Friday, September 30, 2011

Inklings: One Reader's Journey Begins

I have been on the school schedule since I was 5 years old. I’ve felt the energy every September as a child and later as an adult – a new year with all the new possibilities it holds. September has paced my life more than January’s New Year resolutions ever have.

I so look forward to returning to school.
Except for one year.

I am the youngest of my family and took full advantage of being my mom’s last child, her baby. Many of you enjoy the same position in your families – the one who tends to get away with behaviors that your older siblings would never dream of trying. Suffice to say that my mother and I were very close while my sisters and I were very, uhmmm…less close.

So when it came time for me to begin kindergarten, I engaged in a behavior that previously was not observed in my house. I cried every single day.

I would start as soon as I woke up, before my little pajamas were cold and my freshly ironed dress was completely buttoned. I cried through my cereal and my french toast. I cried while my mom slopped hair goo on me to keep my bangs from falling in my face. (We weren’t allowed to have bangs once we turned 5 but my hair never got the memo.) I really cranked up when I had to get in the car. I was a total mess by the time we pulled up to school, and my older sisters exited our station wagon in complete disgust. Such distress just couldn’t continue; everyone could see that.

My mom, who seemingly had years of experience under her belt in dealing with little girl meltdowns, hit upon the strategy of bribery. (A dicey strategy as every parent knows. The epitome of the ‘slippery slope’.) So here’s what I was promised every day that I didn’t cry: a brand new Golden Book. The woman was a genius. All I had to do was hit upon the delicate balance of looking like I was going to cry but clenching my jaw to show true determination. And I found that delicate balance and I honed that skill. I had a Golden Book collection that was the envy of the neighborhood.

Is it any wonder I grew up to be a librarian?

Little Golden Books changed publishing history. For the first time, children's books were high quality and low-priced. They were available to almost all children, not just a privileged few. Click to read the story of Little Golden Books.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Character Report Cards?

From the NY Times article "What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?" By Paul Tough:
 “...students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at KIPP; they were the ones with exceptional character strengths, like optimism and persistence and social intelligence. They were the ones who were able to recover from a bad grade and resolve to do better next time; to bounce back from a fight with their parents; to resist the urge to go out to the movies and stay home and study instead; to persuade professors to give them extra help after class.”

Do you think character report cards are a good idea?
KIPP’s New York City schools graduate from school with not only a G.P.A. but also a C.P.A. (character-point average). Do you think it benefits students to know your character strengths and weaknesses? Do you think it could improve your chances of success? Click to see a sample character report card. Tell us how you feel – take the poll on the right.