Thursday, December 6, 2012

Can't We Just Tell The Story? A Rant About the "Five Practices"

Many years ago I had a parent who I think was home schooling and never missed a minute for learning.
One day she and one of her sons were sitting at a table reading a book while I was working in my "office"--a plexiglass partitioned off area right nearby. 

I heard her talking to him about the story, which apparently featured glass. "Oh, Benjamin, do you remember what glass is made of?"

And I heard Ben reply: "Mom, can't we just read the book?"

I couldn't laugh, but inside I was cheering, because Ben got what reading with a parent should be about. He didn't want to be educated every second of the day. He just wanted to enjoy his time with his mother, and enjoy the story.

I ranted this past spring about Saroj Ghoting's courseon "Early Childhood Literacy" and how stultifying I found it. But I am bringing it up again now because of the wonderful Melissa Depper's blogpost today about fingerplays helping to develop early motor skills.

Now, as I just said, Melissa is wonderful, and I respect the incredible work she and the rest of the Colorado Early Childhood people do, and wish we had something similar here. And it was a well researched piece. And yes, kids do need to work on those motor skills.

But does it have to be underlined so carefully? Does every moment in story times at libraries have to have some correlation with the "Five Skills" or whatever the hell they're calling it this week?

Do we have some sort of inferiority complex because we are librarians, not teachers?

We ARE both early childhood educators. But so are parents and caregivers. And parents and caregivers are the bulk of the adults most public librarians serve.

Is the message we want to send them the need to look for teachable moments in every second of the day?
Do we want them to think of reading and singing and playing and talking and writing as educational tools and nothing more?

Where are the deeper things that reading, singing and the rest can bring to the relationship of an adult and a child? The love, the closeness, and humor, the sharing that go with those interactions over a book or a song or a fingerplay?

Where is the frickin' JOY in it?

My job as a librarian is to teach all right. It's to teach parents that they can go home and read and sing and play and talk with their children and find joy in it--joy that will make them want to do those things day in and day out, every day.

Tell the story. Read the book. Sing the song. Do the fingerplay.

Have fun with it. Share your joy in it with a child.

When Saroj Ghoting and the rest have stopped peddling their stuff, when ALA has moved on to new and more fashionable theories the stories and the songs and the fun will still be there.

I hope librarians will find their way back to the fun.
Because everything else stems from that and that alone......


1 comment:

  1. LOVE this. We emphasize that here, for sure. It's even on our storytime expectations slide at the beginning of storytime.
    I'm a big believer in giving parent messages each week, but more so they understand WHY their child is doing what they are doing. And because they ask and appreciate hearing them, amazingly.
    But one of the tips I say ALL THE TIME is: if reading a book has stopped being fun, put it away! You do NOT have to finish a book. Don't force your child to sit and hear a book if they aren't in to it. Don't read if you or they are hungry, tired, cranky, need a nap. Sharing stories, songs, etc. needs to be a FUN experience.
    Thanks for reinforcing that idea.

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