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A Word from Pat Scales

September: Self-Improvement Month

September 02, 2013

by Pat Scales

September is Self-Improvement Month, and while the month long observance may have really been intended for adults, it’s also a good time for children and teens to think about ways they can improve.  Maybe it’s making a pledge to work harder it school.  It could be a focus on improving behavior.  And it never hurts for anyone to conquer something out of their comfort zone or acquire a new skill.  Here are things that a school or public library can try to encourage readers to focus on self-improvement:

  • Have readers learn a new skill and share it with others. Introduce books where a main character learns a new skill.  Then have them compare the skill they learned to that of the main character in the books.  Suggestions from Random House include:

I Can Draw It Myself, By Me, Myself (PB) by Dr. Seuss

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle (PB) by Chris Raschka

Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine (PB) by Allison Wortche & illus. by Patrice Barton

Stitchin and Pullin:  A Gee’s Bend Quilt (PB) by Patricia C. McKissack & illus. by Cozbi A. Cabera

Magic Tricks from the Tree House (New Independent Readers) by Mary Pope Osborne & Natalie Pope Boyce & illus. by Sal Murdocca

Tae Kwon Do! (Step into Reading 1) by Terry Pierce & illus. by Todd Bonita

Super Surprise (Middle Grade) by Patricia Reilly Giff

When You Reach Me (Middle Grade) by Rebecca Stead

Whittington (Middle Grade) by Alan Armstrong

Catwalk (YA) by Deborah Gregory

Lemonade Mouth (YA) by Mark Peter Hughes

Nightjohn (YA) by Gary Paulsen

How to Build a House (YA) by Dana Reinhardt

The Book Thief (YA) by Marcus Zusak

Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers (YA) by Walter Hoving & illus. by Joe Eula

  • Introduce readers to books where the main character tackles life experiences out of their comfort zone. Suggestions from Random House include:

Bears Beware (New Independent Readers) by Patricia Reilly Giff

The Mighty Miss Malone (Middle Grade) by Christopher Paul Curtiz

Wonder (Middle Grade) by R.J. Palacio

Hattie Big Sky (YA) by Kirby Larson

Hattie Ever After (YA) by Kirby Larson

  • Perhaps a reader chooses to make a change in behavior.  Book talk books where a main character improves their behavior either consciously and through the help of others.   Titles from Random House include:

Confessions of a Former Bully (PB) by Trudy Ludwig & illus. by Beth Adams

Liar and Spy (middle grade) by Rebecca Stead

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 (middle grade) by Christopher Paul Curtis

Small Steps (YA) by Louis Sachar

Revolution (YA) by Jennifer Donnelly

  • The national focus on good health may inspire a reader to set a goal for a healthy lifestyle.  Display books about diet, exercise, rest, etc.  A suggestion from Random House:

Be Healthy! It’s a Girl Thing: Food, Fitness, and Feeling Great (Middle Grade) by Mavis Jukes & Lillan Wai-Yin & illus. by Debra Ziss

  • Academic success should always be a personal goal. Students may be encouraged by the characters in the following novels:

 Darnell Rock Reporting (Middle Grade) by Walter Dean Myers

Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen (Middle Grade) by Donna Gephart

The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History (middle grade) by Adam Selzer

  • The success of others is always inspiring.  Introduce books about people, whether real or fictional, who offer such inspiration.  Here are a few suggestions from Random House:

 Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child (PB) by Jessie Hartland

Brush of the Gods (PB) by Lenore Look & illus. by Mello So

Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson (PB) by Sue Stauffacher & illus. by Greg Couch

The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss (PB) by Kathleen Krull & illus. by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher

Song and Dance Man (PB) by Karen Ackerman & illus. by Stephen Gammell

  •  Reading always contributes to self-improvement.  Suggest that library patrons read at least one book a week in September.  Here are some reader favorites:

 Tomas and the Library Lady (PB) by Pat Mora & illus. by Raul Colon

Crow (Middle Grade) by Barbara Wright

Harriet the Spy (Middle Grade) by Louise Fitzhugh

Navigating Early (Middle Grade) by Clare Vanderpool

Scat (Middle Grade) by Carl Hiaasen

Mexican WhiteBoy (YA) by Matt de la Pena

Tiger Eyes (YA) by Judy Blume

  •  At the end of the month have readers write about how they accomplished the goals they set at the beginning of the month.
  •  Sponsor a Look What I Achieved! event at the end of the month.