Monday, May 12, 2008

Humor on the Job

Working in a library can be a lot of laughs at times. Kids say the darnedest thing when you least expect it. Here are a few true life examples of funny things that have happened to me and my fellow children’s librarians while on the job.

One of my favorite “Working in the Library” memories was the time someone made the mistake of buying, like, ten of those potty training board books with the realistic flushing sound. It was a flushing frenzy. Kids would get a hold of one and flush it over and over and over and over. For weeks you couldn’t stroll through the stacks without hearing the sound of a toilet flushing somewhere a couple rows down. No one was more relieved than the children’s staff when all the batteries finally wore down. NO attempts were made to replace them.

I was once trying to help a patron find a book for her preteen son. “City of Ember is a book he might like,” I said to her. A pair of lips belonging to some random child suddenly appeared in a small gap in between the book shelves. “Beware the City of Ember,” the kid whispered in a low spooky voice. The lips disappeared as quickly as they had come. The woman turned to me with a smile. “I’ll take the book!” She said.

One day I spotted a boy sticking his finger into one of the cracks in one of our glass display cases to get at the things inside. “Please, don’t stick your fingers in there,” I said. The boy gave me these big innocent eyes and said, “Okay.” I started to walk away but noticed he continued to sit there with his finger in the case. I walked slowly back. “Are you stuck?” I asked. The boy’s facade crumbled and he started to cry. “Yes!” he said. I got the key and released him from the display. He never did try that again.

My all time favorite is the time one of our librarians noticed a ten or eleven year old boy, with tears running down his cheeks, sitting at a table one day. In real concern she approached the boy and asked if he was all right. “Why do characters that you’ve learned to love have to die?” he sobbed. “He’s been in so many books why did they have to kill him?” Feeling touched over the boy’s attachment to his fictional friend, she gently asked him what he was reading. He lifted the book so she could see the title. Bionicles # 5: Voyage of Fear. Ah, the power of great literature.

And here are a few more examples of conversations I’ve had on the job:

Preteen Girl: I need your help.
Me: What can I do for you?
Preteen Girl: What should I be when I grow up?
Me: Anything you want.
Preteen Girl: (After thinking awhile) I think I’ll be a Supermodel.
Me: Do you want some books about modeling?
Preteen Girl: No thanks. I think I’ve got it now.

If only it were that easy. Then there was that another time--

Little Boy (Standing at the front desk unashamedly picking his nose the entire time.) Do you have books on dust mites?

He probably really needed it too. Just one more story.

Woman Patron: Do you have photographs of dinosaurs?
(I show her the books about dinosaurs.)
Woman Patron: These are paintings of dinosaurs not photographs.
(I patiently explain to her there are no photographs of real dinosaurs just paintings and digital pictures.)
Woman Patron: Yes there are, I’ve seen them!

Photographs of real dinosaurs--let me just get out my trusty time machine.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Banned Children's Books

I recently saw a list of the top 100 most banned children’s books. Not only had I read quite a few of them, but some of my favorite books were on the list. Just call me THE REBEL. Here are just a few of the titles I could not believe were on the list. Go out and read one of these in protest as soon as possible.

Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Giver by Lois Lowry

Other banned books not mentioned in the top 100.

The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
Witch’s Sister by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
Commander Toad in Space by Jane Yolen
Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

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