One of the best things that has come out of blogging is being a part of the blogging community of amazing children’s literature reviewers. Learning about new books and getting other takes on how to encourage a love of books in all children is why I do this. Since we don’t live in a city with tons of great book stores and large libraries, there are many times that the only way I know a book exists is through the pages of other people’s blogs.
As long-time readers will know, I try really hard to be a part of the nonfiction picture book challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy every week. This week, Alyson posted about three books she had recently read, but one stood out to me, partially because this week also happens to be Children’s Book Week. The book was Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books, by Michelle Markel. I happened to be at one of our local libraries that evening for a CBW event and did a happy dance when I found a copy there.
Balderdash! is a great biography about a man whose name is synonymous with children’s literature. The cover of the book even has such a wonderful illustration by Nancy Carpenter that the book screams out to be read. But even with Newbery being such an important name in children’s literature, I admit that I didn’t know much about him before reading this book. Continue reading →
National Library week occurs every year towards the beginning of April. I may have missed the actual celebration this year, but in my mind, we should always be celebrating the librarian, so I’ve put together a few outstanding nonfiction picture books about librarians for this week’s nonfiction picture book challenge.
One of my all time favorites is Miss Moore Thought Otherwise, by Jan Pinborough. This book tells the story of how Anne Carroll Moore created libraries for children. It is hard for children today to comprehend that we live in a world where girls are not expected to just stay home and take care of the children. It is also hard for children, and adults for that matter, to comprehend a time when children were not welcome in libraries. When librarians didn’t want kids to touch books for fear that they would hurt them (a la The Library Dragon). It was not until 1896 that the first library room designed for children was even created, and Miss Moore was given free rein to implement her ideas about how it should be run, including a pledge for kids wanting to take out books, story times, and the removal of “silence” signs. Miss Anne Moore was a major force behind publishing companies seeing the sense in publishing more books aimed at children and to make sure that they were quality books. This book is full of wonderful history about Miss Moore and about the public library system. Continue reading →
Last summer, while wandering the library I discovered the book The Book Scavenger. I was quickly enthralled by the book which takes kids on an adventure through the streets of San Francisco searching for books that have been hidden and also for clues that have been left by a writer who was about to launch a new game before he was attacked and left in a coma. I loved this book and could completely see kids from 3rd grade up liking it. It had everything for me – a great premise, books, San Francisco and engaging characters.
So earlier this week I happened into our local book shop and on my way out noticed signs for the book. Author Jennifer Chambliss Bertman was coming to town. She is planning on having a discussion about her debut novel and a book trivia game. I rearranged my older daughter’s piano lessons and we will be at the event!
One big part of this book is that people all over the country participate in a massive game of “find the book” that has been organized by a book publisher. A few years ago we got into geocaching with my kids and their friends, but we floundered when there weren’t a ton of things in our area to find. The idea of basically being able to geocache with books and literary clues…awesome! I remember reading the book wishing something really existed. The thing is, it does, it’s just that last year when I read the book, no one had hid any within an hour of our home. The bookstore, however, also reminded me that people can hide books via the Book Scavenger website. Someone from the store itself has hidden a few in preparation for this event. That in mind, my thoughts began to churn – I need to hide some books!
Today I picked up 6 books at a local used book store and am going to hide them over the weekend. I would love for my daughter to get into this book, she just is currently devouring The League of Seven and wants to finish that one first. But once she finishes the book, I want her to have the ability to go searching for books. For that, I need more people to get involved. If you live near us, and you know who you are, go to the Book Scavenger website and get the materials necessary to hide a book. If you don’t live near us, do it anyway, you never know what young reader you will be helping!
As for the book itself, I honestly don’t remember a ton of details from the book. I do know that there were lots of wonderful little gems. As someone who grew up roaming the streets of San Francisco, it was like stepping back in time visiting places I hadn’t thought of in years, especially City Lights Bookstore. I loved that not only were ciphers used, but you got a little bit of history lesson on them as well. Then there were the relationships between Emily and her brother Matthew as well as between Emily and James. This book was one that struck me as just fabulous and that all book loving kids should read. If you are a fan of Mr. Lemoncello’s Library or a fan of a good mystery, you will definitely enjoy this book.
We are obviously a house of book lovers. As such, we are also huge devotees to the public library. J devours books as fast as she can get her hands on them, so if it wasn’t for the library, our house would be overwhelmed by piles of books and we would have no money left for anything else. This is an inherited trait. I love my books and also rely heavily on the library to get my fix. I’ve actually been toying with the idea of getting my MLIS and becoming a librarian in some fashion once the girls have grown a bit.
So it made my heart smile when J came home from her first day going to media studies at school a few weeks ago (she is in year round), and she couldn’t stop talking about the book that the librarian read to them – The Library Dragon. Of course, that sparked my thinking about how great it would be to put together a post of books about the library and about a love of books. This of course is not a complete list, it is only a great jumping off point. Funny thing is, while I was prepping this post, the wonderful website No Time For Flashcards also did a post about picture books about reading. Some of our books overlap and some don’t. So right away, there is another great list for you to check out.
The Library Dragon, by Carmen Agra Deedy, is a wonderful book about Miss Lotta Scales, a thick skinned school librarian who doesn’t want any of the children to touch her library books for fear that they will get them dirty or put them back in the wrong place. Order is of the utmost importance to this dragon and she doesn’t care if the children stop coming into the library simply because they fear her and her outrageous rules. She doesn’t even believe in story time! Then one day a little girl wanders into the library looking for her glasses and starts reading a book that falls off the shelf. Children heard her from the hall and outside the windows and followed the sound like the children following the pied piper. Miss Lotta Scales took the book from the little girl, inspected it, saw that it was still in great condition and began to read it to the children herself. As she read, a magical thing started to happen – her scales began to fall to the floor until all that was left was Miss Lotty, librarian and storyteller. It’s a wonderful tale to start a conversation about how to treat library books, how to act in the library, and the power of storytelling. J absolutely loved it.
Library Mouse, by Daniel Kirk, might very well be one of our favorite books. Sam is a library mouse who lives in the children’s section of a local library. When the library is open, Sam sleeps, but when the library is closed he comes out of his hole and reads all of the books. One night Sam decides to write a book of his own and leave it in the library. So starts Sam’s foray into the world of being an author. When the librarians want to meet the elusive Sam he comes up with an idea to show all of the library patrons that anyone can write a book. It is a wonderful book about the power of reading and the power of storytelling. J says that she would like to be a library mouse because it would be amazing to live in the library! We also highly recommend one of the follow-up books, Library Mouse – A world to explore.
But Excuse Me That is My Book, by Lauren Child is another in the great Charlie and Lola series. In this book, young Lola wants to go to the library to get her most favorite book – “Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies.” Charlie tries to encourage her to pick out a new book since she has checked this one out over and over, but Lola is adamant. When they get to the library, however, someone else has taken that book off the shelf already. Charlie explains that this is how libraries work and that it isn’t her personal book. He shows her how the library is filled with books about so many topics, but nothing fits her. She finally tries another book and realizes that she loves that as well. We love Charlie and Lola and their unusual way of looking at the world and explaining things. This is a great view of how we pick books and use the library.
In Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t), by Barbara Bottner, the little girl telling the story is not a fan of books. Miss Brooks, the school librarian, tries to get everyone as excited about books as she is, but this little girl just can’t find one that she likes. When each child is supposed to pick their favorite book for book week, she just doesn’t know what to do. Miss Brooks supplies her with a wide variety to choose from, but she doesn’t like any of them. When her mother tells her that she is as stubborn as a wart, she finally lights up. “I want to read a story with warts!” So her mom finds Shrek! and she is hooked. I can’t imagine a reluctant reader, but this story really speaks to the fact that there are all kinds of books out there, you just have to find the ones that your little reader loves.
On the complete opposite side of the spectrum is Library Lily, by Gillian Shields. Lily loves reading. She loves it so much, in fact, that she forgets to do much else. When she first visited the library it was like going on an adventure. Her mom wanted her to have other adventures and took her to the park one day and encouraged her to leave her book behind. Rather than playing, Lily read the signs until she meets Milly who asks what she was doing. Milly explains that she hates reading and likes to do lots of other things like playing, climbing and exploring. Milly shows Lily that there is a world outside of books and Lily shows Milly that books can be fun too. The two become best friends and after they explore the world around them, Lily writes a book about their adventures. This is a great book for readers like mine who sometimes need a reminder that there are other things to do then read a book (gasp!).
In Beverly Billingsly Borrows a Book, by Alexander Stadler, children learn the importance of returning a book to the library on time. Beverly is super excited to get her very own library card and check out her first book. As she is finishing the book, she realizes that she kept the book one extra day. But she doesn’t know what happens to someone who is late with their book and she gets nervous and is afraid to return it. After having nightmares about the overdue book, her mother takes her to the library where the librarian kindly says, “it’s only a couple of days late, dear. We won’t worry about it. Just try to be more careful next time.” It is a very sweet book letting kids know that they can’t keep a book forever, but that they won’t lose their library card or go to jail for turning a book in late.
I.Q. Goes to the Library, by Mary Ann Fraser, is a book about a mouse who is learning about the library. IQ is the class mouse in Mrs. Furber’s class. One Monday the class finds out that it is library week and every day that week they will be going to the library. Each day, IQ learns something new about the library while searching for the funny book that was read to the class on the first day. Also peppered through the pages are “Mrs. Binder’s Reminders” – librarian’s tips for library behavior. IQ learns to love the library and not only finds the book he is looking for, but manages to get his own library card. A great book for showing all of the parts of the library – fiction, non-fiction, magazines , computers etc. while also imparting some important rules to follow.
The Shelf Elf, by Jackie Mims Hopkins, is a good book about learning library rules. Skoob is a Shelf Elf who is trying to win the Golden Shelf Elf Award. He earns it by taking care of the books in the library and encouraging children to behave to use proper library manners like being quiet, using shelf markers and treating the books kindly. Many pages have rules about library etiquette and Skoob himself is learning what is allowed to do in the library. This would be a great book to read to kids at the beginning of the year.
Carlo and the Really Nice Librarian, by Jessica Spanyol, tells the story of young Carlo the giraffe and his first experience at the library. When he first meets Mrs. Chinca, the librarian, he is a bit afraid of her, but then he is amazed at how much she knows about books. She shows him around the library, helps him find books and reads him stories. This book is a wonderful tribute to the awesome children’s librarians out there!
Speaking of awesome children’s librarians, Librarian on the Roof, by M.G. King, is based on the true story of RoseAleta Laurell who took to the roof of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, TX on October 16, 2000 to raise money for the children’s section at the oldest library in Texas. Ms. Laurell didn’t conform to anyone’s old notions of a quiet librarian and wanted to see people and children using her library. In order to raise money, RoseAleta Laurell camped out on the top of the library dome for a number of days to raise the money and her efforts got the community to come together and raise funds for the library. Now they have a busy children’s section and a fully utilized library so that everyone can share in the power of reading!
I love it when books show that librarians are not the mousy old ladies depicted by movies and television shows. Library Lil, by Suzanne Williams, introduces readers to a librarian who read her way through the library as a child and was destined to become a librarian, she also happens to have superhuman strength. Her speciality was storytelling, but when she started a storytime at her first library, no one came. She was in a town where everyone was glued to the television and didn’t take the time to read. Lil was determined to get people into her library and away from the television. When the power goes out one night, Lil brings her bookmobile to all of the townspeople and got them all reading. After 2 weeks without power, “the townspeople had solidly formed the habit of reading.” When some bikers come to town one gets annoyed that the local pool hall doesn’t have a TV. The bikers wind up losing a bet to Lil and get turned into readers themselves. This is a really funny story that highlights the “power” of reading.
Finally, Miss Smith’s Incredibly Storybook, by Michael Garland is a wonderful tale about a magical book that truly brings stories to life. It isn’t about a library, but it is a great book about books and the power of storytelling. Miss Smith is an unusual teacher whose storybook brings characters to life. Her classroom literally gets swept up in whatever tale she is telling. When she is late one day, the principal begins to read from her book is frightened by the characters that pop out. The children begin to read from the book and characters from a variety of stories come out as they skip from story to story not finishing any of them. Soon, the school is being overrun by storybook characters. Miss Smith returns to class and gets all of the characters back by finishing each of their stories. It was a really fun book. Even more, I had heard of this series before and have now just ordered Miss Smith’s Under the Ocean which I think might be even better!
Books are seriously magical. They whisk you away to other worlds. They teach you about new things and new people. They challenge the way that you think and encourage you to be creative. If you have other books about libraries or books, let me know. We are always on the lookout for something good!