Other than hugging my own mother, what I have missed most over the last two months is our library visits. Our town library is about two miles from our house. For a town of 10,000, we have a great library. Even when I worked full time at a different library, I still loved going to my town’s library. If any of you are librarians, you will know there is a world of difference between being in a library as an employee and getting to use a library as a patron. And I had the best of both worlds. I had access to the large library network where I worked, plus the carefully curated shelves of the library down the street. It didn’t take me long to realize that if I was looking for an older classic, it would be easiest to request it through interlibrary loan at work, but if I wanted a truck book, any truck book, our town library would have it on shelf. With unlimited books at my disposal, I felt rich. I was rich.
I can say without hesitation that not having access to a physical library has absolutely impoverished my life in many ways. Gone is the luxury of wandering the shelves, discovering new treasures, searching for volumes on my list, all while my children play happily at the train or Duplo table, do a craft or work on a puzzle. I miss creating a stack of books on a table to check-out, while conceding to the boys’ requests for DVDs of their favorite shows.
Have you seen the video going around Facebook of a woman singing along to “I Will Always Love You” to a closed T.J. Maxx store? Bless her. She can have the purses and clothes and shoes all to herself when it re-opens because I will be at the library. That video makes me want to perform a similar exhibition outside the library. Only my song would be “I Can’t Live if Living is Without You.”
Still, I completely aware that I am in the most privileged of all positions. We have a healthy home library with shelves full of our favorite books. We have devices to access thousands of electronic books and audio books through libraries. We have a delightful local bookstore that is offering curbside pick-up. We have Better World Books. And we have the financial resources to buy the books we (ok, I) simply don’t have the patience to wait for when the library re-opens. So, readers don’t feel bad for us. There are others who need our concern. When I think of the families home without these resources at their disposal, I could sit down and cry. Which is why I love that Better World Books donates a book for every book you purchase. And I love that Barefoot Books is donating a book with every order to Raising a Reader.
There’s a rumor on the street (fine, it was posted on the library’s Facebook) that the library will be starting curbside pick-up some time in the near future. I am already working on a list of books to request; it’s important to be prepared. In the meantime, we got an exciting delivery by mail: my latest order from Better World Books. They sell primarily used books. Their books are cheap (I usually pay under $4 for each kids’ book) and they support libraries and literacy projects. They even have a carbon offset option at checkout so you don’t need to feel bad having books shipped from all over the country. I love supporting independent bookshops and I do when I can. But when I want a second hand treasure, I can order guilt-free from BWB.
Here’s what we’re currently enjoying from them:
Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman. Jessica loves all things glittery and sparkly. It turns out that her younger brother Casey does too. Jessica is unhappy when Casey starts to want to wear twirly skirts, glittery nail polish and sparkly bracelets too, but their parents and Abuelita let Casey dress how Casey wants. In the end, Jessica has a change of heart when other kids try to convince Casey that “boys can’t dress like that.” She stands up for Casey and the siblings learn to enjoy their shared love of all things that glitter. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about reading the kids stories where people blatantly express gender stereotypes and non-conforming kids get pushback (or worse) for not toeing the line. I have hesitated to even put the idea that there is such a thing as boys clothes or girls clothes into their heads. But at four, they are starting to witness and understand that some people have opinions on clothes and appearance so I figured the time had come to gently start the conversation. This was a good place to start, since the adults in Casey’s life affirm Casey’s choices, Jessica stands up for Casey when it counts most and the story ends happily with a celebration of all Sparkle Kids. The kiddos really enjoyed this book and were properly annoyed that people would suggest that boys can’t love glittery clothes and accessories too. There is a need for books like this and I knew I could trust Leslea Newman to handle the topic well. At the same time, I hope more books will come out that show Sparkle Boys just living their lives without anyone feeling the need to comment on it.
Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell. I am a sucker for cut paper collage illustrations and Falwell does a splendid job with the vibrant pictures in this counting book that features an African-American family shopping for and preparing a feast to share with loved ones. I ordered this one because we are working on number recognition right now. Counting books are a dime a dozen, but the illustrations and celebration of family makes this one stand out from the crowded field. I’m glad this one will be a permanent part of our home library.
Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney. Helping children abstractly understand the geographic concepts of towns, states, countries, continents, etc. can be tough. This book uses a simple concept to clarify children’s position in the world. By starting with a child in a bedroom, the book expands to the house, street, town, state, country and so forth. Very useful.
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman. What do you do if you want to make an apple pie but the market is closed? Obviously, you set off on a trip around the world to get the ingredients from their sources. This highly entertaining book is both a rollicking trip around the world and a peak at where our food originates. Don’t be surprised if your kids, like mine, want to try their hand at making apple pie after you finish reading. I sure hope the market near you is open!
In Aunt Lucy’s Kitchen by Cynthia Rylant. I am a huge Cynthia Rylant fan. I will surely need to devote an entire post to her Lighthouse Family series. And really, you could have a whole blog about this prolific author’s contributions to children’s literature. She has written wonderful picture books, easy readers that are actually enjoyable to read and lovely chapter books. Whatever the format, her tales are sweetly old-fashioned. We are only half way through this short chapter book, which is the first in The Cobble Street Cousins series. The three cousins, Rosie, Lily and Tess are staying with their Aunt Lucy while their parents are traveling and their idea to start a cookie business helps them meet some wonderful neighbors. We’re about half way through and so far it’s as charming as expected.
Have you gotten any new books lately? Which ones are you and your kids loving? Share with us in the comments!
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