Creating a Culture of Readers
Creating a culture of readers is no easy feat. It requires long-term strategic planning, school-wide support from the school’s staff, and a teacher librarian with a passion for books and literature.
In this module we had the opportunity to:
- consider the various factors involved in developing an inclusive school library book collection
- apply your understanding of current reading research on reading aloud and allowing students greater freedom in their reading choices
- explore ways to become more effective in promoting reading with your students
Promoting Reading: BC and Beyond
With an understanding of the importance of digital literacy being explored in the past couple models it was time to move onto the core of our learning commons: reading! With so much stress in schools on formal reading the library can be a place to promote leisurely reading. It is our role to help students find joy in reading. With that in mind we were tasked with exploring different sites and programs available to help students with recreational reading. There are numerous sites out there. Below is a list of two programs I examined followed by a short list of other popular options.
The following are the two programs I looked at:
Fraser Valley Regional Library Reading Link Challenge.
The Fraser Valley Regional Library has organized a great competition where the Librarians work with schools to have students from grades 4 and 5 enter a comprehension competition. The goal of the competition is to learn teamwork and reading retention while having fun reading. Six books are chosed for students to read. The challenge is to partake in a trivia/quiz challenge based on the preselected books. Students begin the challenge competing within their schools with an opportunity to move onto higher levels of competition in the community. There are four stages in the competition:
- School Challenge – All teams challenge other teams in their school.
- Library Challenge – School winning teams challenge each other at an FVRL location.
- Community Challenge – FVRL Library Challenge winning teams challenge each other.
- Grand Challenge – Winning teams from FVRL, Coquitlam, North Vancouver City, New Westminster and Surrey Library systems challenge each other to determine an overall winning team.
To find out more I have attached the link to the competition: https://www.fvrl.bc.ca/reading_link_challenge.php
The second program I looked at was the BC Summer Reading Club.
Is a reading program designed to have kids age 5-14 engage in reading for fun. Students are given different activities, games and challenges. Students set their own goal to commit to daily reading. They are given a tracking sheet to keep track of their progress. Libraries from across the province plan and deliver the program. Last year the theme was Explore The Universe. Kids who completed their goals were given medals. However all kids who met challenges and completed their goals were given chances to win prize packs. The grand prize last year was a chance to visit the HR MacMillan Space Centre and meet astronaut Rachel Wang. This year’s theme is Crack the Case!
To find out more about the program I have attached the link: https://kidssrc.libraries.coop/
Both programs seem like they could be a great initiative for a librarian to get involved in promoting reading and getting students involved. I think the Reading Link Challenge would take a lot of collaborating with parents, teachers and students to get a buy in and have kids compete. But could be made into a fun week, maybe during reading week, to promote books and reading! If you wish to explore further I have listed a few more sites below that are worth checking out!
Battle of the Books
BC Picture Books
Red Cedar Book Awards
Stellar Books for Teens (currently on hiatus)
Author/Illustrator Visits and Alternatives
To complete the 5th module we were given a chance to plan an author visit. We were given leads and encouraged to research how to go about booking an author/illustrator visit and what that all entails. We were to come up with some questions that would be pertinent when looking to book a visit and then set out to find websites that could help us find authors that would fit our vision of what we were looking for in a visit. The following are the sites I visited and what I found would work best for me:
I really enjoyed this experience. I was actually trying to book a free Alan Gratz virtual book talk for his new book Ground Zero. However as he was from the east coast, the actual virtual visit was at 7:30 am pacific time. Since then I have been pondering searching again for authors that visit or virtual visit schools! So this is an exciting assignment. Before I began reviewing the sites, I thought it would be pertinent to come up with a list and some questions for myself and the school to make the visit valuable and rewarding for the students and teachers!
What are the kids reading now?
What are some things the teachers are working on in Language arts?
Would a virtual visit or in person visit be more effective?
Have there been any author visits at any of the other schools in the district? if so,
Who did they book? and how did it go?
Do any colleagues have recommendations?
What is the ideal date, time and location?
How many sessions will there be and who can and will attend?
What will the author do at each session?
What do I need to be prepared?
What is your budget?
Once those questions are answered I can start looking for authors. There are numerous sites out there and publishers who provide links to author and illustrator visits. Another great method I found was just going to the author’s page directly. Below I have listed two websites and an author page for review.
Children’s writers and Illustrators of British Columbia Society: www.cwillbc.org
This is a great site that provides information and help for teacher librarians to become active in booking visits. There are tips for booking an author or illustrator, links to grants and a 8 pages of available speakers. The cost to book a speaker is $250-$350 for a one hour visit. Each of the available authors has a link to information pertaining to personal bios, book information, what age groups they do workshops with, types of workshops, and where they are willing to travel to. It is a great one stop shop!
The second site I visited was:
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: https://www.scbwi.org
This is another useful site. It is a site made so illustrators and authors can connect to their audiences worldwide. There is a very large database for authors and illustrators available in many countries. There is a section for Western Canada with a listing of 16 available authors. It is not as thorough as the cwillbc.org site. It does list a short bio and contact info. I wouldn’t recommend this site.
After doing some searching, I found it would be easier to start with my first question: What are the kids reading now? What are some popular authors? I chose Gordan Korman. I perused some publishers and then googled Gordan Korman.
Gordan Korman: https://gordonkorman.com
It is an excellent site. He has a list of books, a blog, a reader’s forum, a resource link with access to videos and questions and then a link to author visits and tips. The best thing about Korman is he is a Canadian author who wrote his first book at 12 years old and published it at 14. The perfect fit for a middle school, where I am currently a librarian. Gordon’s presentations are 45 minutes to an hour. He also does writing workshops on adventure writing. Gordan goes further in the process by even writing questions that would be important to ask and answers them for you on the site I have listed them below as they would be the questions I would ask as well.
IS THE PROGRAM APPROPRIATE FOR ALL AGES? I can speak to all ages, but my books are targeted from about second grade up.
HOW MANY TIMES DO I SPEAK IN A DAY? Three.
HOW LONG ARE THE PRESENTATIONS? Plan on 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how extensive a question-and-answer session you have in mind. For primary grades, a shorter time slot is recommended, but I can tailor my presentation to suit any schedule.
HOW LARGE CAN THE GROUPS BE? No maximum. You know your kids best, and you know the space you plan to put them in. Large audiences are no problem.
WHAT ABOUT WRITING WORKSHOPS? I have a great adventure-writing workshop, but it’s best with small groups – 25 kids or less.
ARE VIRTUAL VISITS A POSSIBILITY? Absolutely. I love those too.
HOW CAN I PURCHASE BOOKS FOR THE VISIT? It’s always best to go with a local store of distributor, but books can also be ordered directly from my publishers. Scholastic can be reached at 1-800-SCHOLASTIC and HarperCollins (who also distributes for Hyperion) can be reached at 1-800-242-7737. In Canada, Scholastic’s number is 1-800-268-3848.
WHAT ABOUT AUTOGRAPHING? That’s part of the gig. I’m happy to autograph books. (I’m pretty fast, too.)
ARE THERE CERTAIN BOOKS THAT WORK BEST WITH YOUNGER STUDENTS? HOW ABOUT OLDER ONES? LIAR, LIAR, PANTS OF FIRE is my go-to title for primary kids. At the older end of the spectrum, I’d recommend my teen books, POP, THE JUVIE THREE, BORN TO ROCK, JAKE REINVENTED, and both SON OF THE MOB novels.
HOW CAN WE PREPARE FOR THE VISIT? One word: READING. The more familiar the students are with what I write, the better prepared they’ll be. It’s also helps to do things that are very visible in the school – signs, posters, door decorating, etc. Make it feel like a big event. I promise to do the same.
Korman also has a link available to answer any questions we might have!
I think the sites that congregate the information of a wide range of authors on one site is great, however, with virtual workshops and the internet it seems checking individual author pages can be more useful. There is contact info on the site where we can always ask if they are available to visit our schools or come for a virtual visit.
Krashen, S.D. (2004). The Power of Reading: insights from the research. Libraries Unlimited.
Layne, S.L. (2015). In Defense of Read-Aloud: Sustaining Best Practice. Stenhouse Publishing.
Maughan, S. (2016). Graphic novels go back to school. Publishers Weekly, 263(34), 36.
Parrott, K. (2017). Thinking outside the bin. School Library Journal, 63(8), 42.