Tales from the Trenches: My in-library Mommy FAIL

Lost in the Library

Ever read a blog post that just stops you in your tracks? That’s how I felt when when I read a post from Children’s book author and former teacher, Cynthia Lord.  I didn’t even make it to the last word before I shouted out “Amen!” And then I spread her gospel on Twitter. It was that  good.

Her post centered on something we all remember well from childhood: picking out our own book, something that we actually wanted to read. Here’s where she got me – What if every time a child did just that, they were met with these simple words: “Good Choice.” Think of the confidence, the empowerment, the pride! I mean, can I get an Amen?

You can (and should) read her blog post by clicking here.

And once you read it, Friends, you might do what I did: Tweet it. Then you might visit the ‘if-only’s of your own childhood. Ho hum. And then you might proclaim your dedication to encourage your own children every time they choose a book. Yay!

Well, wait for it…

I guess it happened about two weeks later at the library, within ear shot of the librarian. Awkward.

As my boys disappeared into the library shelves, I inhaled the OZ that only weighted down arms, loaded with beautiful, well-curated picture books can create. I mean a hefty stack of award winners. Quirky. Funny. Informative. Top notch illustrations. Parent approved. My mind burst with thoughts of the fireside magic in store for my two little readers.

That’s when my fearless first grader emerged from the shelves, walked over to me, and added a book to the pile.

Cue the record rip. Make your awkward face. He picked out a book that was inspired by a game…shhhh!… on his iPad.

Sure, I had already Amen’d over Cynthia Lord’s phenomenal revelation.

But instead of looking into his eyes twinkling eyes and saying, “good choice,” I was more like… “ummm… hmmm… this book? Are you sure?”

He insisted. We brought the book home. I reluctantly read it aloud at the dinner table.

And Friends, that’s when something magical happened. My first grader and pre-schooler fell in love with the book. The adventure grabbed them and did not let go. Even more, they fell in love with reading. Not a prescribed love of reading. But their own love of reading for reading’s sake.

The very thing I’ve tried to inspire for six and half years happened right before my eyes. It clicked.

Soon came the questions. Are these real places? Can we see them? Can we build them? Can we read more?

National Geographic's Fact and Photo Filled companion to the popular game and series TEMPLE RUN

National Geographic’s Fact and Photo Filled companion to the popular game and book series TEMPLE RUN

And so we read more, explored the real places, and built them, too.

Our Own Temple

The creators of these books… they pulled my boys out of their iPads, into a book, spit them out again with even more curiosity. Which led to another book. Which led to design and engineering activities. Well, good work, people.


And to my fearless first grader, I did finally look into his eyes and say, “Boy, that book was a really good choice!”

Lesson learned,


Anna Crowley Redding is a mom and stepmom to FIVE kids and the author of six books for young readers with four more on the way! You can check out more information on her books and support her writing by clicking here.

7 Responses to “Tales from the Trenches: My in-library Mommy FAIL”

  1. Kathleen

    LOL! Anna, I was in the same place when my kids wanted a steady diet of comic books for several weeks. I THRIVED on literature…and my kids were reading comics? Someone gave me a piece of advice…”even if they’re only reading cereal cartons…they’re reading. Don’t interfere.” Despite my inner struggle, I heeded the words of wisdom. It was the right thing to do. Good job, Mom! Kathleen

  2. Caila

    Wow, great post! I many have to check out these books. I would have initially responded in exactly the same way you did. 🙂 My now-3rd grader became passionate about reading because of Calvin and Hobbes, back when he was 6. I mean, really… It was embarrassing for awhile (pouncing on people like Hobbes, and asking about the adult-level humor in those books). Now he is reading at a 5th grade level and loves books. All it took was some Calvin and Hobbes to draw him in!

  3. Donna Gephart

    This well-written, important post in response to Cynthia Lord’s excellent Nerdy Book Club post inspires me to shout a well-earned “AMEN!” (I read ghost stories and comic books and world record books as a child and ultimately became an author of middle grade novels. I’m so glad no one frowned upon my choices back then.)

  4. Melanie Ellsworth

    Love it, Anna! My literacy specialist heart is aflutter. 🙂