Thursday, April 24, 2014

From the Office of the Future of Reading

Please join me in welcoming today's guest blogger, Tanja Galetti. Tanja has always been a bookworm, one of those children hiding under the blanket with a torch at night to finish a special book. Not much has actually changed since then. She still reads late into the night far too often – with the help of a little book lamp or her iPad – only now she doesn’t have to hide under the blanket anymore. And yet, she found her true passion as a primary teacher librarian only seven years ago when she started at Lincoln Community School, Accra, Ghana. She just loves being surrounded by books and children all day long. Nothing gives her more joy than sharing books and finding that perfect story for one of her students. She thereby also takes advantage of tech tools as you will see in her blog post below. Tanja is currently in her second year as Primary teacher librarian at Hong Kong Academy. You can see what life is like in her library here

The Joys of Sharing (Recommending?) Books

One of my favorite moments as a librarian and reader is when I can share a favorite book and/or find that perfect book for another reader. With some of my 3-11 year old readers it seems pretty easy and basically any book I suggest is greeted with excitement and enthusiasm. Others are ready to give suggestions a try but then there is also a considerable number who are yet to find books that get them hooked as readers. Here a few examples of how I go about sharing and recommending books to keep and get students excited about reading.

Browsing the shelves together

I love just walking along the shelves with students who have asked for a recommendation, pointing out books I enjoyed. I tell a bit about the book and why I think the particular student would like it. I love the conversations that take place as we stroll along the shelves, helping me to know my students better and better. Often I come away with a recommendation for myself as well.

The little shelf 

Every one of our 16 classes from PK1 (3-4 year olds) to G5 (10-11 year olds) has a scheduled library visit of 30-45min each week (with the option of booking additional time). In preparation for each of these visits, I put special recommendations on a little free-standing shelf. Our youngest library visitors select mainly from this shelf but older students use it as a starting point for their search for books to check out and read.

Quick Pick Boxes

This is an idea I got from a librarian friend here in Hong Kong, Dianne McKenzie. There are always some students who have a hard time deciding on a book during their class visit. Especially for them, I keep some high-interest fiction and nonfiction titles in so-called “Quick Pick” boxes on our circulation desk. I encourage students to being risk-takers, just grabbing one of these books as a last minute alternative to not having any book to take home on the day.

Ms. Tanja’s Reader Journal

I keep track of what I read in various forms, through social media such as Shelfari and Goodreads, but also through a reader’s journal, which includes a list of titles of books I have read and still want to read, annotated with short comments. The journal is always on my desk for students to look through to get ideas on what to read next and/or to recommend books fto me. Especially the older students enjoy looking through my journal and adding recommendations. This idea comes from Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer.

Destiny Quest

I feel really fortunate that at both schools I have worked so far the libraries had Follett’s Destiny, a fantastic library automation software. Part of the package is Destiny Quest, a platform similar to Goodreads and Shelfari, which allow the user to keep track of what he/she currently reads, has read and wants to read. Further, it allows the rating and reviewing books and sharing of recommendations with friends. Not only can students get notifications of what I have added to my shelves, I can send them personalized recommendations – which I love doing and students enjoy receiving.

Ms. Tanja’s Mad Minute

Especially with the upper grades, this is a favorite. I set up a timer on the screen in the library and then try to recommend as many books as possible within 60 seconds. It’s kind of like a book talk or better, book ad, in fast-forward mode. I highlight what is special about a book in just a few words and students, if interested in reading it, just grab the book, while I move on to the next book. On a good day, I can find a reader for up to 10 books in just one “mad” minute. (Here is more about the mad minute.)

I would love to hear from you on how you share books with other readers.

What a wonderful variety of ideas for helping connect the right book with the right child. Thanks so much for sharing today, Tanja!

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