How many times have you wished you had the power to change your school’s summer reading program? Well, maybe you do! I had all but given up on making major changes to the long list (250+ titles) that had been in place for years, but when there was a shift in the English department leadership, I jumped at the opportunity to suggest some significant changes in the list and the program.
In my first few years here, I had only managed to add a few contemporary YA titles. I also tried to move away from the paper-consuming process of printing a multi-page list for every one of our 700 students by creating a goodreads account with just the summer reading titles. It was a well-received shift and created a better visual impact – especially the “cover view” option – and also allowed for students to search for a book by genre and other tags. The paper version had been sorted alphabetically by title, with no other information except the author given. Goodreads was an improvement, but seemed like a tiny one. What I really wanted was to give students and teachers a place and time to talk books; for students to see that reading is a lifelong habit; that reading can actually be fun; AND that teachers read things that they don’t necessary teach about! To me, the writing prompt that had been used for years as a schoolwide assessment was unnecessary at best, and a hindrance to getting kids to read for pleasure, at worst.
Each year, I try to drum up interest in poetry by creating displays and talking to teachers about National Poetry Month. The displays have sort of worked (one teacher transported the whole display to his classroom to use with his 8th grade English classes), but I wanted more. The problem (common to teen and school librarians everywhere) is that whenever I create “programs” they are often tons of work and poorly attended in the end. So this year, I started talking out loud about my ideas. I had planted a few seeds last year, by sending a copy of a VOYA article to the English faculty. The article was about a school librarian who had created something called “Random Acts of Poetry,” where topical poems are posted all around the school in celebration of National Poetry Month. That was the starting point. English teachers loved the idea, but most had little time to help me plan and I really wanted to create something that had some faculty buy-in. Thankfully, the 12th grade English teacher who is always game to try something new had handed over two of her classes to her student teacher and offered to help. (more…)
As I was driving home (school closed at 11 because of the storm which has only barely just arrived), I happened upon a segment on New Hampshire Public Radio’s “Word of Mouth” about – you guessed it – librarians! It was an interesting but short segment on the roles we librarians and cybrarians play in the information age.
Marilyn Johnson, author of a new book entitled This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, was interviewed about her opinion of librarians who do not necessarily fit the old stereotype. It was fun to hear an “outsider” opinion of how important – and hip, funny and interesting – librarians can be. I can’t wait to get my hands on the book and wonder why I haven’t already heard about it! Has anyone out there already read it?