Back to school season always represents new beginnings to me so this week’s theme tying new title recommendations relates to fresh starts.

Maybe since the kids are back in school you’ll have time to start a new project, then Find Your Artistic Voice: the Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic by Lisa Congdon could help your creative expression. Or, maybe it’s time to read a lighthearted novel such as Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes. But if your goal is to instill a love of reading in your child, then How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul is full of ideas that will put you on the right track.

I remember sitting in a college creative writing class hearing about the importance of the writer’s voice. I didn’t admit it at the time that not only was I unable to define the concept, I also suspected that I lacked any unique creative ability that would require I develop this rarefied talent. However, in Find Your Artistic Voice, Lisa Congdon takes this murky concept as it relates to visual art and makes it not only understandable but also achievable – if one is willing to do the work.

Publisher’s Summary: An artist’s unique voice is their calling card. It’s what makes each of their works vital and particular. But developing such singular artistry requires effort and persistence. Bestselling author, artist, and illustrator Lisa Congdon brings her expertise to this guide to the process of artistic self-discovery. Featuring advice from Congdon herself and interviews with a roster of established artists, illustrators, and creatives, this one-of-a-kind book will show readers how to identify and nurture their own visual identity, navigate the influence of artists they admire, push through fear and insecurity, and appreciate the value of their personal journey.

If all that creative energy tires you out, take a break with the lighthearted, Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes – the host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast

Publisher’s Summary: In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her large, painfully empty house nearly a year after her husband’s death in a car crash. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy’s childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can’t figure out why. As the media storm heats up, an invitation from Andy to stay in Maine seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button on Dean’s future.

When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts—the friendships they’ve damaged, the secrets they’ve kept—but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance—up until the last out.

My final recommendation related to fresh starts is about helping children learn to love reading and being read to so that they can navigate school and life. Pamela Paul, editor of the New York Times Book Review provides parents and caregivers tips to nurture this love from birth to teen years in How to Raise a Reader

Publisher’s Summary: Do you remember your first visit to where the wild things are? How about curling up for hours on end to discover the secret of the Sorcerer’s Stone? Combining clear, practical advice with inspiration, wisdom, tips, and curated reading lists, How to Raise a Reader shows you how to instill the joy and time-stopping pleasure of reading.

Divided into four sections, from baby through teen, and each illustrated by a different artist, this book offers something useful on every page, whether it’s how to develop rituals around reading or build a family library, or ways to engage a reluctant reader. A fifth section, “More Books to Love: By Theme and Reading Level,” is chockful of expert recommendations. Throughout, the authors debunk common myths, assuage parental fears, and deliver invaluable lessons in a positive and easy-to-act-on way.

If you want to explore these or any other topics related to fresh starts, be sure to check out our catalog through our OFPL website.

Happy Reading, Susan C.

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