Often times when I tell people that I participated in an archaeological excavation of Fremont pit houses right here in Provo, they respond with, “What? I didn’t know that Provo had archaeology!” Not only does Provo have archaeology, but much of Utah is full of interesting reminders of the people that were here before us. Our Special Collections room focuses on Provo and Utah history, so it is a great place to find some books on Utah archaeology.
This book is close to my heart since I know some of the people involved in its making. This is the most “archaeological” of the books on this list, meaning that it is a collection of published academic papers on hunter-gatherer sites around Utah Valley. Excavations are at the heart of archaeological research, and these reports include artifacts found, maps of stratigraphy (those layers in the dirt that tell archaeologists a lot), and cool photos and illustrations of artifacts and site maps. There are tables, graphs, and charts, info on burials, and illustrations of stone points and pot sherds found (yes, it’s sherds not shards, but that’s a conversation for another time). It’s neat to browse through site reports like this, but you should always read the summary and conclusions section to get a good overview of what was found at the site during excavation. Just writing about this makes me long for my university days, excavating and writing up reports just like this. Excuse me while I get lost in nostalgia.
Maybe you’ve heard of Nine Mile Canyon? If you haven’t, it’s time for a road trip! The name is a little misleading, as the canyon is actually much longer than nine miles, but its fame is legendary. This area is famous for tons of Fremont rock art in the form of structures and petroglyphs. This is very accessible with not a lot of jargon, and it gives a great little history of the Fremont, what we know of that culture, and then a little about the canyon and surrounding lands. My favorite part of this book? The last half is a guide of the different rock art features throughout the canyon. There are maps, color photos, illustrations, and interpretations of the rock art you’ll see. Ready to drive down to the canyon yet?
Yes, another Fremont book. But Fremont archaeology is Utah archaeology (and the archaeology I’m most familiar with, so there’s that too). This book is a great coffee table book—it’s big, full of gorgeous color photos, and gives just enough info to be informative without going in too deep. And you get to see the really interesting and rare finds, and not just pottery pieces and arrowheads (apologies to those people that spend their lives studying those things. Your work is important).
This is just a sampling of the great info you can get on Utah archaeology and history in our stacks. Ask a librarian about finding these books in Special Collections or on the regular shelves!
If you’re wondering whether your child is old enough to talk about diversity, equality, and racism -- they probably are. Little kids are keen observers and will start to notice and point out differences in people they see around them at a younger age than you might think. As a parent, you can encourage your children to recognize and celebrate differences in others and let them know that they can ask you questions.
Encouraging children to celebrate diversity can start at home, by choosing books written by Black authors featuring Black characters in lots of different settings. It is important for children to be exposed to a wide range of people, experiences, and cultures, and, while every family will handle this topic in their own way, the earlier families start having conversations about race the better. Here are books to help you do just that.
This powerful picture book is an anthem to the courage, strength and triumph of Black Americans throughout history. This evocative book is a celebration of how far we have come and a reminder of how far we still have left to go. This powerful text is matched with gorgeous illustrations against stark white pages. This book was the recipient of the 2020 Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards as well as a Newbery honoree.
A celebration of the color brown – in all of its many expressions. Never has the color brown seemed more multi-faceted than to hear it described as feathery, amber, radiant, cozy, and thundering. This book is a celebration of inclusivity with illustrations showing girls with a variety of families, and with all shades of brown skin. This celebratory book is filled with expressive, poetic text well-suited for a quiet lap-time read aloud and is a must read for how it makes ordinary things seem magical.
One of the most celebrated books of 2017, this book was a Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King honoree for both the text and illustrations. This book portrays a significant moment for a young black boy – visiting the barbershop to have his hair cut. As he sits in his barbershop throne, he is transformed and imbued with self-esteem, self-pride, and all the confidence a fresh cut gives you. For Black boys, this book is an affirmation of their importance. But all readers will benefit from the visual splendor of this triumphant book.
An affirmation that all people, especially children, should hear but too few do. “You matter” is a quiet reminder and a rallying cry in this new picture book that makes use of bright, colorful, wonderfully inclusive cut-paper illustrations -- characteristic of Christian Robinson’s work. Told from the perspective of lots of different people and creatures, the very simple text shows how humanity is connected now, throughout history, and into the future. This is a book that is both simple and sophisticated and will provide an easy opportunity to talk about race, diversity, and the importance of saying “Black Lives Matter” with your children.
This uplifting book explores what it means to be Black for a child. A young Black girl, realizes that though there is no black in the rainbow, being Black is its own rainbow filled with people with different background and lived experiences. Like other books on this list, this story is directed to young readers and is a beautiful celebration of Black culture – sharing the poetry, music, and art of Black Americans and acting as an introduction to Black history as well. The incomparable Ekua Holmes uses stained-glass inspired art featuring Black figures with all shades of Black skin to support Angela Joy’s debut book for children.
If you’re an old epic fantasy fan, you’ve probably already read The Witcher books by Andrzej Sapkowski. But, if you’re anything like me and are a more casual fan of older epic fantasy novels, you probably haven’t heard of them, and at the very least, haven’t read them. Chances are, if you have heard of them, you have either a) played the Witcher video games by CD Projekt Red, or b) watched the recent TV series from Netflix.
Regardless of how you found the books, these old novels are getting a new, magical beginning because of the popularity of their adaptations. But where should you start? If you do a quick search for the book order, you’ll find dozens of blog posts telling you to start with THE LAST WISH instead of BLOOD OF ELVES. But, where should you really start?
The confusion on reading order comes from the fact that Sapkowski published a few
story collections that take place chronologically before the main novels. THE LAST WISH and SWORD OF DESTINY fall into this category. But even among those, the chronological order of things can be confusing. If you want to start, chronologically, at the beginning of things, here is the reading
order that is most commonly suggested.
The prequel collections are a really good way to get you started in the world of the Witcher. They give you a better background on the major characters and flesh out some of the history that is mentioned in passing during the main novels. But again, if you’re anything like me, reading a collection of short stories is often harder than reading a novel. I try, but almost never finish them off. So, for me, starting with BLOOD OF ELVES would be better.
Now, if you learned about the Witcher from the Netflix series, you also might want to start with BLOOD OF ELVES because the show covers events that take place in first part of that book. But, if you found the series through the games that take place 5 years after the books finish, you could start on THE LAST WISH or on BLOOD OF ELVES, it all depends on how much of the Witcher world you want to experience.
SEASON OF STORMS is a standalone novel that takes place between two of the stories in THE LAST WISH and was published 14 years after the last book, so you won’t need it to enjoy the otherbooks. If you become a Witcher fanatic, definitely read it. But, if you have a more casual interest in the Witcher world, you can probably save it for last or skip it altogether.
If you have any questions following this blog post, feel free to come in and ask any of the librarians!
When I was in high school, the game “Would You Rather?” was immensely popular. It became a silly part of lunch period and school bus rides—asking each other if we’d rather meet this celebrity or that celebrity, hold hands with the cute guy in our English class or the cute guy that we only ever see at football games. Comparisons would sometimes get pretty outlandish, and alliances were created based on our answers to those questions. Don’t even get me started on the Team Edward vs. Team Jacob fight. I thought it might be a lot of fun to make those choices based on popular books. I’ll give my answers and reasoning, and if you want, you can join in by commenting!
For me, I think I’d have to go with Hermione. It’s a hard choice because Ron is such a loyal friend who would do anything in his power to help you defeat You-Know-Who. But, I’d have to pick Hermione because her exhaustive knowledge of spells, and magical history would be useful in fighting against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
As much as I’d like to see more of Westeros, this is kind of a no-brainer. Middle Earth has some downsides, but they’re far outweighed by the benefits. I mean, I could just live peacefully in the shire forever, not worrying about the rest. It’d be an exciting universe to explore and learn about, and I wouldn’t be nearly as worried about dying as I would be in Westeros. I’d definitely be a little sad about missing out on some of the specific lore of Westeros, but I think meeting Legolas would more than make up for it.
Another tough one! Here’s the thing. Matilda has some seriously cool telekinetic powers. Would I like to be able to move things without actually lifting a finger? It would certainly make doing my dishes and making my bed a lot more fun. But, Percy Jackson has some of the coolest powers, in my opinion. He can manipulate water, breathe underwater, and can communicate with marine and equine animals, amongst other abilities. Maybe it’s just the fact that I still have daydreams about being a mermaid, but I’m going to have to go with Percy’s powers here. And there you have it! This is a fun, limitless game that you can play all summer with your friends.