Trish MacGregor, children's librarian. "Tricky question."
What was the first book you ever read all by yourself?
What book changed the way you look at the world?
As a child I remember being influenced significantly by The Lorax
What book did you love as a kid that you realize now was “of its time” and would not be published today?
A Fly Went By
In which fictional house or land would you like to live?
Great question! So many to choose from. I think the Land of Oz.
Tell us a favorite opening line from any children’s book.
Deep in the water where the fish hang out, lives a glum gloomy swimmer with an ever-present pout.
What was your first book-related job?
Tricky question. I think every job I've had was "book-related" starting with being a babysitter in my early teens, because the bag of activities I took babysitting included books. I was an early-childhood educator, and definitely books were a big part of that. Official "book-related" job would be working in a library.
Name a couple of favourite read-alouds that are big hits with little kids.
For a storytime with a large group of children, varying ages, The Gruffalo, Mortimer, Moira’s Birthday, When We Are Kind, The Cow Loves Cookies, Find Fergus, Pout Pout Fish, Jillian Jiggs, The Doorbell Rang, Something From Nothing, Stuck, Pete The Cat I Love My White Shoes, Groovy Joe Ice Cream and Dinosaurs, The Magic Tree, Picture a Tree, Picture the Sky, Be Who You Are, Where Is The Green Sheep. . . oops you said a couple, I'd better stop! :)
The books I gravitate to depend on the audience, and program that I am doing. I have used Marthe Jocelyn's books often in programs with families who are learning English or when simple text/concepts and preferred. Her board books about seasons, and her picture books Ones and Twos & Over and Under are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers in the Anabaptist communities. The clear illustrations and short text works well to hold the attention of children who may not be accustomed to sitting and listening to a story.
and why do you think they work?
Repetition is a huge part of engaging preschoolers and primary grades. Also they love to have a “job” to do. . . a line they can join in with, hunting for something, anticipating what comes next. Illustrations that are bright and engaging help a lot. Rhyming text can be helpful, particularly for pre-readers. Story lines and good characters make a big difference too! We often do story extensions with our programs, so those storylines and characters can encourage imagination and creativity for activities.
What questions do you ask a student to get a sense of which books to recommend?
What was the last book that they read that they loved?
What did they like best about it?
Do they like fiction or non-fiction?
Do they like a book with a lot of words, lots of illustrations or somewhere in between?
What kind of character do they like best?
Do they have a favourite author?
How do you feel about kids loving books that you feel are less than great?
Honestly, it's not up to me to decide what makes a book great for a kid. I just want kids to love books! It's my job to get kids excited about reading, and they won't get excited in a book they aren't interested in/don't like. Introducing books to a wide variety of books is like inviting a kid to a literary smorgasboard, offer them tons of options and they will find something they like. It will foster in them an appetite to try new things, and help them to grow.