Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Reading kids

I have always enjoyed providing kids with books they WANT to read. I am fascinated by the different sorts of young readers that come through the door.

There are the "nonfiction" kids who just want to learn everything in the world about their favorite subject. They are the "just the facts" readers.
Some subsets of this category include the animal lovers who will read every book on the shelf about horses, dogs, cats (domestic and wild,) orcas, bats, snakes, sharks, hamsters, ... ... ...

Another group includes the disaster readers. Provide them a book about tornados, earthquakes, storms (with or without lightning,) the Titanic or the Hindenburg and you have a happy reading camper.

The hands-on readers want the drawing and origami how-to books, the paper airplane books and the books on codes. They also often read the books on skateboarding moves and other sports.

The puzzlers love riddle books, Walter Wick's I Spy series, and joke books. I often see crossovers between the hands-on kids and the puzzlers.

Another group are the mythology/folktale/fairy tale readers. The lush illustrations of K.Y. Craft's books, ghost stories, the D'Aulaires Greek Myths, dragon stories, princess tales, humorous Coyote and Anansi stories pull these students into their imaginative worlds.

Poetry readers
will recheck Shel Silverstein or Douglas Florian or Jack Prelutsky over and over and over and over again.

History fans love biographies, books about the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Alamo, and 9-11. These historians often branch out to books about the armed forces and tanks, planes and ships.

On the "fiction" side there are the comfort readers who will seek the familiar novel that their teacher just finished reading to them. I am always so grateful to the teacher who brought the book to life so wonderfully that they want to read it again for themselves.

The pioneers will bravely try a new book (sometimes just on the librarian's say so) knowing that if they do not like it, they can bring it back. To try a vintage well worn copy of The Gammage Cup takes leap of faith sometimes. Oh, I hope those guys like that book...

Picture book fans know that great stories can be told in 32 pages. Parents often worry that their son or daughter has not graduated to "chapter books" or novels and may need assurance that picture books are not really "easy." Hand them Pink and Say or Language of the Doves and a box of tissues. They will get it.

The ones I know will probably be lifelong readers are the series kids. They have found a series they love, work through it and await the next volume. It may be The Magic Treehouse, A Series of Unfortunate Events, or maybe Lizzie McGuire. These readers know the characters before they pick up the book and can dive right into the mystery. They already know the back story.

It has been explained to them but sometimes school administrators do not understand that their school's test scores are going to be in the dumper without a well supported library program. Many of our children never get to a public library. Their school library is where they go for help when they find a baby bird or need a kid friendly cookbook.

This is the one place in school where students can explore their own ever changing interests. Children have to find themselves on the shelves of their school library. That is what makes school librarianship such a challenge and so much fun!

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