Blogger Katie Salo

How PBS Inadvertently Prepared Me for Librarianship

[Author dressed as Ms. Frizzle for Halloween in 2013. Photo courtesy of the author.]
[Author dressed as Ms. Frizzle for Halloween in 2013. Photo courtesy of the author.]
This post has been percolating in my brain since I heard Ms. Frizzle’s voice fly out of my mouth during a session of “Little Hands Art” (art class for 2-4 year olds) this summer. We were painting with ping pong balls and one of the kids put her hand in the paint. She immediately wanted to wash her hands and I challenged her to see what she could do with the paint on her hand. Without thought, the words “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” came spilling out of my mouth. While my young patron didn’t know where my words came from, they gave her the courage to use her fingers to spread the paint that day.

I grew up in a golden age of PBS. And fortunately for me, I held on to PBS for far longer than my peers thanks to my little sister and my younger cousins. Though I do not have a reason to watch PBS now, I smile every time a patron asks for “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” or “Martha Speaks!” since I know these shows are just as beloved to them as mine were to me.

A brief list of small thank yous:

  • Sesame Street: for giving me Big Bird and preparing me for the questions that my preschool patrons constantly ask.
  • Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood: for teaching me how cool cardigans are and for showing me *how* things happen. I still remember that crayon factory!
  • Kidsongs: for singing to me the multitude of silly songs that I use constantly. Who knew that Michael Finnegan would stick around this long?
  • Ghostwriter: for learning about the importance of teamwork and that words/letters/stories have great meaning.
  • Wishbone: for sharing the great stories in an accessible way. You sure taught me how to spin a tale/tail!
  • Zoom: for teaching me how to do activities and experiments with kids. I practiced on my “patron” — sister and cousins — all the way back in high school!

And of course…Arthur for showing me that having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card!

When I’m buying DVDs for our collection, I’m always happy to add the latest PBS show. Who knows what kind of job I’m preparing kids for today!

Do you have favorite PBS shows/memories that help you in daily library life? Are you shocked and appalled that I never watched Reading Rainbow? Let me know in the comments!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library


  1. Kelly Doolittle

    Bill Nye the Science Guy!!! (I can’t say that name without hearing the accompanying guitar riff!) I didn’t grow up with him, but my kids did, and of course I watched with them. He constantly reminded my kids and me that Science Is Cool. If you really believe that, it’s genuine and it shows, and I think the kids I serve recognize that.

    Love all the ones you mentioned, too! Including Reading Rainbow 🙂

    1. Katie Salo Post author

      Ohhhh, how could I forget Bill Nye? What an awesome, fun show!

  2. Cheri Crow

    What a great post! I have been thinking of Mr. Rodgers myself lately. I finally understand the importance of routines for children. I can see Mr. Rodgers changing his shoes and feeding the fish. It makes me think we need to stop and take time to talk with our children about how everyday routines help us throughout the day. Hurrying off to the next “important” thing isn’t always best. Thanks for sharing your childhood memories and starting my day off with a nostalgic smile.

    1. Katie Salo Post author

      Mr. Rodgers is by far the show I remember the most vividly. I agree: routines for children are so important and we all need to take the time to appreciate the now instead of the next. Thank you for reading and commenting!

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