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Selecting books for yourself or to share with a child should be a joyful task, although it can often be daunting. With the recent expansion of the Children’s Library and Teen Mezzanine, we have many new opportunities for highlighting books in ways which (we hope) will make that task somewhat easier. Project 100 donations dedicated to new books allowed us to add significantly more titles for children and teens, increasing the collection by 25%!

Over the past year and a half, we have been reorganizing the collections to make browsing easier for our visitors. The biggest change to our spaces for young readers (in addition to a more spacious area to read and browse) is that our children’s collections are now divided between two spaces: Children’s Library—Early (recommended for ages 0–7) and the Children’s Library—Juvenile (recommended for ages 8-12). Each of these spaces includes age-appropriate nonfiction, biographies, fiction, and audiobooks, as well as new collection highlights. 

Regular visitors will have noticed that we’ve created many sub-collections in our space for young readers (the Children’s Library—Early), including:

  • a collection of alphabet books
  • books on manners
  • books on potty training
  • a selection of lift-the-flap options
  • stories written in rhyme
  • tales about France
  • and more!

All of these books had to be examined and then re-cataloged. Many Library volunteers (such as Rebecca, pictured below), helped relabel the books before they were ready to be put on their new shelves.  

Some of you may have noticed our Picture Books—Classics collection, which was created in response requests from members. That collection was built after surveying reviews of children’s literature, compiling statistics, gathering feedback from community members, and consulting with fellow children’s librarians. The collection also includes the titles from TIME magazine list of “The 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time,” and the NY Posts’ list of “The Best Children’s Books of All Time,” and titles from this list published by The Telegraph, and NPR’s list of “100 Favorite Books For Young Readers.” 

We have identified new ways to highlight prominent American authors alongside classic and contemporary works in English by authors from around the globe. In our Picture Books—Classics collection, you’ll find the contemporary American favorite Last Stop on Market Street next to Yertle the Turtle, The Gruffalo, Lost and Found, and Possum Magic. We’ve added many new, browsable categories. Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book can now be found with the other Picture Books—Bedtime, and Horton Hears a Who is now located with our Picture Books—Rhymes. We hope that this decision will aid in serendipitous discovery of great contemporary titles.

Sub-collections have been added in several categories for older children and teens, too, including a dedicated space for university guides and college prep materials on the Teen Mezzanine and collections of short stories upstairs for teens and on the ground floor for children. The short stories collections include YAFF Celebration Booklets from 2013 onwards. The Young Authors Fiction Festival (YAFF) is a creative writing initiative that aims to strengthen the community among English-speakers in the Paris area through the art and craft of storytelling. The Library believes that creative writing plays an important role in a child’s literacy development, and YAFF is such an integral part of our efforts to foster a love of literature among young readers, we wanted to make examples of short stories more prominent. Nearby, on both the Teen Mezzanine and in the Children’s Library–Juvenile, creative teens and children can also find books on the arts, including materials on writing stories, painting, coding, filmmaking, and more. 

The freedom to read is a guiding principle here at the American Library in Paris, and we strive to provide collections to satisfy the needs of families of readers, as well as educators. Our collections are often the only source for researchers, aspiring illustrators, and educators in France who are interested in anglophone literature. We’ve created a Children’s Literature Research Collection, which includes several rare, signed, and out-of-print titles formerly housed with our archives. These are now available by request at the Children’s and Teens’ Services Desk. This collection also includes materials that were not previously available to members, such as the publications Children & Libraries: the Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children and Young Adult Library Services. We’ve made the decision to relocate the Dr. Seuss titles whose publication has recently been cancelled to this collection as well. A growing collection of pop-up books, which are beautiful, but costly and fragile, are also available by request for use within the Library.

There is something for everyone here at the Library. Printed reading lists of recommended titles are available in each of our spaces for children and teens for anyone exploring specific areas of interest. For parents interested in anti-racist titles, we recommend taking a look at winners of the American Indian Library Association, reading lists from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, this list from Black Lives Matter and the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table, best of lists from Dr. Debbie Reese’s American Indian’s in Children’s Literature blog, and the Brown Bookshelf. Many of these recommended titles are available here at the Library.

We commend you for taking an interest in what you choose to read with your child. The decision ultimately rests with each caregiver in our community—although we are always happy to discuss children’s books with any of our members and community members!

Celeste Rhoads, Children’s and Teens’ Services Manager

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