reading without walls

 Are you ready for a challenge? We all tend to get in an occasional reading rut where we choose the same kind of story over and over again – whether it’s the same type of characters, the same genre, or the same topic. I often hear parents in the Children’s Department wishing that their kids would branch out and try something new.  Well here’s a great opportunity!

Throughout the month of May, the Children’s Department will be participating in a national initiative called The Reading Without Walls Challenge. As part of Gene Luen Yang’s platform as the 2016-17 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Yang is inviting kids to “expand their reading horizons” and is encouraging them to “explore books of diverse voices, genres, and formats.” 

It’s simple, really: Yang is asking kids to step outside of their reading comfort zone in one of three ways for just ONE BOOK.  Anyone can try something new for one book! And who knows, your kids may just discover something that they really, really love. The challenge is to choose ONE of the following:

  1. Read a book about a character that doesn’t look or live like you.
  2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.
  3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun. Easy, right? 

And parents, you can be a great example and branch out of your reading rut too.

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita at The Ohio State University and 2017 winner of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, wrote an incredible and frequently-cited article describing the power of books to act as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors in our lives. If you have a chance, it’s a read that I highly recommend if you haven’t given much thought to the lack of diversity in children’s publishing. Referring to this article, Roger Sutton of Horn Book Magazine beautifully conveys the value of Yang’s Reading Without Walls Challenge, saying “Perhaps even more daringly, the challenge asks us all, for at least one book, to put down (to use terms introduced by Rudine Sims Bishop) the reading mirror and open the reading window. Everybody needs some air.”

So join us—I’m seriously so excited about this! Check out our Reading Without Walls-themed display case in the Children’s Department throughout the month of May and participate in the national challenge. Kids who participate can come tell a librarian at the Children’s Desk and then receive a certificate and treasure box prize for their awesome efforts. Let’s open some windows!

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