Phew! In the month of May, our small but mighty youth and teen services team put in 160 hours visiting more than 10,000 students. While we do provide some programs and services at the branches, our main focus is outreach and educator support. As a former teacher turned librarian, I’m absolutely loving my new job!
Our summer reading visits usually last around 30 minutes and consist of three components:
- Introduction to the Public Library
- Summer Reading Overview
- Read Alouds (Grades K-2) or Book Talks (Grades 3-5)
Introduction to the Public Library
- WHO am I?
- WHY am I at your school?
- WHAT is a public library and HOW is it different from a school library?
- WHAT kinds of things can you borrow?
- HOW many things can you borrow?
- WHAT else can you do with your public library card?
- HOW much does it cost to get one?
- HOW do you sign up?
These are some of the topics we cover in our introduction to the public library!
I like to bring examples of the different kinds of items you can check out. The snake puppet is a trick question (no, you can NOT borrow animals at the library… but you CAN use your library card to get free tickets to the zoo!) The kids are always so excited to learn they can borrow robots. Dot is a great crowd management tool and helps me keep an eye out for quiet hands to call on next!
We also go over HOW borrowing materials from the library works. Most things check out for one or three weeks, and then you have to bring them back… except for the very special summer reading books you get to pick out and keep forever!
Summer Reading Overview
Then we segue into the details of our summer reading program – dates, special activities they can look forward to at the library, etc. I am so happy that we switched to giving out free books at the beginning of summer reading! Kids are WAY more excited about summer reading now than in years past. Knowing they get to choose their very own book right away is a lot more motivating than hearing “if you register for this program AND read hundreds of minutes AND track them on this log AND turn your reading log in… THEN you get a free book.”
We spend a few minutes on Q&A. Then we share some of our new(er) favorite books we think that they will love reading this summer!
Read Alouds (K-2nd Grade)
Since we discuss the different types of books you can get from the library, I like to share both a fiction and a nonfiction picture book (if time allows). This year I read from the following:
- Counting to Bananas: A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book by Carrie Tillotson
- Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex
- Who Wet My Pants? by Bob Shea
- What Do They Do With All That Poo? by Jane Kurtz
Most primary classes in our area take a field trip to the zoo in May, so learning about zoo poop is VERY relevant to their recent excursion! The kids get pretty riled up after this read aloud, so we take some deep calming snake breaths before carrying on. The other three titles make for great buddy reads if you have a willing partner!
Book Talks (3rd-5th Grade)
Here are the newer titles/older series with recent releases that I booktalked:
- Aru Shah and the End of Time (Graphic Novel Adaptation)
- A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi & Laura Shovan
- Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
- It’s The End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit by Justin Reynolds
- Katie the Catsitter by Colleen AF Venable
- Pighearted by Alex Perry
- Sparks! by Ian Boothby
- While I Was Away by Waka T. Brown
We typically display the books face-out and call on students to pick which titles to talk about next. Here’s a sample booktalk of the most popular title amongst students:
Close your eyes and imagine what you want to do this summer…
Maybe you want to sleep in… maybe you want to hang out with your friends… maybe you want to go swimming…
Okay, open your eyes and let me tell you about Eddie’s grand plans for summer!
(point to Eddie)
Eddie plans to do laundry only ONCE all summer long. So you can imagine what his room looks like. You can imagine what his room is starting to SMELL like!
When his mom finds an enormous pile of dirty clothes in Eddie’s room, she makes him stay home and do laundry while the rest of the family goes to the Beach Bash. And that’s why Eddie is home alone, wearing his swimsuit, when the power suddently goes out… and doesn’t come back on. Then his cell phone stops working. Then strange lights appear in the sky outside.
(pause and pan book cover)
When Eddie decides to leave his house and investigate, he finds a few other kids from his neighborhood, but NO ADULTS. They soon start wondering if they’re the only people left in their town… and maybe if they’re the only people left on the planet.
You look kind of worried right now, but I promise, this book is OUTRAGEOUSLY funny! If you like stories that make you laugh, or if you like books that keep you on the edge of your seat, you should definitely check out It’s The End of the World and I’m In My Bathing Suit by Justin Reynolds.
During the last week of summer reading visits, an eighteen-year-old shot and killed nineteen students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The AR platform rifles used in the shooting were purchased legally.
During our school visits that week, students were very concerned that anyone can use the public library. They asked:
“Anyone can go there?”
“Do criminals go there?”
“Can bad guys go there?”
If you’re reading this post, I hope you’ll join me in donating to Everytown For Gun Safety. Firearm-related injuries are the leading cause of death for children in America, and yet firearms remain largely unregulated. We desperately need common sense gun control legislation.
Our children deserve safe schools. They deserve laws and politicians that protect them, not corporate profits. They deserve to enjoy all that their communities have to offer without worrying about “bad guys” with guns. They deserve to live without fear.