Engaging Methuen Readers

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Immigration Stories

Immigration StoriesWhether you or your family came to the United States a year ago or a century ago, this is a country of immigrants, so it’s no wonder that stories about the immigrant experience resonate so strongly with readers. Even if our knowledge of our family’s immigration story is hazy and passed down through many generations, literature that illustrates the challenges, triumphs, and emotions of resettling in a new homeland compels us to view life through a lens very different from our own.

From the story of an escape from a shantytown in Zimbabwe depicted in NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names to the harsh landscape that faces a young Norwegian immigrant in Peter Geye’s The Lighthouse Road, these stories shed light on the immigrant experience. Many people come to this country without knowing much if any English, and one of their first priorities upon coming to the country is to learn the language.

In our own community, there are newcomers who need help learning English and adjusting to their new country and culture. There is a long waiting list at many of the programs in the area, and Literacy Volunteers of Methuen is no exception; we are nearing 70 prospective students waiting for a tutor.

Through Literacy Volunteers, tutors are paired with a student and they work with this student for two hours a week, to give them dedicated attention and specialized teaching suited to the student’s unique needs. If you would like to help someone, please consider attending an orientation for the Literacy Volunteers of Methuen fall training. There are three orientations to choose from:

Saturday September 23, 10-11 a.m.
Wednesday September 27, 7-8 p.m.
Thursday September 28, 10-11 a.m.

After that, the six-week training program will begin on October 11 at 6:30 p.m. If you have any questions about the program or training, please contact Kathleen Kenny at 978-686-4080, ext. 32 or

Other fiction titles you may enjoy include: These stories portray the experiences of immigrants from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, China, and many countries in between.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Song of the Water Saints by Nelly Rosario

The Lightning Keeper by Starling Lawrence

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

A Free Life by Ha Jin

The Mortifications by Derek Palacio

A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar

Brick Lane by Monica Ali

Towelhead by Alicia Erian

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez


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What’s Your Four this Summer?

Cover image for Station elevenSummer is always a great time for doing some concentrated reading. For me, it happens up at the lake house in between projects. This year, like last year, I was happy to share my “four” in the #WhatsYourFour program for the ReadsinMa program for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC).  This program is meant to highlight the need for kids to read just four books over the summer to increase their success in reading comprehension tests in the fall.


Cover image for The FiremanI started out reading two novels portraying different dystopian futures caused by pandemics which leave the planet populated by groups of people who strive to keep their families and friends safe and secure. While they were interesting and engrossing they did make me feel the need to take a break and move to something a little lighter so I picked up a thriller by Catherine Coulter, Devil’s Triangle. This is a fast paced novel that explores the possibility of an invention of DaVinci and Tesla falling in to the wrong hands and wreaking havoc on the planet.


Cover image for The devil's triangleFinding myself again in the area of annihilation of the planet it was time to refocus onto something uplifting and so my final choice was Hidden Figures, the story of several black women who contributed untold amounts of hours and brain power to the fledgling space race and the organization of NASA. Along with their story the author relates the coinciding issues of race in the country during the 50’’s and 60’s. This was a great read which is why it was also made into a motion picture which garnered several Oscar nominations.


VacationCover image for Hidden Figures Young Readers' Edition‘s over now but I still have several options in my book bag….thank God for renewals!!  I encourage everyone to visit MBLC’s Read Four website and follow the instructions to share your four. Let’s see what everyone is reading this summer and spread the word of how important it is for kids to read over the summer.  Have Fun!

Kirsten, Head of Reference Services

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Start U Reading @ Nevins Library

Start U Reading! with Governor Charlie Baker and a visit from Winnie the Pooh

The Nevins Library will host a Start U Reading! Event — May 30 at 10:00 am — in the Great Hall.

Families are invited to participate in this special storytime and related activities with our guest reader Governor Charlie Baker. At the end of storytime all participants will have an opportunity to meet Winnie the Pooh and have their photo taken together. Parents are encouraged to bring their cameras for photos of their children with Winnie the Pooh. Families will also receive a fun goody bag to bring home while supplies last. Please register online to attend this event.

Start U Reading! is provided FREE of charge by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA). The Start U Reading Series is one of MEFA’s statewide early college planning initiatives designed to introduce young students to the joy of reading and literacy through interdisciplinary activities.

To register for this event, click here.  For more information, call the Children’s Department at 978-686-4080 x26.

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Literacy Volunteers of Methuen: find out how you can help!

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For ten years, the Methuen affiliate of Literacy Volunteers of Massachusetts has been providing free, confidential, student-centered, one-on-one tutoring for people who are working to learn the English language. Twice a year, volunteers are trained to provide either tutoring assistance to area residents who need help learning English, or improving the English skills that they have. Through a six-week training program, tutors are prepared to work with students at many levels of language proficiency, using a variety of techniques and resources.

Tutor and student pairs typically spend about two hours per week together, usually at the library. The goals that students are working on range from gaining a basic grasp of the language to preparing for the citizenship test or college entrance exams. It’s not uncommon for tutors and students to work together for many years and develop lasting friendships.

Currently, the students that Literacy Volunteers of Methuen tutors are working with come from 18 different countries. While each student has goals and plans unique to him or her, they all have one thing in common: to learn the language of their new country.

Right now, there are close to 60 students on the waiting list, and many have already been waiting for a tutor for over a year. If you are interested in learning more about how you can volunteer to help as an ESOL tutor, please join us for an orientation session. If, after learning more about the program, you decide that tutoring isn’t for you at this time, you are not obligated to continue with the training.

Orientations will be held on:

Wednesday, April 12 from 7-8 p.m.
Thursday, April 13 from 10-11 a.m.
Saturday, April 15 from 10-11 a.m.

Tutoring will begin on Wednesday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m., and continue for six weeks concluding on May 24.

If you have any questions about the program prior to the orientations, please call me (Kathleen Kenny) at 978-686-4080, extension 32, or email at

I hope to see you soon!