If you are in ANY way helping to connect kids with books, you are doing amazing things. Immeasurable things. World-changing things! I know it’s easy to believe, in an HDTV, 3-D, virtual reality world, that books are becoming passe. I promise that’s not even remotely so. Kids can connect with books now every bit as much as they ever have.
One quick story from today. I’m nearly 40 minutes into a 50-minute in-the-park, community concert. It’s blazing hot out. Only patches of shade are sheltering the families spread out on the grassy bank above the concrete slab serving as a stage. We’ve been doing movement songs, call-and-response songs, a puppet song, hand motion songs…
Now I throw on my taxi driver hat and grab a copy of Dan, the Taxi Man. (Really it could have been any number of books. Dan is just one I happen to especially love sharing.) As we’re diving into this story, late into the show, in that blistering heat, engagement is every bit as high as during any of the other songs or activities, maybe even higher. And I’ve got over a dozen kids crowding me, following me around that hillside as I wander about with that simple book in my hands and we’re “Beep! Beep!”ing and “Squeeba-dee dee”ing through 32-pages of beautiful Kent Culotta illustrations. Absolutely engaged. Not one child wandered away to go hit the playground area. Not one child rolled their eyes and said, “But this is just a book. Bring out another puppet! Let’s do another jumping-up-and-down song!”
So, again I promise you, kids still want to connect with books. And if you are helping to make that happen, THANK YOU!
Eric Ode is the author of Dan, the Taxi Man, Too Many Tomatoes, Bigfoot Does Not Like Birthday Parties, Sea Star Wishes, Elliott the Otter, and many more picture books. He is an author, poet, songwriter, and educator, and all-around fun, great guy. This piece is a post from Facebook from August 2, 2017, during the PNW heatwave.