What makes a great primary school library?
Is it the space in which the library is housed?
Is it a diverse and fabulous collection of books?
Is it a well maintained bank of technology that allows all students access to 21st century learning?
It definitely involves students who love reading
Library Programs @ CNPS
- Twilight Storytime: This is an evening story reading session that is held once a term in the library from 6pm-7pm. Mainly for Foundation, Grades 1 & 2 (but all welcome). Students are encouraged to come in their P.J.s, dressing gown and slippers. One of the Foundation teachers and I read a picture story book each (usually a new book that’s good or sometimes we have a theme e.g. cat vs dog books), then the kids share a book they’ve brought from home and that they are currently reading/love. A book show and tell for younger students. (1 min or so per student otherwise it can go on a bit…). Then, in informal groups, kids share their books with their friends and the parents chat and explore what’s on display in the library. This is a good public relations event for the library as it lifts the library’s profile within the school community.
- Little Bookroom Group: The idea behind this program is that students get to select books from a local book shop for the school library. We are lucky enough to have a fantastic children’s book shop, The Little Bookroom, ten minutes’ walk from the school. Each student gets a budget of $20 per visit (we have 3 visits per semester) and they need to choose a book that will appeal to a range of students, not just something they’re interested in (though obviously this can work out as well). If the book they want is more expensive they can team up with another student to buy it or they can put two visit’s worth of money toward it. When the book is in the library the student who chose it then reads it and writes a small review. Two students from each Grade 3,4,5,6 class apply for a spot in this group. I run the groups on a semester rotation.
- CBCA- Junior Judges: This is a tie-in with the Children’s Book Council Australia (CBCA) award’s announcement in August and is based on a program the CBCA used to run but doesn’t seem to anymore. In a nut shell the students vote on books in two separate categories, Younger Readers and Early Childhood, which are both picture storybook categories. I have these books on display for 3 weeks or so before the official winners are announced. Each class uses their weekly library session to read the books from one category (Foundation to Grade 2 usually Early Childhood and Grades 3-6 usually Younger Readers). Once all books in their chosen category have been read, the students cast their vote for their favourite book. Then, when the CBCA winners are announced I announce the official winner and our school’s chosen winner. I might do this at assembly or during weekly library sessions. The students nearly always choose a different winner to the official CBCA one and I nearly always agree with the student’s choice as opposed to the CBCA.
- Book Week: During book week in August, apart from the obligatory parade (come dressed as your favourite book character) and the announcement of our Junior Judge’s decision, I also try to run a Twilight Storytime session and have a Little Bookroom visit. The Twilight session allows parents to look at the short-listed CBCA books, which are on display. Then I have a big lie down.
- Family Borrowing: Our library is a great resource and, as such, I feel the school community should have access to it. Family borrowing provides an opportunity for families to borrow from the library both during the term and for the holidays. Families can borrow two books for two weeks. The onus is on the parents to return the books as students have enough to remember returning their personal borrowing. It’s also a nice way for toddlers to get to know the library and form a relationship with it (and me).
- Library Lunchtime: The library is open during lunch for two of the three days I’m employed at the school. I tend to allow them ten minutes to run around outside etc then I announce that the library is open. We have jigsaw puzzles and games, with marble run and lego being the clear favourites. I also have colouring in sheets and blank paper for drawing and of course the kids can read. Some students recently had a book mark making session and at assembly handed out book marks to all the staff. I don’t let kids use the computers as it’s difficult to monitor usage and there are always arguments around time and sharing. Just easier for me to have a blanket ban on them.
- Book Groups: This year I’ve started two voluntary book groups, one for the Grade 5/6s and one for the Grade 4s. Each group has about 6 members. A few teething issues with both groups. The Grade 5/6s want to read the same book and then talk about it but the library can’t really afford to buy a copy for each student. Especially if we meet ten times a year. Students could share copies but this can prove difficult as well.
- Library Monitors: Students are in charge of returning and borrowing for their class. Monitors also help out at lunchtime and do odd jobs for the library.