Rules Are Not for Everyone...but Libraries Are!
by Judy Newman with Alexie Basil
The Newton Free Public Library played a huge role in my childhood and in my life as a reader.
It was the first away-from-home place I could go to on my own steam—riding my blue banana bike. I would visit at least every weekend during the school year (begging a ride when the roads were too snow covered to cycle) and every day during the summer months. Once I had my own library card, I would choose books that I wanted to read: novels, biographies, poetry, comics—books on any subject by authors I loved and authors I had just discovered. And I could borrow them and take them home…for free!
The library empowered me, allowing me to express my personal tastes in what I chose to read. It was in the Newton Free Public Library where I first met Harriet the Spy, Homer Price, Beezus and Ramona Quimby, and the Gilbreth family of Cheaper by the Dozen. These are my lifelong friends and role models.
I am so lucky that I had bike-ride-away access to my local library. It was stocked with both new books and classics, employed a wonderful librarian, and was open all the time. The hours I spent there helped define me.
But I know that not all kids have access to such libraries. This is why I was truly, madly, deeply excited to hear that James Patterson wanted to partner with Scholastic Reading Club in giving grants to help build libraries so that all kids can have the kind of access to books that I had as a child.
Over the past three years, Patterson has donated $3.5 million to public schools and libraries, believing that “getting good books into the hands of kids—books that will make them want to say, ‘Wow, that was great. Give me another one to read.’”—is what’s “most important.”
In the video below, hear from past recipients of James Patterson's generous donations about what the grants did for their school libraries.
We are particularly thrilled to be partnering again with James Patterson on his pledge to donate $1.75 MILLION to help teachers build their classroom libraries. As you probably know, classroom libraries give all students immediate access—right in their classrooms, no blue banana bike needed—to age-appropriate, interesting, motivating books collected by their teachers.
It’s crucial to support the ever-important effort of funding classroom libraries. Findings from the Scholastic Teacher & Principal School Report: Equity in Education indicate that 31% of teachers have fewer than 50 books in their classroom libraries, while more than half of teachers (56%) use their own money to purchase books. With this new Patterson/Scholastic Reading Club pledge, 3,500 teachers will each win $500 plus 500 Bonus Points to develop their classroom libraries.
Please take the opportunity to apply here!
In addition to his magnificent commitment to supporting libraries and literacy initiatives, James Patterson has broken virtually every publishing record. At this writing, he has published more than 140 books and holds the Guinness World Record for the most—67—New York Times bestsellers. Of those, more than 30 have been #1.
I first met Jim more than a decade ago when he had just begun publishing books for young readers. He came to Montclair, New Jersey, to do a school visit and book signing during the Scholastic Book Fair at my kids’ school. He was mesmerizing, and his enthusiasm for his books—and for helping kids find books they love to read—was infectious. And, mostly, I was excited for young readers everywhere that this bestselling adult author was going to apply his passion and prowess for great storytelling to books for kids.
Jim was inspired to create stories for younger readers that would motivate his own son, Jack (and other reluctant readers), to find books he would like to read. From this, the bestselling Daniel X, Maximum Ride, and Witch & Wizard series were born, firmly establishing James Patterson as a writer for kids. He also created ReadKiddoRead in 2008, whose goal is to get kids to say, “Please give me another book!”
This week, we are featuring a Scholastic Reading Club favorite, the bestselling Patterson series Middle School. And the first book in the series, The Worst Years of My Life, cowritten by Chris Tebbetts, is Scholastic Reading Club’s Dollar Deal this week! It stars a sixth grader named Rafe Khatchadorian, who decides to break every single rule in the student Code of Conduct. You can learn more about Rafe (Rules Aren’t For Everyone—get it?) and his antics by checking out other posts on our blog this week.
What People Are Saying
“Hand this book to misbehaving, socially awkward, or disengaged boys and girls.…It might help them believe that there is a place for them in the world, no matter how dire times may seem in the present.” —School Library Journal (starred review)
I was pretty well-behaved through most of junior high, but I was definitely a rule breaker in high school. I will save those stories for another day and let David Vozar, Scholastic Reading Club’s Creative Director—who was inspired after reading The Worst Years of My Life—share his much-tamer-than-mine rule-breaking experience in junior high:
“The biggest challenge for me when I went to middle school—or junior high school, as we called it then—was changing classes during the day. It wasn’t changing subjects or teachers that gave me trouble. It was getting from classroom to classroom at the sound of the bell.
“John Adams Junior High was a big rectangle with a garden in the center. There was a rule that all the kids had to go in the same direction. It was a one-way hallway.
“My first class after homeroom was just two rooms away. Unfortunately for me, it was two classrooms away in the wrong direction. On the first day, I tried to get there by walking the shortest distance only to be met by hundreds of kids coming at me and teachers scolding me for trying to ‘swim upstream.’ I then had to go all the way around the school to get to my next class.
“I tried many times to avoid this by darting out as soon as the bell rang, but I rarely succeeded in avoiding the teachers in the hall.”
On behalf of everyone at Scholastic Reading Club, I want to thank James Patterson for inspiring us to remember our middle school antics and reminding us how vitally important it is that every child has access to great books and wonderful libraries. I salute James Patterson. He takes seriously the expression “put your money where your mouth is.”
Again, please take a moment to apply for the Patterson Pledge here, and enjoy this week’s Dollar Deal: Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life.
Happy reading! And once you’re done, we hope you’ll say, “Please give me another book!”
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Reading Club