As evidenced by how many times I find myself forking out the big bucks to the library for overdue fines, I check out a lot of library books for my kids. We own a ton of kids' books, of course, but you can only re-read them so many times before feeling slightly nauseous at the thought of revisiting them one more time. The library provides much-needed variety. Taking my kids to the library is one of my favorite parts of being a parent, both because I love that they're excited to visit places with books and because it reminds me of my own childhood pleasures. Visiting the library is tied up with memories of my dad, who's also a voracious reader (well, who was; losing his ability to find escape and solace in books is one of the saddest parts of his disease to me) (something my sister Becky wrote a contest-winning essay about). It also helps me remember the long, carefree hours I used to have as a child, entire afternoons dedicated to reading. But the library is a topic for another day; what I wanted to write about is our current favorite library book.
Kaleb loves anything that has to do with animals, so when I spotted Wild About Books on the shelf, I crossed my fingers that it wouldn't be too text-heavy. A quick flip through the pages showed that the word count was nearly perfect. So I dumped it into our pile in the basket underneath the stroller and we took it home. The premise of the book: a librarian takes her bookmobile to the zoo by accident, and then starts teaching the animals to read. The story is told in rhyme, which has the potential to bug me (forced rhymes are a pet peeve of mine), but it's never annoying or forced. Just funny. Kaleb's favorite page---and mine---is the one about the bugs at the insect zoo. Inspired by all their reading, they take up writing haiku (which is then critiqued by the scorpion). The best haiku is the dung beetle's: "Roll a ball of dung---/Any kind of poo will do---Baby beetle bed." ("Stinks," declares the scorpion.)
I think that writers of children's books have an obligation both to the children and to the parents. At least, if they want me to read their books to my kids, they've got to catch my interest, too. Wild About Books does just that---I find myself laughing along with Kaleb, for entirely different reasons (the subtext of suggestion about reading and writing and learning to read is hilarious to me). He's engaged and I'm engaged, all snuggled up in my unmade bed. A perfect reading experience!
Another perk of the library: it helps me know what books I want to buy, and this one is now in my Amazon cart. It's on my to-do list today to take the books back to the library (we've had this one for five weeks now, proof positive that I'll be handing over a bit of change to the librarian). Maybe you could check it out next!