The desk where I work at the library is a teaching place as well as a finding place. Parents push their children forward, “Now tell the librarian what you need.” And I ask them, “What can I do for you today?” And so the children learn to articulate their questions, to explain assignments, to interact with an adult, and to be bold. Sometimes they are tiny children who want a picture stamped on their hands. Sometimes they are children who are just learning English and who have come to practice on the friendly children’s librarians. Sometimes they are cranky children who resent their parents and their teachers and every other grownup who participates in the Worldwide Adult Conspiracy. And almost always they are children who are learning the proper use of please and thank-you.

We’ve been running a game in the library this week. Our library elf, Eugene, hides in the children’s section and young people who find him get a small treat. The 2- and 3- and 4-year olds come running out of storytime to search for the elf and collect their prize. Such excitement! Any fear they may have felt at approaching the desk disappears in their triumph.

“I found the elf! I found the elf!” one little girl exclaimed.

“And what do you say?” prompted her mother as she picked a lollipop out of the basket.


5 thoughts on “Manners

  1. “Worldwide Adult Conspiracy.”

    Ah! I thought so. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.

  2. I love the book you chose for your illustration this time; it was always one of my favorites. You surely have one of the best jobs in the world!

  3. I was always too shy to ever ask for help when I was younger so I always ended up wandering in the library on my own. As I have realized though I am the type of person that can go to a bookstore or library for hours on end, but now I ask when I have questions. : )

    Also, I think my school needs a library elf. I always appreciate a good distraction from studying.

  4. The elf is a great game! When I was in elem. ed. the teacher took us to the library and we learned the dewey decimal system from the librarian and then we were on our own to venture in to the world of written word.

  5. As a teacher, I quickly learned that I could often expect the unexpected with children. These “yum” moments are what make working with children so much fun!

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