Libraries and bookstores provide endless opportunities for reading for entertainment, but they also offer a world of resources for children and caregivers. With our youth facing a barrage of mental and physical ailments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have begun to think of books as vital resources, or prescriptive helpers. It turns out, however, that this is not a modern concept.
During the first World War, the American Library Association and the Library of Congress joined efforts to create the Library War Service. Librarians believed that books could heal, and provide education, entertainment, war training, vocational training, and therapy. They even wrote specific “library prescriptions” for readers based on their needs.
Amidst our current worldwide crisis, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there are plentiful opportunities to prescribe books for what our young readers need to heal and be well.
The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health 2020 surveyed childhood health concerns from parents of children ages 0-18. The top ten concerns, paired with recommended titles from this librarian, are:
1) Overuse of Social Media/Screen Time
OUTSIDE IN (2020)
Written by Deborah Underwood
Illustrated by Cindy Derby
Rhythmic, powerful language shows us how our world is made and the many ways Outside comes in to help and heal us, and reminds us that we are all part of a much greater universe. Emotive illustrations evoke the beauty, simplicity, and wonder that await us all…outside.
Written by R.J. Palacio
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.
3) Internet Safety
A SMART GIRL’S GUIDE: DIGITAL WORLD: HOW TO CONNECT, SHARE, PLAY, AND KEEP YOURSELF SAFE (2017)
Written by Carrie Anton
Illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Just like the real world, the digital world is full of exciting, helpful, and even life-changing possibilities. And just as in the real world, you need to know how to navigate it wisely and keep yourself safe. With everything from quizzes that test safety smarts to advice on how to deal with cyberbullying, this book will get you started.
4) Unhealthy Eating
COOK WITH AMBER: FUN, FRESH RECIPES TO GET YOU IN THE KITCHEN (2018)
Written by Amber Kelley
From nourishing breakfasts to start the day right, to school lunches to impress your friends, party ideas for every occasion, and even recipes for the best homemade facial scrubs to fight that dreaded teen acne, Amber shares her secrets for using the power of food to get the best out of her teen years.
PROJECT SEMICOLON: YOUR STORY ISN’T OVER (2019)
Written by Amy Bleuel
Reveals dozens of new portraits and stories from people of all ages talking about what they have endured and what they want for their futures. At once heartfelt, unflinchingly honest, and eternally hopeful, this collection tells a story of choice: every day you choose to live and let your story continue on.
6) Lack of Physical Activity
THE BUSY BODY BOOK: A KID’S GUIDE TO FITNESS (2008)
By Lizzy Rockwell
Lizzy Rockwell explains how your bones and muscles, heart and lungs, nerves and brain all work together to keep you on the go. Kids walk and skate and tumble through these pages with such exuberance that even sprouting couch potatoes will want to get up and bounce around—and that’s the ultimate goal.
ANYTIME YOGA: FUN AND EASY EXERCISES FOR CONCENTRATION AND CALM (2019)
Written by Ulrice Dezé
Illustrated by Simon Kroug
Join Kika and her little monkey Yazoo as they introduce 14 simple yoga poses for kids. Each pose in this book includes easy-to-follow instructions and will show kids how yoga can help them relax, develop focus, and increase their sense of well-being.
8) Smoking/vaping & 9) Drinking or using drugs
HIGH: EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT DRUGS, ALCOHOL, AND ADDICTION (2020)
Written by David Sheff & Nic Sheff
Ages 10 and up
This book tells it as it is, with testimonials from peers who have been there and families who have lived through the addiction of a loved one, along with the cold, hard facts about what drugs and alcohol do to our bodies. From how to navigate peer pressure to outlets for stress to the potential consequences of experimenting, Nic and David Sheff lay out the facts so that middle grade readers can educate themselves
WHAT IS THE CORONAVIRUS DISEASE: COVID-19? (2021)
Written by Michael Burgan
Illustrated by Manuel Gutierrez
The coronavirus disease COVID-19 emerged in November 2019. By March 2020, cities all around the world closed schools, offices, restaurants and other public spaces deemed “non-essential” in an attempt to contain the fast-spreading virus. People struggled to follow government orders, stay indoors, and limit contact with others. This is the story of how COVID-19 changed the world seemingly overnight, and forever.
Lauren Tolman received her Master of Education degree with a literacy emphasis from California State University, Fullerton. Lauren has worked in libraries for 16 years, beginning as a page and progressively moving up in various positions. She currently works as the head of youth services for Springville Public Library in Springville, Utah, where she has been for six years. Springville Library serves a population of 33,000 citizens in a growing community 45 minutes outside of Salt Lake City. It has been named Best of State for six years running, being acknowledged for its service to the community. Lauren’s passion is to serve the youth of Springville and make them feel at home in their library.