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"My father and his eight siblings grew up in the kind of poverty that America doesn’t like to talk about unless something like Katrina happens, and then the conversation only lasts as long as the news cycle. His family squatted in shacks. The children scavenged the forest for food. They put cardboard over empty windowpanes so the cold wouldn’t kill them.
Books did not exist here. When your kids are starving, you can’t point with pride to a book you’ve just spent six hours reading. Picking cotton, sewing flour bags into clothes — those were the skills my father grew up appreciating.
And yet, when he noticed that I, his youngest daughter, showed an interest in reading, he took me to our local Jonesboro library and told me that I could read any book in the building so long as I promised to talk to him about it if I read something I didn’t understand. I think this is the greatest gift my father ever gave me. Though he was not a reader himself, he understood that reading is not just an escape. It is access to a better way of life."
Read more: AJC.
Forget Broadway, the hardest ticket to score in town is for toddler story time at an Upper East Side branch of the New York Public Library.
The matinee story time every Wednesday at the NYPL's Webster branch is so popular with toddlers that organizers had to switch to a color-coded ticket system because desperate mommies and nannies had started counterfeiting the numbered tickets.
"People were taking their tickets to a copy shop and making copies for friends," said librarian Kristy Raffensberger, 32. "So we started using different-colored paper." To stop a possible stampede, library workers hand out tickets 30 minutes before the two show times.
Newcomers who try to cut the winding line are immediately put into place by the veterans, who stake out claims 90 minutes ahead of time.
Each of the two Wednesday sessions hosts a mere 20 toddlers, so there's many a miserable mommy who has to break it to their little one that they didn't make story time.
Zach Galifianakis, a comedian and one of the stars of the movie The Hangover, is a native of Wilkes County NC. Yesterday, he was at the Wilkes County Public Library in North Wilkesboro for a children's reading that drew hundreds of people. He stayed afterward for nearly two hours, posing for photos and signing hats, shirts, posters, money, DVDs, scraps of paper, old Wilkes Central High School yearbooks, and a GQ magazine with his face on the cover reports Journal Now.
The reading was intended for young children, many of whom were familiar with Galifianakis from G-Force, a film in which he champions a team of guinea pigs out to save the world from an evil billionaire.
But word quickly spread in the days leading up to the reading, and the crowd included a lot of people with driver's licenses, jobs and mortgages.
About 508 people came into the library while Galifianakis was there. A majority of them found their way to the upstairs level, where he read three children's books aloud.
"I think that books, reading, are so very important because they tell stories, and they let you into the story," he told the children. "I will start with reading a book called The Hangover."
The people with driver's licenses laughed, and Galifianakis said, "No."
Instead, he read Who is the Beast?, Don't Forget the Bacon (written by his father) and The Snowy Day, holding the books so the children could see the pictures.
Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a child respond to a book, and author and New Yorker blogger Susan Orlean takes note of that in her latest twitter inquiry to her readers. She writes about her five year-old son:
"I decided it was time for us to refresh his bookshelves. My default in these cases is to find a friendly librarian or a smart bookstore employee, but my boss (me) wouldn’t give me time off from work, so I was stuck at home. Inspired by an earlier experiment with book recommendations on Twitter, I decided to pose the question online (with the slightly cumbersome hashtag #booksthatchangekidsworlds) and sat back while the answers flooded in. What I have loved about reading through them is not just the great suggestions for my son but the shiver of pleasure I get each time I see a title that meant everything to me when I was a kid but that I haven’t thought about in years. "
Find the list at New Yorker.com.
A little over a decade ago, if anyone had told Vimala and Umesh Malhotra that their mission in life would be to set up libraries for children, they would probably have laughed. But then, they wouldn't have accounted for boredom.
The Malhotras were a typical IT couple and had just moved back to Bangalore in 1999 with their four-year-old son Tarutr, after nearly eight years at Infosys in California. But little Tarutr was bored. What he and his mother missed the most was a good library. Vimala says, "We used to go to the library for my son, and it had so many activities; back in India, the lack of a good library where children could have their space, where no one tells them to keep quiet, and it is their hangout zone was lacking."
That got her thinking about setting up a library. More from Forbes.com.
For the benefit of future generations...
It's a Book...by Lane Smith, Macmillan Children's. The author writes about it here:
Unlike Grandpa (me), today's kids are whip smart and tech savvy. I know eventually everything will be digital and kids won't even know from a regular old book book and that's fine. Truthfully? The reason I made the book? Certainly not to "throw down the gauntlet" as one critic has stated. Naw, I just thought digital vs. traditional made for a funny premise. No heavy message, I'm only in it for the laffs.
From the Chicago Tribune: It was a warm and sunny day outside, but Xavier Parker, 10, was deep into a computer game at Thurgood Marshall Public Library when his father walked in and told the boy he was about to go to a store.
"Stay in here," Xavier's father, Jimmy Giles, said, leaving the boy in charge of his 6- and 8-year-old brothers. "Don't go anywhere until I come back and get you."
Giles is a single father and he doesn't like his boys roaming their Englewood neighborhood or playing outside because it's not safe, he said. So nearly every day the boys walk to the library and sometimes stay there for hours. "They love it here," he said. "They don't want to leave."
Many of these children spend the day at the library without the guidance of a parent, said Susan Neuman, professor of educational studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who is writing a book on public libraries and education. As a result, some librarians have developed informal regimens and systems for managing the daily influx of unsupervised kids. More from The Chicago Tribune.
Putting Their Braille Skills To The Test
Nation’s Top Blind Students To Compete In Unique Academic Competition
(Los Angeles)—It has been nearly 200 years since Louis Braille created a system of raised dot writing for blind people. Many people see the little dots as something of a novelty. But for thousands of blind and visually impaired children who use those dots to connect themselves to the darkened world around them, braille is their passport to success. This underrated literacy issue is finally coming to the forefront of discussion because of a national academic competition that seeks to draw braille out of the shadows and into the public consciousness. On Saturday, June 26, the top blind students from across the United States and Canada will be coming to Los Angeles to put their knowledge of the braille code to the test in the only national academic competition for blind students in the country—The National Braille Challenge®. This year marks the 10th anniversary of this groundbreaking event. -- Read More
Michael Buckley is the author of the popular children's books series "Sisters Grimm" and "N.E.R.D.S."
As he described his diverse life's journey at the eighth James V. Brown Library Author Gala in Williamsport PA, he finished with a serious message about the importance of the school librarian's impact on his impressionable young mind and how libraries are the "secret to America."
"It was like a lightning bolt," he said, of the inspirational spark provided to him by the librarian at the school in Akron, Ohio. He called her the single most important impetus behind his searching out other books, using his inherent comedic skills and eventually becoming a children's book author.
"She changed me overnight," he said, describing himself as a reluctant reader as a child who was force fed books such as "The Yearling" and "Little House on the Prairie," which were noteworthy works, but didn't help to invigorate his page-turning.
The librarian gave him a copy of "The Mouse and the Motorcycle: by Beverly Cleary, and it was anything but grueling.
The book was funny, full of adventure and most importantly - it was pointless.
"I thought, 'maybe there's another book like this,' " he said. He said he literally became a reader overnight.
Part of Jin's job is to pick out picture books for the Skokie (IL) Library and to read to children so it was assumed that she would be ideal for Caldecott. Even the person who nominated her told the American Library Association Jin would be great for the Caldecott Committee.
"When I got the e-mail that said, 'Congratulations, you're on the ballot,' it didn't say Caldecott, it said Newbery," Jin recounted about her surprise. Once that surprise wore off, however, she contemplated the possibility of being on Newbery even if more work would be involved.
"I don't get paid to do this, it's all volunteer, and I still have to work at my job full-time" she recently told gifted fifth-grade students at Skokie's Fairview South Elementary School. "But I thought to myself that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Fifteen people get to change a person's life."