Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Photograph of Dr. SeussMarch 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ birthday – he would be 112 this year! It can be hard to imagine what children’s books would look like today without the incredibly creative and inspiring books of Dr. Seuss. He wrote stories that are hard to put down, and he created characters that are impossible to forget. Memorable characters such as the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, Thing 1 and Thing 2, Horton the Elephant and the Lorax are still popular after many decades. To help celebrate such an icon of literature, I have listed some little known fun facts about Dr. Seuss himself:

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What We Read to Our Kids

Johnathan reading to daughterWe recently posted about the Storybook Project, which highlights various authors, actors, politicians, philanthropists, scientists and musicians and what they read to their children. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, below are favorite books that our library staff enjoys reading to their kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews and more.

As for me, my daughter is a big fan of “The Pout-Pout Fish,” and a newer favorite is “Rex Wrecks It.”  What books do YOU like reading to your children? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Best Books for Beginning to Read

Biscuit Beginning to Read bookA common assumption I’ve come across during my time in libraries is that picture books are for children to read. As a matter of fact, I think I probably made this same assumption before I started planning story times and the like. But here’s the thing: children’s picture books are really designed to be read aloud to children by adults. I know, I just blew your mind. Obviously there are some exceptions, like certain Dr. Seuss titles. (“Hop on Pop“, anyone?) But many picture books are actually too advanced for your average beginning reader to effectively tackle on his or her own.

If starting with traditional picture books is not ideal, then what in the world is? The answer varies. At DBRL, we call this collection “Beginning to Read.” These are also children’s books, and they also have a lot of pictures. They are different from most picture books in that their sentences are short, and the words are short, simple and do as much to help the reader figure them out contextually as possible. The words are big and few so they are not nearly as intimidating. You also won’t find any artsy typographies that, while charming in children’s books that are being read to them, can be daunting to new readers. Continue reading

Shhh! Stop Saying Libraries Are Dying!

Photo of scolding librarian

There are many, many things that I dearly love about working in a library, about providing children’s services and that absolutely thrill me about my decision to pursue my post-graduate education in library science. But people telling me…

“That’s what Google is for.”

“Nothing relevant is even in print form anymore; even books can be digital.”

“Once everyone owns a Kindle no one will even go to the library.”

“You chose, like, the Latin of professions.”

…are DEFINITELY NOT among those many, many things. (Don’t even get me started on, “You need a degree for that?”)

Because the truth is, libraries are not just giant warehouses full of musty, dated books, just like librarians are not brittle, grumpy ladies who wear ugly cardigans and cat-eye glasses on chains and shush you from on high through lipstick-stained teeth. (We are really more ChapStick people.) Continue reading

Once Upon a Time…

picture of a Lego princess and queenWith rare exceptions like Kate Middleton or Grace Kelly, most little girls with royal professional aims will need a back-up to an “I’m gonna be a princess when I grow up!” career plan. But until that need arises, DBRL has beefed up its Disney Princess Collection by popular request for your little prince or princess to peruse.

While the celebrated Disney Princesses themselves are big attention-grabbers and can easily be enjoyed in their own right, they also have the potential to serve as the (often less gruesome) introduction to the original tales by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen or even from history itself. These stories can be the doorway to exploring the concept of very old stories, their purposes, different interpretations in different cultures and even how they have changed over time from the original versions.

Wait – fairy tales were originally SCARY? Continue reading