Joy in the School Library…

Library day for Kindergarten A.  I, for one, am stoked.  Library day is every third Monday, and it is a twenty minute interlude from the hectic pace of life in the zoo. It is the gift that keeps on giving.  When library day comes, we all get to escape the confines of the classroom, head down the hall, single file- touching the wall as we go so that stragglers do not get side-tracked or lost in the corridors, then walk (no running! for goodness sake) directly towards the two sets of stairs that lead ever upwards to that greatest of rooms.  The Library.  Or as we say in Kindergarten, the Lie-berry.

I love the library.  And not just for its very special purpose of allowing teachers and students an escape (literally and figuratively).  The library is a place where dreams come alive and connections are made.  At least it is suppose to be that way in all the workshops on literacy and texts teachers read on the same.  The library experience opens doors and windows- allows students choice of text and freedom to take risks.  It helps students become independent readers.  It provides an opportunity for readers to discover books they might never stumble upon otherwise.  It is one of the most underrated time blocks in our schedule, but to all those who think it a waste I say this: What’s not to love?

Today, we are not allowed to check out books.  This is a bummer, but I am creatively (yet somewhat desperately) trying to figure out a way to extend our time block, as normally it takes twenty minutes to find everyone a book, re-shelve the dozens of books that everyone thought they wanted but now look too boring, then take the books that make it onto the interesting list and in turn, get these latter books checked out for home by Ms. O.  That’s Ms. Olscamp, our coolest of cool, school librarian.

Ms. O reads us a book after check-in and check-outs are over.  Today she is reading a very funny book that I selected from our classroom collection of ocean-life books, about a giant squid.  Everyone laughs hysterically at the little squid who thinks he is the biggest fish in the ocean.  I am wondering exactly how long is this book?  And who thought of such a ridiculous story line?  But it works, and the children are engaged.

After the story is over, Ms. O suggests that everyone take notice of her very colourful book display to promote summer reading, behind which she has carefully (perhaps painstakingly?) cut out and pasted the following slogan: Dive into Reading.  On it, there is a cut-out of very enthusiastic diver propelling himself into an invisible pool below the display which leaves much to the observer’s imagination.  And this folks, is exactly what reading is all about.  I am trying to get the students excited about the connotations that this display suggests and I ask them leading questions.  What do you think this means, boys and girls?  What is the diver DIVING into?  No one is really paying attention to me now that the giant squid story is over, and I make a last ditch effort to make a connection.

Who is going to read a book over the summer? I ask sweetly, thinking that Ms. O. will at the very least be encouraged by the many hands that will undoubtedly rise upwards in an affirmative to the prompt.

Instead, a little one says to me with as much swag as she can muster, “I’m NOT reading a book over the summer.”

Undeterred, I forge on.  If this is the last battle I win today, I will come out victorious.

Well then, who is going to try to make it to the library this summer to read some new books?” I say, plunging in over my head as does this little paper diver behind me on the presentation board promoting reading.  I look around pleadingly for one little hand to raise, one little voice to chime in that they will indeed be visiting our public library system even once this summer.

Nada.  Instead I get a look that insinuates I might have just grown a third head.  I must be dreaming this all up.  The two closest kindergarteners look me boldly right in the eye and then declare that the library is the last place on earth they are going to be heading in the upcoming two months of Island summer.

“I am NOT going to a library this summer.

Yeah, me neither.”

I am about to blow a gasket.  Meanwhile, the children head to line up at the door, and as I try to collect myself, I notice that the only thing the children are truly interested in right this very minute is securing a front position in our line-up: for two of them are nearly about to come to blows over who should stand first and who should follow.  I desperately try to resume decorum, and insist on the children thanking Ms. O. for her most generous spirit in allowing KA this memorable experience.

And to Ms. O, if she happens to be reading my blog tonight, I can assure you this.  When KA graces the hallowed walls of the library, know that it is for this very reason: We’re here for a good time, not a long time.  And I am sure that must be a relief.