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Educators, please don’t forget books

School districts everywhere are scrambling, trying to figure out what school will look like in less than two short months. The considerations and variables are staggering; as always, thank you, educators, for the work that you do. (Isn’t this supposed to be summer vacation?!)

Amidst the discussions and decisions, I do ask — as a parent, children’s book person, and library lover — that educators and administrators please keep books in mind. Yes, technology is key to remote learning; in discussions of access and equity, of course it must be a main consideration. But in regard to access and equity: books are vital, too.

Emma Otheguy explores this issue in depth, focusing on NYC during COVID-19, in an upcoming Horn Book Magazine article. And I know of several librarians who have taken it upon themselves to get books into the hands of kids. Last month, I came across Friend of the Horn Book Liz Phipps Soeiro handing out bags of books alongside volunteers tirelessly distributing lunches. In Boston, Sujei Lugo and Claire Gross crowd-sourced for funds and compiled care packages for kids who were unable to access the branch libraries where they work. Author and librarian Celia Pérez’s crowd-sourcing efforts, too, led to kids receiving books of their very own.

I don’t know about you, but my kids’ screen time has increased exponentially. With an eye toward the fall — when screen time won’t likely lessen — it’s always nice to be able to say: Go Read a Book. My place is lousy with ‘em — a perk of the job — but it’s wildly unrepresentative of most families’ realities.

As Roger says in his 2020 Summer Reading List editorial: “If we’ve all learned one thing these past months, it’s that books can take us places — where we’ve been, where we’d like to go, where we didn’t even know existed.” We’re not naive enough to think that every kid loves reading books. Some don't, and that’s perfectly fine. But ideally it should be their choice — not circumstance — that lets them find out.

Teachers, librarians, administrators, parents, caregivers, others: What have you been doing to help unite kids with physical books, and how are you attempting to plan ahead for the fall? 

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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Lynn Van Auken

I'm running a good old-fashioned Bookmobile in my town, with 30 minute stops in 7 different locations. Kids can come and pick books from 7 different book bins representing 7 sections of our library. The books are new (acquired through donations, grants, and book fair profits) and they don't need to be signed out or returned. Sharing with siblings and friends is encouraged, though. It's been very rewarding so far!

Posted : Jul 23, 2020 07:27

Elissa Gershowitz

Lynn, that sounds wonderful! As Roger said in his e-letter this week: "I wish we could resurrect the Book Caravan!" https://www.hbook.com/?detailStory=treasure-island-by-the-roadside

Posted : Jul 23, 2020 07:27


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