This summer, the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) will highlight New Jersey authors for children, tweens, and teens through a series of virtual and outdoor programs. The authors will share stories that commemorate diversity, uniqueness, and inclusiveness.

“While there are many great authors from all over, SCLSNJ is excited to showcase six amazing New Jersey authors who write books for youth,” said Christine Jansen, manager of youth services programming and collaborations, public services. “These authors’ inspirational stories about diversity and resilience in the face of adversity will help our community explore relevant themes; discover insights into the writing process; connect to the authors and their books; and together share a love of reading and writing.”

Diana Lee Santamaria

On June 12 at 2 p.m., Diana Lee Santamaria will connect with families during a special outdoor program at Billian Legion Park, located near the Bound Brook branch. During the bilingual program, Santamaria will host a Q&A session and share stories in English and Spanish.

“I am so excited to bring DLee’s World to SCLSNJ this June,” said Santamaria. “DLee’s World is a bilingual children’s book series that I created to promote early literacy, diversity, and fun.”

She continued, “The series was inspired by my own life as a child along with my professional experiences as an educator. My character DLee is me when I was a little girl and I can’t wait to bring her and her world to life during my reading this summer.”

Santamaria will read selections from her children’s picture book series DLee’s World, which includes the titles “DLee’s Shapely Imagination: Bilingual Story” and “DLee’s Snow Day: The Snow Kids and Curious Cat – Bilingual Story.”

“The Library System is especially excited to welcome Santamaria as her bilingual picture book series celebrates diversity and includes characters that are both relatable and authentic,” said Karen Telesco, system program coordinator, youth services.

Billian Legion Park is located at 548 East Main Street in Bound Book. The rain date for the event is June 26 at  2 p.m. For more information or to register: sclsnj.libnet.info/event/4969042.

Barbara DiLorenzo

On June 16 at 2 p.m., author and illustrator Barbara DiLorenzo will digitally connect with students in grades K-5 for a virtual program. During the presentation, DiLorenzo will share the story “Quincy: The Chameleon Who Couldn’t Blend In,” which follows a chameleon that learns to accept his uniqueness on his journey to fit it.

“Although this is a fictitious tale, Quincy’s story represents what school felt like for me,” said DiLorenzo. “After creating this book, I’ve discovered so many other fellow Quincys in the world, with their own unique stories. While blending in would feel more comfortable, the qualities that make us stand out, help us to forge our own unique paths in life. 

She continued, “My path led me to a creative life of writing and illustrating stories. If you have trouble blending in, join me and learn how to embrace that which is different, and celebrate it.”

For more information or to register: sclsnj.libnet.info/event/4909927.

In addition to the virtual meet the author program for children, the author and illustrator will also present a series of virtual art workshops this summer for students in grades 6-12. During these interactive workshops, DiLorenzo will explore concepts such as shading, drawing, and capturing emotion in art.

“I am excited that our customers will be given a window into DiLorenzo’s artist studio through our virtual art workshop series,” said Mona-Paulina Mahaga-Ajala, system program coordinator, youth services. “Learning what inspires her books and how she fuses the roles of author and illustrator, will be truly interesting.”

Supplies will be required for virtual workshops. Specific materials are provided in program descriptions:

Art Workshop (grades 6-12)

Katrina Moore

On July 28 at 2:30 p.m., New Jersey elementary school teacher and author Katrina Moore will present a virtual program celebrating the book birthday of “One Hug,” a story that explores the “many ways we embrace our loved ones.”

“At its heart—’One Hug’ is a fun, rhythmic, celebratory read aloud about one hug connecting us in ways that sometimes words cannot,” said Moore, “Like the overwhelming joy that one feels when reunited with their far-away family after a long separation. Or that comforting hug from a sibling that soothes us more than a thousand ‘it’s okays’ ever could.”

She continued, “In a time when we can’t physically hug some people that we love, this is the perfect book for children to cozy up with anyone who needs some love, and also those who love to hug!”

Throughout the virtual program Moore will engage with Library customers by building excitement about literacy and participating with the audience in a group discussion and inclusive activity.

For more information, or to register: sclsnj.libnet.info/event/4876289

Digitally connect with other Garden State authors with your Library this summer:

Wendy Mass (grades 6-12)

Valerie Peña (families)

Sharee Miller (grades K-4)

For a complete list of programs at SCLSNJ: sclsnj.libnet.info/events.