Gateway to Reading

Welcome back! Here's hoping your vacations were as pleasant as mine. I was able to return to the Pacific Northwest, and I spent some time in a museum in Oregon that a friend of mine works at. It was interesting to see the ways that libraries and museums differ. I wanted to ask the librarian about her collection, but it was her birthday and she was out. I did get to see the way certain artifacts are stored though!

What I really want to talk about happened before my vacation. Just before I left, I had the opportunity to see Marc Brown, creator of the beloved Arthur television series, at the Boston Public Library. The talk he gave was part of BPL's Lowell Lecture Series. Luckily for me and other kid lit types, this year's theme happens to be "Gateway to Reading." Marc Brown is only the second of many more lectures--many of which you might want to check out. (I'd extend my commercial beyond this, but I think you can decide for yourself what you'd be interested in.)

Things I learned from Marc Brown: Arthur is now the longest running children's television program (just renewed for two more seasons!); Arthur has taken to addressing more difficult issues, such as cancer or Asperger's syndrome; and, lastly, Arthur's nose used to be longer when he was originally drawn. I won't go into the details here because you should be able watch the talk for yourself on the series homepage.

As you can see, the structure of his talk was to answer questions that children asked him as opposed to giving a lecture about his work. It was an interesting concept--and certainly less self-aggrandizing. I appreciated the way the librarians had prepared some students from around the area ahead of time to submit questions to answer onstage, while also opening it up to live audience members. It's definitely a strategy to tuck into one's back pocket. The kids get really excited, and it's awesome to watch them in the spotlight.

Needless to say, this isn't the first of the lecture I'll be going to. Perhaps I might see you during Norton Juster's talk on April 2. Don't be afraid to say hello!


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