October is such a fun month for so many reasons. There’s cooler weather, fall decorations, homecoming, football, colors of nature begin to change, we begin wearing sweatshirts and sweaters, and it’s the beginning of a new fiscal year at the library. Okay, I know for most everyone else, a new fiscal year is not considered a fun element to their fall beginning, but for me it is one of the highlights of the year.
We are incredibly busy at the library during the summer months providing lots of opportunities for our readers out of school, and then by the time summer is over, we are at the end of the budget year. Therefore, we receive fewer new items July to September. In those months, we order only what is necessary and the newest best releases to keep a minimum of new items received. When October arrives, it is time to make up for lost time and boy do we! Just last week we received over 400 new books, and although the staff does not have time to read every one of those books, we do peruse through them here and there. The exception to that is the children’s picture books. I try to read all of the books written for our youngest of readers because I want to have the knowledge to help parents and caregivers when they are looking for a special topic or when I can recommend one I believe they will appreciate.
Last week I had a tall stack of picture books on my desk to read and with each one I was just more and more impressed with them. Picture books have a long history as a staple in children’s literature, and they continue improving through time. The bar is high and I am consistently surprised at how the authors and illustrators meet and exceed that bar. As I look back at the 50 or so books I read last week, there was one in particular that I especially appreciated because of its subtle use and exposer to unique vocabulary for children.
Not Friends, by Rebecca Bender, uses different font sizes to draw attention to words that perhaps are not used often or at all in a child’s typical day. The vocabulary caught my attention, so I’m hopeful the adult reading this book to children will also be captivated and spend a little extra time accentuating words such as invade, perch, tumble, perturb, glum, and adore. Not Friends tells the story of a giraffe and a bird that are obviously not friends. The illustrations are interesting, vibrant, and active, the story is wonderful without being forced or having a predictable happy ending, but it’s the language that made it a trifecta for me. An excellent story line, beautiful art, and brilliant vocabulary is what I look for and appreciate, and I’m happy to report that this one particular book was not the only one that met my expectations in our new book arrivals. When a children’s book uses a word like adore, it’s going to intrigue and capture my attention. Image having to explain to a child what the word adore means; now that’s a great word to add to everyone’s vocabulary.
Leslie Scott is the Director for the Prosper Community Library.