At the children’s space of Ralston’s Baright Public Library, a black, paper mache tornado almost one-half the height of the wall was glued to a poster. In capital orange letters, on the other side of the poster read, “Discover a striking story.”
To help young readers achieve that goal, Ralston’s assistant librarian Ashley Wemhoff recommends three must-read children’s classics for the coming summer.
She walked to a shelf were the titles on the spines are blurry if one is not looking an inch away. Wemhoff removed a book from the rest and held it with two hands. Its title: “Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom,” published in 1989 and written by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault.
“I remember reading this when I was in kindergarten, my brother remembers reading this and the kids who come in the library remember reading this,” Wemhoff said.
Five-year-old Mira Gong from Omaha said “Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom” is good.
“I like the letters,” Gong said.
A parent from Albion, Neb., Alex Thome said she remembers the “fun little rhymes” from the alphabet book.
Wemhoff’s next pick is a book akin to middle grades.
“This is something you can read with everyone,” she said. “The parents love it, kids love it, teenagers love it. It’s perfect for the whole family.”
She was holding “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” (2001) by J.K. Rowling.
Wemhoff recommends it to fifth- and sixth-graders and said some fourth-graders can read it by themselves.
She said she began reading the Harry Potter series in seventh grade.
“It was a big thing were everyone was waiting in line at the bookstore to get the book,” Wemhoff said.
It has fantastical elements and a magical school, Wemhoff said.
“Who doesn’t like magic?” she asked.
“He (Harry Potter) starts off really young and you kind of grow up with him when you read these books.”
Wemhoff said Harry spends eight years in Hogwarts throughout the series. She said the later books become more mature by citing battles, so she would leave it up to the parents of fifth-graders and younger to decide if they can read them.
– Crystal Kwaw is a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and her story was an assignment in a newswriting and reporting class.