Magazine article American Libraries

On My Mind: Can I Have Your Autograph?

Magazine article American Libraries

On My Mind: Can I Have Your Autograph?

Article excerpt

I am a librarian. I am not a singer. I have never been in a play or a film. Recently I visited several local elementary schools to read to the children and to discuss literacy and journaling. On two successive Fridays, students approached me to ask for my autograph. The first time this happened I was astounded. My response was, I'm a librarian, not a rock star." When the same thing happened exactly one week later, I found a pen, sat down, and asked the closest student, "What's your name?" A group of children stood quietly in a half-circle in front of me, choosing to be late for a school party as they waited their turn to get my autograph.

These two events are noteworthy because I cannot imagine a lot of librarians are asked for their autograph. Those moments rank high on my cool-experiences list. I would not have had this encounter had I not been willing to get out of the library, get into my car, and go visit with these students, their teachers, and their principals. The students did not ask for my autograph because I am the world's best librarian; they asked me because I took the time to go to their school to hang out with them.

Schlepping books

Dressed in jeans and my black leather roper boots, I cheerfully schlep two big bags of books every time I visit a school. One bag is filled with my favorite children's books, such as There Was an Old Lady, Chato's Kitchen, and Counting Crocodiles. The second bag is filled with journals and an article on "Little Writers" designed to introduce the idea of journaling to children ages 3-14. One principal encouraged me to speak more at the end of a session about the value of journaling and writing. She said, "The kids don't know that adults write; it's important for them to hear that."

Old Lady lovers

I cannot describe how wonderfully exciting it is to see 6-year-olds in love with books and reading. I visited with large groups of children from kindergarten through 4th grade at four different schools. The younger children adored There Was an Old Lady, which is based on a folk poem from the 1940s. There was so much energy and joy in the room when I read the book out loud to children born more than 60 years after the folk poem's creation. …

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