The first book sculptures I saw were a group of ten made from old books by an anonymous sculptor and left as gifts at various libraries and cultural institutions in Edinburgh, Scotland, between March and November 2011. I heard about them on NPR and looked for them online so I could actually see them. They were incredible, and each one was accompanied by a gift label, which praised literacy, the love of words, and stories. These libraries and other institutions were threatened at the time with major budget cuts by the British government.
Since then, I have found more of these on book and library blogs I follow. Neil Gaiman and Cory Doctorow have featured them on their blogs. I have never even once thought of these as desecrations. They are made from old books (as are the 8th Grade sculptures), i.e. books that would probably be “repurposed” to a dumpster, if they had not been given new life as a piece of art that has the book at the center of it.
The notes left with the Edinburgh pieces perhaps said it best.
“We know that a library is so much more than a building full of books… a book is so much more than pages full of words.… This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas.”
”A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas….. Once upon a time there was a book and in the book was a nest and in the nest was an egg and in the egg was a dragon and in the dragon was a story.”
This week in library we have been sharing a charming new wordless picture book with the kindergarten classes. In Hank Finds an Egg a small monkey comes across a tiny egg on the forest floor. Instead of walking by or simply ignoring the egg, Hank takes it upon himself to return the egg to its nest. This is no easy task, but Hank’s empathy and determination are rewarded when he and the mother hummingbird ultimately work together. The message for kindergarteners is perfect: Hank not only finds an egg, but because he paid attention and persevered, he found a friend. Rebecca Dudley hand crafted all the components on each page and then used manipulated photography to create this magical and enchanting picture book.
Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, according to new research from the Institute of Education. The IOE study, which is believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time, found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in math, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read.
The research was conducted by Dr. Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown, who analyzed the reading behavior of the approximately 6,000 young people being followed by the 1970 British Cohort Study. They looked at how often the teenagers read during childhood and their test results in math, vocabulary and spelling at ages 5, 10 and 16. The researchers compared children from the same social backgrounds who had achieved the same test scores as each other both at ages 5 and 10. They discovered that those who read books often at age 10 and more than once a week at age 16 gained higher results in all three tests at age 16 than those who read less regularly.
Perhaps surprisingly, reading for pleasure was found to be more important for children’s cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents’ level of education. The combined effect on children’s progress of reading books often, going to the library regularly and reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage children gained from having a parent with a degree.
Also, children who were read to regularly by their parents at age 5 performed better in all three tests at age 16 than those who were not helped in this way.
Dr. Sullivan notes that reading for pleasure had the strongest effect on children’s vocabulary development, but the impact on spelling and math was still significant. “It may seem surprising that reading for pleasure would help to improve children’s math scores,” she said. “But it is likely that strong reading ability will enable children to absorb and understand new information and affect their attainment in all subjects.”
At Foote, we hope our large collection (one of the largest for a school of this age range in the country) provides an abundance of choices for all of our students, from K through 9, to encourage their pleasure reading. Please come in to take advantage of the Library, and/or encourage your students or children to do so. The books are always here waiting to be read and looked at. And we are always here to help a student find that next great read.
The Library this year:
If you would like to volunteer to help in the library, please let us know. We’d love to have you whenever and as often as your schedule permits.
Our staff is ready and excited about this coming year and is committed to making the library one of your child’s favorite places at Foote.
Lynda Stoller Johnson