It’s hard not to think about work these days. Everyday you hear about this factory or that business laying people off. And not just a few people, but many. There have even been layoffs in our local library community and a library that looks like it will close. Everyday in the library, people are coming in to work on their resumes and fill out online job applications. From all walks of life. We’ve always had people coming to the library to look for work, but these days it’s probably the number one reason adults are looking to use a computer. Some of these people will probably never get a job, because they lack certain social graces. But I’ve been thinking about how we view work. How people who work really hard (physical) jobs and get paid very little and get no respect and other people make oodles of money for who knows what and then get the so-called golden parachutes after they’ve run their company to the ground. I’ve been thinking about how my son is on a first name basis with our garbage collector. Every Wednesday morning we run out to watch him. Right now, he probably thinks that it would be a cool thing to grow up to be a garbage man. When will that change? It’s true, I would hope that he does some kind of work that is a little more intellectual, but I also think that collecting garbage is a very important job.
A few book-related items about work. One of my favorite poems is “What Work Is” by Philip Levine. I love Philip Levine. I haven’t read all of his work, but I’ve liked what I’ve read and enjoyed his memoir The Bread of Time immensely.
Two children’s books worth mentioning. Steady Hands is a compilation of poems about work. It got great reviews, but I’m not sure if I like it or not. The poems don’t adhere to stereotypes and that might be a good thing. I guess I was just put off by the librarian entry. It was not at all what I would have expected, but probably pretty accurate for some librarians. The second is called That Book Woman by Heather Henson. This is a fantastic book about the pack horse librarians during the WPA era in Appalachia. Honestly, I do need to preview books before I read them to my son, because there I was 3/4 of the way through the book, when I got all choked up (in a good way) hoping my son wouldn’t notice me crying and therefore upset the sleep mojo. The story is great, the language is lyrical and lovely and the illustrations by David Small are wonderful (see one of our other favorite books The Gardener).