While trolling my Twitter feed one day, I found the following tweet by @erinlibrary: “Teaching kids to checkout books when THEY need them, not because they HAVE to.”
Glen Elementary School in Burlington, Massachusetts.
As an adult who loves to read, I could not imagine a situation
where someone said to me, “You can’t read that book, it’s too easy for you” or
“You can only visit a library on Thursdays between 1:30 and 2:00.” Yet, these are the inane things adults say to
children all the time (and it hasn’t ceased to raise my hackles when I hear
them.) I am a reader because I have choice. Choice in what I read, when I read,
and how I read. Students need, deserve, require the same choices if they are
going to develop into readers for life.
and making sure that it is open and available when a student needs it is more
important than it being open when I want it. I don’t close for lunch,
inventory, or planning time. I let my students know that they are welcome in
the library any time of the school day by providing homeroom library passes
because sometimes students just want to checkout a book during a time other
than their scheduled library class. I know, crazy, right?
students can check out, I teach students to ask themselves three questions: How many books can I carry?, How many books can I read at once?, and How many books can I be responsible for?
Readers have control over their own reading lives and it is important that my
students learn how to make the best choices for themselves. The second I put a
limit on their checkouts is the second I’ve squashed their enthusiasm toward
tell them what they can and cannot read. You will not find leveled readers in
my library nor are there any age restrictions on borrowing from certain
sections. Any student can borrow any library book regardless of age, reading
ability, or interest. When you make a judgment on a child’s reading choice or
deny access, you crush his reading spirit. Period.
every day. I remind them often, ensuring them that it really is okay to be in
the library anytime and to check out what they want when they want it. They’re
still used to the old library rules and changing culture is never easy. Sigh.
But it’s a battle I’m willing to fight because I see how it is building
readers. And that’s my choice.