ALA’s Home Library Suggestions for Families

Need help knowing what books to buy for your kids? The American Library Association wants to help:

The ALA-Children’s Book Council (CBC) Joint Committee, with cooperation from the ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee, has created the four bibliographies below, “Building a Home Library,” to provide guidance to parents, grandparents, and others interested in assembling a high-quality library for their children at home.

The lists are sort of skimpy; this wouldn’t be much of a library. And it skews heavily towards commercially popular books from the last few years (Walter Dean Myer’s Monster, Louis Sachar’s Holes, for example)–not that those books aren’t worthwhile, just that are they the best cornerstones of a home library? They seem more like books to check out from the library to me.

I posted my own list of Essential Books For Children, which got some great responses in the comment thread. And this post is in honor of a manuscript I read today for work which happened to be the new novel by an author who appears on this list not once, but twice. Go fish!

2 thoughts on “ALA’s Home Library Suggestions for Families”

  1. My idea of a home library is books that get used again. And again. My mother only has one to four books in the house, the one she is reading, and those she has finished by not given away and those she plans to read next.

    I, on the other hand, have five bookshelves, not counting the two for horses and programming – and boxes and piles, etc. And I have very few books I have read only once. Many fewer that I didn’t finish.

    I looked at the ALA lists, and they seem .. socially relevant. I can see these as a ‘must read’ list, but other than the toddler lists, I can’t see many of the titles getting used again. And the lists were grossly short of references, those things we need to keep handy. Such as dictionary, Bible or other faith-related materials – I also have a couple hymnals. I have some programming books, The Encyclopedia of the Horse, How To Be Your Own Veterinarian (Sometimes), and some Recorder and piano (for the melody lines) music books.

    Like you said, I could see borrowing most of those books, but I didn’t see that many that would warrant re-reading enough to buy them. And I think buying books and reading them only once sends a disturbing message to your children, about values, about books, and about the difference between clutter and possessions.

    Meng Weng Wong began years ago, I think while still in college. I stumbled on his student ‘books that made me Meng’ once, ten years ago. One of the books really impressed me, ‘Hope For The Flowers’ (Trina Paulas). That wasn’t on the ALA list, nor my favorites C D B and the sequel C D C by Steig. They had none of the Robin McKinley classics (Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword, Beauty, Deerskin), and left out the Tamora Pierce, Anne McCaffrey, and Mercedes Lackey YA action adventure books. They had at least one book from 1940, yet ignored the ground-breaking YA speculative fiction from Andre Norton. They picked up Bradbury (The Illustrated Man) and skipped Robert Heinlein’s “Have Space Suit, Will Travel” and “Door Into Summer”.

    I didn’t see “Curious George”, I didn’t see Jim Kjelgaard’s “Big Red” or “Rufus the Red Tailed Hawk”.

    Perhaps theu limited their lists to what is available today in print. Which makes their list a bit of curious effort, since the chance that all the titles will be in print four (4) months from now is slim. And the lists will get steadily more obsolete. Which sends an interesting message to parents, thinking they need to buy their kids these particular books, if the parents want to be *good* parents.

    I think I would like to see a breakdown of books checked out more than once by the same person. Books checked out more than twice, over a period greater than a year, would appear to be worth noting. Books checked out a bunch of times could just be an uninteresting class project or popular movie tie-in.

    Not that I have any strong feelings, lol!

  2. Many good points–especially this one: “And I think buying books and reading them only once sends a disturbing message to your children, about values, about books, and about the difference between clutter and possessions.”

    Support your local library (I’m looking at you, Ian)!

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