Musings From A Bookmammal


Endless Possibilities . . .

schoolbusMost school districts in my area have started the new school year by now—and this time of year always makes me reflective about the first day of school and what it can mean for the kids I see waiting at the bus stops when I drive to work every day.

I loved school when I was a kid. I looked forward to that first day as a time to wear a brand new outfit, find out who would be in my class, figure out which teachers were nice and which ones might be mean, and finally start using the new school supplies that I’d been hoarding.

In college, I loved that first week on campus–reconnecting with friends (this was before cell phones, texting, and even email—we actually WROTE LETTERS to keep in touch over the summer!), buying fresh textbooks, and settling back into the freedom of college life.

When I began teaching, I always looked forward to the first day of school with the students—because, of course, teachers actually have two “first days”: the first day of faculty meetings (which always seemed to go on forever), and then the first day when the kids come back. I was always so excited to meet my new students, to start figuring out what the personality of each class would be, diving into the curriculum—and yes, to once again finally start using the new school supplies that I’d been collecting all summer!

Now, even though I’m no longer working in the school system, I still think about the first day of school when I drive to work on these August mornings and see the kids waiting at the bus stops–brand new backpacks on their shoulders, fresh sneakers on their feet–and a totally empty slate.

The first day of school is packed with endless possibilities: Will this be the year with the teacher who creates that spark? Will this be the year when that kid finds a book that he loves? Will this be the year when it all finally clicks?  Will this be the year that sets the tone of success for that child?

These are the questions that I ask myself as I pass the bus stops. It’s a nice way to begin my mornings. I hope each of the children I pass will be enjoying their mornings, too.



Musing Mondays–When I Need A Little Inspiration . . .

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my Musing Monday ramble for the week:

I work in educational publishing, and, like everyone, I have my good days and my not-so-good days on the job. Lately it seems as though there have been a lot of very challenging days–days when I think I cannot possibly deal with one more ridiculous request or handle one more impossible deadline. That’s why I have several quotes posted at my desk–because, when it comes right down to it, I’m in this job because I’m passionate about helping kids learn to read and helping them learn to love reading. Sometimes I need a reminder of that.

For this week’s Musing Monday, I thought I’d post some of those quotes. These are my favorites!

“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.”
Frank Serafini

credit Susan Diehl

credit Susan Diehl

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”   Maya Angelou

credit Sun Weimin

credit Sun Weimin

“We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.”  B.F. Skinner

credit Alexandros Christofis

credit Alexandros Christofis

“Let children read whatever they want and then talk to them about it with them .  .   . we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.”  Judy Blume

credit Molly Poole

credit Molly Poole

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” Jacqueline Kennedy

credit Jon Anderson

credit Jon Anderson

Have a wonderful week, everyone! If you’re able, please consider giving a child the gift of a book during this holiday season.


Musing Mondays–This Is How My Book Buying Habit Began . . .

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my Musing Monday ramble for the week: 

vintage book club

Does this bring back any memories?

When I was in elementary school, I always loved the days when my teachers would pass out the little book club newsletters every month or so. I’d sit there with my friends and we’d excitedly go through the books offered that month and we’d circle the ones we wanted. I remember that there were other things offered as well, such as posters and stickers, but I always went straight for the books.

At home I’d show my mom what I’d selected, and we’d narrow it down to just a few. Sometimes I’d have to use my own money, sometimes my parents would treat me. I can remember carefully filling out the little order form, clipping it out, and putting it into an envelope along with the exact change to pay for my order.

When the books arrived a few weeks later, it was torture to see the box sitting on the teacher’s desk and know that I had to wait for the end of the day–or, even worse, the NEXT DAY!– when she would pass out our books!

When I became a teacher, one of the first things I did was find out how I could get my class signed up to receive the monthly book club newsletters. Only a few of my kids would ever place orders—most of them didn’t come from homes where there was a lot of extra money–but I always placed a big order myself every month to add more books to our classroom library.

When the books would arrive, the custodian would bring the box to my classroom. If it was at all possible, I would stop whatever was going on in class, make a big production of opening the box, and would immediately start showing the kids each new book that would now be added to our class library. At the end of the day, there would be a crowd of kids by the shelves, each one trying to be the first to check out one of the new books.

I was over at my parents’ house about a month ago going through some boxes, and I actually found some of those bookclub books from my childhood—they’re several decades old by now, but I can still remember the thrill of bringing those books home from school knowing that they wouldn’t have to be returned to the library—they were mine to keep. And I’m pretty sure that this was the very beginning of my book buying habit that continues to this day!

How about you? Did you have the chance to make book club purchases when you were in school? Do you remember any of the books you bought? Do your kids bring home book club newsletters? Please share!


Book Buying Trends–Where Do YOU Fit in?

random house infographic biggerI ran across this infographic the other day–it shows the results of a market research report from June, 2013–and I was curious to see how my book buying patterns stack up. 

Here’s how I compare:

1. What types of books are purchased? I’m in the majority on this one–most of my books are paperbacks. In second place is hardcovers–I’ll buy a hardback if it’s by an author  I adore, or if it’s a book with gorgeous photos or illustrations–or if I just simply can’t wait for my name to get to the top of the library wait list. Bringing up the rear for me is ebooks–I buy MAYBE 5-6 in a year, and usually only if they’re on special. I listen to audiobooks from the library very rarely–it’s probably been a couple of years since I listened to a book–and I’ve never purchased one. (What on earth do you think the “other” category is?)

2. Where are books bought? Once again, I’m with the majority here–probably 75% of the books I buy (new and used)  are purchased online, and the remaining 25% are bought from brick and mortar stores. I belonged to Book of the Month Club and Literay Guild for years, but I let my memberships lapse long ago.

3. What are Americans reading? Here’s where I start to diverge a bit. I read MUCH more nonfiction than fiction, and I purchase more nonfiction, too.

4. Who is purchasing books? Female here–in the majority again.

5. EBook consumers are younger, more affluent, and more educated. I’m a little all over the board on this one. I definitely don’t consider myself an EBook consumer–I simply don’t buy enough of them. I’m over the average age of both print and eBook buyers according to this study. I don’t know if I’d call myself affluent, but I’m certainly earning enough to pay my bills and support my book buying habits. I have a Masters degree.

6. How do consumers learn about books? I’m a little off from the results on this last question. These days I usually hear about books I want to read from online sources –whether it’s online newsletters, blogs, or bookstore websites. Next would come suggestions from friends and family, then TV and/or radio interviews  (not mentioned on this infographic), and then  would come reading about new titles in actual print magazines or journals (again, not mentioned). Last would come in-store displays–which isn’t surprising since I’m not in actual bookstores that often. I rarely look at bestseller lists.

You can click on the graphic to read a brief written summary of the results on the Random House site.

What about you? Where do you fit in? Does anything about this infographic surprise you? Please share!


Musing Mondays–Little Free Libraries: “Take A Book, Return A Book!”

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!
Here’s my Musing Mondays ramble for this week:


I first became aware of the Little Free Library project about a year ago when I came across an article about it online. My interest was sparked immediately, and I’ve been so pleased to see that this movement is continuing to grow!

From the official Little Free Library website:

Little Free Library is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization whose mission is to promote a sense of community, reading for children, literacy for adults and libraries around the world . . . In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share . . . Little Free Libraries themselves are hand-crafted structures that contain constantly changing collections of books donated and shared by people of all ages and backgrounds. Most Little Free Libraries are placed in front yards, parks, gardens and easily accessible locations . . . Some Libraries are located in coffee shops, in or near restaurants and community centers. . . It’s a ‘take a book, return a book’ gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories . . .”

The project was started in Wisconsin in 2009 with one Little Free Library and has grown to include over 4,000 officially registered Little Free Libraries world-wide! The website includes a map where you can search for Little Free Libraries in your area–most are in the US, but they can be found in other countries as well. You can find a gallery of photos of Little Free Libraries here. Some are very basic–and some are truly works of art!

LFL 1LFL 2I’ve never discovered any Little Free Libraries “in the wild”–although a few of my friends have–and, according to the site map, there aren’t any near my home. However, the map did show that there was one only about 10 minutes from my office. So last week I decided to investigate on my lunch break . . . and I found it! It’s located in the courtyard of a church, and inside are several dozen books for children and adults–a few books of Bible stories for kids, as well as a lot of books by well-known authors such as Laura Ingalls Wilder and John Grisham. The Little Free Library itself looked well cared for–and although no one was near it when I visited, I’m hoping that it’s used often!

As someone who is passionate about literacy and making sure that books are available to all, I simply LOVE the Little Free Library concept, and I’m planning to take some more “field trips” to locate others.

What about you? Take a look at the map–are there any Little Free Libraries in your area? Have you ever come across one? Do you think this idea could work where you live or work? I’d love to know your thoughts–please share!

(Disclaimer–I have no affiliation with the Little Free Library organization.)