This year one of my professional goals was to reflect on how I was promoting a positive reading culture at my school and develop ways to improve it. Improvement implies there is something wrong with what is currently being done. Honestly, my school already has a positive reading culture. Books and time to read are valued in most classrooms and homes for the students I teach. Therefore, my ideas have not been about changing the mindset of the school community. Rather it is how to effectively share books and resources with the students, faculty, and families in order to spread book love.
For me, book love is the combination of having a choice in what you read, access to a variety of books, and a positive reading attitude. These ideas stem from learning about what children need to have a successful reading life.
Choice + Access + Positivity = Book Love
Here are five ways I am spreading more book love this year.
I had been following how other librarians have incorporated the mini-marquee signs into their libraries. I finally figured out how it would work for me! After thinking about a way to highlight books and encourage students to try something new I decided to create a “Book of the Day.” This is not really one book of the day, but several. Once the book on display is checked out I put a new one in its place. What I have discovered is that books that were often overlooked are now checked out because the kids feel the book is special.
This year my school is doing a major renovation. This means we are in a temporary location as a new school is being built. The library in this temporary location is upstairs with three other classrooms. The other seventeen classrooms are located on the main level. Having previously had a library located in the center of the building, I did not realize how important location was for book access. Before teachers would stop in and check something out as they passed, but now they rarely pass by. In thinking about a solution to this problem, I had to figure out where everyone goes at some point during the school day. The answer was the bathroom!
In the adult-only bathrooms there is a book basket. In this basket, you will find five to six books that range in topic and genre. Each week the books are changed to provide variety. When faculty members use the bathroom, they can look to see if there is anything they might like to read. There is a small clipboard and pen included in the basket for them to fill out their name, book title, and barcode number. Then they take the book with them and return them to the library when they are done.
Each month I send home a newsletter to parents. I use Smore to create my newsletters because it is easy to share and visually pleasing. Included in these newsletters are information about reading at home, lessons and projects that the students have completed in the library in the past month, events happening at libraries around our area, and book recommendations. This newsletter has been a great way to share with parents some of the books that we have available in the library.
This is not a new idea, but one that I often have had a difficult time fitting into my schedule. This always bothered me, but I was not quite sure what the best solution was until now.
My school uses Responsive Classroom. In this model each morning there is a morning meeting. This is a fifteen-minute time when each classroom starts the day with activities that help to build community. In collaboration with the classroom teachers, I have been able to come every other week. While there I share three to five books with their class during their morning meeting time. Then these books are put aside for that class to check out during their scheduled checkout time. What I have discovered is that the kids are really excited to talk about the books. Additionally, all the books I have shared have been checked out each week.
Sweet Treats and Cool Reads
This is similar to Bagels and Books which I have shared before, but this year presented a new challenge because we are located in two places due to renovations. Since I cannot be in two places at once, I decided to flip Bagels and Books. It was renamed as Sweet Treats and Cool Reads. Basically, I create a ten-minute video each month highlighting new books we have available in the library. Along with each episode is a Google Form to fill out if someone wants to check out a book that was shared. Each episode is compiled in a Smore so it is easy for people to view old episodes. On the day a new episode is sent to faculty members, I place a sweet treat in the staff lounge.
How do you spread book love in your school? Please share any of your ideas!
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a librarian for the past nine years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I was most recently a member of ALA’s Ready to Code (RtC) Task Force.