Tuesday, April 20, 2021

George Washington Carver Program

When I worked as a children's librarian, I would do a program for Black History month about George Washington Carver and the many improvements he made. I also talked about peanuts and we did experiments comparing roasted peanuts (in the shell) with raw peanuts (in the shell).  

After the kids had taken the shells off of a lot of them, I took some of the roasted ones, tossed them into a blender and made peanut butter.  

Then I held a peanut butter tasting contest. I had previously bought a variety of types of peanut butter - 'natural,' famous brands, chunky, and creamy. I then had all the kids come up and taste each one and vote on the one they thought was the best. (if the homemade peanut butter had turned out okay, I would also include that one.) For sanitary reasons, I had bought a box of hundreds of spoons (from Costco) so they could use a spoon to taste, throw it into the trash can, then pick up a clean spoon for the next taste. Talley the votes. Proclaim a winner.  

Then hold a raffle to give out the remaining peanut butter jars plus send the kids home with the extra peanuts.  

Anyone who wanted to grow peanuts went home with some raw peanuts. They would come back later to tell me about how the plant grew.  

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Gary Paulsen - Gone to the Woods

 Once, a publisher asked me to write a biography of Gary Paulsen.  I wasn't sure how to go about it; how to contact him. And because there was very little already written about him, I had no resources to draw from.  At that point computers were white letters on a blue screen or black letters on a green screen and the internet was just being organized - just words, no pages, no pictures. So I went on to other projects.

But today you can read his life story as written by himself.

Gone to the Woods, Surviving a Lost Childhood (NY: Farrar Straus Giroux publisher) is the autobiography you should read.  Full of grit and growing up, this tale tells how he practically raised himself because his parents were drunks.  And he tells it like an adventure tale, even referring to himself as 'the boy.' 

He preferred to be in the woods or working on someone else's farm and kept running away from home. From school.  Finally, when he was a teen, he discovered that libraries were warm places to lurk in. Then -- the librarian gave him a book.  He couldn't read well, but the librarian gave him more books and he became a person who devoured books. And then -- the librarian gave him a notebook and he wrote a story. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Treat everyone like they are Real People

After I retired from being a children's librarian, I stopped by the library where I had worked to pick up a book and ran into a boy who is intellectually disabled who used to come into the library a lot when I worked there.  He was so happy to see me He had thought I was dead, because I hadn't been there to help him find the books he liked.  But the part that melted my heart was when he said that I was the only one there who treated him like a Real Person.