Tamiko Brown, Guest Blogger
As a librarian, I am a cheerleader for books and building reading lives. While I love my job, I know my mission to encourage literacy cannot be effectively done by myself. It also takes the community, other faculty members, parents, and supportive administrators to combat the literacy crisis. Here are few collaborative ideas we plan to implement this year.
Share our reading life with students
It is important to provide an environment where reading is important to everyone to promote literate lives. If reading is important to the adults in children’s lives, it will be in important to children. My school works hard to promote student literacy. As a faculty this semester, we created a bulletin board for our Caught Reading Program. Students can post a certificate with their name displayed which states they were “Caught Reading.” This display is decorated with photos of faculty members reading off campus, so our students can see that reading is always important even when we are away from school in the “real world.”
Encourage Student Voice
It is also important children have a time to share and talk about the books they are reading. This is the perfect setting for children to build their list of books they would like to read in the future based on the recommendation from a peer. It is also a great way to connect with students and show them the books they read are important and they matter. Every year, I offer several book clubs throughout the school year. These clubs normally meet during lunch. We talk about books we are currently reading, get book recommendations from others, and watch book trailers. This year I wanted to do something different to increase book club participation and get more parents and teachers involved. I started an on-line book club using Flipgrid. This is a free website and app where students can make a video and talk about their opinion on a topic. Flipgrid empowers student voice. So, I used Flipgrid as the platform for my first book club I hosted this year in the library. Right away I had more faculty support. Teachers and even the principal created a Flipgrid video for the book club to encourage students to participate. I put the information about the online book club in our campus newsletter, campus Facebook page, and Tweeted the information to encourage parents to participate too. So far, this year there are more participants in the online book club than there are in the face-to-face book clubs we still offer.
It is important to celebrate books to cultivate literate lives. This can be done by hosting a Scholastic Book Fair, giving students a chance to create book trailers, create #bookface poses using half a book cover and half of a real face and then taking a picture, #book-snaps by using Snapchat to highlight quotes from a book and decorate them with emojis, offer a character dress-up day, Skype an author visit, or bring a storyteller to campus. The opportunity for celebrating books is endless.
Just remember, building literacy on a campus is a team sport. It will take the help from everyone to end the literacy crisis.
Tamiko Brown has 20 years’ experience in education and has spent 15 years as a school librarian. In 2016 she was named Campus Teacher of the Year at Ed White E-STEM Magnet School, and she is School Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year 2017. She was one of the first librarians in her district, Clear Creek Independent School District, to open a makerspace for students four years ago. She is a grant writer, blogger, social media enthusiast, Robotics sponsor, TCEA Presenter, TLA Presenter, Maker Club Sponsor, book club sponsor, and book promoter. For more information go to makersapcelibraryblog@