Putting an end to Book Deserts

I haven’t completely disappeared from the blogging world. The last number of weeks have been very busy with book fairs and other responsibilities. But I’m trying to get this back to normal.

While I’ve been away, in addition to reading great books, my mind continues to be on getting great books into the hands of kids. It probably is in part because I am running book fair after book fair through the first week of December. I don’t love selling books, but I love being a person that can help a child find a book that they enjoy, something that might ignite a passion in reading, or a new book for that kid who thinks they have read everything. That leads to my thoughts for today.

game changer

For a long time, I have been an avid listener of the Scholastic Reads Podcast. Their podcast this week focused on Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp and their new book, Game Changer!, aimed at K-8 educators. Not enough attention has been paid to the fact that many children in this country live in book deserts — areas where a child has little or no access to books. There are so many reasons that they exists on the school level, personal level, or community level. Maybe a school’s budget cuts lead to closure of the library. Maybe a neighborhood bookstore closes. Maybe the closest public library is too far away to reach by public transportation.

kids need new books

One of the things that gets brought up in the podcast is the value of the school librarian and the library in general. That at least made my heart happy as I’m going back to school in January to get my degree in library science so I can put my passion into action. The thing that stuck with me is how important it is for kids to have someone that they can keep in their education for more than a year at a time. That teachers are excellent resources for kids and literacy, but the school librarian is a constant who can help point them in the right direction of a book they might enjoy.

I encourage everyone to listen to the podcast and perhaps think how they can help. While it is aimed at educators, the reality is that without public help, our educators struggle. So many schools are focused on getting computers into classes instead of books, making sure we have the latest supplies for STEAM at the deficit of giving teachers a budget to purchase books, or having to find cost saving ways to handle an excess of students and a dwindling budget by getting rid of the school librarian. Don’t get me wrong, I think kids need access to computers and STEAM is one of my daughter’s passions, but putting chrome books over physical books isn’t the answer. I continue to help build my brother’s classroom library and to work with members of my community to do what I can to help make sure that kids in our area don’t wind up in a desert.

colby sharp

Let’s help our kids develop a love of reading. Let’s encourage them to read whatever moves them. Don’t snub graphic novels or humor that as an adult you don’t understand. Don’t force a kid to read a “classic” just because it is a “classic” and you were told to read it as a child. It isn’t that you shouldn’t encourage great books that you read at their age, but some books stand the test of time and some don’t. Be glad that kids today have a wealth of options instead of reading dime store romance novels because there is nothing else for them.

Book reviews will be back next week, I promise!



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