When I saw the prompt for Top Ten Tuesday this week, I couldn’t not share! Here’s some of my Library Life Kid Lit Pet Peeves, including authors I dislike, shelving woes, publisher problems and more:
1. Ableism (& Lack of Diverse Representation in General)
It’s almost IMPOSSIBLE to find disability representation in kidlit beyond the token wheelchair user illustration in picture books. (Speaking of those wheelchair illustrations, they are almost always outdated and look nothing like the wheelchairs people use today). According to the CCBC, only 3.4% of children’s books feature disabled main characters… compared to the 26% of the population that has disabilities. Few of those stories are written by creators with disabilities themselves, leading to skewed stereotypes and harmful misrepresentation. For more:
- Book Riot: The Current State of Disability Representation in Children’s Books
- CCBC Diversity Statistics
- Disability in Kid Lit: Wonder by R. J. Palacio
- Lee & Low: Diversity (in Publishing) Baseline Survey
- Twitter Thread: Roll With It by Jamie Sumner
2. Board Books
So many books published in this format are not actually age-appropriate for babies. Then poor confused parents think their baby doesn’t like books!
3. Books in a Series Without Spine Numbers
Looking at you, Geronimo Stilton.
4. Dewey Decimal System
There are MANY problems with Dewey, not the least of which is how difficult patrons find it to navigate. I think Julia Torres, Denver Public Schools Librarian, says it best in this American Libraries article:
“Genrefication [is] a step toward student empowerment and away from reproducing systems of dependency.”
Not every picture book needs to preach a lesson! Just let kids enjoy stories! Geeze.
6. Jonathan Stutzman
Book Excerpt: A llama, whose body bulges out of too-small pants, dances around and rips a hole in the bottom.
Children’s librarians sure love sharing Stutzman’s hateful, fat-shaming picture books in storytime. If you haven’t seen Llama Destroys the World before, the premise is that Llama eats so much, the sound of his pants ripping tears a hole in the universe and endangers the entire world. WTAF? Angie Manfredi breaks down the harmful representation and why this book is actually the farthest thing from funny in this Twitter thread.
7. Middle Grade Fantasy
I LOVE Middle Grade fantasy. It’s my favorite genre to read! So what’s the problem?
MG fantasy novels are SO LENGTHY. I’m not sure who or when it was decided that MG fantasy should always have a 300+ page count. This length is a big barrier to many of my would-be fantasy fans, particularly if they aren’t very strong readers.
Also, more standalone MG fantasy, please! Not every kid is a serial reader!
8. Reading Levels
This could be a post unto itself. I am SO TIRED of teachers sending parents to the library with a reading level (oftentimes without explaining what that level means or what reading skills their child is actually working on). Parents then come to the library armed with a DRA/AR/Lexile level number, or a Guided Reading level letter, only to discover that early reader publishers use none of the leveling systems that schools do. Instead, publishers each have their own proprietary formula for determining levels. These vastly different formulas lead to wide discrepancies between what one publisher and another considers a “Level One” reader.
All of this is frustrating and confusing for caregivers, and none of it fosters a child’s love of reading. Fountas and Pinnell, the creators of leveled reading as we know it, say themselves that “levels aren’t meant to be shared with the children or parents.” For more:
- AASL Position Statement: Labeling Books with Reading Levels
- Fountas and Pinnell Blog: A Level is a Teacher’s Tool, Not a Child’s Label
9. Rhyming Picture Books
Frankly, I find most rhyming picture books forced, clunky and irritating. As editor Frances Gilbert says, there are so many ways rhyming can sink a manuscript. “The sing-song-y-ness of ‘dah-duh dah-duh dah-duh, dah-dah’ in line after line pummels a reader with sameness. It also encourages authors to make terrible word choices: odd or forced descriptions or line endings because that last word HAS. TO. RHYME.”
Audiobooks are books. Comic books and graphic novels are books. Reading is reading!
Graphic: Comic books average 53.5 rare words per thousand. Children’s books average 30.9; adult books average 52.7. Phenomenal! Created by Jarett Lerner, information from “Big Ideas in Beginning Reading: Vocabulary” by the University of Oregon Center on Teaching & Learning.
What are your Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves? Would love to learn more in the comments below!