Basically, it's Library Day because we have about 10 overdue library books that I was too lazy to take back AND too lazy to renew online, even though it takes about 6 seconds.
I think subconsciously I've also been putting Library Day off because we got a good batch of books this month, and I'm a little sad to take them back. Our library has several branches, two of which we often frequent. One, in the "nice" town by Simon's school has a great story time room, but no books on display. Librarians, I don't know if you realize what a serious problem this is. First of all, story time is doable for families with two kids max, so we're out. (As an aside, since you changed your hours to be decidedly unfriendly to small children, story time is out for us even if I did have the mental energy to parent three kids through music, dancing, sitting still, and crafts.)
Secondly, it's great that your children's section has 8,000 books stuffed into the shelves. I'm sure that about 5,000 of them are good books. BUT, I do not have the time to weed through the other 3,000 annoying books to find them, and it is way too difficult to judge a good book by a 1/4" spine.
What makes a children's book annoying? I'm so glad you asked. In general, I'd say any of the following:
- No words. If I wanted to make up a story, I wouldn't have drug my three kids to the library.
- Too many words. Simon gets three books before naptime. Too many words throws our whole schedule off. Plus, he's old enough to know when I'm skipping.
- No rhythm. I like rhyming. But, if you can't rhyme, then at least have at least some rhythm to the story. These are kids for goodness sake - they can read novels when they're old enough to read to themselves.
- Bad illustrations.
- Full of jokes that go way over the head of your average pre-schooler. I just imagine the author chuckling to himself over how clever he is while I have to take the time to explain it all to my four-year-old, who will never think it is funny.
- No story. Seriously. My pet peeve is the one thousand "books" taking up space on the shelves that are full of stock photos with one-word labels. Those aren't books, those are flash cards, and they are not creative, which means they are a waste of story time.
Also, I imagine that the kind and knowledgeable librarians at my library take the time to display the books that they like. They are often seasonal, or new, or by notable authors. It gives me a place to start from when selecting my books. I am rarely disappointed when selecting books from the display shelves.
Here's a sampling of what we will be taking back today. I am so hopeful that we stock up with books that we love just as much (except for the ones that I hated)....
Maybe you don't approve of potty humor at your house, but I don't really mind it. This book is hilarious, and it's a true story which makes it educational, right? Simon picked this one out all by himself, and he especially loved having his Pop-Pop, Grandma, and uncles read this one to him. He calls it the "Tooting Book." It's cleverly written, it rhymes, and the illustrator is really talented: bonus points all around. Plus, it's about a guy who farts, and it manages to seem "smart."
I guess it doesn't take much to please me - rhyming and good illustration do it every time. Simon likes these books, and I have fun reading them to him. Maybe today I'll look for some more duck books that we haven't checked out yet.
I L.O.V.E. these Dinosaur books. The illustrations are so clever, and detailed. The words rhyme. The story isn't preachy or cheesy, but it's full of meaning. This one is about how the parent loves the dinosaur even when the dinosaur is being naughty or mean. My favorite page has a mom yelling at her dinosaur to stop dragging his feet, and the illustration captures the mom's annoyance so well, that Simon stares at the picture in utter understanding.
I try to get the kids books about places we've been, but this is the first picture book I found about Nepal. Simon didn't get all that into it, but I liked the exploration of the greeting, "Namaste," or "The light in me meets the light in you."
I checked out this sweet book about two girls in a Pakistani refugee camp in an effort to help my kids understand more about the world around them - especially the parts we don't like to talk about. I'm trying to do a better job of exposing Simon to suffering in a way that doesn't give him nightmares. He ended up really enjoying this story, even though I think a lot of its deeper meanings went over his head. Either way, now he knows that in many places in the world people have to run away from their homes in fear, and I think he's old enough to start engaging with things like that.
This book is a perfect example of everything I hate in children's books. It doesn't rhyme. Its jokes are stupid and too old for young kids. It's not clever or witty. A 7 or 8 year old who reads to himself and is into monster humor might like this. You know who else might like this? A four-year-old whose Mom hates it but reads it to him every day anyway.
So, what do you recommend we pick up this week?