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Stories of enduring love may be just the thing for children

My 6-year-old granddaughter, Gracie, spent the weekend with me recently. While we were outside she ran up and whispered, “Pretend I’m your new neighbor.” After discussing the merits of the neighborhood and promising to get together soon, she ran back and whispered, “Check your mailbox.” Inside I found a scrap of cardboard with this note from my new neighbor. “Dear Pam, Love is the best thing in life.” How true.
When’s the last time you read a love story? Not a bodice-ripping novel of lust, but stories of true love, stories for all ages. The following books in the children’s room are much more than chapter books for children.
These remind you why some books stay with you always and why stories can make the world a better place. Don’t let the seemingly simple plots dissuade you from enjoying the complexity of the themes. Like many of today’s young adult selections, these books aren’t just for kids.
Instead of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” read Carolyn Reeder’s “Shades of Gray,” set right after the Civil War. Young Will, now an orphan, has lost his father and brother in battle and his mother and sisters to typhoid. Sent to live with his mother’s sister, he’s appalled to learn his Uncle Jed refused to fight the Yankees and is initially consumed with anger. This is a great story filled with compelling themes of family, duty and love.
“Jake,” a novel by Audrey Couloumbis, also has a youngster dealing with unknown family. Jake’s widowed mom is in the hospital and he needs help from the granddad he only knows through two phone calls a year. This short novel is a great read aloud book and the story of family and human connections is a treat.
In “The Great Wall of Lucy Wu,” by Wendy Wan-Long Shang, Lucy believes her life is ruined when she has to share her bedroom for the next several months with her great-aunt visiting from China. The author weaves an interesting story of the many walls we build in our lives and how we overcome them.
Another book about the importance of family, “Al Capone Does my Shirts” by Jennifer Choldenko is definitely more than a story set at Alcatraz. Moose’s family lives on the island where his father is a guard. Along with the subplot of trying to see Capone, Moose begins to understand that “When you love someone you have to try things even if they don’t make sense to anyone else.”
Additional titles of love that may have escaped your reading list include: “Free Baseball” by Sue Corbett; “Operation Yes” by Sara Holmes; “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick; “Because of Mr. Terupt” by Rob Buyea; “The Other Half of My Heart” by Sundee T. Frazier; “Jessie’s Mountain” by Kerr Madden; “Feathers” by Jacqueline Woodson; and “Whirligig” by Paul Fleischman.
According to Gracie, love is the best thing in life. It’s a universal theme. Check out some juvenile fiction books. You may just find the love you need.
Book Chats for children at South branch: Oct. 9 for grade two; Oct. 23 for grades 3 and 4, both 4:15 p.m. Children in grades 2-5 may participate in Book Chats at South Rowan Regional in China Grove. Registration is required and space is limited. Call 704-216-7728 for more information.
Computer classes: Computer Basics, Oct. 14, 7 p.m., and Oct. 30, 9:30 a.m., both at headquarters. Registration is required by calling 704-216-8242. If you’re new to computers or if you’ve never felt comfortable, Computer Basics covers the very basics. Classes are free. Sessions are about 90 minutes long. Dates and times are subject to change without notice.
Teen program: All programs 5:30-7 p.m. South, Oct. 14; East, Oct. 20; Headquarters, Oct. 21. Teen programs are for middle and high school students. Light refreshments included.
Fall Photowalks: Headquarters, Oct. 18, 10:30 a.m.; East, Oct. 21, 5:30 p.m.; South, Oct. 23, 5:30 p.m. Dust off the camera, lace up your walking shoes. Aspiring photographers of all ages and skill levels can join one, two or all three walks planned. Please bring your camera (even if it’s your phone) and wear comfortable clothing. In case of inclement weather, the Photowalk will be canceled. Spaces are limited; register online at www.rowanpubliclibrary or call 704-216-7841 for more information.
Adventure Club: Headquarters, Oct. 25, 11 a.m. Adventurous hands-on science-based activities and projects for all ages. This month, create your own lava lamps. Call 704-216-8234 for more details.
Book Bites Club: South Regional (only), Oct. 28, 6:30 p.m., “Dracula,” by Bram Stoker. Book discussion groups for adults and children on the last Tuesday of each month. It is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book and light refreshments at each meeting. For more information, please call 704-216-7841.
Friends of Rowan Public Library Annual Book Sale: Headquarters. Members only, Oct. 31, 6-8 p.m. Not a member? Buy a $10 annual Friends of RPL membership at the door and gain admission. Most items $2 or less. Call 704-216-8240 for more information. Open to public Nov. 1, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Nov. 2, 1-4 p.m.; Nov. 3, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Displays for October: headquarters, NAMI by Peggy Mangold, Family Crisis/Domestic Violence, Bonnie Link; South, miniature doll houses by Donna Deal and Terri Correll; East, Alpha Beta.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.
Children’s story time: Weekly through Nov. 26. For more information, call 704-216-8234.
• Baby Time — A loosely interactive program introducing simple stories and songs to babies 6–23 months old with a parent or caregiver. Program lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Mondays, 10 a.m.
• Toddler Time — Focused on sharing books, singing songs and encouraging listening skills for children ages 18–35 months with a parent or caregiver; lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Mondays, 11 a.m.
• Tiny Tumblers — A loosely interactive program introducing simple stories, musical scarves and instruments for babies 6-23 months old with a parent or caregiver. The same program is offered two times per week; lasts 30 minutes. South, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.
• Preschool Time — To encourage the exploration of books and build reading readiness skills for children ages 3-5 with a parent or caregiver; lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; South, Tuesdays, 1:30 p.m.
• Noodlehead Story Time — For children ages 4-8 to enjoy listening to silly books and tales together; 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Mondays, 4 p.m.
• Art programs — School-age children can learn art terms and techniques and work on projects. Program lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Art in the Afternoon, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Emma’s Easel, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Art with Char, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.

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