SR! 2010 Season News

Saratoga Reads Seeks to Inspire Young Readers with Suggested Book List

Saratoga Reads has announced a list of some 60 suggested books for young readers, compiled to complement the program’s book of choice for this year—The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  The list of “junior companion books” has been designed to appeal to a wide of range of age groups and to encourage families to read together.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, selected by popular vote as the Saratoga Reads top book for this year, is a fictional story told through a series of letters.  The book begins in 1946, when popular author Juliet Ashton, much like her fellow British citizens, is emerging from the travails of World War II.  She receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and so begins a tale of a group of neighbors on the English Channel island of Guernsey, who lived under German occupation during the war.  Readers will have to find out for themselves how the curious name of the society came about and what the group was up to.

A number of themes from the book were used as a framework for selecting the junior companion titles, including life during WWII, books in letter format (epistolary writings), war and peace, altruism, heroism through resistance, and the comforting aspects of reading.  Books on the list range from those for beginning readers, including picture books, through titles for middle-school and young-adult readers.

“The junior selections cover many compelling topics and range from books writtese ideas will enrich everyone’s experience.  We hope parents, grandparents, and teachers use the list as a jumping off point for sharing ideas.”

One of the companion titles, Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, has been designated as this year’s Saratoga Reads “junior discussion book” and will serve as the basis for two special evening sessions at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, Feb. 11 and 25.  The book tells the tale ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen, whose Danish family tries to save a young Jewish friend during the Nazi invasion of the country.

Designed for grades 4-6, the library discussions will explore themes from Number the Stars, with sessions led by student mentors from Skidmore College and Saratoga Springs High School, under the direction of Skidmore Professor of English Catherine Golden. Youngsters interested in participating should email

In addition, Saratoga Reads will once again present “Peds Reads,” an event featuring the popular physicians from Community Care Pediatrics of Saratoga, who read aloud from junior companion books.  “Peds Reads” will take place at Barnes & Noble, Route 50, Wilton this winter; check the Saratoga Reads web site for an announcement of the date and time.

 “At Saratoga Reads we have a slogan: ‘Read on your own. Read with your family. Read with your community,’ ” said Tabitha Orthwein, chair of the board of Saratoga Reads.  “With our list of books for young readers and our forthcoming suggestions for family discussion topics, we hope to make it easy for parents to make connections between Guernsey and the companion titles and to engage children in community reading.”