I Love to Read Month: Edina Library Offers "Blind Date With a Book" This February

Edina Library helps readers fall in love with books.
Teens can go on a “blind date” with a book this month at Edina Library.

Edina is for book lovers. In a town of serious readers and dedicated book club members, February in Edina is a time to celebrate literary love. Edina librarians Maureen Millea Smith, Tracy Hvezda-Lehtola and Ginger Gomes talk about how the library supports Edina’s romance with books during the month of love.

To help Minnesotans get through cold winter days, the library hosts Winter Jackets for adult readers. During January and February, adult readers submit book reviews for a chance to win a prize. All reviews are posted as a “Read This!” book on the library’s website to help patrons find their next favorite book.

Like many schools in the nation, Edina Public Schools cultivate a love of reading in students through “I Love to Read” month, when area schools have been known to invite Edina librarians to events.

In February, the Edina Library is decorated with hearts and Post-it notes of patrons’ favorite books. Starting last year, the youth librarian set teens up on “blind dates” with books. Teen volunteers randomly select books wrapped in brown paper based only on the genre and descriptions written on the paper. This program has been wildly successful.

What do Edina citizens like to read? Fiction is still widely loved, yet interest is turning towards realist fiction rather than the fantasy books that were once popular. Preteen girls are favoring dystopian stories like Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games over vampire romances that the Twilight series made popular.

Although the library often sees a peak in romantic fiction during February, interest in nonfiction has spiked, especially in young readers. “People want to learn,” says Smith. “Kids want facts like how to build with Legos, and many look for cookbooks.”

A popular Lego nonfiction book in the Hennepin County Library catalog is Lego Play Book: Ideas to Bring Your Bricks to Life by Daniel Lipkowitz. Young readers can learn about more than 500 building ideas submitted by Lego fans.

Young children are learning to read from books based on their favorite cartoon characters, and elementary school students who read chapter books are discovering beloved series such as Louis Sachar’s Marvin Redpost series.

But the literary romance doesn’t end in February. “We love to read every month of the year,” says Hvezda-Lehtola. Edina Library actively promotes the Maud Hart Lovelace awards, named after the late Minnesota author of the Betsy-Tacy series. Third- to eighth-graders who read at least three nominated fiction titles in their age category are eligible to cast a ballot and winners are announced on April 25, Lovelace’s birthday. Smith says, “Some students read all the books nominated [in their age group] before it is time to vote.”

Last year’s winners were Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs for Division I (third through fifth grade), and Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles for Division II (sixth through eighth).

The library’s offerings go beyond books as it hosts Kid Tech, a program for second- to fourth-graders to explore engineering. In February, Kid Tech participants will make a high-tech valentine out of LED lights.

To indulge in your love of literature and learning this February, visit the Edina Library at 5280 Grandview Square or other libraries in the Hennepin library system for the next book you’ll fall in love with.