What We’re Reading: The Night Diary

Hello Library Readers! Having trouble picking out our next read?  Why not check out what the staff of the Livingston Public Library is currently reading?

Anna Coats, Head of Youth Services, is currently reading Night Diary by Veera night diaryHiranandani.  Anna was inspired to read The Night Diary when it was chosen as an X-Treme Readers Book Club book, and heard how much all the kids enjoyed it.

Here are her thoughts on the book thus far: The Night Diary is a middle-grade historical fiction novel set in India in 1947, which when the Partition that separated India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh happened. There are several things I like about this book. For starters, it is the first middle-grade historical fiction book written in English that I’ve come across about the Partition. Second, the main character, 12-year-old Nisha, is mixed. Nisha’s father, whom she lives with, is Hindu, and her mother, who passed away when Nisha was young, was Muslim. Nisha’s family is living in what is now present-day Pakistan and since her living parent is Hindu, her family is forced to flee across the Partition.

Nisha tries to make sense of the upheaval going on all around her, and why she is forced to choose one religion — forced into one box — when her identity is more complex than that. I am also mixed; I am half-Hindu and half-Catholic, and while I am fortunate that I have not been forced to flee my home because of my religious or ethnic identity, I too have faced people and institutions who try to force me to pick only one religion or one ethnicity when my identity is more complex than that. When I was growing up I did not see many characters in books or movies who were mixed and I’m happy there are more complex characters in books now.”

Comment below with what you’re reading and what you think about it so far!

-Jessica Bielen, Adult Services Librarian 



May Youth Program Round Up

We are gearing up for Summer Reading!  Harrison
The Youth Department visited each of the 6 elementary schools to perform a skit about Summer Reading written by our creative, talented staff.  In it, an alien comes to study Earth and believes there is no intelligent life here until two kids who borrowed a telescope from the Livingston Library (yes, you CAN really borrow a telescope from the Library!) tell the alien about books, the Library, and Summer Reading.  The alien concludes that there is intelligent life on Earth after all and stays to complete the Summer Reading Challenge at the Library.

Babies, children and teens can register now for the Summer Reading Challenge: A Universe of Stories, where they can earn prizes just for reading.  The fun doesn’t stop there – the big kids (aka adults) can register for our Adult Summer Reading: A Universe of Stories and a chance to win a new Kindle!

Yakety Yak

Anna, Banana, and the Puppy Parade by Anica Mrose Rissi was the center of discussion at this month’s Yakety Yak meeting for grades 2-3.  For the activity, the children imagined the type of dog they would want to enter in a parade and created dogs using Legos.

The beautifully written, compelling Newbery Honor Book, The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani was discussed at the X-Treme Readers Book Club for grades 4-5 this month.  To reinforce the message of peace, Gina asked the children to research famous quotes by Mahatma Gandhi, who was quoted in the story.  The children then recited their favorite quotes and elaborated on why it was meaningful to them.

The book discussion groups at the Middle Schools continue to be wildly popular.  Booked for Lunch met at Heritage MS to discuss, Long Way Down, the award winning verse novel by Jason Reynolds.  At this month’s Mount Pleasant Middle School book club, Bookies, the discussion centered around, Waiting for Normal, a novel by Leslie Connor about a girl who must take on adult responsibilities when her mentally ill mother is unable to care for her.
The fun Tiny Toddlers group was so well attended they couldn’t even fit in our Story Room!  Early Learning Concepts were explored this session, such as pattern recognition and seasons (spring).  For our youngest library patrons, musical instruments and toys are placed out in the Children’s Room during Baby Open Play The babies have fun as they explore, discover, learn, play and socialize with each other.

Two sessions of Story Coders were offered this month for Kindergarteners and First Graders.  An off-screen activity introduced the children to parallel algorithms.  Then, children learned how to create a search and find game using the ScratchJr App.


There were lots of things to celebrate this month!  The first was Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 4.  Children were delighted to take home free comic books courtesy of Livingston’s comic book store, New World Manga.  The very next day we celebrated Cinco de Mayo, Livingston Library trivia style.  Children and families enjoyed the challenge of answering trivia questions about Mexico for fun and prizes.

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Youth Appreciation Week is always an exciting time in Livingston!  The Library joined in with a celebration of Books & Buttons.  Readers of all ages, from toddlers to teens and even some adults, stopped by to talk about books while crafting their own pin-on buttons.  While some made buttons from our pre-printed images, most participants greatly enjoyed drawing their own designs based on their favorite books & literary characters.  And, our Family Gaming event was the perfect indoor compliment to the township’s Youth Appreciation Week Family Fun Day.  Middle Schoolers, kids, parents, and college students all enjoyed playing the Nintendo Switch games Smash and Mario Kart on the big screen.

And to celebrate a famous musician’s life, NJPAC in Your Community presented Books on the Move: Tito Puente, Mambo King.  NJPAC Teaching Artist Wincey Terry read Tito Puente, Mambo King to families and then taught Mambo and Cha-Cha rhythms on musical instruments.

In the final weeks before AP testing, teens engage in marathon study sessions in the Teen Zone.  As a means of coping with stress and anxiety, the Library offered a program designed to help teens slow down, take a break and be mindful.  Our first Teen Stress Less Day featured therapy dogs from Bright and Beautiful, a fidget table with Strawbees, and “make your own” bubble tea.  A record number of teens attended, and one teen commented “Thank you, that’s just what I needed.” 

That completes the May Youth Program Round Up.  Be sure to subscribe to the library’s weekly newsletter and to check out our full calendar of events for all of next month’s programs and activities. 

~Gina Vaccaro, Youth Services Librarian