Did you know that it is Banned Books Week? Held during the last week of September - this year from September 22 to 28 - Banned Books Week is a celebration of the freedom to read. It spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools.

     The American Library Association compiles lists of frequently challenged books. Visit their website to see which books are on those lists. Did you know that all of the classic books on the following list have been challenged at one time as well?


To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee
Also available in: e-book | audiobook | e-audiobook
  • Challenged in the Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980)  as a "filthy, trashy novel."
  • Challenged at the Santa Cruz, CA Schools (1995) because of its racial themes.  Removed from the Southwood High School Library in Caddo Parish, LA (1995) because the book's language and content were objectionable.

Harper Lee's classic novel of a lawyer in the Deep South defending a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize, has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century.

Of mice and men by 1902-1968 John Steinbeck
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  • Challenged in Greenville, SC (1977) by the Fourth Province of the Knights of the Ku Klux KIan; Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980); St. David, AZ (1981) and Tell City, IN (1982) due to "profanity and using God's name in vain."
  • Challenged as a summer youth program reading assignment in Chattanooga, TN (1989) because "Steinbeck is known to have had an anti business attitude." In addition, "he was very questionable as to his patriotism."

Over seventy-five years since its first publication, Steinbeck's tale of commitment, loneliness, hope, and loss remains one of America's most widely read and taught novels. An unlikely pair, George and Lennie, two migrant workers in California during the Great Depression, grasp for their American Dream. They hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations, nor predict the consequences of Lennie's unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

National Voter Registration Day is celebrated every year on the fourth Tuesday of September. It is a great time to make sure that you are registered to vote. Have you moved recently? Are you a college student?  Visit the Michigan Voter Information Center to check your status.

If needed, you can get a voter registration application at the following locations:

Are you registered to vote?

1. Your local Secretary of State branch office 
2. Your local county, city, or township clerk's office
3. The offices of several state agencies, like the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Community Health, and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
4. Military recruitment centers
5. Voter registration drives
6. Online at www.Michigan.gov/sos

     In their latest batch of updates, Merriam-Webster has added 533 new words and new meanings to their dictionary. Are you familiar with all of them? Well, don't worry, because the Library has you covered. Check out some of these new words and meanings and the resources we have for you to learn about them:

  • Colorism: prejudice or discrimination especially within a racial or ethnic group favoring people with lighter skin over those with darker skin.

Weaving together personal stories, history, and analysis, Same Family, Different Colors explores the myriad ways skin-color politics affect family dynamics in the United States.
Colorism and color bias - the preference for or presumed superiority of people based on the color of their skin - is a pervasive and damaging but rarely openly discussed phenomenon. In this unprecedented book, Lori L. Tharps explores the issue in African American, Latino, Asian American, and mixed-race families and communities by weaving together personal stories, history, and analysis. The result is a compelling portrait of the myriad ways skin-color politics affect family dynamics in the United States.
Tharps, the mother of three mixed-race children with three distinct skin colors, uses her own family as a starting point to investigate how skin-color difference is dealt with. Her journey takes her across the country and into the lives of dozens of diverse individuals, all of whom have grappled with skin-color politics and speak candidly about experiences that sometimes scarred them. From a Latina woman who was told she couldn't be in her best friend's wedding photos because her dark skin would "spoil" the pictures, to a light-skinned African American man who spent his entire childhood "trying to be Black," Tharps illuminates the complex and multifaceted ways that colorism affects our self-esteem and shapes our lives and relationships. Along with intimate and revealing stories, Tharps adds a historical overview and a contemporary cultural critique to contextualize how various communities and individuals navigate skin-color politics.

     The fires burning in the Amazon rainforest have been all over the news lately. If you would like to learn more about the valuable resource that is the world's largest tropical rainforest, or if you would like to know more about doing what you can to fight climate change, check out these materials:

Welcome to the largest rainforest in the world, a vast wonder just waiting for you to explore. Follow along as pink dolphins dart through the flooded river, vampire bats swoop down from the trees, and giant green anacondas slowly slither across the forest floor. This humongous habitat is home to millions of plants, animals, and people. But large as it may be, the Amazon Rainforest is in danger--and shrinking fast. Learn more about this amazing place and discover what you can do to help save the rainforest!

Will our efforts really make a difference? Yes of course. We have the power to shift the course of history towards a healthier, happier and safer future. Organized in a fun, easy-to-read format with each step a simple, personal act which can help in the fight against global warming. The steps outlined in this book are the most effective, practical ways to make the shift from a fossil-fuels-based society to an exemplary and self-sustaining world power.

As we near the end of Black History Month, we can look to the future as well. Although the term "afrofuturism" was coined in the 1990s, the works that it is used to describe have been around for much longer. Afrofuturistic books, movies, and music explore the intersection of science fiction, fantasy, technology, and the cultural experience of Black people around the world. If you're curious about this genre, the following books, movies, and albums at the Library are a great place to start:

Spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story "The City Born Great," a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis's soul.

Also available in: e-book | audiobook | e-audiobook

Seventeen-year-old Zelie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.

     The Michigan Shakespeare Festival is coming to Canton beginning the first week in August. From August 2-18, 2019, the Village Theater at Cherry Hill will have performances of King Lear, The Two Gentleman of Verona, and Cyrano de Bergerac. You can find out more information here: https://www.michiganshakespearefestival.com/

     You can also check out this list of Shakespeare's works, Shakespeare-inspired titles, other original plays, and remade stories that are available at the library so that you can have a festival of your own.

King Lear by 1564-1616 William Shakespeare
Also available in: e-audiobook | video

King Lear depicts the gradual descent into madness of the title character, after he disposes of his kingdom by bequeathing his power and land to two of his three daughters in exchange for insincere declarations of love, bringing tragic consequences for all.

Fool : a novel by 1957- Christopher Moore
Also available in: e-book

Fool is a hilarious new take on William Shakespeare's King Lear...as seen through the eyes of the foolish liege's clownish jester, Pocket. A rousing tale of "gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity," Fool joins Christopher Moore's own Lamb, Fluke, The Stupidest Angel, and You Suck! as modern masterworks of satiric wit and sublimely twisted genius, prompting Carl Hiassen to declare Moore "a very sick man, in the very best sense of the word."

     On July 11, 1804, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met in Weehawken, New Jersey at dawn to settle their personal, professional, and political differences in a duel. The rest is history. It is also now a hit Broadway musical! If you would like to learn more about Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the most famous duel in American history, check out these books:


For almost two centuries, historians have had difficulty explaining the extraordinary duel in July 1804 that killed Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first Secretary of the Treasury, and ended Vice President Aaron Burr's political career. It was well known that Hamilton disliked Burr -- perhaps out of a protective fear of losing his own power and influence, or perhaps, according to another theory, because of jealousy over the attentions of one or more women. When Burr finally threw down his challenge, it followed more than a dozen years of difficult relations and political strife, culminating a few months earlier with Burr's defeat in the race for the governorship of New York, a defeat he attributed to Hamilton's machinations. But why a duel? In A Fatal Friendship, the distinguished political scientist and writer Arnold Rogow demonstrates for the first time that the roots of the fatal encounter lay not in Burr's (admittedly flawed) political or private conduct, but rather in Hamilton's conflicted history and character. With his detailed archival research, his close (and unprecedented) examination of the friendship between the two heroic figures, and his bold, imaginative writing, Rogow has written a brilliant new book that will change forever our understanding of honor, politics, and friendship in the early American republic.

     In curiously parallel lives, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were both orphaned at an early age. Both were brilliant students who attended college--one at Princeton, the other at Columbia--and studied law. Both were young staff officers under General George Washington, and both became war heroes. Politics beckoned them, and each served in the newly formed government of the fledgling nation. Why, then, did these two face each other at dawn in a duel that ended with death for one and harsh criticism for the other?

     Judith St. George's lively biography, told in alternating chapters, brings to life two complex men who played major roles in the formation of the United States.

Congratulations to the US Women's National Soccer Team! Celebrate their World Cup win by reading these books from the library:

The US Women's National Team has won more Olympic gold medals and Women's World Cup titles than any other team. Learn how the team got started and meet some of the biggest superstars in soccer history in this thrilling title! Discover more through photos and engaging storylines with famous and beloved athletes.


The National Team, from leading soccer journalist Caitlin Murray, tells the history of the USWNT in full, from their formation in the 1980s to the run-up to the 2019 World Cup, chronicling both their athletic triumphs and less visible challenges off the pitch. Murray also recounts the rise and fall of U.S. professional leagues, including the burgeoning National Women's Soccer League, an essential part of the women's game.

     Today is Juneteenth! On this day in 1865, the last enslaved people in the United States were set free. Although Abraham Lincoln issued his final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 and although the Thirteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, not all people were freed immediately. Word traveled slowly to Texas, and it wasn't until General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston that the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced in the state. People began to celebrate immediately, and even though the holiday has gone through periods of declining popularity in the past, more and more communities are choosing to observe it now. Galveston, Texas celebrates with banquets, picnics, prayer services, parades, and numerous educational activities. More locally, the Ann Arbor branch of the NAACP hosts a yearly Juneteenth Celebration as well. 

     If you and your family would like to celebrate by learning more about the holiday, check out these books at the library:

Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper

Little Mazie wants the freedom to stay up late, but her father explains what freedom really means and how her ancestors celebrated their true freedom in the story of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth by Denise Jordan

Explains the origins and meaning of Juneteenth Day, a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S., and looks at how and where Juneteenth is observed.

If you have summer travel plans, our collection of guidebooks can definitely help with the planning. But, you might want to think about taking your trip abroad one step further by reading a work of fiction set in that country as well. Immerse yourself in a story, and you'll view your destination with an even broader perspective. Here are some guidebooks and fiction titles to consider if you are heading to any of these places: