Wednesday, October 5, 2016

5 Steps to Establishing a Successful Library Dog Program

We at Peachtree love to learn about different ways people promote and encourage literacy among children. Having recently published  Lisa Papp's picture book Madeline Finn and the Library Dog—the story of a reluctant reader who develops a love of reading with the help of a beautiful and patient library dog—we were inspired to learn more and help spread the word about these fantastic programs!

R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) is the foremost organization in the country that coordinates library dog programs. They started out in 1999 as the first comprehensive literacy program built around the idea of reading to dogs, and they now have more than 3,000 teams throughout the world working to help readers gain confidence in their reading with the help of a furry friend. This week, we spoke to R.E.A.D. executive director Kathy Klotz to ask her for some pointers on establishing these library dog programs in your library. 
She gave 5 steps that she believes are important in making sure your program is successful:

Photo from Gloria Laube,
1. Make sure to utilize only therapy animal team volunteers who have been screened, trained, licensed and insured.
Not just an employee’s dog, not a service dog, not a friendly neighborhood pet that someone knows of. You want dogs who have been carefully screened and trained for this kind of work, to assure the health and safety of your patrons.

(You can join an ITA affiliate group or another animal-assisted therapy group near you to ensure that you have qualified volunteers.)

2. Hold an initial meeting with the therapy dog volunteers to clarify the procedures and expectations for both sides of the equation—library personnel and volunteers.

This is crucial—you need to establish where in the library the animal interactions will best be located, the logistics (time, day, frequency, length of sessions), and how to handle the scheduling (sign-ups or drop-ins?). Will you be setting up a special theme and display for the days the dogs visit? It’s vitally important for everyone to know who will be responsible for what, to make sure you all understand one another.
Photo from Pete, 

3. Publicize your new program well in advance.

Give your patrons plenty of time to hear about the program, both to encourage kids to attend and to
forewarn those who may need to avoid coming during those times due to risk of allergy. Use fun posters, your library newsletter, PSAs, any resources you may have.

4. Make sure your personnel and your volunteers are clear on the way you want your program to work. Be ready to do some fine-tuning.

It can take awhile for everyone to find their groove. How will you handle crowd control and interruptions? Are the chosen spots—not private, but reasonably free of noise and traffic—working out? Are the chosen days and times appropriate for the traffic in your children’s library? There are endless things that may come up to surprise you all, and flexibility will help everyone keep improving your program.

Photo from Gloria Laub,

5. Keep up the ongoing communication with your therapy animal volunteers.

We all want the best for the children and families who visit your library. The volunteers want to be on your team, and they will want you on theirs, as well. The library can get very busy, as you know, but it’s important for someone on the staff to be keeping one eye on the dog interactions in case they need help (freedom from interruptions, overbearing parents, too many interested kids at once, etc.) Any small misunderstandings or difficulties can easily be smoothed away when library staff maintains clear and frequent communication with the therapy teams who work with you.

If you are interested in learning more about these programs and establishing one at your library, check out the R.E.A.D. website for more information! And go to for more adorable photos and great information about library dogs! 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Free Book Friday: Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

We are giving away early pre-publication proof copies of Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

Madeline Finn does NOT like to read. Not books. Not magazines. Not even the menu on the ice cream truck. Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn't so bad. When Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn't mind. Madeline Finn can pet her until she figures the word out.

We can't wait to get this book into the hands of readers who are not so keen on being readers. Read more about Madeline Finn in our latest New Book Wednesday post, and enter to win your free galley today!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

by Lisa Papp

Giveaway ends September 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

“So adorable readers may attempt to hug the page.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“It's a warm, encouraging story that suggests that perfection isn't necessary in order to achieve one's goals, and that help can be found in unexpected corners.” ―Publishers Weekly

If you miss the signup, Madeline Finn is coming October 1st to a store near you! Look for it at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month! During this month, we celebrate the rich and influential traditions, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States.

In honor of the legacy of Hispanic and Latino Americans, and the fact that the beautiful Spanish language is so widespread in our country, we want to share some of our bilingual and Spanish titles. We love having these books for our Spanish-speaking readers, and we hope you enjoy them! ¡Esperamos que te gusta estos libros!

Spanish Titles

Martina una cucarachita muy linda: Un cuento cubano
illustrated by Michael Austin

Martina the beautiful cockroach wants to pick the right suitor to marry, but how?  Abuela, her Cuban grandmother, gives her un consejo increíble, some shocking advice: put those suitors to the test with a little café cubano.  One by one they fail until only the gardener Pérez, a tiny brown mouse, is left. Will he win her leg in marriage?

illustrated by Laura L. Seeley

Agatha owns a weaving shop in Manhattan and likes to answer the questions of children who want to know the source of her beautiful fabrics.

“Everything comes from something,” she says, “nothing comes from nothing.”

But she does not seem to think about where her brand new feather bed came from.  That is, until six cranky, cold, naked geese come knocking.  In a delightful O. Henry-inspired ending, Agatha arrives at a solution that benefits them all, teaching readers to understand how to use resources responsibly.

illustrated by Henry Cole

Mary McBlicken hears a rumble and is sure a stampede's a comin'! She sets off to warn Cowboy Stan and Red Dog Dan, gathering up her friends along the way. Before they can get there, though, the band of prairie critters gets tricked by a mean Coyote and trapped in his evil den. Will the friends escape in time? And where is that rumbling really coming from?

illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

This New York Times Bestseller is a true story of hope and generosity, and the gift a small Kenyan village makes to the people of America after the September 11 attacks.  For a heartsick nation, the gift of fourteen cows emerges from the choking dust and darkness as a soft light of hope—and friendship.

Bilingual Titles

Bouncy, alliterative rhyme and gorgeous illustrations introduce readers to a wide range of striped animals. An afterword provides more information about each featured animal and where it lives, and explains the role its stripes play. Readers can test their knowledge of animal stripes with a fun matching game at the end!

Several of books in our About… Series, written by educator and author Cathryn Sill and by naturalist John Sill, are now available in both English and Spanish for young explorers who are learning a new language.
by Cathryn Sill
illustrated by John Sill

Learn about the life of birds, from egg to flight, in this thoughtful examination of the species.

by Cathryn Sill
illustrated by John Sill

So many animals are mammals! But are all animals mammals? Questions are answered and new facts discovered in the pages of this bilingual nature guide.

by Cathryn Sill
illustrated by John Sill

Creepy, crawly, spindly things are actually rather interesting when you get close enough to them.  Backyard naturalists will love having this as a reference during their outdoor adventures.

by Cathryn Sill
illustrated by John Sill

Take a colorful and informative first glimpse into the diverse world of reptiles with this thoughtful guide for young readers.

Look for these titles and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New Book Wednesday: Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog
by Lisa Papp

Madeline Finn does not like to read, especially out loud, but she does want a star sticker from her teacher instead of a heart sticker that says "keep trying." When her mother takes her to the library, Madeline discovers something (well, someone) special: Bonnie. Bonnie is a big white dog and a great listener. With Bonnie’s big, kind eyes and patience, maybe reading out loud won’t be so bad after all…

With heartwarming illustrations from author-illustrator Lisa Papp, Madeline Finn and the Library Dog is a must-have for children and dog lovers of all ages. Look for a copy as it snuggles its way into readers' hearts October 1!

“So adorable readers may attempt to hug the page.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“It's a warm, encouraging story that suggests that perfection isn't necessary in order to achieve one's goals, and that help can be found in unexpected corners.” ―Publishers Weekly

Look for it at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Finding Ways to Talk About 9/11

In this year, the fifteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, we’ve had the wonderful privilege to help share a story of hope and re-building. We also know that many other authors, illustrators, and publishers have worked hard to create resources that can aid parents, teachers, and librarians in talking to children about September 11th. So while we are thrilled to share Seven and a Half Tons of Steel with everyone, we also want to point you in the right direction for whatever age group or type of book you might need. Check out both our contribution to the great storytelling about the events of 9/11 and after, and the contributions of the many different artists who have made it easier for kids to learn about the history of this nation.

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel

The USS New York is big like other navy ships, and it sails like other navy ships, but there is something special about this navy ship.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, a beam from the World Trade Center Towers was given to the United States Navy. The beam was driven from New York to a foundry in Louisiana, where the seven and a half tons of steel, which had once been a beam in the World Trade Center, became a navy ship’s bow.

Powerful text from Janet Nolan is paired with stunning illustrations from New York Times best-selling illustrator Thomas Gonzalez in this inspiring story that reveals how something remarkable can emerge from a devastating event.

by Carol Bainbridge

"September 11 is a date that will remain a significant and important date in American history forever. It's hard to imagine that it will ever fade away, so there will certainly always be a need to help children understand the events of that day. One good way to help them understand is to read some books with them about those events. Books are a wonderful way to help you talk to your child about 9/11 too."

by Michele Knott

"As we approach the 15th anniversary of 9.11, I want to share some books with you. These books are meant for our students, to help them understand a little bit more about our history."

Michele Knott shares perhaps the most comprehensive list of books that address 9/11. With picture books, middle grade books, and young adult level books, you are sure to find something for your child or student in this thoughtful compilation. 

by Eliot Schrefer, New York Times

"In children’s literature, current events become past events at a ruthless pace. Today’s preteens weren’t even alive in 2001; for them the 9/11 attacks live in the same mental hinterland as, say, D-Day...With the 15th anniversary coming up, the latest crop of children’s books on the topic are less about processing a tragedy than about finding new ways to introduce one."

If you are looking for middle grade level novels, Eliot Schrefer comprehensively reviews two books that should be on your list.

Stacey Shubitz covers a wide variety possibilities for 9/11 tributes and remembrances with kids in school, at the library, or at home. She includes many important titles for read-alouds, but if you are looking for additional ideas to commemorate over the weekend, this is a great place to start.

15 Years After September 11: A Roundup of New Children's and YA Titles
by Natasha Gilmore, Publisher's Weekly

Publisher's Weekly put out this round-up of relevant titles that have come out in this year, the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. So if you are looking for something more recent, this list includes a range of age groups but all published within the year.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Free Book Friday: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates

We're giving away 10 copies of the new Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates on Goodreads! Whether you're a fan of the Charlie Bumpers series, love soccer and chocolate, or are looking for a fun book you think the 7-10 year old in your life might enjoy, don't miss out on this chance to get a free copy!

Read more about this title on our last New Book Wednesday post.

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!

“Master storyteller Harley scores again with fourth-grader Charlie Bumpers” —Kirkus Reviews

“One of the best things about these books is Charlie's intact, supportive family positive role models, problems that actual students face, and sense of humor.” —YA and Kids Book Central

“This is my favorite new series. It's funny, smart, witty and has characters that 4th graders will like.” —Mrs. Knott's Book Nook

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Book Wednesday: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates

Bill Harley brings us another fun and humorous addition to his Charlie Bumpers series, a three-time selection for the Junior Library Guild. Coming out September 1st, don't miss out on Charlie's latest adventure.

Charlie and his friends Tommy and Hector are ready to rule the soccer season. Their team, the Pirates, will surely score a million goals (or at least fifty). But when they’re placed on a team of amateurs, Charlie and his friends realize this season is not going to go the way they expected.

For one thing, their new coach doesn’t believe in star players and expects everyone to learn all the positions, never giving the dynamic trio a chance to perform together. Even though supposedly no one keeps score in this league, the first few games are a big disappointment to Charlie. To make matters worse, his big brother Matt has joined a video club and is recording every one of the Pirates’ disastrous plays. 

If they can’t be on a winning team, Charlie thinks, then maybe he, Tommy, and Hector can at least win the prize for selling the most candy bars for the fundraiser by pulling their resources and selling together. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Fast-paced and family friendly, Charlie Bumpers vs. The Puny Pirates is a fantastic choice for young readers looking for an exciting book and a great series! (And check out the teacher's guide for more materials.)

Look for it at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Brunch with Janet Nolan and Thomas Gonzalez

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel follows a beam from the World Trade Center after the September 11th attacks. From the rubble of that devastating event, to a foundry where workers melt down the steel and reshape it to become the bow of the USS New York navy ship, and back to New York for the 10th anniversary of the attacks, this moving story shows how hope and strength can emerge out of pain and loss.

For our Sunday Brunch today, we talked with author Janet Nolan and illustrator Thomas Gonzalez to get a little more background on their inspiration and process for creating this meaningful picture book.

Janet, what was your inspiration for this book? 

JN: I was driving my car, listening to the radio, when I heard a brief story about the USS New York. I remember sitting in traffic being quietly amazed, surprised to learn steel from the World Trade Center towers had been used in the building of a navy ship. What struck me at the time, and has stayed with me ever since, was the feeling that something positive and powerful had emerged from a tragic event. I knew I’d discovered a story I had to write. And from the beginning, I believed this was a story about transformation and hope.

What was so special about this ship?

JN: The first page of the book reads: “There is a ship, a navy ship. It is called the USS New York. It is big like other navy ships, and it sails like other navy ships, but there is something different, something special about the USS New York.” I believe the USS New York is special, not only because of the seven and a half tons of steel in its bow but also because of the men and women who built and serve on the ship. The ship’s motto is “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget.” I believe the USS New York is more than a navy ship. It is a testament to hope, rebuilding, and redemption.

How much research did you do?

JN: I knew almost nothing about forging steel or shipbuilding when I began researching this book. Fortunately, other people did. I conducted phone interviews, read every news article I could get my hands on, watched countless news clips and videos, and was a frequent visitor to the ship’s website. I was touched by the generosity of librarians and retired military who were willing to guide me in the right direction and answer my many questions, big and small.

There are so many events in the life of this one beam. How did you winnow them down to the ones you explore in the book? How did you choose which ones to include and which ones to leave out? 

JN: What first drew me to this story was the idea of transformation. How tragedy could be recast as strength and hope. In choosing what to include and what to exclude, I stayed close to the beam and followed it on its transformative journey. The book begins with the events of September 11 and the outpouring of emotion at Ground Zero, but when the beam leaves New York, the story follows the beam. 

Thomas, what’s it like to illustrate a book when you haven’t met the author? 

TG: I believe I do meet the author through their words, in the words they share.

After reading Janet's words, what part of this story did you respond to most?

TG: I responded to the resilience of our country and how we honored those on our soil who desire to live here and stand for our values. I also responded to what it was like the days, hours and minutes before September 11. It’s the reason I  did the illustration of the plane frozen against the building. The idea that going about your everyday life is like a mirage of reality.

Did you paint from actual photographs? How did you select the images you wanted to include?

TG: Yes and no. I typically spend a bit of time doing rough sketches based on how the elements flow on a page—shapes or "blobs" of imaginary elements. Then, I start looking at video clips and images and take pictures of skies or other elements as I drive around. It’s like collecting ingredients for each of the spreads and thinking of them as a cake or a dish. But they all relate in the final product.

I also take pictures of people I know and other random shots to stage or help me with the mood of illustrations. Then, when appropriate, I do most of the modeling (shadows, highlights, etc.) out of my head through sketches in black and white to get the feel for light direction in conjunction with the reference. Most references I use do not have the right light source, so I make them work as if they all belonged in the same time and space.

Some of the images were sourced out of government archives that are in public domain to use. I look at those, because you do want to make sure that there are no misrepresentations of facts. I also use them for technical accuracy, especially when it involves something like an actual naval ship, uniforms, and military craft. But I tend to embellish them with a bit of drama that is not in the actual picture.

Thomas, what do you hope readers take away from your art?

TG: I hope they recall or imagine how quickly the reality, the surroundings, of one's life can change and how events, whether we choose them or they choose us, can alter a future.

Janet, what do you hope readers take away from your book?

JN: If a beam can become a bow, then anything is possible. Anyone and anything can be transformed. Terrible tragedies have occurred and will probably occur again. My hope is that readers of Seven and a Half Tons of Steel will feel a sense of hopefulness. Because without hope, how do we as people and as a nation go forward?

Look for Seven and a Half Tons of Steel at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & NobleTo find out more about the author and illustrator, visit Janet Nolan's and Thomas Gonzalez's websites. Check out the Seven and a Half Tons of Steel teacher's guide for more on how to use this book in your classroom and beyond. Want to know a little more about the real story? See our New Book Wednesday post!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Free Book Friday: Never Follow a Dinosaur

It's our second Free Book Friday of the season!

Starting today, enter our Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of twenty unbound copies of Never Follow a Dinosaur. Alex Latimer's quirkly and bold style combined with strong visual storytelling in this cumulative mystery will not only test readers' deductive reasoning, it will make kids want to read it again and again. They might even start looking for dinosaurs of their own to follow!

Sally and Joe are convinced that the mysterious footprints they have discovered must belong to a dinosaur! Could it be? Join them as they follow the clues to find out… But wait—what if Sally and
Joe are right? What if it really is a dinosaur?

Read more about this title on our last New Book Wednesday post!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Never Follow a Dinosaur by Alex Latimer

Never Follow a Dinosaur

by Alex Latimer

Giveaway ends August 19, 2016.

See the giveaway details

at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New Book Wednesday: Never Follow a Dinosaur

Never Follow a Dinosaur
In Alex Latimer’s new picture book, Sally and Joe find strange footprints. Could they belong to a dinosaur? Mom always said to never follow a dinosaur, but Sally and Joe know the mysterious creature is out there somewhere, and they’re going to find it… But what if they really do find a dinosaur?!

From the author of Stay! A Top Dog Story and Lion vs. Rabbit, Never Follow a Dinosaur is a fun and imaginative mystery sure to entertain all ages. Great for helping children draw conclusions or introducing deductive reasoning, readers will want to find out what new idea the siblings have about this mysterious dinosaur as the story progresses. With Latimer's quirky illustrations and a surprise ending, little ones will be laughing out loud and wanting to read this picture book again!

“A goofy romp with a very lovable dinosaur at its center that never loses its (very small) footing.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Track down a copy of Never Follow a Dinosaur on September 1st! Looking for fun and creative ways to use this book with children? Check out some dinosaur-related pins on our "Storytime Snack & Crafts" Pinterest board.

Look for it at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Interested in what other books we are publishing this season? Check out our list of new books here!