This week I shared with an Early Childhood Specialist, who is also my best friend, the library lessons I had planned, and students had enjoyed. They were all centered around picture books, and had an extension activity to create personal meaning for my readers.
Just because she is my best friend, don’t think for a minute she will not critique extensively, the work I’m doing. Guess what? She loved all of my activities! But…(you knew this was coming I’m sure), she felt that my lessons played out like classroom lessons. She added that she hadn’t the experience of witnessing a librarian do an actual lesson, the schools she visits don’t seem to have a solid library program, but that she envisioned the library lesson as being something “else”. @_@
I’ve been giving this much thought. Have I yet to let go of the classroom teacher mindset? Was I doing the Librarian thing wrong? If you know me, you can imagine how much of a hole this burned into my mind. I’ve mostly watched librarians do a read aloud, followed by a discussion, followed by check out. These are great librarians that are appreciated by the faculty and administration of their respective schools. So what was I doing differently that could be anchored in my classroom mentality?
I began my search for answers by going back to what I believe MY mission is as a librarian. This is my own goal, which is aligned with my district’s, department’s and governing association’s goals and missions, as I interpret them (wink, wink!). I am working towards creating a culture of readers in our elementary campus. What does this look like? It’s a community of readers that finds adventure, love, answers, or refuge in between the covers of a book. It’s readers sharing recommendations and talking about books like they talk about video games, television, or their favorite celebrity. It’s students finding kindred spirits, kids they never thought they had common interests or struggles with, because they discover they love the same books. It’s reading becoming a necessity instead of a drudgery.
How can I create this culture? By sharing my passion and love for books. By reading engaging books to my students during library time and somehow relating it back to who we are, what we’ve been through, what we wish for. I hope that what we do after sharing a book doesn’t taste like schoolwork to my readers, and the feeling I get from them is that it doesn’t. Any extension activity, paired activity, or however you might want to call it is a way to make the book ours, and that takes different forms for each reader. Do they write sometimes? Yes. Do they color sometimes? I wish they did this more often. Do they discuss the story, create a new story, or search for books with similar content? Yup. Do they start growing an interest in the authors I expose them to? Totally. Do they order from their teacher’s Scholastic Book Club Flyer some of the books we’ve shared? Yeah! Do they ask to check out the book I just read out? Mm-hm.
Reflecting over my mission and what I’ve done so far to begin the hunger for reading and becoming part of a community of readers, I don’t have an answer to the thought that got this whole post started. When I plan, am I planning with my classroom teacher brain or with my teacher librarian brain? Ummm not sure. Do my lessons look like a classroom lesson? Perhaps. Do my readers enjoy it? I believe so, I measure it by their engagement and also by their need to share what they’ve come up with. Are my readers taking chances with the authors I expose them to during library time? Many have. Does this seem like steps in the right direction towards creating a culture of readers? My 83 days as a teacher librarian, my years of experience as a reader, my knowledge of pedagogy and children afforded to me by the classroom, and my gut all agree that ABSOLUTELY, we are taking solid, forward steps towards becoming hopelessly and irrevocably in love with the written word in whatever format we choose to read in and that, is all that matters.