Friday, November 13, 2009

Bookstore and Library Observations

Barnes and Noble in Friendship Heights

What’s Heaven? By Maria Shriver
This book is about how parents can talk to their children about what happens when a loved one dies. Heaven and death are difficult subjects to talk about and even harder to understand, so having a book to help explain this is a good tool.

Buddhism Eyewitness Book
This book explains several different aspects of Buddhism from the traditions in the religion to artifacts found from thousands of years ago. This book opens children’s eyes to a religion that is not commonly practiced in America.

It’s So Amazing! By Robie H. Harris
This is a book for ages 7 and up about sex and families. While I personally do not think this book is age appropriate, it would be a good way to get the conversation going about sex and puberty with a child.

Only Passing Through by Anne Rockwell
This book is the story of Sojourner Truth. It takes you through her journey through slavery and confronts the sensitive issue of slavery in America.

Chief Hawah’s Book of Native American Indians
This book briefly describes the differences between several Native American Indian tribes and also describes many traditions of the Native American Indians. The book discusses the typical lifestyle, ceremonies, and well known members of the tribes (ex. Pocahontas, Chief Sitting Bull, etc.).

Independent Dames by Laurie Halse Anderson
When children learn about the American Revolution, they learn all about how the men fought for our country, etc. This book tells the story from the point of view of the women and how they contributed to all of the changes that took place in America during the American Revolution.

Two Homes by Claire Masurel
This book confronts the situation of when a child’s parents are divorced and a child lives in two homes. The main character describes how he has two of everything since he lives in two homes and how his parents still love him no matter where they are and no matter where he is.

I Miss You by Pat Thomas
This is another great book that deals with the topic of death. It talks about the circle of life and also has questions in it to ask the child reading it such as, “What kinds of things make you happy when you are sad?”

Are there many such books available? Where are these books located in the store?
There are many books such books available considering the size of the selection of children’s books in the Borders I went to. The children’s section in this store is not very big, yet I did not have a hard time finding the books I needed to complete this assignment. The books are located throughout the “books” part of the children’s section (as opposed to the area where there are mostly toys and games), but they are mostly concentrated in the “Religion” and “Social Studies/History” sections, which are located in the back corner of the children’s section.

How are these books displayed and what variety is available?
The books are all shelved so that you can see the binding only; they do not have the cover facing people, as some popular books are displayed. There is a large variety available, but they are not displayed as prominently as some of the other books are.

Is the authorship of these books diverse?
From what I can tell, yes. Books about women are typically written by women. However, beyond that, I cannot tell the races or any other diverse information about the authors just from their names. I did however notice that most of the books I picked were written by men.

For whom are the books in the store accessible? For whom are they not accessible?
The books are accessible to everyone. If you are not tall enough to reach the top shelf of the books, there are several stools located around the children’s section to stand on.

Do the books portray any sorts of cultural stereotypes?
Yes. I found that most of the books’ illustrations portrayed stereotypes whether it was all of the Asians wearing the same kimono, or the African American characters with solid black skin.

What do these books convey about the characters in them?
These books all show that every person has a story to tell. They may have different lessons and morals at the end, but they are all important in their own ways.

Describe the neighborhood in which the bookstore is located.
The bookstore I went to was the Borders in Friendship Heights. It is a very nice shopping area with stores like Neiman Marcus and restaurants like Maggiano’s around it.

How might this location intersect with your observations?
Since the area is fairly well off, most of the people shopping in this Borders are probably well off as well. Therefore, the population buying these books is probably fairly homogeneous.

Tenley Community Library

We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns
This is a counting book about a group of people who go on a safari. They spot different numbers of animals and count them. At the back of the book there is an explanation of all of their Swahili names, what they mean in English and some fun facts about Tanzania.

Maya’s World by Maya Angelou
This is a book about Maya Angelou’s childhood friend Angelina, who lived in Italy. She talks about her love of pizza and creates a fun story for the whole family. This book shows that families in Italy are not very different from families in the America.

F is for Fiesta by Susan Middleton Elya
This book starts out with a glossary on what some Spanish words used in the book mean. Then the book is like a traditional Spanish alphabet book, but it uses the Spanish alphabet instead of the English alphabet. This is a great way for kids to be exposed to another language and culture.

Passover by Alice K. Flanagan
This book is all about the Jewish holiday of Passover. It explains the story of Passover and the different things that families do to celebrate Passover. This book is a great way to introduce children to this holiday and how they can help celebrate it.

1621 A New Look At Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac
This book uses photographs to tell the story of Thanksgiving. They explain the culture and language of the Indians who lived in America before the first Thanksgiving happened and also give some traditional recipes to try at home. This book is a great way to teach children about where the holiday of Thanksgiving came from and how it has changed over the years.

Boycott Blues by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
This book is about Rosa Parks and how she inspired people everywhere. It talks about the bus boycott and how effective their efforts were. The book ends by telling how the Supreme Court abolished segregation and how happy everyone was about it.

Count on Cullebra by Ann Whitford Paul
This is a counting book in Spanish. It is a regular story in English, but the characters count things in Spanish. The last page of the book translates all of the numbers and Spanish words used in the text into English and gives the recipe they talked about in the book.

Silent Lotus by Jeanne M. Glee
This book is about a Cambodian girl in named Lotus who cannot speak or hear. She learns to dance and loves it. She becomes a famous dancer and dances for the King.

Are there many such books available? & Where are these books located in the store?
There are several of these books available. There is no set place for them but they are all around the children’s section.

How are these books displayed and what variety is available.
They are placed with all of the other books in the section. There are books available about all different cultures and some books are partially in other languages.

Is the authorship of these books diverse?
I am not really able to tell about this because I can’t see pictures of many of the authors, but it seems to be that the authors are writing about their own cultures or in their own languages.

For whom are the books in the store accessible? & For whom are they not accessible?
The books are accessible to everyone that comes into the library. Most of the books are located on low shelves so that all children can reach them.

Do the books portray any sorts of cultural stereotypes?
Some of the books have characters in traditional clothing of the culture they are about, but I don’t consider that a stereotype. However, the books about African Americans depicted almost all of the characters as having extremely dark skin, as opposed to the varying shades you see in most people.

What do these books convey about the characters in them?
The books show how the characters live their lives and how they celebrate their cultures.

Describe the neighborhood in which the bookstore is located.
The library I went to was in Tenleytown (right next to the Greenberg Theater), so it was in a fairly nice area.

How might this location intersect with your observations?
Most of the people in this area are fairly well off and have no problem travelling to the library whenever they want. It is likely that most of the kids are fairly well cultured at home because they probably go to school with many different types of people. Therefore, the selection of books at the library helps keep their eyes open to different groups of people and their cultures.


  1. My family started using
    Its nice because my kids can read bed-time stories with their grandpa who lives 5 states away! My dad isnt very techy, but he finds it easy to use and very enjoyable. Its like skyping and children's eBooks rolled into one.

    Not to replace real books, but certainly a great tool for long-distance parenting/reading.