Monday, June 28, 2010

The Public Library

First, I want to make clear that the public library is a wonderful resource and especially the small libraries do a wonderful job with the limited funds they have. I am so thankful for library storytime and the summer reading program.
My friend Joelle commented on my last blog post wondering what I meant by I want my Lambs to read classic books instead of modern ones. (Read the school update if you want to see the whole discussion.) I would like to respond to her question here.

1. We have a huge library that we own. We have bought very few of these books new. They have been gifts (especially from Ram's mom). Their doctor gives them books at each checkup. We are part of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program where they get a free book each month until they turn 5-for a short time we received 3 books each month, now just 2. Our local early childhood initiative gives books at almost every event they hold and several times at ECFE (multiply times 3 kids). I go to 2-4 library book sales each year. Once I bought 80 children's books at one of these book sales. I just worked on making a list of our children's picture books that we own and it is up to 900 books. That list does not include religious, science, or history books, just fiction. Ram jokes sometimes that we have more (and better) books on our bookshelves than the local small public library does. We own a combination of modern and classic books because of where they came from.

2. Ram and I agree that we personally want to read the classics and we also want the Lambs to read the classics. There are so many classics that I want to read, there doesn't seem to be time to read everything I want to read. I don't want to waste my time on books that aren't classics. Ram's rule is that if it was published for the first time after Ram was born it is not a classic. I adapted this view when I was teaching at a classical Lutheran school. Classic books have stood the test of time, they are a friend for life, they are a joy to read again, recalling them brings great memories, and they demand rereading. Since I have 3 Lambs all different ages, we reread books a lot-sometimes even reading the same book to different Lambs in the same day. I get tired of reading and especially rereading books that are not classics to the Lambs.

3. There are a few exceptions to this rule. One of the exceptions that I can think of is the Lambs love the book Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy. They received this book from Dolly Parton's program. We will probably check out more Ladybug Girl books from the public library. It has a good plot and has inspired their imagination-they were thrilled to get bee headbands at VBS to be Bumblebee Boy at home. I'm just tired of reading modern books to the Lambs like the Seseme Street book that I posted about here. Modern books often don't have good grammar or good morals or a good plot. An example is Lamb 2 just chose a book from the library about a Runaway Shopping Cart. After we read it, I thought, why did the author even waste his/her time writing that book? Why not just read The Gingerbread Man?

4. Part of my problem is I was spoiled in the huge Fort Wayne public library system. I worked a few summers in the children's department and at one of the branches. When I was teaching I used the public library a lot and checked out tons of books each trip. I can only think of one time that they didn't have a book that I wanted in Fort Wayne (either downtown or at a branch) and they had to interlibrary loan it for me-that was for my high school French class. At our small public library, if it is in the system, it is usually from an hour away and takes a few days to arrive at my public library. There have been several times that I have wanted FIAR books that were not in the system and had to come interlibrary loan.

5. I admit that part of my recent book organization project was to get rid of some of the books that weren't classics and weren't worth keeping. So we will continue our system of letting the Lambs pick one book each when they go to the library and I don't really care if it is modern or a classic since it is just one book each and we will return it to the library after one week. I have also been requiring Lamb 1 to pick out an easy reader that I approve of like the modern Dick and Jane books for Lamb 1 to practice reading himself. Then about once a month I go to the library with my list of classic books (usually from FIAR) to check out for homeschool. This system has worked well for our family and the Lambs have tons of choices to read and the majority of the books in our home (both that we own and that we get from the library) are books that I'm willing to read several times.

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