Step one for a lover of children’s literature is, luckily, the same first step recommended when trying to get published in the childrens market: Read, read, read. This is one time that being a Mama and a writer compliment each other. My children LOVE to read, and happily indulge me with our weekly trips to the library. The library is our happy place, and we are creatures of habit. Parking lot rules. Hold hands to cross the street. Who wants to put the books in the return box? Oh, good, lets read some more of those really poorly written Superhero books. This looks good. Mo Willems section. More Julia Donaldson books? Climb on the fabric mushrooms. Pick your video. And finally—Mama gets to look at all the new titles. I love to see what is being published. It is a good glimpse into the current market, and our library is kind enough to make a big row of “recent” titles (books maintain this designation for quite some time.) This row is conveniently located near the children’s videos. My four year old scans over old Zoboomafoo episodes while my two year old takes every single Dora movie off the shelf. I pour over the new titles and breathe in the scent of fresh ink. I read several pages, look for authors names I might recognize from the Blueboards or a conference, and usually pick out another armful of books. We stumble to the checkout with our arms full, our “library voices” getting a bit louder by now. I know it’s a library, but I am ALWAYS surprised that they let us leave with so much stuff. I sort of feel like I’m getting away with something, and in the back of my mind I am waiting for them to say “no, Ma’am, you’ll need to put some back.” The girls that work the library cafe can see (and hear) us coming, and have our 8 tiny cinnamon rolls packaged before we even order. We love the library. The only thing that would make it better is checking out one of my own books.