Thursday, August 11, 2011

Takes One To Know One

Tis' the season of reading lists coming in at the end of the summer.  The long days that seemed to stretch endlessly ahead are quickly coming to their conclusion and every procrastinator out there is realizing that "plenty of time" has dwindled down to "this is due next week."

The more prepared, more disciplined among you may not understand this, but I love these little procrastinators.  I find their panic slightly endearing, their urgency kind of funny, and their overwhelming gratitude completely rewarding.  I will go the length and width of my library, scouring to find something  on the school reading list they can read and slap together the corresponding project for.

"You can do this,"  I tell them, and they are relieved to hear that someone thinks so.

I'm particularly delighted if we have the thinnest book from the list on our shelves.  "Your lucky day!" I exclaim, "You'll be able to knock this out in no time."  (If they were such a great reader, I reason, they wouldn't have dreaded and put it off for so long.)  This is no time to be whipping out fat books that look daunting.  This is no time to ask them to challenge themselves with some obscure award-winner that was a total sleeper-how-did-it-win-an-award dead-weight.

I look for the easiest, most accessible titles, the ones that still evoke good memories for me all these years later, the ones that might leave the reader thinking, "Hey!  This isn't so bad..."

I find them audio versions.  I find them graphic novels and suggest they scan them first before trying to dig into the original text with no idea what it is supposed to be about.  For highschoolers, I look for study guides and commentaries.  Old BBC versions of classics that will help them be able to picture a distant time or place.

Here's what I wish I could say to them:

As time goes on, you'll probably learn (as I have, to greater and lesser degree), that procrastinating is a lifestyle strategy of diminishing returns.  

But for now, while you pull your all-nighter (from which you'll bounce back with ease you'll take for granted) I hope you'll be encouraged by the memory of the librarian who is in your corner--cheering you on to find out what you're capable of, what you can produce, what you can complete, what you can really dig in and do...

You can do this.  You really can.

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