Booktalking "Children's Literature Gems" by Elizabeth Bird

  • by Miranda J. McDermott

    Getting kids excited about reading is the name of the game. If you are interested in pursuing children's librarianship or you are new in the field, this is the book for you. Slim and easy to read, it provides a few key pieces of advice that will help any new children's librarian. The introduction gives you a taste of the author's background and experience.

    Interspersed in the book are a variety of book lists, including baby books, great read-aloud picture books, overlooked novels and picture books, and 100 children's books that belong in every library.

    Bird stresses that encouraging children's literacy is an important and noble pursuit. In the 19th century, children were not welcomed into public libraries. Finding quality literature is important for your collection. Nowadays, there is much pressure to garner high statistics (circulation, attendance, programming), but good literature is essential for libraries. However, any books that will get kids interested in reading are helpful. Get rid of the stuff that you do not need, and order quality materials. Talk to your customers and colleagues to find out what is good. Read the professional literature, such as Horn Book and School Library Journal, attend professional conferences, and join professional associations. The author suggests visiting libraries and reviewing books for journals. Blogging to promote the library and joining listservs and Google groups can also be informative and useful.

    Bird covers everything from producing attractive book displays to providing reference and reader's advisory services. She discusses how story time and storytelling differ, and how much showmanship is involved in each. She mentions the importance of booktalking, of which I am a huge fan, and party time (I have thrown my fair share of parties for teens.). She suggests using some of your free time in order to further hone your librarian skills. My own library career would not live up to my standards if I only worked while strictly on the clock.

    Children's Literature Gems: Choosing and Using Them in Your Library Career by Elizabeth Bird, 2009

    Betsy Bird, NYPL's Youth Materials Specialist, is a colleague of mine, and I have been attending and blogging about her Children's Literary Salons for years. A couple of years ago, I spent a snow day reading this book from cover to cover, and I enjoyed every page. I love the cover with the lone girl sitting underneath the tree with a book propped up in front of her.