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Importance of Fairy Tales

17 Aug

fairy talesFairy tales are one of my favorite genres to read, I love the magic, the mystery and the thought that these stories have been passed down through the generations. I love reading fractured fairy tales, different spins on old classics and modern re-tellings. I came across a few articles on Brightly that discuss fairy tales and wanted to add my own take.

Hear what Liesl Shurtliff, a middle grade author of fairy tales talk about the importance of taking fairy tales seriously, how fairy tales look simple from the outside, but when you really dig deep you find more questions than answers and maybe even some answers to questions you didn’t know you had.

Check out Melissa Taylor’s ten reasons why it’s important to read non-Disney fairy tales. Simple reasons like life lessons, more difficult reasons like cultural appreciation and scary in a safe context and more importantly – princesses don’t have dress codes that require them to wear pink.

And last (but certainly not least) – if you’re like me and believe that the fairy tales you know are mostly from Europe, you’d be surprised to find how many variations there are of the same story across the world. Lon Po Po is similar to Red Riding Hood in China, The Rough-Faced Girl is an Algonquin Cinderella story and The Talking Eggs is a Creole inspired fairy tale from Louisiana. You won’t want to miss this list of great multicultural fairy tales and if you stop by your local library, you’ll find even more great titles!

The Solar Eclipse Experience

16 Aug

Solar_eclipse_1999_4_NRAt this point (especially if you work in a library), if you haven’t heard about the solar eclipse then I want to be you! We applied for the NASA grant and didn’t get it, so my children’s and teen programming librarians decided that we would offer a program anyway and buy some glasses for the program participants. We went back and forth on how many pairs of glasses to order, how popular we thought the program would be, who we could have come in to actually do the program, etc. We were finally able to get one of our middle school teachers to put a program together for us (right before school started and she was kind enough to volunteer her time). We decided to only order enough glasses for the program participants and opened the program up to 40 kids. Well, needless to say, the program is completely filled with an additional 25 kids on our waiting list.

I come into the library yesterday morning, ready to open my office and I seen an email pinned to my door, it’s from Amazon. They’re refunding us our money for the glasses because they cannot verify with the manufacturer that our glasses are properly certified. I have 40 kids planning on coming to a program in less than 36 hours who are expecting glasses. It was not an enjoyable way to start my day.

After hours of searching online, calling local retailers and doing a ton of research, we made our decision. We’d proceed with the program, email the participants ahead of time explaining the situation, provide the kids with instructions and materials to create a pinhole solar eclipse viewer and hope for the best. So far, I haven’t heard any major complaints, but as the director I made the tough call to choose not to hand out our glasses. My librarians did the research and chose the glasses that appeared to be certified (and it says it right there, printed on the glasses), but I don’t want any eye injuries as a result of handing out faulty solar eclipse glasses, so that’s where we stand. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to field calls from community members asking if we have glasses to give away and trying to get into the solar eclipse program that has been full for a month.

I can’t wait for the eclipse to be over.


The Grown-Up Joys of Reading Children’s Books – WSJ Essay

9 Aug

After reading the title of this article, “The Grown-Up Joys of Reading Children’s Books” I was excited to see what the author had to say, specifically in regards to what I would expect to be addressed, the diversity of children’s literature in the 21st century and how relatable it can be to both children and adults. Needless to say, that’s not at all what this essay is about, in fact the children’s titles referenced are classic titles that are not new by any stretch of the imagination – Goodnight MoonBedtime for FrancesThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The House at Pooh Corner.

I enjoyed how the author compared his feelings of the book as a child to his feelings about the book as an adult now sharing them with his own children, but expected to see references of more modern classics or popular titles that are so popular in this time period. Not to say that classic titles are “bad,” but to how newer titles can have just as lasting as an impression – authors like Kate DiCamillo, Christian Robinson, Peter H. Reynolds and Pam Muñoz Ryan and many of these authors and titles bring forward diveristy, tough topics and conversation starters that were never addressed in books published 50+ years ago. Considering the article starts with, “We are living through an extended golden age for children’s books…” I was just hoping for more of a modern look at children’s literature, rather than addressing the same authors and titles that have been discussed before.

The author of the essay, Bruce Handy, is publishing a book on the topic of reading children’s books as an adult entitled Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, published on August 15, 2017 by Simon & Schuster. I’m curious to see if he addresses diversity and more recent literature or if the whole book is focused on classic children’s literature alone.

Library of Congress Opens Access

26 Jul

8470008043_c6a934b591_b.jpgThe Library of Congress recently made available 25 million digital records for materials published between 1968 and 2014. Before this occurred in May of this year, these records were only accessible through a paid subscription or individually. The Library is looking to researchers to use this information for, well, research – to explore, track and use this information in ways we can only fathom.

Librarians are excellent at collecting metadata, that is, data about data. We collect titles, authors, publishers, publication dates, subject headings and much more. Years ago this information could be found in a card catalog, but as computers became more mainstream, this information was moved into the digital world. But, without a paid subscription to a sharing service like OCLC, individual libraries have to catalog the same item… individually. Even though the Dewey Decimal Classification System and the Library of Congress Classification System will organize the information in a way that makes it easy to find… it’s a lot of work to catalog materials and with shared data, these materials reach the shelf and the public’s hand much more quickly.

Read through this article on PBS on ways these records can be used for research and learn more about this history of cataloging books. This may not be as quite as exciting as Shark Week, but for librarians and researchers alike, this much information that is now publicly available, is pretty phenomenal.


20 Jul

In 2015, Corinne Duyvis suggested on Twitter, “Glad important discussions are being had. Would love to be able to walk away with book recommendations. How about a hashtag? , to recommend kidlit about diverse characters written by authors from that same diverse group.”

This was the beginning of a new hashtag that has become quite popular in promoting not only diverse books, but as Corinne suggested choosing diverse books written by diverse authors. And if you’re looking for more information about the hashtag, check our Corinne’s website and her views on #ownvoices.

We are continually promoting diverse books, but there’s something to be said about an author who writes with the experience of their characters that creates an even more authentic voice. Does that mean authors can never write about characters that are different from themselves? Definitely not, but research needs to be extensive and having readers or mentors look at a manuscript with a different eye, is important.

For example, my parents work with people with disabilities and growing up, this was very much my life. I tend to know more and see more injustice for this marginalized group of people than most, because of my background. But, that doesn’t mean that I’ve lived anyone else’s experience or should assume that I can provide a true, realistic voice to a character with a disability. It’s the subtlety of every day life that I personally have never experienced. That being said, I think it’s important to create stories that are as diverse as the world we live in and with research it’s possible to write a character an author personally is not anything like.

Check out this great article written by Kayla Whaley on Brightly about her own experience as a author with a disability and how that has influenced her own writing. I think it’s so important as a white, female librarian to keep this in the forefront of my mind as I suggest titles for my very diverse community. I’m thinking about how I can incorporate this even more into the work I do – not only one-on-one with patrons, but by creating booklists and book displays to promote #ownvoices authors and book titles.

If you’re working on something in your library or at home, let me know what you’re doing, I’m always looking for new ideas!

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