Lately I’ve been feeling like this even though I am a librarian. I have a number of bilingual students who would really like to read stories in their native language occasionally. Who wouldn’t? The problem is when they ask ME for that book. There isn’t really a “bilingual section” in the library where I can send students to browse for that just right book. I’ve spent the last 8 months coming up with a whole lot of nothing to offer, except for a couple translated Dr. Seuss books.
Out of the blue, our ELL teacher asked me if it would be okay for her to purchase some bilingual books and donate them to the library. What? Was I hearing that right? She would spend her PTSA money and give us the books? I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
Then last week I went searching for a favorite Cinderella book, only to find that the 398.2 section was a miserable mess. The next day, I took every fairy tale book off the shelves, did a fast and furious weeding of the most ugly and awful books, and re-shelved everything. It was four hours of singing the alphabet song through dust and stinky pages. Definitely not fun. At times I felt like I was buried in the stinky book muck.
What did I discover in the process? A whole bunch of bilingual fairy tale books! I was delighted by the news. Granted some kids don’t consider fairy tale books the top-tier of reading, but I had at least something more than Green Eggs and Ham to offer my bilingual students. Plus those new ones were arriving soon. Things were great, until they weren’t.
What would I do with them? Where would I put everybody and non-fiction bilingual fairy tales where they could be found together easily and logically by students? I decided to ask Mary Schroeder, my “Batwoman” a librarian friend who also ponders the answers to these types of questions. Her answer? Put them in the 400’s – the language section. That’s what she has been doing. Language dictionaries, children’s stories and fairy tales will be shelved together by language in the 400’s.
Easy. Problem solved. Whew! Is it June 16th yet?