My name is Sarah Wilsman and I am the Head of Youth Services at the Bainbridge Branch. I worked as a youth services librarian at both the Heights Libraries and Kent Free Library before coming to GCPL. My grandmother managed Fireside Book Shop in Chagrin Falls when I was growing up and she inspired my lifelong love of books. I review youth literature for School Library Journal and reading is pretty much my only hobby.

Now that our summer reading club “Build a Better World” is in full swing I have some titles to suggest besides those pesky required summer reading books to help you complete your summer reading logs.


A Perfect Day by Lane Smith and Where is the Bear? by Jonathan Bentley

Both of these beautifully illustrated picture books feature big brown bears who will make you laugh at their antics as they twist familiar tropes and have unexpected but happy endings.


Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder, See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng and One Mixed Up Night by Catherine Newman

These mid-grade novels feature tweens who are self-reliant. All of the characters have faced or are facing loss but the books ultimately celebrate their resilience and the hope that comes from helping others.

Three Pennies is told in spare chapters that have alternate voices: Marin who has been in foster care since her mother abandoned her, the doctor who wants to adopt her, the social worker assigned to her case, the tectonic plates that shift under San Francisco and the owl who watches over her as her world changes forever. This is beautifully written and should be a Newbery contender this winter.

One Mixed Up Night is an homage to the classic From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Two best friends pull the sleepover switch on their parents to stay overnight in an IKEA superstore. Can this adventure cure Walter’s sadness? How much trouble will they get in and is the after-hours adventure in Frankie’s all-time favorite store worth it?

Listen to See You in the Cosmos as an audiobook. Alex’s story is told in multiple recordings that are funny and sad and hopeful as he and his dog Carl Sagan go on an adventure and discover what family means. Alex is a naïve narrator but he does encounter grown up problems along the way so listen to this together as there will be many talking points to discuss.


Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

The team who produced The Princess in Black books have collaborated for a memoir about the difficulties of navigating elementary school friendships. For fans of the Raina Telgemeier graphic novels.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This is a must read that it is both topical and gripping about the shooting of an unarmed black teen. Seen through the eyes of Starr who attends a private mostly white high school, it thoughtfully examines issues of race as she bridges the socio economic divide between the suburbs and the urban landscape.

If you ever have a question about a book’s subject matter check for the review on Common Sense Media. The website clearly breaks down what parents need to know in terms of content and quality and will help you decide if a particular book is right for your child.

Sarah Wilsman is the Head of Youth Services at the Bainbridge Branch. She is currently reading Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder.
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