Aside

Back in the Big Chair

I am a teacher who doesn’t teach. That is not to say that I CAN’T teach. I am certified in Elementary Education, have a background in education, music, and literature, and have, in the past, very much enjoyed my time in front of students. I just haven’t ever taken that step to having my own classroom. I haven’t even substituted in about four years.

That Changed yesterday. I woke up severely early (5:03 am to be exact) and rode over an hour with my mother in order to show up at her elementary school and be a third grade teacher.

I’m a bit rusty at the classroom management thing, but I guess I did alright because they have already asked me to come back to the third grade next week! Can I tell you a secret?? I have always said that I don’t like the younger classes…fourth grade was where I did my student teaching and has always held the number one place in my heart. Fourth Grade still rules…but those kids managed to make me admit that I like third graders! I’m still a little amazed at that.

Of course, the librarian also gave me homework. It seems that two of their new books do not have Accelerated Reader tests written for them yet. I am definitely looking forward to both books (written by Oklahoma authors no less!) and, while I’m at it, I might as well write up reviews for you guys…right!?! Hopefully I will be including my books on that homework list soon. Until then, You can check out some other OK authors at http://okwriters.blogspot.com/. Oklahoma Writers & Authors

I actually met one of the authors a few years ago, when he came to read passages from his book Walking the Choctaw Road. If you haven’t read that, or any other, book by Tim Tingle, do yourself a favor and go find it. Mr. Tingle is a storyteller of his people, and is preserving his heritage, and the heritage of a nation, through his extremely well written works. (www.timtingle.com)

I haven’t met or read the other author, but after reading a little about the book, The Bulldogger Club: The Tale of the Ill-Gotten Catfish, and about Barbara Hay (the author) I have decided that I would really enjoy sitting down with this woman who displays such humor! (http://www.barbarahay.com/)

Does it make me more of a nerd to admit that I am super excited to read these? Or is the nerdy part that I am even more excited to make up the comprehension tests that my new ‘kids’ will be taking?

Libraries

My daughter hit a big milestone first today, or at least a big milestone for my family. Today was her first official trip to the local library. Her joy at the abundance of books was slightly dampened for me at her inability to grasp the concept of NOT randomly pulling books off of shelves and scattering them on the floor.

As much as she loved running through the stacks and crawling into the toddler sized chairs, our visit was cut short by a horrible fact…our library no longer stays open past 1 p.m. on Saturdays. There are not enough people visiting the library for them to afford hiring extra help or keeping the doors open. Within the past year they have had to cut their hours back by almost half. And they are still not having the amount of traffic that years past brought them.

A flat screen television, with cable, has been added to the children’s section to try and ‘keep the little ones entertained’, the story teller hour no longer runs throughout the year, and there are currently no community classes scheduled. Are libraries falling by the wayside? Have they begun to outlive their usefulness with the readily available online resources and a more visually centered population?

I would like to think that this is not the case, but the fact of the matter seems to be that children no longer gather at the library. At one point in my middle school career I was a member of three different libraries and checked books out from each on a weekly basis. Now even small children have iPads and Kindles, constant stimulation without having to learn to carefully turn pages or read words without using the computerized aid.

How long will it be before the library becomes just another relic? A historical building with cases lined with holographic representations and little notes telling museum visitors about ‘the olden days’ when people used to flock together to borrow ‘books’ (they were in paper form back then kids!). While we fight in our school systems to keep music and art available for students, we should also be looking to the old gathering centers of town and pass that tradition of knowledge and fun alive. If we don’t, there may soon come a time when a generation has no idea what the word ‘library’ means, unless you’re talking about their music lists.

My weekend challenge for you is to go check out a local library. Make it a family trip or snag your best friend and see if there is a library near you that still has community programs going. While you’re at it, have fun! Check out a book, or two. Read to some kids, some cats, random passerby, and remember when you weren’t so busy that you couldn’t spend a lazy Saturday afternoon perusing the fiction section.

Have a Blessed day and go READ something!

Bibliophile

At one point in my life I owned over one thousand books. When I purchased my first home, the guest room was immediately sacrificed in order to create a library with specialty built-in shelving that I begged my grandfather for before I ever even officially moved. Even after those units were filled to the brim, each room of the house contained at least one shelf stacked with more books of all kinds…and I read them all.

At this point over half of that collection has been given away, donated, or recycled (some were just too far gone to do much else with), but I am always on the lookout for more reading material. In a time when most of the people around me don’t read, or read from a computer screen, many of my friends wonder at my behavior. They think I’m weird (I admit it…I’m weird). I get called a nerd or a geek a lot, though not just because of my reading habits! Since several people have seemed confused lately, let me try to explain.

You see, tablet readers are wonderful for organization and ease. They are convenient and allow for books that would normally be unwieldy, i.e. the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (which weighs more than my fat cat and is bigger than my head), to be carried around without any strained muscles or blocked doorways. But you still have to plug them in.

Additionally, the cold, hard feel of pressed plastics has no give, no softness. The pages do not rustle in breezes or yellow and stain with age. You cannot accidentally drop a bookmark, lose your place, and discover something you missed before. Then there’s the smell. Computer screens smell like dust and popping ions at best, which is to say that there is little to no scent.

Books though..Ah! Books smell like paper and ink and whatever scents that have surrounded them in their ‘shelf life.’ (I have several books that smell of tacos and cinnamon…much more pleasant than it sounds.) Books smell of life. You cannot get that sensory experience online. Scent can trigger memories, the visceral punch of opening a door to the scent of old ink and paper can transport a person back to their first library trip, or that old bookstore they found on vacation. All the computer gives you is a picture.

The thrill of searching free download lists cannot, for me, be equated in any way to the feeling of finding a hidden gem half-buried in a discount thrift bin.  Especially on the trip that sent me to a bookstore across the street from the ocean. Those books smelled like the sea and warm breezes. Maybe I am weird…

I guess that’s just life a bibliophile though. Take a deep breath now…don’t you just love the smell of old books in the morning??

May you, and your electronic device of choice, have a blessed and story filled day!