Why we will always love books

Updated: Jul 18, 2018

Interview with Katherine Scholla, Former Preschool Teacher and Current Preschool Administrator

In your time working in the childcare field as both an administrator and teacher, do you notice a change in how children treat books? What are the challenges?

I have noticed a change in how children treat books. Children, and I am generalizing here because there are a few children who do treat books wonderfully, seem to have no qualms about damaging a book or treating it like a toy to be tossed around and handled roughly. Getting children to enjoy reading hasn't really changed, they still adore story time, but getting them to take care of the books and treat them nicely is a huge challenge.

When you were a pre-K teacher, what were some strategies you found most effective when teaching children to treat books nicely?

The easiest way to get children to treat a book nicely is to treat the books the way you would want them to treat books. They are little sponges that take in everything you say and do. They also are very aware of our reactions to situations and are very tapped into our emotions. I always talked to my students about how wonderful books were and that if we took good care of them, they could still be used and read years from now. I’ve noticed that they were very interested in old books. As children, they live in the present so the idea of something lasting for 50 years seemed ancient to them.

Why do you think taking the time to teach children to respect books is important? In an increasingly digital age, some would argue that books are becoming obsolete.

Books will never be obsolete. People love the tangible. We are creatures of our senses, we love to indulge in sensory exploration. The taste of a homemade meal, the smell of the ocean, the sound of laughter, or the feel of the page of a well-loved book in our hands are all wonderful indulgences that we yearn to experience. People realize that sometimes curling up with a book and a hot drink is paramount to dealing with the fast paced world we now live in. As the world becomes more digital, the need for real things becomes more important.

Illustration by Jeremy Wells

What are/were some of your favorite pictures books and why?

This is the hardest question ever! There are the classics like Where the Wild Things Are, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and The Giving Tree. When you read them, they take you back to your own childhood and lovely moments of nostalgia. I always love reading those to the children. I could re-read Owl Moon and What You Know First which are amazing children's books that bring me to tears every time. I feel that they capture this important part of a child's life where a major change happens and they take that next step in childhood.

Any favorite quotes or illustrators?

Neil Gaiman is one of my all-time favorite authors, he also has some of the best quotes out there.

"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us they can be beaten." Neil Gaiman

"The simplest way to make sure we raise literate children is to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them." Neil Gaiman

As for illustrators, my favorites are Leo and Diane Dillion and NC Wyeth. They all have a beautiful use of color that makes all of their illustrations seem otherworldly. There is some sort of honeyed light that seems to seep into the drawings. I also love how with Leo and Diane's illustrations you feel like you just stumbled into the middle of the story. NC Wyeth's illustrations for Treasure Island were my first exposure to those stories, so a lot of his pieces also call up a sense of nostalgia for me. There are many more wonderful illustrators out there, but these are the first that come to mind.

Do you have any recommendations for parents?

READ. Read every day to your children. Make reading a part of their fun family time, a special one on one time for you and them. Children also love to make the book itself an active part of the story time. Treat it like it has feelings and they will personify the book and connect with it more.


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