Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Vancouver Writers Fest

Last week, we Vancouverites celebrated books in a big way at the Vancouver Writers Fest. It was an amazing program with many talented authors.

An event I enjoyed so much was titled, Belonging, featuring memoir authors: Brian Brett, Charles Demers, Camilla Gibb and Micheal V. Smith. The theme as noted in the program was, “All sorrows can be born if you put them into a story or tell a story about them,” Isak Dinesen.

The authors each read a moving passage from their book and then spoke about events in their lives that had inspired their work. Their words, both print and spoken, were eloquent.

Much tragedy had been overcome or at least put into perspective through the penning of these books. Ultimately, there was a message of hope and love and moving forward.

It was an inspiring afternoon and one I won’t soon forget.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thank you, Teacher-Librarians!

I am working on a presentation for the BC Teacher-Librarian Association conference that takes place next week. As I prepare my slide-show, I've been thinking about my gratitude to librarians and the valuable work they do. Such a noble calling!

Much of the great learning that happens in schools is a result of the dedication and enthusiasm of the librarians who support students and their classroom projects with a librarian's wide knowledge of books and finely-honed research skills.

Sadly, funding for school libraries has dropped dramatically in recent times and most school libraries do not have a full-time librarian. Some schools have no librarian at all and the library is run by clerical staff or parent volunteers instead.

Meanwhile, many librarians have returned to classroom teaching or they shuttle back and forth between two or three schools, trying to keep all the libraries in their care up-to-date and functioning. An impossible task, I'd say.

So, in this lead up to the conference, I'd like to say an enormous thank you to the teacher-librarians of this world. You have my total support and appreciation. I know that your work is crucial to the development of literacy and the ongoing success of kids in school. I am very grateful.

See you next week!

Friday, October 2, 2015

In Praise of Story Time

When I was a teacher, I might have held the record for the longest daily story time in my school. Every afternoon, right after lunch, the students and I enjoyed book after book and were always reluctant to move on to the next activity on the program.

I was told by the teacher-librarian that I was the most frequent visitor to the school's library and, as was true in my life outside of my teaching job, I was often found in the hallways struggling under the weight of a staggering armload of books.

Why? I love books and reading. This fascination with the printed word began in the early days of my childhood and has continued until today.

Now that I am no longer teaching, I read stacks of books to the small children in my family, carrying on a wonderful tradition that began with my parents and grandparents (and likely beyond).

All this to say, let's read more to our children. Let's make story time in schools one of the most important features of the day. Let's choose a wide variety of books: long, short, old, new, wordless, poetic, books with heart, books with humour and books that celebrate who we are, in both fiction and nonfiction.

A great story is a gift to a child. One that can last a lifetime.

Let's get reading.