I didn’t expect my reading habits to change when I became a children’s librarian – and maybe it’s too early to tell for sure, but I think they have. For starters, more of my attention is going to chapter books for 4th-8th grade, instead of my beloved YA. Oh, the YA still calls to me, especially when I’m covering lunch breaks at the reference desk and I can see the new YA shelf out of the corner of my eye. Shiny! New! But I resist, mostly, because I know that when I return to my proper place in the children’s library, there are five million books begging to be read.
These fit into three categories, and they all demand my attention. And I’ve brought way too many of them home.
It started when I placed my first order – a mere 20 books, but so help me I wanted to read every one of them. That will never happen. I will never be able to keep up with a fraction of the books I order. I can only sit back and watch them circ. And flip through the occasional graphic novel (Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians) or read the first page or so (Dessert First). There are also the series that I want to get a feel for, so I know more options when I’m recommending books (which is why I listened to the first 39 Clues book – The Maze of Bones – on audio).But then there are things that I plan on really reading, like Richard Peck’s latest, A Season of Gifts. Two words: Grandma Dowdel.
More on Richard Peck in a moment. The second category is Books that I Missed as a Kid. Here’s the great thing about my library – it’s full of books that I read as a kid. Literally, I mean – the same copies of the same books. That All of a Kind Family, that The Blue Sword, that Anastasia Krupnik. The same copies that I propped up against my cereal bowl or curled up on the couch with. It’s an awesome feeling to work with them, old friends twice over. But the library is also full of books that I missed – the ones that weren’t my cup of tea back then, or that were published after I stopped frequenting the children’s department.
As promised, speaking of Richard Peck, I ran across an autographed copy of his 1979 book, Secrets of the Shopping Mall. I’d never even heard of Peck until I read A Long Way From Chicago a few years ago, and I probably wouldn’t have picked up Secrets because I didn’t really read contemporary fiction as a child – mostly classics, historical fiction, and fantasy. It was fun to think about how Peck’s writing career has grown since then, with his Newbery medal and his Newbery honor and all. And I longed to check out Secrets, terrible dated cover and all. The only thing that stopped me was that it needs a new plastic cover over the dust jacket. Along the same lines, I also read my very first John Bellairs and I dipped into Philip Reeve’s idea of science fiction with Larklight.
Then, then! Then there are the books whose names I had forgotten but whose covers are immediately familiar to me when I go through the shelves. I’d forgotten about Eleanor Cameron and Lucy Boston and Cynthia Voigt’s Jackaroo series. It’s been ages since I read The Hero and the Crown or The Arm of the Starfish. Do they hold up? I want to know!
I could live off of rereading books. But then the new books, oh the new books! Al Capone Shines My Shoes, and the new Shannon Hale, and the third book in the Gideon series!
It’s exhausting being a children’s librarian.* I need to take a break and read.
*Actually, not really. Not yet, at least.