At my school we have a number of programs that support literacy such as a volunteer run guided reader program, buddy reading partnerships between classes, PAWS Reading, and drop everything and read. So this question really got me thinking with all these wonderful things happening outside of the library what am I the newbie librarian really doing to foster a reading culture?” I wanted to be able to reveal an innovative, awe inspiring answer to this question so I set to google to search how teacher librarians foster a culture of reading. What I found was my aha moment, it doesn’t have to be an innovation, the maintenance of our school’s collection of books is what feeds our schools culture of reading.
Though it is not the most awe inspiring part of my job, one of my greatest roles is to make sure that our collection is current and accessible. In terms of keeping our collection current, I use any spare moment I have to weed out the old and bring in the new to ensure that our collection is relevant and engaging for students and staff. In terms of accessibility, I lobbied and was able to gain two computer library research stations for our library so students and teachers can search our collection with ease. On the low tech side of accessibility, I ensure that we have clear signage (written and visual) on our stacks and that our books are neat and tidy so that items can be found easily.
Beyond keeping the collection current and accessible, I thrive on creating a fun and engaging reader friendly environment. Students of all grade levels love to slip on reading glasses and cozy up with a bear reading buddy and their favorite book.
I would love to add some cozy flexible seating like bean bags or vinyl cushions to further enhance this activity.
Another way I try to foster a culture of reading is through our book displays and book recommendations. Our book displays serve to grab students attention and connect them to books we have in our collection. I feel that more can be done to connect intermediate students with books in our collection. There never seems to be enough time but I absolutely love the ideas that are shared on aaielloblog and think the reading graffiti project she highlights would tie nicely into a quotations unit I am currently working on with my intermediates.
It is both amazing and overwhelming, the number of ideas that can be found. One that seems both worthwhile and doable is a blind date book display which plays on student interest and curiosity to connect them to a book.
I also believe that peer book recommendations can be a great motivator. I have started a recommended reads program to inspire students to share their favourite reads and inspire their peers to read them also. This program includes a short book review sheet given with their books during check out, students complete this review and return it with their book for a chance to win a monthly prize. The returned books and reviews are then ready for display to inspire another book check out, at least it is my hope that it will inspire more reading. I am also excited about our upcoming Scholastic Book Fair and Reading Link Challenge which have been staple library events that get students buzzing about books.
Finally I feel that making and maintaining connections is crucial for fostering a reading culture. A culture is nothing without its people: collaborating with teachers to make direct connections to what they are doing in their classrooms, connecting students to issues that are happening in our communities and the world at large, and providing a forum for students to share their perspective and interests are paramount to fostering a reading culture. In the future, I would like explore how to use digital technologies to deepen these connection to further foster a reading culture.
Aaielloblog. “Inquiry Project Blog Post #1: Fostering Reading Cultures in Schools.” Aaielloblog. WordPress, 05 Oct. 2015. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.
Allyn, Pam. “Taming the Wild Text.” Educational Leadership – Reading: The Core Skill Volume 69. Number 6 (2012): 16-21. ASCD Learn. Teach. Lead. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.
Philpot, Chelsey. “How to Create a Culture of Reading – AASL 2013.” School Library Journal. WordPress, 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.
Renwick, Author Matt. “Going Schoolwide with Reading Engagement: How We Got To Now.” Reading By Example: Rethinking the Role of the Literacy Leader. WordPress, 24 Dec. 2015. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.