I’m a Library Technician in the Children’s Library at the Vancouver Public Library. I get to do a lot of amazing and profound things in my job, but honestly, one of the most inspiring and happy things I do all year is give out Summer Reading Club medals.
As a kid, “completion” was always an issue for me, so when a kid comes in with a Reading Record full of books that they’ve read, I go all out making a fuss over it. In that moment, nothing else exists. I look the kid in the eye, and express in the most heartfelt way I can, how proud and impressed I am at what they have done. What I want them to feel, in that moment, is that we, as grownups, as role models, think that what they have accomplished is fantastic. Yes, reading should be, and is, its own pleasure; but athletic kids, math kids, they get tangible rewards all the time for what they are good at. I want the kids who are into reading, and the kids who struggle with it, too, to know that we think they are awesome, just for doing what they do.
Today I had two kids come in, brothers, to collect their medals. I pored over their reading records, asked them about what they had read and told them how proud I was. I wrote up their certificates, and then I came around the desk to give them their medals. When I do this, I always envision the Olympics Medal Ceremony in my head… that’s what it is for me “…on behalf of the Vancouver Public Library, it is my great honour to bestow upon you this medal for the completion of the Summer Reading Club of 2014. Congratulations.”
I shook their hands and applauded. And just at that moment, a gang from the Book and Writing Camp were going by. I called out to them, “Hey guys, these kids just got their medals for Summer Reading Club!”
“Wow,” said the campers, “that’s great!” and they applauded, too.
Maybe the young brothers will remember it, maybe they won’t, but they are readers, they love books, they told me so, and today a whole bunch of big kids and one goofy adult told them that that was very cool.