Friday, 30 January 2015

Libraries that get children excited

One of my five theories from my PhD research was that children's mobile libraries "worked" because the anticipation of them arriving and then disappearing made children excited. I noticed many times, all over the UK, that the children who came onto the vehicles were happy, smiling, looking pleased and excited. There were two or three children, I think, that were more cautious and shy and showing that they did not really want to be there, but that was out of about 700 children that I observed. There was even one pre-school child that came on with her mother, before any other children had come on to the vehicle, that was running up and down the vehicle with the simple glee of being surrounded by books. She want to borrow far too many. Her mother said, when apologising for the daughter's behaviour, that she was always excited on the day that the CML visited because she liked it so much. Here are examples of two other vehicles where the excitement happens:

My theory, which I may have mentioned before, is that when something is ephemeral, and comes and goes away, but you know that it will return again, makes humans interested, It is not always there, so you don't get used to it and you think you will go, but not get around to it. If it visits just briefly, then you are much more likely to go because you can only catch it then. It is a bit like a travelling show, or an ice cream van, or a fish and chip van (yes we have them in the UK). You must get there before it disappears.

The next time that you know it is due, you anticipate the pleasant experience that you had last time (assuming of course that you did). Your brain then starts to produce adrenaline, which makes you excited (a bit like going on a fairground ride). This works positively for learning, because the adrenaline makes your brain more alter and receptive to what is going on all around you, and if what is going on all around you is books and words and stories, then more of it is going to sink in and stick.

This is why the children in the Goddard School South Brunswick didn't want to wait to put their jackets on before running out to the bookmobile.

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