Being asked to edit a colleague’s assignment turned out to be a spectacular personal and professional bonus!
From the moment I first read in my colleague’s library visitation report that the media specialist whose library she formally observed had invited parents into the school library before and after the school day, the notion totally captivated my imagination!
Overflowing with enthusiasm, I couldn’t wait to implement the idea, which intention I enthusiastically–and naively!–shared with my supervisor.
Ouch! (There’s no one like a supervisor who can burst a bubble!)
At first, precedent-setting concerns about my “working” with parents and children before and after the faculty contract day caused my supervisor to decidedly withhold her blessing.
Fortunately, a compromise prevailed. The “official” before and after school hours would conform to contract times. (The “unofficial” open library times would be at my discretion.)
My Principal agreed. …Immediately, I swung into action, determined not only to invite parents into the LMC before and after school, but to create for them an inviting, resource-rich “Family Library” section.
(If a separate section is not feasible or desirable, no matter! It is not at all necessary to have a special section in order to invite parents into the LMC, and, in fact, we emphasized to parents that while we had created a section for them, they were entirely free to borrow books from any area of the library.)
Excited to help, student volunteers worked to rearrange the contents of various bookcases until we had two, side-by-side, empty bookcases, accessible from the library entrance/exit near the counselor’s office to serve as the focal point of our Family Library.
Without tapping into a nonexistent budget for that purpose, and enlisting the brainstorming assistance of the reading specialist, whose office was within the library floor space, we filled the bookcases, pulling (re-purposing) fiction and nonfiction from the existing collection.
Starting with fiction and nonfiction books that had special parental appeal, we pulled an array of picture books featuring family characters and settings such that we could “hear and see” parents snuggled up with their children, lovingly reading. We pulled, as well, books dealing with family issues, such as moving, death, and divorce.
Likewise, we pulled a few of our character ed series, with books that addressed “real-life” family concerns such as sibling rivalry, fibbing, bullying, and teasing.
Also, to promote respect for the cultural and linguistic heritages of our families, as well as to meet the needs of parents who spoke or read little or no English, we enlisted the advice of the ESL teacher, and relocated into our Family Library some bilingual story books, foreign language dictionaries and books, and “AV Kits” of books and tapes.
To assist parents who wanted to understand and reinforce the new math-literature connections, we included a number of fiction and non-fiction titles that were recommended in the students’ newly introduced math series.
Finally, we pulled reference books that were still circ-appropriate, but either duplicates or slightly older than materials in the regular reference section.
In addition to the children’s books, we met the adults’ parenting education needs, adding up-to-date professional resources that faculty members donated, such as those related to child development, as well as books on relaxation techniques. (What parent doesn’t need some of those!)
The school counselor gladly contributed a variety of parenting pamphlets, as well as the display rack on which to place them atop the bookcases; she also began “housing” within the display rack the parenting magazines she regularly received.
As the Family Library evolved, parents also donated books, as did the school nurse, who contributed health and wellness reference books, including healthy cookbooks.
Parents and faculty also donated educational board games and flash cards, making some of our resources like chess games hands-on, and we relocated family-friendly videos to the Family Library.
With our Family Library strategically positioned opposite our “Multiple Copies” section of the library, parents were able to borrow more than one copy of a fiction title to read simultaneously with their children.
With some re-purposing of print and non-print materials from our collection, as well as thanks to recycled donations, our two bookcases had an inviting offering, but we did not stop there.
From then on, with each annual collection development budget, we specifically ordered books for the Family Library. Our most rewarding investment, thanks to our Principal, was a series of leveled We Both Read books, published by Treasure Bay. (One, print-heavy side of a two-page spread is meant for the adult to read to the child; the other, print-light side, is meant for the beginning reader. Such books have built-in interactivity and shared reading opportunities.)
The We Both Read books became a big hit—not only with the parents, but with the older siblings, as well. Not only did the older brothers and sisters check out the books to read to their younger siblings, but they sometimes came to the LMC after school, as well, to read together while waiting for a parent to pick them up.
So much for the physical material. The really gratifying part is how the “Family Library” was used—described in the next post—how it became a calling card, enticing parents to come before and after school, with or without their children.