Library media centers in schools throughout the city feature banners, bulletin boards and displays to remind students daily of the value and fun of reading.
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body,” promotes a banner at Corporate Landing Middle School (CLMS).
A Fairfield Elementary School display invites students to “Visit the Library: Characters Welcome!”
April is especially important to the division’s library media specialists (LMS) because it celebrates School Library Month. This year’s theme, “School Libraries Transform Learning,” is featured on a bulletin board in Tallwood High School’s media center.
The month-long celebration also includes National Library Week April 10-16, and there is no shortage of activities to encourage students and staff to demonstrate their love of reading, writing, literature and more.
Tallwood High School will Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) for 15 minutes each day April 18-22. According to LMS Rachel Lizan, a DEAR announcement will be made at a specific time and everyone reads. During the free choice, reading time students may read books, ebooks, magazines and articles, or teachers can elect to read aloud to students.
The Tallwood media center will be used as a performance hall the last week of the month. “We will have student-led robotics demonstrations, fashion shows, orchestra performances, cultural dance showcases and poetry readings, to name a few!” said Lizan.
Fairfield Elementary School LMS Terry Austin is incorporating National Poetry Month with School Library Month and asking fifth-graders to write poems about libraries and reading. Austin, who often proudly wears a “Super Librarian” T-shirt, reads students’ poems on the morning announcements.
Mallory’s poem takes readers on a journey of some favorite books:
A library is like a portal to another world.
Woosh! I open a book and I am on Klickitat Street
with Beezus and Ramona.
Woosh! Suddenly I am solving mysteries with Nancy, Bess, and George
In River Heights.
Click! I am back to reality.
A library is like Netflix for books.
Books are like a sweet, plump, juicy mango.
I take one bite and I’m in love.
I can’t stop eating them.
The words swirl and fall all-around me like snowflakes.
I pick up every single one and I tuck it away into the corners
Of my mind so when I need it I can take it out again.
I love the whisper of the pages when I turn them
As they share their secrets with me.
A library is like a portal to another world.
To join students in sharing their love of reading, Austin took photos of Fairfield staff members holding their favorite books to also feature on the morning announcements.
CLMS staff members are posting signs on their classroom or office doors to share what they are reading, and students participated in the school’s Read-a-Shirt Day April 14.
“We enjoy sharing our love of literature with both students and staff,” said CLMS LMS Sabrina Flegal. “We firmly believe that there is a book out there for every reader. If a student doesn’t like to read, it’s because he hasn’t found his ‘homerun’ book yet. Our job is to help him find it!”
Princess Anne High School (PAHS) invited representatives from the Virginia Beach Public Library to issue library cards to students. Additionally, in the “Cavs Caught Reading” contest, PAHS staff members are giving students tickets when they “catch” them reading. Tickets are entered into a drawing for prizes.
PAHS students may be having the most fun with another contest. In the bookface contest, students search for a book cover that best matches their own face and then pose for a bookface photo.
Courtney Porter, PAHS LMS, hopes the unique activity will encourage more reading.
“As a librarian, I love inspiring my students to read. I also love the role I play in showing students the correlation between reading and success. I want them to know that reading is a simple way to set the stage for a success in life,” Porter said.
As they celebrate how libraries transform learning, media specialists recognize libraries have had a transformation of their own.
“The library is no longer the place just to check out books and do research from a print set of encyclopedias,” said CLMS LMS Kathryn Schweers. “Students now check out eBooks and playaways as well as connect to myriad online resources. Research has changed drastically from mainly print resources to online databases and websites.”
“The biggest changes are yet to come as we move towards personalized learning,” continued Schweers. “The library should become the hub of the school as students and teachers utilize the resources available and work independently to complete tasks.”
Acknowledging students’ use of digital resources and social media, Tallwood High School LMSs Rachel Lizan and Peggy Ricks established a social media #shelfie campaign. Hermitage Elementary School students will have the opportunity to “tweet” about their favorite books. Hermitage LMS Nancy Carollo created paper tweets students can complete and post on a display.
Indian Lakes Elementary School LMS Cara Dibbs also set up an interactive bulletin board on which students are sharing the favorite book characters they would like to meet. They write names on butterflies to post on a bright display in the media center.
According to Dibbs, popular characters include: Percy Jackson, Geronimo Stilton, Thea Stilton, Hagrid from Harry Potter, Nikki from Dork Diaries, Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web and Jason from The Lost Hero. Dibbs also noted that several students said they prefer to meet authors instead, such as Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, Raina Telegmeier, Rick Riordan and Kazu Kibuishi.
Book characters are on display in the Kemps Landing/Old Donation School (KLODS) media center with signs to get students’ attention and encourage them not to “drag-on” with the same genre and try something new.
The opportunity to be creative, partner with teachers and work with students are just some of the reasons library media specialists cite for loving their jobs.
“What other position in the school system allows you to interact with all the students and staff and share the love of reading, too?” asked KLODS LMS Diane Smithson.
“The job has become much more of a team effort, not just collaborating with teachers, but with the other specialists, especially technology, in the school. Teachers see us more as an instructional partner,” said Peggy Ricks, LMS at Tallwood High School.
“I love my job for many reasons,” said Carollo. “I especially love to see a student get excited about a particular book, reading it cover to cover in a day or two, and then returning it to the library to tell me all about the plot and how much he/she enjoyed the book.”
Carollo added, “Promoting great literature and inspiring a lifelong love of reading is incredibly rewarding!”