Creative Fingerplays cover

Fingerplays for the Emotionally Disturbed

Creative Fingerplays and Action Rhymes: An Index and Guide to Their use
Defty
1992

Submitter: I am a newly-hired youth services librarian for a public library branch that had been without a children’s librarian for nearly 3 years. While evaluating my library’s professional development collection, I came across [this book]. Most of the information in this book is fairly standard for the subject: chapters cover developmental milestones for various ages, suggested fingerplays and rhymes, and some sample craft ideas. All of these fingerplays themselves are now nicely organized and demonstrated on sites such as Jbrary. And since 1992, a number of excellent trainings like Supercharged Storytimes have been developed and made available for youth services librarians. This 30-year-old book, therefore, was unlikely to get much use at my branch. Regardless, I felt the need to browse the book and discovered the sample page I’m including here on serving “mentally retarded and emotionally disturbed children.” Um, we don’t use those terms anymore, and I’m kind of surprised they were still being used in 1992! Even my colleague at my branch who hates the idea of weeding anything agreed this title had to go.

Holly: Sometimes it’s easy to miss books like these, that still have some value. I’m sure the actual fingerplays are mostly fine. It’s these hidden sections, like the one you submitted, that can be overlooked. You can always photocopy the pieces you can still use and recycle the rest.

Bram Stoker cover

Bram Stoker is Possessed

The Man Who Wrote Dracula: A biography of Bram Stoker
Farson
1975

Submitter: This may not be so much an awful library book as it is an awful book cover. We can see from an inside photo that Stoker was a decent looking guy, so why the demonic possession eye treatment? I’m guessing the publishers wanted to ride The Exorcist wave as this book was published in 1975 after the 1973 film release. Better yet, the author was the great nephew of Stoker, so you think he’d want to honor his relative rather than make him look like an evil character. We have plenty of other (better) Stoker biographies so this one had to go.

Holly: What a strange choice of cover art! I swear I’ve seen this cover before, actually, but it’s not part of my library’s collection and I don’t see it in a previous ALB post. That’s a face you don’t forget, though!

Olympic Spirit cover

Nude Olympics

The Olympic Spirit: 100 Years of the Games
Wels
1995

Submitter: Aside from being 26 years old, I also noticed this had quite an eye-catching image on the frontispiece. Was he performing a Rhythmic Ribbon routine and had a mishap? And what’s with the guy peering in from behind him ?

Notice that the publisher is none other than… Stop & Shop. Weeded from my middle school library.

Holly: I think the nude guy is doing rhythmic ribbon, and the creeper behind him is either waving a flag or checking out the backside. There’s another nude in the bottom left corner. Was nude Olympics a thing 100 years ago?

Womans Guide to Handguns cover

Women’s Guide to Handguns

The Women’s Guide to Handguns: A Primer for Safe Self-Defense
Carmichel
1982

Submitter: First, this book is from 1982 and gun laws have changed in many states, especially our state of Massachusetts. That alone makes this an easy weed with a replacement. Second, I love how the opening starts out with scary statistics, a promise not to use fear in this book and continues on with more scare tactics. Not to mention condescending…

Holly: Handgun ownership by women is wayyyy more popular now than it was 40 years ago. This definitely needs to be updated!

Meeting the challenge cover

Children with Diabetes

Meeting the Challenge: Children Living with Diabetes
Bergman
1992

Submitter: This book’s purpose is to show a normal kid living a normal life while managing diabetes, which is great, but managing diabetes looks a little different now than it did 30 years ago. This kid is still peeing on ketone strips to measure his blood sugar, which is pretty irrelevant in today’s world of nearly ubiquitous CGM (continual glucose monitoring—a sensor is attached to the body and provides real-time blood sugar readings via an app). Most kids today would also be using a pump rather than syringes, which are the only insulin delivery tool in the book, with the exception of one insulin pen.

The other odd thing about this book is the extended section devoted to a summer camp for kids with diabetes that the protagonist attends. The point is likely to show the kids doing all the kinds of things their friends can do, but it feels a little random and oddly specific to this one kid. Especially the counselor in face paint for some kind of activity, included in the pictures.

Holly: When a kid receives a diagnosis like diabetes and is learning to live with it, both they and their parents need current and helpful information. This offers neither of those things. Nice idea; past its prime.

Boy Scouts cover

Story of the Boy Scouts

Story of the Boy Scouts
Blassingame
1968

Submitter: Quaint Hardy Boys style illustrations and historical black and white photos accompany this book  about the history of the Boy Scouts. While there are a few pictures of African American children and a boy  with a turban on the cover, included also are some stories about the boys “howling like Indians” and “playing Indian” as they set up camp. One boy is described as a “cripple” who doesn’t look like “a man to lead” and grew up having to work with the girls in the sewing room rather than be outdoors with the boys. It’s a  snapshot of the times, but there’s a lot that has happened in the 50+ years that have passed since this book was published. The kids in our library need more up to date info on scouting, and more culturally sensitive language. Girls can now join the Boy Scouts in their activities, and are no longer confined to the sewing room.

Holly: WorldCat’s description of this book says: “Discusses the origin and continuing growth of the Boy Scouts, relates true stories of Scouting heroism and adventure, and describes the many activities of Scouting.” I’m all for a history of the Boy Scouts, but respectful language is a must. Kids interested in scouting activities can definitely do better than this!

Amos Fortune

Friday Fiction: Amos Fortune: Free Man

Amos Fortune: Free Man
Yates
1951

Submitter: Somehow this book from 1951 was still on the shelf, maybe because of that shiny Newbery sticker on the cover. Or maybe it just got overlooked. Either way, a story of a slave written in the 50s is likely going to be questionable today, and I would say this one is. Descriptions comparing Black characters to dogs and untamed animals are jarring. The idea that Africans needed to be civilized before they could handle freedom seems to be presented not as something that many people wrongly believed at the time but as actually being true. At one point it is spoken directly from the still-enslaved main character himself. With some guidance and discussion, this book could be instructive of assorted historical and current trends in racist thought and language, but the public library kids biography section isn’t the place for that.

Holly: No, it isn’t. Just because a book is an award winner does not mean it should be kept forever. Either put it in a special Newbery reference collection or weed it.

Mary: This was pretty much the only slavery discussion that was around when I was a child in the 1960s. I remember liking the story. However, it was written in the 1950s for a white audience and of course it sanitized the evil of slavery for said audience. Although Amos Fortune was based on a real person, it really is a biographical novel. I think this article can give people more to chew on if they are second guessing weeding a Newbery.

Rhythmic Activities

Rhythmic Activities

Rhythmic Activities Series II
Stuart and Ludlam
1955, 1963

Submitter: This set of cards with songs and activities is not only ancient and falling apart, it’s also not even remotely useful to our users (academic library). We do have an Education program, but no self-respecting teacher or teacher-in-training wants something this old! Though it did circulate last in 1995.

Holly: I think you can weed this one on condition alone! Cute idea, just wayyyy outdated.