Here I am, ruminating in my corner about Christmas and fussing to myself about the annoying day I have had (running late…then a glass fell and exploded all over the kitchen/dining area requiring extensive and immediate vacuuming…running really late…then forgot it was son’s “Snack Day” so had to rush to grocery store on way to school…running really, really late, etc, etc…all day long). Meanwhile, it is Children’s Book Week this week and a good part of my blog is about … children’s books!
Oh well, I blame Pluto and my biorythms.
I discovered that it is Children’s Book Week by finally catching up on some of my blog reading and finding this interesting post at Not Quite Crunchy Parent. MC Milker cites an interesting statistic in her post:
I find this fascinating, yet not surprising. In this day and age it is pretty obvious that a child can see the movie, watch the TV show, buy the plush toy and the action figures, go to McDonald’s and get more toys, and read the books all tied in to the same commercial character.
I guess this is all a form of “branding.” However the flip side is that if it takes Sponge Bob, Care Bears, or Transformers to entice a child to read, I suppose these books do serve some purpose. But there are so many other WONDERFUL children’s books out there, that you don’t have to settle for boring, silly, and commercialized.
Even if you have spent only several minutes reading this blog, I think you will probably have figured out that my preference leans towards what I call “Unplugged Books,” books that do not tie in to TV shows or movies. As MC Milker points out, these books can be harder to find. Walmart doesn’t usually carry them, and even at a “real” bookstore like Barnes & Noble or Borders you might have to know what you are looking for when you go in, or at least be prepared to spend a lot of time digging around.
Of course, root around your local library too. Sometimes a good children’s librarian will put interesting, high-quality, lesser-known books on display. Those displays can be a good place to start.
Where I live, our only non-religious book sources are Walmart, Kmart, and a tiny, poorly stocked bookstore. Our library is pretty small too, so I end up buying a lot of books online.
My tricks for finding “Unplugged Books” online are the following:
– Find some online toy stores that sell “natural” or “Waldorf” toys and see if they sell books. Many of them do. I can guarantee that you won’t find any Sponge Bob or Scooby Doo at those stores (or save time and check my Unplugged Book Stores list).
-These types of “natural” stores often have links to other similar stores or websites, and those links might lead you to books. Look for a “links” section in the main page index.
– Find an interesting-sounding recommended title on a blog (such as mine!) and pull it up on Amazon. Look at the section labeled “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and any “Listmania!” links that might appear in the left sidebar. I often find wonderful books I had never heard of, simply by following these links. Also, check for other books by the same author. I guess this is the online equivalent of browsing at a good library. I love it!
– There are a lot of blogs out there that often write about children’s books. You won’t find these bloggers recommending anything too mainstream either. The blogs I am familiar with that often recommend children’s books in the posts or sidebars are the following:
A Wrung Sponge (the blog author, cloudscome, is a children’s librarian)
If you know of other useful children’s literature blogs, please tell me about them in the comments.
– Of course, I must humbly mention that I also write a lot of reviews of children’s books. You can find them by clicking my category “kids’ books” (right sidebar, “What I Write About” drop-down menu). You can also click the subcategories to help find the kind of books you are looking for.
– Lastly, in case you missed it earlier, I should once again direct you to my list of Unplugged Book Stores (top right sidebar). These are stores that sell non-mainstream, “Unplugged Books.” Please check the list regularly because I am always adding new links as I find them.
I hope you find this advice helpful in your search for great children’s books. It takes a bit more effort, but trust me, the results are really worth it! Have fun!