For Jess deCourcy Hinds, a a school librarian and freelance writer from Long Island City, back to school means only one thing: handing out 3,500 textbooks and begging students to treat them kindly. She writes in the NYTimes Cityroom blog:
I am still in shock from June, when a parent returned his daughter’s 10th-grade English text. It looked just like its name: “Things Fall Apart.” Ripped and torn, its cover was splattered with tomato sauce, as if it had been shot in the heart. My horrified expression did not register with the student’s father. “Do we owe you anything?” he asked. Flummoxed, I just smiled and issued his daughter full credit for returning her books.
In late August, we educators should be thinking about how to spark students’ love of learning — not peeling bubble gum off books or scrubbing “Macbeth” with the obsessiveness of Lady M. herself.
Since the recession, library use — and book abuse — have skyrocketed. I’ve found younger generations to be avid readers, but as products of the digital age, they don’t always respect the physicality of books. They dog-ear pages with the impulsiveness of clicking a mouse, not realizing that their actions have permanent consequences. Kindle-reading parents may have also forgotten the basics of book care.