The Death Knell for Show-and-Tell
For Library Card Sign-Up Month, I visit every Kindergarten class in town. I talk about all the great reasons to have a library card, drop off applications for each student, and read a book - preferably a funny one. Because I visit at least 12 different classrooms, I usually bring an assortment of books so I don't get bored reading the same one in each class.
This year, I brought Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson (not funny, but a perfect choice for pitching libraries!) A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell (the "what not to do with your library book" book), and Elise Parsley's, If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't!.
If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't (2015, Little, Brown) is a new book that I find hilarious. A little girl brings her alligator to school for show-and-tell, and all havoc breaks loose. I thought it would bring some giggles to Kindergarten kids. At my first visit, I asked the teacher if the kids had begun show-and-tell yet. I wanted to make sure they would get the joke. I was told that the new, more rigorous Kindergarten curriculum did not allow the time necessary for the rather lengthy process of show-and-tell. The teacher suggested that the book would be best shared with preschoolers as they are the only ones with time for show-and-tell. How sad.
This isn't an individual teacher's decision, it is a by-product of strict, standards-based education. I get it. I truly do, but I am glad that I am not a child today. Today's body of knowledge is so much greater than it was when I was in school, and the process of educating children has moved to a business-like model. These factors combine to remove much of the joy of early learning - free play, music, art, and show-and-tell.
If you're a parent or librarian or teacher with a few minutes of free time, spread some joy wherever you can. Life is hard - even in Kindergarten.