Tuesday, September 18, 2012
As we support the newly-adopted English and language arts standards in our state (in conjunction with the Common Core), my teaching partner and I have found ourselves in great demand by our classroom teaching staff. They need books that teach perspective and point-of-view. They need books with strong characters. They need informational texts about historical events. They need books that provide anti-bullying examples. We are glad to provide titles and resources to support teachers' requests, making us both even more fervent believers in a changing role for librarians. Instead of the old model of shushing readers to keep a quiet library and checking out books behind a desk, librarians need to be reading and information resource experts. They need flexible schedules that allow them to collaborate with teachers and students in authentic learning experiences.
My favorite request last week came from a third grade colleague and friend who asked for a picture book she could read without showing the illustrations. She wanted a book with strong imagery, one that would create mental pictures in the listeners' minds. Sometimes I need to "walk the shelves" to find the perfect title, meaning I start at the A section and work my way toward Z, searching for titles that reflect what the teacher wants. I got to the Bs and found what I wanted: Goose's Story by Cari Best. It is a heartfelt story (with wonderful illustrations by Holly Meade) about a girl who finds an injured goose and helps it gain strength and mobility.
My friend and I often arrive at school simultaneously, and the next day, she greeted me with this: "That was the perfect book! It worked exactly as I wanted." The students listened the first time through, but one student interrupted after a few pages by saying, "Wait. Henry is a dog?" Later, the students talked about how they envisioned Henry (all different) and what they thought the area looked like. Most of all, though, they loved the tender story!