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Children’s Books: 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing - Meet the Librarians

Highlights from 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
February 3, 2014

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At the end of each year, The New York Public Library publishes Children’s Books: 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing, a popular book list, which parents and children’s literature enthusiasts look forward to and share every year. In this interview, you’ll meet some of the librarians who create the list.

How do you come up with the titles?

Photo by Johannes NeuerPhoto by Johannes NeuerJeanne Lamb: We read advance copies or finished books and committee members recommend titles to the group. To be considered, a title must have had at least three strong recommendations. Many of the committee members also shared galleys with their readers and reported back on the children’s point of view.

Jeanne Lamb has been with NYPL since 1992 and serves as the Coordinator of Youth Collections.

Do you keep adding books throughout the year, or do you sit down in the fall to reflect on the books you want to include?

Photo by Johannes NeuerPhoto by Johannes NeuerDina Brasseur: The list committee meets for the first time in the spring. Meetings are once a month in the beginning and then twice a month in September and October, with numerous meetings during the first two weeks of November. This year, we also communicated with each other between meetings through a Wiki and e-mail.
We’re reading and discussing galleys that have been sent in by publishers, as well as any books that committee members have found in their branches or elsewhere that they feel are worth additional reads. So, throughout the process, new titles are constantly being taken into consideration.

We went into our final meetings this year with nearly 200 potential titles. It was a challenge, an exciting one, to narrow that down, especially as we got closer to the final 100.

Dina Brasseur is a Senior Librarian at the St. Agnes Library and chair of the list committee.

Why not call it the top 100?

Katie Crook: As a committee, we read and share together in the same way we hope our readership will read and share from the list of 100 books we recommend. After considering a myriad of books for children, the list is meant to be a guide to what we, as librarians, have found to be the best representations of each genre, for all ages. In our discussions, we made sure to not only review books that hail from award-winning, notable authors but also to seek out those titles that, at first, may go unnoticed on the shelf yet, once discovered, open the reader to an unforgettable adventure. As all readers’ criteria is different, we not only based our decisions on the fundamentals—plot, characters, theme, audience, writing style, and visual presentation—but we also considered how we were affected as readers, how a book changed our minds or revived our spirits, as this is more often the basis for sharing. In short, calling it the “top 100” would not suffice, as we are seeking to promote books for their wonder, captivating qualities, and literary spirit, not simply because they are deemed by one and all to be the best.

Katie Crook is a Senior Librarian at Francis Martin Library. She ran her first New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 7, 2010, to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter.

What are some of the criteria you are looking for in books that make the list?

Jessica Creech: Books appropriate for infants through age 12 are considered for the list. This covers a broad spectrum: There are divisions of picture books, fiction for both young and more advanced readers, poetry, nonfiction, folk and fairy tales—and this year, graphic novels were added. Books had to have ”kid appeal,” and needed to have a high quality of writing and style. With nonfiction, sources and validity are considered as well as content.

Jessica Creech has been with NYPL since 2006 and recently moved from St. George Library to West Brighton Library. This was her first year as a committee member.

Who is using the Children’s Books list?

Jeanne Lamb: Children’s Books has been around for a long time, so the lists are taken seriously in the world of children’s literature, as well as by teachers, parents, fellow librarians, and publishers. Some publishers will include the designation along with any other awards on the flap copy of a particular book or in the marketing materials. It is great to play a role in the bigger conversation that is always a lively one--the best feedback is when a child comes in asking for the very book you thought was pretty special too.

Photo by Johannes NeuerPhoto by Johannes NeuerJill Rothstein: I’ve offered these lists to patrons with a variety of needs, from people looking to entice a reluctant reader to recent immigrants who want to know what all the other kids are reading to those whose kids have read everything popular already and want a serious challenge. As a result, I wanted to keep in mind the need for a wide range of appeal: the serious award contenders as well and the great crowd pleasers and the unusual little gems.

Jill Rothstein is native New Yorker who's been with the Library for five years. She spent time teaching and building up a library for homeless kids in India.

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