Reading Changes Us

What Book Changed Your Thinking?

We asked local college bound teens this question.

Read their responses, check out the books that changed their thinking, listen to the audiobook, watch the movie, make up your own mind!

Chris’s choice:

JAZZ by Toni Morrison (Audio)

Chris told us: “It completely shifted my perspective toward the nature of life itself as well as humanity’s ability to seek redemption.”

Courtney’s choice:

A RAISIN IN THE SUN by Lorraine Hansberry (read the play; watch the movie)

Courtney told us: “I am reminded to not let the standards of others or outward pressures change my beliefs and dreams.”

Eleanor’s choice:

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST by Ken Kesey (read the book; watch the movie)

Eleanor told us: “It opened my eyes to the very different ways people perceive the world around them.”

Emma’s choice:


Emma told us: “It validated my quiet tendencies and empowered me to overcome my own shyness while embracing my introversion.”

Joe’s choice:

PEACE IS EVERY STEP by Thich Nhat Hahn

Joe told us: “It helped me view others and myself in a more positive and understanding way.”

Matt’s choice:

A LESSON BEFORE DYING by Ernest J. Gaines (read the book; watch the movie)

Matt told us: “It taught me the inherent genuine human connection between us all.”

Maya’s choice:

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald (read the book; watch the movie)

Maya told us: “It taught me that we are all vulnerable and have our own insecurities. Not everyone is who you think they are, and that everyone needs help and a good friend. ”

Ryan’s choice:

Anything CALVIN AND HOBBES by Bill Watterson

Ryan told us: “(These comics) remind me to never approach life too seriously and remember to laugh!”

Sofia’s choice:

1984 by George Orwell

“It opened my eyes to flaws in our society and taught me to ask questions as opposed to believing everything I’m told.”

Music and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

One of the options for the TeenRead Summer Reading Game is to create a playlist for your favorite book. One boy at the Windsor Library did just that and created a playlist for his favorite book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by the late Douglas Adams.

Here are some pictures of the very cool CD that he made.

His song list included:

It's the End of the World and We Know it by REM

Rat a Tat Tat by Fallout Boy

On the Road Again by Willie Nelson

Sabotage by the Beastie Boys

This is a great list for a story about the travels around the galaxy of the only human to survive the destruction of the Earth after it is bulldozed to make way for an intergalactic freeway. And creating a songlist is a great project for this particular book because music was foremost in the mind of it's author, Douglas Adams, as he was creating it. 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has had a long history in various media. Douglas Adams originally created the Hitchhiker's Guide in 1978 as a radio show for the British Broadcasting Corporation that lasted two seasons. He then turned it into a series of books, followed by a TV show. Since his death it's also been turned into a movie and then more episodes for the radio on the BBC. Music was an important part of the radio show, which began every episode with "The Journey of the Sorcerer", an instrumental tune by the Eagles. The first series of episodes ended with Louis Armstrong singing "What a Wonderful World".

 Douglas Adams was a huge fan of the Beatles and he conceived the Radio Show like a rock album  and all these years later, he'd probably be pretty impressed that a young person in Windsor, CA  read his book and then came up with his own list of music.

What playlists would you create for your favorite books? If you were adapting your favorite book as a radio show, what music would you use?


  • Henna design

    Henna design

Teen Read: Henna Art

The ancient art of mehndi

Teens around Sonoma County look forward to summer every year. Pool parties. Sleeping in. No homework. And HENNA @ THE LIBRARY! Our favorite Henna artist, Beth Bowman, makes the rounds to library locations sharing this beautiful, ancient art form. Take a look at the calendar for upcoming henna art workshops. Check out these books on mehndi design from your local library. See you this summer!

Traditional Mehndi Designs by Dorine van den Beukel

Mehndi Designs by Marty Noble

Teach Yourself Henna Tattoo by Brenda Abdoyan

  • Celebrate Dad on June 21, 2015

    Celebrate Dad on June 21, 2015

Celebrating Dad

Father's Day Reads

While we might not always get along with our dads, we certainly wouldn't be here without them. Love him dearly, miss him terribly, can't stand him, or set him on a pedestal - Fathers are really important people. Father's Day was first established in 1910. In the United States we celebrate dads each year on the third Sunday in June. Think of your dad this weekend on June 21. Make him breakfast if you can or just hold him in your heart.

Darth Vader & Son by Jeffrey Brown

Darth Vader is a father, after all. He takes a break from ruling his evil empire to take Luke to the park and out for ice cream. The family saga continues in Vader's Little Princess and Goodnight Darth Vader.

 The First Part last by angela johnson

Bobby said goodbye to his carefree teenage life when baby Feather was born. But a tragic turn of events leaves Bobby to take care of his baby daughter. A haunting, brief, and moving story.

under the mesquite by guadalupe garcia mccall

This is the story of Lupita and her family as her mother battles cancer. Mami has been sick for so long, Lupita takes up the slack taking care of the younger kids. Lupita's dad Papi, strong as the mesquite tree. He holds tight to family and tradition. But Lupita wants to go to college and see the world. A wonderful family story.

dangerous by shannon hale

Dad's often encourage us to take risks, follow a path fraught with challenge, and to listen to our instincts. Maisie Danger Brown wins a coveted spot in a NASA-like space camp for budding astronauts. Her dad is as passionate about science as Maisie. He never let the fact that she was born without a hand hold her back from anything. Now all Maisie has to do is live up to her name as an extraterrestial conspiracy unfolds.

  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

    Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Dragons in the Kingdom of Goredd

Seraphina by rachel hartman

More great artwork from a teen reader in Sebastopol. Don't miss the exciting sequel, Shadow Scale. Thanks Autumn!

  • Brian's Hunt by Gary Paulsen

    Brian's Hunt by Gary Paulsen

Brian Returns to the Wilderness

More great teen read artwork

Gary Paulsen's Brian series is great for summer reading - lots of action, a great character and a wilderness setting. Michael B. read Brian's Hunt by Gary Paulsen and created this  drawing of a scene from the book. Thanks Michael!

  • The Fallen by Charlie Higson

    The Fallen by Charlie Higson

Zombies Take Over London

Summer reading: artistic representation of a book

Those of you who are signed up for Teen Read this summer (and if you're not, what are you waiting for?! Sign up at your library already!) know that you can earn 4 Stamps for your Game Card by creating an artistic representation of a book that you read this summer. Shane B. read The Fallen by Charlie Higson and submitted this drawing of a scene from the book.

  • Don't sit on the Baby

    Don't sit on the Baby

What Are You Doing This Summer?

Not sure what to do with yourself just yet this summer? Before the lazy days of summer kick in and your vacation has sped by, here are a few ideas and places to look for something to do that is interesting, rewarding, or lucrative.

Summer Jobs for Teens

Check out these sites and books to give you ideas of where to start looking for a job this summer.

Job Link for Teens 

Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corp

Books to look at:

Jobs smarts book cover Don't sit on the baby book cover Knock em Dead Cover

Volunteer Oportunities:

Want to be a community hero and help out? Try these!

Volunteer Center of Sonoma County For Teens 


Check out our past Teen Blog post about volunteering in your community for many more ideas, books and websites 

Want something fun to do in your free time?

Read burst

Sonoma County Library Teen Read Summer Reading Club
Read books, attend events, get points, earn prizes and a chance to win a Kindle Fire!

Discover and go ticket

Discover and Go Museum Passes from the library
Visit a museum with your family at a discount or maybe even free. So many places to go, the Academy of Sciences, the Pacific Coast Air Museum, the Pacific Pinball Museum, the Cartoon Art Museum, and many more.  

paper towns book cover

Catch a Flick!
During the week of July 21st through 24th, donate a book at participating libraries and get a free ticket to see the movie Paper Towns. 

Enjoy your summer break!

  • logo showing disability symbols

    Americans with Disabilities Act

Focus on Disability

Focus on Disability:

Being disabled is so much more than the "perk" of blue curb parking. Being disabled is so much more than being "inspiring" to able bodied people. Being disabled is so many things: terrifying, frustrating, isolating. And yet, people who live with disabilities work hard every day to connect, to share their experience, to learn, to love, to live. Just like able bodied people; disabled people just do it a little differently. Read a few of the titles listed here to connect to a character (or real person) living with a disability.

Asperbergers & Autism

The Reason I Jump

by Naoki Higashida

The Reason I Jump is one of the most unique books I have ever come across. 13 year old Naoki Higashida is a boy with autism so severe that he does not speak. In order to tell his story, to share what life is like inside his head, he painstakingly pointed at letters and words on a letter board. What he has to tell us about the frustrations and hidden beauties of his experience is well worth the read.

Marcelo in the Real World

by Francisco Stork

Marcelo Sandoval is one of my favorite people in all of the books I've read, and that's saying something. Marcelo has been a student at his special school for kids with autism and Aspberger's Syndrome for as long as he can remember. His horses are there, and his favorite teachers. No one teases him for his odd habits and special obsession (God). But Marcelo's father, a powerful lawyer, is determined that this summer Marcelo will join the real world. Marcelo must begin work in the mail room at his father's law firm. This summer will change everything.

Animals in Translation

by Temple Grandin

Dr. Temple Grandin one of the world's most celebrated animal scientists. In this book, Dr. Grandin merges a lifetime of study with her extraordinary perceptions as an autistic person in a groundbreaking book that will revolutionize our understanding of how animals think and feel.


Freak City

by Kathrin Schrocke

Mika thinks he'll never recover from his broken heart. Then he meets Leah, a smart, beautiful, and brave girl. Though the energy between them is unmistakable, they cannot communicate. Leah has been deaf since birth. Determined to know this amazing girl,  Mika decides to take a sign language course. His family and friends are skeptical, and Mika soon grows weary, too. The world of deaf people is so much different than his own. But Mika cannot shake that Leah has captured his heart.

Five Flavors of Dumb

by Antony John

Piper becomes the manager for her classmates' popular rock band, giving her the chance to prove that just because she's deaf doesn't mean that she can't lead the band to stardom. Now if only she can get the band members to get along and to get them to believe she doesn't need to hear their music to sell Seattle on their sound.

The Darks Days of Hamburger Halpin

by Josh Berk

When Will Halpin transfers from his all-deaf school into a mainstream Pennsylvania high school, he faces discrimination and bullying, but still manages to solve a mystery surrounding the death of a popular football player in his class.


She is Not Invisible

by Marcus Sedgwick

Laureth Peak's father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers--a skill at which she's remarkably talented. Her secret: she is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness.


by Rachel DeWoskin

When Emma loses her eyesight in an accident, she must relearn everything from walking across the street to recognizing her own sisters to imagining colors. One of seven children, Emma used to be the invisible kid, but now it seems everyone is watching her. And just as she's about to start high school and try to recover her friendships and former life, one of her classmates is found dead in an apparent suicide. Emma has to untangle what happened and why - in order to see for herself what makes life worth living.


by Priscilla Cummings

After years of failing eyesight, fourteen-year-old Natalie reluctantly enters a school for the blind where, in spite of her initial resistance, she learns the skills that will help her survive in the sighted world.

Physical Disability

Laughing at My Nightmare

by Shane Burcaw

If you didn't laugh you'd just cry all the time. Or at least that's how this author chooses to live his sometimes difficult life. Shane Burcaw describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humor and a 'you-only-live-once' perspective on life. While he does talk about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he also offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life-threatening disease.

My Brief History

by Stephen Hawking

For the first time, perhaps the most brilliant cosmologist of our age turns his gaze inward for a revealing look at his own life and intellectual evolution. My Brief History recounts Stephen Hawking's journey, from his postwar London boyhood to his years of international acclaim and celebrity. Illustrated with rarely seen photographs, this account introduces readers to a Hawking rarely glimpsed in previous books. Writing with humility and humor, Hawking opens up about the challenges that confronted him following his diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) at age twenty-one. Tracing his development as a thinker, he explains how the prospect of an early death urged him onward through numerous intellectual breakthroughs. Clear-eyed, intimate, and wise, My Brief History opens a window for the rest of us into Hawking's personal cosmos.

Ghost Boy

by Martin Pistorius

They all thought he was gone. But he was alive and trapped inside his own body for ten years. In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged twelve, fell inexplicably sick. Doctors were mystified. Within eighteen months he was mute and unable to move. Martin's parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and less than two years to live. Ghost Boy is the heart-wrenching story of one boy's return to life through the power of love and faith. In these pages, readers see a parent's resilience, the consequences of misdiagnosis, abuse at the hands of cruel caretakers, and the unthinkable duration of Martin's mental alertness betrayed by his lifeless body. We also see a life reclaimed--a business created, a new love kindled--all from a wheelchair. Martin's emergence from his own darkness invites us to celebrate our own lives and fight for a better life for others.

  • Library staffer Bing Minton as the Evil Queen

    Library staffer Bing Minton as the Evil Queen

121st Annual Rose Parade: Snow White & her book cart drill team

Sonoma County Library in the Rose Parade

It was a story book kind of morning. Cold and overcast at first but with a hint of something special in the air. If you were in Downtown Santa Rosa on Saturday May 16 you know that the 121st Annual Rose Parade made its way through town. Among the floats was our very own Sonoma County Library Drill Cart team!


 Left to right: Dwarves Kim Dargeou, Tim Gnabasik, Bonnie Petty, Matt Conway, Kathleen Munson, and Steve Alcorta. Evil Queen Bing Minton and Snow White Hannah Minton. Not pictured: Drill Team Captain Shannon Lods.

Evil Queen's Castle

Mirror, Mirror on the truck!

Thanks to all the staff and volunteers who made this year's Library Parade entry so memorable. Read the full article about the Rose Parade in the Press Democrat.