There are so many terrific people in the kid lit world, and Margie Culver is pretty near the top of my list. She has inspired me in so many ways over the years by her bravery and her positive outlook. She not only loves dogs and books, she loves to connect kids with each. Today’s essay gives us a glimpse into how she does it and what it means to her.
On a very special once-a-week drive I have seen herds of deer. I’ve seen golden tunnels fashioned from fall leaves. I’ve seen diamond necklaces formed from water and cold on bare branches. I have seen flocks of turkeys. And on one spectacular afternoon I saw two bald eagles stopped in a field to feast. As beautiful as all these natural wonders are they pale in comparison to the sight which greets me on my arrival at Parma Elementary School in Parma, Michigan.
When I walk into a specific third-grade classroom, home of educator Colby Sharp and twenty-seven students, I see happiness and hope etched in the features of every single face. Everyone, even Mr. Sharp, gathers on their story rug in the corner of the room to listen and share the wonder of reading aloud. For forty-five minutes to more than an hour pictures books are read or portions of graphic novels and middle grade novels. We are immersed in the magic of books and reading.
We talk about dust jackets and the surprise underneath on some of the book cases. We examine the endpapers and talk about title, verso and dedication pages. We learn to look for details in the artwork like Easter eggs. We feel the cadence created by the author’s words. During these visits you’ll hear laughter, sighs of relief and sadness, gasps and applause for a story well-told by author and illustrator. (KL note: check out this tweet for a heart-tugging kid reaction to Margie’s energy.)
Sometimes Mulan, my chocolate Labrador puppy will attend held in the arms of Mr. Sharp. Sometimes I will stay past our read aloud gathering, listening to students read books aloud to me. Without fail every week, students eagerly tell me what they are reading without any prompting on the part of Mr. Sharp or me. Each week when I leave this third grade classroom at Parma Elementary School in Parma, Michigan I am a different person. I am enveloped in a love of reading. This is the sight of a promising future. (To date we have read seventy-eight books.)
Margie Culver can’t remember a time when she was not reading. With every turn of page her views, impressions and understanding of the world, past, present, future and fantastical, have increased. She’s been educated and entertained; had her heart broken and made whole again with hope. She began teaching as a school librarian in 1973. It was the single best decision that she ever made; working in K-12 school libraries for 34 years. Through grants she was able to work for another two years. She writes posts about as many wonderful books as she can at Librarian’s Quest. You are welcome to follow her on Twitter @Loveofxena.