A new year naturally makes us more reflective about our school libraries. Being an elementary school librarian tends to be a lonely job. If you’re lucky, you are a part of the resource team, but even that can be lonely because you are the only one who doesn’t have grades (thank the library goddess). You may even be thinking that you have no impact on your school. If that is the case, I challenge you to spend 2019 growing your school-wide literacy culture. Get your entire school on board with creating life-long readers.
How Do You Accomplish Such a Daunting Task?
The school librarian is in the unique position of being able to promote reading without any other agenda. You do not have to worry about test scores or grades or reading levels. You know that all of those things will automatically improve if students are reading. Your job is to get kids excited about reading and help create life-long readers. The school library is the place where that can happen. The first step is to talk to your administration and let them know what your goal is. Most administrators are more than willing to hear that they have a staff member who is committed to improving the school culture.
Get on the Leadership Team
Joining your school’s leadership team enables you to see the big picture. At our school, our resource team is on the leadership team, which makes sense, because we interact with the entire school. Usually the leadership team is working on school improvement, and invariably improving literacy is always a goal. This is exactly where the librarian’s expertise comes in.
Partner with the Reading Specialist
Partner with your school’s reading specialist. The school librarian and the reading specialist form a complete literacy team. Both are in a unique position to consider all aspects of your school’s reading culture. At Bon Air Elementary School in Chesterfield County, the reading specialist and school librarian meet and plan monthly. Working together enables you to create school-wide reading programs like One School, One Book.
Use Technology and Social Media to Create a School-wide Reading Community
Create a professional Twitter or Facebook account where you can promote books and reading. This year I have created a school wide FlipGrid for reading called GRES Reads. Each grade level has a topic where students, parents, and teachers can make book talks about their favorite books. This started out slow in September, but this month, I will be having all of my library classes create at least one video to get the ball rolling.
Many of these ideas may seem overwhelming but they were not done in a year. Take one step at a time. This is my fourth year as a librarian at my school, and each year I add one new thing. There are many ways that librarians naturally create a positive reading culture, but with a little planning and patience, your school library can be the place where life-long readers are born.
Author: Colleen R. Lee
Colleen R. Lee is a former middle school English teacher and Elementary Teacher. She is currently the Elementary Librarian at Greenfield Elementary School in Chesterfield County, VA. She is frantically working on the first draft of a YA Fantasy during NaNoWriMo this month. Follow her on Twitter @MrsLeesLibrary.