Thursday, December 4, 2014

Taking heart!

Yesterday, I had a great experience.  I was asked by a student to give a presentation to her ‘Writers’ Craft’ class.  Writers Craft is an optional course for graduating high school students here in our Ontario system.  It is not a particularly easy class and only kids who are really interested in writing sign up for it.  I wish this course had existed when I went to school back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. 

“My” student had to bring a speaker to the class as part of her many assignments.  I was it.
The school is in a very mixed area with lots of new immigrants and people from many cultures. There are pockets of wealthy homes in the neighborhood and also very poor areas. It was the first time I’d spoken at this particular school.  

What an eye-opener!  In this small class of about twenty students, I found people of every color and many nationalities represented. There were boys as well as girls. I loved the energy of the group and the humor. They laughed at my jokes and made their own.  They asked great questions.

Everyone in the class participated in the writing exercise  that I played with them to illustrate building character.  The most enthusiasm and some of the best ideas came from three young woman all named Zeinab, two of whom wore head-scarves.  

As I slipped away after my presentation, I glanced back to see a group of incredibly engaged, cooperative kids discussing their projects, arms waving and eyes lit up.

I came away happy, with this great example of young people (regardless of what we’re told!) still valuing the written word and with a desire to use it.  They are all readers as well as writers. It was the most fun I'd had in a long time!
I wish I had been able to take photos, but there were privacy considerations. 
So please, close your eyes and imagine what they looked like.  

And tell me, what's your experience? Do the children and young people you see value books? Reading and writing? 


Gram said...

Since our small town library is one of the busiest place in town for young people I think you are correct. I have been a library patron since the age of two and was once on the Board of Directors in another town. Reading is very popular here! Writing too as the Library has a contest once or twice a year with many entries.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

HI MJ, what a wonderful experience!! I love speaking at schools and spoke to Middle School kids at the Dover Air Force Base when I was writing YA. Yes, I think there's hope for reading (although there are so many "electronics" competing for their time. Great blog.

Karen in Ohio said...

Aren't you glad you took the time? What a great experience.

A couple years ago I volunteered to help out for an hour or so at the local foreign language elementary school. It's part of the Cincinnati Public Schools, but I had never heard of it; they teach, in addition to English, three other languages, and many of the kids are refugees from other countries. A friend and her husband have a language school that meets in that building in the evenings, and part of their agreement is to conduct a couple sessions a year for the kids. "Our" class was first graders, and they were of about 15 different nationalities, some who barely spoke English yet. They were so much fun, though.

My grandson will be ten in February, and the only things on his Christmas list this year were "some Legos", and a list of books. Love that kid.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Thanks, Mary! It is a lot of fun to speak to kids in school. I love the seniors - just ready to go into the world.

You are right about the electronics though.



Mary Jane Maffini said...

That is such great news, Gram! (Did I mention that I am also Gram around my place?). Our village library is a happening place too.



Mary Jane Maffini said...

Both those points are so powerful, Karen! I love the sound of the school and having having such a place for newcomers, especially refugees who have been through so much.

Your grandson sounds like an amazing kiddo!



Unknown said...

My daughter is 7 and loves books! She would rather read than do almost anything else! Although with a librarian dad and a former librarian mom, it's not too surprising!

I just finished running a book fair for my daughter's school and it was wonderful to see all the kids come and look for books to buy for themselves and for gifts! As a major book lover and reader, it made me so happy! Maybe there is hope for another generation of readers! Mary

Anonymous said...

I was a volunteer and then an employee at my local library for 14+ years each. The best thing was seeing how excited the kids were to check out books: board books for the really little ones, picture books, chapter books, YA anime and manga. Yes, they love their electronics, but books are still in favor. And one of the things that could make me really angry was when a parent was checking out a stack of DVDs but wouldn't let their child/children check out more than one book when the kid was pleading for more. Cordella