True Story: I remember getting my library card more vividly than I recall getting my driver’s license. My best memories of childhood were going to the library with my mom and checking out armfuls of books, which she would read to me for hours on end. At two, I am told, I would stand on tiptoe at the librarian’s desk and request favorites or authors (I didn’t know why the lady laughed at me. I guess most toddlers weren’t as particular.) I would rather go to the library than the movies, or the park, or anywhere else. Still true. The libraries I recall were nothing fancy. Maybe some bulletin boards heralding an upcoming holiday or new books perched half-open, standing on top of shelves. Of course in 197…(cough, cough), there were not nearly as many ways for a child to be entertained. The television had four channels (as God intended): ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. Cartoons were from 7am to 10am, period. No LOL cats, no Youtube…. I like to scare my son with these tidbits. Today, libraries are competing to keep your child reading and finding some interesting ways to do so, by engaging the imagination. Here are a few of my favorite new spaces, and some words from others who continue to love libraries:
Last night I attended Parent-Teacher night with my eighth grade son. It was depressing.
For two hours, I, my son, and several hundred other parents were herded from classroom to classroom where we were introduced to the variety of TEKS tests our children would endure this year. TEKS, the acronym for the assessment “Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills,” will measure students’ ability to take tests. Honestly, that’s what it boils down to. The four areas of “knowledge” they will assess are math, science, history, and social studies. Writing, and critical thinking, apparently, are not deemed “essential.”
Now, I realize teachers only have ten minutes to address each class. They were dead tired, as was I. But you know, in each ten minute session, ALL I heard was due dates for tests and the breakdown of grades. In not a single class was there any excitement about the curriculum, no discussion of new ideas or interesting projects… nothing.
10. Patron: If I was feeling particularly existentialist, what book would you recommend for me?
9. Patron: Hi. I’m looking for a book called Bay Wolves. Can you help me find it?
Me: Sure, let me look it up for you… Hmmm, sorry we don’t have any books by that name. Do you know the author’s name, maybe?
Patron: No, but I think it’s spelled kind of weird, like B-E-O… wolves.
Me: …Do you mean Beowulf?
8. Patron: Can you help me find the Law Library?
Me: [pulls out a map] The Law Library is right here. You just walk down this street, turn this corner, and you’ll be there.
Patron: Thanks, hopefully they’ll have a book about Newton’s Laws.
Me: Uh, maybe you’re looking for the Physics Library instead…?
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Jane Eyre (174 pages)
Things Fall Apart (85 pages)
Death of a Salesman (47 pages)
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The Hunger Games (26 pages)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (20 pages)
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Red Balloon is a private school in Brazil designed to help Portuguese and Spanish-speaking children become fluent in English. The faculty came up with an innovative idea to engage kids AND help them learn. They encouraged the children to follow their favorite celebrities on Twitter and then tweet them back, correcting their often egregious spelling errors.
Here are a few of the best recent Celebrity Shamings:
This summer the Los Angeles based Troubadour Theater Company is reprising its role as masters of the Shakespearean mash up. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you A Midsummer Saturday Night’s Fever Dream.
You may have guessed it, though you might not believe it: one theater company has poured all the funk, bellbottoms, and embarrassing dance moves of 70s disco into the world’s most timeless romantic comedy ever to be written in iambic pentameter. But lest you think this is a joke, you should know that the Troubies (as they’re affectionately known round these parts) are old hands at the genre. After all, these are the folks who brought you…
OthE.L.O., Fleetwood Macbeth, As U2 Like It, and every actor’s dream Hamlet, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince of Denmark