Ever since I helped run the Massachusetts branch of the Library of Congress’s Letters About Literature contest, I’ve been a sucker for creative competitions as a way to engage kids. Which is why when I caught word of Doodle 4 Google contest that asks K-12 students to enter their redesign of the Google logo based on a theme, I simultaneously thought “what a fun idea!” and “If I still worked at the library, I’d tell all sorts of kids about this!”
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought of connecting this contest with the library; the New York Public Library is an official partner of the contest. Though oddly the official rules specify “parents, teachers and after school programs” as the only entities eligible to enter artwork on a child’s behalf. Maybe librarians count as “after school programs”? I also can’t really tell from the website what, if anything, the NYPL does in their capacity as a partner other than put their logo on the website.
This year’s theme, “If I could travel back in time, I’d visit…,” would be a fabulous tie in for library materials. From Magic Tree House to The Time Machine and Dear America to The Book of Time, there are so many great time travel and historical fiction books in all reading levels. The contest theme is also a great way to promote the non-fiction history section, not always an easy sell outside of homework needs.
I’ll admit the more cynical side of me that wants to reject the contest as a way to indoctrinate kids and teens to the ways of Google or to argue that allowing this contest in the library is tantamount to free advertising for Google (side note: Google made it onto the Consumerist’s Worst Company in America bracket, but somehow Amazon didn’t). Believe me, with the recent justifiable outrage about product tie-ins in The Lorax movie, I’m sensitive to these kind of concerns. Were I to bring something like this into the library, it would simply be a suggestion for children I think are interested and by no means a mandatory exercise, which I think may be more than a lot of schools participating could say.
In addition to the official partners, Google has also teamed up with local organizations around the country to display the state finalists and runners up, which I think is a fun chance for a handful of kids to see their artwork up in places like the Children’s Museum here in Boston.
Entries are due by March 26, so get doodling!