Reader Profiles

Reader Profile – Beth Larter

Beth Larter in front of the Arnett Branch of the Rochester Public Library. Photo by Quajay Donnell.

Beth Larter is a public elementary school librarian who has been a loyal library visitor since well before she learned how to read. She is passionate about education and the Rochester community. Her favorite activities outside of school include taking pictures on her film camera, rock climbing, and spending time with her family.

What character or author would be the librarian in your personal literary paradise?

I would want a library that had been created by the author Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who was one of the funniest and most insightful authors I have read and also had an incredible gift for seeing and developing the best parts of the people who knew her. I think she would develop a really wonderful and fun collection.

As a school librarian, do you have books that you recommend again and again to kids?

Every kid is so different, so the books I recommend are also really different. But one book I recommend a lot to my students who like graphic novels is the book New Kid by Jerry Craft. I also like to recommend one of my personal favorites from when I was younger, Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine.

Do you ever judge a book by its cover? What attracts you to a cover?

I absolutely judge a book by its cover– if the cover is a really good one. I am extremely impressed by the cover design artists who can capture the mood and themes of a book. It’s really the mood that the cover communicates that attracts me to a book.

What is the funniest book you ever read?

I think the Squirrel Girl comics by Ryan North were some of the funniest books I’ve ever read. The characters are delightful and almost every page has extra funny details tucked into the footnotes.

How do you get a reluctant reader to pick up a book and read?

I think most of the time readers are reluctant because either they struggle with reading, or they haven’t found something that they like, or both. So sometimes it’s a matter of figuring out what is causing the reluctance. For me, I’m thinking a lot about this when I’m purchasing books for the library. I try to have a wide selection of books about specific topics I know my students are interested in that are written at an accessible reading level. I also try to give students a platform to share what they are reading, because reluctant readers are often more likely to listen to their peers when they recommend a book.

You’re also a photographer. Does reading influence your camera work?

I never thought about the connection! But, yes, I think the two passions influence each other. Both reading and photography require a level of intentionality and focus. It’s choosing to block out time, and distractions, and be present with the story or the image. I find both activities really helpful for me mentally, to give myself a chance to slow down and connect with the world and with myself as a person.

What was the last book you read that challenged your world view?

Last summer, I was reading Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West around the same time I listened to the podcast This Land hosted by Rebecca Nagle. And that combination made me aware of how little I really understood land sovereignty and the ongoing fight for recognition of the full status & rights of Native people in the United States.

What book would you recommend to heal a broken heart?

I think it depends if you want to sit with the sadness or escape from it. There is room for both in the healing process. One of my favorites for sitting with the sadness (but with still an element of hope) is the book Persuasion, by Jane Austen. Jane Austen captures really beautifully in that book the specific pain of mourning what might have been. For trying to still see the good in the world while experiencing personal pain, I would recommend The Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, by Ross Gay.

What is a favorite quote from a book?

“You can’t see the future coming– not the terrors, for sure, but you also can’t see the wonders that are coming, the moments of light-soaked joy that await each of us.” – John Green, The Anthropocene Reviewed

If you had a Narnia closet, what literary world would it lead to and what’s the first thing you would do there?

My college roommate wrote an incredible series that reimagined Pride and Prejudice as a fantasy called the Heartstone trilogy. I would love to have a Narnia closet where I could see her vision come to life. The first thing I would do is probably get a ride on a dragon.

You’re on a dating app and all your matches are literary characters. Who do you select?

Mr. Bingley from Pride and Prejudice 🙂

In your opinion, what books should win the Newbery and Caldecott medals this year?

My students in our school’s version of the Caldecott for this year selected Gibberish by Young Vo, so I would have to agree with their decision for that one. For the Newbery, I would pick Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas.

NOTE: The 2023 Newbery went to Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson and the Caldecott went to Hot Dog by Doug Salati.

Thank you, Beth, for sharing your reading with us!

If you are a Reader and would like to do a profile with me, contact me at patricia.uttaro @