National Library Week is April 12-18, 2015. In honor of the occasion, I requested book recommendations from both an *elementary and **middle school librarian. Additionally, I asked for their best tips for parents to help develop a love of reading in their children. I love books, reading, libraries, and librarians, and I want to make sure my children do too. Librarians have a wealth of information at their fingertips to help me foster exactly this kind of love of reading and of books in my children. Make it your goal to get to know your local librarian today!
From the mouth and mind of the elementary school librarian:
What books are you currently digging?
“The other silly series that they can’t get enough of is Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe, a new easy chapter book series. These fractured fairy tales are full of action and have lots of full-color comic style illustrations, so newly independent readers are really supported and engaged.”
“April is National Poetry Month, so it’s a good time to revisit another King of Silly—Shel Silverstein. The magic of his words combined with those iconic line drawings is fun for all ages. There is an incredible amount of high quality supplementary content available online too—poetry activities and videos. I highly recommend reading/revisiting those collections with your kids of any age—or even alone!”
“My biggest piece of advice to parents is to embrace the silly! First graders at my school recently attended the Nashville Children’s Theatre production of Elephant & Piggie (I had already seen it with my own family!) and fell in love with Mo Willems (see above). Everything Mo Willems has done is fun, and when reading is fun, kids will love it.”
From the mouth and mind of the middle school librarian:
What books are you currently digging?
“The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. There is a reason this book won the Newbery. Amazing. I haven’t given it to a kid yet who hasn’t liked it. Alexander works magic with words on the page, and the book often reads like a hip hop song. Yet again, another book about what it means to be family and what it means to be an individual. It’s also a book about growing up and figuring out who you are.” “The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. A runaway princess who flees on her wedding day to avoid an arranged marriage of political convenience to a man she’s never met. Her father sends bounty hunters after her. Lia starts over in a village where no one knows her identity, except for her maid who agreed to escape with her. One reason I loved this book is that Pearson writes from three perspectives: Lia’s, the bounty hunter’s, and the man she was supposed to marry. The latter two are also undercover, and the reader doesn’t know until over halfway through the book which man is out to kill her, and which was the prince she was supposed to marry. This book is the first installment in The Remnant Chronicles series.”
What advice would you give parents of middle school students?
” 1. Get more involved—not less. Many parents are heavily involved in their child’s school during the elementary years, but for some reason it seems to drop off in middle school. Middle school students are exposed to a lot more influences and given a lot more independence. It is important for the parent(s) to know what is going on in order to tackle some of those potentially negative influences.
2. Don’t be judgmental when it comes to your child’s reading. We are all different, and your child needs to feel like his/her reading interests are ok. Don’t chastise him for only reading books about football. Don’t tell her she is too old to read Junie B. Jones books. Don’t tell your child that a graphic novel doesn’t “count” as a real book because it has pictures. Instead, have conversations about those books.
3. Make friends with your school librarian and your local branch library workers. School librarians love to help their students discover their literary interests and can often ask the right questions and offer suggestions unique to your child’s interests. The Nashville Public Library has so many wonderful programs throughout the city, and they are free! Getting your children involved in many of the activities will also show them that libraries are not places we go just to get books!
4. Model reading. If you think reading is important for your child, it is also important for you to read, and your child needs to see this. I know parents are very busy, so it is difficult to carve out a certain amount of time to read, but you are their best role model! Read a book as a family, read a book to your child, read a book to yourself. Your child needs to see you reading!”