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.

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.

Acknowledging History

by Kelly

February is Black History Month. This observance originated with American historian Carter G. Woodson, who launched Negro History Week in February of 1926, and has been celebrated annually as a month-long tribute since 1976 when President Gerald Ford called upon the public to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout history.

Here at the library, we encourage our readers to learn more about the contributions African Americans have made in all areas of the United States’ growth, and to read books (historical and modern) written by African American authors.

Knowledge and understanding about African Americans and their experience can be found through these newly-released non-fiction titles: Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African Americans, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi, Time To Teach: A History of the Southern Civil Rights Movement by Julian Bond, and this young reader title, Timelines From Black History, Leaders, Legends, Legacies by DK and Marielle Harper.

African American author Ralph Ellison addresses many social and intellectual issues facing Black Americans in the early twentieth century in his 1952 novel Invisible Man, while Octavia Butler’s still widely-popular 1979 novel Kindred explores the themes of race, power, and gender, incorporating writing that is modeled on slave narratives.

Angie Thomas gives young adult to adult readers several must-read titles that explore powerful and hard-hitting messages aimed to give readers a better understanding of the very real issues that African Americans face in her books The Hate U Give, Concrete Rose, and On the Come Up. Tiffany D. Jackson tackles several tough topics with care and thoughtfulness in her novel Grown, while Justina Ireland creates an alternate-history explosion with her titles Dread Nation and Deathless Divide, taking readers to 1800s America.

Early readers can gain exposure to stories about the lives of African Americans through colorfully illustrated picture books like Jump at the Sun by Alicia D. Williams, Emmanuel’s Dream by Jason Reynolds, Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, and If a Bus Could Talk by Faith Ringgold, all inspiring true stories of real people based on real-life events.

All of these titles and more are available at the library or through our eReader apps and can be read this February, Black History Month, and all year round.

Reading and Writing

Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Like peanut butter and jelly, birds of a feather, and peas in a pod, you can’t have one without the other. Without authors, there wouldn’t be books, and that’s why we here at the Alvah N. Belding Library encourage everyone to get out the pens and paper and get to work!

Writing is for all ages, and, is a task, talent, or hobby that you can carry with you through life.

If the thought of writing intimidates you, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Between grammar rules, spelling, and punctuation, there’s a lot to take in. Here are some no-fear tips for getting started in writing.

  • Start small. Write a paragraph or two about something you love or love to do. Writing a small piece about something you are passionate about is a great way to get started.
  • Journal it. Start a daily journal and write about the ins and outs of everyday life, your dream vacation, or where you see yourself in ten years.  Practicing your writing daily is a great way to form a lasting habit.
  • Dear diary. Brush up on writing dialogue by talking in a diary. Pretend you are writing a conversation to yourself or a family member or friend. Make it as real or fictional as you choose to trick anyone who might snoop!
  • Write first, then edit. Just go with the flow when you are writing and try not to think about punctuation, spelling, or grammar. That can come later during your editing process.
  • Have fun. Writing should be fun, not a chore. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the process, put down your pencil and try again another time.

Want to try your hand at writing for a chance to win a prize? Youth in grades 3-12 can join our Fall Free-Write writing contest. Fiction entries may be written about any topic of your choice, and Non-fiction stories should be in the form of a personal narrative. Entries should be kept under 5,000 words. We will choose one winner from each division (Elementary, Middle, High School). Entries can be emailed to and must be received by November 30, 2020.

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.

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!

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!