Wednesday, January 28, 2009

President Barack Obama, books and reading.

In the New York Times, a matter of days before the inauguration of Barack Obama, Michiko Kakutani writes:

In college, as he was getting involved in protests against the apartheid government in South Africa, Barack Obama noticed, he has written, “that people had begun to listen to my opinions.” Words, the young Mr. Obama realized, had the power “to transform”: “with the right words everything could change -— South Africa, the lives of ghetto kids just a few miles away, my own tenuous place in the world.”

Much has been made of Mr. Obama’s eloquence — his ability to use words in his speeches to persuade and uplift and inspire. But his appreciation of the magic of language and his ardent love of reading have not only endowed him with a rare ability to communicate his ideas to millions of Americans while contextualizing complex ideas about race and religion, they have also shaped his sense of who he is and his apprehension of the world.

Read it in full: From books, President-elect Obama found his voice.  Books.  Even though he is, from everything I've read and seen, internet savvy.  Like many teacher librarians, the majority of his formal education took place before the internet was commonly accessible.  And books, from this article's information (including a book reading list) remain important to him.  As they should to us. 

As they are to us.  If I've learned one thing from the Twilightery of 2008, it is to see that those kids discovered that the hit they wanted to get, the one their friends were talking about, could only be found in the covers of a book, the immersive, engaging experience of reading a book.  Yes, there was a film - but the book (books/series) was not superseded by that.

The challenge for 2009 is to discover and work towards whatever it is, this year, that will build on that, keep the library relevant, important, fundamental to the school's educational endeavours.  How we can help them understand who they are.  How we can help them apprehend their world.


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