You’ve all seen it–the news spot, the magazine article, the concerned newspaper column. Kids these days. Video games and the internet means that they’re not reading!
One of the best parts of my job is that I see a lot of kids who are hugely, passionately excited about books. Let me tell you a (true) story.
A few weeks ago, the staff in the kids’ department at our library couldn’t help but notice that one of our libary patrons had more than a hundred books on hold all come in at once. We don’t charge for holds, unless you don’t come and pick them up within a certain period of time, and a hundred missed holds at $2/book is a not inconsiderable amount of money. The people I work with are awesome. When we checked and found it was a kid’s library card, we called and gave them a heads-up about the Giant Pile O’ Books.
Well, the young lady who had put the books on hold came in the next day with her mom. She got her books–pretty much all generic series books like Animal Ark, Puppy Place, Magic Treehouse, and Bailey School Kids. As we suspected, she had just discovered the joy of placing holds through the online catalogue. (So! Many! Books!) Her mom looked at the stack, and said dryly, “Somebody got a little click-happy. I think we’re going to have to put a household limit of ten at a time.”
But, this particular eight year old was THRILLED. She had brought a pillowcase to carry them home in, and swore up, down and sideways that she was going to read every single one. She left with all hundred-some books, and the world’s biggest grin on her face.
This was a reminder to me of two things.
First, don’t discount the power of series books. Yeah, sure, the repetition and pattern of your standard mass-market kids’ series part of building reading and comprehension skills, and the familiar characters and predictatable plots are reassuring and confidence building. But from a less technical perspective, they get kids hooked (heck, series get adults hooked) and enthusiastic and in love with books.
Also, libraries are seriously awesome. I know, I’m pretty biased on that one, but where else can you get MORE BOOKS THAT YOU CAN CARRY for free? I think I’m going to remember that kid with her pillowcase and giant grin for a long time.