Thursday, October 07, 2010

Speaking of Group Books...

Before I put up that post about picking your books, here's another example of how NOT to pick a book, the annual selections of the folks at Read For the Record

"Read For the Record" is a annual event from Jump Start, a leading non-profit organization in early childhood education. The purpose of the event is to raise funds for JumpStart's work with low income preschoolers and to bring publicity to the alarming early literacy crisis in the United States.

Great stuff, huh? On the first Thursday in October celebrities like Patti LaBelle and Amanda Peet, local government officials and just plain librarians and teachers gather nationwide with children and all read the same book.

Just one small problem. The book choices. Here's their first 4:
The Little Engine That Could
The Story of Ferdinand
The Very Hungy Caterpillar

All very nice books. Classics I love. But with the exception of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", not books that I would want to read to a crowd of kids.  And I'm an experienced reader!

Let's look at "Ferdinand"--and if you haven't you should, BTW. It's a lovely old fashioned book with black and white illustrations, about a bull that wants to sit and sniff the flowers, but is accidentally thought to be fierce enough to enter the bullfighting ring. It's a great book to read to a 4 or 5 year old in your lap, and a personal favorite of mine, but has none of the qualities I'd look for in a group read. Same for "Corduroy" and "The Little Engine"--complicated stories, beautiful artistic illustrations which won't pop for a large group, etc.

Now imagine being a celebrity, inexperienced in reading to groups, perhaps even to your own kids, perhaps not even HAVING your own kids, perhaps not being that literate yourself, and having to read this gem (and I LOVE this book) to a large group of wiggly preschoolers who are going to be distracted enough by the adults come to see the celebrity, photographers, and the general interruption of their normal school day in October, still very early in the school year!

I tried to find out who is picking these books. I've looked at the advisory boards JumpStart has in NYC and Chicago and while they're filled with writers, childhood educators, etcetera, I don't see one durned librarian. No mention of the New York Public Library in any form, and merely a notice that "Read for the Record" is being done today at branches of Chicago Public Library.

Am I doing "Read For the Record" this year?  I had a preschool visit this morning and have a preschool story hour this afternoon.

And this year's choice is actually a very nice book for a group read. It's even available in a "big book" version that I own. It's a classic that I've read for years at programs.

But not on October 7. This year's choice?

Sorry, folks. If you'd done "Whistle For Willie", I might have gone for it. Made it part of a neat dog program, especially in this town, where dogs rule.




Anonymous said...

Oh, God. Yesterday I stood there in front of just 9 girls ages 7 & 8 and almost lost them because there was a drawing of a toilet on the hand out talking about when to wash your hands. I concluded with the admonishment that they'd better wash their hands as often as they said "poopy-doopy" or variations during the Brownie meeting. Keeping it simple is really the only way to go with groups of children.

The Library Lady said...

Bless you and all the other Brownie moms out there :D

Saints and Spinners said...

De: You made me laugh. Thank you.