When my daughter was in first grade, she came home every Monday with a stomachache. I didn’t tumble to the source of said tummy troubles until I shadowed her one day. Here’s what I learned: our sweet, sensitive, creative, book-loving first grader had the school librarian from hell.
Monday was first grade library day. And that time in the library was all about putting the books back EXACTLY where they’d been found and only reading what had been given you by the librarian. And god forbid you get caught touching a book out of your reading ability.
Needless to say, I began volunteering in the library every Monday, doing everything I could (in a kind yet completely subversive way) to counteract the toxic impact of that horrible person who called himself a librarian.
Which leads me to today: the end of this year’s run of the feature I call From the Office of the Future of Reading. Every time I uploaded a post from one of the amazing teachers/librarians who volunteered to share their thoughts in this space, I would sigh: if only. If only. Every single one of the past year’s 80+ guest bloggers would’ve made my daughter’s grade school library experience sheer heaven. If only.
Consider all of the pressures on today’s educators: the push to focus on standardized testing, the pull away from reading aloud; constant criticism of public education along with constant reduction in funds for same. These are merely the tips of the iceberg.
In this past year 80+ busy, overworked and underpaid teachers and librarians stole time from their families to write guest posts for my blog simply because they cared so much about connecting kids with books. These outstanding educators gave up precious free hours to crank out several hundred words about what they’d done to build a community of readers through book clubs, trailers and book-related crafts. I couldn’t offer any payment and yet they stayed up later than was healthy to compose essays that shared their passion for poetry, breakfast book clubs or Skype visits.
The past two years of hosting teachers and librarians on this site have allowed me to sleep more sweetly, more deeply, and with pure unadulterated hope. How could I not with the knowledge that so many great people are working so hard to ensure a nation of readers? A nation of readers who will find the courage to treat others kindly, who will unravel slogans to uncover truth, who will discover that one plus one equals the power to change god-awful circumstances, whether it be sweat shop conditions or gun control laws or disparate opportunities.
So I must honor the past years’ contributors with the truth: I am struggling because I don’t know if I can continue this feature. It requires a lot of time and energy; both quantities that seem in short supply in the Larson household. I’m cogitating about what to do next (ideas and suggestions welcome!!!). Regardless of whether or not this feature, From the Office of the Future of Reading, continues, I know the efforts to protect and energize the future of reading will persist.
I know because I’ve seen what our teachers and librarians can do: Work miracles.
With a full and grateful heart, I sign off for the summer: