Take Anything You Want, But Leave Me My Books!

I have always been a reader. I read books over watching TV (mainly because our rural internet is trash). I listen to audio books. When I scroll through Instagram, I am looking at other people’s books and dreaming of little bookstores all over the world. It’s what I love. Books and reading. I work in a school library right now, so I read to kids everyday. I love it. Most of the time.

The other day, a grade eight student came running up to me at recess to tell me about a book she’s reading. She was so excited, and later, when we were back inside the school, she pulled it from her desk to show me. She was TOTALLY into it and just couldn’t stop until I agreed that I’d read it too. Her excitement over a book she is reading for novel study TOTALLY made my day. Mostly, because I rarely get this reaction out of the students her age.

I am constantly trying to “sell” books to kids, especially the older ones who have a phone glued to their hands every moment of their lives. Now that I lug books to each classroom (Thanks Covid!) my job has become a sort of freak show in which I dance around trying to get kids to want to read the book I’m holding. If I relied on catalogue holds, I would have zero circulation, because they do not read for fun and will admit this to me with a smile. *shrieks of horror* With weeks of doing this under my belt now, I am pretty good at selecting books for each kid based on their interests. I take a lot of notes, and remember a lot of things so I can be prepared for 16 classes a week. I do have favourite classes of course, so if I focus on them, I can say that I LOVE what I do. Example: One of my classes is hardcore into non fiction books. I have such a great time preparing their bin every week because I can always find books hidden away that they haven’t seen before. Each week I highlight one of the sections in the dewey decimal and show them cool books from the Call Number of the Week. They also love being read to and ask for that every single week. They are BOMB!

Here comes the ranty part. The whole lets focus on technology and make sure the kids are always entertained by flashing lights and images part of my job. Books are boring. Reading isn’t fun unless it’s interactive. With my older classes I don’t get to read picture books or classic stories like Bunicula (I dare you to say you don’t love that book!). I often play trivia games, listen to podcasts and work on coding games. I’m not going to lie, I almost fell down when I was told last year I should do coding activities. I was like wait, what? 1. Not a teacher. 2. What does coding have to do with reading books? I’m lost. But, I adapt well so, fine. Whatever I’m supposed to do, I’ll do well. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying, what ever happened to reading? I mean, really… I am actually shocked by how few books these kids read. They don’t know half of the books I suggest to them. No idea. Sometimes they’ll blurt out things like, “Isn’t that a movie!!” Ha! Except, it’s kinda not that funny. It’s a little bit sad. Isn’t it?

I get that technology is the way of the future, blah blah blah. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t learn how to code (What the hell does that even mean anyway? I still haven’t figured it out), that they shouldn’t be proficient in computers and smart phones and all that jazz. They totally should. Life skills, I get it. But here’s a skill I think they need. The ability to sit with pages of words and use their imagination to bring stories to life. That is an important life skill. I don’t remember a lot of my school teachers’ names, or the name of the boy who always sat beside me and picked his nose for the entire story time. But I DO remember the absolute mind explosion of imagining that little mouse riding around on a motorcycle. I remember pretending I was a pioneer for a solid year after devouring the Little House on the Prairie series. I remember the magic of those stories.

Entering codes into a computer to make characters move… That’s cool. Turning words on a page into a vision in your mind – WAY COOLER!

I can’t wait to see that student this week. I read the book that she suggested, and I loved it just as much as she said I would. But what I think I loved most, was her excitement over that old and ratty book out of a dusty novel kit. It might not have moving parts or flashing screens, but it got her. I hope as she grows up, she finds more and more stories that give her that same feeling of excitement, happiness… MAGIC!