A Reading Place

We were thinking it would be slow yesterday, what with Vacation Bible School running and all. It was hot, but not slow. At least, the 18 kids were quick enough. The one adult who came by returned and borrowed books, and then made a hasty get-away.

Sometime during the morning, when we three workers were all busy reading to two or three children each, I saw this play out.

Boy (maybe 4 or 5?) to girl (maybe 6 or 7?): Can you read this to me? hands her Trucks by B. Barton.

Girl: ???

Boy: You can read. Can you read this to me?

Girl looks at cover: ???

Boy: Are you a Storytent girl?

Girl looks at boy: !?!?

Boy (confidentially): Say, "Yes."

Girl smiles, starts reading: On the road....

I miss what happens next (I'm supposed to be reading Mother Goose), but shortly he's up and about and quickly sitting beside her again. He gives her the larger board book version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. She reads it all the way to "Friday" after which I lose track again.

It's been a good summer, though numbers are down a little. By the end of week five we'd served 157 individual children and 16 adults. We might go up by another 10-12 kids and 1-2 adults before we close, but that'll be it. We brought in lots and lots of 'singing books' like Wheels on the Bus and Miss Mary Mack, though I Stink, about a day in the life of a garbage truck, was the sleeper hit of the year. One of the fun things we tried this year was a t-shirt give-away, as a way to recognize our funders. (Their names are on the back.) We'll also give away books with the last tents in each location to soften the blow of ending.

This years SRC's theme was "Around the World" which could have been pretty exciting if only it had featured Dora the Explorer. But, copyright being what it is and bureaucracy being what it is... it kinda sucked.

Still - and good for them - the Department asked for our views and suggestions through a feedback form. It was, however, a little difficult to fill out. Of course, we're not a static library, so some of the questions just didn't fit. But there was also this subtext about things you or they or somebody might do to attract kids to reading (or, at least, libraries). It was hard to explain that we didn't have to attract kids - we just had to be a safe place for them.

Did you do any of the activities? they asked. No, we said. We just read books.

Did you decorate? No, um, we're in a tent. We mostly just read books.

How did the weekly trading cards work out? Not well. Mostly, the kids wanted to read books. We, um, read a lot.

Parents and kids come to borrow books and to read. Sometimes parents read to their kids. Sometimes the kids ask us to read to them. Sometimes kids read to their parents or themselves. Sometimes, when things get busy, they find themselves a storytent girl.

"Can you read this to me?"

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