The Every Child Read to Read @ Your Library project (http://www.ala.org/ala/alsc/ECRR/ECRRHomePage.htm) has come to my local library, and as a librarian, I’ve been thinking lately about pre-literacy: getting children ready to read. A lot of this is “common sense with a fancy name” for parents who already love books, but of course, those families aren’t really the ones whose children are at risk–hence the project.
While I am a firm believer in “Kids Need Books”, it seems to me that learning to love reading is not just about reading. Learning to love reading is about learning to enjoy language and learning to be interested in other people and what they have to say. If you’re not curious about what someone has to tell you, and you can’t understand the way they’re using language to talk to you, then reading will always be a chore.
It’s a lot like opera or football, that way. Until you have real sense of what’s going on and when it’s done well–until you have a favorite team–it can seem pretty boring. Librarians and teachers have always tried to get children to appreciate books and stories, but these days, especially with so many non-print media available, I think the job is larger. We need to think in the broadest possible terms to meet the needs of our youngest patrons. We need to show them that a book is a place (one of many possible places) where someone has left them a present encoded into language.