While school librarians are busy winding down and wrapping up before they head out on vacation, public children’s and teen librarians are ramping up their summer reading programs. We all know research has demonstrated the importance of reading over the summer to prevent learning loss, but you won’t be there to keep putting those books into your students’ hands. To encourage your students to continue reading over the next few months, partner with your local public librarian to ensure they will have those hands to reach out to over the summer. Yes, you are busy, and they are busy, but working together benefits you both as well as your students.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Invite them in. Call up a children’s librarian from your nearest neighborhood branch and ask them to come promote their summer reading program in your school. Reach out to your teachers and schedule a day when the librarian can make the most impact–a day or a couple of days when you can get the most classes to come visit the library or when you can bring the visiting librarian into their classes for a quick visit. Public librarians are used to doing this, and will have a catchy spiel ready–usually involving a little bit of booktalking and some contests/handouts/booklists/freebies/prizes to entice the kids to visit the branches throughout the summer.
- Use their resources. Coordinate with the public library when building any summer reading lists you or your teachers might create. They may already have great age-specific booklists they’ve already put together. And if you have specific books you are asking your students to read, they can make sure they have enough copies in stock.
- Promote their programs. Include the public library summer reading program in any summer homework packet or supply list mailing that goes out to parents. Post about it on your library website, blog or social media. The more the kids and parents see it, the more likely they will be to think of it as the place to be this summer.
- Continue the relationship. Once you’ve established contact with your local librarian and had a successful summer reading visit, don’t lose their business card, add them to your Favorites contact list because it’s just the beginning of what can become a beautiful friendship. They want to be known as a resource for homework help, and for kids to know about their programming throughout the year and you want to know about the authors they have coming to speak, so staying in touch is mutually beneficial. Ask if they can help to arrange authors they have coming to also visit your school. Invite them to be involved in your book clubs, perhaps even loaning you enough copies for all the students who participate. See what ideas they have.
By building this bridge with the public librarian, you are expanding your students’ access to a vastly wider community resource, and making them feel the public library is a home away from their school library home during the summer, and then eventually after school and on weekends when they don’t have access to you. So, do them a solid, and even if you’re already off for summer (and if so, lucky you!), make it a goal to team up with your local children’s or teen librarian soon.
Please share any ideas in the comments section for how you’ve collaborated with a public librarian at your school.
Author: Cassy Lee
Cassy Lee is a middle school Teacher Librarian focused on education equity, empathy, and empowerment. She is the recipient of the 2020 AASL Roald Dahl’s Miss Honey Social Justice Award and the 2018 SLJ Champion of Student Voice. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, son, and a steady stream of foster dogs. You can find her on Twitter at @MrsLibrarianLee and at CSLA in February!