The Invention of Wings & The Songs of Willow Frost

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is the most lyrical and poetically written non-poetry, book I have ever read.  The story is about two sisters who become abolitionists and 2 slaves who finally escape.  (No, not giving anything away.)  It is based in fact and set in Charleston, SC.  The writing is so beautiful that I would not allow myself to read too much each day so that I could savor the book.  Usually I read and do other things at the same time… NOT with this book!  

The characters are so ALIVE they actually breathe!  The women are not your typical mealy-mouths that were the women of the time period, but outspoken women who are able to stand up to injustice and espouse it to the world while handling the negative fall-out from others.

Not intentionally meaning to lessen the impact of slavery or even make a comment on it, but I was a bit put off with the topic and said, “Really another book on slavery?”  BUT it isn’t.  It is about so much more and the research on the treatment of slaves is critical. 

It is on Oprah’s book list and no telling how many other awards that it will win.  Sue Monk Kidd is our modern day equivalent to Margaret Mitchell or dare I say Harper Lee.  She has outdone herself with this book.  The Secret Life of Bees. was an exceptional book, too.

This will go into my favorites list!  Incredible book, well-written, A MUST READ!

Another MUST READ is The Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford, which is another book that I wouldn’t let myself read too many pages a day… I love his writing! The characters are completely whole. He must get Divine inspiration from the Universe. I love Jamie Ford’s artistic writing abilities! His first novel called Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was an excellent must-read. This book is about American-Japanese interment camps and the lives of the people including the American-Chinese who were thrown into the camps. Both of these stories will linger with you. Jamie Ford can’t write books fast enough for me.
I must say that this was so eloquently written in my head right before I fell asleep and forgot all those beautiful words! Aw, hell!

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Reading might be the only true Panacea

Panaceas pretty much don’t exist, right? What one thing can fix so many other problems? Is there really a cure-all? The scientists once believed that penicillin was a panacea. For illnesses, it and other variations pretty much are panaceas (side effects notwithstanding). I always thought that education was the way to fix the problems in the world… and yes, I still feel that way, but must add an addendum…

I believe that READING IS THE GREAT PANACEA! It is the fixer of EVERYTHING! What?! Think about it. The reader is the person who is up to date on many topics. The reader can think for himself, doesn’t need the “news-feed” to make his decisions or dissect the information, and can see biases. The reader understands complex ideas and can predict outcomes. The reader can find solutions to higher level/critical problems.

The reader is an open-minded person. Notice I didn’t say left wing or right wing… He is an open-minded person who sees more than one side. When a person becomes left/right he becomes somewhat close-minded usually unable to see more than his side.

Readers comprehend more than their own small world and this is why READING IS A PANACEA. Well, it sounds good anyway! : ) Happy Monday.

Genre set up

No doubt we would all agree that going to a bookstore is a great place to go. What happens in the bookstore when you can’t find the book you are looking for because you don’t know the genre? Sometimes you stumble upon it. Other times you settle for something else. Sometimes you look it up on their computer system or ask someone… AND sometimes you cry out in frustration!

The genre set up is too limiting for school age students. Especially with a younger audience. I have seen a student who wanted sci-fi reach over and grab an historical fiction just because the books were next to each other on the shelf. When a library is set up by genre, the possibility of a sci-fi lover to go to historical fiction is slim. If books are on the shelf together in alphabetical order by author, students stand a better chance of becoming more rounded readers and branching out to other genres. Genre book tags are somewhat limiting but less so than by genre. What about books that might be two or more genres? Do we waste our limited funds buying the same title so that they can go into different genre places? Our chances of creating life-long readers grows exponentially if the books are together.

I remember as a young reader in school looking for a book “just like that one.” I found many different genres because our library was set up by author. It made me look at certain genres that I would never have looked at if the books had been by genre. My public library has changed to genre and I find that I am running around like crazy looking for books.

This really isn’t about change. I don’t mind change. In fact, I embrace change because it’s healthy. This is about book access and crossing genre lines. Happy Reading!

Pollyanna lives

I have always looked on the bright side of the world.  Through the years, students would ask me why I was so happy.  When I was a young girl, my daddy said that it takes as much or more energy to wake up on the wrong side of the bed as it does to wake up on the right side of the bed.  He said that we choose how we are going to feel each morning when we wake up.  From that moment on, I decided to be a “right side of the bed” riser.  I have pretty much lived a positive life and positive things flow my way.  The world has become a bit negative and students seem to be so downtrodden now, that they have a hard time with the concept that we make our own world or environment.

 

I am eager to share books with students, as well as my excitement about life. The students can’t help but catch the “happy” bug when they are around me. I tell them all the time- It’s about the attitude! You will get so much out of life if your attitude is a good one. You will “sell” a lot more books to students if you are excited about them.

I was at a librarians’ meeting today and a few of the librarians were bemoaning Manga as junk instead of a jumping off place for new readers. I had to say, “It doesn’t matter WHAT you read; it only matters that you DO read.” I told them that we rarely read classics and the same is true for our students. I mean, really how many classics have you read in the last few years?
Quite often, life-long readers are created by the “Pollyannas” in the world! We get people all hopped up on reading and they get addicted, and voila! they become life-long readers. Reading is how people become smarter and they don’t even it know it! All of the sudden, a new word makes sense and they hear it everywhere! Or a new idea has formed and they didn’t even know when the seed was planted.

This Pollyanna has to say it again and scream it to the mountaintops across the world – “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU READ; IT ONLY MATTERS THAT YOU DO READ!” Can I get a Hell yeah?

You might need help becoming a reader

I loves me some books!

How many readers remember their first “real, adult” book? A bunch of hands are waving in the air. I do, too! It was Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk! I was 12 and my aunt gave it to me. She probably doesn’t even know that she bolstered my reading resolve to read forever! (Jot a note to give her a call.) It was a lovely book about a girl who wants to be an actress… That’s what’s in adult books? Boy, lemme at ’em!
When I wasn’t singing, dancing, acting around the house, teaching the neighbor kids, beating up my sisters, well generally being a girl, I was reading. Not always, though.

One day, my mom asked my sister to read the recipe to her. My oldest sister wasn’t a very good reader, so my mom called my other sister and me into the kitchen to read the recipe to her. She found out that her girls who made good grades in school, couldn’t read very well. That started the “reading to mom while she cooked nights.” Each night one of us would read aloud to our mom while she cooked dinner until we all could read really well.

That wasn’t all! In the summer, my mom started reading books to us and then the whole neighborhood would be in our den listening to my mom read The Bobbsey Twins.
What great adventures they had and mom read all the books to us every summer. This instilled a love of reading in us. We have watched our mom reading her own books every day of our lives. One sister doesn’t read and two read everyday! I’d say that worked.

This all ties back to being able to tell students about books. The more you read, the more you can tell them and the more books they will check out, and become a life-long reader. Now that is influence of the very best kind!

Trying to promote a love for reading, I am a guest reader in many classes and love doing that. What a wonderful gift my mom gave us and it only took a little bit of time!

I love it when students come back for a new book… that’s why I do this!

If you are excited, they will be, too

Getting reluctant, alternative school students into the library is a challenge… This is not a disciplinary school; it is a school where students are behind or off track, and we help them get back on track.  But, still, many don’t read, so how do they ever make the trek to the library?

We get students almost every week, so I asked the counselor; “when you check a student into our school, would you bring them by the library?”  This way (1) they find out where the library is, (2) I introduce myself, (3) I find out if they like reading and if they don’t (4) I ask them to please give me a chance – just 5 minutes to tell them about some books.  Usually they come back!  Yes, they do and usually after 5 minutes they leave with a book and a promise to read at least 20 pages before they decide to like it or hate it.   It is quite pushy, so what?  Call me the pushy librarian.  We have readers at this school now.

It is real strange that teachers forget to include the library and research or free reading into the curriculum.  Well, maybe not so strange – they have so much to cover in so little time!  I ask teachers to come to the library with their classes each 9 weeks, but if they can’t do that (4) times; I ask them to come in each semester (2) times.  Sometimes they only get down to the library with their students for 10 or 15 minutes , but that is long enough to “sell” a few books.  Someone will take a book or two!

In the halls, I see students who haven’t come by the library and go up to them, “Hi, I’m the librarian!  I haven’t seen you in the library yet!  When do you think you can come by and visit?”  Usually that very day the student comes in! 

You may say, “Sure, that’s easy for you to do, you have a small school.”  Even when I had 2 campuses and 3200 students, I did that.  It always gets students in the library because they see that someone cares about them and notices them.

The main way that I have such a large book check out is because I ready Young Adult books through the school year (summers are for adult books).  I book talk like crazy!  If there is a book I haven’t read, I ask the student to come back and tell me about it.  They do that especially if they loved the book and then I tell the next student, “Oh, a girl just read this and loved it!  She said I had to read it, so you might want to try it.”  Simple?  Yep, and they take the book!

Really, to “sell” the books and the library to teachers and students, you HAVE to get out there and advertise!