Arguing with the librarian to read

evidence comic

I’ve had a couple of encounters with librarians. Yes, that is the kind of rebel I am.

Once when I was in second grade I went to check out a book and the librarian didn’t want to let me check it out. She said that it wasn’t the the right reading level for me and I wouldn’t be able to understand it. I knew I could read it because I had previewed some of the paragraphs when I choose it and I told her “I’ll make you a deal. If I can read a paragraph to your satisifaction you will let me check out the book.” She agreed confident that I couldn’t read it. I read it perfectly and looked at her expectedly like “I told you so.” She checked out the book and didn’t bother me for any book I wanted to check out.

Now as an adult thinking back I have to wonder some things.

  1. Why would someone who is dedicated to helping children read argue that a child can’t read something? If I couldn’t read it, then I would return it and get a different book. I clearly had an interest in reading, and not understanding one book wasn’t going to change that.
  2. If I could read it, then why assume that everyones reading level is an individuals reading level. Why did I have to pass a test to “earn” the right to read a book that I had a right to read anyway. Gatekeeping a book because you don’t believe someone can understand it is elitist and counter productive.
  3. If I couldn’t read the book or struggled with it, then it was a learning opportunity for me and it might have encouraged me to learn new words or ideas that the book had. Why deny people the chance to struggle? Life doesn’t deny the chance to struggle and people do grow from struggle.
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I can’t think of a single valid reason she had to deny me reading that book. I can’t think of any valid reason any librarian has to deny reading to a child or adult of any age.