I’m a fierce lover of the library. I can’t help myself. Maybe it’s because I remember our family filing out of our light blue Dodge Caravan, all of us headed towards the library to check out our books. I think that when I was about 11 or 12, I remember being limited to 10 books per checkout, and I’d read every one them before the due date. Judy Blume, Christopher Pike, my old favourite — L.M. Montgomery — I just couldn’t get enough.
I make a point of going to the library with the girls quite often. Do they adore the books in the way that I remember? Not always. Sometimes a book will hold a special place in Lila’s heart for the two weeks that it lives in our house, but mostly, the girls get the most fun out of actually going to the library. They admire colorful cover illustrations or flip through the books left out on the table. It also doesn’t help that our library is home to a large fire truck play structure. Lucy often spends our entire libary visit “driving” the fire truck and hollering, “Mom! Mom! See me! See me drive!”
I often respond with, “SHHHHH!!! This is a library! You must be quieter! Why on earth did they put a fire truck in a library, good god?!?!”
The trouble is, when the kids pick the books, you don’t always know what you’re bringing home. Case in point: one of Lila’s favourite bedtime stories is entitled “Cinderella Plans Her Wedding”. Now, as a former bride-to-be who enjoyed hyper-planning her own wedding, I can appreciate why an author would think that this would be a story worth writing. But for a preschooler? I don’t know. Cinderella gets overwhelmed by all of the decisions and the pressure from her palace advisor, and she ends up making decisions that she doesn’t agree with. In the end, she learns to communicate her wants and picks the simple white dress that we recognize from the movie’s final scene. The prince’s character seems to be not much more than a dark haired mannequin who only appears just as Cinderella is about to walk down the aisle. There is more complexity in Cindy’s relationships with her mouse friends than with her future husband. So yeah… I have a few issues with that story.
(I know, I know… am I about to light my bra on fire? I’ll give it a rest now.)
A book that we have added to our home library, and is in heavy rotation for Lila’s bedtime stories, is Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt.
The book is written in a very non-traditional style. Pictures and words are all over the page, much like a graphic novel or a comic book. Scaredy Squirrel is an agoraphobic squirrel who spends his entire day doing the same thing, day after day, while clutching his emergency kit. Of course, he grows as a little squirrel and his character develops accordingly.