Friday, June 26, 2015

It's all about the reading

If you are a school librarian, you know the anguish of closing the library for the summer. As much as we can work to promote our pubic library's summer opportunities, you know some students won't have access to books after school is out, because they don't have a ride to the library or have families grappling with either overdue obligations or anxiety about incurring future obligations...

Why is this so critically important? Research proves that minutes reading equals academic achievement. 

I was thrilled to see my doctor "prescribing" reading this summer...cute tie in with the cooperative theme!

In Alabama, we have the Summer Learning Challenge (for those with home Internet connectivity...)

If your child is a voracious reader, it's going to be pretty much impossible to sate their need to read with your home library. I feel like too many educators and policymakers don't understand what this sort of volume of reading is like and how public and school libraries have help to nurture generations of Americans. For the lucky ones, reading is a family experience, as is visible in this really lovely PTA Family Reading Challenge.

I have the fondest memories of visiting both the branch and main public libraries during the summer, emerging with a pile of books to while away the hours. As a middle schooler, I spent months combing the silver screen celebrity biographies, perched under a towel at the swimming pool immersed the worlds of Frances Farmer, David Niven, Evelyn Keyes, and Lauren Bacall. There was another summer when I ripped through all of Dick Francis. And another summer where my grandmother told me she believed I was ready for Kathleen Winsor's potboiler, Forever Amber.

So what can we do for those without these sorts of family commitments? I'd love it if EVERY school library was open one day during the summer. I'd love it even more if we could send out books with postage-paid return envelopes to free-and-reduced lunch households. Failing that, I give away our donated copies and galleys. It's not really enough to get them through the summer, but at least it will keep them going for a week or two...and, in the world of Accelerated Reader and slavish lexile adherence, it acknowledges that just reading is more important than what they're reading.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Summertime, summertime

This summer is practically pacing itself -- a week after school ends with no commitments, then our state association conferences last week, then another easy week before the particular madness that will be ALA Annual. ALA hasn't been back to San Francisco since my very first conference there in 2001, so it's sort of sweet to be heading in that direction.

Last week the amazing AASL President Terri Grief was our keynote at ASLA, the state school library association conference, and I was luck enough to hear here rapid-fire overview of 100 YA books she read most recently. I also got to listen to author Ted Dunagan and then have lunch with him and Dr. Betty Morris, one of my mentors.

I don't think we've ever had such an incredible turnout for ASLA, it was really thrilling to see us out in force and sporting the terrific #overdue tee shirts our vendors produced highlighting the necessity for state library materials funding. Our state superintendent spoke, said some nice things about the librarians present, and reassured us that funding would be incrementally increasing over the next few years. Four of the five school librarians in my district were there...

I spent a couple of nights hanging with my colleague Cyndy Dunning from Mt. Carmel Elementary in Madison County Schools. Cyndy has created lots of STEM activities in their space, and it was fun to hear all her little ones were up to there.

I love to present at AETC, our state ed tech event which follows on the heels of ASLA, and a few year ago, I started proposing the same session for both conferences in an effort to work smarter and not harder. This year, I presented on what started as an overview of design tools and ended as me waxing poetic about Canva, and got some really great feedback from attendees at ASLA and both my AETC sessions since then. Here's that....