Before I badly sprained my ankle and at an atypical time of year, I ordered a large number of books — for my work, not for me personally. Some were to give away as birthday gifts to the students that the program I run serves. Most were to give away in mid-February to the students we tutor to tide them over during their break from school and in hope of supporting their gains in literacy when they are on their own. I was taking advantage of one of the publisher’s periodic “double free books for every $150.00 spent” deals. Worked out to about $1.64 per book. Not bad!
Anyway. I had no way of knowing when I placed the order that when the books were delivered, I would be on crutches, absolutely unable to move boxes of books from one place to another, however that’s exactly the condition I was in shortly after they arrived. They came on a Friday afternoon, all 30+ boxes of them, and I did my ankle in on that Saturday evening. Bruce helped me bring some of the boxes home the following Monday and the rest later that week. And when I say helped, I mean he brought them home for me. At my direction but with no other assistance (if, indeed, ordering him about is assisting) from me whatsoever.
For the next couple of weeks, during which I could do virtually nothing concerning my job except what I could accomplish via the virtual connection of email and the internet, I had boxes and piles, and piles and boxes of new books to sort through, inventory, catalog, and prepare for the two ways in which we give them to students who need them. And so that’s what I did. Some days even that work was too much. But I kept plugging away, and eventually part of the order was ready. Shortly before the Christmas break, Bruce helped me deliver the birthday books to the school librarian who implements that part of the program. And about a week ago, I finally finished sorting the remainder by reading level and then counted out carefully what I needed for whom, and boxed them up for the various classes of students that will receive them in mid-February.
As I worked on that latter part of the sorting, I kept thinking about the families of the students who would be receiving the books. I wondered if they knew about our program; that we volunteer our time and talent to tutor their children during the school day, that we provide field trips and other vocabulary-enrichment activities for them, and that we celebrate their successes with them, let alone give them books to support their learning during breaks in the school year. And so, I designed a bookmark to go in one of the five books each student will receive in their vacation book bags, and splurged a bit on having them printed and cut to size.
As of Monday the bookmarks are done and ready to go, and yesterday I spent a good hour and a half inserting one bookmark in one of the five books destined for each of the 345 or so students with whom we work. On one side of the bookmark I have listed what the tutoring program provides in 9-point detail.
On the other? On the other I drew a snowman. Reading a book. A book about a snowman. Kind of meta, don’t you think? And, somehow — me of simple mind — this amuses me to no end. Not that any of the Kindergarteners or 1st or 2nd graders are going to catch that detail, or ponder that bit of self-referentialism. But you? You do. Right? I knew you would understand. Thank you!