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  • Teacher Stacey

Being the Gatekeeper of Your Children's Library

I was given this book (and the Spanish version!) by a student’s very generous parent. It is downright hilarious!!!

I was positive I wanted to capture the children's first experience with the book on camera. No spoilers, no practice runs, just the first-time unadulterated version of them hearing this hysterical book. And gosh-oh-gee am I glad I did. Please enjoy:

There may be nothing on Earth I enjoy more than being surrounded by books as well as diving head first into a story. Being an Early Childhood Educator, children's books are just as enticing and enjoyable to me as the books I read in my own spare time.

But don't get it twisted, just because a book was written for children, may have beautiful illustrations, and made it all the way to a publishing house, does not automatically make it a good book.

I heard a while back in a conference on children's literature a phrase that has stuck with me. "You are the gatekeeper to your children's library." I wish I could remember who said it so I could give him/her credit. If I can give you a piece of advice it is this: Do not accumulate books for the sake of having an ample children's library. Make sure you are the gatekeeper. Read the books first.

Here are some of my own tips/checklist for your own library:

1. Make sure your library looks like the real world. Are the characters in your books as diverse as your classroom or your grocery store or simply the world outside? The characters in the books should be all the shades possible, of different cultures, of differing abilities, and experiencing things the children may not have had a chance to experience yet.

2. Do you have a good balance of silly books as well as realistic books? One of my favorite authors is Mo Willems. His Elephant and Piggie books are delightful and I myself haven't tired of them yet. But imagine if you will if a child's only exposure to an elephant and/or a pig were from those books. That would be a bit ridiculous. It is important for a child to know realistic facts about elephants and pigs and maybe also that they actually are not found in the natural animal kingdom together so it is unlikely they would be friends.

3. Is the vocabulary in your books simple enough for the ages of the children to grasp while complex enough for them to be stretched a bit?

4. Do you have a good mix of science (books about weather, animals and their habitat, etc) social emotional growth (taking turns, feelings, etc) stories, (fairytales and others) poems, and other books? This goes along with #2. I've been in homes where the families had loads of books but they were all books with either Disney Princesses or Marvel Superheroes. While in and of themselves, I have no issue with either, children need vastly more variety in their literature than that.

Do you have any more suggestions? I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below with other tips/suggestions you think are important in being the gate keeper of your library.

Happy reading!

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