KidLit TV is happy to have librarian superstar Margaret Myers-Culver, ‘Margie,’ as this month’s Featured Expert! Margie has worked as a certified teacher librarian for 34 years in grades K-12. Margie is well-known for her blog, Librarian’s Quest. She’s created a space where children’s literature consumers can engage in healthy dialogue about books, libraries, and how new technologies affect literature.
As a librarian, how have you seen the world of children’s literature change over the years?
I think the world of children’s literature has exploded into greatness. That is not to say there have not been timeless treasures finding places on our shelves for decades; I think the quantity has increased. Our children have an array of choices in all genres and formats. If I were to name a single format that has come to the forefront it would be graphic novels. Personally, as a collector and reader of comic books, this thrills me. The number of people drawn to this style is impressive and exciting. Book makers are reaching out to more children with the subject matter included in their titles, fiction and nonfiction. During my tenure as a librarian I have been continually impressed with the quality of writing and illustrative techniques used in the creation of children’s literature to the point I have nearly given up reading books published for adults.
What is the greatest tip you can give parents who are struggling with a reluctant reader?
As a child raised in a home where actions speak louder than words was a mantra, one of the most important things is to model that which you want your children to become. You need to lead by example. Never be too busy to set aside a time to read when your children can see you reading.
When I booktalk in the library those titles fly off the shelves circulating from reader to reader. The next thing is to chat with your children about what you are reading; engage them in sincere conversations about stories, yours and theirs.
Finally, I encourage reading aloud. Most of my former students, even those in high school, will tell you their favorite thing is/was storytime. If you begin reading aloud to your children as soon as you can, you will never need to stop. It will be a welcome ritual. You are never too old to enjoy the sound of another’s voice reading to you. Some of my fondest memories are those of reading aloud picture books to my ninety-four-year-old mother.
What were some of your favorite children’s books growing up?
I can remember reading The Bobbsey Twins and the Trixie Belden books. The books I could hardly wait to be published were The Nancy Drew mystery stories. Waiting for the next title to be released was like waiting for your birthday. I wish I had saved my collection along with the animal/nature series written by Thornton W. Burgess. I still have The Tall Book of Nursery Tales, The Tall Book of Christmas, The Tall Book of Bible Stories and The Tall Book of Make Believe which served as a basic introduction to children’s literature along with some outstanding illustrators. My mother passed on her childhood favorites of The Girl of the Limberlost and Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter which I can vividly remember reading.
What inspired you to become a librarian?
The short answer for becoming a librarian is a deep love of books and reading and sharing this love with children, encouraging them to be lifelong readers. Working with children (K-12) has been my life’s greatest joy. To extend the answer I would add I have a passion for needing to know. Our libraries serve as doorways to nearly everything anyone could want to discover. Information literacy has always been like a treasure hunt for me. How can we make our children independent users of information? How can we teach them to select the best, most reliable source to find an answer as quickly as possible?
What literature based activities do you recommend for kids?
The bottom line for selecting the best literature based activities for children is to have them be participants. We want our children to be surrounded with the possibilities literature offers them. Highly recommended are author/illustrator visits connected to author/illustrator studies, an annual Mock Caldecott or Mock Newbery unit, readers’ theater, teaching them to become storytellers from the heart, and scavenger hunts related to information literacy.
For example when the third grade studied Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Mary Azarian we completely immersed ourselves in not only the study of snow and Snowflake Bentley, but we learned about photography. We branched out into basic cameras like the pinhole. I explained the library is like a large camera box with the windows acting as the light coming through the aperture. We made paper snowflakes and placed them on light-sensitive paper for a designated amount of time, fixing them in water and creating blueprint-like images.
How can technology help engage young readers?
Technology is a tool to help us connect and complete our goals. It’s another option to use as an expression of creativity. Two areas which technology has expanded children’s awareness of literature are Skype visits with authors and illustrators and the emergence of book trailers. To place a face with a name and converse with them has been highly beneficial not to mention downright fun for all of us. Book trailers most certainly draw attention to the release and publication of titles building anticipation but they also ask us to focus on the most relevant portions of a book. If we were making a book trailer, how we would capture potential readers’ attention?
Blogging applications and virtual post-it boards allow children to express their views about books and other forms of reading safely. It’s a way to stay connected 24/7 all year long.
What’s your favorite children’s book-to-film adaptation?
This is a little tricky to answer but the first one that popped into my mind is Matilda. Although, if you were to peruse my DVD collection you might find the entire set of the Harry Potter films, The Hunger Games movies, the Twilight saga and Stuart Little. I also enjoy animated movies of treasured classics.
How can parents and teachers benefit from using KidLit TV’s resources?
KidLit TV is children’s literature central. Your variety of sources, Storymakers, Read Out Loud, and Ready Set Draw videos, your podcasts, links to other kidlit virtual sources and features along with your presence on social media is invaluable. The variety here offers something to every kind of learner. KidLit TV is an excellent way to use technology to enhance children’s love of literature. It’s simply fun!
ABOUT MARGIE MYERS-CULVER
Margie Culver can’t remember a time when she was not reading. With every turn of the page her views, impressions and understanding of the world, past, present, future and fantastical, increased. She’s been educated and entertained; had her heart broken and made whole again. She began her career as a school librarian in 1973. In Margie’s words, “It has been the single best decision that I have ever made.” She writes posts about as many wonderful books as possible.
Learn more about Margie and read her posts at Librarian’s Quest.
Recent posts by Margie
Scholastic Reader Leader
In Appreciation of the Art of John Hendrix and John Brown (Nerdy Book Club)
Eighteen Picture Books Guaranteed to Make You Laugh Out Loud (Nerdy Book Club)
Top Ten Books to Get a New Paw Spective (Nerdy Book Club)