After 10 years and more than 700,000 donated books, Kansas City is growing a hooked-on-books generation....
“I’m seeing freshmen coming to school with books in their hands,” Schlagle High School librarian Shelia Blume said.
Not assigned books. Not homework. But their own books, she said.
Junior Amanda Chambers, who read more than 58,000 pages over the summer, figures on being an author, if not a fashion designer, or both.
Classmate Noradeli Lopez read more than 15,000 pages herself, pursuing her love of Laura Esquivel novels with the help of vision aids so that her fight with macular degeneration doesn’t slow her down.
What would they be without books? The two teenagers wince at each other just thinking about it.
“TV watchers,” Lopez said, with a tone that said she’d never let that happen.
Lopez came to Kansas City from Guatemala when she was 6, having no books at home and needing to learn English.
She recalled the first books she loved — the Clifford the Big Red Dog children’s books — and that brought a resonating smile from Chambers.
“Oh, they were awesome,” Chambers said.
The spreading of books in homes reaches in both directions. Younger children listen to their older siblings read and then take the books in their own hands. And sometimes an older generation catches on, too.I can't imagine having the time to read 58,000 pages over one summer, or the stamina to do so, for that matter. I'm a fairly quick reader and I average about 4,000 pages a month, but Amanda has read more than a year's worth of pages (at my pace) in less than three months. That's impressive.
Lopez’s mother had enough of hearing her daughter talk about the novels. Now she’s reading them too, Lopez said.
(Photo by Peggy Bair, Kansas City Star)