I've never been much of an artist. I can sketch well enough that the object is recognizable, but my drawings of people and my playdoh figurines probably haven't changed much since 4th grade. I appreciate art- color, contrast, texture... but I would never consider myself an artist.
I prefer a different kind of canvas. Every day I get to read stories to elementary-aged students. Those faces, and the minds behind them, are my canvas. I'm not a teacher, per se, but I know that connecting children to characters, to stories, to books, to reading... provides building blocks for education and intellectual curiosity. I believe advancing literacy is more important than achieving high scores on standardized tests, although there certainly is a correlation.
Working as a librarian, even temporarily, is like spending time with my childhood friends. From Green Eggs and Ham to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the whole Nancy Drew series, the amazing illustrations of Eric Carle, Tomie de Paola, and Maurice Sendak... and the company of a thousand other characters, I am home. I credit my academic success, my imagination, my analytical mind, my love of stories, and my desire to communicate through the written word to those early years reading everything I could find.
I know reading books seems outdated to some, under the premise that we are in the electronic age, that all information can be sought online and "books" can be downloaded. But when I see the faces of 5-year-olds who get their very own book, even for just a week, about princesses or kitty cats or birthdays or spiders or whatever excites them... I know books still have value, and that the more children have access to books instead of TV, computers, and video games, the better chance the next generation has to know themselves, to achieve success, to build relationships with others, to learn from the past, to share ideas, and to build a better tomorrow for themselves and generations to come.
Be a hero. Connect a child to a book today.