Friday, March 2, 2007

This is Why

I just made myself cry reading a book aloud to some of my students. It was "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane", by Kate Dicamillo, and if you haven't read it, YOU SHOULD.

I like many components of my job as a library media specialist in an elementary school.

I love the whole technology component, much of which didn't even exist when I started working as a librarian back in the stone age. Even checking out books using a computer was just a glimmer in some future-thinking librarian's eye back then. Web pages? (What's an Internet?) Projectors hooked to a computer that sat on your desk? Blogs? Wikis? Spam? Even email was actually called Electronic Mail at first and we were all intimidated by the very idea of sending mail on the computer.

I love working with kids. I love that ah-ha moment that occurs with them every now and then, that spark which ignites a love of reading, that connection when you match them with just the right book.

I love books. All kind of books. Kid's books. Grown-up books. books of every genre. I love to look at them, to smell them, to feel them, to read them. And when I get a new book order? And I can open all the boxes and spread them out and pick ANY ONE I WANT to read? That's better than Christmas and my birthday combined.

I love working with truly dedicated teachers who care about what they are doing and know it is the most important job in the world. And show it every single day.

But the best part. The very best part. Is reading a really good book to the kids.

I love to make them laugh out loud with delight. I love to make them put their hand over their mouth in suspense. I love to make them so involved in the story that they sit mesmerized, spellbound, in the thrall of the tale. And I like to make them sad. That may sound cruel. But I like to make them think, make them talk, make them appreciate what they have, make them put themselves into someone else's life for an instant.

I don't often cry when I read to them. But it was a small group. We were totally into Edward's adventures. It was the end of the book and he was in the doll shop when someone came in to choose him. I could tell a couple of the students guessed what was going to happen because they leaned forward, obviously excited. I shook my head at them not to tell the others. When I finished the last sentence, my eyes filled with tears. The kids sat silently thinking. One of the girls leaned forward spontaneously and put her hand on my knee in kindred sympathy and shared joy.

This is why I am a librarian. This moment.


sarah said...

I actually remember the joy of being read to as a child. I remember in elementry school how you would work your way through a book and each day you had something to look forward to. The ones I remember the most are "Where the Red Furn Grows" and "Tuck Everlasting". Reading to children truly does make a difference in how they will view books and reading for the rest of thier lives.

Anonymous said...

I love every word of this post. It described how I too feel about sharing wonderful stories with my students.

I cried at the end of Edward's story. The sixth grade teacher across the hall from me cried as she read that last chapter to her class. My 5th grade daughter sat an entire Saturday while I read that story out loud to her so we could share it together. Moments like that are priceless.

Anonymous said...

I looked out at the faces when the little girl died and they already loved her. And when Edward got his head broken, one of the little boys sitting practically in my lap said, "But, how can there be anymore of the book?" And they had to wait until the next day to find out. Have you read The Minpins to kids? It is my very favorite first book that is mostly words for 1st graders. I love Roald Dahl Can I be Your Bestest Friend?

Anonymous said...

Well! I just thoroughly enjoyed reading your blogs, Jan. You are quite the writer! And I look forward to checking out Invisible Lives. Thanks for the day brightener!

Lucy's Mom said...

You are truly making an impact on those children. I am in my 60's and I remember, oh so clearly, the kindergarten teacher who taught me to read. Miss McKibben. I am sure she has long gone to her eternal rest, but she will live as an icon in my mind forever. So will you live in your students minds as you have taught them the love of reading. You are a wonderful teacher dear sister.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog! I think you should publish - maybe you will be the NEXT Erma Brombeck!

I am a retired librarian but your essay THIS IS WHY brought tears to my eyes. I still do a little sub. work in libraries for this very reason - that connection when kids tell you how much they love a particular book or enjoy something you have shared with them. Even though I LOVE retirement, I stay in touch with my fellow librarians to keep up with the ever-changing world of books. I get many good ideas of what to purchase next for my 3-yr.old granddaughter's book collection. She loves to READ!!!

Thanks for the blog and keep it coming!!!! Sandra