Thursday, September 8, 2016

Get 'em Reading

One week into the new year and I am starting to develop a mission I am really enjoying. This may sound odd since I am now a librarian, but I am gaining a new appreciation for the challenge of getting books into students' hands. I love to read. I have loved to read since I was little. No one had to encourage me to check books out of the library. Books dominated my Christmas list each year. Now I am spending lots of time getting into the heads of reluctant readers in order to break down that reluctance.

7:20 AM
We are very fortunate that our library has high traffic volume all day long. I arrive at 6:30 AM and there is already a student waiting for me to open the library. And within fifteen minutes the rest of the early arrivers have taken up their morning posts. By 7:10 there are at least 100 students in the library and some periods of the day that number increases to 225 or more. We've got the customers, now, let's get them reading.

A tremendous amount of weeding has been done in our library in advance of my arrival. Our collection average age is 2000! So the books are current and relevant. We host the classes of teachers like for book talks. Another teacher has embraced The Big History Read. This year we are hoping to expand such reads into other disciplines. (More on all of them in my next post.)

Not every student is in a class where choice reading is part of the curriculum so my goal is to put displays in high traffic regions that entice students to pick up a book, scan the covers, flip through the pages, and check it out! I started with boys, the seniors with a tendency to rabble-rouse, who congregate in the same place every morning. In advance of Banned Books Week they are treated to 3 dozen banned books, wrapped in torn brown paper, brandishing caution tape and danger warnings. Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Gonna start to read; I found the books for you!

 Toward the front of the library are two curving ramps leading to the lower level. At the top of one I have paired DVD movie cases with the books that inspired the movies: Fight Club, The Firm, Lovely Bones, Ender's Game, Kite Runner, and more. At the top of the other ramp are just books (no DVDs) with a sign that says: coming soon to a theater near you. Here are copies of The Circle, Eleanor & Park, The 5th Wave, Inferno, and other books being released as movies this year.

Next I am planning a display pairing fiction and non-fiction. I know this isn't a new idea, but remember: I'm new to this! Certainly months designated with different themes lend themselves to future displays, but there has to be more... What suggestions do you have? How do you stop students in their tracks and get books into their hands?

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