Tuesday, February 9, 2016

When Only A Book Will Do

Curl up with an atlas. Oh, yeah, that's what we're talking about.

When Only A Book Will Do


The persistent drumbeat in this country pounds the important message that every child needs a computer. No argument from me there. The digital world isn’t the world of the future. It’s the world of the present.  Any kid without computer access might as well be using hieroglyphics to communicate.

 Having said that, I am still tickled that students at six Philadelphia schools will soon be the delighted owners of 2500 dictionaries, atlases and thesauri (don’t you love that plural form of the word?). The books are being distributed over the next three weeks, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia.  The first batch will be delivered today to kids at The Taylor School in North Philly.

Nothing against the instant gratification of clicking through websites for Merriam-Webster and World Atlas.  But nothing beats the satisfying spine-crack of a brand-new book, or the oddly clean smell of fresh ink.

Scroll through dictionary or geography websites, and you get a sense of the breadth of our language and our world. Heft a heavy dictionary or altas off a bookshelf, though, and you actually feel their scope. Kids are tactile creatures. They’re gonna love these things.

The other schools on Rotary’s Santa list are Southwest Leadership Academy, the Key School, McClure, Overbrook Elementary and the Barton School.


Daily News Columnist
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When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.

Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at polaner@phillynews.com.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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