Family Reading Night 2012

Students are lined up in the library this week, signed contracts in hand, hoping to get their book for Family Reading night before they have to report to class.  A tradition I began when I came to this school in 2011, it has grown every year.  Last year we had almost 70 families participate. (We have 240 students, and we don’t include kindergarteners, so that’s not bad!)  If you leave a comment to this post, I can email you more information if you’d like to do something similar in your school.

In a nutshell, I booktalk a selection of books for which I’ve purchased multiple copies for the event.  A letter goes home, children indicate their top 3 choices for a book, parents sign off, and then they receive their book. We give families about three weeks to read the book and then we gather at school one evening in February.  After  cookies and milk in the library, we break into discussion groups in nearby classrooms.  Families chat with other families that read the same book.  Generic open-ended questions are provided to aid the discussion and I generally tap one parent in each group to serve as facilitator.

Here are the books I’ve chosen for this year:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Supporting emergent readers

We all know that all students benefit from lots of practice with their reading, especially in kindergarten and first grade. This year in my building we’ve borrowed an idea from a number of other schools and started an emergent reader volunteer program. We first pitched the idea with a Powerpoint presentation to our PTO last spring so that we could get their endorsement and possibly some help recruiting volunteers.

Basically it involves supportive adults listening to children read a “just right” book from their browsing box. Parents go through a short training about some skills and strategies taught to beginning readers, and most volunteer once a week for a half hour or so. It is not intended to be an instructional time but rather a time for practice of a familiar book.

We created special nametags for these helpers, and ordered stickers from Upstart that say, “Today I read with _____.” Volunteers sign their name and give a sticker to each child they read with. You can have a peek at the documents I created to help launch the program if you’d like to start something similar in your school.

Emergent Reader volunteer name tags (1)

Emergent reader program survey questions
Description for teachers
August Parent letter


'the new camera!' photo (c) 2007, Kellan - license: have recommended AASL’s Advocacy Tip of the Day before, and in that spirit I am passing along this tip to you:

This year, keep a digital camera handy, right near the circulation desk so that you can document as much of the learning and activity that takes place in your library as possible.  Last June I found that when I was compiling my annual report  I had precious few photos to insert.

Click away all year long and you’ll have lots of raw material for your webpage, blog, Snapshot Day, monthly and annual reports, and presentations to stakeholders.

How do you market your collection?

Inspired by mover-and-shaker Mr. Schu’s post about how he got ready for his students’ arrival, I decided recently to do a little extra marketing of my own.

In the staff bathrooms I hung up signs to advertise books for upcoming units, and I actually got some results! (A couple of requests for books they didn’t know we had.)

To entice kids to come to the library for Open House and preview our 300 new titles I posted these teasers:

at the water fountain

in the girls’ bathroom

in the boys bathroom

Whatever it takes!

What do I have to show for 2010-11?

Applausephoto © 2009 Peter Dutton | more info (via: Wylio)
In an earlier post (‘round about the time we were all making New Year’s resolutions as I recall) I challenged you all to think about compiling an annual report for your principal.  I have been doing monthly reports to share with my administrator for a number of years but I’d never done an annual report.  There are some great examples to look at here and I found them very inspiring.  (High school librarians—you rock!)  So I’ve been plugging away at mine, slowly collecting data and thinking about what to include.

It’s been a good exercise.  It has helped me to see just how much I have been able to accomplish and grow this year.  At the same time it is a reminder of what is lacking—greater collaboration with teachers, and more non-print resources for those online environments I keep talking about.

I also have come to realize that I need to take more photos to document what happens in the library during the year.  It would have been nice to jazz things up a bit with images for the report.

Doing this report was also an excuse to try out some web 2.0 tools for creating slick online documents (I’m trying to go paperless whenever I can). Richard Byrne was my inspiration here.  I love how he formatted so many of his resources for teachers using issuu.  Next year’s will be even better, but I’m reasonably pleased with my first attempt.  Please share any feedback or your own report with a link in the comments!

A Vision for my Future

Vision Of Eyechart With Glassesphoto © 2011 Ken Teegardin | more info (via: Wylio)
Librarians in my district this year have been focusing on advocacy and marketing/branding.  Obviously there’s a lot to that, and I’ve shared a resulting mission statement with you in an earlier post.  Recently I’ve been trying to articulate a vision for my library’s future based on this mission statement.

I’ve also wanted to prepare some sort of document that I could have at-the-ready for visitors to my library—parents, other community members, administrators and other stakeholders.  It would contain my mission and vision statements and a few relevant library statistics. this is my first crack at it.  What have I missed?  What’s one way you reach out and share this type of information?

Family Reading Night: a remedy for cabin fever!

januari 2007 061photo © 2007 jessebezz | more info (via: Wylio)
About 15 years ago, I borrowed the idea for this event from librarians in the district schools my children attended.  I tweaked it to suit my own purposes and each year the event grows in popularity.   We hold Family Reading Night in February which has traditionally been I Love to Read and Write month in many schools in Vermont.  (It’s also the time of year when many of us start to feel housebound and tired of the cold and snow and wind!)   I decided to write a post  about it now so that you have lead time to try it yourself in that same time frame.

             My building is preschool to grade 3, and I run the program for grades 1-3 .  I have found that our littlest ones are intimidated by the older students and rarely say anything in the discussions.  We have chosen to have them wait a year;  it gives them something to look forward to.

First, you need to obtain multiple copies of several titles that you select.  Then you booktalk those titles in library classes about 3-4 weeks prior to the event and have families sign up to participate.  (I always have them indicate their first and second choice for a book and dole them out on a “first come, first served” basis.  Here’s a link to my Parent letter and Contract for this year.

                I ask several classroom teachers if we can use their rooms, and I save space in the library for a group or two.  We set up chairs in a circle, and place some generic discussion questions that could work for many books on the chairs.  I make sure to have good signage directing families to the library that night, and then to the discussion rooms.

                We begin at 6:30 with light refreshments in the library—milk and cookies or juice and cookies.  Families mingle for 15 minutes, then I do a short welcome and explain the way the evening works.  Lastly, I send them on their way to their discussion group.  After a few minutes, I take the digital camera and eavesdrop on the groups, making sure to get lots of pictures for PR purposes.  I leave it up to the groups to run themselves and I’m always amazed at how some parent always steps up and seems to be a great facilitator.  (We talk during the introduction about some guidelines—making sure all have a turn to talk, not interrupting someone, etc.)

                I go around after about 35 minutes to give a 5 minute warning and I work really hard to keep to our time schedule and honor bedtimes.  Parents come back to the library with the books and grab their coats and go.  I clean up, and I’m out the door just before 8:00.  Feedback is always very positive and we always have “repeat” families until all their kids move on to another school.

The first year we offered this in my other district the librarians applied for (and got) a district mini-grant to purchase books and offer a spaghetti  supper  before the book discussions began.  I have asked for PTO money to purchase books or used book fair money, too.  Once you have enough titles for a few cycles, you can reuse the books every few years, and purchase new ones as you are able.

It really is a fairly simple program to run and it is great PR for the library!  Please leave a comment if you do something similar and can offer suggestions, or (if you try this), let me know how it goes!

Previous Older Entries