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To ask if I'm the only one to be appalled by the general calibure of children's literature in libraries

(152 Posts)
AWitchCalledMeg Sat 11-Nov-17 19:38:38

I know we are lucky to have libraries. I am grateful and do support our libraries. My four children and I visit five libraries local to us on a regular basis of which span three counties between them (we live on the border of several counties). But over the years I have become more and more saddened by quality of books available. My children are all under 7 so can't comment on books for older children. What is the process on how the books are selected? I would estimate 85% of the books are so so inane, dumbed down and stupid, 12% is the modern generic Julia Donaldson type fodder and then 3% are the rare gems which are actually good. Surely I can't be the only one to have noticed this? So many books they have available there I can't believe they were ever published and surely they would never sell in the shops.. perhaps that's why they are in the library? So many studies show that children are reading less than ever.. how can they hope to change this when so much utter tosh is being put out there?

JustMarriedBecca Sat 11-Nov-17 19:43:38

We moved from London to Stockport and I can't believe how amazing the libraries are up here. Less activities but new books, librarians that remember what the children have enjoyed and recommend new books for them to try. Lovely, beautifully illustrated books. There are, unfortunately, some terrible 'princess pretty' books but they have some lovely traditional style favourites too. I'd say it's about area.

I do suspect the reason the books are so new in our local libraries is because they are chronically under used. You couldn't move in North London - often we're the only people in there for an hour or so.

user1497357411 Sat 11-Nov-17 19:50:02

I agree. As a non-British person I am chocked that the only comic books available are Tintin and Asterix. Comic books are the entry drug for reading for boys and they are just not available here. They breach the gap between illustrated books for children and adult literature and often introduce history, irony and geography. My brother got a really good grade in history in the Danish equivalent of Sixth Form because he had read the Doonesbury comic books.I also think it is so sad that British children only know something about a few of the comic books from the Belgian "Golden Age of Comic books" from movies. I have written to two libraries and asked them to get more comic books. The Smurfs, Spirou, Doonesbury, Prince Valiant, Valhalla, Valerian and Laureline, Johan et Pirlouit, Thorgal, The Elfs, "The hermetically closed garage" (and anything by Jamie Hernandez, though you really, really want your kids to be at least teenagers before they read his comic books. They are kind of ..... kinky at times). You cannot even get comic books with Donald Duck in this country. Damn, I am going to have to buy "The hypernaut" next time I go to Denmark. Moebius, who is making scenography for movies now, like for instance "The Fifth Element" and Star Wars started out by writing and drawing comic books.

AugustRose Sat 11-Nov-17 19:53:06

We must be very lucky as the library we use has many wonderful books, plenty of new ones too - especially for the 6-10 year olds. I agree that some of the books for the younger children can be a bit bright and colourful with very little story but not to the extent that you describe. Maybe we just have a good library.

Enwi Sat 11-Nov-17 19:54:14

Totally agree. I’m a childminder and take my mindees to the library each week. Initially, I would let the children select two books each that we would bring home and read over the course of the week. I very quickly realised that I needed to actually check the books they were bringing home, because so many of them are just utter crap! He children actually get bored reading some of them. Most have no plot, no moral, nothing to talk about. A huge emphasis seems to be placed on how the book actually looks so the illustrations are often fabulous... but the content is ludicrous!
Totally agree and I think it’s no wonder at all that children aren’t getting interested in literature.

nosyupnorth Sat 11-Nov-17 19:54:51

perhaps they're catering to the tastes of people who aren't you but would also like to read books? perhaps somebody at a different library in the system just keeps requesting all the good stuff? perhaps the librarians aren't psychic and therefore expect you to make your catalogue requests directly? (and as a former library volunteer I know all the libraries I ever worked with were great about getting new books in if people had specific requests as opposed to just general complaining that everything was rubbish)

tbh I really don't get your complaint here - of course books aimed at under 7s are going to seem silly to an adult but that's because they're for small children who generally aren't interested in serious literature when they could be reading fun stories

reup Sat 11-Nov-17 19:55:35

I completely disagree, there are fantastic picture books in our local libraries. There are lots of generic football/ballerina type chapter books but they are more than balanced by better quality stories.

I find it bizarre that you only think 3% of books aimed at under 7s are good. Is that just in libraries or in bookshops too? What are the examples of ones that meet your standards?

BernardBlacksHangover Sat 11-Nov-17 19:57:48

I’m glad to see on this thread that at least some people have decent children’s books in their local library. Ours is pants.

Kazzyhoward Sat 11-Nov-17 19:58:08

So many books they have available there I can't believe they were ever published and surely they would never sell in the shops.

Same with books supplied by the schools. They're nearly always by unknown authors and are mostly dull, boring, and obvious. My son was an avid reader when very young, but very soon gave up after a succession of pointless, sanitised books, and now hasn't a read a single book throughout his secondary school. I used to despair when I was reading his school books with him back at primary. Who on Earth are these authors who seem to be able to sell their crap to schools and libraries? Why are so few respected/popular authors on the school book shelves?

Bringmewineandcake Sat 11-Nov-17 19:58:54

Our smallest library has a great selection for 5 and unders. We regularly come home with 10+ choices. The bigger library doesn’t seem to have the same quality, although it does seem to have a good range for older kids.

Ktown Sat 11-Nov-17 19:59:29

Yep my kid came home with x6 rainbow unicorn nonsensical trivia yesterday
Have hidden 3 of them

RainyApril Sat 11-Nov-17 20:02:55

Can't you do some online research and request specific books by name?

Our library is fab. Maybe your librarian is rubbish, or maybe they stock the books that are most popular, or maybe the good ones are being requested elsewhere in your county.

RainyApril Sat 11-Nov-17 20:04:12

Ktown, did your dc choose those books themselves? If so, I don't know why you won't let them read them.

CoolGirlsNeverGetAngry Sat 11-Nov-17 20:05:43

Maybe your librarians got replaced by volunteers?!?

EB123 Sat 11-Nov-17 20:06:30

Our local library has a brilliant children's section. There are always new books coming in and plenty of variety of Julia Donaldson to more quirky publishers. The are also many bilingual books as we live in a very diverse area.area . They also have a lot going on from Lego Club, Coding club, craft sessions and story sessions.

RainyApril Sat 11-Nov-17 20:08:20

They might be grateful for some suggestions op. There are recommended book lists online for every age group.

EmilyChambers79 Sat 11-Nov-17 20:08:32

Our library is well stocked and divided easily into ages. We also have a vast range of comic books too.

We are very lucky to have our library and they receive barely any funding. Local schools use the pupils to pick books and they donate them to the library.

I can't really criticise any books if they get children reading and I couldn't possible be enraged at Julia Donaldson books, the many children I've looked after always have copies of her books.

What books do you expect to see? You can request books to be ordered in from other libraries too if the ones available aren't appropriate for you.

EmilyChambers79 Sat 11-Nov-17 20:09:13

*Yep my kid came home with x6 rainbow unicorn nonsensical trivia yesterday
Have hidden 3 of them*

Why?

EvilRinguBitch Sat 11-Nov-17 20:12:57

Books within the reading age of an average 6 year old (as opposed to a MN 6 year old who is reading Great Expectations) are going to have to be very simple. I grant you there’s a lot of by the numbers rainbow unicorn pirate dinosaurs tosh.

PurplePillowCase Sat 11-Nov-17 20:17:44

in our library you can make recommendations and they will try and order them for their stock.
for older dc there is plenty but for the age group 8-11 it's dire

Jerseysilkvelour Sat 11-Nov-17 20:23:07

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this! IMO it's not just the library, children's literature just isn't what it was. My parents kept all my books (from 70s/80s) and they are much better written stories and more engaging than I come across when I look for books in the library or the book shop. I also notice a lot of books being republished from my childhood. My DD is 5.

TinklyLittleLaugh Sat 11-Nov-17 20:24:19

Our library has closed. We miss it.

But kids like all sorts of rubbishy books. One of mine likes those Mr Men drivel that made me want to scream. Let them read what they want and nudge them in the right direction; it'll work out okay.

I spent my childhood reading Enid Blyton and the Chalet School books and I read all sorts of literary stuff now. My kids read Deltorra Quest and Rainbow Fairies. As young adults they still read a wide range of stuff.

GurlwiththeCurl Sat 11-Nov-17 20:25:12

You do realise, OP, that library budgets have been cut to the bone and professional staff have been sacked in droves. Particularly children's literature specialists. I have no idea who is selecting and buying the stock for public libraries these days, but I have heard that some local authorities are using private companies to do this, rather than professional librarians who know their local readers.

It is even worse in schools as there is nothing in law to say that a school even has to have a library, never mind minimum standards or proper staffing. Whereas prisons have a legal duty to provide a library!

Parmesanity Sat 11-Nov-17 20:26:05

Libraries need to cater for every ability, level and preference so the shelf content in the ones you visit may not be to your taste, but they will tick a lot of boxes for many people.

My teenage DSs are, and have been since before they started school, very enthusiastic and able readers and they love a wide range of books from comic style to classics, popular fiction to Captain Underpants.

I've always been happy with the 'it doesn't matter what they're reading as long as they are reading' school of thought.

JacquesHammer Sat 11-Nov-17 20:26:45

I am very much of the opinion that it doesn't matter what a child picks to read providing it fosters a love of reading.

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