|The Cheshire Cat for Read Across America Week|
This year I am eschewing Dr. Seuss and the Cat In the Hat for Read Across America Week. I work in a high school library, and Dr. Seuss is for BABIES. Yes, I said it. For BABIES. It's fine up until you're 5 or whatever, but to me Seuss does not have the lasting quality that Sendak, or some other classic children's writer/authors do. Anybody can just make up shit to fit a rhyme. I appreciate Seuss's art a lot more than I do his "writing."
I'm fully aware that Read Across America Week was created to coincide with Seuss's birthday on March 2nd, and that's nice. It's fine to give a nod to Seuss. But it's short-sighted and simplistic to think EVERYTHING about Read Across America Week has to be ALL SEUSS, ALL THE TIME, EVERY YEAR. Unless you're just not familiar with the great wealth of children's, teen, and young adult lit we have to draw on.
Especially for junior high and high school.
So I came up with the idea to decorate the library like Wonderland for the week of February 29th through March 4th, and my flyers and promotional stuff will all feature my version of the Cheshire Cat, wearing the Mad Hatter's Hat, and the tagline,
"Uh-oh! A different cat in a different hat is taking over Read Across America this year in the library!"This will give me a chance to highlight Lewis Carroll's original works, plus related works like Beddor's Looking Glass Wars, Gaiman's Coraline, books on mathematics, chess, poetry, dream interpretation, Victorian England, etc. (And yes, even my own Wonderland graphic novel that I wrote and Sonny Liew illustrated for Disney Press/SLG)
My campus is doing a week-long celebration in cooperation with our Alumni Association for RAAW 2016, and I'm on the planning committee, along with our admin. The Alumni are spotlighting alumni authors, and published works that are influenced somehow by our school. We have a bunch of local authors scheduled to do author forums in the auditorium on Monday and Friday of that week, and there will be a display in the library of books by alumni, and books about our school.
Throughout the week I have planned Wonderland-themed contests, and will give out prizes. There will be a Cheshire Cat scavenger hunt, a house-of-cards building contest, and a Queen of Hearts "guess how many candy hearts are in the jar" contest. Plus the library will serve as a hospitality room for any guests during the week, so I need to make sure it all looks really nice.
The culminating event of the week will be the author forum on Friday, and immediately following that will be a Mad Tea Party Reception in the library, which I'm currently planning with my awesome Volunteer Mom. Petit fours, multi-colored macarons, cucumber sandwiches, and a selection of teas will be offered.
I suggested that maybe for that week the Main Office could be Seuss's "Whoville," to appease Seuss-enthusiasts, and maybe the English building could be Hogwarts or something like that. I think all it would take would just be a little effort to decorate, and put some signs up. They could even have students do that part of it.
We have SSR at my school, although sadly many teachers don't observe it. For RAAW, we plan to reinforce SSR by having a different staff member on the video announcements for "Staff Book Breaks," in which they can share a favorite book, and maybe read a passage from it.
I've ordered paper lanterns that we're going to string across the library, and we're creating a Read Across America-themed backdrop for the presentations that will take place during the reception and also serve as a photo op. There is a very long, old, heavy wood table in the library that we're going to place in the center of the room and decorate as the Mad Tea Party table. One of the strange things we found in the library's back room when I started working there was a full silver tea service, so of course we'll use that! Plus the Nonfiction section will be transformed into the Tulgey Wood. I'm making myself insane with all of this, but I think there's enough time to get it in order by February 29th.
Incidentally, I recently finished reading Gregory Maguire's After Alice, and really enjoyed it. LOTS of food for thought. A very smart, multi-layered little book. Probably above the heads of most teens, though. It was almost over MY head.