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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Reading Aloud: Not for Wimps

So I’m tooling around in my library’s shelves containing ancient children’s books of yore yesterday, which happens to be a lot of fun.  Nothing puts the current world of publishing in perspective quite like waltzing through decades and decades worth of out-of-print gems.  At one point I was going through the autographed book section when I stumbled on a familiar name.  “Lucy Sprague Mitchell”.  It rang a distant bell in the old noggin but I was hard pressed to remember why.  Later at home I cracked open my copy of Minders of Make-Believe (the go-to tome for all things simultaneously historical and children’s literature related) and there she was.  Mitchell.  The woman behind New York’s Bureau of Educational Experiments (which wasn’t half as terrifying as the name implies).  Mitchell paved the way for progressive education and that little bureau she founded would go on to become The Bank Street College of Education.

Why am I telling you this?  Because Bank Street is a vital, contributing member of the children’s literary world, dagnabbit.  In fact I was just there last week when Candlewick presented their upcoming fall list (but more on that another day).  And while I was there I also learned of the release of their newly revisited, revised edition of Best Books to Read Aloud with Children of All Ages. Written by Lisa Von Drasek, Linda Greengrass (awesome name) and Jennifer M. Brown the book looks like one of those necessary tools for folks new to the readaloud game and others who need a quick pick-me-up.  Actually Lisa put it better than I in a recent email exchange:

“This past Monday morning, I had the opportunity to observe a story time for toddlers in a tiny rural public library. The woman leading the story time was delightfully engaging, she sang, the children played maracas, rang bells, danced and did simple yoga stretches. (I will be stealing not only her song, but also her yoga ideas for my preschool classes.) Unfortunately she lost most of their attention every time she read aloud.  Her choices weren’t great for the age group. As a children’s librarian, I often forget how hard it is to make developmentally age appropriate choices. The Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street has provided a neatly curated collection of titles, some new, some classics arranged by age group and searchable by theme in the Best Books to Read Aloud.”

The result is an eBook.  Yep.  A $2.99 eBook.  So I figured I’d buy one.  I’m no Mr. Moneybags but I can shell out three bucks.  Apparently it’s also available through a nook app, Amazon and soon Google Books with links to Indie Bound.

Normally I don’t shill others’ wares as directly as I am here but this is the kind of thing I tend to believe in.  Of course Lucy Sprague Mitchell would butt heads with my predecessor Anne Carroll Moore over all sorts of things (fairytales : ACM = pro, LSM = con) but they were both fighting the same fight in the end.  It’s all about the kids and books, man.  All about the kids and books.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Nice post! Do you think there’s significance to the fact (which your little equation made me realize) that LSM = not only Lucy Sprague Mitchell but Leonard S. Marcus, who wrote Minders of Make-Believe? So who nowadays would ACM be?

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      That kind of thinking is enough to make a gal want to change her name to Allison Carmichael Malone (or something similar) just to be closer to the woman in question. A pity Anita Silvey’s last name begins with an S . . . .

  2. Mitchell is fascinating. If you’ve the time and/or the interest, I recommend Joyce Antler’s biography, Lucy Sprague Mitchell: The Making of a Modern Woman.

  3. Wonderful post, but I so wish that this book weren’t just available as an eBook! It’s not that I don’t read eBooks – I have a Nook and so can apparently use the app to read this book. But this is exactly the kind of book that I NEED in print form, so I can more easily browse, plan and dream of ways to improve my children’s programs. Any thought that there might actually be a print edition as well?

  4. Elizabeth,

    Great post. I just happened to speak last week to Lisa Von Drasek at Bank Street about the importance of reading aloud. She has wonderful insights on why reading aloud is a must and what makes a great read-aloud book. My discussion with her is posted on my blog at

    If your followers take the time to read it, they should also read my January interview with you on the Newbery and Best Children’s Books of 2011 that you so graciously participated in.


  5. What an amazing resource. I too wish it was in print form but have read that it, of course, is a money thing! Much less expensive to publish electronically. When will all the world realize how important it is to give lots of money to education and books!!??