Coming to You in 2022

by Kelly

The New Year is almost upon us and the library team has been brainstorming, planning, and preparing for a full year of new programs and events to educate and entertain you in 2022. We are proud to provide a variety of hands-on programs and crafts to stimulate all minds, as well as bringing in guest presenters and entertainers to enrich your life. Here’s a sneak peek into what is coming to you in the coming months at Alvah N. Belding Library.

One Stop Book Shop, a get-ready-to-read in 2022 workshop designed to get you excited to try new authors and genres, help you set and establish your personal reading goals, and will show you where and how to track you reading over the course of the year. Share in the discussion and get ready to read. January 10, 2022 at 4 pm.

Small Business Social Network Monthly Lunch, are you a beginning small business owner or budding entrepreneur? Join us for this lunch-time social and share valuable tips and tricks of starting and running your own small business. From start-up planning, to marketing and finance, join us and help each other find the tools and resources needed to get your vision off the ground. Monthly, third Thursday at 12 pm. Lunch will be sourced from a local business and will be provided by the library.

“Naval Battles of the Great Lakes”, with The Restless Viking and his partner Poppins, who discuss Great Lakes history via their blog and Youtube Channel, will be on hand to share historical insight into the battles that took place on Michigan’s own Great Lakes, including stories about “Roaring” Dan Seavey, local legend Pirate. Check out The Restless Viking’s recent adventures and video logs through the website February 2, 2022 at 6 pm.

Flipbook Making Workshop for Tweens, a hands-on program for youth in grades 5-8. Learn the basics for making your own flip story book and craft your own mini book during this workshop. All supplies provided by the library. March 10 at 3:30 pm.

Genealogy Group, back by popular demand, the library will be home to its own network of local family researchers of all ages and levels of knowledge. Just beginning? No problem! Come mingle and learn in this lively and informative roundtable to discuss all of the ins and outs of family history research. Learn about the valuable tools, websites, and organizational tricks to keeping your research on track. Monthly, last Friday of each month from 10 am to 12 pm.

This sneak peek is just a sample of what the library has to offer in the upcoming year. Regular youth programs like Story Time and Tasty Tuesday will continue, as well as Family Night and Teen Night activities. Like our Facebook page to stay notified of events, and visit the library calendar on our website for a list of all of our upcoming events.

The Honest Gift-Giving Guide

by Kelly

Books make the best gifts. They really do. When you give a person the gift of a book you are showing them that you care about enriching their mind, opening their imagination, and possibly even introducing them to a whole new world. A book is a gift that can travel with you wherever you go, busts boredom, or even gives you an excuse to escape the commotion and retreat into your own quiet place.

Unsure about what book to give? Here is a sure-bet list of suggestions for readers of all ages.

Babies: Think Color. Shapes. Sounds. Touch. For this age group, it isn’t as much about the content of the story as it is familiarizing young ones with the concept of a book, itself. Books that will catch their eye and encourage them to touch, feel, and drool all over, because you know they will put that thing straight into their mouths. Board books are ideal for this group. Portable. Sturdy. You can’t go wrong. Pick out one with bright colors. Big shapes and objects. And features they can touch and feel. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt and Press Here by Herve Tullet are two of my personal favorites.

Pre-K: Emerging readers. This group is pretty easy to please. Dogs. Dinosaurs. Princesses. Unicorns. Boom.

Grade School: This age group needs a book with a flashy, over-the-top cover or a catchy title. Bonus for you if it has both. Extra bonus if the title has the word fart or booger in it, or if it’s a combination of something completely outrageous like dinosaurs eating tacos in outer space.

Tween: This is the beginning of the know-it-all stage, so arm them with books that are a mixture of fact and fiction to really give them something to outsmart you with. The I Survived series of books and graphic novels will fill them in on the historical facts that you have likely been sheltering them from up until this point in life and spark their interest in reading, while teaching them that life isn’t as rosy as they once believed it to be. Who’s the smarty now?

Teen: Just get them a gift card for Barnes and Noble or Amazon and slide it under their bedroom door.

Adult: Adults. Definitely the most difficult to know what they have or haven’t read or like by this stage in life, so go with one of two choices. Classics and Birds. Chances are the adult you are buying for does not already own a classic, and even if they do, there are so many editions being printed with beautiful covers and illustrations, sure to make a lovely addition to any home and raise their bookshelf IQ by 100 points. It’s a win win. Bird books are great for this time of year with the winter birds making their way to birdfeeders everywhere and adults refusing to go outside once the second snowfall hits. A bird watching book will give them something to combat their cabin fever for the next six months. Another win win.

Seriously, though. A book makes a great gift, no matter the age or reading level, and a book that comes from the heart is never a wrong choice. Check out our NEW shelves for gift-giving ideas, or stop in to shop our book store for a selection of gently-used fiction and non-fiction titles.

Frightful Fiction

by Kelly

Ah, October. A time to plug in the pumpkin spice and revel in everything ghoulish, gruesome, and ghastly that this season evokes. Set the tone with these suggested reads, or discover your own spooky story through our library catalog, available in print or for you to download.

Who better to lead the way in the adult realm of reading than the master of macabre? Given the moniker as the Father of Gothic Literature, Edgar Allan Poe’s tales of horror conjure images of morgues, murderers, and madmen, and the mystery surrounding his own untimely death continues to plague the minds of Poe fans and fanatics, evermore.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.

Edgar Allen Poe “The Raven”.

Fall into madness with the repetitive cadence and imagery found in Poe’s classic poem “The Raven“, as the unnamed protagonist laments the loss of his love. Enter “The Fall of the House of Usher” and experience the vague and mysterious influences that plague the mind of Roderick Usher and ultimately cause his unraveling. And, let the anticipation build inside of you as “The Tell-Tale Heart” beats louder, and louder, and louder, within the mind of a killer. You really can’t go wrong with whichever story you choose to slice into.


Readers will get a thrill while trying to figure out the circumstances that surround November Adley at the Academy Absconditi, as someone is trying to kill her. Written by direct descendant of the infamous Cotton Mather, instigator of the Salem Witch Trials, Adriana Mather is not only a talented writer of young adult thrilling fiction, she is one of the most personable and down-to-earth authors around, befriending and engaging with multitudes on various social media outlets.

If Killing November is up your reading alley, continue the series with Hunting November, a dark and intriguing universe designed to keep you on the edge of a knife and your seat.


Oh. My. Goonies. Raise your hand if you are a member of the Goonies fan club. You know the Goonies, the set of misfit friends who discover a treasure map and go on a quest for riches to save the home of one of their pals.

Well, guess what? This classic 1985 family adventure film starring big names of the day like Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, and Josh Brolin is now a children’s book. That’s right, you can now read your way through 48 illustrated pages of treasure-hunting, booby trapped, pirate-ship adventure in this storybook adapted by Brooke Vitale and illustrated by Teo Skaffa. While this story isn’t entirely on the Halloween scale, there are enough thrills and chills to make it count. Also look for other movie adapted storybooks like E.T., Back the the Future, and The Karate Kid.

Visit the library catalog online or download the Lakeland Library app to begin your browsing, and install the Hoopla and Libby apps to read, watch, or listen you way through this Halloween.

Fall Fiction Drop

by Kelly

Fall is officially here, which means now is the perfect time to grab a great book to read while you are waiting for your kids while they are at practice, download a title to accompany you on your daily commute, or have one at home to retreat to at the end of the day. Not sure what to read? Why not celebrate the season and grab a title with fall in the title, here are a few to get you started.

The Fall by Guillermo Del Tore and Chuck Hogan. Fans of The Strain, an original series on FX, will want to pick up this horror thrill ride dubbed on its cover as “Bram Stoker meets Stephen King meets Michael Crichton.” A Vampire tale for the modern-day masses, this story is gripping and terrifying. But, you might want to pick up The Strain to go along with this one, as this is number two in a trilogy.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. Sticking with trilogies, this epic novel is the first in “The Century Trilogy,” a sweeping series set around five intertwined families of complex characters spanning several decades and living through stories of social and political nature as we have not heard them before. Follett is the master of creating captivating and engrossing characters, writing them into moments in history that make us feel as though we are living it ourselves.

The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane. This plot-driven character novel follows the story of Clementine, the lone survivor of a plane crash who awakes in a foreign country with complete amnesia. Assuming a new identity and hiding out as she tries to recover the memories of her life, Clementine discovers there is an upside to the life she once knew that has since fallen apart.

The Upside of Falling by Alex Light. This 2020 Wattpad publication is a first-time novel from the author who began writing on online communities. Along the lines of one of my favorite 80’s movies Can’t Buy Me Love, this book follows the pattern of two people pretending to be a fake relationship for the sake of saving their own pride, but when sparks begin to fly, is it real or just make-believe?


Falling In by Frances O’Roark Dowell. An enchanting story that takes the main character into an alternate universe is an imaginative and humorous adventure written especially for the dreamers of the world. Quirky and likeable, this middle grade story would be particularly good for classrooms or discussion groups.

Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall by Anne Sibley O’Brien. Fall is a season for change, and this book combines beautiful fall-colored illustrations with a rhyming look at the changing season that will appeal to ages 3-5 and their caregivers. A magic-filled look at what happens when fall begins to set in.

Retro Reads

by Kelly

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the books that I read during my teenage years that influenced me in a big way. During this age, my reading territory was expanding to cover new genres. I was branching out from my beloved Trixie Belden mysteries into new worlds of mind-bending science fiction, dystopian terror, magical fantasy lands, and heart-pounding thrillers, genres that are still in my go-to arsenal of reading choices.

Want to see the books that influenced me? Let’s take a trip back in time…

Outside by Andre Norton. First, and favorite on my list of retro reads, this YA book was published in 1976 and read by about ten years later. This book was unlike anything I had previously read, and was my first dip into Science Fiction. Set within a dome (move over, Stephen King) a society of children, the only survivors of an ecological disaster fight for survival under the dome and seek answers to the questions of what happened to the old world before them. Here’s the scoop. I read this. I loved it. I got rid of it and then searched for it for 30 years but could not remember the title. Thanks to a helpful coworker and the power of google, I am the proud owner of this book, once again. My life feels complete.

Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien. This YA book was originally published in 1974, the year I was born, but I didn’t get around to reading it until I was in sixth or seventh grade. Definitely after I read Outside, because in the years since, I have a tendency to combine the two books in my mind. This book was my first dive into dystopian fiction, and I remember feeling weird, thrilled, and terrified when reading it. Set after a post-disaster world, the main character thinks she is the only survivor left on earth, until a mysterious man shows up on her farm. A thrilling, scary, fascinating tale of survival. A great starter book into the world of dystopia.

Castle Roogna by Piers Anthony. I read this one in 1990 and gave a book report on it to my tenth grade English class. This particular title is book number three in a series of a million (actually only 35 or so), and it was my FAVORITE. The Xanth Series from where this book belongs, was my first foray into the world of magic and fantasy and I was smitten. In this story, the main characters use special magic to walk on the clouds, they invent a handshake language to communicate while imprisoned, and they team up with other odd magical beings to overthrow the bad guy. It’s described on Amazon as “a mind trip that is full of idioms wrapped in puns, which are enveloped in irony.” Definitely awesome.

Where Are the Children by Mary Higgins Clark. I vividly recall reading this book in the summer of 1991 in one fell swoop that kept me up half the night. My mom had likely picked this gem up from a garage sale and I was emerging into the world of adult reading, so I read it. Thrilling, Intense. Memorable. It is only now as I write this review that I learned that the events of this novel are based on a real-life crime that took place ten years prior, and it was the novel that launched the author’s career. Very cool.

What book has had the most impact on you? Let us know in the comments.

Summer Scares

by Kelly

Summer is officially upon us. The nights may be getting shorter, but there is still plenty of darkness to explore, even in broad daylight, when you dive into the pages of a spine-tingling tale found in these newly added horror titles to the library’s adult fiction collection.

Goblin by Josh Malerman. Fans of Malerman’s BirdBox will uncover six times the scares in this collection of interconnected stories set in the town of Goblin, Michigan. Ferndale, Michigan resident and MSU alum Malerman opens the door to this creepy fictional town and the residents who inhabit it, telling six individual tales with a common tie.

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon. This haunted house story set in the woods of Vermont features a married couple set off to build their dream home on what find out is cursed land. Supernatural and strange event unfold as they put their house together and uncover the local legends surrounding those who haunt it.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones. This disturbing novel of psychological horror unveils revenge and sorrow that haunts the lives of four Blackfeet Indian men, and their families, years after a shared event. Suspenseful, and at times graphic and gory, this novel is hard to forget.

The Ruins by Scott Smith. This survivor horror novel set on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula begs the question for the reader, how would you act and react if faced with a hopeless situation that you were lured into by a bizarre creeping horror. Add this one to your must-read list and then watch the movie.

Near The Bone by Christina Henry. Atop an isolated mountaintop an abused wife faces danger inside and outside her abode. When a group of hunters come looking for a legendary being, they discover more than the one monster they were looking for. Fast-paced, and thrilling, this horror novel serves up a dose of dread.

Get your summer scare started. Each of these titles offer up their own unique take on the horror genre, sure to send a chill down your spine and make you sleep with one eye open. Pick up a copy today or check our eResource apps for digital versions of these and other great horror titles.

A Whale of a Tale

by Kelly

Summer reading, happened so fast. Summer reading, had me a blast. Fans of the musical Grease know that summertime can be one of the best and magical time of one’s life. But how does that apply to summer reading?

For the parents, it’s a free and fun way to keep their young ones, tweens, and teens occupied and educated during the months-long recess from school. For the librarians, it’s a great way to promote reading, literacy, and books, the foundation on which libraries operate. And, for the kids, it’s a surefire way to snag some awesome library loot, making it a win, win, win for everyone involved.

Simply stated, Summer Reading challenge is a nation-wide program offered by libraries during the weeks of summer. Each year, there is a collaborative theme that participating libraries set their own rules and guidelines around.

This year’s theme is Tails & Tales, an imaginative way to highlight books and stories that have a tailed animal, creature, or being as the central character or theme. Though, you are welcome to read any story that you choose.

ANBL’S summer reading requirements for participation and completion vary by age group, Pre-K, Youth, Teen, and Adult, and details can be found when you sign up on the Beanstack app or webpage. Beanstack tracks your progress and is the ONLY place you can enter into the prize drawings.

Here are some things you should know for Summer Reading 2021:

  • ALL AGES can participate- Birth-100
  • All tracking is done through the Beanstack app-NO PAPER
  • You receive virtual tickets in the app that you enter for prize drawings
  • You can read any books you wish (library or at-home books) and may come to the library to browse
  • Our Youth Librarian Team have put together VIRTUAL events that can be viewed on Facebook or our YouTube Channel with take and make fun to go
  • The Summer Reading Challenge begins June 7 and ends July 31

Entering your reading, participating in virtual activities, and writing reviews on the Beanstack app all have the possibility to earn you tickets toward prize drawings. Staff is on-hand during all open library hours to assist you and answer questions.

We hope that the summer of 2021 is one that you will enjoy and remember. Pre-registration is open now. Find the Beanstack app on your phone or device or visit to pre-register today.

Let’s Hear It for the Moms

by Kelly

Mother’s Day comes around annually as a day to celebrate the mothers in our lives, or earn a well-deserved ‘day of you’, if you are a mother yourself. While you spend your day getting the rest and relaxation you undoubtedly need, grab your favorite book or one of these titles about some hard-working, relatable, beloved, and underestimated fictional moms.

  1. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. Every single mom (parent) can and will relate to Jess Thomas, the main character of this unlikely love story. Jess works, fights, and scraps her way through a multitude of challenges to get her children to where they need to be in their lives. The realistic way she struggles to make ends meet shows the raw, honest truth of life as a single parent. Love story aside, you will root for Jess and applaud her eternal optimism even as life throws her some grenades.
  2. Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. I will admit, the first time I read this book, I didn’t appreciate the story. I found the title character Bernadette to be selfish as she abandoned her husband and daughter to partake on her own secret quest. But, looking more into the character of who Bernadette is as a woman and a human, I think sometimes we all need to go on a journey to find ourselves and the truth, and perhaps a little element of selfishness is what we mothers need after all.
  3. Room by Emma Donoghue. While this story contains a multitude of heavy topics that the reader has to navigate, it is a story of perseverance and a mother’s unshakable bond and love for her child.  
  4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg. Ruth Jamison has had her share of tough times and failed relationships and becomes a beloved fixture at the Whistle Stop Café, where she is taking control of her life and raising her son, Buddy Jr. She is a hard-working and devoted mother who is as real and raw as they come.
  5. Stehpanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Grandmas are mothers plus one. And Stephanie Plum’s grandmother is a hoot! Whether she is pulling out her gun at inappropriate times while tagging along on investigations or trolling funeral homes as a social gathering, Grandma Mazur is great fun to read about. Who doesn’t love their grandmother!?

Enjoy and appreciate the mothers, step-moms, grandmothers, foster moms, adopted moms, and other mother figures in your real and fictional life. Checkout and download these titles and more from the library and related apps.

The Literacy Star

by Kelly

What’s not to love about Dolly? As a musician, Dolly Parton is the most honored female country singer-songwriter of all time, with 44 Top 10 country albums and 26 number one singles. Being a successful musician has brought the songstress years of success, but, music is not the only thing that Dolly Parton gives to the world.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a book gifting program started by the musician in 1995, mails high-quality books to children ages birth to five to anyone who registers, no matter their income. To date, Dolly’s Imagination Library has put over 150 million books into the hands of emerging readers.

Dolly’s Imagination Library was inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, prompting this country queen to create this legacy in his honor, striving to foster a love for reading in young ones around the world. You can visit the website to register your young reader online, or check with us (or your local library) for a mail-in form. According to the website, once you register your child, it may take six to nine weeks before the books arrive. Once your first order arrives, you will receive your books regularly each month.

The Ionia County Intermediate School District has been encouraging local families to participate in this free book-gifting program. For several years now, the Ionia County ISD sponsors an annual quilt show and sale to help support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ionia County. Last year alone, 2780 children from the county received free books.

The quilts sold are handcrafted by local artisans and based on a literary theme. This year, the theme Down on the Farm produced 51 quilts that are up for sale. The library has on display quilt number 49 (made by Laura Heffron) that can be previewed for those interested. With colorful barns and adorable barnyard animals, each quilt offers a unique perspective of the shared theme by the artists who designed them.

The quilt show and sale for 2021 will be held on Saturday, May 22 from 9 am to 1 pm at the Ionia County Intermediate School District building located at 2191 Harwood Road, Ionia. Quilts can be viewed online at and the proceeds from all sales are guaranteed to give the gift of reading.

New Growth

by Kelly

Gardening is for everyone. Even for those of us born without a green thumb. Last year, when Covid-19 shut the country down, the Alvah N. Belding Library seed library distributed seeds to hundreds of individuals. At that time, I decided to try my hand at gardening. Although I had very little knowledge of starting plants from seed, I decided that quarantine was the perfect time to try something new, so I gave it a go.

To my surprise, the seeds I planted soon began to sprout. I put them in a nice, sunny window, tended to their need for water, and watched them become little stalks of life. I chose to plant seeds for vegetable, fruit, herb, and flowers that I knew I would enjoy, which included tomatoes, watermelon, basil, and daisies.

Around Memorial Day weekend, it was time to get my small plants into a bigger growing space. Living in the city, and in a rental unit, I didn’t have access to dig into the ground, so I improvised with plastic totes and other plant pots to get the job done.

The flowers that I planted bloomed throughout the summer, the herbs I grew were cut for several summer night bbq’s, and the fruit and vegetables I planted gave me a couple of delicious meals. The satisfaction that I felt, knowing how I had started them from seed, was a great feeling.

The moral of the story is that if I can do it, anyone can. The Alvah N. Belding Library’s Seed Library is open for service. We offer FREE seeds for anyone with a valid library card to check out. NEW this year are seed kits, which offer 3-4 different types of seeds that, when harvested, can be combined to make a complete dish. The best time for starting seeds indoors in Michigan is late March to early April.

Give it a try! The seeds can be ordered online through this link to be picked up at the library. For more information about plants and gardening, check out the library catalog for a list of titles, or check out our Pinterest page for gardening book suggestions.