From the Office of the Future of Reading: Farewell (perhaps)

When my daughter was in first grade, she came home every Monday with a stomachache. I didn’t tumble to the source of said tummy troubles until I shadowed her one day. Here’s what I learned: our sweet, sensitive, creative, book-loving first grader had the school librarian from hell.
Monday was first grade library day. And that time in the library was all about putting the books back EXACTLY where they’d been found and only reading what had been given you by the librarian. And god forbid you get caught touching a book out of your reading ability.
Needless to say, I began volunteering in the library every Monday, doing everything I could (in a kind yet completely subversive way) to counteract the toxic impact of that horrible person who called himself a librarian.
Which leads me to today: the end of this year’s run of the feature I call From the Office of the Future of Reading. Every time I uploaded a post from one of the amazing teachers/librarians who volunteered to share their thoughts in this space, I would sigh: if only. If only. Every single one of the past year’s 80+ guest bloggers would’ve made my daughter’s grade school library experience sheer heaven. If only.
Consider all of the pressures on today’s educators: the push to focus on standardized testing, the pull away from reading aloud; constant criticism of public education along with constant reduction in funds for same.  These are merely the tips of the iceberg.
And yet.
In this past year 80+ busy, overworked and underpaid teachers and librarians stole time from their families to write guest posts for my blog simply because they cared so much about connecting kids with books. These outstanding educators gave up precious free hours to crank out several hundred words about what they’d done to build a community of readers through book clubs, trailers and book-related crafts. I couldn’t offer any payment and yet they stayed up later than was healthy to compose essays that shared their passion for poetry, breakfast book clubs or Skype visits.
The past two years of hosting teachers and librarians on this site have allowed me to sleep more sweetly, more deeply, and with pure unadulterated hope. How could I not with the knowledge that so many great people are working so hard to ensure a nation of readers? A nation of readers who will find the courage to treat others kindly, who will unravel slogans to uncover truth, who will discover that one plus one equals the power to change god-awful circumstances, whether it be sweat shop conditions or gun control laws or disparate opportunities.
So I must honor the past years’ contributors with the truth: I am struggling because I don’t know if I can continue this feature. It requires a lot of time and energy; both quantities that seem in short supply in the Larson household. I’m cogitating about what to do next (ideas and suggestions welcome!!!). Regardless of whether or not this feature, From the Office of the Future of Reading, continues, I know the efforts to protect and energize the future of reading will persist.
I know because I’ve seen what our teachers and librarians can do: Work miracles.
With a full and grateful heart, I sign off for the summer:

No Responses to “From the Office of the Future of Reading: Farewell (perhaps)”

  1. Xena's Mom

    Dear Kirby:
    When you asked me to guest post on this blog you have no idea how honored I felt. To have someone who appreciated my work with children was amazing. Thank you for giving teachers and librarians a venue to express their joy in bringing books and reading to their students.
    With that being said I completely understand the time commitment. Blogging/hosting a blog is a huge task. Whatever you decide to do, please understand you and your books have changed my life more than you will ever know.
    Sending you best wishes, hugs and doggie kisses from Xena.

  2. Rosi

    Have a great summer, Kirby. I have enjoyed reading this feature and also find hope in it.

  3. Jen Robinson

    I hope you’ll find time to continue, Kirby, but we all understand time limits. This series has been a joy 🙂

  4. Kirby Larson

    Thank you all for your kind comments! After a summer’s rest, I may very well figure out how to juggle it all!

  5. Kirby Larson

    Thanks, Jen! Doesn’t it just do your heart good to hear all the amazing things being done in schools? It sure does mine.

  6. Trudi Trueit

    I’ve really enjoyed this series, Kirby, but completely understand about time constraints. Many thanks to you and the wonderful librarians who took time to share their perspectives through this feature!

  7. Laurie Thompson

    Hugs for all you do, Kirby! Thanks for just being you and for sharing that gift with all of us in whatever form you can manage. xoxo

  8. Ramona

    Kirby, it was a pleasure to be one of the featured bloggers and share my book love here on your blog. I’ve been cleaning out my classroom this week (retiring from the classroom). It was hard to part with things, but one of the laminated articles I kept was “A plucky legacy” from the Seattle Times when you won the Newbery Honor for Hattie Big Sky. As I packed up my classroom, I allowed myself to bring home one box of of favorite titles (the rest are staying in the classroom for the hands of student readers) – Hattie Big Sky was in the box! I totally understand how you are rethinking this feature, but thanks for the teacher and librarian love you shared here.

  9. Kirby Larson

    Ramona, what a lovely memory; thank you for sharing. And you may know that Stephanie Dunnewind, the reporter who wrote that article about me, left journalism to become. . .a librarian! Isn’t life grand?
    Best to you in your retirement.

  10. Dawn

    I halfheartedly follow a lot ofblogs. Yours is on my must read list, especially because of your ‘Office of Future Reading’ posts. I hope you will continue. Is there anything we can do to make it easier for you?

  11. Kirby Larson

    Dawn– you darling! I would love some brainstorms about ways to make the organizing of it less daunting. Ideas welcome! I, too, am reluctant to give it up.

  12. Karen Jameson

    Kirby, sending you a giant hug for giving teachers and librarians a happy place to share their love of children and literacy. It was a such a thrill being a guest blogger! With that said, I think I may have a suggestion for moving forward with The Office of Future Reading. Here’s what I’m thinking. Instead of running guest blogs throughout the school year, why not run them to align with Teacher Appreciation Week (in May) and Library Worker’s Appreciation Day/Week (in April)? You could run a handful of posts daily for each of those two weeks. Does that sound more manageable? Once again, thanks for your continued support of teachers and librarians!

  13. Karen Jameson

    Glad to be of help! 🙂 Enjoy a Happy Fourth of July!