I LOVE books. I really really love books. Picture books, books to read, cook books, art books...I could look through bookstores and book sales for hours and be completely and utterly content. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt and score awesome finds for my kids and my classroom, often for a deal. My favorite children's book is easily Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. As a child I loved the magic of sailing away to a faraway and exotic world, the bravery of taming large intimidating beings as someone so small and helpless, and the PICTURES. Those creative "things" in all of their terribleness were an odd hodgepodge of animal parts put together to create something nobody else had ever drawn before. Where did people get ideas like that?! My grandmother would watch the narrated story on VHS with me as a college student when I was ill and she was nursing me back to health. It was the best.
I love to read. When I was younger I would wait until everyone was asleep before quietly tiptoeing downstairs to sneak in another chapter or 2, or 5, or more, but who's counting? After all, I was busy. School all day, homework when I got home, evening routines, other kid stuff, and BAM, the day was done. There were nights when I'd be so engrossed in the story I was reading that I would simply lose track of time. It was nothing to be up until 2 am reading, and I loved it. I didn't worry or care about being tired the next day because it was totally worth it! There was always an excitement about finding out if the characters I'd grown to love had gotten their happy endings, followed by the deep sad ache of an adventure ended. Unless it was a series, my time with those characters was over. It was time to find another book, and to find new characters to love.
Luckily I lived close enough to the library that I could walk there, which I did quite regularly. My neighbor growing up was a widow and retired school teacher. Mrs. Carpenter had a tall white house, a lawn that she kept perfectly manicured, and she knew all of the answers to questions on Jeopardy. I was absolutely convinced that she could win if she had the opportunity to appear on the show. She took me to the library as a very young girl, young enough that we had to hold hands down the street, and she helped me get my very first library card. I remember getting books about Cabbage Patch Kids and being so proud that I was trusted to take it home. Eventually I checked out Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. The librarian kept you on your toes. While perusing through books, quietly contemplating what to read next, it wasn't uncommon to hear a shriek loud enough to scare you out of your socks! When you looked at her to see what was wrong she'd just say it was too quiet and go back to the business of returning books to shelves. It was quirky in an endearing way.
So each year I choose a book as the theme for the doors to my art room to encourage kids to read. To inspire them to read. I consider books I loved learning about while watching Reading Rainbow. That show was AWESOME! I vividly remember some of the stories. I look for those books at sales with my children. Many now stand on the shelves in their bedrooms. I still enjoy looking at them and reading them. They do too.
I use children's books as the basis for our art folder covers each year, beginning the year by reading stories to kids. Last year sixth graders were talking about the books I've read to them and it warmed my heart to know that they remembered and enjoyed the tradition. The school librarian is always a GREAT person to get to know. She's the one who orders the books, so as a teacher I run to her often with lists of books that promote the arts, books I can use in my lessons, and they're ordered! It's always so exciting when she tells me the new books are in. So turn off the electronics, put on a pair of shoes, and get to the local library. Take a look, it's in a book....and on the art room door!