JUNE 23, 2012
There’s something about the beginning of the Summer Reading Program at the Library that brings back a flood of childhood memories. When I was in elementary school, my friends and I liked to join the local library’s Summer Reading “Club” (as it was called back in the day). Summer Reading Clubs at my local library were essentially competitions to see who could read the most books over the summer. There was always some kind of large game board tacked up on the wall in the Children’s Room. When you joined the club, you received a game piece made of heavy construction paper or cardboard, cut into the shape of some object that related to the summer reading theme. You put your name on it and you got to move your game piece forward one step toward the finish line for each book you read. (For example your game piece might be a fish and the goal would be to reach the pond.) I was not “bookish”, but I was a good reader, and I usually made the finish line in just a few weeks. By then, I was ready to move on to other summer fun – swimming, riding bikes, kiddie matinees, softball, and “let’s pretend” games with the neighborhood kids.
But my summer reading didn’t stop after I was finished with the Summer Reading Club, because I had the great good fortune to be a child during what has become known as “The Silver Age of the Comic Book”. Most comic books included three or four illustrated stories, usually featuring one main character along with their circle of chums: Little Lulu, Little Audrey, Little Lotta, Baby Huey, Richie Rich, Wendy the Good Little Witch, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Archie and Friends, Popeye, Felix the Cat, Tubby, and Dot. Then there were the super heroes: Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Green Hornet, and Wonder Woman, which were apparently scrubbed-up remnants of “The Golden Age of the Comic Book”. Those weren’t my favorites, but I read them anyway. They were all marvelously silly - the junk food of children’s literature, and l loved them!
My library did not carry comic books, possibly because of their flimsy construction, but I suspect there might have been more to it. I never asked. We knew that teachers did not consider comics to be suitable material for book reports, and no explanation as to why was necessary. Comic books only cost a dime, and could be found at any newsstand, drug store or grocery market. New ones seemed to come out every week. By the end of the summer, I usually managed to amass a good assortment of them. Comics were perfect for kiddie commerce because parents did not care in the least if you swapped three dollar’s worth of comic books for two cent’s worth of marbles. They didn’t even care if you just gave your old comics away or put them in the trash. Comic books were just off the parental radar. They were, in a word, wonderful.
For better or for worse, comic books, as I knew them in “The Silver Age”, are not a part of today’s childhood experience. But thinking about them makes me feel nostalgic for the benignly unsupervised, wasteful reading experiences of my own childhood summers. How I emerged a grown- up person who numbers “reading for pleasure” among her favorite pastimes is a mystery. Or is it?
Category: Staff Reads
JUNE 16, 2012
Have you ever wondered about the relationship between poetry, literature, and Hip-Hop music? Or have you ever wondered how young people can find relevancy of 19th century literature in today's world? View this 17-1/2 minute documentary about the studies and experiences of musical artist MC Lars, and you'll come away with a fresh new look at these questions.
Categories: In the Know, Staff Reads
JUNE 14, 2012
James Joyce’s Ulysses (published in 1922), captures a day in the life of fictional Dubliner, Leopold Bloom, hour by (some critics might add “by excruciating”) hour, as he wends his way through the Irish city on June 16, 1904. Whether or not you’re a fan of this book, it’s a modern classic, and well worth a try. Joyce’s idea was “…to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book." Fortunately, Dublin is still with us.
If the stream of consciousness style of Ulysses is not your cup of Guinness, you might try Joyce’s Dubliners, a collection of short stories that shed light on working class life Dublin in the early 20th century. This book has a more straightforward narrative and is an enjoyable read, although its literary importance has been eclipsed by Joyce’s master works, including Ulysses.
Bloomsday, named in honor of the character Leopold Bloom, has become an annual celebration in Dublin. Now it’s being celebrated right here on the Monterey Peninsula, on Friday, June 16, from 3 – 10 p.m. at the Carl Cherry Center for the Arts. The festivities will include films, lectures, readings from Ulysses, live music and Irish fare. It sounds like fun!
You can find copies of works by James Joyce at the library anytime during the year for now,have a Happy Bloomsday!
Categories: In the Know, Staff Reads, Lets Talk Books
JUNE 9, 2012
Goodnight Moon Room
“In the great, green room…” So begins Margaret Wise Brown’s classic children’s picture book Goodnight Moon. For this year’s Summer Reading Program kick-off event today (theme: Dream Big: READ!) a replica of the great, green room was beautifully recreated by our resident artist, Library Assistant and 2ndyear professional library school student, Barbara Daniels. The “look-but- don’t -touch” “Goodnight Moon Room” has been the object of respectful awe from the moment the library doors opened this morning! Many children are very familiar with this gentle, bedtime tale and its soothing illustrations, as are their parents and even their grandparents!
At closing time, the components of the great, green room will be carefully “put to bed” in a quiet corner of the basement storage area until the next time the Library has an opportunity to assemble it for a special event. Until then, good night, room.
Categories: In the Know, Storytime Kids, Staff Reads
JUNE 6, 2012
Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012
When I was about 12 years old, my parents decided to switch my bedroom with my father's home office. My dad--deliberately--left behind a wall of bookshelves filled with his collection of science fiction books and magazines. All the grand masters were there: Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Pohl. I loved those stories, filled with the robots, galactic empires, and time machines that were already part of the familiar furniture of my imagination. Some of the stories on my dad's shelves, however, were, well, strange. They had unsettling, peculiar images, a terrifying virtual reality nursery-jungle, a "Wonderful Ice-Cream Suit". Or their characters were just a bit too human to pin down, too individual, too sad. They encouraged me to think things I had never thought before.
Many of these strange, wonderful stories were written by Ray Bradbury, who died yesterday at age 91. He was a magic realist before the phrase was invented. His heart, vision, and language were too big for the conventions of science fiction or any other genre.
In one of Bradbury's most famous novels, books are outlawed and outlaws keep reading alive by remembering books. In 1971, he wrote an autobiographical essay, “How Instead of Being Educated in College, I Was Graduated From Libraries.” He was a tireless advocate for libraries until the end of his life.
Thank you, Ray, we'll miss you.
Categories: Lets Talk Books, Fahrenheit 451
JUNE 5, 2012
Dream Big: READ!
This year’s Summer Reading Program gets underway on Saturday, June 9, when there will be a variety of events taking place throughout the Library from 10 a.m. until closing time at 6 p.m.
Children and Teens may sign up to participate by setting an individual reading goal and receiving a log book to keep track of reading progress. Each week there will be prizes for accomplishing reading goals, in addition to programs to keep kids engaged and entertained. This year’s theme “Dream Big: READ” has inspired a range of activities ranging from learning about the night sky, to scary stories around the indoor campfire, to meeting a live bat, a puppet show, and even a sleepover for stuffed animals! For teens there will be peer-led writing workshops, art projects, and a visit from a professional dream coach who will talk about the meaning of your dreams. Adults may also participate by writing book reviews and entering prize drawings.
Read more about all the dreamy activities in store this summer by visiting us at www.monterey.org/library.
Categories: Upcoming Events, Lets Talk Books, Storytime Kids