Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Pink Flamingo to the Rescue
I've been doing some soul searching lately. That term has always sounded kind of hokey to me, but it is the best description for the process of introspective questioning and reflecting.
I've been trying to figure out how I can best channel my passion and my knowledge for children's literature into a career path that will make a real, positive contribution to others. I decided to pursue an advanced degree in Children's Literature (as opposed to Library Science or ELA education) because I enjoy studying, analyzing, critiquing and theorizing about literature. It's not just about reading it or shelving it, or figuring out how to align it to the common core, it's about seeing those picture books, middle grade novels and YA books as part of the world's literary tradition. Using theories such as Structuralism, psychoanalysis and Queer theory to view these texts in different lenses and consider them in different contexts.
But unfortunately, there are very few career paths for Children's Literature Scholars. We end up teaching (in schools or colleges), in libraries or in publishing. I figured out very quickly that the publishing world was not for me; it's fascinating and I loved learning about it, but I doubt I'd ever feel at home in it. I wanted to work in a library because it would give me the opportunity to connect with young readers, get them excited about reading, and put books in their hands that might help them become whoever they are going to turn out to be. The problem is that many positions in school libraries have not evolved as much as they should now that we are in the era of Learning Commons rather than information archives. Many school libraries do not receive the funding and support needed to make the transition, so they become outdated very quickly, which leads to even more budget cuts, because nobody is going to invest more money into something they view as antiquated. Library Media Specialists are struggling to change this mindset, and paraprofessional positions come with even more limitations. . .
Anyways, lately I've been trying to figure out if a school library position is the best fit. Like, "Am I really making any difference?" or am I just scanning barcodes endlessly?
This morning I walked in to find a nice little note on the desk, from one of sixth graders:
She didn't even know that I have a thing for pink flamingos.
And two days ago, another sixth grade girl brought me a jar of home-made jam:
It doesn't solve the underlying issues, nor provide answers for my essential question, but it does act as a balm for the end-of-the-school-year weariness.