Sunday, 6 April 2014

Things you don't appreciate as a teen

In my school we had several things that mattered to the average teenager.  A big field with big trees which you could sit under, chat, and look at pin-ups of Mark Owen; a music room with massive keyboards and headphones so that you could play the same note repeatedly without the teacher actually realising, and several large structures you could hide behind and be out of the view of snooping teachers.

We also had a library.  I properly hated the library.  I can't remember the librarian's name, but she was an utterly joyless woman, and, even though I was an extremely good girl, I used to delight in tormenting her.  My friend and I would find a book (the more ridiculous the better) and sit and giggle over it until we were kicked out of the library. This happened a great deal until the Sixth Form when we had to go there because that's where the computers were, and we were treated with justifiable suspicion.

It wasn't really a very good library.  We had a fantastic library in the village where I read every book and was so well behaved that I was offered a job, so it obviously wasn't libraries per se, but just the singularly dull and oppressive library at school where all the books were at least a decade out of date, and nobody was allowed to smile.

It's a shame, because a good school library is an absolutely wonderful thing.  I am lucky enough to work in a school where the library is the jewel in the crown.  The librarian is extremely well-read and knows the children extremely well, and recommends books which will both interest and stretch them.

So many school libraries were lost in a ridiculous false-economy.  Reading is so unbelievably crucial, and reading for pleasure is a habit which should be cultivated about all others. Librarians are utterly passionate about this, and work hard to ensure that reading is promoted throughout the school.

I am fairly sure I *would* have appreciated this. A wonderful booklet produced by Lin Smith, the librarian at Ecclesbourne School in Derby, which was shared by Lin to all the school librarians that she knows.  I don't know Lin personally and I haven't been in this particular school's library, but this work strikes me as a labour of love, and contains some excellent recommendations for books to engage teenagers in reading for pleasure.

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