The Joy of Reading
One of the most asked questions I get as a children's librarian revolves around book lists. From award winning and appropriate reading level lists, I have to say I have a love/hate relationship with them. I understand the titles on those lists are important books that kids should be reading but these days it's hard to get kids to read. I know Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series are all the rage (don't get me wrong, I'm the biggest Harry Potter fan you'll ever meet!) but I love suggesting books I grew up with and many of them don't have award stickers on the front cover. Growing up in my house, my siblings and I were fortunate that our parents let us read whatever we wanted, there was little restriction. Except for the few times my sister and I would sneak into my brother's room to read Stephen King books or thumb through pages in Jurassic Park, looking for the horrific and graphic description of someone being eaten by a dinosaur. My mom's reaction after a terrible nightmare, that's what you get and left it at that.
Luckily for me, the excitement when one of my regular families come running to me telling me how much they enjoy the books I've suggested over the years, it makes me ecstatic that I can share my favorites with them. You may be surprised to know that Harriet the Spy didn't win any major awards when it was published in the seventies. It was controversial and banned in Midwest schools and it most certainly wasn't a book that little girls were encouraged to read at the time. However, it still remains one of my favorite books. Sideway Stories and The Egypt Game were the most worn books in my personal library, dog-geared to death, you better believe I still own those weathered and yellowing copies. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankweiler is hands down one of the best children's book ever written. Read it! Read it over and over and over. One of my favorite teachers came in for a class visit the other day, we spent forty minutes talking about it.