Sunday, March 2, 2014

What good is a school librarian?

Today is Dr. Seuss's 110th birthday.  It is also Read Across America Day.  Thinking of Theodore Seuss Geisel's contributions to children's literature makes me wonder what my own contributions are to the world of reading.  Several people have suggested that I write children's books.  I know by saying this they are trying to compliment me.  However, my father was an avid fan of MLB (how about them Sox?), but that doesn't mean he should've been a baseball player.  It isn't that I do not think I could do it; I'm not inclined to do so.  I'll never say never, but I will definitely say not right now.

Then there are those who urge school librarians to turn their backs on tradition.  We should be more than the keepers of stuff, they urge.  Reading stories to children is a waste of time.  We need to be more than school librarians.  Those who tout this have nothing but good intentions.  They are concerned that people who are merely school librarians will put their heads on the chopping block when administrators are looking for positions to cut.

In our efforts to prove our effectiveness, we can't forget that librarianship and reading are tied at the hip. Being a cheerleader for reading is the most important aspect of my job. Students who love reading perform better in school and in life.  Caught in a minefield of standardized testing and the Common Core, students need school libraries as a safe haven, a place where reading always includes choice and where there is an adult showing them that reading is fun.   

I want to share two brief stories:

#1: This year I have relaxed student checkout limits. I "suggest" five, but students often checkout more than that. I have a group of second grade students who come to check out books on a daily basis. One day a couple of weeks back, one of them asked if they could check out six books.  I said yes, that's okay.  One day last week, a girl timidly asked if she could check out seven books.  I could tell she expected me to say no.  The look on her face when I said yes was priceless.

#2:  I held a PD session in January for teachers on the topic of inspiring students to read.  Even though it has been six weeks, I still have teachers letting me know how they are taking those ideas into the classroom, and how it is making a difference for our students.

Will I be an acclaimed author one day?  Perhaps, but probably not.  Will there be a national initiative to celebrate my birthday?  Um, no.  However, I'm making my mark. And, I'm an awesome school librarian.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for being an awesome school librarian. There are thousands of wonderful books already published for children and it is people like you who select the best and most suitable for the students. There are also thousands of books by not-yet-published aspiring authors. Keep on doing what you are doing to turn children into avid readers.