It was with great sadness that I ended my eight years at Skidompha Library yesterday. Here I am on my last day. I have loved being a librarian, a job I never predicted for myself, but which turned out to be a great fit. I am moving on to work at our local high school, Lincoln Academy, doing communications and community engagement work. I look forward to taking on new challenges.
I will miss lots of things about the library: my colleagues, my young patrons and fellow readers, the pace of the library, and of course, being surrounded by books.
Recently my library director charged me with an assignment. “I want our library to have the best collection of LGBTQI literature in the state of Maine.” For the uninitiated, this acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and intersex, and it led to an enlightening research project. I looked at dozens of book lists and read hundreds of reviews, finally selecting about 40 new titles for preschoolers to high schoolers for the library collection.
One of the things I soon learned is that this genre congregates around two poles: picture books for kids with nontraditional families, and teen books about budding sexuality. There is very little out there between My Two Mommies and Two Boys Kissing.
That’s why discovering Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle was so refreshing. Here is a chapter book geared to ages 10-13 about Nate Foster, a middle school boy who loves show tunes.
My old friend Mort asked if I could recommend books for his 4 1/2 year-old grandson, and YES, Mort, I can. This one’s for you!
Four is a fun age because kids are just starting to break down language in a way that will soon be actual reading, and they comprehend books at a different level. They start to get the jokes, for instance, when the words tell one story but the pictures tell another, and can sit and listen to longer, more interesting books. This is an easy age to recommend for because there are so many wonderful picture books out there.
Let’s focus on the BOY part for a minute. Currently superheroes are BIG among the preschool set (They are’t the only ones. I just got home from the movie Captain America 2 with my 12-year-old). And while the product placement books published by Marvel and Disney are huge sellers, there are many more creative books out there with a superhero theme.
One of my older favorites is Dex: the Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Beuhner. This is the story of a diminutive dog who, through hard work and determination, becomes the neighborhood hero. It is totally lovable, with comic book flair and a great message.