Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book: Book Review

What Was Your Favorite Children's Book?

A couple of weeks ago the Fall 2009 Children’s Book Announcements issue of Publishers Weekly came out. As a librarian, reader and writer, waiting for it feels a lot like waiting for Christmas to me. At work, I keep a note on my computer's desktop to remind me of the date the fall and spring announcements will be available. I select most of the books for our library district from these lists. One interesting book that I am sure to buy this fall is Anita Silvey’s Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book.

She asked over a hundred influential people which children’s book changed the way they saw the world. I'll report on who was interviewed, and what they said after I read the book.

But here's my story: It was the My Bookhouse Books, a series of seven volumes published in 1925, in Chicago. My mother, who grew up in nearby Lake Forest, was a year old when the books were published, but she remembers a peddler coming by her parents’ house and her mother buying the volumes, in 1929. They were an extravagant purchase for those days, but her mother wanted her to have them.

Flash forward a couple of decades. My mother married a man from Washington State, and the books followed her. I came along a few years after that, and as soon as I was able to read, the books became mine. I especially enjoyed volume 1, In the Nursery, which was mostly nursery rhymes. Many of them are ageless. I sang or recited them to my own children, and use some every week in my Lapsit programs at the library. How did the books change the way I viewed the world? They opened to me the delightfulness of language, and the transformative power of story. 

This memory feels especially apt for me today. It's my mother's 85th birthday, and I spent the day with two of my sweet little grandchildren.

What was your favorite children's book, and how did it change the way you viewed the world?


Technology and Teen Programming at the Library

Peggy from the Idaho Commission for Libraries and Heather from Lewiston City Library have asked me to do a brief presentation at a regional workshop in October. For librarians who work with youth, the workshop will give them new ideas for youth programming.

They asked me to report on the use of technology for programming, including blogging and Twitter, also SKYPE. I’ll be happy to spread the news about how libraries can have an author published in 2009 visit their school or library for free, during the year 2009, via the “Authors to Go” program. It’s a great opportunity to connect teens with books and authors and, I am sad to say, I suspect that very few libraries are aware of this fantastic resource. I hope that the class of 2K10 will continue the tradition.

During Summer Reading at my library, my writer friends and I offered a six-week writing program for an enthusiastic group of teen writers. Rosanne Parry, author of Heart of a Shepherd, and member of the Class of 2K9, was one of our guests. Though she was unable to visit us in person, we were able to chat with her via SKYPE. We had the special treat of seeing her in her native habitat, i.e. her writing space, which was both unusual and enviable—a treehouse!

The Class of 2K9 is offering other ways of connecting teens, books and authors through technology. They are also willing to do interviews via their blog. In rural areas such as where I live, technology has become THE resource for connecting teens, books, and authors.
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