THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS had the enormous pleasure of meeting our newest FEATURED SWEETHEART, Felice Feldman, at THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD and BORDER CROSSING book release party. We were all taken with this San Antonio Librarian's generous spirit, plus her warm and welcoming nature.
You stay quite busy as a librarian and volunteer, Felice. Could you tell us about some of your most recent rewarding experiences?
My most rewarding experiences actually are librarian/book-related. I am monitoring the Readers’ Theatre/Storytelling Club at my school—Castle Hills. We will perform Book! Book! Book! for an event at Barnes and Noble Friday night. I will also tell a few holiday stories to fill out the program. I love storytelling and was the Chairman of the Storytelling Roundtable of the Texas Library Association. I am completing my third and final year on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Program Committee. I am the chair of the Video Committee which produces the video to introduce the 2010-2011 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List. Last year I produced Camp Bluebonnet. Now when I watch a TV program or go to the movies I appreciate all the work the Producer does to make the product.
What influenced you to become a librarian and what advice do you have for folks wishing to become librarians?
I graduated mid-year and while I was looking for a job teaching French I began my Master’s degree in Library Science. My husband’s favorite Aunt Goldie suggested that I become a librarian like her daughter. She is from New York. My husband was a journalist at the time and she used to say that when he went to work for the New York Times, my Oklahoma Twang would laugh me out of the classroom. I loved books and it seemed a logical career choice. I am now mentoring a Kindergarten teacher who is working on a degree from Sam Houston State University.
What are some ways to get your kids excited about reading?
I think the Texas Bluebonnet Award program is a great way to introduce kids to fantastic literature. I am always casually talking about books I have read and letting them know how I enjoyed them. I have read the books for the next video and the kids are going to have some great books to read. I think that if you are enthusiastic, the kids will try them. Not all books are for everyone and so I never am offended if I suggest a book and they don’t want to read it. I also love it when the kids read books and recommend them to me. Incentives also work. I offer the Six Flags Six Hour Reading Club and if they read the required amount they get a free ticket. Also teachers get tickets if they have participants.
What books have kids been asking for?
My kids like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I am sure that is in preparation for the movie which comes out in February. I can’t keep the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books on the shelves. Those who like the two series I have mentioned will like books with Ellie McDoodle by Ruth Barshaw and Pandora by Carolyn Hennesy. These titles are the girl counterparts to Percy and Wimpy Kid. They want the Twilight books but we are only an elementary library. Let them read their older sister’s copy. The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman is really cool and popular.
You are proactive about bringing authors to your school. What do you think makes a successful school visit?
Make sure you know about your author and check with other schools who have hosted them to see if they interact well with the students. This is my sixth year at Castle Hills and I have had many great authors’ visits. I have had Robert J. Blake (Bluebonnet winner for Togo), author/illustrator E.B. Lewis, Grace Lin, Jody Feldman, Betty Birney and several more local storytellers and authors. Provide a nice space for them to appear. Have books for sale. And be excited about their visit and prepared to have their books be in demand. My district now handles the paperwork for the visit which is a big help. Kids come back to me years later saying they remember when an author came to our school.
I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, OK. I attended the University of Oklahoma and received degrees in Foreign Language Education and Library Science. I taught French and have been a librarian in elementary, middle and high school. I have taught Children’s Literature at UTSA as an adjunct professor. My husband Peter is retired from ATT and is currently a “gentleman” entrepreneur. Our daughter Jackie Smilack is a design editor for the Denver Post and is a teaching assistant at the University of Colorado Denver. I am active in the Texas Library Association where I serve on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Program Committee. My hobbies include reading and indulging in movies on the Hallmark network. I love to sample new restaurants.