Rosemary D’Urso, also known as the “Library Mom,” has been The Local Mom Network’s go-to resource for fantastic book recommendations (for both kids as well as moms) for the past few years. From books to read to toddlers to summer reading picks, she never misses. We’re thrilled to be featuring Rosemary as week’s Meet a Mom! We chatted with her about finding her niche with Library Mom, motivating reluctant readers, and more.
Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, I’m Rosie and I am a school librarian turned children’s book reviewer who loves sharing the joy of reading through reviews, curated book lists, and tips on raising readers. I originally grew up on the sunny beaches of Florida, but now relish in the beautiful changing seasons of New Jersey. I live in my husband’s hometown of Mendham with our two children Emily (age 6) and Thomas (age 9), our nephew Nicholas (age 30), and our two cats George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Love those names for your kitties! Can you tell us a bit more about your professional background?
I’ve been a book lover my entire life and becoming a children’s librarian was a natural career choice. After obtaining my Masters in Information and Library Science, I worked as a children’s librarian in a public library and then as an elementary school librarian.
How did Library Mom come about, and what does it encompass?
As a school librarian, I absolutely loved connecting children with that just-right book that gets them excited about reading. When I had my own children, I felt that I was needed more at home, but I didn’t want to give up the world of children’s literature entirely.
Many of my friends and colleagues were often asking me for book recommendations, so I created librarymom.com to help connect parents, caregivers, and teachers with the best books for kids. My website is a depository of book lists covering numerous themes ranging from best-of lists, seasonal and holiday books, to books celebrating diversity. I focus primarily on stories ranging from birth to third grade and include board books, picture books, easy readers, chapter books, and graphic novels.
My Instagram page @librarymombooks is devoted to highlighting new books. I’ve always enjoyed photography and found Instagram to be a wonderful way to showcase books and provide short reviews on all the hot new releases.
Where do you get ideas for amazing book roundups and types of shortlists?
My mission is to connect parents and caregivers with books that will make a difference in their kids’ lives, whether that is through creating a love of reading, building confidence in themselves, seeing the world through a kinder more inclusive lens, or just enjoying a good story and I create lists accordingly.
While many of my book lists are inspired by current events, they are mostly influenced by my family. When my children were arguing a lot, I created a booklist on sibling rivalry. For their birthdays, I put together a list of Books for Raising Strong Daughters and Books for Raising Strong, Sensitive, Sincere Boys and each month I post their favorite read alouds we share together in my Kid Picks section.
I also read professional journals to stay on top of new releases and work with several publishers including Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, and Penguin Random House to showcase many of their latest publications.
What is your best tip for parents trying to encourage reluctant readers?
As the mom of a boy who loved listening to stories, but was reluctant to read on his own, I have a lot of tips for reluctant and struggling readers. My biggest one is to find books on topics or themes that your child is interested in and let them pick the book they want to read. Children need to feel ownership over their reading and letting them access books that appeal to them is crucial. Present them with an assortment of genres and let them determine where their interests lay. It is also important to embrace a variety of formats. Graphic novels, nonfiction, and even magazines often engage reluctant readers and provide a perfect way to get them hooked on reading.
I would also say to read to your child even if they can read independently. Sharing a story together is not only a wonderful time to bond with your child, but it is an opportunity to share rich vocabulary, model fluency, and introduce books that open their eyes and imaginations to new worlds.
What are a couple newer kids books you love?
There have been a ton of amazing books published in the last year and here is a sampling of a few that will be making my Best Book List for 2021!
A Friend Like You by Frank Murphy and Charnaie Gordon; illustrated by Kayla Harren
Bear is a Bear by Jonathan Stutzman; illustrated by Dan Santat
How to Apologize by David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho; illustrated by Dung Ho
Ten Beautiful Things by Molly Beth Griffin; illustrated by Maribel Lechuga
What Happened to You? by James Catchpole; illustrations by Karen George
Change Sings by Amanda Gorman; illustrated by Loren Long
Vampenguin by Lucy Ruth Cummins
If moms are looking for specific book recs, what’s the best way to contact you? Do you take special requests?
What’s next for Library Mom?
My goal is to continue pushing my library’s 100 book check out limit, creating themed book lists and articles providing reading tips, listening to audiobooks, running, and going on adventures with my family.
Anything else you’d like to share?
When I’m not sharing book recommendations, I’m working at our family’s ice cream store! Life is short and I’m trying my best to enjoy it and bring as much happiness to people as I can through books and ice cream!
Eva Amurri Martino—the blogger behind Happily Eva After—loves putting together classic Christmas cocktail parties, which she says satisfies her annual case of holiday nostalgia. “The classics never go out of style, and Christmas cocktails are so delish!”...
Anyone else taking on Elf on the Shelf moving responsibilities this time of year? Since 2004, The Elf on the Shelf brand has grown from a single children’s book, written by mother daughter team Chanda Bell and Carol Aebersold as a way to reconnect with...