CPL Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2020

Ask a librarian for some good books, be prepared for a long list! I recently asked our staff members to share some their favorite reads in 2020, and the answers that came back were many and varied. We really do read a lot! Not all the books on this list were published in 2020, (some were older books we just got around to reading in 2020!), but all received a solid thumbs up from a member of our staff:

Children’s Books

Picture Books

Chapter Books

YA Fiction

Adult Fiction

Adult Non-Fiction


( * – this book was recommended by more than one staff member)


Preschool Favorites: a 4-year-old’s Top Ten List

When I say my 4 year old is a book hound, I mean it. At an average of 4 books a day(usually six, but there are those days where we only get to four), it adds up to a dead minimum of 1450 we’ve read in the last year. Of course we haven’t read that many titles; some we read over and over and there are certain ones that are met with a wail of “No! Keep that one!” when it’s time to return them, and if I hear it enough, I give in and buy it to keep.

I’ve bought a lot of books this year, especially when the library was closed.

So what keeps a four year old coming back for more? A short engaging story they can identify with, rhyme, repetition (and thus predictability), and relevant illustrations. If the pictures are too abstract, it’s not going to work. Beautiful art feeds the imagination and makes the story memorable. Here’s a short list of the books my four year old can’t stop requesting:

Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner. Oh Mr. Wuffles, how many times we’ve “read” you! In this nearly wordless book, Mr. Wuffles the cat causes an alien ship to crash land, and they must team together with the ants in the walls to repair the ship and escape Mr. Wuffles. Brilliant for developing imagination and prediction, because it’s never quite the same story twice.

Penny and Penelope by Dan Richards Two girls with the same doll but very different ideas learn that being a princess or being an action hero is just as much fun. A great way to break out of the perpetual princess phase.

Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer: Classic old-school. We’ve read them all but are still looking for more. Yeah, the oldest ones are still the best, but Critter thinks like a preschooler, and they relate.

Mo WillemsPigeon books are our favorites, but Elephant and Piggie are almost as desired, and Knuffle Bunny is loved. Somehow Pigeon wound up with Brooklyn accent.

Creepy Pair of Underwear
and Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown. Four is already aware that underwear are comical, so a book about creepy underwear hits all the marks. Both books lead kids down a slightly scary story but swing it around to a safe and funny conclusion, allowing kids to explore fear safely.

series by David Shannon. Any of the David books will do – No, David! is the first book she was able to memorize and “read” back to me, word for word. There’s nothing like a kid getting into trouble to teach sympathy and manners – or as my preschooler called it, tablemammals.

Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore. There are several Freckleface books, and they are each sweet and charming and no matter what the difficulty, they wind up in friendship and inclusion without being fake and syrupy. The illustrations by LeUyen Pham are endearing and distinctive – everything she’s illustrated has been wonderful – and she’s done a lot!

Ladybug Girl by David Soman. Lulu loves to dress up as Ladybug Girl with her friends Bumblebee Boy and Grasshopper Girl, sometimes just playing around and sometimes being superheroes and having adventures. Perfect stories for imaginative kids who already want to change the world.

series by Anne Marie Pace (and illustrated by LeUyen Pham) is different than the series Disney made from it – more wholesome and childlike. Vampirina’s just a vampire girl trying to fit in with regular society, whether it’s evening ballet lessons or an Addam’s-family style sleep over, with an emphasis on trying your best and being a good friend.

Superheroes: Four seems to be the age when being a hero kicks in. We loved Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Black Widow, Iron Man, Black Panther – all of them. They’re quick and simple, not very deep, aren’t always written logically, but they give kids enough of a background to understand what their older siblings are watching.

By all means keep rereading Little Blue Truck and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and The Kissing Hand, but if you need something more, give these books a try!


Homeschooling and Remote Learning Resources at the Library

Hey, parents and teachers at home- we see you. You’re working hard to educate remotely, and most likely dealing with your own kids at the same time. We’re committed to helping you, whether you’re a caregiver, educator, or both. We have some great resources for distance learning and homeschooling, and we have lots of information that can make your life a little easier right now.

We’ve scheduled timely and informative virtual programs about homeschooling coming up in January and February:

So You’re Thinking about Homeschooling?

Monday, January 11, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Join Linda Hincks, East Hampton homeschool mom and owner of Wren Homeschool Consulting, to learn the basics of homeschooling and the laws in Connecticut. She will provide information to help you decide if it is right for your family.

Tips and Tricks for Remote Learners from a Homeschool Veteran

Monday, February 1, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Schooling at home and homeschooling are different, but there’s also a lot of overlap. Get some tips and tricks for remote learning from 20 year homeschool veteran, Linda Hincks. We’ll talk about how to relieve stress for kids and adults alike and revive energy for learning. Bring your questions and concerns.

Homeschooling: What’s Next?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

You’ve decided to homeschool. What’s next? Join Linda Hincks of Wren Homeschool Consulting to find out not only what to do, but how!


We also offer virtual Toddler and Preschool Storytimes featuring interactive songs, stories, and other fun learning activities.

What about books? Or access to e-books? We’ve got a variety of materials for at-home reading and studying needs for all ages!



Homeschooling Books. If you’re unsure where to begin, these books are a good starting point! Get tips and resources from people in the know.

Lit Kits are a great way to take storytime and learning home with you!  Each kit contains 3-4 books on a theme, toys or manipulatives, and a caregiver guide with suggested songs and activities. Our Lit Kits are designed for children 3-5 years old, but they can be adapted or modified for use with almost any age group.

Audiobooks (both digital and on CD) offer many benefits for children. As a child hears an audio book, they enter a journey where reading seems friendlier and more approachable. A young reader listening to an audio book is more apt to establish a pattern of concentrating on the sounds of words without being interrupted by personal reading obstacles.

Playaway is a pre-loaded audiobook that gives kids the portability and freedom to listen to audiobooks anytime, anywhere. It promotes literacy, bridges the digital divide, and makes technology accessible to everyone, with high-quality audio productions of titles from the industry’s best publishers.

VOX™ Books combine outstanding picture books and non-fiction with audio recordings that capture children’s attention and make learning and literacy development fun. The permanently attached VOX™ Reader transforms an ordinary print book into an all-in-one read-along. There’s no need for computers, tablets or CDs. Children simply push a button to listen and read.

Books on DVD – audiovisual adaptations bring outstanding children’s picture books to life and help children fall in love with books and reading. Our DVDs are word-for-word adaptations of the books they are based on, and help all readers improve their fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

NEW! Launchpad Reading Academy, a fun and focused way to help kids improve their reading skills. This multi-media tablet contains interactive storybooks, videos, and apps that help kids learn to read, progress through reading levels, and fall in love with reading. This 5-level guided reading system helps kids master verbal, reading, and writing skills — starting at any level. Every app, storybook, and video has been hand-selected to help kids gain the knowledge they need to transition from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn.

Mango offers over 70 world language courses expertly designed to adapt to a diverse range of learning needs, styles, and backgrounds. Mango prepares learners for realistic conversations and communication and the confidence needed to communicate in a new language.

researchIT CT online reference databases: newspapers, magazines, journals, genealogy & more. researchIT CT provides all students, faculty and residents with online access to essential library and information resources. Through researchIT CT, a core level of information resources including secured access to licensed databases is available to every citizen in Connecticut.

Many families are pursuing distance learning – at least part-time, and while it can be an incredibly rewarding experience for families to learn together, we know it can also feel overwhelming to find the right tools and resources that will help your child succeed. Libraries are here to help!

What’s Happening (Virtually) at Cheshire Library in January

Happy New Year! Back when we started doing virtual programming in April, we thought it might be for a couple of months. Now here we are starting our tenth month of virtual programs, with no in-person programs on the immediate horizon. We like to think we’ve gotten pretty good at them, though, and have found that some kinds of programs actually work better in a virtual setting. We’ll keep working to bring you entertaining and informative program online – we’ve got a ton of them coming in January, here’s a look:

January Teen Volunteering Challenges

Earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video, or other content that may be added to CPL’s social media pages! Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours. January’s challenges include:

  • Art: Make a fancy snowflake (cutting from paper), or draw a picture of an Abominable Snowman.
  • Writing: Write a story, poem, or essay about someone who inspires you.
  • Food: January is National Soup Month, so make some soup and warm your family up with piping hot bowls of comfort!
  • Reading: Read a book about Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 18th).
  • More Reading: Celebrate A.A. Milne’s birthday (also January 18th) by reading (re-reading?) a Winnie-the-Pooh story.
  • Even More Reading: Build a pillow fort and read a book inside it!

If you participate in the challenges, earn community service credit by submitting your creations so we can share them on our social media pages!

Take + Make: Paracord Bracelet

Pick up January 4 – 9, 2021

Make something at your own pace with Take + Make kits! We have a limited number of materials so please register to pick up your kit in the Children’s Room any time the library is open (hours listed here) during the week of January 4, 2021. For grades 6-12, one kit per person, please.

Support Through Meditation – Weekly Zoom Event

Tuesdays,  January 5-26, 2:00 – 3:00pm

This introductory meditation class is geared towards helping you through these anxious and challenging times. You will learn various meditation techniques that you will practice in session and guidance to perform meditation on your own. Presenter Tia Mandrozos will explain the purpose of meditation and interact with the participants to provide the help needed and to address specific concerns. Please register via the Event Calendar for each session you wish to attend.

White Memorial Through the Seasons – White Memorial Conservation Center

Wednesday, January 6, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Brother and sister Alain and May White left their fingerprints all over Litchfield County, beginning with our 4,000 acre sanctuary. Sit back and enjoy breathtaking images from a variety of contributors depicting the extraordinary people, places, and things that make up this living masterpiece! Advance registration is required to join this program.

Murder of the High Wizard – Virtual Murder Mystery

Thursday, January 7, 2021, 3:00 – 4:00pm

The College of Wizards investigates a shocking murder! Join us in playing the roles of wizards and faculty for this virtual magic-themed murder mystery game. For teens in grades 6-12. Please register in advance to receive your character sheet before the program.

Adult Take & Make Workshop: Macramé Coaster

  • Pick up materials: Tuesday, January 5, 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Zoom workshop: Saturday, January 9, 3:00 – 4:30pm

A macramé coaster is a great project for beginner to intermediate level crafters. We will use cotton rope and basically we will repeat one type of knot several times in a circle to create this useful and cool looking object. Join our Macramé artist Linda to make this fun project. Supplies are limited, registration is required to pick up your supplies on January 5th and attend the virtual workshop on January 9th.

Foundation Gardens and Native Plants: A Winter View

Monday, January 11, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Presenter Kathy Connolly will discuss how to use winter’s lean lines to assess a foundation area, imagine new design, and build your plant list during the dark months. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Homeschooling 101

Monday, January 11, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

So you’re thinking about homeschooling? Join Linda Hincks, East Hampton homeschool mom and owner of Wren Homeschool Consulting, to learn the basics of homeschooling and the laws in Connecticut. Please forward your questions to aallen@cheshirelibrary.org ahead of time so Linda can include the answers in the Zoom presentation. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Baby Steps

Join us in an exploration of shared activities for babies ages 0-12 months and their caregivers that provide the opportunity to strengthen your connection with your child and enrich your baby’s cognitive development through joyful movement and social experiences. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Preschool Storytime

Wednesdays, January 13 – February 10, 10:00 – 10:30pm

A virtual storytime for preschoolers (and their grown-ups!) to learn through talking, singing, reading, writing,and playing! Best for children ages 3-5. Younger and older siblings are welcome.  This program meets five times: January 13, 20, and 27 & February 3 and 10. Registration required, register once to attend all five sessions.

Getting Started in Genealogy

Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 2:00 – 3:00pm

Carol Ansel, Director at the Godfrey Memorial Library in Middletown, will present the ABC’s of beginning genealogy, with an emphasis on the 8 (or so) basic types of genealogical records—where you can find them and how best to use them. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Sing Your Story

Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 4:00 – 5:00pm

Sing Your Story is an education music experience where kids become songwriters! Creator, Michele Urban, is an Early Childhood Music specialist, songwriter and vocal performer. Check out the song we wrote this summer here! Best for children in grades K-6. Please register for this virtual program to receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the program start time.

Cooking Program: Ditch the Diet

Thursday, January 14, 2021, 3:30 – 4:30pm

Join Food Explorers to learn how to start the New Year off in a healthy way with a Registered Dietitian! No more calorie counting or juice cleanses, you’ll learn how to determine if a diet is fad or fact. You’ll also have the chance to cook along and make a delicious lunch-prep recipe: Sweet Potato Fajita Bowls with Guacamole (ingredients in the calendar description). Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Teen Take + Taste Challenge: Kit Kats!

January 19 – 23, 2021

Try some new tastes in the New Year- discover the wild and wacky flavors of Kit Kat candy bars and try to guess the flavors without peeking… do you think you can guess the flavors by just their taste? We have a limited number of materials so please register to pick up your kit in the Children’s Room any time the library is open (hours listed here) during the week of January 18, 2021. For grades 6-12. Registration is required to reserve and pick up a kit, and kits are limited to one kit per person per week.

Connecticut & the Pandemic of 1918

Thursday, January 21, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

What was it like to live through the Influenza Pandemic of 1918? In this program, we’ll look at archival images, letters, and newspapers to explore this topic, including sources left by Connecticans who experienced the flu first-hand. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Take + Make: Snowflake STEAM

January 25 – 30, 2021

Make something at your own pace with Take + Make kits! We have a limited number of materials so please register to pick up your kit in the Children’s Room any time the library is open (hours listed here) during the week of January 25, 2021. For grades K-6, one kit per child, please.

Cut the Cord

Monday, January 25, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Join us for an entertaining presentation meant to help cable-TV customers break the expensive and often frustrating cable service cycle. The presentation will cover  details of streaming equipment (some of which you may already own) and how to explore the ever-expanding list of channels and services streaming—as well as the “forgotten” free resource of broadcast TV—can bring to your living room. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Books Over Coffee: The Searcher

Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called Books Over Coffee. This month’s book is The Searcher by Tana French. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Feeling Alone-a Because of Corona

Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Hands-on Workshop with On-hand ingredients – with Velya and Ehris Urban. We’ll learn how to make DIY Ginger Ale and Vanilla/Almond Extracts. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Review of THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS by Rick Riordan

Today’s book review is written by teen volunteer Sarah Reid.

Percy Jackson and his friends aren’t ordinary kids. They are all demigods, half-god, and half-human, which means it’s up to them to save the world. When disaster strikes and Gaea threatens to wake from her eternal slumber, everyone is in danger. They must sail on the Argo ll and prevent Gaea from waking. At the same time Greek camp, Camp Half-Blood, and Roman camp, Camp Jupiter are prepared to go to war. But will they be able to prevent the battle between the camps? How will they defeat the giants? Will they be able to overcome the obstacles standing in their way? Can they make it to Gaea before the entire world and everything they know is destroyed?

This book along with the entire series is so amazing! Rick Riordan puts a unique spin on Greek and Roman mythology. He is an outstanding author and storyteller. The whole series is hilarious, creative, entertaining, and so action-packed. Rick Riordan uses awesome descriptive words to help you visualize what is going on. It’s almost like you are in the book. The idea for this book was so incredibly clever. The book teaches you about Greek and Roman mythology but in a fun, cool, and amusing way. All of the characters are so interesting and aren’t one dimensional like some other ones I’ve read about. They all have their own stories and cool different special powers. I love that there are always amazing plot twists that you would never expect in a million years. I loved everything about the book. I have read it and the series multiple times already, it’s just so good! I would give this book ten out of ten stars. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes books with action, adventure, friendship, comedy, and mystery, or to anyone who is just looking for an overall amazing book.



This book is the last volume in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, which itself is a spinoff of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Here are the titles from both series, in order:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians:

  1. The Lightning Thief
  2. The Sea of Monsters
  3. The Titan’s Curse
  4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
  5. The Last Olympian

Heroes of Olympus:

  1. The Lost Hero
  2. The Son of Neptune
  3. The Mark of Athena
  4. The House of Hades
  5. The Blood of Olympus