Monday, March 16, 2009

Libraries, librarians, and learning

Libraries and librarians are an important part of Buchanan's story. His school librarian loaned him a British copy of the the third Harry Potter book so he could read it before it was available in the U.S. His public librarian arranges for him to display the game and to set up a day during which he can lead others in creating their own Harry Potter game. Buchanan also mentions the summer reading program at his library. Kids who read 20 hours over the course of the summer are rewarded with a pizza party. He lives in Texas. I worked as a public librarian in Texas for three years in the 1990s. I always felt the summer reading programs needed some improvement there. From what I could tell the "reward" system encouraged some kids to cheat. And for others, like those with dyslexia, the amount of reading they had to do was discouraging. Buchanan does say that the task was daunting for him.

I was struck by something Buchanan says early on in the book, when he discusses having an assignment to study an "-ology". He wanted to mythology, but his teacher tells him he already knows a lot about that and "encourages" him to do something else, and he chooses etymology "the study of the history of words". He takes this and makes connections with it and J.K. Rowling and the words she created for her stories. Buchanan's love of learning is evident. He does not complain about being asked to make a change in his topic. Instead he makes a new discovery.

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