By Leslie Lindsay
It was a steamy day in Chicgaoland. Too steamy for the pool, but just the right amount for an air conditioned library. My 6 year old, 8 year old, and I headed to the library where we stumbled upon this book, MISS MORE THOUGHT OTHERWISE, an endearing story about the first children’s librarian, Anne Carroll Moore. Written by Jan Pinborough and whimisically illustrated by Debby Atwell, this new book (May 2013) is sure to become a treasure for young and old book lovers alike.
In a time when children were thought to be seen and not heard–or educated–Anne (Annie) Moore grew up the youngest of 7 older brothers. But she loved to be read to by her attorney father. As she grew older, her love of learning and reading remained. Instead of marrying or taking care of the home for her parents as many young unmarried women did, Annie became a lawyer studying the profession at the heels of her father.
It’s hard to believe that books were once kept away from young children…”but Miss Moore thought otherwise!” (This becomes a sort of mantra throughout the book). This is the true story of the first children’s librarian-Anne Moore and how she designed the first children’s room at the public library in New York–selecting just the right color for the floor, child-sized tables and chairs, cozy sunny window seats, interesting books, art, and natural artifacts such as shells.
Told in such a way that truly brings history alive, this book is a must for every family’s bookshelf–not just from a historical perspective, but that of women’s studies/rights, and education.
My girls were struck with just how little children of the early Victorian days read and what a luxury books were.
If you read this book with your kids, here are some questions you may want to discuss:
- What makes a ‘good book?’ Why would (or, do) hildren’s books have different qualities than an adult book?
- Why might children–and especially girls–be discouraged from reading in the Victorian times?
- If you were to design the perfect library or reading space, what would you be sure to include?
- Do you have a reading nook at home? What’s it like?
- Name some of your favorite books?
- How do you think books for children have changed over time?
- Do your parents have any books remaining from their childhood? Read them, share them with others. Discuss their similarities and differences with today’s books for children.
- Why might books have been considered a luxury? Are they still today?
For more information about children’s books/libraries, please see this research article from IFLA: http://www.ifla.org/files/assets/libraries-for-children-and-ya/publications/guidelines-for-childrens-libraries-services_background-en.pdf
To learn more about Anne Carroll Moore, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Carroll_Moore
The author of MISS MOORE THOUGHT OTHERWISE, Jan Pinborough’s website: http://www.janpinborough.com/
That’s it…class dismissed!!!
[book cover image retrieved from Amazon.com 7.21.13 Anne Carroll Moore’s image retrieved from Wikipedia 7.21.13]