Build a Better World through empathy

Administrator : July 2, 2017 8:49 am : Elkhart Public Library

By Chuck Pieri
Branch Children’s Librarian

“Walk a mile in someone’s shoes” – have you ever heard that expression?  One way we can build a better world is by trying to understand life from another person’s perspective.

courageAs you and your kids browse the shelves for more books to read over the summer, here are some great stories of hope, courage and friendship. Why not spend some cozy summer nights reading these aloud together?

You can find more great titles at Upper Elementary Read Aloud. We’ve just reached the halfway mark in summer reading – there’s still plenty of time to get involved and win prizes!


: Katherine Applegate
This is a very moving story that deals with being homeless. The main character copes with his family situation and hopelessness by talking to an imaginary friend named Crenshaw.


Rain Reign
: Ann M. Martin
In this novel, Rose is a high functioning autistic girl who has a particular affection for homophones, among other things. A storm causes her beloved dog to run away and then her safe and ordered world is shattered. How does she cope with her situation?


A handful of stars
: Cynthia Lord
This is a story that takes place in the beautiful setting of rural Maine. Lily lives with her grandparents who run the general store and Salma is part of a migrant family that work in the blueberry fields during the summer. Can two very different kids forge a friendship together?



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Ingredients for Cupcake Wars? Kids, sugar and fun, of course

Administrator : June 28, 2017 9:21 am : Elkhart Public Library

With a Kindle Fire on the line, kids will get the chance to show off their cupcake decorating skills as a part of the Elkhart Public Library’s first-ever Cupcake Wars.

Children between the ages of 10 and 14 will compete at 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, in the lower level of the downtown library. Participants will get a decorating station, their choice of decorating supplies, and the opportunity to use their imagination. (Currently, the library is accepting contestants on the waiting list.)

mkt-170614-cupcake-slide-100Carmen Ritchie, a member of the Young People’s Services, wants kids to get excited about this event.

“It’s going to be fun and unique,” she says, “and they get to eat cupcakes – who doesn’t look forward to that?”

Twelve kids will start with already baked cupcakes, provided by Adam’s Cake Shop, and compete in three different rounds. The decorating supplies will be purchased witha grant from Friends of the Elkhart Public Library and a donated gift card from Martin’s Super Markets.

Each round has a different theme: “Build a Better World” (this year’s summer reading theme), “Favorite Book,” and “Decorator’s Choice.” The winner of the competition will be judged on how well the cupcakes are decorated according to the themes, and that child will receive a Kindle Fire.

“We wanted to bring something new and unique to the table,” Ritchie says. “Cupcake Wars is a program that has been successfully done by other libraries, so we’re hoping we have the same luck.”

The judges for the contest are Adam Harrison (Adam’s Cake Shop), Margarita McClain (culinary arts instructor with the Elkhart Area Career Center), and Marshall King (local food writer). Chosen because of their involvement in food-related careers, these judges all are local residents. They will decide the winner, but they also will be walking around, observing and offering help when needed.

The emcee for the event is Brittney Baily, an on-air DJ with B100“She is a very kind, giving person and very bubbly,” Ritchie says. “The kids will love her!”

While the winner gets the prize, Ritchie hopes the heat of competition to take away from the fun of the event.

“I want the kids to work to win, but I don’t want them to think about only that,” she says. “I want it to be fun and educational, not just about winning.”

In order to make sure that happens, Carmen is making sure that no kid goes home empty-handed, win or lose. Each participant will get to take home the apron and chef’s hat they receive for the competition, along with the cupcakes they’ve decorated.

But this event is for more people than just those decorating cupcakes. A photo booth will be available, and audience members will be able to encourage and cheer on the decorators.

Due to space restrictions, registration is limited for this first local Cupcake Wars. Contestants should inform librarians of any food allergies upon arrival.

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Author to talk about her travels on the Barn Quilt Trail

Administrator : June 28, 2017 8:53 am : Elkhart Public Library


What: Barn Quilt Trail – An evening with author Suzi Parron
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 28
Where: Elkhart Public Library, 300 S. Second St.
Cost: Free


A colorful barn quilt doesn’t just happen along a dusty country road, and Suzi Parron is all about hunting down the stories behind those works of art.

In words and photos taken over a decade, Parron has captured this slice of Americana in two published works. On June 28, she’ll visit Elkhart Public Library to talk about her travels on the Barn Quilt Trail.

“Some are so visually stunning.  I’ve literally seen thousands of barn quilts, and I still get knocked over by it,” Parron says. “Most of them are going to have a story, whether it’s a family quilt honoring a grandmother or great-grandmother or a community project everyone worked together to make.”

As a former high school teacher with a master’s degree in English, Parron says she always felt she’d write a book someday. Traveling through Kentucky about a decade ago, she stopped to ask about a particular design she saw and the homeowner’s pride inspired her to find out more.

No books had been written about barn quilt art or history. As luck would have it. Parron discovered Ohio University was looking to support the research, “an amazing coalescence of things at one time,” she says.

She wrote her first book during summer break and stolen weekends during the school year. Life hasn’t been the same since.

Parron lives in an RV, traveling the country with her husband. She’s not currently working on a book, as the speaking stops and craft sessions at quilters’ guilds, libraries and community centers keep her busy. She’ll have nearly 100 events this year, and she’s currently booked through 2018.

Along the way, she’s found people and communities connecting over quilt designs. She’s visited Elkhart on her travels, and took pleasure in seeing the Quilt Gardens on display throughout the county which, this year, celebrate their 10th anniversary.

“I find those gardens to be very similarly related to barn quilts because they’re about community,” Parron says. “People are inspired to create, and it’s a wonderful way to very visibly and publicly honor your heritage. There aren’t too many opportunities to do that nowadays.”

During Parron’s one-hour presentation, which begins at 6:30 p.m. June 28, at the downtown Elkhart library, she’ll describe the stories she’s heard about people from California to Alabama. The library stop includes a book signing, as well.


(This story was originally published in The Hart, a weekly publication of the Goshen News.)

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What you need to know about the August solar eclipse: educational programs and free viewing glasses

Administrator : June 28, 2017 8:40 am : Elkhart Public Library

This NASA photo shows a solar eclipse at about 80-85 percent, just about the view from Elkhart during the Aug. 21 event.

This NASA photo shows a solar eclipse at about 80-85 percent, just about the view from Elkhart during the Aug. 21 event.

Seeing the moon pass in front of the sun is a rare thing – perhaps even a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Your chance comes this summer.

A partial solar eclipse will be visible in Elkhart County, and it will look like something took a bite out of the sun. Nearly 90 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon.

“The solar eclipse is an excellent chance to get everyone in the community talking about space,” said Allison McLean, director of Young People’s Services at Elkhart Public Library. “Everyone who is able should take some time out of their day to watch this celestial occurrence.”

Leading up to the Aug. 21 eclipse, the library will offer education for those interested in learning more about the causes and effects, as well as proper viewing techniques.

The session for adults will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 12 – during Elkhart ArtWalk. A kids presentation for ages 5 and up will occur at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, and it will include hands-on activities to see new ways of how science can be fun.

Both events will be at the downtown location, 300 S. Second St., Elkhart.

The safe way to view the eclipse is through solar viewing glasses, which the library will provide, free of charge, for 1,000 people at the two events before the eclipse and the eclipse viewing party. The programs and resources are part of the “NASA@ My Library” grant, awarded to Elkhart Public Library and 74 other libraries across the country to further STEM education.

“The library hopes to build excitement around the work of NASA and raise awareness of the role the library can play in a science education,” McLean said. “It is our hope that children and families exposed to scientific ideas in a library event will want to learn more.”

On Aug. 21, the moon will begin passing in front of the sun about 1 p.m., and it’s not a quick process. By 2:20 p.m., the eclipse will reach its midpoint, but the fun will start long before that. Beginning at noon, the library will host a solar eclipse viewing party in the library and at Central Park, which a block away behind Civic Plaza.

For complete information and other events related to NASA @ My Library, visit




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What’s for dinner? Try out some of these summer delights

Administrator : June 27, 2017 1:33 pm : Elkhart Public Library


By Katrina Maust
Reference Librarian

Summer means food: picnics, grilling, fruit picking, canning, ice cream, and so much delicious more. I call summer my “food experiment season” so here is a roundup of titles to get your juices going.

What about you? Do you have food experiment ideas to add? A cookbook title to suggest? We love suggestions – comment below!


Fruitful summer
With abundance of summer fruit, we kick off with experiments involving berries – think jams, jellies, cobblers, desserts, cocktails, etc!

  1. Berries : over 75 farm fresh recipes (641.647 C533)
  2. Cooking with wild berries & fruits of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio by Teresa Marrone (641.647 M361)
  3. Fruitful : four seasons of fresh fruit recipes by Brian Nicholson (641.64 N624)  
  4. Drink the harvest by Nan Chase (available on Hoopla)
  5. Bitters And Shrub Syrup Cocktails by Warren Bobrow (available on Hoopla)


Frozen Treats
When the heat of the summer gets going, no one will turn down a popsicle … or homemade ice cream … or, let’s be honest, a boozy slushee.

  1. The Ice Cream Bible by Marilyn Linton (641.862 L761)  
  2. Ice Cream Sandwiches by Donna Egan (641.862 E28)  
  3. Icy, creamy, healthy, sweet : 75 recipes for dairy-free ice cream, fruit-forward ice pops, frozen yogurt, granitas, slushies, shakes, and more by Christine Chitnis (641.862 C543)  
  4. Slushed! More than 150 frozen, boozy treats for the coolest happy hour ever by Jessie Cross (641.862 C951)
  5. Paletas : authentic recipes for Mexican ice pops, shaved ice, and aguas frescas by Fany Gerson (641.86 G382)  


Summer is made for grilling. It is too hot to cook indoors, so step outside, find a breeze, and turn up the grill.

  1. The gardener & the grill : the bounty of the garden meets the sizzle of the grill by Karen Adler & Judith Fertig (641.76 A237g)   
  2. Pitmaster : recipes, techniques, & barbecue wisdom by Andy Husbands (641.76 H968p)  
  3. Buxton Hall BBQ book of smoke : wood-smoked meat, sides, and more by Elliott Moss (641.76 M913)  
  4. Meathead : the science of great barbecue and grilling by Meathead Goldwyn (641.76 G624)    
  5. The Grilling Book: the definitive guide from Bon Appetit (641.5784 G858b) and BONUS – the June issue of Bon Appetit is alllll about Grilling, check it out on RBdigital  


The bounty isn’t limited to berries, summer is also high season for so many delicious, and beautiful, vegetables. There are so many options: preserving them so they last, finding new ways to enjoy them (beet spirals!), or, my personal favorite, pickling.

  1. Lucky Peach presents power vegetables! by Peter Meehan (641.65 M494)
  2. Saving the Season: a cook’s guide to home canning, pickling, and preserving by Kevin West (641.42 W518)
  3. The Vegetable Butcher: how to select, prep, slice, dice, and masterfully cook vegetables from artichokes to zucchini by Car Mangini (641.65 M277)  
  4. Inspiralize everything : an apples-to-zucchini encyclopedia of spiralizing by Ali Maffucci (641.65 M187i)
  5. The Pickled Pantry by Andrea Chesman (641.462 C524) 


Now, if you just don’t know where to start, don’t despair! Here are some more general summer books to get you started:

  1. Summer Food: new summer classics by Paul Lowe (641.564 L913)
  2. Summer Cocktails by Maria del Mar Sucasa  (641.874 S119)  
  3. Endless Summer by Katie Lee (available on Hoopla)
  4. Beach House Baking by Lei Shishak  (641.86 S558)
  5. Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson (641.5 L425fo) 


ALSO, have some long trips? Remember, we have online magazines through the recently updated RBdigital platform. Look here for the food ones


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