Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Boy Who was Raised by Librarians (copy)

According to the landmark Perry Study released in 2004, sponsored by High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, children read to before they enter kindergarten will make more money, retain their jobs, and commit less crime than their peers who were unread to.

The study, began in 1962 by the late David P. Weikart, followed 123 African-American toddlers of low income in the Ypsilanti, Michigan, area for four decades. They were broken into two groups, one group of 58 were given one-on-one reading time with trained caregivers, while the other group was simply observed. The staff tested their abilities every year from age 3 to 11, and subsequently at ages 14, 15, 19, 27, and 40.

From my librarian point of view, it excites me to learn those who were nurtured by books made $50,000 more over their 40-year lifespan than the unread-to toddlers. Just think of the possibility, folks!

Imagine my surprise when a fellow librarian handed me The Boy Who was Raised by Librarians by Carla Morris and illustrated by Brad Sneed. This delightful picture book is aimed at children who can sit still and listen to a story, for it’s a story of possibility.

Little Melvin, our hero, lives at the Livingston Public Library. Well, not really, but it feels like it because he spends “lots and lots of time there.” At this particular library there are three friendly and well-read librarians, the same as one would find at any local public library.

As a modern day librarian, I’m thrilled these three drawn librarians are a little hipper. It is a real problem in our profession, as we want to be taken seriously, but the dang bun, cat-eyed glasses, and finger poised at the lips is what people tend to visualize.

I digress. Melvin likes these librarians and on his quest for knowledge he knows they are ready, willing, and able to help him in his many pursuits. As he grows older, we see him progress through seventh grade, the librarians really get a chance to strut their stuff by filing his baseball card collection, naming and organizing his bug collection, and finding his inner eggplant for the school play.

Every year a child like Melvin enters a local public library and begins his/her path to learning. As librarians, parents, and adults let us be ready to show them the world of possibilities.