If you would have told me six years ago that I would someday work in a public middle school library and love it and that I’d be the author of 11 children’s books, I’d have said you were crazy.
All right, at the time, I was the author of nine non-fiction middle grade children’s books with Mitchell Lane, so that part was not so unbelievable. I have since published two other books.
Actually, the books are the reason I was hired five years ago to work in the library at Bluffton-Harrison Middle School in Bluffton, Indiana. The principal at the time thought that my experience in writing children’s books for Grades 4-8 would help in working in the library.
Yes and no.
- Yes, I could tell students what it was like to write books.
- No, I had not read many fiction books for children at that point though I have since read hundreds.
- Yes, I had previous library experience in working at the Circulation Desk of the library at Taylor University-Ft Wayne.
- No, I had never purchased a book for a library.
It took me a couple of years to catch on to the rhythm and style of working in a middle school library in a public school. But it only took me a few months to realize my opportunity — and privilege — as an author of working with 400+ students.
As a lifelong book lover and mother of three grown children, I had naively thought every parent emphasized the importance of reading to their children. Sadly, that is not so.
To introduce students to books is such a thrill, I can hardly contain my excitement when a student with a bored expression says he needs a book to read during homeroom.
“Do you like Greek mythology?” I ask. This is a valid question due to Rick Riordan’s popular books. If the answer is yes or at least a shrug, I find the Riordan shelf in fiction and then take him to the non-fiction section to point out my three books on Greek gods–Hades, Hephaestus, Hermes.
When I show him my name on the covers, the student usually looks at me quizzically like I’m trying to fool him.
I then point out our biography section and my books on Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Big Time Rush. Still looks of disbelief on the student’s face, although if the student is female, she by now at least looks a little interested in the books. That’s my ultimate goal. The boys are also interested, they just don’t want to show it.
I then take the student to the cookbook section and point out my Recipe and Craft Guide to Indonesia and Now You’re Cooking: Cuba books. By now, the student is becoming familiar with the library and hopefully seeing that it is a friendly, interesting place with books he/she may not have imagined to be there.
As an author, there are other advantages to working in a library. I’ve learned students love to read scary books – lots of ghost story books are checked out. They love to read about freaky things – Guinness World Record Books are very popular! Sometimes they love the librarian.
While I’ve not yet written a book about freaky things, it’s at the top of my to-write-about list. At this point I’m following Rick Riordan and Taylor Swift on social media to thank them for making me popular in my middle school library.
What personal advantage do you bring to your job in working with children and books?
Our guest blogger today is Kayleen Reusser. Kayleen is the author of Cuba, Healthy Recipe from Latin America from Purple Toad Publishing and 10 other children’s books. Check out her website at website at www.KayleenR.com
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
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