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Summer Learning: Hall of Fame

Colorful book spines displayed on shelves.

Summer Learning is almost at it's end, and as a community we have read a whole lot! You've also contributed many great book reviews to our Summer Learning platform, Beanstack! This week, we are keen to share with you some of the reviews you've contributed, and to celebrate the most logged books from Summer Learning 2020. Congratulations to everyone that participated to achieve their reading goals!


Reviews by You

First up in our Hall of Fame post we wanted to finally make good on our promise to feature some of your fantastic book reviews from 2020. These are the books being read in your community...and what you think of them! You can add your own review for books you like (or don't!) on Beanstack, our Summer Learning platform, but also through our library catalog. Here are four reviews of books in our collection...written by you!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Review by Michelle M.

"This is a must read/listen. I listened to this book in the car for over a month and I never lost interest.
This is a fascinating true account of the back story of a black woman who is treated for cervical cancer in the 50's where her cancerous cells are taken without her consent during one of her treatments.
I say it is fascinating because the author, a reporter, takes over 10 years to investigate and delve into the life of the Lacks family, the medical institutions, the privacy and consent issues from Henrietta's early life in the 30's all the way to date of book printing in 2016.
The book is well organized and remains interesting all the way through.
I recommend reading or listening to this book."


Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Review by Peggy H.

"I loved this Book. It made you forget about being in quarantine. The young girl in the book was in isolation by herself, she learned how to survive by herself and made a couple of friends... She learned not to depend on anybody because it only brought her hurt, that she didn’t want to experience. But you will have to read it to find out if she learns to open up to letting people in her life again. Great read."


Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

Review by Aysha Siddhikha H.

"The only book in the series written from older sister Beezus' point of view. In the book, Beezus is struggling with her feelings for her annoying younger sister Ramona. Ramona exasperates Beezus with her high spirits and wild imagination. Ramona scribbles all over a library book, gets Ribsy locked in the bathroom, and disrupts Beezus' art class. I like this book because, in the end, Beezus realizes it is possible to love her sister, even when she doesn't always like her."


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Review by Katie M.

"This is such a raw, honest description of a life lived for survival and belonging. In addition to survival, this book is a beautiful dedication of love, to his mother, whom enabled Trevor to become the man who not only survived but thrived."


I am sure it will come as no surprise to many of you to see the Harry Potter series as part of our Summer Learning Hall of Fame. Since 1997 Harry Potter has been spreading magic and whimsy to readers of all ages. As I have mentioned before in this blog series, it was and still is an unprecedented literary phenomenon, never before in the history of literature have so many people read the same fictitious novel. It is no wonder either, as these books have now been translated into more than 80 different languages (we don't have all 80 but we have a few) and illustrated versions of the first four books now being released, and many more ways beyond the pages of the series to celebrate Harry Potter.

Within our collection, perhaps you would like to try a Harry Potter themed craft with The Wizard's Craftbook, or perhaps a knitted project from Charmed Knits which touts "Projects for Fans of Harry Potter" as it's tagline. Maybe if you're more inclined to cook and bake you can pick up The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook; we have two similarly titled items in our collection, The Unofficial Harry Potter Fan's Cookbook by Aurélia Beaupommier and The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz. There are also a handful more HP recipes in the following titles/linked items: The Geeky Chef Cookbook, The Geeky Chef Strikes Back, and The Wizard's Cookbook.

And of course, there are the movies, world building books and HP lore like The Tales of Beedle the Bard, even more books with Harry Potter lore, and music (audio CDs and sheet music too). 

However you choose to engage with Harry Potter, you'll become part of a huge fan base of readers of all ages, connecting you to a story that has enchanted many worldwide. I have a feeling we will be seeing Harry Potter as a most logged Summer Learning book for a long time.

In addition to Harry Potter there were plenty more books logged this Summer. I was happy to see several classic books logged (Charlotte's Web will never go out of style in my opinion). Whether these books were read by newly independent and intrepid readers, or shared between a caregiver or child; the many ways these books can be read and shared lead me to believe that San Jose embraces not only lifelong learning, but learning together as a family. Does it get more awesome than that? Maybe, but as a librarian I am pretty thrilled with this outcome.

Do you see a book that you logged this Summer in this banner? If you liked any of these titles, there are definitely books related to those listed above that you can jot down on your 'To Read Next' list. If you loved Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 you might look into Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Finding yourself a fan of Biscuit? This is but one book in a whole Biscuit easy reader series, perfect for those just learning how to read and looking to practice their skill further. The author of Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown, has written many other wonderful books for children. And of course, Dr Seuss has a whole lot of timeless tales for children, from wockets in pockets to sneeches on beaches, Dr. Seuss is undoubtedly a master of silliness, rhyming, and important lessons alike.

Finally, if you logged Dog Man this Summer, you'll be delighted to know that there are many more Dog Man books, and author Dav Pilkey has written many fun reads, from graphic novels to picture books, and his humor that appeals to many shines in almost all of them.



However you read and participated in Summer Learning this year, we at the San Jose Public Library are proud of your initiative and thankful for the support of our community. We hope that you continue to read throughout the year. Unsure of what to read next? If you're looking for a new book to read you can try our reader's advisory service, 5 for U, browse our staff picks booklists, and of course keep your eyes peeled for fun virtual programs and new events.

We hope you had fun reading with the library this Summer, and we look forward to reading and learning with you again soon!


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