Librarian Chastises 9 Year-Old Kid For Reading Too Much

Hudson Falls Public Library
images courtesy Hudson Falls Public Library

Marie Gandron, a library director in Hudson Falls, NY, has advised 9 year-old Tyler Weaver to remove himself from participating in the annual public library reading contest, Dig Into Reading!, PostStar reports. Why? Tyler has read the most books five years in a row, and Gandron thinks someone else should have a chance to win.

Yeah.

After the boy's fifth win (he consumed 63 books over the summer), Gandron phoned Tyler's mother Katie Weaver and complained.

During a phone call Tuesday to Gandron, the library director said Tyler 'hogs' the contest every year and he should 'step aside.'

'Other kids quit because they can’t keep up,' Gandron said.

Gandron further told the reporter she planned to change the rules of the contest so that instead of giving prizes to the children who read the most books, she would draw names out of a hat and declare winners that way.

Of course, now that the cat is out of the bag, Gandron can't do a thing about it, which suits library aide Lita Casey just fine.

'We’re not going to see some of these kids until next year, and you’re worried about them (being treated equally), and then, you’ve got two kids who come in every week taking books out?' she said.

Casey said she called library board member Michael Herman to complain.

'My feeling is you work, you get it. That’s just the way it is in anything. My granddaughter started working on track in grade school and ended up being a national champ. Should she have backed off and said, ‘No, somebody else should win?'

Well put. Moreover, little Tyler Weaver will eventually grow up, and thus won't be able to participate anyway. So let the kid have his moment. Amirite?

Christopher Shultz

News by Christopher Shultz

Christopher Shultz  grew up watching old Universal monster movies and reading Stephen King. His stories have appeared in MicroHorror, the anthology 'Another 100 Horrors,' and Smashed Cat Magazine, among other places. Christopher lives in Oklahoma City with his fiancée Lauren and their two mostly well-behaved cats. He infrequently blogs at www.christophershultz.com and does the Twitter as @chris_shultz81.

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Comments

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn August 20, 2013 - 2:37pm

While we're at it, let's just tell guys like Lebron James and Tom Brady to stop playing so expertly so that other people can win too. Such bullshit. The marks should be set high. Tyler's my new hero!

 

James's picture
James August 21, 2013 - 1:57pm

The library could have handled it better but they were not all wrong.

The purpose of the contest was to create an incentive to read. If the structure of the contest (one winner, nothing for the rest) led to many kids being discouraged, then it is sensible to want to change how to pick the "winner" (you can argue that any kid who reads more is "a winner"). Picking from a hat would give more kids hope. My suggestion is to put the child's name in the hat once for every book they read so the more they read, the better their odds.

The library was wrong to put the child's (positive) behavior in a negative light. He should not have been discouraged from competing. It is not wrong for someone to win continually by outperforming continually.

Blue M Perry's picture
Blue M Perry August 21, 2013 - 2:14pm

@James, That is the purpose of competition, to drive someone else to do better.  If the other kids wanted to win, they could step up their reading as well, maybe spend less time playing video games and watching tv.  I am an avid video-gamer, fyi, but I also read at least a book a month, and often more, read much more as a kid.  Drawing names from a hat isn't a competition, it is a lottery, and at that point you are rewarding the minimal effort.  The point of the contest is to encourage reading, they should hold this child up as a star, and invite people to take down the champ, same as in any sport.  Get some other kid out their fired up to win.   

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn August 21, 2013 - 2:41pm

Agreed with Blue. If I had a child, and he/she were prompted to read 12, 10, even 5 more books a summer because of this kid, it's worth it. The "award" is meaningless.

@James: You're right in that where they really screwed up was in casting Tyler's win negatively. There was such a better way to handle all of this without making that kid feel like he did something wrong.

Rick Harvey's picture
Rick Harvey August 21, 2013 - 2:44pm

You had me up until you said "amirite" in an article about literature.

LiveHeart's picture
LiveHeart August 21, 2013 - 3:32pm

If they actually were losing a lot of kids from the program because they "couldn't win," the librarian's not out of line for wanting to come up with another way to keep them involved. She picked the wrong way to do it, is all. She would have been better off trying to get the kids to compete with the kid who always won (like in boxing) and offering prizes for the kids who "put up the best fight." Then, of course, the kid in the article should have gotten a great prize for being their "prize fighter."

John Henry's picture
John Henry August 21, 2013 - 4:37pm

Here is how you fix this... Stick with the drawing, but each kid gets a number of ballots for reaching certain reading goals.  The more you read, the more chances you have to win.  Give the kid with the most books read a ribbon or something so he feels like he got something.  Everyone is happy and has incentive to read more throughout the entire contest.  

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep August 21, 2013 - 4:45pm

Maybe do it like our library does. You read 15 mins a day, you get a weekly prize and your name in the drawing. As long as you read every day, you get the prize at the end. The more weeks you read, the more entries in the drawing you have. The grand prize is icing on the cake.

My kids were very happy that they got to pick out a book and a stuffed animal at the end of the reading program.

Rygg's picture
Rygg August 21, 2013 - 4:45pm

Typical example of the socialist mentality in our educational system.  What a horrible thing to do to an achiever of any sort.  I am glad the ideals of their early social engineering will fail simply by the reals.  I have no respect for these 'educators'.  

pcbeats's picture
pcbeats August 21, 2013 - 4:51pm

Proposed solution: Give Tyler a title (Legend, Sage, etc) and a plaque. He still competes each year should he choose, but to defend his title. Winner of the contest can change, still encourages other children to participate, Tyler maintains his recogniton for his achievements, and it sets a goal for the other children to try to accomplish something greater by attempting to dethrone Tyler and claim his title/plaque. 

Jeffrey England's picture
Jeffrey England August 21, 2013 - 5:24pm

she would draw names out of a hat and declare winners that way?????? That's not fair... just saying... Here's a competition where the winner doesn't really win! yay!

James's picture
James August 21, 2013 - 5:34pm

@Blue, the library's primary goal isn't to create competition, it is to encourage as many kids to read as possible. If more kids aren't reading, then their attempt at incentive is not working.

Since the goal is solely a practical one, there are proven methods to achieve this, we don't even have to wonder about a "right" one. Psychology offers proven methods of reinforcing behaviors, which is essentially the library's goal.

Jason Jones_3's picture
Jason Jones_3 August 21, 2013 - 6:30pm

This ...exactly this ...is what is wrong with America and the American education system. Instead of actually promoting hard work, determination, and excellance.....we will just draw a name out of a hat in fairness. What the hell is wrong with people. 

Sherri Mahaffey Umbaugh's picture
Sherri Mahaffey... August 21, 2013 - 7:14pm

It's awesome that he was reading that much, but just because the other kids can't keep up doesn't mean they are sitting around playing video games. Maybe they are involved in sports or other activities. Maybe they are spending time with family and friends or going to the pool or local parks. I think the idea of putting a ticket in for each book read is fair! While it's awesome to read a great number of books, it's also awesome to be well rounded. I don't agree with awarding mediocrity but I also don't like the idea of discouraging growth where learning is concerned

Lindsay Dreher's picture
Lindsay Dreher August 21, 2013 - 9:40pm

She didn't chastise him for reading too much, she chastised him for continuing to enter the reading contest that he has won five years in a row instead of just reading on his own, thus letting someone else be externally motivated to read more than they normally do.

As it is, someone who is already highly motivated to read is getting rewarded for doing so, while the other children, who might only be reading in hopes of winning the reward (sneaky way to get them into reading for its own sake), are tempted to quit since they know they will never win.

I don't think the argument "he worked hardest for it, he should win" is really relevant here. I think they just need to put a "previous year's winner is not eligible to participate" clause on there. Problem solved.

Chris Godsoe's picture
Chris Godsoe August 21, 2013 - 10:27pm

I think the appropriate thing to do is to have a drawing, but have each child be entered into it exactly as many times as the number of books they have read. That way, each child has incentive to read, and it encourages those that might be slower readers to finish as many as they can (to better their chances), because there's still an opportunity to win. It's really the only fair way to do it without penalizing the children that read extensively. 

A straight drawing, along with asking kids to drop out, is just dumb. 

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading The Color Purple August 21, 2013 - 11:45pm

I'm so tired of all the hand holding kids get these days. If they want to win then they should try harder, step up their game. Put in the effort and reap the reward. The big issue I have is that the kids "give up". I get that some kids read faster than others. This kid reads more than I do. Maybe I'm a terrible person, and a terrible teacher. I won't feature a kid's project on my wall/class if they didn't put a lot of effort into it. Same goes for games/contests. The winner gets the reward.

evel's picture
evel August 21, 2013 - 11:52pm

Lots of good suggestions for how else to solve this problem here. But Ryggs and Jason_Jones, please explain to me how a city library is evidence of the major failings of our educational system? Libraries are great resources and full of opportunities for people to educate themselves, but they are not part of and should not be confused with our public education system.

If you want to bloviate about the failings of American education, use an actual example of something promoted and controlled by educators, please. I'm really sick of the the abuse people like you heap on education, especially when you are flat out wrong.

BohemianMafia Boss's picture
BohemianMafia Boss August 22, 2013 - 1:34am

I am for positive reinforcement. They could have just made him a reading/literacy ambassador or perhaps appointed him as honourary librarian. 

AZJEM59's picture
AZJEM59 August 22, 2013 - 1:52am

Why change the way things are? This is what the reading contest is all about. So kids are crying that "that's not fair" UGH! I am so sick of hearing that. And you see what happeneds? The parents go complaining that their little Susie/Billy isn't getting what they want so change the rules. There is no motivation if they're gonna just draw names. Just another way to make more lazy and spoiled kids. I can't believe there is no child out there that can't read as many books. BTW, this is the age of LAZY PARENTS who don't want to have to do anything with the kids but plop them down with a game,TV or pizza. It shows a lack of lazieness on both parent and child. And if the kids still don't like losing then I suggest they find another contest or get busy reading. I also am a game player with 5 kids and 3 of them have won reading prizes since they were in grade K. It can be done but it actually takes work.

s p a c e s a r e a l l o w e d's picture
s p a c e s a r... August 22, 2013 - 2:39am

@Rygg
You must be trolling. Do you even underdstand what you're saying when you talk about socialist mentality?

CoolioMoolio's picture
CoolioMoolio August 22, 2013 - 11:56am

I don't know...I think getting kicked out of a competition because I was just too damn good would be pretty bad ass.

CoolioMoolio's picture
CoolioMoolio August 22, 2013 - 11:56am

I don't know...I think getting kicked out of a competition because I was just too damn good would be pretty bad ass.

Jacman's picture
Jacman August 22, 2013 - 12:38pm

First of all, we really don't know what happened here; we are reacting to the version of events set down by the article's writer, and who knows what biases he has. I am assuming that the librarian's motivation was to create an environment for more kids to read-- a good thing! Let's make lemonade here folks, not chop down the lemon tree!

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