Monday, March 6, 2017

The ‘Rock Star’ Librarians Who Choose What Your Kids Read | March 5, 2017

Books | Children's literature | School librarians

by Ellen Gamerman

John Schumacher showed Lake Anne Elementary School students a new paperback version of a book during his visit. Photo: April Greer for The Wall Street Journal 
Most kids don’t know who John Schumacher is. But their librarians do.

“He’s a rock star in the library world,” said Kim Sigle, a librarian at Lake Anne Elementary School in Reston, Va., who recently hosted Mr. Schumacher for a reading event for roughly 500 students. She “won” the former grade-school librarian in a lottery after taking a picture of herself with a life-size cardboard cutout of him and posting the shot on Twitter, competing with dozens of other librarians who did the same.

In the milk-and-cookies realm of picture books and middle-grade fiction, Mr. Schumacher is an influential voice, one of several current and former elementary-school librarians with big social-media followings and considerable sway over what kids read. Publishers can’t advertise in classrooms and marketers can’t reach kids who haven’t yet hit social media, but these experts enjoy a direct line to school gatekeepers. Publicists inundate them with so many free books that in some towns, kids are toting advance copies like New York publishing ​professionals. The book industry seeks their notice, eager for exposure as newspapers cut back on book reviews and book stores continue to confront financial pressures. Read more...

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