Every year as schools wind down, the library winds up. Summer is just around the corner and the bulk of LPL’s Youth Services department went out into the wild-- aka USD 497-- to promote the Summer Reading Program. (If you want to learn more about it, when it starts, how long it lasts, what even is it? Go here.)
Getting to see kids in their natural habitats is one of my favorite things about working in Youth Services; you get to say hi to the kids you know well and maybe even make a new friend or two, but above all you are trying to wow the children of Lawrence into reading all summer long. We have a couple of different approaches to making the summer reading hype real, but by far the most enjoyment is still had by reading a good book. And oh boy did we find a winner this year.
Finding a book to delight elementary schoolers can be a daunting task, especially if you think about the differences between kindergarteners and third graders. Now while you're flipping through possible book titles in your head that will please wiggly learning-to-readers and adept readers of chapter books, add to your mental image: you are now standing at the front of a gym or cafeteria with roughly 300 kindergarteners through fourth graders sitting in front of you.
You still have a book that will hold up? Last year I used The Book with No Pictures and I am not going to lie to you. It killed. If you haven’t had the chance to pick up this gem, you will not be disappointed if you have a young person in your life. It is utterly ridiculous. It makes adults say silly things which kids find hysterical. Plus you will at some point be saying the words: “Boo Boo Butt.” There were some school visits last year where The Book with No Pictures was read multiple times.
Not wanting to rest on my laurels and read the same book again (although I am sure they would love it), a quest was undertaken to find a new book that would be just as wonderful. I was skeptical that we would find something, but then my coworker and fellow lover of absurdity, Matt, found I Say Ooh You Say Aah, and I knew we had struck school-visit gold. Not only is this book laugh out loud hilarious, but it has a level of interaction that is rare in picture books. Tap the Magic Tree, Press Here and Abracadabra! It’s Spring! all use this ploy, but there’s something so genuine and funny in the way this book engages its kid audience.
As the book asks kids to say Aah, or pat their heads, or yell underpants, author John Kane weaves all of these points of engagement into an excellent punchline. The 4th Graders I read it to were definitely putting the pieces together but still laughing along, while the kindergarteners were caught by surprise and laughed out loud in the delight one feels in being hilariously bamboozled.
The bold, graphic illustrations and engaging text made I Say Ooh You Say Aah a school visit winner, but I have no doubt that it will inspire laughter in households all over Lawrence this summer. Plus guess what? If you read it after May 23rd, you can put it on your Summer Reading Log and be well on your way to earning awesome prizes.
If you're ready for fun this summer, come down to the library, pick up your summer reading catalog and a copy of I Say Ooh You Say Aah. Giggles and guffaws will be yours… well until you have to return it. See you this summer for more reading fun!
-Lauren Taylor is a Youth Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.