by Anna Cavallo
Did you see the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio? I won’t give anything away. But it did get me thinking about where ideas and goals come from.
A couple weeks ago, I ran the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. We had absolutely perfect weather, and they don’t call it “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America” for nothing.
This is the view from the finisher’s area in St. Paul, looking back across the finish line toward the St. Paul Cathedral. The state capitol was 150 feet behind us. And yes, those are some of the early fall colors on the trees. It’s pretty spectacular.
I’ve run this marathon before, and here’s the thing: no matter how hard those last 6 miles get (or 8, or 10…), there are people cheering you on almost every step of the way. Sometimes they’ve set up huge speakers to blast Eye of the Tiger or the Chariots of Fire theme. There are thousands of runners fighting just as hard as you, or maybe harder. Some runners are wearing Joe Mauer sideburns or princess costumes. And if you have absolutely anything left after 26 miles, a final, heavenly downhill sends you flying past the cathedral and through the finish. You are not just going for a long run; you are part of an Experience.
Knowing this, I had a feeling that a friend of mine who’s somewhat newer to running would be hooked as soon as he came out to cheer and celebrate with me at the finish line. I let him know of my suspicion a few days before the race. He doubted it; he didn’t think he had enough miles under his belt yet to take on a marathon.
Cut back to the finish area, where this friend and another are shaking hands on the agreement that they’ll both run Twin Cities next October. (Note that the other friend had run a marathon before, but had sworn recently that she never needed to do it again.)
Later, I realized I’d thought watching the race would plant the seed of interest, but admitting my suspicion probably did first. In any case, I’m excited for my friends and a little proud to have anything to do with their decision to take on that challenge.
This is just a long illustration of how we are influenced by our surroundings and our world all the time. I like to think that our books are planting seeds of interest pretty often, and helping them grow even more often. Maybe a well-designed cover on a history book will grab the eye of a future archaeologist or historian. Maybe a librarian will recommend a Manga Math Mysteries graphic novel to a student who prefers stories to arithmetic. Perhaps a family trip to an orchestra concert, or a friend who’s in music lessons, will generate a spark of interest in learning an instrument. Who knows, a required research project or book report on Iceland could influence a future travel writer or international business executive.
Of course, just as the marathon volunteers and spectators are a crucial part of that experience, so are the teachers, librarians, parents, and others who nurture the interests of young readers, historians, musicians, or mathematicians. So thanks to all—we hope our books serve you, and the developing interests of your students, well.