Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

2.08.2011

By the Way, I Like to Read

Was asked for a bio of myself today for a workshop in which I'll be talking to other children's librarians about science fiction and fantasy books I like:

I'm afraid I'm not famous enough for anyone to have written my bio yet (and I haven't been able to get my autobio published). How about I just come up with something like:

Even though it took [Degolar] years to live down the ridicule of once taking his D&D rulebook to middle school, he had a fantasy/sci fi book tucked under his arm at all times for the rest of his school years. Once, he absentmindedly broke a window with his feet while reading, and another time he showed up during the summer for his weekday paper route on a Sunday, having lost track of the days of the week due to a constant schedule of non-stop reading. His reading interests have expanded in adulthood, but he still gravitates to stories of the fantastic. He was Librarian at [some] High School 98-02, and has been a Youth Services Librarian with the [current] Library since. Check out his reviews at: [non-pseudonymous Goodreads account].


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Last week I left a comment on a discussion about this blog post. It's a good discussion. You should read all of it. My comment:

Patricia wrote: "Boys are taught to read and write just like girls and can have library cards, enter book shops and pick up a pen."

I've always been a proud reader and have carried a book with me at all times to read during spontaneous downtime since middle school. In high school I would sometimes read 2-3 books a week. But they were always books of my own choosing.

I can't name a specific experience or even time frame that I came to this opinion, but somehow I decided along the way that I would never like any book recommended by any teacher, librarian, or educational figure. I never enjoyed anything on the lists they gave us for book report selections. I learned if paid enough attention to lectures and discussions in class I could get away with not reading the assigned books. When my teacher made me ask the high school librarian for a suggestion, it was obvious she had no idea my interests or tastes no matter how I tried to describe them.

I loved reading, but hated school reading. If school reading had been all I knew of books, I'm sure I would have assumed the conclusion that I hated all reading.

It wasn't until years later as a professional adult attending the Public Library Association annual conference, in a session on Boys and Reading, that I had the perspective to articulate my experience. Put simply, most educators are women and the types of books they like and assign don't appeal to boys. Of course the reality is more complex and muddled than that, but the differences and trends are there. Boys are taught that reading is something they can't enjoy because of the types of books they're exposed to.

A favorite quote someone passed on to me--and I haven't bothered to find an original source or verify it--that really captures, to this day, something most educators seem to fail to grasp:

"The best morals kids get from any book is just the capacity to empathize with other people, to care about the characters and their feelings. So you don’t have to write a preachy book to do that. You just make it a fun book with characters they care about, and they will become better people as a result."
Louis Sachar, Newbery acceptance speech

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