I have a theory which I wish the state would put into place for the nation’s children. I wish that before school starts each year, the grade school, middle school, and high school age children of America would be taken to the library and each be required to check out one book to write a book review on for their English class. (They would be required to get a library card if they did not already have it.) The reading of the book would be done out-of-class, but the lessons on how to write a paper would be done in-class. When the children would have finished reading the book, they would turn it into their school teachers.
During this day, each grade would spend one hour with a speaker. Grade school age children would learn about Ben Franklin’s public library and Thomas Jefferson selling his private collection cheap to the Library of Congress. They might also learn about a letter I saw on Antique’s Roadshow in which Jefferson wrote back to a farmer who wanted advice on how to “improve himself.” Older children would learn about how in the ancient world books were expensive (the letters of St. Paul were practically worth their weight in gold) and later on how the Gutenberg press made books less expensive. They would also learn, perhaps, how the printing press of China was less effective than the Gutenberg press because instead of a phonetic alphabet, it had the thousands of pictographic characters in which to write. However, the Gutenberg press used Chinese methods of making paper which traveled through the Middle East and to Europe, producing idyllic circumstances for what became the ability to mass produce books to sell.
These subjects may sound dry, but I am convinced the kids would love library day. In Wichita, the building of a new library, even though the books are the same, has had a laudatory response on the people of our city. So if a day was added for the children, why not admit that it would be a celebratory event for the kids?