Miss Moore Thought Otherwise

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children

By Jan Pinborough; illus. by Debby Atwell

(Houghton Mifflin, 2013; ages 6-9)

“Once in a big house in Limerick, Maine, there lived a little girl name Annie Carroll Moore. She had large gray eyes, seven older brothers, and ideas of her own.”


Summary—At first glance, Miss Moore Thought Otherwise might seem simply a charming story about a woman of the latter 19th century who ushers in the age of libraries for children. But in fact, this picture book biography shows us a strong single woman busting both gender and age stereotypes left and right.

Themes: Biography, History, Jobs, Reading

“A is for Aging” Book Review–

“In the 1870’s many people believed a girl should stay inside and do quiet things such as sewing and embroidery.” But from the outset we learn that “Annie thought otherwise.” She loves wild toboggan rides, but also reading. Back then even reading was not considered important for girls, and children were not allowed inside libraries!

In this day and age in America—we often urge girls to believe they can do anything and be anything. Sometimes it’s hard to remember the unwritten rules girls lived by. But many girls around the world continue to live under the strictures of what girls cannot do. Many are not even permitted to attend school.

3ce4f5a5-739c-4030-8d20-4b3fd316ba06As an unmarried woman of 19, Anne Carroll Moore should have “kept house for her parents, or perhaps become a teacher or a missionary. “But Annie thought otherwise.” She began studying to become a lawyer.

When both parents and her brother’s wife die from the flu she cares for her young nieces for a time. Then again she bucks the expectations of a young woman on her own and heads to Brooklyn, NY, to study to become a librarian. Lovely folk art style illustrations by Debby Atwell highlight the excitement of the big city.

“Some libraries were beginning to let children come inside, but Annie’s library had something brand new—a library room planned just for children.” She does such a fine job that she is put in charge of the children’s sections in all branches of the NYC Public Library. Gradually Annie changes policies and children are allowed to not only touch the books, but take them home. (Imagine!)


“She urged the librarians to take down the SILENCE signs and spend time talking with children and telling them stories.” Annie even began to “encourage book publishers to publish better children’s books.” Many libraries still allocated little space and few books to kids.


Annie’s real vision came to fruition with the grand new library on Fifth Avenue and Forty-Second Street. A large sunny room filled with child-size tables and chairs and artwork on the walls. “Hundreds of new children’s books in many languages waited within reach.”8e532474-3a3b-4224-8d0c-c85bc79120ed



Even authors like Dr. Seuss entertained the kids.

9780394800165Read a short bio of Dr. Seuss.

Link to fun video read-aloud of Green Eggs and Ham.


Positive Aging!

And now we get to the juicy part (for me!), because her story does not end there—

“When Miss Moore turned seventy years old, it was time for her to retire.

Some people thought she should sit quietly at home. But Miss Moore thought otherwise.

ae692566-62af-436b-bbeb-0597fdf5e093Her friends at the library gave her a set of luggage…and she traveled across the country, teaching more people how to make good libraries for children.”

Ok, so she was forced to retire, BUT she then became a consultant! In her seventies! I love it.

Picture book bios that showcase a long life well-lived always make me happy. And in Miss Moore Thought Otherwise we are treated to gender stereotype-busting and a positive aging message.

nanasmall“Real life does not end at age 21…” I think Annie would agree with a publication titled Teaching about Aging, intended as a call to action for teachers and librarians from AARP. The goal is to help children “develop realistic and balanced attitudes, which see aging as a lifelong process.”

Did you know? “…young children often hold positive attitudes of their grandparents, but they do not* transfer their positive attitudes of grandparents to older people in general.” (*The underlining is mine.)

Recently awarded the Newbery and Caldecott

Recently awarded the Newbery and Caldecott

And more from an AARP research study using drawings from over 400 elementary students…

“Generalized images of aging among young people are typically negative. They perceive growing older as a process of decline, without potential for growth and fulfillment.”

Well! Miss Moore thought otherwise!


It’s time to modernize our attitudes to what constitutes appropriate older characters. Perhaps we should recall that times have changed, “What we [now] view as racist or sexist was at one time often accepted with little question.”


“Myths and stereotypes are transmitted from one generation to another in our language, humor, literature, and media…”

Let’s stop perpetuating the untruths about growing older and give kids something to look forward to after age 21.

9780375869440Activity: “Replace ageist children’s books with books that provide a balanced view of aging and older people.” –A Language Arts activity suggested in Teaching about Aging.

Involve kids in building a book collection including Positive Aging picture books.

Find “Positive Aging picture books” listed here and watch this blog for ongoing additions. You can sign up at top of page for posts via email just 1-2x/month.

For more on Miss Moore, visit this link.

Perfect-Pic-Book-BadgeThis post is part of Perfect Picture Book Friday. Find more at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

I reviewed a library copy of this book. To find or purchase a copy, go to Worldcat.org.

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10 Responses to Miss Moore Thought Otherwise

  1. I came across this book last year and quite enjoyed it! I think it’s time to check it out again.

    • lindseymcd says:

      It’s a “quiet” book isn’t it Leslie? But the more I looked at it, the more I came away with powerful messages. Thanks for your comment.

  2. I have never heard about the accomplishments of Miss Moore. What an inspiring book for children. I love how she encouraged publishers to publish more books for kids — an early champion! Her passion is important for kids to see. And, the fact she traveled the country at age 70 to consult on libraries. This is a treasure. Excellent choice of resources and pairing of books.

    • lindseymcd says:

      I so appreciate your kind comment Patricia! Miss Moore is such an excellent role model for kids in so many ways–as you say, her passion, and her accomplishments over a long life inspires us at all ages.

  3. Joanna says:

    What a terrific review, and a new book for me. I love this suggestion as an introduction to kids on the topic of aging and your suggested accompanying reading is excellent.

    • lindseymcd says:

      Thanks so much Joanna! This book is ideal for showing kids the benefits of living a long life I think.

  4. Lindsey…a giant big thank you for putting this book up for PPBF…I had never heard of it…and as a lover of libraries, I can’t wait to read it! WOW…three cheers for Miss Moore!

  5. Thank you, Lindsey! I’m really glad to learn about this book and about Anne Carroll Moore and about this bit of history. I have decades of happy memories in children’s sections of libraries.

    • lindseymcd says:

      As do I Karin! The happiest of times holed up in the corner of the children’s room of the library! Imagine being denied that. Thanks for your comment!

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