How many of you read The Happy Hollisters by Andrew E. Svenson under the pseudonym Jerry West? A series about a group of siblings that had fun adventures and solved mysteries. As a kid, I devoured them. So…did I read them to my kids and recommend them to my grandchildren?
They were written at a different time, my youth. No one pointed out to the author or publisher that their biases were showing. There are all kinds of explanations I could share as to why that happened and how it was allowed. Important information and valuable to consider especially by a librarian, but isn't at the forefront of a lot of readers’ minds when choosing the next book.
Recommending a book is a gift. If a friend, sibling or teacher highly praises a book, it comes to mind when picking a title to read on the way to Grandmother’s house. Adults like it when Oprah or Reese Witherspoon put together a list, they start at the beginning and read from 1-10. If every 4th and 5th grader wants a Percy Jackson or Diary of a Wimpy Kid book because their friends are reading them, then only a limited number of kids will have their first choice. Others will have to find another title. How do they choose?
This is where personalized recommendations come into play. Library staff are super fantastic at suggesting similar titles. Please ask. We also have Staff Picks marked throughout the library if browsing is your approach. Find out what friends are reading and of course, ask Grandma (or Uncle, Cousin, Neighbor) what she read at your age. Be careful with the age reference unless you’re under 14. Remember you can be the one offering a suggestion. Yes, there are plenty of lists online professionally put together. All good places to start.
So do any of my childhood favorites show up in my children’s hands? I’ll be honest. Not many. There are all kinds of new books that I want to read and share, children’s, junior and adult varieties. Have you tried Elbow Grease by John Cena? This is about an electric car. Those didn’t even exist when I was little. The Fog Catcher’s Daughter by Marianne McShane. Monsters in the Briny by Lynn Becker. This one is for the grandchild that might like a little scare.
What about the rest of the family who need recommendations?
P.S. Swapping books during the holidays is great fun, too!