Well, I did it! I wrote a 50,511 word novel in 29 days. What I now need a National Editing Month as I have 50,511 words that need to be cleaned up, BUT it’s a story with a beginning, a a middle, and an end. Having a goal at the end of the month kept me going, and it’s the same with the work that I’m doing as a school board librarian.
I travel around my school board’s region and go into elementary schools, reading books to children and getting them to act the book out as well as conducting classes on how to avoid plagiarism and how to determine if a website can be trusted. The more that I do this the more I’m convinced that telling an interesting story and asking children to participate in the unfolding of the story is what keeps them engaged. Just getting up and reading to kids becomes the Ellen Goldfinch Talent Show and though I love the attention, that’s not my goal.
In the end, I would like Cycle 2 and 3 students to understand that academic honesty is another form of honesty and stealing someone’s ideas is wrong. I hope to encourage them to use critical thinking when they go on the Internet, and finally, my storytelling and story-theatre activities have the goal of reinforcing a positive attitude towards books and reading. If students conquer that reading mountain when they’re young, their later academic life is sure to be easier.
If you were wondering what was the point of me coming into classes (other than everybody having a good time), there it is in a nutshell.
Wonderful things are happening in the Eastern Townships School Board to make reading a pleasure for elementary school students. Knowlton Academy participates in the Village Reads program where senior citizens come into the school and read with children. Sunnyside Elementary is implementing a lunch time reading program where a volunteer reads to different children during lunch. These are only a few examples, but all the schools know how important these programs can be to getting children to love books…and it doesn’t matter whether the books are printed or digital. Reading is the key.
To support these programs, you need excellent books. I’ve been using Oliver Jeffers book Stuck in my story theatre sessions and it works like a charm…but this came my way from the wonderful people at the MELS Action Plan on Reading. This book was not a Scholastic book and though Scholastic seems like a godsend with affordable books and some affordable prizewinning books, part of my job is to encourage principals and teachers to look further afield. Scholastic books are not the only bibliographic fish in the sea.
There are wonderful web sites that help me select great books such as School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews The Canadian Children’s Book Centre also has an excellent magazine and site that can suggest homegrown books. 49th shelf.com is another source of hunting down Canadian children’s books on specific subjects. Please keep your eye out for the books that stimulate the imagination; these books go further than levelled readers in getting children to want to sit down with a book and read.
In the end, laughter, student participation and creating a pleasant atmosphere around reading will go a long way, even with reluctant readers. Because if a whale can get stuck in a tree, anything can happen…and that’s what kids like.
Canadian Children’s Book Centre: http://www.bookcentre.ca/
Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/
School Library Journal: http://www.slj.com/