Monday, June 20, 2011

Confessions of a Children's Librarian

I don't know how many "confessions" (plural) I'm really prepared to make, but the one that is on my mind today is this:

I am a better book advocate for boys than girls.

I read so-called "boy books."  I like them better.  Sometimes my favorite readers are 9-14 year-old boys who love all the same books I know about and can't believe I have such "excellent" taste.  Once I establish my credibility by recommending a book they thought was great, I'm golden.

I love that moment when suddenly I'm not just this random lady their mom made them talk to.  I can watch their semi-interested politeness transform to avid interest in what else I might know about if I thought that book was good.

Today, two boys came in with both their parents.  They'll be flying around the country on cool vacation plans, and their parents are desperate for something without a battery that will hold their interest.  I'm enthralled by the chance to make their summer something they will laugh about in "Remember when I was reading The Riot Brothers and I snorted milk through my nose, and dripped it on the library book, but nobody got mad because they were just so happy I was reading?"

Because I know books that are snortably funny.

I bought a "boy book" for Bill that he read--at first to humor me-- and then because it was so humorous.  He laughed so hard, he cried. (ok, maybe not that hard--but his version of this phrase--which is really saying something)  I showed that same book to these two soon-to-be travelers, and the older one's face lit up:

"I read that book.  That IS a really funny book."  (Golden moment; I'm in!)  And then he surprised me by continuing, "My favorite part was about the sword fighting."
And I couldn't help exclaiming, "That was one of MY husband's favorite parts, too!"

You see, the book was an autobiography from a wacky children's author.  A brother among five other boys, a saint of a mom, and a gem of a dad.  He shares funny, poignant stories of what it was like to grow up in his wild, warring, wonderful little tribe.  And we can't help but laugh.

"Sword fighting" was the game he and his brothers played when more than one of them would use the same toilet to pee at the same time.  You can probably fill in the gist of the game, given it's name.

Before I became a children's librarian, this book may not have struck me as a notable read worth recommending.  Boys peeing?  Really?  This is what we want to read about?

Maybe not, but there is an authenticity about this book that is unmistakable.  And from what I can tell, boys gravitate toward that.  They don't read books that don't read well.  They are harder to please, loyal as Labradors, and like funny, plotty, or fantastical books that claim the truth of adventure, heroism, and courage against all odds.  It helps if the main character is a boy.

So give me a "boy book" any day.  I'll read it like a crazy girl so that I can unexpectedly make his day when I say, "You liked that?  Then you are going to love THIS."  And he'll believe me one hundred percent.  That moment of confidence is what keeps me slogging through all the lame, boring books to find the ones that are going to make those readers wonder, What else does she know about?

What else, indeed?

1 comment:

  1. So... don't keep us on the edge. What is the name of the book?