“Make Your Own Life Bigger” by Gladys Hunt

According to Gladys Hunt, developing an appreciation for the public library in your child begins with YOU.  This is the second in our series of previously-unpublished blog posts by the author of Honey For a Child’s Heart.

Make Your Own Life Bigger

Your own experience with the library–or lack of it–may be the biggest hindrance to getting your children to the library. That is to say, parents may be scared of libraries, too. Where do you begin to look?

It helps if you have some titles in mind when you go into a children’s library—or any library. You need some ideas. I suggest you take a copy of Honey for a Child’s Heart with you and check the bibliography at the end of the book. I wrote that book for moments such as this. Here is why it is important:

  1. You can’t read every book in the library. At least it is doubtful—in spite of Francie, the protagonist in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, who planned to read all the books in the world in alphabetical order, beginning with “A.” Every year in a child’s age is a special thing. You want to read the best available for a particular time in life. Everyone has only so much time, and you want to spend your reading time with the best
  2. Books, like other choices in life, can be rated good, better and best. How do you find the best? You begin with the tried and true, those books that have stood the test of some use in a child’s life. No list has all the best, because books keep being published and it takes a while to make it to the list. But there are some treasures you won’t want to miss. These set the standard. These are ones I listed in Honey for a Child’s Heart.
  3. After you have done this for a while, to your surprise, you will begin to notice authors who have just the right touch for your child. The enjoyment of one book encourages you to try another by the same author. Your child may like the second more than the first, but as you explore good writers you will begin to know instinctively what makes a good book. Since children’s literature is some of the best writing out there, you will soon find yourself recommending books to other parents.
  4. You will find other books that excite you, but aren’t on the list! These are for you to discover and share with other parents and children. Word of mouth recommendations from other parents are usually worth pursuing.

Let your child explore the library and choose other books, along with the ones you choose. You may cringe at some of the choices, but be careful about saying, “You don’t want that book.” Every child has to learn how to tell what is best, just as you do. My theory is that if you expose a child to the best, that child will begin to understand what “best” is and choose it.

Imagine the privilege of taking home a stack of books on loan! I often feel like Francie, the booklover who “held the books close and hurried home, resisting the temptation to sit on the first stoop she came to, to start reading.”

This is the second of our series of previously-unpublished posts by Gladys Hunt.  She wrote these blog posts for Tumblon.com, a web app that helped parents understand children’s development.  Grham Scharf, one of the co-founders of Tumblon, has granted permission for these posts to be published here to achieve Gladys’s aim: for children and their parents to explore and enjoy great books together.  

We sincerely hope you enjoy them, and stick with us at Redeemed Reader for those new titles she never got around to reading!  For example, Okay for Now is another story about expanding one’s world through books.  Younger readers will enjoy The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library.


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Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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