5 things your child’s teacher librarian wants you to know
I don’t know about you, but I really haven’t the faintest idea of what happens in the six hours my kids are at school – five days a week. I mean, OF COURSE I know they are being educated and learning the stuff I did when I was their age, but school has changed a lot since I wore a heavy tunic and lace-up shoes. Heck, my kids get to wear polo shirts and black velcro joggers. Much more comfortable!
BUT beyond the uniform, I know there is a tonne of good stuff they are being exposed to that I am just not privy to. If I ask, “What happened at school today?” I am met with, “Can I have some afternoon tea?” in a small, weary voice. So yeah, not exactly forthcoming.
One area that I wonder about is library class. I assume this is more than just sitting quietly to listen to a story as it was in my day. But since I cant get anything out of my kids beyond, “we get to borrow books”, I asked teacher librarian, Megan Daley, to enlighten me.
These are the things she wished parents knew about modern school libraries, and the passionate professionals who work in them.
5 things Megan wants you to know about school libraries (and TLs!)
1. I see your child
Megan assures me that a good teacher librarian will get to know their students, including their quirks, special interests and even the fact that they like to hold a book up high to hide their face when reading.
“I see the shy ones in amongst the boisterous ones and I do try to engage with all the students,” she says.
“The reason your kid comes home with that science book you know he is SO INTO is likely because I’ve had a little chat with him. Or I saved it for him when it arrived because I just knew he’d love it.”
2. Library class now is NOT how we remember it
When I was at school, library class was about sitting still for a story and then getting to borrow some old donated book. Megan tells me this is definitely NOT the case in her library.
“My own library lessons are planned cooperatively with classroom teachers and are a mix of learning about research skills, book conventions and literary goodness,” she says.
“We use computers, iPads, paper and pencil interchangeably and we loudly discuss and work in small groups – my library lessons are anything but quiet!”
Oh and gone are the days of dusty, uninteresting books.
“I ALWAYS read a brand new book or one connected to classroom study each week because at the end of the day, I see my job as being to spark a curiosity and wonder around books and reading quality books is the best way to do this,” she adds.
3. Every kid is a reader
We all have memories of the kid who was dubbed ‘naughty’ or ‘dumb’ because they learnt differently or had other challenges (that were likely undiagnosed) at school. Thankfully we’ve come a long way as a society in recognising not everyone thinks the same or is into the same things.
In this spirit, Megan encourages her students to find their individual ‘reader identity’.
“There is a way into reading for us all – some children may read by ear (audio books) and engage with story in this way, some children may exclusively read graphic novels and some may devour the classics, or every new book which enters the library,” she says.
“Just like we all develop our own style with clothes, we can develop our own identity as a reader, but every child deserves to see themselves as a reader.”
4. It’s not about the overdues
I’ll be the first to admit there are weeks when we open a borrowed book for the first time the night before library day and realising how into it my son is, I ‘forget’ to return it that week (I do the next library session though!).
But Megan tells me she (and likely other TLs) cares less about late returns than we think.
“I don’t worry so much about overdues in my library (but acknowledge my privilege in being able to do this). I’m much more concerned about a child being able to take a book home than I am about their overdues,” she says.
5. School libraries are learning hubs
Megan tells me the school library isn’t just a nice space to read books in – it’s also a place for creativity, learning, researching, exploring technology, having ideas and just getting together.
“Contemporary libraries can be the hub of primary school – a place all members of the school community come to access print and digital resources, attend meetings and simply hang out in because they are warm and welcoming spaces,” she enthuses.
And to quote a passage from her book, ‘Raising Readers’:
“Well-resourced school libraries, with exemplary teacher librarians and library support staff, develop and sustain a vibrant reading culture, promote innovative use of digital technologies and are a participatory hub within schools.”Raising Readers, page 41
Wow, see, I knew my kids weren’t telling me the whole story! How wonderful that our school libraries are such brilliant places and the people who work in them, like Megan, are dedicated to not only expanding their offerings but also young minds.
Our kids are so lucky!
For more on modern school libraries and how they should look, feel and function in this day and age, check out chapter three of Megan’s book, ‘Raising Readers’. Also, here are Megan’s favourite reads for each age and stage, if you need some new books for the kids’ home library.
Lana Hallowes is an online writer and mum of two boys. She recently adopted a rescue puppy, so feels like there's also a wayward toddler living in her house. When she isn't mumming or working, she's ignoring the housework and reading a good book.