Let me start by saying that I love the Reading Fair. In fact, I adore it and everything it stands for. This former English major turned MFA student turned failing memoirist/adjunct composition instructor and now copy director at a small ad agency is just thrilled by the way it inspires kids to read. To read! To eschew YouTube tutorials and Musical.ly drivel and crawl inside the dogeared pages of actual chapter books? Yeah... pure wizardry. And the Reading Fair doesn’t just inspire kids to read but also to think critically about story structures and to create utterly unique visualizations of their budding analyses out of the very materials that elementary school magic is made of – trifold poster boards, construction paper and rubber cement.
You see, Fifth Grade Reading Fair Powers That Be, it is my deep affection for the Reading Fair and all its didactic glory that made me feel so betrayed when the assignment guidelines for your fine event came home in my daughter’s backpack, and I read your closing line on the instruction sheet:
(Insert the deflated balloon whistle of my sinking heart.)
My first reaction was outrage: Why are we telling 10-year-olds to look online for creative inspiration when their very own brains hold the kind of artistic wonder and freedom we as adults can only dream of rediscovering? Why, when our eager, curious, hardworking children reach a point in their captivating ideation process are we dismissing them with a simple, “Google that shit?”