While strolling the halls this morning, I dropped into Ms Ng’s class to welcome them back and was invited to hear what they were talking about. (I love visiting the Jr. building of Strathcona as the halls are always alive with displays of their learning and the children are more than thrilled to talk about what they have portrayed in their work. – I digress – Ms Ng’s students were talking about their Spring Break experiences but wanted to share their ‘Book Heads’ with me. What is a book head you ask? (which of course I did too) The children ignited!! “Ms J, we become book heads when we read – we become part of the book! That’s what happens when we read!!” Peter, whose book head is displayed, put it quite simply: “Ms Jorgensen, when you read, you become smarter.” It’s as simple as that!
This leads me to address this blog’s title: Bathed in Books. When asked by anyone; a parent, a colleague, a friend, “What is it we can do to help children learn, succeed…?” My answer is invariably that children need to be bathed in books, great books, wonderful books, those ‘just right’ books a variety of books. They need to read to each other. They need to be read to. They need to talk about books. They need to explore. They need to enter into those grand conversations that only those who read can enter! They need to be BATHED in books from the day they enter the world and their classrooms and schools most certainly need to provide the opportunity to enter the water!
What do I love about getting good books into the hands of children? You might as well ask me: “What do you love about eating or breathing?” Answer: “I consider these things essential. What more needs to be said?”
OK, perhaps there’s a bit more to be said. I think that once they have basic food and shelter, good books are THE most important thing that we can give to children. Here are a few reasons why:
- Good books can be teachers, conveying knowledge across the curriculum.
- Good books can be vehicles, opening doors into other worlds.
- Good books can be time machines, transporting kids to other time periods, past and future – real and imaginary.
- Good books can be kaleidoscopes, helping kids to see things from other perspectives.
- Good books can be mirrors, helping kids to see themselves.
And, of course, access to good books plays a huge part in motivating kids to spend time reading. When they spend time reading, they become better at reading. Their vocabularies improve, along with their understanding and self-confidence. They have positive outcomes in the short-term, and continue to reap the rewards of reading across a lifetime.
So, I’d have to say that what I love most about getting good books into the hands of children is the potential to change their lives for the better. I mean, really. What a tremendous gift, to know that by helping kids to gain access to wonderful books, we can help improve their lives forever. Don’t forget Peter’s wise words: When we read, we become smarter!