How Many Harry Potter Articles Were Named “I’m Just Wild About Harry”?
Too many. And each time someone did one they must have felt damed clever.
Well, I wrote a little something-something the other day on ye olde Motoko Rich article and got back a lovely swath of responses. Is it just me, or are people taking me to task a lot less since I moved to my new SLJ site? Back in the day I’d spout off an opinion and people would have zippo problems tearing me a new one if they felt I’d erred one way or another. Nowandays it’s all civility, sweetness, and light. Baffling. I blame the Guess the Color/Guess the Letter comment box validator.
In any case, from that piece I wrote, I got back a great e-mail from an anonymous source whom I shall simply label A Fellow Librarian. And since she is more eloquent than myself on the subject, I shall simply place her statements below for your enjoyment:
We-Who-Know know that:
1) Children who read Harry Potter books don’t spend ten minutes adjusting their cushions to find the optimally comfortable position, because they’re too busy READING.
2) Children who read Harry Potter don’t have to go to the bathroom during library, because they’re too busy READING. Also, they don’t need to get a drink. They’re glued to the page.
3) Children who read Harry Potter also REREAD Harry Potter. I am of the school that rereading is a sign of a healthy reader. (Not the only sign, and some excellent readers never reread. But nevertheless.)
As these article writers DON’T know these things, and AREN’T librarians, they ought to retire with a blush of shame.
We have a big reading culture at my school–my children come from highly literate families–and because of this, there are always what I call "status books"–thick books that kids want to be seen reading, books that they like to carry around. So even children who don’t have a prayer of getting through these books demand THE LORD OF THE RINGS and ERAGON and JURASSIC PARK–I’m talking about third graders, here. And then, once I’ve given them the standard "I’ve always been a pretty good reader, but I couldn’t have read this at your age. It’s really written for older children, but you can give it a whirl. If it’s too hard, don’t make up your mind it’s boring–give it another try in a year or two," speech and the book has been checked out, the child needs to use the bathroom. He needs a drink. He needs to find the exact perfect spot to place his cushion, often disturbing other readers in the process. He needs to peel back the velcro from his shoes, over and over. In this way, library period passes. When he comes back three days later, the bookmark is still in the front of the book.
But with Harry Potter, they don’t go to the bathroom, they don’t need a drink, they leave their classmates and their cushions and the velcro on their shoes ALONE, because they’re reading. Their bodies are still, their faces are intent, the pages are turning steadily. Over the weeks, the bookmark moves through the book. I don’t know what younger children are getting out of these books, because often the books are too hard for them; they’ve got to be missing half of what’s going on–but they’re getting something; they’re chomping away at ’em and extracting enough marrow to keep them chewing. So–even though we had to adjust our whole Fiction shelving system to make room for all the multiple copies of J. K. Rowling–I’m a fan. I’m in favor of the whole thing.
So there you are. If you’ve found repetition it is simply because I have mixed together two e-mails. I am particularly fond of the phrase, "they’re chomping away at ’em and extracting enough marrow to keep them chewing." My thanks.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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