Friday, September 28, 2012

Visiting the Library and Remembering my Schoolyears

I headed to the bookmobile Wednesday.  Alone.  Big kids were doing schoolwork.  The little two had been sent to bed because they were whinily obnoxious and badly in need of a nap.

The third grade class was on the bookmobile when I arrived.  Or part of it.  There were 4-5 kids when I got there, and I'm pretty sure the 3rd grade class at our school is larger than that.  Anyway, the point is... I found myself reliving my childhood.

One little girl wanted to check out a bunch of books.  Fairly easy books, but a lot of them.

The teacher kept berating her.  She was told that she could only check out the number equal to her grade, which meant she could only have three.  The librarian didn't seem to hold to that particular rule, so the little girl was definitely planning to check out the eight or so she had picked out.

The teacher was not going to let that go.  She informed the child probably six times in the five minutes they were ahead of me in line that she could only have three.  She was told that three was plenty if she didn't go choosing "baby books" and instead found something "her level."  When she couldn't get the difficult-to-open door open on her way out, the teacher snottily told her that this was proof that she had simply checked out too many books.

It went on.  And on.  And on.

While my issues were very different as a child (I was always forced to check out "Easy Street" books when I wanted serious children's fiction, or biographies), in many ways it was the same.  Condescending, patronizing comments from adults in authority who didn't like a particular child's choice of reading material.

It just makes me sad.

I told a bit of the story to my kids when I got home.  Connor interrupted to ask, "Have I told you lately how grateful I am that you homeschool me?  I couldn't stand to be limited to my grade # of books, even now."

And while I do limit them sometimes, and while I (unfortunately) sometimes disparage their reading choices, I do really try to let them read what interests them, and definitely to let them read books that are "below" their reading level.

I pray that little girl doesn't have her love of reading squelched by crabby authority figures.


Kym said...

This makes me want to cry. That poor little girl. 8-( I cannot imagine how awful my childhood would have been if my reading choices had been limited and boxed-in like that. And I do remember there being a limit to how many books I could take at once.

I have to admit that I limit my own kids as to how many books they can have at a time. No more than 25 each and that's final! LOL

Debra said...

Kym, that is exactly how I felt.

Now, I do limit my kids to something under 25. Because 25x5= 125, and that is way more than I can track. And the bookmobile is rather small, so I don't want my kids to deprive everyone else of something to choose.

BUT, we own thousands of books. We put lots of books on hold (and those don't count against their limits), and we are at the library every week and occasionally on the weekend in town as well.

In my growing up years, my mom would go to the school library to push them to change their rules. Sometimes she succeeded. Sometimes not.

She also took me to the public library occasionally, and nobody there cared (as long as Mom didn't seem to care, they didn't).

We owned a lot of books. And we purchased quite a few too. So the school library's silly rules were aggravating, but they didn't keep me from reading what I wanted to.

In the case of this little girl, though, I'm tempted to try to box up a bunch of books and just give them to her.