Sunday, February 24, 2008


Lately, I've been reading stories to the Junior High kids. It's my favorite time of the year, I get to go out to classes and read the California Young Reader Medal nominated books, in the catagory Picture Books for Older Readers. I love reading aloud. I love it when the class goes quiet and you know you have them spellbound.

What strikes me though, is how little experience these eleven to thirteen-year-olds have with being read to; somewhere along the line parents stopped reading to their children. These are not the children of migrant parents I am talking about. These are middle class, every advantage given, no class left untaken, no sport left unplayed, "My child should be in the accelerated classes", children.

I guess I am naive. Because I love to read I made sure to read to my children. Two bedtime stories a night, every night, until my youngest was 10. Together we read the Narnia books, "Mr. Pudgins", and "The Wobbly-Wheeled-Sputter-Putter-Popper". We read Aesop's fables, Brer Rabbit, Greek Myths, and Little Red Riding Hood. I may have missed the mark on many parenting duties, but I read to them. Yes, we watched TV, and played video games, and yet we still found time to read.

The children in my school have not heard the story of the "Tar-Baby" or the "Pied Piper of Hamlin". We are losing our cultural identity. Teachers and librarians cannot do it all. No matter how good the video is, Baby Einstein cannot take the place of "Read me a story" time. But then, perhaps these parents are the ones that were raised by Sesame Street. They were never taught the joy of being read to by their parents, and so the down cycle continues.

Can it be reversed? I don't know, all I can do is offer to read stories to classes, and for a little while, hold them spellbound.