In what ways could you more effectively promote a love of reading in your school community?
I think the answer to this question has several elements. First of all, the students need to see that you practice what you preach. Being an avid reader and talking to them about your own personal favourite books and reading experiences will help them relate to you and trust you when it comes to making recommendations. I always feel a bit guilty when a student asks me about a book I haven’t read. You can tell that they really want you to have a vast knowledge of what’s in your library. When I have read a book and a student asks me about it, we then create a bond over a shared experience and I can check in with them as they are reading the book or when they return it.
The next element is all about creating a buzz. Getting the kids excited about reading related events in the school is essential to creating a reading culture. Talking about awards, having great themed shelf displays, creating book pairings (“if you liked this, then you’ll love…), showing trailers, having QR codes on book posters, and hosting school wide events like DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) will help create an excitement around reading. Creating reading incentives for whole classes is also fun for students. Last year I presented an award at the year-end assembly and held a pizza party for the class that circulated and read the most books in the library. It’s also important that students have access to the school library digital database and know how to use it, so they can access ebooks and websites like Novelist. That way they remain connected to the library even when they are away from school.
Making reading social is something that educator Kristen Deuschle talks about. She says, “reading with others has social benefits beyond measure. It provides the connectedness so lacking in this digital age, improves relationships with others, and builds self-esteem” (P. 20). Connecting students through reading is an essential way to break the lonesome bookworm stereotype and turn books into something that the students have in common. Hosting book clubs and online forums where students can chat and make recommendations will help build a cohesive network of readers.
Finally, creating a connection between the school library and the outside world is essential. This means that we are in contact with our students’ families, but also that we are connecting our students to the authors they love and to institutions like the public library. Making real-world connections gives students a sense that their learning has purpose and meaning. Take students on a tour of the library. Create a digital interactive newsletter for parents. Host a parent-student reading club. Create home reading challenges. There is so much potential for building bridges between your library and the community at large.
Reference: Deuschle, K. kdeuschle@forsyth. k12. ga. u. (2017). Using Parent Book Clubs to Build a School-Wide Reading Community. Knowledge Quest, 46(2), 16–20.
Click here to learn about reading programs TLs can use in their libraries. Click here to explore resources that help create and showcase student-made books. Click here for ideas on how to create themed book displays.