The library is now in session! The picture books look good, but the middle grade area needs massive organizing. I’m trying to remain calm despite the chaos. It kills me that I don’t know where every book in the library is, but if we get the automation software I’ll need to take all the books off the shelves to enter them. I refuse to organize the books twice.
Last week I spent the beginning of each class going over the procedures for the library. I went over the usual rules and showed how they apply to our school’s new point-based discipline program. The kids were surprised to learn that the biggest point loss in library fell under the category Disrespect. I’ll take away 3 points–a huge ding on a student’s weekly conduct grade–to any student who makes fun of what another student reads. I had the same lecture for each class, but here’s how it went for 3rd grade, Nico’s class.
“For example,” I said nodding to Nico. “Let’s say Nico’s favorite books to read are princess books.” As predicted, everyone in the class started laughing hysterically. One boy, looking slightly horrified stopped laughing, turned to Nico and said, “Wait…is that true?”
He made my point so perfectly you would have thought I planted him.
By the end of the week I had 16 classes parroting back: There are no girl books or boy books. Just books.
Book covers are important, especially to kids. I’ve noticed that girls like illustrated covers and boys rarely check out books with a female on the cover unless that female is a zombie or demon. It’s just how it is–at least at my school. Which means you could have knocked me over with a feather when the very boy son of a police officer checked out Stepping on the Cracks, a book with a girl in a mint green sweater on the cover.
Sure, it’s Mary Downing Hahn, the queen of middle grade horror, but it’s still a girl with braids wearing a pastel twinset. I’ve tried to sell Mary Downing Hahn before, always focusing on the blood-and-guts potential, but the boys never showed any interest. Maybe my stern lecture had impact and gave this boy confidence to check out a “girl” book? Or, probably, they’re all tired of me harping, “Read the blurb on the back of the book if you want to know what it’s about!”
(Seriously. Reading the blurb on the back is the last resort for kids.)
(And if he read the blurb on the back of the book he knew it’s a book about WWII.)
This week he stormed into the library and, while waving the book, passed my desk and said, “Mrs. Kendall, Hahn is demented! DEMENTED.”
Then he went on and explained the many ways the book was creepy, and spooky, and weird, and made for demented people.
“So…are you getting a different book?”
“Oh, I’m checking it out again,” he said, dropping Stepping on the Cracks on my desk. “I’m totally finishing this one.”
Two other boys checked out Mary Downing Hahn books thanks to him, and later I heard another boy say to him, “OK, so, like, give me break down of the book.”
Less than 10 feet away from them, my heart filled to bursting listening two 10 year old boys talk about books.