Be a bridge builder by reading to children

Will Allen Dromgoole was an author and poet. Born in 1860, she wrote thousands of poems and essays and published over a dozen books. One of her poems, “The Bridge Builder,” remains very popular.

There isn’t enough space to include the whole poem here, but take a moment and Google her name and follow the links to read this worthwhile, beautiful piece in its entirety.

“The Bridge Builder” speaks of an old man who has experienced life’s troubles. As he nears the end of his life, he chooses to build a bridge, and his efforts are questioned by a passerby. The last two stanzas of Dromgoole’s poem read:

The builder lifted his old gray head:

“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,

“There followeth after me today,

A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,

To that fair-haired youth may be a pitfall.

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;

Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”

Reading aloud to children every day builds essential bridges for them. Be that bridge builder. Our future rests in today’s children, and what we do for them or fail to do will make all the difference for each one of us.

Books to borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“A Single Shard” by Linda Sue Park, Clarion Books, 148 pages

Read aloud: age 9 and older.

Read yourself: age 9-10 and older.

In a small Korean potter’s village in the mid-12th century, an orphan boy, Tree-ear, lives with Crane-man underneath a bridge. Together they scratch out a living, barely surviving.

Tree-ear dreams of being a potter some day, and when he sneaks into master potter Min’s workplace to admire his work but accidentally breaks a pot, he must work for Min to repay him.

Although the work is hard, it has its rewards, for Tree-ear learns a great deal — about pottery, Min, sharing and sacrifice. But Tree-ear’s greatest lessons and rewards are yet to come when Tree-ear will make a long and dangerous journey to the King’s Court to show the master’s pottery, hoping for a commission.

Carefully refined, it is little wonder that this superbly written novel is a Newbery Medal winner.

Librarian’s choice

Library: Bernville Area Community Library, 6721 Bernville Road, Jefferson Township

Library director/children’s librarian: Deb Donley

Assistant director: Naida Borreli

Choices this week: “Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin; “A Library Book for Bear” by Bonny Becker; “Savvy” by Ingrid Law

Books to buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“Cat Kid Comic Club: Collaborations” written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey, graphix/Scholastic, 2022, 224 pages, $12.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 7 and older.

Read yourself: age 8 – 11.

The fourth book in the “Cat Kid Comic Club” series, author/illustrator Pilkey has done it again with another hilarious book, this one about collaborating with others.

Four of the 21 baby frog siblings are about to get their comic book published, and everyone in the family is very excited. This is such big news, the local TV host with her cameraman are filming and interviewing to capture the creativity of the whole family.

Featuring wildly funny comics and the interactions between the siblings and their father, Flippy, readers learn about collaboration and the sometimes pitfalls of that attempt, always with humor and touches of reflective thought.

Short chapters and a combination of different art techniques, such watercolors, photography, collage and more, this laugh-out-loud graphic novel will have kids ripping through every page of “Cat Kid Comic Club: Collaborations” and laughing all the way.

“The Flying Man: Otto Lilienthal, the World’s First Pilot” by Mike Downs, illustrated by David Hohn, Astra Young Readers, 2022, 32 pages, $17.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 7 – 10.

Read yourself: age 7 – 10.

In 1862, 14-year-old Otto and his brother, Gustav, were determined to fly in something other than a balloon. Everyone thought they were attempting the impossible, but the brothers kept working on one design after another to prove others wrong.

One day while Otto was observing a stork gracefully flying, he realized that the answer was to glide on the winds, not flap, and he studied the different twists, turns and strength of the wind.

Otto eventually did most of the practice flights, and in time, Otto took flight, each time a bit longer than the previous one. He dazzled the public crowds that gathered to watch “The Flying Man” and reporters photographed and wrote about his incredible achievements. After 30 years, Otto had become the world’s first pilot.

A story of determination, creativity, ambition and resilience, “The Flying Man: Otto Lilienthal, the World’s First Pilot” is both fascinating and inspirational in many respects.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at [email protected]

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