We met up with Jenny Carroll and Cathy Breen again to get some specific recommendations for books and websites, and to learn about the origins of a preternaturally talented children’s librarian. Below are Jenny’s responses (to which Cathy nodded in unanimous agreement). Cathy added, however, that much of her inspiration for her profession, her book choices, and her advice to families comes from Esmé Raji Codell’s How to Get Your Child to Love Reading: for Ravenous and Reluctant Readers Alike. This highly-readable, well-organized resource addresses everything from, “Good R’eating: Literature-Based Cookbooks” and “All Wet! Books in the Bath” to “Science Magic Show” and “Must-Reads by the Time You’re Thirteen.”
Read on for gift ideas and audiobooks that will make you cry in your car.
What led you to become a children’s librarian, and what do you love most about your job?
I have always worked with children whether it was babysitting, as a nanny, in a daycare, as a social worker, or in the public schools. The library has been my favorite place since childhood – I was lucky I lived within walking distance of my local library. The two naturally came together after I started working at the circulation desk and decided to go back to graduate school for library science. I love working with children and seeing the connections they make, the funny stories they tell me, and the joy on their faces when they come into the room.
What are some of your go-to print and online resources for learning literacy development strategies and for finding great books for kids of different ages?
I use professional journals mostly to find books – School Library Journal, Horn Book, and Booklist. I also receive updates from several blogs, including the Association of Library Services for Children (ALSC), This Picture Book Life, and Storytime Underground. I also use popular media like People Magazine, Parenting Magazine, Family Fun Magazine, and The Washington Post to find books.
Name a few of your favorite children’s books to give as gifts.
Goodnight Gorilla, Guess How Much I Love You, Goodnight Moon – all as board books to new parents. For kids reading chapter books, I recommend the classics, usually, like Beverly Cleary books (Beezus and Ramona), Cricket in Times Square, Ralph S. Mouse, The Rescuers, Little House on the Prairie, etc.
What are some of your favorite children’s books that resonate with adults?
Elephant and Piggie books – they are humorous for both kids and adults, plus you can make great voices for each character while reading aloud. I feel like books that resonate with adults are usually ones that they grew up with because there is the nostalgia factor. Two books that struck me the most recently were The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. I listened to both on audiobook and by the end I was crying in my car, usually at a stoplight. They were both very well done.