by Kirsti Call
Last month I wrote about 5 ways to make the most of your library card. This month, I decided to interview my favorite children's librarian, Kimberly Bears. I first met Kim in the children’s section at my local library 5 years ago. I’ve never known a more cheerful, helpful and engaging children’s librarian. I still go to night readers, a tween and parent book club that she leads. I’m delighted to have her perspective here on Children’s Book Academy.
Kirsti Call: Why did you choose to go into library science and focus on kidlit?
Kimberly Bears: I have always loved going to and working in the library. I think in the back of my mind I always wanted to be a librarian, but was side tracked by meteorology first. Anyway, I was taking a Ch. Literature course in college and one of the projects I chose to do was do a story time. I remember it vividly…it was on my birthday, and I chose to do a Halloween story time (you were allowed to do that back then ;) I dressed up like Dorrie the Witch and shared the book Dorrie and the Witch’s Imp. It went so well!! I left the room knowing exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life…be a Children’s Librarian…and I am still doing it.
KC: What was your favorite book as a child?
KB: My favorite book as a child was The Three Billy Goat’s Gruff by Paul Galdone. My first grade teacher read it to us and I immediately went home and told my family all about it. My Dad said he would take me to the library that weekend to see if we could borrow it. I can still remember him showing me how to look it up in the card catalog and how to ask the librarian where to find it. I was hooked from then on! (Luckily the book was in…or who knows where I’d be now…lol.) Can you even believe that I was in first grade before I actually went to the library for the first time?
KC: Who is your favorite children’s author and why?
KB: Oh man…this is a tough one…so many levels of books, so many genres…I honestly can’t pick just one! How about if I give you my favorite one for today…I just read Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle and I loved it!
KC: What types of books do you need more of in the children’s room?
KB: Oh this is easy…no pun intended…easy readers!! I find that beginning readers is a tough area. Publishers rate them by Level 1, 2, 3, and 4 which is great, but unfortunately they all have a different idea on what a Level 1, 2, 3, and 4 book actually is!!! So frustrating! There has to be a way to write some beginning readers that not only strengthen a child’s ability to read (ie: repetition, phonics…yes I said it…phonics) but still have some “meat” to it. Oh, and I say it all the time, we really could use some good picture books on unicorns, and mermaids too! Kids are always, always asking!
KC: If you could meet any children’s book author, who would it be and why?
KB: Neil Gaiman!! I love this man! He has such a talent and imagination…and he genuinely LOVES librarians and what we do and stand for!
KC: What is your favorite thing about your job?
KB: Everything! I know this sounds cliché, but it is so true. No two days are alike, no two children are alike, and I have the honor of introducing them and keeping them invested in books and reading. I am so lucky to be doing what I know I was put here on Earth to do! Get kids excited about books, reading, and their dreams and ideas! My college friends still tease me when we get together because I am the ONLY ONE who loves my job!
KC: How much time to you spend reading children’s books?
KB: Never enough! LOL. I try to read an adult novel, then a children’s novel, an adult novel, then a children’s novel…I listen to audio books the same way. As for picture books, I read them every chance I get. I love nothing more than sharing a good picture with both children and adults! (Here’s a secret…I always try to include some little something for the adults who attend my story times. I am a huge believer in the idea that you are NEVER too old to be read to!) (Or to read a Children’s novel…Night Readers ;)
KC: What is the most important message you think kids need to hear about reading?
KB: I tell every child that I give a new library card to…”This is the most important card you will EVER have in your wallet! Cherish it!” Reading is as important as breathing. It can take you places you have never dreamed of, it can teach you things you have never thought of, it can make you feel things you never knew you could feel, and it can heal.
KC: Thank you Kim! Kidlit writer's should always remember your message to kids as they are writing: Reading is as important as breathing. It can take you places you have never dreamed of, it can teach you things you have never thought of, it can make you feel things you never knew you could feel, and it can heal.
Kim Bears is a graduate of Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science and is currently working as a part-time Children's Librarian at the Memorial Hall Library in Andover, MA. She is the former Head of Children's Services at the Stevens Memorial Library in North Andover, MA, and the Leach Library in Londonderry, NH. Kim also served as the President of CHILIS, the Children's division of the New Hampshire Library Association, and has been published twice in School Library Journal. Kim currently resides in Londonderry, NH with her husband Paul, her two sons Michael and Danny, and her beloved yellow lab Koda who loves to be read to before bedtime. Kim s a huge New England Patriots fan, hopes to one day live in Paris, and would to love to follow Bruce Springsteen on a worldwide tour. Read On!
Kirsti Call is a homeschooling mom of five. Her debut picture book, The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall, came out in 2013 with Character Publishing. Her family band, Calling Out, plays songs written by her children. She contributes to Writer's Rumpus and co-coordinates Reading for Research Month, a challenge for picture book writers who use mentor texts to improve their writing skills. If you visit her house, you’ll likely find her reading or writing. You can find out more about her at www.kirsticall.com.
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