Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Why 'March Reading Madness' Is More Than Just a Game

I truly love children's books. So I find the idea of making them 'battle' each other in a reading tournament barbaric, and one that I have resisted for a few years. It's just too painful when you see Amelia Bedelia take down Frog & Toad. Sure, she's great and my older daughter was a huge fan. But she beat FROG & TOAD. I had them going to the final 2 (confession - I wimped out and never really picked a final 1). 
But for some reason, it made sense this year. Ms Patty and Director Nancy compiled the Adult Fiction Frenzy list and I took care of the Children's (picture book) Classic and Elementary Reading Battle. (I apologize for not making a Teen Tournament. Maybe next year?) Anyway, March Reading Madness is kind of wacky, not really scientific, and one could argue, a waste of time. Or is it?

So, here are 5 Reasons Why March Reading Madness is Worthwhile:

1. It reminds us what our patrons enjoy.
When our young patrons fill out the brackets, they are telling me what they like without having to actually tell me (which is sometimes hard). I thought for sure that Scaredy Squirrel would win in round 1, and while it was close, Curious George eventually beat Scaredy. I didn't see that coming.

2. It gives you a glimpse into someone else's reading life.
Most book people love to talk about books with other book people. It's what we do. Hearing parents and children discuss these match-ups is heart warming! We've also had a few heated discussions behind the desk as a result of this tournament! It's a blast to hear which books are favorites, and interesting to hear which books some kids just don't know. This goes for adults as well. (Confession - I had never heard of A Thousand Acres until March Reading Madness!)

3. It restored my faith that I have given my own daughters a solid reading foundation.
My 13-year-old really enjoys reading. But her 'reading life' hasn't always been easy for me. You would think as a child of a Children's Librarian, she would know what her obligations were! Read everything mom gives you, ask for more, gush over it all, repeat.
 In 5th grade, she had a project at school where the students made timelines of their 'Reading Lives', adding books they loved, ones that inspired them, etc. She brought it home one day and I nearly burst into tears. She clearly didn't put much effort in, listed maybe 2 book titles (and 1 was a gimmicky version of Wheels on the Bus), and seemed to have forgotten everything I thought I had instilled in her.
Flash forward to one night when I was creating the March Reading Madness brackets. My younger daughter found out what I was doing, and in an attempt to put off bedtime, had to fill out the brackets. Suddenly, my older daughter was interested too. Soon, she was remembering old characters that she loved, and gushing (yes, gushing!) over Amelia Bedelia and Lily's Purple Plastic Purse!  Needless to say, I let them stay up late to finish.
(just a note: I kept that school assignment and after this epiphany, I made the now 7th-grader redo it with me. What can I say, I'm her cross to bear.)

4. It's a fun gimmick that anyone can adapt and run with, and learn more about the readers in their lives.
One patron recently told me that she was inspired to create a mini-tournament for the students that she teaches, based on the books they read in class this year. Pass it on!

5. It helps children of this new age discover favorites from our old age.
Seeing empty spots on our display is one of my favorite things! It means someone took that book home, or at the very least, looked at it here in the Library. They may know The Day the Crayons Quit, but they may not know Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Next time here on the blog - 5 important March Reading Madness battles, and why they make you feel yucky inside when you have to choose!