by Sharon Hrycewicz
Sharon Hrycewicz of the Downers Grove Public Library in Downers Grove, Illinois explains how her library handles the labeling and categorizing of TOON Books, while pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of different strategies:
“Where do you shelve your TOON Books?” It’s a question many people have been asking. TOON Books asked me to share the struggles our library has been having with this issue. Below, I list both pro and con arguments for each section of the library:
1. J/Comics: This is a pretty small, yet active, collection located near our fiction collection. We have everything from BabyMouse to Calvin and Hobbes, Rapunzel’s Revenge and Garfield. Our department runs birth through eighth-grade, and there are a mix of titles and ages on these shelves. Deep down, TOON Books are comic books. The reading level may be first-grade, but that doesn’t matter to the reader. Our comics section is pretty far from the readers and picture books, so placing TOON Books with comics makes it difficult for beginning readers (and parents) to find them. However, placing TOON Books with comics will certainly get them to the children who like comics. I think there is an argument for placing Toon Books here, but it’s not my first choice.
2. JE/Picture Books: This is our largest collection. The argument for shelving TOON Books here revolves around Geoffrey Hayes, the author of Benny and Penny. Hayes is an established picture book author, so if you like one Hayes book you are sure to look for others in this section. The age group targeted for picture books (and their parents) will seek books here. I’m not sure I want TOON Books here. It doesn’t feel like the right fit.
3. JE/Readers: I’ve done readability graphs for Benny and Penny in the Toy Breaker and Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework, and both titles score at or below a first-grade level. Putting TOON Books in our Reader section would be placing them with their peers—they are readers! I love the idea of comic books for beginning readers. They help develop what I think are good reading skills. Comics naturally progress from left to right (as does text) and use all sorts of made up words like “zoop” and “poom”. Beginning readers encounter words they don’t know and must decipher them with their phonics skills. Placing TOON Books in the early reader section gives beginning readers books to get excited about instead of ubiquitous character books. I would like to see our Toon Books here, shelved as JE/Readers/Toon Books (and perhaps kept in a separate display within the Reader section).
That’s what’s happening in our library. Where do you shelve your TOON Books?