There are many things I am proud to have done professionally; there are many things I will miss about being an educator.
High on the list of those things is the Family Library experience I was privileged to facilitate, which I saw firsthand had a variety of benefits, from promoting parent-child bonding to enhancing LMC-community relations.
Parents liked the convenience of coming right to the school library (often in addition to, as much as in lieu of, going to the public library). I liked that it helped me get to know the students better, in the context of their family dynamics.
For non- or limited- English-speaking parents, whose children often translated their needs to me, I was happy to encourage them to read to their children in their native language and to provide books with which they could do that.
For those parents who wanted to learn or to help their children learn English, I was happy to share bilingual dictionaries, as well as pictorial dictionaries for them to use—sometimes for the entire school year.
For the mother of a hearing impaired infant, I was happy to provide American Sign Language dictionaries, and other books that many of the students enjoyed using as recreational reading.
All told, I am grateful that once-upon-a-time, my colleague trusted me to edit her library visitation report, and that the librarian whose library she visited and wrote about—who incidentally was retiring at the end of the year in which my colleague visited her library—inspired me to reach the students and the parents in a most gratifying way–by starting a Family Library!
Whatever time an LMS might volunteer or whatever inconvenience an LMS might suffer, the investment is more than repaid by the fulfillment the LMS will feel promoting a shared love of reading between parents and their children, who will be in each other’s lives long after the LMS exits.
And, in that regard, if an LMS does not already own a copy, I heartily recommend setting the tone for the Family Library by sharing with parents Rosemary Wells’ thoroughly engaging book: Read to Your Bunny.
Like it or not, parents are the first and best teachers to give their children an authentic love of reading. A Family Library helps parents have the confidence and convenient access to the resources they need to do that.
By inviting parents into the school library, LMS’s find a way to invite themselves, their love of books, and their expertise into students’ homes where they can invisibly partner with parents who will love reading their children into being twenty-first century learners and leaders.
And in return, as if the promotion of student reading were not gift enough, the LMS’s gain staunch backers, who understand, appreciate, and defend the school library program and its funding.
Providing a Family Library experience for all the school library stakeholders (including faculty and staff who got into the Family Library spirit by borrowing materials for their children and grandchildren!) is a wonderful service that I never regretted facilitating.
Why not give it a try? What have you got to lose compared with all you have to gain?