I dare you

Jose- I was planning to respond to your post on Character Education vs. Citizenship after I got back from the local public library with my kids but then I had an experience that so struck a note for me I had to write about it. I went into the library with my kids and I […]

A Home for Bird

Jose-

I was planning to respond to your post on Character education vs. Citizenship after I got back from the local public library with my kids but then I had an experience that so struck a note for me I had to write about it.

I went into the library with my kids and I knew I needed to get some fresh books for my classroom reading. I decided to ask the librarian for a recommendation. “What? You asked an expert in children’s literature for a recommendation on a book to read?”

Yes. Yes I did. But, I didn’t go in with what she usually gets. Teachers asking for recommendations for books to fit a theme. Years ago somebody decided that preschoolers dig themes and they started organizing every pre-k literacy curriculum around themes. No, I did not ask for a theme book. She said, “Do you have a certain theme?”

Yes but, I didn’t really want to go that direction. So I asked the unspeakable…

“What is the best picture book for young children you have read in a long time”

Her eyes glazed over and a grin as big as the moon crossed her face. “Really?” she asked.

“Yes.” “Oh my gosh have you read …—>” and she was off. She turned to her colleague and said, “He wants to know our favorite books.” She was so excited. It was like watching a kid in a candy shop. She started recommending books left and right. She tweaked her recommendations based on my answers to questions as she went. She offered a book based on a folk rhyme originated in sixteenth-century France sung to the tune of a traditional song that the author sang growing up in Colombia, called, “Let’s Play in Forrest While Wolf gets Dressed” that incorporates a hide and seek game. She recommended “What Will the Fat Cat Sit On?,” set to be possibly the funniest book I have ever read at work. But, the one she really wanted me to get was, “A Home For Bird.” She thinks it will win an award this year.

I walked out with five great books and five more on hold. She said, “No one ever asks us to just recommend our favorite books.” As I was driving home I was thinking, what would happen if someone asked me “How would you change teaching? What are your favorite reforms?” I would probably be as excited as she was if I knew someone who was listening and was going to actually take my suggestions was listening. Many would like what we recommended in TEACHING 2030.

So, I dare you, ask a teacher what they would recommend we change, without the inhibitions of the current themes like performance evaluations or professional learning communities. Go ahead.

I dare you.

PS. Thanks to Kathleen and all the great librarians at our library for some great recommendations for me and my kids over the years. See you next week.

Image: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/NC228elrh1g/0.jpg

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