Monday, August 20, 2012

Lessons from a Daughter

It might seem a little strange to be talking about my own kid in the statewide YSS blog.  But sometimes my kids teach me, or remind me of, really interesting things that actually have relevance to my library world.

 The daughter in question, playing Hermia in a production of Midsummer Night's Dream

My daughter is 13.  She's sort of unusual (we spent part of the weekend preparing the flax she planted, harvested and dried so that in a few months she will be able to try her hand at spinning it...does that give you an idea?).  She passionately loves theater in general and Shakespeare in particular.  Thanks to a generous grandpa, she spent last week at an American Players Theatre camp.  She came home full of tales of acting workshops, but mostly she talked about the performances she attended.   She talked about the things they did to enhance the humor in Twelfth Night, and how she and her roommate cried and cried at the end of Troilus and Cressida.  She analyzed the director's choices in what he cut from Richard III, and she felt like she could hold her own in discussions about the plays with high school students and APT actors.  Kind of cool! (Really, I'm going somewhere with all of this).

Then she spent the day after camp in a bit of a post-camp stupor and reading Rebecca Stead's most recent book, Liars and Spies, which many would say was geared a little younger than thirteen.  When we talked about it later, she told me she didn't like the book because she didn't get it.  She didn't understand the foreshadowing, she couldn't solve the mystery, and it reminded her of Stead's Newbery winner When You Reach Me (I adored both books, by the way) in how incomprehensible it was to her.  She said both books made her feel stupid.

It reminded me, again, of how important it is to pay attention to the kids we are serving.  Wow, they are all individuals.  And wow, if they are interested and passionate about something, their ability to comprehend it skyrockets.   And if they're not interested?  Hmmm...not so much.   The kid who is really, really interested in fishing?  They can probably handle the adult books you have about fishing, even if they are reading at a lower level.  If we honor kids' interests, their ability to understand things we wouldn't expect is sometimes astonishing.  What better place than a library to help kids explore those passions and interests deeply??

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