When you think of it, your local library is a house of endless treasures, brimming with all manner of things to feed the mind. With summer vacation in full swing, it's the perfect place to go and stock a child's mind with books on all sorts of subjects. Many libraries have very active summer reading programs, providing loads of fun things for kids to do over the summer.

Years ago I interviewed award-winning author Gary Paulsen and he told me that when he was a child, his local librarian and the books she gave to him to read literally saved his life. Apparently Roman philosopher Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC) felt the same way when he wrote, "A room without books is a body without a soul."

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

"Night of the Howling Dogs" by Graham Salisbury, Wendy Lamb Books, 191 pages

Read aloud: age 9 - 10 and older.

Read yourself: age 10 - 11 and older.

On the Big Island of Hawaii in 1975, eleven boy scouts and their leaders are camping on a remote beach below the island's ancient volcano. It begins as an exciting adventure for Dylan and his fellow boy scouts as they make the long trek across and down the ancient lava flow to the secluded beach below, but trouble is about to explode around everyone.

Dylan senses something isn't right, and is particularly spooked by the sound of wild dogs howling at night. Shortly thereafter, terror strike and no one is spared the horror. Over the next several hours the small group of people are tested to their limits and discover the real meaning of leadership, friendship, and the human will to survive.

Based on the true events that occurred in 1975, this extraordinary, well-written story will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Librarian's Choice

Library: Jefferson County Public Library, 420 West Main St., Madison

Library Director: Brent Stokesberry

Children's Librarian: Kara Pettey

Choices this week: "Little Miss Spider" by David Kirk; "No Talking" by Andrew Clements; "Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key" by Jack Gantos

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

"Charlotte's Web 60th Anniversary Edition" by E. B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams, Harper, 184 pages, $8.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 6 - 7 and older.

Read yourself: age 9 - 10 and older.

First published in 1952, "Charlotte's Web" oozes with the gentleness that pure friendship can bring.

When Wilbur the pig was born, eight-year-old Fern pleaded with her father to let her take care of him, and she loved Wilbur very much.

When Wilbur grew bigger, he was sent to live with farmer Zuckerman, but the affectionate little pig was quite lonely. He wanted love - he wanted a friend. Crying to himself one night, he heard a voice call, "Do you want a friend, Wilbur? I'll be a friend to you . . . I like you."

Wilbur's new friend was Charlotte - a large grey spider about the size of a gumdrop. Charlotte was beautiful, wise and kind.

When it became apparent that farmer Zimmerman intended to serve Wilbur for Christmas dinner, Charlotte's love of her friend propelled her into action. Aided by the cranky barn rat, Templeton, Charlotte devised a plan to save her friend by cleverly convincing the farmer and the community that Wilbur wasn't an ordinary pig and should be saved. In return, Wilbur did the best he could to show his friend Charlotte how much he loved her, too.

Charming and memorable, "Charlotte's Web" is packed with lively, entertaining dialogue that perfectly portrays the deep rewards of true friendship.

"Bye-Bye Baby Brother!" written and illustrated by Sheena Dempsey, Candlewick, 2013, 28 pages, $15.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4 - 5.

Read yourself: age 6 - 8.

Ruby loves to play games with her dog Rory and with her mom. But ever since Ruby's baby brother, Oliver, was born, Mom always seems to be busy taking care of him, and that means less time for her to play with Ruby. Ruby decides she wants Oliver to disappear forever, and thinks of several (very funny) ways she might be able to make that happen. But after a thrilling imaginary space adventure with Mom, Rory the dog, and Oliver, Ruby has a change of heart about Oliver.

Charming in every way, this fun, loving story is perfect for older siblings who might be adjusting to sharing Mom's love and attention.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached at her website: www.greatestbooksforkids.com.
Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached at her website: www.greatestbooksforkids.com.