Reading Rewards

by Kelly

I recently saw a social media post about a parent who paid their child one dollar for each chapter book they read in a year. The child read 180 books, and was flush with cash, thinking the reward was in the payment. But, as the parent and many of us already know, the reward is in the reading itself.

Yes, reading is a reward. Whether we are consciously aware or ignorantly blissful as we turn the pages, reading provides each of us with something of value on the inside. Reading can serve as a validation for our beliefs, an outlet for our daily stresses, or as an inspiration for the direction of our lives. We can identify with characters who provide us with wisdom and guidance for our future endeavors. We can gain information and inspiration from our exposure to books that pushes us further in our relationships and careers, whether we realize it, or not.

Reading to our children (or anyone) is a rewarding task that develops our bonds with them and strengthens their minds, as well as our own. Seeing our children read independently is just as rewarding, if not more so. Passing along a book to a friend, family member or colleague, and sharing the story with each other is a great way for us to connect, to feel heard, and to be validated and appreciated.

Reading is a great way for us to spark a new interest or idea, and learn, and grow. Books are full of new vocabulary, history lessons, inter-personal relationship skills, and emotion. The more emotion that a book is able to evoke in us, the better the lesson, and the bigger the reward. Disliking a book, and disagreeing with an author’s viewpoint is just as important as enjoying what we read. Having our thoughts and beliefs challenged is a great way to discover ourselves and can have a lasting impact on our life.

What are the rewards of reading to you? What drives the choices you make about the books you read? Escape, growth, knowledge, camaraderie? Whatever reading is to you, and whatever the reward, we at the library appreciate the effort you put into your love for reading. We are here to serve your interests and would love to hear your recommendations for books we may not have heard of. Connect with us to let us know how we can help. Your reading is our reward.

Reading Independence

by Kelly

July brings about thoughts of freedom, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate your own reading independence! It’s the time of year to celebrate the freedom we have to choose books we want to read and when to read them, based on our likes, interests, and whatever else motivates us to dive into a great book.

Not all readers are alike. Some people read quickly. Some take their time. Some people don’t read much, and some people read everything under the sun. And do you know what? We at the library don’t care! We aren’t here to pass judgement, criticize, or shame your reading style. We simply love that you read, and we are here to put your next great read in your hands.

To help us do that, you need to know what types of books appeal to you. You are the founder of your reading independence. Maybe you like realistic fiction, a not-so-gruesome mystery, or far-imagined tales of outer space? Perhaps you like learning about real events from a specific time in history, or want to understand more about real people and places and things. Or, you might desire to learn a new craft or hobby, or art form. No matter what your reading style, choice, or taste is, we can help find the perfect book for you.

Each of us library staffers have our own set of individual reading likes (check out our Pinterest boards and Goodreads shelves), from history to mystery and true life stories to true crime, we run the gamut on reading niches. On our website, you can find our new “Ask A Librarian” link where you can ask us anything, including suggestions on what to read next.

Here is a list of things to consider when deciding your personal reading style. These are called the “Four Doors to Reading”, created by well-known librarian, Nancy Pearl. Choose which of these doorways matter most to you on your reading adventure.

  1. Story— Plot. Action. The sequence of events (real or fictional) that the character(s) go through to reach the end.
  2. Character— People. Protagonists. Villains. Heroes. The cast of characters who embark on the story (real or fictional).
  3. Setting— Worldbuilding. This is what makes you feel like you’re in another place or time.
  4. Language— Words. Grammar. Style. These books make you want to savor every word.

Many factors can make up your reading choices. It’s up to you to choose the direction in which you wish to read and we will put a book in your path. Visit our website at to submit your “Ask a Librarian” request.

Take a Reading Leap

by Kelly

Variety is the spice of life. Change is good. Think outside of the box. Get out of your comfort zone. These are all great motivational messages that can apply to many areas of your life, including the way you read.

If you are like me (and millions of other people in the world), you know what you like and you stick to it. I like this type of movie, I like that type of ice cream, and I like my reading comfort zone.

What exactly is a reading comfort zone? It is whatever you like about a book that keeps pushing you to choose the same type of book over and over again. For some it’s a great fast-paced story line. For others, a big cast of complex characters is required. For me, I need a story that grabs my attention from page one. Choosing what we like about a book is a great way to read, but what if we are limiting ourselves by doing so?

The Alvah N. Belding Library summer reading challenges begin on June 6, and a reading challenge is a great place to kick the comfort zone habit and try something new. This is a time to think outside of your reading box and try a new author, a new genre, or a new format for reading. If you always read thrillers, try reading an equally thrilling fast-paced space drama. If you like a modern romance, try a historical love story instead. Many genres of books contain the same elements of the books you love, but offer you a new perspective on reading.

What do you have to lose by leaving your reading comfort zone? Trying something new will help you grow as a reader, and you just may be surprised to find that you enjoy reading something that you never thought you would!

The ANBL summer reading challenges begin June 6, and are offered for all ages. This summer’s challenges will be paper-free, a safe option for promoting good community health. Get ready for summer reading by downloading the Beanstack Tracker app. If you need a library card, visit our website at to apply.

Dear Reluctant Reader…

by Kelly

I am a librarian, and I am a reluctant reader. That’s probably not a statement you would expect when you think about librarians, but in my case, it’s true. It’s not that I don’t like books. I love them! I just have a really hard time making myself sit down and read, and I am great at coming up with excuses why I can’t—“Reading makes me tired.” “I have to get X, Y, Z done first.” And my favorite, “I don’t have the time.”

Now that I am home due to the current world-wide pandemic, I assure you, I have the time. So, here is what I am learning about being a reluctant reader. First, it’s ok. Some people naturally love to jump into a book and some people don’t. I think what is most important about reading anything is simply to try. 

This is just one reason libraries are awesome. They supply the books at no cost to you, and you get to choose what to try and what to put back. Even now, when we can’t physically enter the library, we have access to digital books to read or listen to, or to simply give a try. No pressure, right?

I take home (and download) a lot of books that I want to read, sometimes read a little of, and sometimes never even open. And that’s ok. My reading journey will look different than yours As long as authors keep writing, I will keep trying, because finding one book I love is worth the struggle. 

Here are my reading suggestions for reluctant readers to help keep them going!

  • Pick out a variety of books to choose from. Having more options gives you the freedom to change your mind. 
  • Read into a book as many pages as you are old. If the book doesn’t hold your interest by that page, put it down and try a different one!
  • Set aside a block of time just for reading. Start a timer for 20 (or more or less) minutes. When the time is up put the book down—or keep reading. It’s your choice!
  • Stop comparing your reading habits to others. Whether you read 1 or 100 books a year doesn’t matter. What matters is opening yourself up to the opportunity of a good book!

Visit the digital resources tab of our website at to learn about where you can download eBooks and eAudiobooks with your library card. Need a book suggestion? Visit our Pinterest Page for lots of great book ideas!

Staying Sharp in Quarantine

by Zach

Staying focused and motivated can be a tricky endeavor even in the best of conditions, so it stands to reason that something as crippling and stressful as a global pandemic can easily grind our productivity to a halt.

But that doesn’t have to be the case.

This year I set a resolution on January 3rd  (my first resolution fell apart completely on day two) that would, in theory, push myself to learn something new every day. The criteria for my resolution was fairly loose, (I didn’t need to learn multivariate calculus one day, then memorize the Talmud the next) I just needed to learn something new. Anything. The rules have fluctuated some since then, but the essence of my resolution has stayed the same.

Reading a dense nonfiction tome about Lyndon Johnson is an easy way (for me, because I’m a history nerd) to hit my daily quota, but I didn’t feel like I was being challenged day to day, which missed the point of my resolution. Once I maintained some consistency, I decided that I needed to go outside of my comfort zone and set challenges for myself. I started getting into web development; I learned some math; I read a lengthy article about giant mouse lemurs for some reason.

Like with anything challenging, mildly or otherwise, my motivation and willpower has stalled occasionally and there have been days where I just wanted to sit on the sofa and binge-watch Parks and Recreation reruns, but now it’s time for a little more consistency, and what better time to work on self-improvement than the beginning of our second month of quarantine?

If you’re bored or stressed and feel like learning something new, the websites below are some of the best out there for people who want to learn just about anything. They’ve certainly helped me stay focused and motivated this year.  – Outstanding website that teaches every level of math (from counting all the way through calculus), computer science, history, and even teaches economics! – Teach yourself a new language  – Lectures by really, really smart people  – Teach yourself coding through interactive lessons  – One of the best cooking blogs out there  – Free university courses from Harvard, MIT, Berkeley and several more – Articles meant to expose you to inspiring new information – Learn all about the world of finance, from basic terminology to in depth analysis of various areas of investing. – A job hunting site meant to help you find a career. – Hundreds of guitar tutorials from complete beginner to music theory

This list barely scratches the surface of what the internet has to offer because the internet is massive, intimidating, and occasionally terrifying, but it’s also one of the greatest resources for information we have available to us. The great thing about it is that if we’re wanting to learn something specific we can simply plug it into a search engine and see where that takes us, but if you’re like me and sometimes your desire to learn can be a little more abstract, this list is a good jumping off point.

Miss Amanda… From the Library

by Miss Amanda

When Miss Britney asked me why I wanted to work at the library, I told her I just wanted to be “Miss Amanda from the Library”.

I spent several years working in childcare and teaching Preschool. I was already known as Miss Amanda. I had built lifelong relationships with so many kids and families in our community. I knew that working at the library would allow me to reach more of the community, meet new kids, new families, and build new relationships. But would I still be Miss Amanda? Would they be excited to see me outside of work? Would I still get invited to school events and sporting events? Would people still want to share their lives with me?

The worry didn’t last long. It only took about a week for me to start building relationships within the library. Littles run to give me hugs at story time and share their own stories with me. My beloved tweens run in after school to fill me on in on their daily adventures. Kids get excited to see me in their schools and in the grocery store. I’ve been invited to basketball games and school plays. I’ve dried tears, laughed uncontrollably, and celebrated small victories. In my short time at the library, I have already made so many new connections. Every day I am thankful for the opportunity to be where I am. I can now proudly say that I am Miss Amanda from the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library.

A Teen’s Perspective

by Emily

Being sixteen and working at the library is honestly the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I get to work with an amazing staff who are almost like family and our patrons are by far the best there are.
I am the type of person who likes to be with people who are older than me, and getting to help and communicate with older patrons really brightens my day. Not only does it make me happy, I also learn quite a lot from them. Still being in school means there is still a lot I need to learn. When patrons come in and talk about things they need to do in life or even about a school subject, they are really the ones who help me.
   Working at a library as a teen helps you develop great time management skills and communication skills. You need to figure out how to pace yourself to get all your work done, while also helping patrons. I feel that ever since I started working at the library I have been way better at time management for work and school.  Not only have I learned better time management, but I have also strengthened my communication skills. To be honest, many teens today don’t have very good communication skills. We hide behind our phone screens and never really talk to the people we are around.Working at the library has really taught me the proper way to communicate to each age group as I work with people of all ages.
   I look at everyone who walks through the library doors as someone to learn from, and absolutely love working at the library. Being a teen working at the library was scary at first, but I quickly learned there was nothing to be scared of. I am surrounded by amazing and friendly people and learn many things we teens today lack. But it’s a fun type of learning, that I know will help me in the future.

New, But Not

by Miss Julia

Hello to all!

My name is Julia or Miss Julia to all the kids here. I’m still new around here – as a librarian at the Belding Library, that is. But I’ve been coming to this library as a patron since I was a child myself, and now I work daily in the same magical building. When I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to be a librarian. It’s been a journey of finding my perfect fit, but here I am, the Children’s Librarian Assistant at the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library and loving every moment of it.

When I am out and about and meet someone new, they usually ask where I work. After I tell them, they seem shocked and usually say, “Isn’t that boring?? Who even uses the library anymore?”. I go ahead in explaining that a library isn’t just books – which, even if it was, that would still be fantastic!  The library is constantly changing to meet the needs of the community, so how could it be boring? Once I talk about the nerf battles, board games, and DVDs you can check out, also including the wide assortment of programs we host, they are way more excited and ask when they can attend a program. I think their initial reactions also have to do with the fact that I am a known extrovert – which, in case you’re wondering, the stereotype of librarians being “old and quiet” is very wrong! I’m quite the talker.

I cannot wait to see you around the library soon. I am still working hard at preparing fun programs for the summer. Summer Reading 2020, here we come! We currently are hosting a poetry contest for youth in 3rd-12th grade as well, which is running until April 25th. To see more information, go to our Facebook Page, or email me. I’d love to chat with you and get to know more about what you’d like to see at the library. You can get in contact with me anytime by emailing I love ideas of all sorts!

The Gift of Family

by Kelly

‘Tis the season for giving and receiving gifts of all kinds, including some you may not know what to do with. It is my suspicion that this year, more than a few people may find themselves on the receiving end of the increasingly popular home DNA genealogy kit.

As the holiday season reaches its peak and the New Year arrives, I’m sure you will have seen many television and internet ads from big companies like or 23andMe offering to bring families closer with a simple swab or spit kit that will reveal your genetic genealogy. Results from your home DNA kit can reveal details of your lineage, including your main ethic makeup and possibly your ancestor’s point of origin. When your data results are uploaded to a worldwide database, you can learn about surnames that tie into your genetic family tree, and have long-lost first, second, and third cousins that you didn’t know you have asking to connect with you.

But which test do you take? From which company do you purchase from? And then what?

There are three types of DNA tests kits available. Y-DNA is a “male-specific” test that will trace the paternal line only, an Autosomal test that can be taken by a male or female and covers both sides of your parents’ ancestry, and the Mitochodrial DNA test can be taken by both males and females, but only reveals your maternal ancestry.

Tests can be purchased from companies like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Finder, and MyHeritage, to name a few. If you received a test as a gift, take the time to learn which type of test it is and from which company. You will want and need to know this information, as it will help you understand how to interpret your results when they arrive.

DNA testing is genetic science, and the results read like science. It is confusing and hard to understand, so do your best to read up on it beforehand! Check our shelves for “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy: How to Harness the Power of DNA to Advance Your Family Tree Research,” by Blaine T. Bettinger for starters, or visit the website of genetic genealogy leader Richard Hill at to learn more.

Lastly, join one of our genealogy group sessions in the library to talk with a few of our resident genealogy DNA enthusiasts to learn more about uploading and reading your results. Our Silk City Genealogy Interest Group (GIG) meets the first Friday of each month at 10 am, and starting in January, we will offer a three-session Beginning Genealogy class, with the first session taking place Thursday, January 30 at 10 am.

Summer “Sure Bet” Staff Picks

by Kelly

As library staff members, we get to see what you read every day. Don’t worry, we don’t judge. We love seeing the variety of books that walk out our doors with our patrons! From helping you find books on our shelves, checking them out for you, and sending you on your way, we are part of your reading process.  But what do we read, you may wonder? With summer in full swing, we’re sharing a bit of our reading world with you. These are “sure bet” titles for you to take with you on vacation, read in a hammock, or simply curl up to in the air conditioning.

Summer reads

Britney recommends:

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This book is total #squadgoals! Set in space, this team of misfits find themselves targeted by powerful governments when they stumble onto a secret that can change the fate of the galaxy.

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams. This cozy mystery, partially set at the Biltmore House, has everything you need—rare books, secret societies, adventure, and murder!


Betty recommends:

What We Keep: 150 People Share One Object that Bring Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning, by Bill Shapiro.

Country Living Tiny Homes: Living Big in Small Spaces edited by Caroline McKenzie.

Both of these titles are great books for lazy-day browsing, filled with wonderful photos.


Zach recommends:

Malazan Book of the Fallen series, by Steven Erikson. A sprawling nine-book fantasy series that reaches across four continents. Full of magic, humor, and compassion, you’ll feel sad to finish the final pages of this beautiful series.


Janelle recommends:

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Steward. If you like quirky characters, plot twists, and writing that celebrates inventive thinking, then this is a great summer selection for you. This book proves that when we harness the power of our differences to work together, amazing things can happen.

On Writing by Stephen King. This nonfiction narrative/informative blend is a unique book and fantastic read. Although it’s not an autobiography, King shares many memories (in a way that only he can) that reveal how his childhood and life shaped his work as a writer.



Olivia recommends:

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan. A vibrant graphic novel with action that would please any 80’s summer blockbuster fan. The perfect read for a lazy summer night.


Kelly recommends:

Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne. This quirky, fun, fantasy adventure will have you hooked from chapter one. This book is great for fans of The Princess Bride and Monty Python-esque comedy. Rollicking fun.

While you are at it, read No Country for Old Gnomes, a just-released follow-up adventure by the same authors.

We hope you enjoy your summer, and all the reading you can fit into it!