Please welcome author Carolyn Leiloglou to Frog on a Blog! Carolyn’s debut picture book Library’s Most Wanted was just released in May by Pelican Publishing. As a public library employee for nearly thirteen years now, I’m a huge library supporter. During this uncertain time, with many libraries still closed, including my workplace, props go out to my coworkers for all the hard work they’ve done to bring library services to the community via digital means. Just because the building is closed, doesn’t mean the library’s commitment to the people it serves has been shut down.
But I’m not the only one who loves libraries. It’s clear that Carolyn loves them too! Let’s hear from her about how her library love has grown over the years.
I have a surprising admission. Even though I’m an author and my debut picture book, Library’s Most Wanted, is about libraries… I didn’t grow up a library patron.
I know, I know. You thought it was mandatory for all authors to spend their childhoods roaming the stacks at their local public library. It sounds very idyllic, but, alas, that was not my childhood.
I remember my mom taking me to the library once in fifth grade for a report on Vincent van Gogh. I’m sure we must have gone other times, but it was rare. More often, my mom would take us to a bookstore, allowing us to choose a book. I suppose that was easier than having to remember due dates or deal with library fines. As a mom of four book-misplacing kids, I can attest that it was likely cheaper.
But my relationship to the library changed in fourth grade. My classroom was right next to the school library, which we visited frequently. This was where I first found The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which led to a lifelong love of fantasy. This was also the year I began writing my first novel, inspired by Redwall, one of my bookstore-trip selections.
It wasn’t until I had my own children that I became a regular library user. I’m fortunate to live in a large city that has a wonderful public library system. They are always trying to innovate and put together great programs, especially ones geared toward getting kids interested in reading and learning.
So when I started taking my own young kids to the library, I discovered this wealth of wonderful picture books I never knew existed. I had always wanted to write, and I assumed I’d write fantasy novels. But now that I was reading one picture book after another to my children, something magical happened. I started to think I could write them too.
Of course. What parent hasn’t thought that? And like most parents who have tried to write their own picture books, my first attempts were clumsy at best.
But I kept having kids (four total), and I kept reading picture books. And my wonderful library, with its consistently updated collection, allowed me to absorb the essence of what a picture book should be.
In fact, while books on writing craft are helpful, there’s nothing that can compare to the education that reading and rereading hundreds of picture books can give.
For years, we have had a library day—a day of the week where going to the library is part of our routine. We return books we’ve finished, pick up new books—I almost always have something on hold—and my kids roam the aisles, pulling random books off the shelves, looking for that next book that will capture their imagination.
And just like the library inspired me to write, I’ve seen that tendency sprout in my children. One of them writes daily. Another draws his own comics. The younger ones write stories and picture books. And because they’re constantly reading, they too, are getting an education in writing.
Right now—March 2020 when I’m writing this—we are living in an uncertain time. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, many libraries have temporarily closed their doors. But despite that, libraries continue to innovate as resources for their communities. Some libraries are offering no-contact, walk-up hold pick-ups. Others have abolished due dates and fines during this crisis. My own library has made it easier than ever to get a digital library card to check out audio and ebooks.
Having a public library is a gift that I don’t want to take for granted. Now more than ever.
Carolyn Leiloglou writes poems and stories for children which have been published in Clubhouse Jr., Ladybug, and Wildflowers. She is the author of the Noah Green Junior Zookeeper series, and her debut picture book, Library’s Most Wanted, released May 2020. You can find her on her blog, housefullofbookworms.com, where she reviews her favorite children’s books each month.
Hooray, it’s Giveaway time!
Carolyn Leiloglou and Pelican Publishing are giving away a copy of Library’s Most Wanted to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment on this post by July 19, 2020 and you’ll be entered to win this beautiful picture book! A winner will be chosen randomly and notified on July 20, 2020. Contest open to U.S. residents only.
Hey, everyone! Are you looking for something for your kids to do for the summer? Check your local library’s website. Summer Reading Programs are going on now, all around the United States, even if your library is closed, because a lot of it can be accessed online. Your kids can enjoy entertaining and educational programming, crafts, and storytimes, as well as earn prizes for all the books they read. Take a look!