Mary Ann Scheuer is a librarian at Emerson School, a public elementary K-5 school in Berkeley, CA. She is also the mom of 3 kids, ages 6 – 12. As you might guess, she is an expert in book recommendations and an advocate for growing readers. Scheuer shares her love of children’s literature on her blog Great Kid Books, a site that is dedicated to helping parents discover books for kids age 4 – 14.
Bianca Schulze: Why did you choose to be a librarian?
Mary Ann Scheuer: I became a librarian in a roundabout way, but what’s funny is that it seems like the career I was destined for. When my children ask me who were my best friends in middle school, I have to wrack my brain to think of them. But when I think back to my childhood, I can immediately remember the books that I loved growing up. I loved reading Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series in middle school. Escape from Warsaw, by Ian Serraillier, was another favorite of mine. And I’m convinced that The White Mountains, the first in the Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher, was the original Hunger Games. These books got me through middle school, a difficult time in my life.
BS: Librarians are the ultimate evangelists for reading. How do you encourage students and children to read?
MAS: I love to read and I love sharing books. I can gush about my favorite books all day long. But being an effective librarian is about a lot more than that. Listening to kids is so important. Asking what they like, their favorite books, the genres they want to read—and then helping them find more books like that. Also, it’s important for me to stretch outside my comfort zone and try different books that my students might like.
BS: Which new releases are you dying to lay your hands on?
MAS: I’m so excited that Gennifer Choldenko has a new book in her Al Capone series coming out: Al Capone Does My Homework comes out next month—hooray! I have loved Al Capone Does My Shirts and Al Capone Shines My Shoes. She combines great stories, compelling characters, funny situations and fascinating historical settings.
I also loved reading an advanced copy of Lara’s Gift, a debut novel by local author Annemarie O’Brien. It’s set in 1914 Russia and will draw in many of my students who love dogs, feisty heroines and heart-tugging stories. I can’t wait for this to be released next month so I can recommend it to my students.
BS: If you could be any fictional character from children’s literature, who would it be? Why?
MAS: Oh, this is just too hard!!! What I love about reading is being able to pop into someone’s life and imagine what it would be like to BE them, just for a little while. I loved imagining being Lara and raising Borzoi dogs on a Russian estate, but would I want to trade places with her? Umm… not really. A Russian winter? I’m a California girl at heart! One of my favorite YA books of the moment is Legend, by Marie Lu. What a fast-paced dystopian novel! June is a fantastic heroine, but I would never be able to do all the things she can do. That’s one of the great things about reading—stories let me escape and dream away being someone completely different from myself. But when I return to my life, I keep a little bit of each character inside of me.
More Marry Ann Scheuer
Great Kid Books: http://greatkidbooks.blogspot.com