As part of our year long Social Studies theme, Friendships & Schools, we have been reading (fiction) picture books where libraries are a central part of the story. Before reading the books we posed the question, How are books our friends? We also introduced the concept of literacy: a person who can read, write and understand. As we talked more about literacy, our K/1 students made the connection that in order to be a literate person, you need to go to school. Moreover, books were important to have not only at school, but at home in order to practice reading. I also shared that through books we gain multiple perspectives which is part of understanding someone else’s viewpoint or culture who is different than ourselves. A little one keenly added, “Like finding common ground.”
A parent shared this heartwarming story about Ronald Clark, who as a boy lived in a New York Public Library. As we learned, many years ago library custodians often lived in the same building. Our class listened to NPR’s StoryCorps, How Living In A Library Gave One Man ‘The Thirst Of Learning’. I noticed that my little ones were listening intently. When I saw that hands were going up I would pause and answer their questions. While the segment is only 2:52 minutes long, with all the wonderings – this exercise in listening was closer to 7 minutes. After, I finally charted their answers to the question, How are books our friends?
I love that a little one used the expression “temples of knowledge” as was stated by Ronald Clark in describing his father as the keeper of the temple of knowledge. They also understood that Ronald Clark was the first to not only graduate from high school, but college and then beyond. A student said, “It’s because he lived in the library and he read so much that his brain got big and he kept learning every day.”
Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest. -Lady Bird Johnson