May is Mental Health Month

One in every five people in the US carry some sort of “mental Illness” diagnosis – 20% – making it almost twice as common as killer heart disease, yet people hear the term “mental illness” and pictures of unshaven, alcohol-soaked homeless men and babbling old women with uncombed hair and too many cats come to mind (Don’t judge me!).

In reality, that’s far from the common truth. The umbrella term of “mental illness” includes everyone from your depressed cousin, your churning anxiety over political situations, and Uncle Louie, who served in Iraq and spends most days with his friend Jack Daniels. It includes the teen with autism who works down at the laundromat (don’t jump on me; a strong majority of autism includes OCD and anxiety, with phobias topping the list at 30%), the hoarder you drive past on your way to work, that girl on the cheerleading team who wears a baggy size 0, and that guy at work who stays four hours later than anyone else and talks so fast you can’t follow him. It includes celebrities, like Robin Williams, Margot Kidder, Robert Downey Jr, Brittney Spears, Carrie Fisher, Brooke Shields, and so many more.

“Mental Illness” is more common than COVID.

While some introverts have fared well through the pandemic and quarantines, many people have not. Rates of depression in adults went from 8% pre-pandemic to 28% – almost one in three – after. For those who lived alone, the rates approach 40%. Isolation, job loss, poverty, loss of loved ones, anxiety, and long-haul COVID symptoms all play their part in feeling crushed by a microbe. Among children, who can’t always understand the details of what’s going on, rates of depression and anxiety straddled 40%.

Unfortunately, our image of “mental illness” is tainted by historic images of schizophrenia, the king of all mental illnesses, and often the most resistant to treatment. We watch movies such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, while not remembering that these movies depict mental illness treatment from as much as 70 years ago, when diagnoses were vague, medications were ineffective and dangerous, people believed in insulin comas and the disaster of lobotomies, and there were no PET or MRI scans to show exactly what the problem was. There was a time not very long ago when the number one treatment for syphilis was mercury. Times have changed, and chances are there’s actual help for that now.

How can something affecting 30% of the population be abnormal? Here’s a fact: it’s not, but our refusal to admit it keeps people feeling ashamed and afraid to seek treatment. If you feel down, if the social distancing and anxieties are getting to you, if your child is fearful and withdrawn and having trouble sleeping, reach out! Help is just a phone call away. No insurance? No worries. There are places to help you get medical coverage, and places that work on a sliding scale. There IS help, for everyone. Don’t be afraid to ask.

If you feel like life is overwhelming you, if you are worried about a loved one, if you are struggling with just getting through your day, CALL the CT ACTION line (Adult Crisis Telephone Intervention and Options Network). It’s available 24 hours a day, because the worst thoughts usually happen during the night.  1-800-467-3135,  or just call 211, which is the general help line for state services.

Don’t want to feel like you’re the only one on the planet feeling down? Check out these popular books and films on people having difficulties. Chances are, yours aren’t that bad.

It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week!

Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated during the first full week of May each year. In 2021, it’s May 3-7, with Teacher Appreciation Day falling on Tuesday May 4. As anyone who’s  tried to teach their kids during times when the schools were closed, or has observed the many hoops teachers must jump through to keep their students engaged and learning remotely will surely agreed, TEACHERS ROCK!

Educators have had to hit the ground running during the pandemic, re-inventing the way they teach on the fly, so to speak. Let your teachers know how much you appreciate all they do – here are some ideas:

  • Write an email to your child’s teacher expressing your gratitude for all they’ve done this year, especially while adapting to so many changes in the way they teach.
  • Write an email to the principal, letting them know how much you appreciate your teacher.
  • Show appreciation on Social Media, use the social media hashtag #ThankATeacher from the National PTA and share how educators have brightened your or your child’s life.
  • Donate books for your teacher’s classroom library.
  • Send your teacher a gift card for food or classroom supplies.
  • Have your child a write special letter, e-mail, recorded video message, or drawing to send to their teacher.

Teacher Appreciation Week also brings to mind some of our favorite fictional teacher like:

  1. Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus series
  2. Miss Clavel from the Madeline books
  3. Miss Nelson in Miss Nelson is Missing!
  4. Mr Falker in Thank you, Mr. Falker
  5. Mr. Browne from Wonder
  6. Miss Honey from Matilda
  7. Mr. Terupt from Because of Mr. Terupt
  8. Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter series
  9. Miss Stacy from Anne of Green Gables

Who are some of your favorite teachers from fiction? Let us know in the comments!

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

May we tempt you with our upcoming programs? We’re excited to have a return visit from local author Kathleen Marple Kalb, to do some virtual traveling to the Outer Banks, to dig deep into the subject of vegetable gardens, and much more. Sign up for as many virtual programs as you want and participate from the comfort of home!

May 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. May’s challenges include:

  • Art: It’s the month of Monster MAY-hem! Draw your favorite monster, creature, or beast.
  • Writing: Write a bucket list for summer- what do you hope to do this year?
  • Food: May 6th is National Beverage Day, so make something fun to drink- it can be hot or cold.
  • Reading: On May 4, celebrate “May the Fourth Be with You” by reading a Star Wars-inspired story!
  • More Reading: Listen to an audiobook of a story you’ve read and loved.
  • Even More Reading: Take a book vacation! Read a book set somewhere you would love to visit.

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

How to Have a Successful Vegetable Garden

Saturday, May 1, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Have you found yourself wanting to start growing food in your backyard, or apartment patio, but have no idea where to begin? Cut through the intimidation by attending this step-by-step workshop all about how to have a successful vegetable garden with CT garden expert, Jillian Shea of PlantHer Garden Coaching. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Take + Make Kits for kids & teens

Make something at your own pace this week with a Take + Make kit! We have kits for kids in every age group this month, and registration is required to pick up a kit in the Children’s Room each week. We have a limited number of materials and the kits get reserved very quickly, so please register early and limit to one kit per child.

Birdscaping: Home Sweet Habitat

Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

This beautifully illustrated program explores the importance of creating welcoming habitats for birds through thoughtful landscape choices, including native plants vital for food and nesting sites. Learn about the benefits and joys of creating beautiful layered gardens designed for avian – and human – habitat. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Virtual Trivia Night

Monday, May 10, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Come by yourself or bring your friends! ! Test your knowledge from general categories, including pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course, literature. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Spaceship Harmony: A Musical Journey through the Universe

Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 10:00 – 10:45am

Experience new and familiar music with a cosmic twist! Blast off in a rocket ship, walk on the moon, shake your moon rocks and defy gravity! Best for children ages 2-7. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cartooning Workshop: Animals

Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 3:00 – 4:00pm

Award winning cartoonist and humorous illustrator, Rick Stromoski, will teach you how to create your own cartoon animals! All you will need is a stack of paper and something to draw with. Please note this is an early dismissal day for Cheshire Public Schools. For children and teens in grades 3-8. Please register once per family and you will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the program start time.

Cheshire Author Talk: A Fatal First Night

Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Calling all cozy mystery lovers!  Join us for a conversation with local author Kathleen Marple Kalb on A Fatal First Night, her second Ella Shane mystery. While Ella’s opera company’s latest premier manages to attract adoring crowds and rave reviews, it also attracts a killer who’s a real showstopper. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Lighthouses of the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Thursday, May 13, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

The Outer Banks of North Carolina have been called “The Graveyard of the Atlantic” because of their centuries of shipwrecks and disasters. This Illustrated Lecture will share not just the history, but also the beauty of the lighthouses that guard the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Monday, May 17, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Join us virtually for an open writing group that can help answer your questions on writing, editing, grammar, and publishing. Read a selection of your work to the group for general constructive feedback, or discuss a book you’ve read that might help someone else. Join us once, join us every month! Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Pajama Storytime

Monday, May 17, 2021, 7:00 – 7:30pm

Put on your pajamas and fuzzy slippers and tune in for a fun-filled evening of stories, songs, and adventures! Best for ages 2-5. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Genealogy: Where to Find Cemetery Data Online

Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

While most people are familiar with Find-A-Grave, there are actually several other sites and sources that contain cemetery images and information, which Carol Ansel, Godfrey Memorial Library Director, will share with you. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Author Talk: Arlington National Cemetery

Saturday, May 22, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Join Us as author Cindy Parych presents the backstory of Arlington National Cemetery and highlights some of the stories of the interesting people who lived and were buried there. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

New Haven’s First Pizzerias

Monday, May 24, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Join us, as Colin M. Caplan the pizza guru will discuss how pizza in New Haven came to be, from the Italian immigrants bringing their special recipes. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Sing Me a Fairy Tale: Not so Nimble Jack

Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 10:00 – 10:45am

A musical retelling of the classic tale about a boy named Jack who uses his quick wits to outsmart a giant and make a fortune for himself and his mother. Best for ages 2-5. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Books Over Coffee: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Wednesday, May 26, 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 Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. We will meet over Zoom, please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

11 Books for Young Climate Activists

Earth Day is upon us once again, and I don’t know about you, but mine are looking different lately. Gone are the days when this millennial would spend April 22nd learning about endangered species in school. Now I spend Earth Day, and all of April, and pretty much every day of my life, really, worrying about the changing climate we’re experiencing here on our home planet. I think about greenhouse gas emissions every time I crave a bacon cheeseburger, wonder if the plastic containers from last night’s takeout are truly recyclable, and whenever I buy new clothing, I picture the dried-up Aral Sea or the mass of garbage floating in the Pacific.

It’s exhausting to think about all the ways that we contribute to climate change simply by existing. But instead of spending all our time in a near-paralytic state of worry, there are things we can do to slow down and perhaps even reverse climate change. And by “we,” I mean every one of us: guilt-addled tofu-munching Ziploc-reusing urban dwellers like myself, homeowners with roofs to solarize and garage outlets that can charge plug-in vehicles, all the way down to kids who are going to inherit this growing problem. Yep. Kids. They can absolutely fight against climate change, and the following book titles will help empower them to work for a brighter, more optimistic future.

Baby Loves Green Energy! Accurate enough to satisfy an expert, yet simple enough for baby, this clever board book explores the science of global warming and shows how we can use green energy to help combat climate change.

The Last Straw : Kids Vs. Plastics
There’s no doubt about it: plastic is in almost everything. From our phones and computers to our toys and utensils, plastic is everywhere. But the amount of plastic we throw away is hurting the health of our planet. With this book, readers will be fascinated as they learn about the growing plastic problem and meet just a few of the young activists who are standing up and speaking out for change.

Stand Up! Speak Up! : A Story Inspired by the Climate Change Revolution
After attending a climate march, a young activist is motivated to make an effort and do her part to help the planet by organizing volunteers to work to make green changes in their community. Here is an uplifting picture book that is an important reminder that no change is too small–and no person is too young–to make a difference.

Greta Thunberg
When young Greta learned of the climate crisis, she stopped talking. She couldn’t understand why people in power were not doing anything to save our Earth. One day she started protesting outside the Swedish Parliament, creating the “School Strike for Climate.” Soon, lots more young people joined her in a global movement that shook adults and politicians alike. She had found her voice and uses it to inspire humans to action with her powerful message: “No one is too small to make a difference.”

Kids Who Are Saving the Planet
You can make a difference, no matter how old you are! These kids are helping to save honeybees, teaching people the importance of clean air and water, raising money to help endangered birds, and writing petitions to raise awareness of climate change. You should meet these kids who are saving the planet!

What a Waste

Did you know that every single plastic toothbrush ever made still exists? Or that there’s a floating mass of garbage larger than the USA drifting around the Pacific Ocean? It’s not all bad news though. As well as explaining where we’re going wrong, this book shows what we’re doing right! Discover plans already in motion to save our seas, how countries are implementing schemes that are having a positive impact, and how your waste can be turned into something useful. Every small change helps our planet!

Recycle and Remake: Creative Projects for Eco Kids

Kids are on a mission to save the Earth! This book is the hands-on, practical guide you need to get started. Each of the activities directly relates to an environmental hot topic, such as plastic pollution, food waste, or deforestation. Budding environmentalists all over the world are feeling inspired to do their bit for our unique planet.

Old Enough to Save the Planet

As people saw in the youth climate strike in September 2019, kids will not stay silent about this subject: they’re going to make a change. Meet 12 young activists from around the world who are speaking out and taking action against climate change. Learn about the work they do and the challenges they face, and discover how the future of our planet starts with each and every one of us.

Climate Action: What Happened and What We Can Do
Did you know that the past five years have been the hottest ever recorded? Or that over seven million people participated in the global Climate Strike? We’re facing a very real problem, but there’s hope. Learn how our behavior and actions have led us to this point, hear from kids around the world dealing with extreme storms, wildfires, and sea level rise, and discover what scientists, youth activists, and ordinary citizens are doing to protect their communities.

This Book Will (Help) Cool the Climate: 50 Ways to Cut Pollution and Protect Our Planet!
Our planet is heating up, and it needs your help! If you want to learn to reduce your carbon footprint and cool the Earth, here are practical tips and projects that make a difference.

This Book Is Not Garbage: 50 Ways to Ditch Plastic, Reduce Trash, and Save the World!
Do you worry about the world’s waste? The bad news is, humans throw away too much trash. But the good news is, there are lots of easy ways you can get involved and make a difference! From ditching straws and banning glitter to hosting a plastic-free birthday party, helping to save the planet is not as difficult as you think. So, take control of your future! Become an eco-warrior instead of an eco-worrier and do your part to save the world from GARBAGE!

Bonus book: if your young activist is already following Greta’s Twitter account and policing your recycling bin for contraband, they could probably use a story about how we humans have managed to fix our mistakes. I adore Bringing Back the Wolves: How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem for its uplifting true story featuring one of our iconic national parks, its inviting illustrations, and its generous serving of scientific info. Plus wolves are awesome.

Teen Book Reviews: “Concrete Rose” and “If I Tell You the Truth”

Today’s book reviews are by volunteer Ima T.

 

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Concrete Rose serves as a prequel to the much loved story of The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas. However, it’s not necessary to have read The Hate You Give, because the Concrete Rose has its own complete, separate storyline.

The story follows Maverick Carter, who is a 17 year old living in Garden Heights. He has been involved with the King Lords gang since his father had previously been a pivotal part of it beforehand. His role is to sell small amounts of weed and recruit new members. He made a nice sum of money from this role and could help pay the bills with his mother. Yet his life turns upside down when he realizes he has a son, which leads him to attempt to leave the gang. The reason he does this since he knows that the environment he is in with a gang would not be good for his son. But things start to change once he finds it harder and harder to scrape money together for his family and the people who support him. Maverick needs to find a way to break the cycle of involvement with gangs. One heart-stopping event occurs when a close friend of Maverick’s is murdered, and once this happens, he truly has to learn how to deal with grief and trauma with people who are still relying on him.

Concrete Rose is a fierce novel with important themes that can be applied to everyday life. For example, in the novel, Maverick struggles with the fact that he is being constantly compared to his powerful father, who was previously part of the gang but is now in jail. Nicknamed ‘Li’l Don’, he has big shoes to fill and constantly feels as though he should be more of a man. His emotional development throughout the book gives an inside look to readers who want to learn more about the father described in The Hate You Give. Concrete Rose is an amazing read, and truly lives up to its name of describing a boy who is struggling to flourish and realize his full potential.

 

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur follows the story of Kiran and her daughter Sahaara, and it is told from both of their alternating perspectives. A compelling part of the novel is the fact that some of the story is told in verse, while the rest of it reads like a normal novel. When the novel is in verse, it is often to display emotions like sadness or anger. This allows for the distressed thoughts that the characters feel to be expressed deeper. Kiran is Punjabi, and comes to Canada on an educational visa. She leaves her strict family to go to university else where, but the reader soon discovers that she has a child on the way as a result of sexual assault. Her decision to keep her future daughter strains her relationship with her family, and leaves her isolated in a foreign country. Kiran struggles with letting her daughter grow up without much money and familial support, and there is an added fear of getting deported. Kiran had to overstay her visa in Canada for her daughter since she didn’t want to go back to her home country out of fear of finding her rapist.

The first half of the book is told from Kiran’s point of view, and the rest is from Sahaara. Sahaara wants to find her own identity since she doesn’t know about Kiran’s background. When she learns about what happened to her mother, she fights to help take down the rapist and stand by her mother, while struggling with her own self identity in the process. If I Tell You the Truth is very well written, and it expands on the important theme of community and loyalty while displaying the growing relationship between mother and daughter. Kiran’s and Sahaara’s story will strike a chord in many hearts. This is an exceptional novel, and I couldn’t recommend it more.