Thursday, September 25, 2008

On the Job Sites

My job sites are school libraries of the K-5 variety, and I've been learning a lot about K-5 students. Things that I never would have thought about when I was going to school a lifetime ago (well, it sure feels like a lifetime ago to someone over the quarter-century mark). I still get self-conscious when someone makes a comment of my lack of height thereof - even if that someone is in second or third grade, and they really don't mean anything by it. There were dozens of books, written during and before my time, that I totally missed because I was already reading adult works by the time I was twelve or thirteen. (That's just my own sense of weirdness, I guess)
As the Authority at these libraries, I want very much to get the kids reading quality material, but that's hard to do when some of the kids' comprehension is lower than mine was at that age. I keep forgetting that Captain Underpants is a much bigger hit than Harry Potter for these kids. The teachers of fourth and fifth grade at these schools are forever bringing me down to earth (me and my hopes) when they politely insist I skip chapter books and just stick to reading picture books to the kids. I can't help but believe that reading a picture book insults these older kids. I've been able to get a chapter book started at one of the schools, but only because each chapter is like a short story and each of these chapters is funny.
Humour works - whatever works, of course, and while I champion guys like Dav Pilkey for coming out with really funny stuff, I would love to see the older grades taking up Lemony Snicket more often. Meanwhile, I have started introducing a Canadian writer or illustrator every month to the staff and students at one of the schools I work at. October is Barbara Reid (I just chose her because I love her artwork - I didn't choose her because some chart or expert suggested her). If you ever get a chance to read 'Fox walked alone', 'Peg and the Yeti', or 'Gifts', I promise that you will not be disappointed.
Well, I guess I should climb off my soapbox for another day. Tomorrow is Terry Fox Day! In pace, good runner.

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