|Something to treasure: Bookstart at its best....|
In the days before Facebook, what did people do at libraries?
I ask the question because, whenever we visit ours, it always strikes me as strange the fact that no-one else there appears to have the slightest interest in borrowing books.
It's not as though it's not busy, far from it, in fact.
It's just that, us apart, everyone there is concentrated in the small area around the computers, each one awaiting a chance to access their accounts and update their Facebook 'friends' as to their most up-to-date movements (OMG!!!! I'm in the library, LOL :))) !!!!!! LMAO xxxx, that kind of thing).
Don't mistake me, I'm not complaining.
If nothing else, it means that there are far more books for us to choose from.
It's a good thing because, unless our haul is in double figures, The B&G are just not satisfied.
It'd be nice, just for once, to be allowed to leave with just our books and not be press-ganged into taking home the latest ream from Bookstart.
I'm not against Bookstart - far from it, in fact - because anything that encourages children to read more is to be applauded.
It's the continual bombardment that I find a little tiresome, the fact that, each time I take The B&G to the local library, there's another project for us to bring home, one that, as a rule, involves little more than borrowing a book and receiving a sticker as a reward.
Given that The B&G take out at least five books apiece on each visit, it's not as though stickers are required, nor the accompanying literature urging us to read more.
One such scheme offered junior readers one sticker for each book borrowed during the school summer holidays, challenging children to take out six books during the seven-week break. The fact that The B&G carried home more than that from the same single visit suggests that perhaps, just perhaps, we're not the target market.
The real bugbear is that on the occasions that we've put all objections aside and tried to take part, from one librarian to the next, no-one involved in the process seems to understand it enough to make it worthwhile.
The latest scheme meant The B&G got a 'passport' to take home, the idea being that each time a book is borrowed, a sticker designed to look like a visa stamp is issued.
In theory, great. In practice, we take it with us on our next visit and that day's librarian has never seen the 'passport' before, has no idea what to do with it and looks at me as though I've spent the morning making it at home as some kind of cunning ruse designed to extract undeserved rewards from the unwitting.
"I think you're supposed to give us a sticker to put in it," I suggest, cue much rooting through drawers, checking in the back, calling colleagues in other libraries on the telephone, all to no avail.
Two possible outcomes here:
1) The stickers can't be found, making the entire process pointless and leaving The B&G disappointed.
2) The stickers are located after much searching, moving us one step closer to the ultimate reward.
The ultimate reward is a certificate.
It looks as though it has been designed on a ZX81.
If we're lucky, the librarian might scrawl The B&G's names on in a black marker pen.
If we're really lucky, the handwriting might almost be legible.
I've long felt that the issue here lies with the libraries rather than with Bookstart per se, a suspicion that appears to have been borne out in recent days.
You see, another week, another Bookstart initiative, the difference being that this is one that has captured the imagination.
There's more to this one than a glorified reward chart and, perhaps most tellingly, this is one that has come not from the library, but from The B&G's nursery.
It is packaged as a rather attractive pirate's treasure chest, the contents including, amongst other things, two books, crayons and a drawing pad.
One book, We're going on a bear hunt, is known to us already, the other, You choose, was not a familiar title.
It is the latter that has proved more popular than anything else emanating from Bookstart, the basic concept being that each page contains different categories (where you'd like to live, what clothes you'd like to wear, what food you'd like to eat and so on) and the children use the striking illustrations to build their own, personalised tale.
The things I've learned from this book include the following:
1) The G would like to live in the jungle.
2) The B's favourite food is a pig's head, as long as (and it's an important condition, this) it has an apple stuffed into its gaping mouth.
3) The G is keen to learn bungee jumping.
4) The B is not.
5) The Bookstart initiative is important, it just needs to be administered a little better.
Furthermore, I've discovered (from The B) that I shouldn't acquire the following headgear, the hats in question being:
I've also learnt that The G has her future career all planned out.
You see, when she grows up, The G would like to be . . . .
Knowing her as I do, I'm not surprised.