There’s a great moment in the movie You’ve Got Mail when Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelly, the owner of a children’s book store that was passed down to her from her mother, reflects on the importance of their work. She says that her mother wasn’t just selling books, “she was helping people become whoever it was they were going to turn out to be. Because when you read a book as a child, it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” We agree with Kathleen Kelly (or rather, Nora and Delia Ephron, as they wrote the screenplay for the film). The reading we do as children truly opens the world up to us. All the colors and characters and funny new words shape the people we become. New titles like The Book with No Pictures, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Dragons Love Tacos, The Day the Crayons Quit and classics such as Amelia Bedelia, Where the Wild Things Are, and Make Way for Ducklings are the ones that ignite the learning spark and (hopefully) inspire kids to become life-long readers. As we celebrate Children’s Book Week (May 4th-10th), we want you to rediscover the joy of children’s literature and the value of making “every child a reader.”
The LPL’s Children’s Room has so much to offer our littlest readers—picture books, easy readers, chapter books, electronic books and gadgets, magazines, reading lists, programs—that it’s like Children’s Book Week every week! Of course, your first order of business when visiting the Children’s Room should be to speak with one of our stellar librarians. They are always ready and willing to go above and beyond to help you find what you and your child need.
The Children’s section of the LPL website, in addition to our bimonthly newsletter, list the many resources we offer that are designed to get kids reading. The following is a rundown of some of these services:
- Book Lists for 8 different genres (Adventure, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Humor, Mystery, Scary, Science Fiction, and Sports).
- E-Books for kids. An online collection of audio and animated books featuring the characters from Sesame Street.
- TumbleBooks Library. A collection of interactive talking storybooks and nonfiction books for children to listen to or read along with at their own speed. Spelling games, memory games, and puzzles related to books are also available.
- TumbleBookCloud Junior. A collection of videos, chapter books, and audiobooks. This includes: ebooks, read-alongs, graphic novels, and National Geographic videos.
- J-Nook. Pre-downloaded with popular books and contemporary classics. The J-Nook is available to Levittown School District Residents who are 18 years of age and older. Please visit the Children’s page for a complete listing of titles available on the J-Nook.
- Playaway View. This video player allows children to read, listen to and watch animated videos of pre-downloaded stories.
- Playaways and audiobooks. Playaways (a small device that contains the entirety of a book and can be listened to via headphones, similar to the iPod or other mp3 devices) and audiobooks (the story is told over one or more CDs or cassettes) can aid in reading comprehension.
- Storytime. We offer fun storytimes for five different age groups. We also offer a Special Needs Storytime for children ages 5 through elementary levels. Registration is required for all storytimes, so be sure to call ahead!
- Levittown Public Library Children’s Pinterest Page. Visit the Children’s Pinterest page! At the beginning of each month, a new board is created with a mix of the previous month’s new titles.
- 1,000 books before Kindergarten. This is an ongoing program that’s as simple as you reading with your child and keeping track of what you read. Turn your child into a bookworm before they even enter a classroom!
- Summer Reading!!!!!!! Arguably our biggest event of the year, the Summer Reading program is creeping up on us. Registration begins on June 13th and be prepared to party, as we will be hosting a kick-off celebration for all of the summer reading programs (Children’s, Teens, and Adults). This year’s theme for the Children’s Summer Reading is “Every hero has a story.” See our newsletter for further details.
The New York Public Library recently put together a list of 100 Great Children’s Books. I recommend taking a glance at it, as the list most likely includes at least one of the books that inspired you to become a literary traveler and story explorer. Pass them down to your child, niece, nephew, grandchild, and so on, and you will be unfolding new worlds for them to discover.
Getting back to the concept of books influencing the people we become, President Obama recently recognized the important work librarians do in connecting people (and especially children) with books and encouraging a lifelong love of learning and reading. Just a few days ago, he sent out a letter to the White House email list announcing a new initiative aimed at providing popular books to underprivileged children and young adults around the nation and getting more students connected to their local libraries. President Obama is also asking that we start an online conversation using the hashtag #BooksForAll, in which we each share the book that was “critical to making you who you are today.”
I would like to share my book with you because my connection to it is proof that the books we read as children truly do stay with us for the long haul. I was always a big reader. There are tons of children’s books that make me misty-eyed when I think about them because I loved them so much when I was younger: Amelia Bedelia (I still wish we could have been friends and dressed chickens and drawn curtains together) , The Berenstain Bears series, Strega Nonna, The Josefina Story Quilt, and many more. But the book I want to tell you about is a nonfiction children’s book called Stop the Presses, Nellie’s Got a Scoop! by Robert Quackenbush. I don’t remember how old I was when I first read it, but it was probably during the tail-end of my elementary school years. It was a library book, of course.
Nellie Bly was the pen name of Elizabeth Cochrane, a pioneering investigative journalist born in Pennsylvania in 1864. For one of her most famous articles, she went undercover to expose the poor and even abusive conditions of the Women’s Lunatic Asylum in New York. In 1889 she travelled around the world alone in 72 days and wrote about it in her book Around the World in Seventy-Two Days (a play on Jules Vernes’ Around the World in 80 Days, which inspired Bly’s trip).
I was mesmerized by Nellie Bly. I’ve even mentioned her in a previous post (10 points for Gryffindor if you can name the post!). She was a writer, investigator, suffragette, world traveler, and in her later life, an inventor and businesswoman. She made me realize what a powerful tool the written word truly is—with fortitude, facts, and the perfect words on our side, we can make a difference. When it came time to apply for college, Nellie Bly helped me find the words; in my application essays, I wrote about how her life of gumption and grit makes me want to be just a little braver and bolder, and how she reminds me that honest writing is the best kind of writing.
This is a long story that boils down to this: I went to the library when I was a kid, I read a book, and I ended up discovering one of my personal heroes. Like those who participate in the Children’s Summer Reading program will discover, every hero has a story.
So, what’s your book? What’s the book that shaped you as a young person and continues to influence the person you are today?