Celebrating! The Freedom to Read

Our_Library_Hands_Raised_crop_sizedNext week from September 25 through October 1, the American Library Association (ALA) leads the annual “Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read” initiative.

Along with a coalition of other organizations that include the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), ALA and the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), ALA’s non-profit legal and educational organization, have added a focus on diversity for this year’s campaign.

As the FTRF slogan reads, “free people read freely,” the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment give us the freedom to access ideas and information. For school librarians, the questions and answers surrounding challenged and banned books revolve around how this right applies to students who access resources in our libraries and online.

Since five of the top ten most frequently challenged books in 2015 were written expressly for children or teens, it is important for school librarians to have policies and procedures in place to address students’, parents’, classroom teachers’, or administrators’ concerns regarding the resources available through the library.

“Banned Books Week” gives school librarians the opportunity to discuss ALA’s Freedom to Read Statement and the First Amendment with students, colleagues, administrators, and parents. It also serves as a reminder to examine our own collection development practices.

In August, Maria Cahill published “How Do You Prepare for Challenges to Books and Other Resources” on the School Library Connection blog.  She offers the results of an anonymous survey of 200 school librarians that found 65.67% of the librarians who followed collection development policies did not experience materials challenges; 22.89% did.

Perhaps the most notable result of this survey was that 11.44% reported that they engage in self-censorship in order to avoid challenges to library materials. “Self-censorship is much more prevalent at the elementary level and in schools that have multiple grade configurations such as P-12, middle and high, etc. than at middle or high school levels” (Cahill).

One reflection question for elementary school librarians could be: Are I Am Jazz and Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan in our collection? Why, or why not? A question for secondary librarians could be: Are Looking for Alaska, Beyond Magenta, and Two Boys Kissing in our library collection? Why or why not?

What are you doing this week and next to highlight the right to read with your school library community? Please share in the comments section below.

Note: One easy way for school librarians to participate in this campaign is to display the “I Read Banned Books” Twibbon on their Twitter and Facebook profile photos.

 

Works Cited

Cahill, Maria. “How Do You Prepare for Challenges to Books and Other Resources.” School Library Connection Blog. http://goo.gl/NcrNf6. Accessed 18 Sept. 2016.

Thurston, Baratunde. “I Am a Community Organizer.” Flickr.com. 18 Sept. 2016, https://www.flickr.com/photos/baratunde/2837373493.

Global Picture Books that Portray or Could Inspire Social Justice Activism

wow1The mission of the Worlds of Words (WOW) is “to build bridges across global cultures through children’s and adolescent literature.” WOW hosts a physical library collection of international children’s and young adult literature on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson. In addition, WOW’s online presence includes book reviews (WOW Review), articles about integrating global literature into the classroom and library (WOW Stories), the WOW Currents blog, My Take/Your Take Book Dialogues, and an Author’s Corner.

This month on the My Take/Your Take Book Dialogues, Deborah Dimmett from the University of Arizona and I are sharing global children’s literature picture books that portray or could inspire social activism. Our list of books is at the end of this post.

In their book For a Better World: Reading and Writing for Social Action (Heinemann, 2001), Randy and Katherine Bomer note that the ways an educator uses literature, designs activities, and prompts questions are part of a classroom (or library) discourse. When educators share their values and read texts that continually and consistently focus on values, students can naturally and openly discuss values as well.

Our first post this month is focused on the book In A Cloud of Dust (Fullerton/Deines). I wrote the introduction to the book and responded. Deb then wrote her response to the book. It is clear to me that Deborah and I will provide examples this month that demonstrate the nature of readers’ responses.

As Louise Rosenblatt’s transactional theory (1978) attests, each reader brings her own feelings, personality, and experiences to the reading of a text. Our responses to and interpretations of these texts will be different based on our background knowledge, values, and beliefs as well as the literal content of the text and the authors’ intentions.

Engaging in these types of discussions—whether in the face-to-face or online environment—can help educators prepare to share these texts with students. These five books provide jumping off places for students and teachers to engage in critical conversations. We invite you to check on our discussions and contribute your responses, interpretations, and comments this month.

References

Bomer, Randy and Katherine Bomer. For a Better World: Reading and Writing for Social Action. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2001. Print.

Rosenblatt, Louise M. The Reader, the Text, the Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University, 1978. Print.

Word Cloud created at Tagxedo.com

Books to be Discussed in December, 2015

1. In A Cloud of Dust by Alma Fullerton, Art by Brian Deines (Pajama Press, 2015)

2. The Soda Bottle School: A True Story of Recycling, Teamwork, and One Crazy Idea by Seño Laura Kutner and Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Aileen Darragh (Tilberry House 2015)

3. The Promise by Nicola Davies illustrated by Laura Carlin (Candlewick, 2013)

4. Twenty-Two Cents: Muhammed Yunus and the Village Bank by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Jamel Akib (Lee & Low, 2014)

5. My Heart Will Not Sit Down by Mara Rockliff (Knopf, 2012)

Intercultural Understanding through Global Literature

This month the BACC co-bloggers will share different aspects of diversity and inclusion as applied to and practiced in school librarianship.

WOWLongview“Culturally responsive collection development” is a term and strategy school librarians apply to indicate that we build library collections that reflect and support the cultural backgrounds of our students. To build on this strategy, we must also consider that we are living in a global society that extends beyond our students’ personal and family cultures to a wider and more diverse world.

In order to ensure that multiple voices and perspectives are represented in the resources the library provides for students, classroom teachers, and families, school librarians can develop a collection that includes global literature. Global literature includes books set in non-U.S. cultures, or is written by immigrants about living in the U.S. or in their home countries, or is written by authors who live and work in the U.S. and another country. These resources can help readers connect with others who live within and beyond our country’s borders.

Susan Corapi, Worlds of Words (WOW) board member, and Kathy G. Short WOW director, recently released a downloadable .pdf file booklet, Exploring International and Intercultural Understanding through Global Literature, to help educators understand and learn more about using global literature to explore international and intercultural understanding. In this work, Susan and Kathy provide information about a Longview Foundation for International Affairs grant-funded project called “Global Literacy Communities.” The book includes the experiences of twenty-five pre-kindergarten to high school educator study groups from nineteen U.S. states that met regularly for a period of one to three years to learn through global literature.

In their study groups, educators used global literature to further develop their international understanding and strove for something more—intercultural understanding. As Susan and Kathy note, “Intercultural understanding extends beyond nationality and politics to include informed problem solving and social action activities that necessitate an appreciation of the full range of issues, including the values and beliefs of everyone involved. Intercultural understanding creates the potential to move from curiosity about a culture to a deeper understanding of others that allows us to live and work together as global citizens” (4).

BACC readers can access an article about this publication on the EdWeek blog and can learn more about  the study groups by reading articles published in the online journal WOW Stories.

When we practice culturally responsive collection development, we have the potential to impact curriculum. But we can guarantee that impact by coplanning and coteaching to use those resources for the benefit of all students. When we take students’ heritage languages and home cultures into account and use them as background knowledge in lesson design, we are maximizing opportunities to use resources to impact student learning. In doing so, school librarians combine our skills at collection development with “connection development” (Lankes).

As collaborating school librarians, I believe we cannot overestimate our importance as literacy stewards in our buildings. With our knowledge of literature, technology resources, tools, and devices we can support teachers’ teaching and help motivate students to engage deep and meaningful learning. As the “Global Literacy Communities” study groups attest, we develop our own international and intercultural understanding as we work alongside students and classroom teachers.

How are you using global literature in your library program? Have you cotaught a collaborative lesson or unit or participated in study group to bring a global focus to your teaching?

On Thursday, I will share WOW’s My Take/Your Take Book Dialogues as a model for engaging in virtual discussions with other educators centered on global literature.

Works Cited

Corapi, Susan, and Kathy G. Short. Exploring International and Intercultural Understanding through Global Literature. Longview Foundation: Worlds of Words. 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <http://wowlit.org/Documents/InterculturalUnderstanding.pdf>.

Lankes, R. David. The Atlas of New Librarianship. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011. Print.

Coteaching Inquiry and Reading Comprehension: A Perfect Match

PM_logo_3_sizedToday, I am facilitating a half-day preconference workshop titled: “Coteaching Inquiry Learning and Reading Comprehension Strategies: A Perfect Match.” I am a long-time practitioner and staunch advocate for the school librarian’s instructional partner role.

In this workshop, I bring together two areas of teaching and learning about which I am passionate: inquiry learning and reading comprehension strategies (RCS). These two processes can be aligned in order to increase students’ success with both. Inquiry and RCS are metacognitive processes that invite learners to think about their thinking. They can help learners grow their ability to “learn how to learn.”

And both processes are best taught with a coteaching approach. In the workshop, participants will review these processes, complete a puzzle that spotlights how they are aligned, and practice coteaching close reading with literature that can lead to an inquiry unit of study. Coteaching RCS builds on the school librarian’s strengths in teaching information literacy skills and makes a more successful learning outcome for students.

When classroom teachers, specialists, and school librarians combine their knowledge, skills, and talents, everybody wins!

This workshop is based on my previously published books regarding coteaching RCS as well as one that I am authoring: Building a Culture of Collaboration: School Librarian Leadership and Advocacy (ALA Editions 2016).

The AASL Conference is just getting underway today. If you are not in Columbus and attending this event, check it out on Twitter at #aasl15, on the Knowledge Quest Blog, and on the AASL Facebook page.

P.S. Since I am not able to be at Treasure Mountain this morning, I am sharing my thank-you note video to Dr. Loertscher via the BACC.

Word cloud created at Wordle.net

More Reading Promotion

Posted on behalf of guest blogger Stephanie Jones

ChaseStElemSchool-SkypeWithKateMessnerTanya Hudson is the school librarian at Chase Street Elementary School in Athens, Georgia.  As part of Library Card Sign-Up Month, she was one of  several school librarians in the Clarke County Public School District who arranged for their students to get library cards at the public library.  Mrs. Hudson wrote about her school’s participation on her library blog, the Tree Frog Blog! During the Night at the Library event, 14 students and their families visited the recently renovated Athens Clarke County Public Library for fun events including a library tour, a raffle, and of course, new library cards.

After receiving their new cards and selecting some books, the students were thrilled to be able to scan their new library cards at the self-checkout stations. (I agree that the self-checkout stations are fun to use and so convenient!) The Night at the Library is just one of many library reading promotions at Chase Street. Every fall they have an event called the Reading Tailgate which occurs at one of the apartment complexes in town where many of the Chase Street students live. It’s a drop-in event in a big, open, grassy field. There are many activities for the students to do at different literacy stations including make-and-take centers and a used book give-away.

In the spring, they have a Poetry Picnic at the school with a potluck dinner and “tons of different poetry reading and writing stations” for students to visit. The whole school collaborates to plan and implement these events and the turnout is always great! Mrs. Hudson also takes advantage of technology to promote reading. In September the Chase Street library hosted a successful Skype visit with Kate Messner, author of Ranger in Time, one of the most popular books at their spring book fair. Prior to the visit, Mrs. Hudson prepared the second and third grade students for the visit by sharing the Messner books and brainstorming questions for the author. To see photos of these events and learn more about the happenings in the Chase Street library visit the Tree Frog Blog. They would love to hear from you too so make a comment. You can follow them on Twitter @chaselibrary

Stephanie A. Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Director, Instructional Technology
Georgia Southern University

Photograph used with permission

 

Celebrating Literacy-Globally and Locally

The walls of the OrchardDSCN0706 School Library Media Center faded away last week as young learners from South Burlington, Vermont met with friends in several elementary schools across the country via Skype and Google Hangout. As participants in the Global Read Aloud project, readers throughout the United States and beyond read and discuss books both synchronously and asynchronously for six weeks beginning in October. Educators who jump into the Global Read Aloud are encouraged to find creative ways to incorporate the joys of shared reading both locally and globally.

Through the GRA website and wiki, teachers and librarians can collaborate with each other and their classrooms through Twitter, Edmodo, Skype, Kidblog, and other social media sites. The project began in 2010 with a Wisconsin educator, Pernille Ripp, who envisioned a read aloud that would connect kids and books beyond the classroom. The program has grown exponentially, from 150 in 2010 to over 300,000 student participants from over 60 countries in 2014.  The GRA 2015 has kicked off with four middle grade titles for discussion this year, and an author study for the picture book crowd.

GRA in Action at Orchard

At Orchard School, the library media specialist, Donna Sullivan-Macdonald also wears the tech integrationist hat, and the school library program is an active hub of learning and literacy that connects the school to the world beyond. The Global Read Aloud Project is high on Donna’s list of real world connections.  She has participated in the GRA since 2011 with one class of fifth graders, and this year the project includes all twenty classes, kindergarten through fifth grade. Each class is paired with a class in another state, and the students have had fun getting to know one another through Mystery Skypes, Google Hangouts, sharing Padlets, writing and responding to blog posts, tweeting, taking surveys, and exchanging emails. To get a flavor of how the connections work, Donna tells about using the 2015 GRA with some of her students:

“For the Amy Krause Rosenthal picture book author study, kindergarten and first graders heard the first book in the project, Chopsticks, and then learned to use the tool. We’re now creating a shared book of pictures of students eating with chopsticks with some new friends in the state of Georgia.”

When I visited last week, Donna read another book by Rosenthal, It’s Not Fair, to a class of second graders, and explored concepts about fairness and taking turns by arranging for two activities for the class.  The object was to make sure that all had equal time for the activities. Fifteen minutes before the end of the class time, the students got together via Hangout with their buddy class in Indiana to discuss the book and ideas about fairness.  It was amazing to see the Orchard students actually having an interactive discussion with kids miles and miles away.

DSCN0732

Local Connections

Connecting reading to the world is not limited to just the Global Read Aloud at Orchard School.  Another ongoing project is a Food Drive that has been inspired by Katherine Applegate’s newest book, Crenshaw. The author of The One and Only Ivan has provided much food for thought for her reading fans. The topic of homelessness is sensitively addressed, and readers can make connections with real world problems and can learn to make a difference.  The publisher has launched a program #crenshawfooddrive that invites independent bookstores to raise awareness about childhood hunger based on ideas from Applegate’s book.  Crenshaw is imaginary. Childhood hunger isn’t. Help us feed families in need. http://www.mackidsbooks.com/crenshaw/fooddrive.html

In August, Donna contacted Phoenix Books in Burlington and suggested that they could work as partners to contribute to the food drive for the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.

Donna explains how Crenshaw sparked a study of childhood hunger at Orchard School:

“The fifth grade teachers read Crenshaw as their first read aloud this school year. In the library, we researched childhood hunger and presented this information on posters, created in both in the makerspace and on the computer. Students also created a slide show on childhood hunger and ran a whole school morning meeting introducing the food drive to the school. There were speakers from both Phoenix Books and the Chittenden Food Shelf. No teachers spoke. It was student driven. Heading into the final week, we’re at 819 items donated!

Back to Crenshaw, many 2nd through 4th grade teachers have since read the book to their classes. I have used Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s message about random acts of kindness in my discussions with K-3 students who are reading her books.

On Friday, after reporting final totals to the school at morning meeting, one fifth grade class will load all of our donations on a bus and we’ll head to the food shelf for a tour and a weighing of all the donated food.

It’s heartwarming to witness the kindness and empathy shown by  young children through participation in this project.

Although not formally a part of GRA, the food drive has fit in nicely.”DSCN0699

For Donna, and the many other talented teacher librarians and educators in our schools, celebrating literacy is an everyday joy that is embedded within the fabric of a culture of collaboration that makes a school a vibrant and caring place for our students and our colleagues.

Thank you Donna for sharing your enthusiasm and energy, and thank you to your students who are making a difference locally and globally!

Resources:

Applegate, Katherine. Crenshaw. New York: Harpercollins, 2015.

Kaplan, Judith. “Donna Sullivan-Macdonald.“ Personal Interview and email correspondence. 20 Oct. 2015.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dsmacdonald

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-macdonald/35/723/416

Orchard School Library Media Center, 2 Baldwin Ave. So. Burlington, VT 05403 Web. Oct. 25, 2015.<http://library.sbsd.orchard.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/integrated_home.phtml?gid=771938>.

Ripp, Pernille. “Home.” GlobalReadAloud. Wikispaces, 2015. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <http://globalreadaloud.wikispaces.com/>.

 Images:  Judy Kaplan Collection

Reading Rocks

Posted on behalf of guest blogger Stephanie Jones

When my colleague Lucy Santos Green asked me to write a post for her while she did research in Brazil, I began reflecting on the theme for this month: collaborative reading promotions and literacy events. I teach courses in the school library media concentration in the Instructional Technology program at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. In my work it’s important to me to keep up with what is happening in the school library field, but it’s been eleven years since I worked as an elementary school librarian and my experience in such matters is definitely outdated.

So I turned to the experts, school librarians here in Georgia, and asked them to share with me what they are doing to promote reading in their school communities. In response I heard about an abundance of creative and exciting reading programs. In this blog post I will share two stories that I think exemplify the kind of effective reading programs that can happen when your school library collaborates with members of your school community. The first is from my good friend and fellow storyteller, Linda Martin. On Thursday, I’ll share the second story from Tanya Hudson whom I met when I was a doctoral student and she was earning her Master’s in Instructional Technology at the University of Georgia in Athens. (Go Bulldogs!)

ReadingRocketLinda Martin, who is the school librarian at Sugar Hill Elementary School in Hall County, told me about a summer reading program she has been involved with for the last three years. The program was developed in response to a problem; during the summer many students in Hall County do not read because they do not have transportation to the public libraries. In order to avoid the summer slide, county media specialists working with school personnel brainstormed to find a way to get books to these students. The solution was the Reading Rocket, a bookmobile created from a school bus which the school system donated for this use. The bus was retrofitted by students in a high school shop class who painted it with bright colors and installed gutters to hold the paperback books from Scholastic.

The Reading Rocket operates two days of the week during the summer, traveling to schools, community centers, and trailer parks to bring books to children. The bookmobile is staffed mostly by volunteers: teachers, principals, media specialists, teachers, and even some students who enjoy helping their friends find books to read. Now in its third year, the Reading Rocket is just one part of a year-round reading program developed by a collaboration between Hall County Schools and the public library. You can read more about this innovative reading project at the Reading Rocks website and you can follow them at Twitter @HCReadingRocks.

Stephanie A. Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Director, Instructional Technology
Georgia Southern University
@sajones53

School-Public Library Partnership

Moreillon_Bookmarks_Fun_Fun_Fun_0915Cooperation and Company was a Dewitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Library Power grant-funded project. Two public library children’s librarians, Mary Margaret Mercado and Char Maynard and two school librarians, Terri Moschetti and yours truly, collaborated to co-author, co-promote, co-produce, and co-celebrate three puppet plays.

We worked in public librarian-school librarian teams to develop the puppet plays based on three public domain stories from traditional literature: Borreguita and the Coyote, Whale in the Sky, and Whose’s In Rabbit’s House? We purchased the puppets, created the scenery, and used the then Tucson-Pima Public (now Pima County Public) Library’s professional puppet stage.

We had a blast! We performed the plays at two branches of the public library and at both elementary schools. We involved students in bookmark contests to promote the plays and the hours and contact information for the libraries. (See above selection of bookmarks, circa 1995.) Students also learned the puppet play refrains so they could assist in the performances. Mary Margaret and I continued to perform Borreguita and the Coyote for the public library’s summer reading program for many years after the grant project.

School library and public library collaboration can be a rewarding and high-impact activity for all involved. While the school librarian’s support for the public library programs during summer reading is essential (especially if our school libraries are shuttered during the summer months), we can make the extra effort to involve students and families in taking advantage of what the public library has to offer year round.

School librarians collaborating with our colleagues at the public library is a win-win for the readers in our shared communities.

Literacy Is a Team Sport

This month the BACC cobloggers will share ideas about collaborative reading promotions and literacy events.

While every school librarian strives to make the library the hub of learning, we also know that it takes a whole-school approach to supporting students as they engage in literacy for the 21st century. Enlisting all members of the school community in promoting reading is necessary.

And as this video demonstrates, it’s fun! Stony Evans is a library media specialist in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He collaborated with Lakeside High School (LHS) coaches Joe Hobbs and Karrie Irwin to co-develop the “Train Your Brain Ad” video starring the LHS Cross Country Team. Lakeside Superintendent Shawn Cook made a cameo appearance in the video. Kevin Parrott was the videographer.

Congratulations to the whole team at Lakeside High!

This is one example of how library leader Stony Evans is reaching for his goal “to create lifelong learners through literacy and technology.” Visit Stony’s Library Media Tech Talk blog.

How did I learn about this outstanding example of collaborative reading promotion? From Stony’s Twitter feed @stony12270, of course.

Which members of your faculty will work with you to promote literacy in your community? What about your library student aides? How can they reach out to their classmates and serve as cheerleaders for reading? Here’s an archived example from Emily Gray Junior High/Tanque Verde High School from Teen Read Week: Books with Bite (November 2008)!

We can accomplish so much more when we work in collaboration with others. On Thursday, I will share a school library – public library literacy collaboration.

Video linked with permission – Thank you, Stony and your team