For Dr. Dipesh Navsaria's money — what little of it there was back in those medical school days — you can’t beat the UI's Center for Children’s Books.
“As an undergrad in Boston and later as a physician assistant, I had learned a lot about how talking to children and families about the importance of reading together from the first days of life is critical," says the London-born, New York-raised Wisconsin pediatrics professor. "However, I realized I didn’t know all that much about children’s books themselves.
"I had been an English major in college, but we never discussed literature aimed at children. I did some online searching and discovered one of the finest research libraries for children’s literature was a mere two miles from my home near downtown Champaign, at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science — the Center for Children’s Books.
“On a fateful day during my second year of medical school at the U of I, I wandered in and took a look around. This basement location was charming, intimate and filled with so many marvelous books and people who knew so much about them. Somehow, I ended up talking to Curt McKay, assistant dean at GSLIS, and he suggested perhaps I try a class with them.
"I did ... and was hooked. Before I knew it, I was taking time off from medical school to get a master’s in library science, focusing on children’s literature. I got to spend many happy hours in the CCB, immersed in a world of texts aimed at children.
“I did go back to med school promptly to finish up, and have gone on to do much regional and national work in early literacy in children through the lens of general pediatrics. And that’s how I ended up being the only pediatrician I’m aware of with a degree in children’s librarianship.”