Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A School Librarian's Reading Life

My Reading Life 

Sign I created for the door to my office
I was inspired to write this blog post after seeing the infographic created by Library Girl Jennifer LaGarde called, When Adults Don't Read, Kids Lose. I remember years ago when I was an elementary school librarian talking to a fourth grade teacher who admitted that she never read. I couldn't imagine that and was horrified. Reading feeds my soul and though my reading habits have changed over the last 25 years that I have been a librarian, I still really value reading in my life. I think everyone should. How can we expect our students to value reading if we don't read? 

I have a motto for my library: All Readers Welcome. I tell my students that I chose that because unlike an English teacher who wants you to read specific books, I don't care what you read. I want you to read what brings you pleasure. It is important for these young people to find what types of reading brings them enjoyment now before they begin to believe that they don't like to read. 

I got to meet author, Jeff Zentner, in October
I am a huge fan of his work!
I began my library career working in an elementary school. Then, for school, I would read lots of picture books which took about 10 to 15 minutes to read to myself and middle grade chapter books which usually took a couple of hours to read. Most of my reading time was spent on books written for adults. I am a big fan of mysteries, but I would read other genres too but almost always fiction titles. I always had a book on the nightstand and would often spend hours and hours on the weekends curled up with a book After twelve years with younger students, I made the move to a grade 7th-12th school. I had taken adolescent lit, but I was way behind in my exposure to the depth of young adult (YA) literature. To catch up with the students I was teaching, I read less and less adult fiction and more and more YA. This was all before social media became big, and the Internet did not do much to entice me away from the reading that I so loved. 

My reading habits have definitely changed due to social media and smartphones. I don't find myself reading for hours and hours on the weekends. As I have gotten older it just seems that it takes me longer to get my weekend chores done. If I get a two hour block on a Sunday for reading, that is a real gift. Also, if I want to relax, instead of picking up a book, I very often pick up my phone and start reading Facebook or looking at pictures on Instagram. When I do that for any length of time, I start to feel guilty and try to regroup and pick up the book that is on my nightstand. There is always a print book that I am reading. Nowadays, I have either a YA or middle grade book to read. I just don't have time for adult books as I need to keep up with the students. 

I keep a record of all the books that I read 

It does seem to take me at least a week if not more to get through most YA books. I don't think that I am a slow reader, just a distracted one. This is probably very much like the students who I teach. In 2013, my school moved to a new facility and instead of a 30 minute round trip commute, I now have an hour round trip every day. At first, I continued to listen to NPR or the occasional podcast on my way to and from school. Then I realized that that hour could be utilized in a better way. I could be listening to audio books. By downloading audio books from the library on my smartphone, I could listen during my commute and my exercise walks. This was a breakthrough in my reading. My local library does not add enough YA titles that interest me. Eventually, I needed to subscribe to Audible so I could find books that I wanted to read/hear. This has been really helpful when it comes to getting through a whole series that I want to read.

Students enjoying time to read in the library
I still review books for School Library Journal and School Library Connection. With those reviews, I don't get to choose what I want to read, and there are deadlines. Sometimes this can be a burden, and I have thought about dropping both of them, but I can't bring myself to do it. I also have books to read along with my library book groups or because we have a scheduled author visit. There are deadlines for those books too, but usually, I have enough lead time to get all the pages read in time for the meeting or the visit.

On Instagram, I saw a display that a librarian had created to showcase the books that she was reading. I decided that I could do that too. On the door to my office, I am putting up pictures of book covers of all the books that I have read since school started. I am also giving each book a star rating so the students get an idea of what I have really liked. You can see below where I am so far this year, and I believe this is a way to truly model by example.

All the books that I have read since school began in August
I worry that my students are not spending enough time reading for pleasure. Though, I may always feel like that, I am going to continue to find ways to let them know the importance of reading. 

4 comments:

  1. I really like the idea of showcasing on your office door the books that you've read! I would love to find a way to incorporate that somehow in my work at the public library.

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  2. In a public library, you could have a shelf of staff picks with books that they have recently read or just a display of what the staff has been reading.

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  3. Nice post! I agree that everyone who works with kids and teens in a library or school should also be reading the applicable literature. You can't recommend books without reading them.

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