After working for 20 plus years as a children’s librarian, I feel very comfortable with young people. I’m good at getting them to open up and tell me what they are looking for. Children come in with parents in tow, after visiting the library with their class. “Remember me?” they ask, and I always let them know that they are unforgettable.
Story time is where I shine, and I enjoy building a relationship with parents and children at these weekly events. It’s also fun to be considered a rock star of sorts when you walk into the room and sit down for story time. “There she is Mommy!”
I do have one customer who’s got me stumped though. She’s not too impressed with my reader’s advisory skills, and her eyes narrow when I show her a few things in her age category. She’s almost 11 years old, a little guarded, and already a bit jaded about books.
Oh, I can hear you already. You’re mentally conducting an awesome reference interview. You’re wondering if I thought of titles that you consider foolproof. Is she a girly girl? Into sports? Does she want something that’s just a little bit scary? What about biographies or crafts?
See, here’s the thing. She’s my daughter. So this is like the hairdresser with crazy hair, or the mechanic who drives a clunker. I’m the librarian who’s got a kid that isn’t thrilled about anything I’d think is interesting. I am the librarian who, as a kid, sat in the quad at lunch time, absorbed in a book. My kid is the one who is super cool, at ease conversing with adults, and is described by her teachers as “mature” and “responsible”.
I don’t shrink from challenges, so I set out to get into her brain. Her preferences are muddled by puberty and tween-ness, but that didn’t dissuade me. She reads at a seventh grade, so I had to be wary of content. EBSCO’s Novelist K-8 Plus proved a great resource and I was able to customize a list of titles at her Accelerated Reader level that also interested her. Well, let’s just say that she didn’t curl up her lips. Score! She kept coming out of her room and reading me parts of How They Choked: Failures, Flops and Flaws of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg and Kevin O’Malley. Another one that we enjoyed reading aloud: Swear to Howdy by Wendelin Van Draanen. She still talks about it and feels that we’ll never find a book that holds our hearts captive like this one. I’m looking forward to proving her wrong.