I was prepared. The first grade class visiting the library was going to learn something amazing and new today. After introducing the little ones to the mind-boggling topic, I would read them a story related to it. Surely children of such tender years would not have learned about this phenomenon. After all, the school year is only beginning. With the confidence of one about to introduce heretofore unknown information to an eager audience, I began to speak about a diminutive creature–the Monarch butterfly–that migrates from parts of the United States and Canada to Mexico every fall and, if that were not remarkable enough, flies back in the spring.
In my enthusiasm, I did not take into consideration the fact that we live in the electronic age. As soon as I began speaking, not a few little tykes informed me that they knew about this already–thanks to nature programs on television, DVDs, and the like.
Fortunately, their familiarity with the subject did not lessen their interest in the phenomenal book I planned to read: Gotta Go! Gotta Go! by Sam Swope. If anything, it enhanced it. Every time the caterpillar repeated her refrain of “Gotta go to…” the listeners enthusiastically jumped in with a loud “Mexico!” Everyone was fascinated by illustrator Sue Riddle’s depictions of the tiny butterfly against the backdrop of the scenery she passes on her journey. Their knowledge of the subject freed them to appreciate the details–the loneliness, the dangers, the exhaustion the little heroine experiences when she reaches her destination. So, far from the first graders’ already knowing about what I had planned to introduce to them resulting in my plan falling flat, it made it blossom. And this librarian learned something from the experience.