The mother of a 9-year-old reading whiz from New York is asking for an apology after a local librarian said she wanted her son banned from a reading club contest that he just won for the fifth year in a row.
After Tyler Weaver read 63 books between June 24 and Aug. 3 to win this year’s Dig Into Reading competition at the Hudson Falls Public Library, director Marie Gandron told a reporter from the Glens Falls Post-Star that Weaver “hogs’’ the contest every year and should “step aside.”
“Other kids quit because they can’t keep up,’’ Gandron said.
Gandron's declaration didn't sit well with Tyler and his family.
“When he heard what the director said [about him] he was very upset,’’ Katie Weaver, Tyler’s mother, told TODAY. “He’s never seen being good at reading to be a negative thing. And he shouldn’t! He realized that the director was wrong.
“I was really, really angry when I heard what she said," Weaver said. "I think Tyler deserves an apology. I want him to see that even though one person disagrees, if it’s something he wants to pursue, I think he should go for it. He learned a great lesson about ignoring negativity.”
Tyler has read 373 books over the course of five contests that began when he was in kindergarten. His younger brother, Jonathan, 7, also is a voracious reader, having won the contest for his age group two years running. However, books are not Tyler's sole interest.
“When this first happened, Tyler was excited because he won the book club again,’’ Weaver said. “He loves being king of the book club! He loves to read, but he also plays soccer, he swims, and he rides his bike, like any 9-year-old boy.”
Weaver said she has not heard anything from Gandron or the library’s board since Gandron’s public comments. Gandron told the Post-Star she initially wanted to change the contest rules so that the winners' names would be drawn out of a hat rather than just being the children who read the most books.
In a previous year, she discovered that a girl and her mother were lying about reading more than 200 books. As a result, children now have to answer questions by a library aide about the content of the books after they return them in order to verify that they have indeed read what they've claimed. Lita Casey, a library aide for 28 years, told the Post-Star that Gandron’s idea to change the rules to picking names out of a hat is “ridiculous.”
“My feeling is you work, you get it,’’ Casey said. “That’s just the way it is in anything. My granddaughter started working on track in grade school and ended up being a national champ. Should she have backed off and said, ‘No, somebody else should win?’ I told her [Gandron], but she said it’s not a contest, it’s the reading club and everybody should get a chance."