Thursday, August 03, 2006

Summer of 2004 at the Library Changed My Life

I'm on a roll here. I've been writing about all the ways that the Summer Reading Club in Texas, created by The Texas State Library, and hosted by libraries all over Texas, has changed my life and continues to change my life in simple, but profound ways each year.

This post is about what happened in 2004 when the summer reading theme in Texas was "Color Your World". I created a show with the same name, in which I dress like a crazy artist and my dragon puppet (named Meihoo) magically steals color from the world. Only through an understanding we get from books found in the library are we able to convince Meihoo of the error of his ways.

I wanted to create a show about bullying and diversity, but as a former special education teacher I wanted to address diversity in a way that hadn't been explored in as much depth as many other forms of diversity. I wanted to address the diverse abilities and unique capabilities of different children.

So yes, we talk about different clothes, different foods that people eat, different languages, different cultures, but we also focus on how similar we all are.

We talk about how people love to read and I bring out a book in Braille and show the kids how children read who are unable to see printed words. I hold a book from the Moses series by Issac Millman. These books are about a deaf child who visits various places and each book teaches some sign language.

We cover children in wheel chairs and those who use walkers, too. In the end I sing a song, and this is where the real growth for me came. I am not a singer. I have never (prior to 2004) had voice lessons, sung in a choir, or in any other way made any real attempt to sing. But here I was, singing a very powerful song that almost all the children can relate to.

Was it scary? Yeah. Was it a risk for me to include this in my show? A HUGE risk! Was it worth it? When I see fifth graders watching the show and leave with red eyes and wet cheeks, and I see them look at each other in a different way, then yeah, there's no doubt it was worth it.

Color Your World

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