On the Shelf with Cindy Cardona, Tween Librarian
Cindy Cardona is the Tween Librarian at the South Brunswick Public Library, in South Brunswick, NJ. She spends most of her time trying to figure out how to incorporate food into her library programs, trying to make the Children’s Department a little more colorful, and fighting the good fight to convince people that audiobooks are real books too!
The Children’s Book Review: Why did you choose to be a librarian?
Cindy Cardona: When I was growing up, my mom would drop me off at the library in the morning and I’d walk home in the afternoon (Do as I say, kids. Not as I did!) after catching up on the lives of the Babysitters, Boxcar Children, or Bobbsey Twins, and I guess I never really left. After graduating college, library science was the only job or career that I could genuinely get excited about and nerd out over. I think apart from an overwhelming love of reading, I’d say it’s because I’ve always really enjoyed a good mystery, it’s always a very satisfying to get to the bottom of something. The mystery of what the 7th grade boy will like when he says to me “I like real books, I guess”, and obscure questions that require checking and crosschecking will always secretly be my favorite parts of the job.
TCBR: Librarians are the ultimate evangelists for reading. How do you encourage students and children to read?
CC: Honestly, if they give me an inch I will take a mile. Given any peek into their personal interests, I will immediately try to find a book or audiobook that will exploit that. Natural curiosity is a boon, and giving kids books based on what they’re already interested in is like running to home base from third.
CC: For teens, I certainly know I’m getting a lot of requests for books in the Divergent series. Dystopias are hot, and stories of teen struggles will never get old. For younger kids and tweens Big Nate and Ever After High have huge followings. It’s not really hard to see why, they’re clever books that speak to kids about real stuff in fantastic and funny ways. I think it also helps that they’re both a little different from what they expect when they’re told to read. Big Nate and other comic/book hybrids can feel more fun and alive, and Ever After High’s expansive universe gives the kids a chance to explore the world and stories once the book is over.
TCBR: What is your favorite read-aloud for a preschool story-time? Why?
CC: I’ve only done a few, but I think Jon Klassen’s “I Want my Hat Back” is my favorite. It’s at about this age that a lot of them are connecting the ending with the previous events in the book and it pleases them to catch it. Another one that’s fun to do that kids love a lot is “Bark, George”. It’s a classic for a reason. It’s a lot of fun to do the animal noises together, and yell out what animal the vet’s going to pull out next.
CC: I’m excited to finally get ahold of Maya Van Wagenen’s “Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek” because I am not immune to the words “Geek” and “Vintage” in a memoir. It’s like a moth to a flame. I’m also extremely excited for Neil Gaiman’s “Hansel and Gretel” which I’m sure I’ll find a way to feature in a display. You just can’t go wrong with Neil Gaiman and Fairy Tales, I’m fairly certain it’s one of Newton’s Laws or something.
TCBR: Could you tell us one thing about librarians or libraries that you think would be surprising?
CC: I guess the fact that we do programs for kids. That seems kind of ridiculous, but it’s an ongoing joke in my department that the kids don’t know we’re librarians. We’ve gotten pegged as teachers, teen volunteers, and people who “I dunno, just come in to show us robots.”, but there seems to be a definite disconnect between what they see us do and what they think librarians do.
TCBR: I’m sure that you are asked many interesting questions on a daily basis. What would you say has been the most entertaining question asked of you by a parent or a child?
CC: I’m sure I’m forgetting quite a few, but my absolute favorite has to be when a young girl who couldn’t have been older than 3, came to the desk and simply said “bunnies.” I went through usual questions asking whether she wanted information about bunnies, stories about bunnies, or how to take care of a bunny but every question was met with the answer “bunnies.” I ended up getting a mix of the three, and she looked happy as a clam to take them all home.
TCBR: If you could be any fictional character from children’s literature, who would it be? Why?
CC: Probably Roald Dahl’s Matilda, because I’d be well read AND have magical powers. I guess the terrible parents would be a bit of a downer but who cares, because MAGIC.
If you enjoyed this interview with tween librarian Cindy Cardona, please check out our other interviews in the On the Shelf series.