I had fun reading the book Stuck to my students this week. They loved Oliver Jeffers’ absurd story. It started believably enough,
“It all began when Floyd’s kite became stuck in a tree. He tried pulling and swinging, but it wouldn’t come unstuck.
The trouble REALLY began when he threw his favorite shoe to knock the kite loose . . . and THAT got stuck too!”
Things got a bit crazy when he threw his cat, Mitch and crazier still, when he threw the ladder into the tree. By the time Floyd sent a Titanic-sized boat flying, the kids were giggling with their own ideas – “I’d throw the universe!” said one precocious first-grader.
This book worked well as a speech activity. We talked about the sequence of events, cause and effect, answering “wh” questions and, for an articulation group, we thought of all the “l” objects Floyd could throw into the tree, like a lunging lion and a lady lounging on the lawn.
As often happens, one of my students wanted to take the book home. I couldn’t let him because it belongs to our public library but I suggested we take a look at our school library to see if we could get him a copy next week. Speaking of our school library, our librarian, Allison Brown, is a creative woman who goes to herculean efforts to keep the kids supplied with good books. Most recently, she created intricate paper stars to sell as a fundraiser so she could buy more books for our shelves. Here is the star I bought:
My students love our school library, but some kids, who don’t have any books of their own, wish they had a few with their names on the inside cover so I keep a shelf in my speech room full of give-away books. Most have been given to me and I, in turn, give them to my students. I know there are kids all over the world who don’t own a book but I was surprised to find out that this is also also true in my own community. I’m all for changing that, even if it’s one child at a time.
I’m not alone in this quest. Our local bookstore, Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle's Children's Books, promotes books for young readers in a program called, “Book Angels.” They collect the first names of children (along with their age and interests) who might need a book and display the pertinent information on a “book angel” so customers can become that angel and purchase a book for the child.
Over the years, I’ve had young students with grownup-sized problems: a mom lost to cancer, a father in prison, children abandoned by parents, homeless families, abused children. When life gets complicated, sometimes kids need a little help getting unstuck. Humorous stories often help that process, as do others, like those with characters children can relate to. I wish every child in the world had at least one book in which he could write his own name. There are worldwide organizations with that goal in mind. What are some of your favorite methods and organizations for getting books to children? I’d love to hear about them.