A Mother's Day Tribute: 20 Reasons to Love Librarians and Their Mothers

05/08/2015 11:31 am ET | Updated May 08, 2016

In honor of Mother's Day, we asked The New York Public Library's extraordinary bibliophiles to discuss the books their moms would recommend and we were promptly deluged with stories of wonderful moms near and far who taught their children to love the written word. These children grew up and made a career out of providing everyone access to books. A beautiful literary circle, all thanks to mom.

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  1. My mother Julia lives in upstate New York, about 5 miles away from the house she was born in. She has lived in 4 houses throughout her life and she has had the same telephone number ever since I can remember. There is not a lot that my mother "loves" to do, although there are things that give her pleasure. Reading books and watching old movies are particular pleasures of her (which is a habit that I have gratefully inherited). She doesn't have a favorite book, but she will admit that Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle is one that she has enjoyed reading (several times in fact). Her review in a nutshell? "It was very suspenseful. It had a great lead female character. It was set during the war. I also enjoyed the movie with Donald Sutherland." - Wayne, Library Services Center
  2. My mom splits her year between Florida and the house where I grew up, in the suburbs of NYC. She loves to play tennis and to do the New York Times crossword puzzle. Our reading tastes and habits are very different. So, I will share that I book we do both love from my childhood is Virginia Burton's classic The Little House, about a country house that gets engulfed by the encroaching urban sprawl. I always loved how the windows on the house were her eyes, and the door was her mouth, and how the expressions changed as she got sadder and sadder. Burton's expressive illustrations truly make that little house come alive. I often recommended this book when I was a children's librarian, and my mom also shared it with my niece's first grade class on grandmother's day. - Ronni, Morningside Heights Library
  3. My mom, Cheryll, lives near the beach in a suburb of Charleston, SC and spends a great deal of her time at those beaches of Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island in a chair with a book. Lately she's been watching Game of Thrones and reading a Song of Ice & Fire, and since I've read them through already, I've been giving her teasers for what's to come. She was very upset about the fate of the King of the North and the events of the Red Wedding. -Carmen, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
  4. My mother Diane was born in Middle Village, Queens and has lived all over the US, but now resides in Salt Lake City. She is an amazing cook and a tech wiz, which is great because despite the distance, we get to share our daily lives through Twitter and Instagram. She loves the book My Antonia by Willa Cather, which she gave me for my high school graduation. I had to laugh because it reminded me so much of the more mature version of the Little House on the Prairie series that she shared with me when I was a child. -Lauren, George Bruce Library
  5. My mother Dorothy has been gone for 15 years, and I'd say I miss her every day if it didn't still feel like she is always with me. My mother developed severe rheumatoid arthritis by the time I was 3 1/2 years old so it wasn't easy for her to run around after three children under 4 years old. But she could read to us and always said that I would listen until she lost her voice and couldn't read anymore. She read me picture books and recited nursery rhymes, of course, but I had a special love for the novels (I think because my younger siblings couldn't listen that long so I had her to myself!). Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is one I strongly associate with her, and I always hear Jabberwocky in her voice. Then there was A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh--working for the institution that houses the real Winnie the Pooh has special significance for me. She gave me the gift of Story and a love for language, my mother. -Danita, Library Manager at Inwood Library
  6. My Mom, Alice, is 81 and lives in the Catskill Mountains. She was a recovery room nurse, served in the Air Force and loved to hike and travel. She climbed Mt. Fuji and adventured all over Asia in her twenties. She inspired me to set the goal of filling my passport by age 25, which I did. When I was young, she would toss me, my sister and our Chinese Pug, Charlie, in our car and we would drive all over the U.S. to "educational" places with a giant Merriam-Webster dictionary for company. Alzheimer's has made her reading choices quite difficult in the past two years as she is unable to follow complicated story lines. I gave her I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out, essays about becoming a nurse, and she loved them. -Maura, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
  7. My mom, Dana, lives in rural Pennsylvania. She's a voracious reader and loves mysteries and WWII era historical fiction. I think the former stems from her love of the Nancy Drew series, which she passed on to me at an early age. I'll never forget when she brought home a dusty box of Nancy Drew books and we both spent that summer reading each and every one! - Alexandra, Countee Cullen Library
  8. I vividly remember my mother reading books of poetry with me as a child. The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein were my introductions to verse because of mom's wisdom. -Judd, City Island Library
  9. My mom, Elizabeth, lives in a small colonial village in Virginia. She's an avid reader, a dedicated Latin teacher, a devoted grandma, and a wonderful mom. One of the great pleasures of my adult life is that she and I often recommend books to each other (I just gave her Lunch in Paris and Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard). At the end of every school year when I was growing up, she'd give my sister and me a special book inscribed with a message about our year. But I think my favorite book memory of my mom is of her sneaking downstairs in the early morning hours to read Watership Down amid boxes and boxes from my family's move from Ohio to Virginia--she says it was the only thing that got her through the chaos of unpacking! - Susie, Mulberry Street Library
  10. My mom, Debbie, is an incredible single mom who is the hardest working person I know. She balances two jobs and running a household, and still finds time for weight lifting classes, DIY projects, and, most importantly, shopping with her daughter. As a children's librarian, she inspired me to become a librarian myself. Her favorite children's classics are Stellaluna, Goodnight Moon, and Are You My Mother? -Megan, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
  11. My Mom Cathy grew up in the small town of Carthage and learned early how to make her own fun. A natural born storyteller, she loves to read, travel, laugh and meet new people. She's always been one of the kindest and most interesting people I know. She gave me a love of stories, Broadway musicals and the ability to find humor and absurdity in even the darkest times. She used to read to me every night doing all the voices and sound effects. One of our favorite authors is/was Frances Hodgson Burnett and her books The Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Even when we didn't have the books with us she could tell me those stories and many others from memory. To this day, my father and I sometimes rather my mother tell us a book's story than read it ourselves. -Anne, Mulberry Street Library
  12. I have two wonderful women I get to recognize every Mother's day. My mom, Nora, loves taking trips to the Pacific coast, cooks up some of the best traditional American, and she's the kindest, most thoughtful person I've ever met. My mom's favorite book Let's Pretend This Never Happened (a Mostly True Memoir) reminds her of her own bizarre rural upbringing and it fits with that slightly twisted sense of humor we both share. My stepmom Shellie was always the person that 'got me' when I was a kid. She taught me how to politely stomp out rules that don't work for me and settle only when you've reached your goals. It's fitting her favorite book (at least one of them) is Aztec by Gary Jennings. - Jacqueline, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
  13. My mom is an avid lifelong reader and New Yorker too, and apparently as a teenager once cut school just to go to the library and botanic gardens (all one needs, according to Cicero). She currently enjoys reading several fun period mystery series, notably the ones starring Jane Austen, Nero Wolfe, and 11-year-old argumentative chemist Flavia De Luce, as well as anything to do with embroidery or crazy quilts (not to be confused with stodgy traditional quilts). The long lasting impressions of the most remarkable, wonderful (and slightly odd) chapter book my mom read to me already inspired a blog post. My favorite picture books we read over and over featured the charming mini-adventures of best friends George and Martha by James Marshall. One of my favorite lessons in friendship will always be the pea soup story. The stories are concise, very witty (especially with the illustrations), and resonating, in the way you want kids to relate to hippos learning about life and friendship in sophisticated yet hilarious early-reader vignettes. - Jill, Andrew Heiskell Library
  14. I come from some serious literary stock! My mom, Carol, is an English professor turned college academic advisor in Syracuse, NY. When she's not making sure that all of her "kids" are doing everything they need to in order to graduate, she's meeting with the James Joyce Society of Syracuse--she's been a card-carrying member for 19 years. And I have to give her a special shout-out--on June 1st she is retiring after a lifetime of educational service, so congratulate her if you run into her at Wegmans! - Charlie, Inwood Library
  15. My mother, a children's art teacher, was born in Minot, North Dakota, and spent the last several decades of her life in the small Michigan town where I grew up. She was just about the most avid reader I've ever encountered; I never knew her to be without a book. Her tastes were eclectic, ranging from 18th century English fiction (Smollett was a favorite), to modern British mysteries, to just about anything I might recommend, from Thomas Mann to Swedish noir. Best of all, she read to me, starting almost as soon as I could talk, and I learned to read myself to the sound of her voice, long before I went to school. Late in life she made the acquaintance of the British scholar and translator Barbara Reynolds, who had recently published her verse translation of Lodovico Ariosto's Renaissance extravaganza Orlando Furioso. That book became my mother's greatest enthusiasm. I recall her saying that if she had read it when she was young, it might have changed her life. - Kathie, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
  16. The Little Prince is representative of all things my mom Livia and happens to be the book she holds closest to her heart. A constant source of inspiration, never giving up and maintaining that great balance that is remaining a free spirit while being an "adult," there is hardly a person I can respect more than her. Even with the challenges that life has thrown her, she remains a constant source of not only positivity, but also a confidant, a sage, and a wonderful human. Born and raised in Chicago, she has that Jewish mom care, and an adventurous heart, which can find a source of pleasure in a simple walk or in the depths of her friends and family; she knows the matters of great importance. - Ian, Yorkville Public Library
  17. Another life-long learner and reader, my mother was born and raised in the East End of London. She was a pianist and choral singer, but had been a teacher in England during World War II, one of those responsible for evacuating London children to the country. She was a socialist and made sure that we read the children's books by Fabian Edith Nesbit. My favorite is The Magic City. There is a recent volume of essays about Nesbit that focuses on how she integrated her politics into her children's books. She also started me on reading British mysteries, especially Dorothy L. Sayers Whimsey novels, and tracking down the sources for the quotations that start each chapter and Peter and Harriet's constant references to books and poems. - Barbara, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
  18. My mom's name is Peggy; she was born in Brooklyn in 1937 and is from the "Silent Generation." She contracted polio when she was 13 years old; this was instrumental in the formation of her character. She was a proud homemaker and a true jack-of-all-trades who could put together, repair and install almost anything around the house. She has an innocent, tender heart and is an incurable optimist who always watches the Hallmark Channel. She loves reading anything by Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods and Danielle Steel. She always read to me at night when I was a child. The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone was one of the many books that she had read to me and still sticks out in my mind. She has always read her own novels before going to bed. When I was too old to be read to, I read my own books in the bed right next to hers before going to my own bed in the next room. Even though she and I have different reading tastes, she instilled a love of books and reading in me from an early age by her loving example. - Margaret, St. George Library Center
  19. My mom, Marie also known as Ree, was a NYC public school guidance counselor for over 20 years. Now retired she enjoys spending time reading especially mysteries, thrillers and The Outlander series, going to the theatre, and gardening. She instilled a love of books in me at a very early age when she read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to me and took me on weekly trips to the Bloomingdale branch. My mother also taught me the importance of community and equality, all of which led me to becoming a librarian. My mom is wonderful and I love her. - Annie, Mulberry Street Library
  20. I am very lucky to have two lovely ladies in my life in the role of "mom". My mother, Terri, lives in New Jersey and is a Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Manager. On my 4th birthday, she gave me a copy of Animalia by Graeme Base, which I read (and re-read) on a regular basis. My stepmom, Cecilia, married my dad when I was 10 years old. She lives in Dallas, Texas and is the Parent Coordinator at my brothers' elementary school. She is an avid baker; one of my fondest memories is paging through her extensive cookbook collection and volunteering to be her taste tester. - Amalia, Muhlenberg Library