Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fingers of firelight on the wall

"This is the best day of my life!" The kindergartner in the front row looked up expectantly. The announcement that I would share a story elicited that exuberant exclamation. While they enjoy being read to, most students LOVE to hear/participate in a good story.

I laughed. My heart leaped up with joy. Seven small words had just altered the course of my entire day.

At school, without any clerical support, I cannot do the job justice. I am often torn between doing those things that make a library functional and those things that make a library soar....those things that focus on individual student needs and things that put the books on the shelf. What makes it possible to carry on is simply those sweet faces looking up expecting that something wonderful will happen within this inadequate space.

I would like my library to be a sanctuary. A place where children can come and seek knowledge or wisdom or imagination without being judged. I know that we must support the mission of learning to read. But that doesn't limit the real work of a library. Library is not a subject -- it is not about a particular type of media --- A library reaffirms that all of human knowledge can be organized and made accessible even to young minds. Its cornerstone is questioning and critical thought which challenges commonly held beliefs of grown-ups.

These lofty goals begin with a young child who loves to hear a story. The old tales and nursery rhymes carry the wisdom of our cultural heritage. The message of truth, faithfulness, unconditional love, justice, and mercy. The library may be the only place that students have the opportunity to experiment with these treasures.

"Who does not remember the old tales? Fingers of firelight on the wall, lances of
sleet on the shutter, Whoever does not remember the old tales has lost the key
that opens the door of life."

It should not come as a surprise that such magic depends less on reality than on a child's anticipation that today will be the best day of her entire the tale begins.