented, and some of the books date back several centuries. Online catalogues are available for both the book and poster collections.

With its focus on children’s literature, impressive collection, and gorgeous setting, the International Youth Library isn’t a fairy tale—it’s a dream come true.


Libraries and Their Place at a Global Summit on Love and Forgiveness

Dr. Loriene Roy, Ph.D., is a professor of the School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin. As a writer, researcher, and presenter, she has won numerous awards in library-related and academic fields. She has kindly allowed us to re-post the following piece, which originally appeared on the blog Transcending Boundaries to Increase Cultural Understanding Between Countries.

Established from the estate of an American, Mr. John E. Fetzer, who made his career in radio and television programming and who also owned a championship baseball team (the Detroit Tigers), the Fetzer Institute (USA) is planning a unique event that will take place in September 2012 in Assisi, Italy. This Global Summit on Love and Forgiveness will present positive examples from around the world that illustrate the impact and potential of expressing love and forgiveness. Sixteen sectors were organized to represent different professional sectors including the Information and Communication Professions Sector. The Sectors are nominating cases to be highlighted at the Summit, each case connected to the values of the sector and also demonstrating the potential for proceeding to a “creative next step” with Fetzer support.

If we understand that “Forgiveness is a complex construct without a consensual definition, “then it is not “forgetting, condoning, excusing, or justifying.” Where do libraries lie within these scenarios of love and forgiveness? This presentation examines the core values of our field within the context of cases that were selected as exemplars of love and forgiveness. Did these cases rely on library services? If so, was this reliance overt? If not, why not? In any case, what can be the library’s role in furthering love and forgiveness? Libraries are trusted institutions that are ideal for supporting public forums on topics of deep concern. They serve all members of their communities and are advocates for those who might be disadvantaged due to economies and reduced access to information. Libraries provide community members with the tools to engage in civic discourse, including topics related to love and/or forgiveness. Libraries are meaningful during good times and essential during economically challenging times. They are trusted locations that community members turn to for information and for assistance in skills development. They are venues for community engagement. In times of social stress, libraries are ideal locations where individuals can gather to learn, share, and engage in dialogue. Libraries were established to serve growing immigrant populations. Conversations about serving multicultural populations are even more needed today. Libraries have long served as champions for intellectual access to information; their services, presence, and righteousness in the wake of often oppressive (e.g., anti-immigrant) legislation and behaviors are needed even more than ever if societies are to move closer toward love and forgiveness.

Libraries are sometimes underappreciated institutions–yet those who have not visited libraries recently still respect them for their historical pasts and for their services related to books, reading, and children. Today’s libraries have social commons, information commons, and are the third living space outside of home and work; they are laboratories for discovery. In the midst of misunderstandings around the world, the library–especially the public library–stands as a trusted and unbiased institution for change and a sanctuary for protecting freedom and human rights. It is important to include the library community at the Global Gathering. It is positive and logical to highlight the work of libraries internationally in supporting multicultural library services.

Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Featured B Corp: Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Are you tired of big-name publishing houses that churn out cookie-cutter novels? Do you want new and interesting titles that make you think outside the book bag? Are you interested in making the world a better place? Berrett-Koehler Publishers is the company for you!

An independent publishing company, Berrett-Koehler has been a Certified B Corp since January 2012, a move that backs up their mission statement: “Connecting People and Ideas to Create a World That Works for All.”

Rather than focusing on popular genres, Berrett-Koehler Publishers puts the emphasis on personal improvement, offering titles that foster value alignment, social justice, and progressive and effective leadership.

In addition to inspiration, a key descriptive term that can be applied to Berrett-Koehler is stewardship. Seeking to practice what they print, the company aims to provide responsible administration in all aspects of their business, from stakeholders and employees to authors and communities.

Independent does not equal ineffective. A small company can make a big change, and Berrett-Koehler Publishers is doing just that.

Tomás and the Library Lady

Tomás and the Library Lady

Imagine that you are a young boy, uprooted every few months as your parents drive from place to place, following the work available to them. The road is dusty and long, the days are hot and dry.

Now imagine that into the midst of this life comes an almost magical being, one with the gift of limitless adventure and the means to escape the drudgery of everyday life.

Tomás is the son of migrant farm workers; with his parents, brother, and grandfather, he travels between Texas and Iowa as the seasons change. The work is hard, but the strength of the family prevails. Papá Grande, Tomás’ grandfather, tells stories in Spanish to keep his grandsons entertained. One afternoon, he tells Tomás to visit the local library in search of new stories.

Feeling shy and out of place, Tomás hesitates on the steps of the vast building. His fear is short-lived, however, as the library lady invites him inside for a drink and a chance to read anything and everything he wants.

Tomás accepts, opening the door to friendship and endless possibilities.

As a lifelong library patron, I don’t remember the first time that I wandered the stacks. What I do remember is the sense of reverence that I feel, much like Tomás feels, every time I visit a library. Tomás and the Library Lady is a truly beautiful book, visually and emotionally. Based on the early life of University of California Chancellor Tomás Rivera, Pat Mora’s story is accompanied by warmly inviting illustrations by Raul Colón.

For any parent seeking diversity in children’s literature, or a way to recapture the sense of awe that comes with knowledge, Tomás and the Library Lady is an excellent choice.


Happy Sixth Birthday, Little Pickle Press!

Yes, it’s our sixth birthday, and we’d like to share six reasons that Little Pickle Press rocks!

  1. Free lesson plans.
  1. Empowering and inspiring stories.
  1. Timely and engaging themes.
  1. Low carbon footprint.
  1. High-quality books.
  1. YOU!

We wouldn’t be here without the support of our wonderful readers, so join the celebration and send up a cheer as Little Pickle Press turns six years old!

Sixth Birthday

Featured Young Writer of the Month:

Crazy About Birds

In honor of Earth Day (and a really neat post), Team Pickle would like to present the following essay by Zoe McCormick. It was originally published on this blog in 2013.

My parents often tell the story about when I was four years old and they put up a hummingbird feeder. The first time I saw a hummingbird at the feeder I got so excited that I talked nonstop for over an hour about it. I talked so fast, nonstop, for so long, that my parents began to worry that there might be something wrong with me. They worried that I might be crazy. They were right. I am crazy—crazy about birds.

After seeing the hummingbird at the feeder, I insisted that my parents get some books about hummingbirds. I wanted to do research on hummingbirds so I could figure out what kind of hummers we had at our feeder, and learn everything that I could learn about hummers. Ten years later, I am still crazy about birds.

Crazy about birds

When I was nine, I joined 4-H because I realized that if I did the poultry project, I could talk my parents into getting me a chicken. When I was twelve, my grandmother took me to sit by the lake on her ranch. She brought a bird field guide and binoculars and we spent the afternoon identifying birds. For some reason, I loved seeing a bird and being able to look in the field guide, identify the bird, and learn all about it. Ever since then, I have carried a field guide and binoculars with me almost everywhere I go, and continue to work on bird identification.

Bird identification is an important scientific tool. Bird identification helps ornithologists (scientists who study birds) learn about the health of bird populations as a whole. Bird populations tell us about the health of our planet. Birds are the canary in the coalmine when it comes to climate change. Scientists who study birds are finding dramatic changes in bird populations. Birds are showing up where they are not supposed to be for a lot of reasons. Sometimes, because of climate change, the food they depend on is scarce, and birds have to leave their normal territory to look for food. All birds depend on water for their survival. When we destroy wetlands and dam rivers, we are destroying the water supply and habitat that birds need for survival. The thing is that it’s not just about the birds. We people need a healthy planet to survive, too.

I go birding every chance I get. I enter the birds I see in eBird, a huge online database of bird sightings from all over the world. Scientists use the data from eBird for various studies. I also work with other birders doing data collection. I enjoy meeting other birders and learning from them. I have been working on Waterbird surveys with the Richardson Bay Audubon Center. When my family travels, I do research on the birds in the area that we will be visiting, and plan where we will go birding.

Crazy about birds

There are not a lot of kids who are interested in birding. I sometimes wish there were other kids to go birding with, but the most important thing for me is to be doing something that I am passionate about.

What are you passionate about? How did your parents encourage your passion in a particular field? What are you doing to encourage your kids? Tell us in the comments section!

Earth Day

The History of Earth Day

Author, artist, and fellow Pickle Dani Greer is a staunch advocate for environmental responsibility. The following is a post that she originally published on this blog is 2011.

“I am wondering where you were on April 22, 1970? Were you aware, and did you celebrate Earth Day way back in the 70’s?”

A friend posed this question on an online forum, and it took me back to high school days. I did indeed know about Earth Day, because several teachers in the military school I attended in Germany were from California and were very environmentally conscious, as was the German culture in which we lived. So it’s not surprising that my green roots were planted early on.

In an earlier blog post we wrote about the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival, where in 1970 that city’s celebration began, propelled by an oil spill offshore in 1969.  Earth Day was founded there by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. It marked the beginning of the environmental movement, and it was estimated 20 million people participated on some level throughout the country.

While this first Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations. The Earth Day Network included NGOs, quasi-governmental agencies, local governments, activists, and others. Earth Day Network members focused on environmental education; local, national, and global policies; public environmental campaigns; and organizing national and local earth day events to promote activism and environmental protection.

It’s difficult to put a finger on exactly why the movement not only lasted but blossomed for more than forty years, and slowly made inroads into mainstream thinking. Certainly, the straightforward Earth Day name (rhymes with Birthday) and the scheduling at the vernal equinox, when the natural switch from winter to spring brought a sense of rebirth, helped lay the psychological groundworks. But perhaps more important was the organization of the early movement, or more clearly stated, the lack of organization. Earth Day was at its foundation, a grass roots effort. As Senator Nelson attests, it simply grew on its own:

“Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”

From decade to decade, the movement has grown worldwide, and in 2000 Earth Day first used the Internet as its principal organizing tool, which proved invaluable domestically and internationally. The movement has grown exponentially in the eleven years since that marker event.

But is it enough? In the four decades since the Santa Barbara oil spill, a memory of a more recent oil disaster looms. Perhaps even more consequential is the nuclear disaster in Japan. How much more can the planet take? Do you think we’re doing enough to turn the tide of environmental degradation? If not, what are some thoughts on how to improve the situation for future generations? Please leave us a comment.

Photo courtesy of; Earth viewed from Apollo 17.

Earth Day

Top 10 Earth Day Ideas

It’s easy to think of Earth Day as a fairly grownup sort of holiday, what with pledges to install a recycling bin or walk to work, but I believe that it’s just as much as kid’s holiday. Kids will inherit this planet, and there’s no time like the present to teach them all of the wonderful ways that we can help to preserve it. Use the following craft ideas to celebrate Earth Day, and sneak in a little bonding time while you’re at it.

Prepare for the big event by downloading LPP’s complimentary Earth Day Activity Booklet, and then cruise your house for supplies.

  1. Egg Box Garden—A little soil, a few seeds, and some water are all you need to make your carton grow. Once your seedlings are standing tall, you can plant the biodegradable cardboard carton directly in your outdoor garden spot.
  2. Feed the Birds—Pinecones and peanut butter go together like chocolate and caramel, but they’re much safer for the birds. Slather a pinecone (or three) with peanut butter, and then roll it in bird seed. Tie a short piece of jute twine to the stem and hang up your homemade feeder near a window.
  3. Creature Comforts—Is that box of cereal empty? Don’t throw it away just yet! Open it up, flatten it out, and you’ve got a sturdy sculpting material. Cut the cardboard into strips to make a caterpillar chain. Decorate half a dozen butterflies to hang as a mobile. You can even cut away just one broad side of the box to make a backdrop for an aquarium diorama!
  4. Earth Day Cakes—Tint cake batter blue and green before swirling the colors together to bake up some palatable planets. If you have a large cake decorating tip, you can give each one a “molten core” of strawberry jam.
  5. Watch the Wind—Use sturdy construction paper (or that empty cereal box) and some ribbons or crepe paper streamers to make a windsock. You’ll add some color to your yard and see which way your hat will blow.
  6. Print Your Praises—Write your own poem about our planet. Choose a word or phrase like “Earth Day” or “Recycle,” and create a mini-opus by starting each line with a letter from your chosen words.
  7. Cut the Power—How low can you go in power consumption? Put your heads together to come up with meals, activities, and entertainment that requires little to no gas or electricity. See who can go the longest without reaching for a cell phone or laptop. Spend the day outside to take advantage of all that free light.
  8. Adopt-A-Mile—Grab your gloves and garbage bags and de-clutter the ditches! Adopt-A-Mile programs get communities involved in making the world a cleaner, greener place.
  9. Listen to the Rhythm—What’s more earth-friendly than rain? Evoke the sounds of a spring rain with a homemade rainstick. Cap off one end of a paper towel tube with craft paper and a rubber band, add a handful of uncooked rice and some long, pleated strips of thin cardboard (there’s that cereal box again). Cap the other end, add some decorations, and enjoy a leak-proof indoor storm.
  10. Plant a Tree—It’s almost a cliché by now, but planting a tree is my favorite Earth Day activity. Choose native stock for heat and drought tolerance, and don’t forget to check for water and power lines before you dig.

There are tons of ideas out there for a green celebration; these are just a few. What will you be doing for Earth Day? Share your thoughts in the comment section; we love to “read” from you!

Water Library

Featured Library of the Month:

Wisconsin's Water Library

If you live in Wisconsin, you have access to an incredible resource dedicated to one of the most valuable elements on the planet: water.

Wisconsin’s Water Library was created to provide science-based curriculum, research, and outreach activities related to the water systems of the Great Lakes and Wisconsin. Their extensive collection contains more than thirty thousand volumes, plus videos, journals, and newsletters.

The Water Library was established in 1964 as an extension of the University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute. In addition to preserving vast amounts of water-related information for both future use and historical value, the library provides research services to the Water Resources Institute and the Sea Grant Institute, both of which are administered by the University of Wisconsin Aquatic Sciences Center.

While use of the library itself is restricted to residents of Wisconsin, the website offers a number of helpful links and ideas to the interested visitor. Parents and educators can find story time and project ideas, and patrons of all ages can find answers to all kinds of water-related questions.

With Earth Day fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to visit the Water Library and soak up some knowledge.