This summer I am staying home to care for a very ill family member. As a result, I’m catching up with my reading (okay, I will never catch up because I’m a librarian for crying out loud). I’m reading technical titles, as well as the fun stuff.
Yesterday I walked to my public library, just 4 blocks from my house. The summer heat was especially cruel, and I dawdled in the library because I just love that blast of arctic air from the air-conditioning.
I was chatting with one of the librarians who works there. He knows I am a school librarian. He reminisced how his high- school librarian used to let him borrow stacks of books. No questions asked. He also told me how some other school librarians used to discourage him from borrowing “fun” books because they knew he had to complete his assignments and his assigned readings.
This reminds me how, during the school year, some of my students are hassled by their reading teachers because they were borrowing the “wrong” books: books that were too easy, books that didn’t have enough pages, books that lacked chapters, books that were the wrong genre, etc.
At first I tried to play nice. I was new in the school building and didn’t want to get any teachers mad at me. But now I see what a huge disservice I was doing to my young library patrons.
That was four years ago.
Now, any time a child comes to my school library to borrow a book, he can borrow whatever he wants to read. If there is an assignment, he can borrow a second book to fulfill his assigned reading. I’ll then share a few strategies about time management, in hopes the child will somehow find time to read BOTH books. I also try to empower my students by telling them they have a RIGHT to fun reading. All school librarians need to advocate this.
I notice some teachers who frown at me, but oh well. Children have a right to enjoy fun and light reading just as much as adults do. When students skim through a fun and/or an easy read, they are keeping the brain well-greased for the heavier content reading (Stephen Krashen). The same applies to me this summer: If I don’t allow myself to read fast fun books in between the technical books, I would go nuts get absolutely nothing done.
Oh and by the way, do you know what reading material I see lying around in my school’s staff lounge? Tabloids and magazines. Go figure.