A sweet reminder of what algorithms can never give us.
“Reading is the work of the alert mind, is demanding,” E.B. White wrote while contemplating the future of reading in 1951, “and under ideal conditions produces finally a sort of ecstasy.” Kafka believed that “a book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us,” and Carl Sagan once wrote that “a book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
Each spring, Methow Valley Elementary School in Winthrop, Washington, and Methow Arts Alliance — a nonprofit seeking to “enrich the lives of the people living in rural Okanogan County by making the Arts an integral, dynamic aspect of community, economic vitality, public education and civic life” — host a Young Writers’ Conference, seeking to get kids excited about the written word by bringing together local creative professionals in a series of community-led workshops celebrating the art and craft of writing. At the 2014 conference, book-champions Jennifer Abel Kovitz and Missi Smith led a workshop on the importance of human book recommendations in the age of algorithms, helping elementary school kids write and record their own recommendations for their favorite books. The result, to be played on local radio station KTRT 97.5FM all summer long, is nothing short of heart-meltingly adorable.
Complete list of the recommended books below.
- The Sisters Grimm (public library) by Michael Buckley, recommended by fourth-grader Elka
- Divergent (public library) by Veronica Roth, recommended by sixth-graders Isabella, Shelby, and Mikaela
- Because of Winn-Dixie (public library) by Kate DiCamillo, recommended by third-grader Jasmine
- The Secret Garden (public library) by Frances Hodgson Burnett, recommended by third-grader Kylie
- Crocodile Tears (Alex Rider) (public library) by Anthony Horowitz, recommended by sixth-grader Connor
- No Dogs Allowed (public library) by Bill Wallace, recommended by third-grader Coraline
- Warriors (public library) by Erin Hunter, recommended by fifth-grader Levy and third-grader Madison
- The House of Hades (public library) by Rick Riordan, recommended by fifth-grader Lucas
- Socks (public library) by Beverly Cleary, recommended by fifth-grader Madison
- The Fault in Our Stars (public library) by John Green, recommended by sixth-grader Magnolia
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (public library) by C.S. Lewis, recommended by fourth-grader Macy
- The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns (public library) by Chris Colfer, recommended by fourth-grader Stella
- The Cay (public library) by Theodore Taylor, recommended by fourth-grader Wyatt
- Harry Potter (public library) by J.K. Rowling, recommended by fifth-grader Aidan
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (public library) by Jeff Kinney, recommended by third-grader Angel
- Where the Red Fern Grows (public library) by Wilson Rawles, recommended by fifth-grader Cody
- Ivy and Bean: Take Care of the Babysitter (public library) by Annie Barrows, recommended by fifth-grader Eliza