Reading makes me a better writer. Reading reinforces proper grammar, increases my vocabulary and makes me a much more interesting dinner party guest. Reading challenges me and makes my bag very heavy.
Not everyone agrees. Schools are closing libraries en lieu of media centers, or because there is no funding for books, or a librarian. We've spent the past year recreating our school library: painting the walls, ordering books, tearing up carpet, cataloging our collection and welcoming back the students who were turned away years ago when the library closed.
Some believe that funds could be better spent elsewhere, or that students who want to read can use the public library, or chose from books they have at home. The reality is that an urban school with a 60% low income population may not be drawing families who have personal libraries, or the time to spend at the public library. Children who spend afternoons at after school programs and don't arrive home until after 6:00 have little time to stop off at the library for a weeks worth of books. Providing access to quality reading material at a place where they spend six hours a day is vital to creating readers, a habit that will keep them learning for the rest of their lives.
Yesterday as I stepped on to the playground I was grabbed by a second grade girl, shrieking, "Ms. Ally! I don't want the library to end!". It's not going to end, we'll be back next year, and the year after that. Books are important, and I appreciate the reminder, everyday.