Booktalking Is Her Dream Job
by Mindy Moreland
During her more than three decades as an elementary school teacher, Anne Shalas’ favorite part of each day was the chance to share books and new ideas with her students. When she retired from teaching, she missed her classroom, and those special hours. Fortunately, the library’s Books 2 U program now provides her with a chance to visit schools county-wide, sharing new stories with young people and encouraging a lifetime of reading.
Anne serves as a Book Talker, one of a special group of volunteers in the Books 2 U program who bring paperback books to targeted classrooms around Multnomah County. Book Talkers visit 3rd through 6th grade classes, bringing armloads of books for the students to check out from their in-classroom library. Each Book Talker visit features a fun, high-energy presentation of new titles, an aspect of the position that Anne particularly enjoys. “I get to be a ham,” she says, adding that her natural introversion seems to vanish when she has the chance to perform for a group of students. Thanks to her talents, and those of her fellow volunteers, the Books 2 U program now reaches more than 25,000 students at 49 schools, as well as a robust summer outreach program.
Now in her fifth year as a Book Talker, Anne relishes the connections she has with her former school, thanks to Books 2 U, as well as the chance to connect with students and watch them grow. Anne compares the experience of being a Book Talker to that of being a classroom grandparent, able to experience all the best parts of classroom teaching all over again while helping hundreds of new students each year to get excited about reading. “It’s the absolute perfect dream retirement position,” she says.
A Few Facts About Anne
Home library: Albina Library
Currently reading: In Falling Snow by Mary Rose MacColl and just finished How Children Succeed by Paul Tough.
Most influential book: No one book has been a predominant influence. Poetry probably has had more of an influence on me: A. E. Housman, W.H. Auden and Robert Frost.
Favorite book from childhood: Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders about a badly abused dog, though it had a happy ending! I read and reread it for several years.
A book that made you laugh or cry: I laugh at a number of authors, PJ O’Rourke, Dave Barry, A. J. Jacobs, Richard Peck, PG Wodehouse, but one that made me laugh and cry both was a book by Caitlin Moran, called How to be a Woman. Moran is someone I think of as a British Tina Fey.
Favorite section of the library: I enjoy the new and Lucky Day sections, but can spend ages just perusing the shelves. I just love books and the atmosphere of being in the library.
E-reader or paper book? Paper books, no contest, especially the feel and smell of a new book's pages.
Favorite reading guilty pleasure: Books I enjoy, even though I know they have no real literary merit. I am still working to convince myself that it really is OK to just read to relax in a sort of mindless way.
Favorite place to read: We have a fabulous soft rocking chair in our big front window, and also we have bird feeders in our back yard. In warmer weather, I can sit out there quietly. The birds are used to me, especially my little chickadees, and will flock around if I am fairly still.