February 16, 2018

Cheri Estes | Movers & Shakers 2002

Who Needs the Lottery?

Working with the classroom teacher and the kids

Looking back, Cheri Estes thinks she was always meant to be a librarian: she was one of those kids who helped the librarians at school and arranged her own books in alphabetical order with little check-out cards and pockets. She went in a different direction in college and ended up in a job she didn’t much like. When she was casting about for a new career, her father-in-law, a librarian, suggested she should get an MLS. She’s never stopped being grateful to him.

Estes fell in love with children’s literature on her first day in library school and became a children’s librarian, first at a public library and then at the Detroit Country Day Middle School. She enjoys working with the teachers to prepare “one-stop shopping” research sites for class projects such as “attic archaeology.”


Current position: Media Specialist, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills,

Degree: MSLS, University of Kentucky, 1992; has begun a doctoral program in reading

Active in: Association for Library Service to Children, American Association of School Librarians, Reviewer, School Library Journal

Web site: stargazer.dcds.edu

Even more, she loves getting her ten- to 14-year-olds excited about reading and learning. It’s harder these days to get students to use print resources, especially since Estes’s school has provided laptops and ubiquitous Internet connections for every child, but she’s gotten them reading by building the library collection, sponsoring book fairs, giving book talks, and bringing in authors to talk to her students. It doesn’t hurt that, as both a member of the Caldecott Committee and a frequent reviewer for School Library Journal, she gets a lot of neat books.

Estes’s work is widely known and respected, so she is frequently invited to speak at local and national conferences about various curriculum projects she’s developed, about “censorship and selection,” about award-winning children’s books, and about integrating technology like laptops into the curriculum.

The only way her job could be better, she says, is if she still had some adoring little kids around, like she did in the public library. Even without that, though, she’sure that if she won the lottery today, she’ still be back at work tomorrow, doing what she loves.