A Tribute to Ruth Gordon
Ruth Gordon, a longtime member of the Association of Children’s Librarian’s of Northern California, died on July 18, 2016 at her home in Cloverdale, CA after a brief illness. Known to many by her online nickname “Big Grandma,” Ruth was a mentor to many ACL reviewers, offering advice on objective, critical analysis. In fact, one of her main tips was to avoid using the phrase “I loved that book!” since that was such a barrier to discussion.
Ruth Gordon was also very active in the American Library Association, serving on their council for many years. She also served on several award committees, and often recommended ACL members to spots on award committees of the Association of Library Service to Children, a division of ALA. She believed the training ACL members receive in reviewing and discussing books, especially those nominated for our Distinguished Books lists, were helpful in preparing librarians for award committees.
Her frank and uncensored comments on various listservs often caused controversy but are still remembered by many for motivating discussions of tough issues. She would not shy away from discussing any issue related to children and books, including the impact of poverty, racism, sexism, the lack of school librarians, and other things that influenced children and their books. She was just as well-known for her sense of humor, offering a quip at just the right time.
A long-time school librarian, Ruth Gordon was also a published author of folktales and poetry collections. Her books included the poetry anthologies Pierced by a Ray of Sun: Poems about the Times We Feel Alone (HarperCollins, 1995), Peeling the Onion (HarperCollins, 1993), and Time Is the Longest Distance (HarperCollins, 1991), as well as the folktale Feathers, illustrated by Lydia Dabcovich, (Simon & Schuster, 1993).