Monday, February 17, 2014

Yes, it's a book - but throw it out!!

Yes, books are wonderful.  Books are precious.  Books should be treasured...but some belong in the trash!

* attribution below
If you're reading this, chances are good that you're a teacher, librarian or caregiver; and as such, you're in an important position.  You're someone to whom children look for answers.  They also look to books, and therein lies a problem.  Not all books are good books.  A good book today may be a bad book tomorrow.
Allow me to illustrate.

In first grade, my daughter borrowed a book about the moon from her school library.  It concluded with the inspirational sentiment, "someday men will go to the moon."  She thought this a wonderful suggestion, until I explained to her that men had already been to the moon numerous times and had now set their sights on Mars.  I don't care how true the rest of the book may have been, it belonged in the trash.  It may have been a good book in the 1960s, but it is (or should be) garbage now.

If yours is not a special focus library and your primary patrons are children,  hyper vigilance is in order when deselecting old nonfiction books - particularly biographies. Kids believe what they read.

Currently, we're in the "perfect storm" of biography assignments.  Between President's Day, Black History Month, the new Common Core State Standards, and Women's History Month coming up fast, the biography shelves see more action this time of year than any other.

I gave mine a good, hard look the other day, and here are some things I discovered.

If this is on your shelf,
it's time to replace it ....

with this.
Same author, same book,
updated information.

The President of the United States - He's a very popular choice for assignments, but some of my books were written soon after his first election.  Plenty of things have happened since then, and plenty of new biographies have been published.  Unless the older titles offer a unique perspective not present in other books (the road to the White House, the story behind a particular speech or inaugural address, his childhood), they can go.

Still have this one on your shelf?
This was published in 2010,
 and appears to be in need
 of an update, no?

Justin Bieber (and other trending musicians, singers, and such) - They're young, they change rapidly (remember Hannah Montana?), their stories are incomplete.  If the person is still popular and your book is more than two years old, it's time for a new one.

A quick check of
 shows that 368 libraries are still shelving this 2002 book
featuring A-Rod in a Texas Rangers uniform!
How much has changed since then!!

Sports teams and stars -Yes, it's nice to have a book on the shelf for each team, but kids believe what they read in books.  Don't give a child a book that says Curt Schilling plays for the Boston Red Sox. You may remember it as yesterday (heck, I remember him as a Phillie!), but to a child, it's old news.  Players change teams often.  If a book doesn't reflect a player's current team or a team's current players, get a new one or do without.  Again, if it has a unique historical perspective, that's a different story.  I'm speaking of the general formulaic style books on teams and players.

As a general rule, if the subject of your book is deceased, you may be safe with an older title.  If she's still living an active, productive life, look for a new edition.

Happy President's Day!  Buy yourself a new book.

* Niteowlneils at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

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