Room of Horrors: A High School Library
Today’s Brew: Angry Orchard Apple Ginger Cider. Because two whole days off in a row.
Everyone bitches that kids don’t read enough. I’m going to include anyone who has yet to graduate from high school in my “kid” grouping for the purpose of my argument. It’s not so much that we want young people to read fantastic stories. Reading building vocabulary and spelling ability. It helps foster imagination and curiosity. It’s the easiest way to learn there’s a big wide world out there beyond your hometown.
All you need to read is the ability to understand the words on the page. Financial barriers shouldn’t apply. All you need is a library card, right? Access shouldn’t be a problem. We should be providing kids with abundant reading material. Isn’t this a no brainer? We aren’t the problem, it’s those lazy kids. Apparently, I live in a fantasy world and you do too if you think this is the case.
Last week, I worked on a production that filmed in a high school library. This was an urban catholic school. Parents pay to send their kids to this place. If I was writing a check for thousands of dollars in tuition each year, I would want my child to be getting the best education available. I can’t help to think if these parents bothered to set foot in this library they would be shocked.
Aesthetically, the place did nothing for me. The books looked old. Now, I since I could have a kid in high school, I can only imagine how uninviting this place looks for the students. All hard covers, all leaned willy nilly on shelves. Nothing faced out. No featured reads. Nothing literary on the walls. The artwork was candids of the students. Wouldn’t that be better placed in the cafeteria? How about some library appropriate posters, like book covers, authors, instructions on how to use the freakin’ room properly? The shelves were half empty. The place looked sad. Kids are far more visually savvy than we are, and we have far less time to capture their attention. This room simply doesn’t work.
I love looking at bookshelves, so of course I couldn’t resist checking out a whole room dedicated to books! What I found made me furious. There were books about Russia from 1958. A History of the 20th century published in 1980. And this gem, which isn’t even politically correct. Isn’t the only current acceptable use of the word “Oriental” in regards to rugs?
The world moves fast, and no one will remind you of that faster than a teenager. A teenager has no use for an outdated encyclopedia set. That’s exactly the type of thing to turn someone off from learning. If we expect these kids to compete in a changing world and economy, we need to be 2 steps ahead of what’s coming next, not 15 steps behind.
The library featured a large fiction section, but the books were again so outdated that they didn’t even appeal to me. You know how hot YA fiction has been for, oh, say the last decade or so? Here’s the YA section.
Yeah. That’s it. I looked around but found nothing else.
I get it. Everyone is on a budget, including schools. But this is important. If you don’t hook a person young on learning, chances are you will lose them. We can’t afford any more dumb.
If you have an extensive collection of YA books that you’ve already read that are taking up room on your bookshelves, please consider donating them to your local high school library. If you are a YA author, please reach out to your local HS librarians. See if you can donate your books and maybe even talk to some of the students.
Books are badass and everyone deserves a chance to experience them.