Three Books that Changed my Life

I read an article recently about how library youth services is one of the most undervalued departments in the library world. At first, I was shocked. This can’t be right, how does the public and library administration not see the value in early literacy and in children?

I considered it more, and realized the validity in this statement. There is a misconception in general as to what librarians do. I can not tell you how many times I tell people that I want to be a librarian and they make comments like, "That sounds relaxing. You get to read all day, right?"

If I don't get that, I might get comments like: "You mean go to school to be a librarian?"

The children's department isn't safe from these remarks. I feel like so often many people think that all we do is summer reading with a few storytimes mixed in there.

To help combat that, I try to strive to offer innovative programming and services to my community, but it can be exhausting to constantly worry about what the next big this is.

One of my library instructors recently challenged us to watch a video on Neil Gaiman's three books that changed his life. I watched this video and I was surprised at how lifted me up it made me feel. It made me realize that the foundation of the library will always be with the books and the information we provide to patrons.

It was not long before I started to consider books that have changed my own life.

                    Neil Gaiman : Three Books that have Changed my Life

When I think about what stories have changed my life, the time spent in the car listening to my mom tell stories of her life, story times at my library, and spending time with my family reading books out loud always comes to mind.  I think these moments formed the foundation for my love of reading.

When I stop to consider what books changed my life, I would have to say the following had the most influence on me :

(1) The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne

I have learning disabilities and had a hard time learning to read. At age 9, I was still reading early readers, and I was at a point where I wanted to give up and not read at all. My mom was desperate for me not to give up. She asked my friend's mom what her and her daughter was reading. My friend’s mom mentioned that they were reading Magic Tree House. Out of desperation, my mom picked up one of the books from the library, and we slowly worked on the words together. By the end of the first book, I was hooked. It inspired me to want to read. I remember going to the library later that week and getting 3 more books in the series, but it still took me a long time to finish each book. I remember stealing my family’s flashlight out of the kitchen so I could keep on reading the books at bedtime. It was the first book that made me want to learn to read. It also got me interested in the study of history. I would later get my BA in history in my and picked up books on historical events whenever possible.

This book will always be my first love, and I love sharing it with my library kids. When the movie comes out, I will be sure to be that one adult that will have to see it.

(2) Earthquake Terror by Peg Kehret

My fourth grade teacher read this book out loud to me and my class. I hung on every word. The Magic Tree House series had some action, but I had no idea a book could be so exciting. Once we got done reading it as a class, I checked it out from my local library and eventually had to buy a copy of my own. I eventually wore out two copies. I still need to buy another copy! I was enthralled by the writing and the story itself. I still am. This book showed me that books didn’t have to boring or have the same plot. Stories are a way for us to share experiences and allow us to go places that we haven’t before. (As cheesy as that sounds). I started to develop a reading taste and learned what I liked reading. This made me fall in love with reading even more.

(3) This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen


In middle school, I really struggled. I was an outgoing child, but once I hit about 7- 8th grade, I started to doubt myself. I faced some bullying and retreated inside myself. I become a quiet and unsure kid. My childhood friends found other friends, and I felt alone. This is probably a classic middle school tale, but I found comfort in books. I became friends with the characters in the books I read. The author I especially loved was Sarah Dessen. Her books were so relatable. It felt like she was writing a story for everything I faced.

When my sister left suddenly, I read Dreamland. When I was struggling with confidence, I read Keeping the Moon. When my crush asked me out, and I was afraid of getting hurt, I read This Lullaby. When I was scared about going off to college, I read Along for the Ride. I always felt like Dessen was my personal Jiminy Cricket. She showed me that we can learn from each other through the stories that we tell. She will always be special to me. I hope to someday to meet her, but I suppose everyone has their own Dessen.

As I journey more into the library world, I am realizing how important reader's advisory is for our tweens and teens. 

I used to be really worried about delivering the next big program, but this isn't what the library is about. 

The flashy stuff like programming makes us sparkle, but it isn't what is going to make a lasting impact on our community. Instead, that lasting impression comes from the books themselves. 
Books are the magic and we are the magicians.

It is up to us as children's librarians to connect kids and families with that. We should create a environment for families to have an experience with reading & stories. 

What are three books that changed your life? 


Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom 
By: David Neilsen 

The Story 

A large brick house that has been for sale for many years has been a playground to children for many generations. It has been Gail, Jerry, and Nancy's personal playground.  When the kids notice a sold sign, they feel like they have lost a place of their very own. Naturally, in their disappointment, the new owner appears and introduces himself as Dr. Fell. As he introduces himself, he asks why they are upset. The kids explain that they are disappointed that they have lost their playground.
The new buyer takes to heart the children's  disappointment.

In no time, the people of the neighborhood notice to trucks full of items arriving to Dr. Fell's residence. One day after school, the kids find that a large wooden structure has taken form in front of Dr. Fell's house. It is the biggest and best playground the kids have ever seen, but Gail, Jerry, and Nancy can't help but feel like something is wrong.

At first, the playground attracts a small amount of kids, but then the playground begins to attract kids from other towns.

 Pretty soon, someone gets hurt. Dr. Fell comes to the rescue and is able to heals broken bones and injuries that comes about within hours. Gail, Jerry, and Nancy are the only ones that can withstand Dr. Fell's spell. They must find out who Dr. Fell really is and why kids in the neighborhood are acting so strangely before it is too late. 


Mr. Neilsen is a master story teller. I instantly fell in love with the story and with the purple top hat wearing Dr. Fell. Neilsen cleverly based this book off of the nursery rhyme I Do Not Like Thee,  Dr. Fells. In case you are unfamiliar with this rhyme, here is a video: 

I Do Not Like Thee, Dr. Fells Video 

The story itself is spooky, but it still manages to stay humerous.  The mystery surrounding Dr. Fell was engaging enough to be a page turner. Parents and educators alike will appreciate the vocabulary words that Neilsen sprinkles throughout the book. Some of the words include: fortuitous, revelry,  whippersnappers, urchins, chasm,cherub, stout, and rapscallions. 
I found this to be refreshing. With the vocabulary and the story itself, I could see this book being a great candidate for a read aloud book for a class. 

Triggers for Reader's Advisory 

This is definitely a spooky story. I would recommend it for kids 4th grade and up. 
For reader's advisory, I must note that there is one swear word. Please note, however, that it is natural for this story. 
 If it were a movie, it would get a PG rating, but when using books in school setting and in the library, we must make note of this. 

I would highly recommend this book. Often,  I get requests for mystery / horror books in middle grade.  There is only a select few within this genre that kids will read. I feel like this book will be a well received by my tweens and will a breath of fresh air to this genre. 

I look forward to seeing what other works Mr. Neilsen comes out with. He has quickly become one of my 2016 favorites. 

Books like this one: 


Have you read it yet? What did you think? 


*Please note that I received an advance reader's copy of this title from the author in exchange for an honest review*