07/30/22 - posted by Robin
Having worked as a community center mentor in the Western Addition in the late 1990s, I learned (as others have) that the elementary school years are the more formative than middle and certainly high school phases. Elementary school is about developing basic values, attitudes, and tastes. Middle school starts the competitive phase of being popular, commanding respect, and learning to be assertive. High school is for most the "know it all" stage, and while many paths are still possible, teenagers tend to have their own mind about things, and tend to embrace identities that are functions of various destinies pre-set for them by how stratified the adult world is in terms of profession, civic engagement, and culture.

When I was an elementary school kid attending Lafayette in the 1980s, my world was occupied by goings on at the school but also after-school sports, exploring Lincoln Park with friends, and lots of downtime reading books checked out from the Anza Library.

I read lots, like many kids still did in those days. And, a few books always stayed with me to explain and at the same time inspire my development. naturally, these books were written in the 1960s and 70s. I'll name them here. First, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler by E L Konigsburg was to me at the time scary, but also exciting. It made my visits to the Legion of Honor more interesting. Second, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster was probably my favorite. I reread it recently and am surprised by its excellent writing, puns, and the story. Third, everything by Beverly Cleary was easy to read fast. Finally, the Great Brain books by John Fitzgerald were perfect for me and my friends at that age, who were able to run around the Richmond and, back then, still made club houses from abandoned lumber.
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