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Make Better Use of the School Library to Get Students Excited About Books

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If you're trying to find ways to encourage your students to read, why not try incorporating your school library into the mix? Discover how you can use your library and all of its resources to motivate your students to read.

Bring Kids and Books Together

Books are exciting. They open doors to new concepts, adventures, and a whole world of ideas to be explored. Convincing kids that there's more to books than what's on the required reading list can be difficult. However, the key to turning kids back on to books and reading just might be within your grasp via your school library.

Find Out What Your Library has to Offer

As teachers, you already have access to one of the greatest tools for encouraging kids to become excited about reading. That tool is the school library. However, it's hard to encourage your students to use the library if you don't know what the library has to offer. Many libraries not only feature the latest books for kids, but they also feature media rooms, spaces for quiet time reading and studying, access to online resources, curriculum enhancement kits and resources for teachers. Block out a portion of your schedule and visit the library to see firsthand the layout of the rooms, how books are arranged, what technical devices are available for your students, what the check-out process is for books, etc.

Teacher and Librarian.

Connect with the Librarian

While visiting the library, don't forget to connect with the librarian. You may be surprised at what's not only available to your students, but what's also available to you as a teacher. In his blog article 'Reflections from the Library,' author, librarian, teacher and speaker Josh Stumpenhorst shares how he learned to turn the library around to make it more appealing for students and teachers. Prior to becoming a librarian, Stumpenhorst was a teacher, and he admits that he had no idea what books or resources were available to him in the library. Now that he's working in the library, he realizes there are numerous books that teachers can use to supplement classroom teaching, and he's doing his best to make teachers aware of the availability.

By talking with your librarian you will not only become familiar with the operations of the library, but you will also have a chance to share what you're currently teaching and ask for suggested resources to pass on to your students. On several occasions, Stumpenhorst has pulled a variety of topic-related books from the shelf and placed them in prominent places in the library for students to browse and check out for further reference. In class, you can encourage students to head to the library to find a particular book related to the day's lesson. Ask your librarian ahead of time to set some out or be prepared to show the students where to look in the library.

Librarian sharing book with students.

Hold Book Talks

As you start to learn more about the library, pass on what you've discovered to your students. If you're excited then that will spread to your students. Try sparking their curiosity and then invite your librarian to come and share with your students. Stumpenhorst used these classroom sessions as opportunities to teach students about the school library. He also held 'book talk' sessions. According to Stumpenhorst, one of the most powerful ways to encourage kids to read is to share what you are reading and why you love to read.

If your librarian isn't available for a book talk, show your students a book trailer instead to spark their interest in past and current books. Book trailers are like theatrical trailers that can pull students in through their sights, sounds, and compelling narratives. Some book trailers are available online through sites such as TeachingBooks.net.

Visit the Library Often

Take your students on a tour of the library so that they feel comfortable in the environment and are more at ease visiting on their own. Encourage your students to visit the library often outside of the classroom. If possible, incorporate a library day into your lesson plan and make time to go to the library as a class. There are numerous ways you can motivate students to use the library's resources through this time. For instance, assign group projects where students will need to find necessary books, media and other resources to complete the assignment. Another option is to hold a scavenger hunt in the library, which can encourage students to explore all sections of the library.

Create an In-Class Library

If your students find the library a little overwhelming in the beginning, try creating an in-class library with a variety of books specifically tailored to your students and what they are learning in your classroom. Spend time each day encouraging students to browse this smaller library setting. Teacher Donalyn Miller has done just that for her students. In her blog article 'Introducing Students to the Classroom Library', Miller describes how she and her students use the classroom library to become more familiar with books, reading interests, and even library procedures such as checking out books, taking care of the books, and organizing them. It's a low key environment that gives Miller the opportunity to work one on one with her students in a library setting without all of the distractions of a larger school library.

Students visiting the library.

Establish In-Class Reading Time

Setting aside time to for in-class reading is a great way to encourage students to get excited about reading. This time can especially be used as an opportunity for your students to read their recent picks from the school library. Whether it's school related or just for fun, build reading time into class time. You can even use this time to read aloud to your students as well. No matter how you choose to incorporate reading into your students' lives, make sure to keep the school library as the number one resource.

By Amanda Johnson
March 2017
teachers engaging students

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