The first offering will be Whirligig by Paul Fleischman. This book is the story of a young man who undergoes a journey around the country and learns quite a lot about himself. The program is scheduled for January 22, 2000.
We took a closer look at Amy and her short life. She had talked about drunks and drunk driving before. One of here earliest exposures was to an older man in a downtown San Francisco BART station. He was clearly drunk, staggering, and about to be helped by two police officers. Amy asked "what's wrong with that man?" We explained to her what was going on and her response was to feel sorry for him.
We had other discussions about alcohol and drugs, prompted by television commercials or things she's see in the paper or hear on the news. We talked about our own drinking habits with her. Together, we developed a family pact, no more than 2 drinks a week -- usually beer with pizza. We got a chuckle out of giving ourselves such a liberal allowance -- it was more than plenty.
Amy was so interested in the subject that her 2nd grade science project was on the effects of drugs and alcohol on the human body. A page of her notes that talks about the danger of drunks killing people is included in the liner notes of the CD I Miss Your Smile.
In the discussions with her, we always mentioned that peer pressure was going to be an issue for her to deal with soon and for the rest of her life. Our own conviction is that peer pressure is one of the major contributing factors to drinking -- therefore to drinking and driving. So, the emphasis in the reading program quickly became: what can we do to help kids make better decisions? to help them to learn to stand up for themselves? to give them a sense that being true to themselves is more important than saying "yes" to bad ideas from their friends.
When these discussions were brought to the library, the librarians went off and found books that dealt with issues that could be used in discussions about decision making. The rest of the program grew out of that vision.