Pollyanna lives

I have always looked on the bright side of the world.  Through the years, students would ask me why I was so happy.  When I was a young girl, my daddy said that it takes as much or more energy to wake up on the wrong side of the bed as it does to wake up on the right side of the bed.  He said that we choose how we are going to feel each morning when we wake up.  From that moment on, I decided to be a “right side of the bed” riser.  I have pretty much lived a positive life and positive things flow my way.  The world has become a bit negative and students seem to be so downtrodden now, that they have a hard time with the concept that we make our own world or environment.

 

I am eager to share books with students, as well as my excitement about life. The students can’t help but catch the “happy” bug when they are around me. I tell them all the time- It’s about the attitude! You will get so much out of life if your attitude is a good one. You will “sell” a lot more books to students if you are excited about them.

I was at a librarians’ meeting today and a few of the librarians were bemoaning Manga as junk instead of a jumping off place for new readers. I had to say, “It doesn’t matter WHAT you read; it only matters that you DO read.” I told them that we rarely read classics and the same is true for our students. I mean, really how many classics have you read in the last few years?
Quite often, life-long readers are created by the “Pollyannas” in the world! We get people all hopped up on reading and they get addicted, and voila! they become life-long readers. Reading is how people become smarter and they don’t even it know it! All of the sudden, a new word makes sense and they hear it everywhere! Or a new idea has formed and they didn’t even know when the seed was planted.

This Pollyanna has to say it again and scream it to the mountaintops across the world – “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU READ; IT ONLY MATTERS THAT YOU DO READ!” Can I get a Hell yeah?

What good are Young Adult books?

Quite often I hear from other librarians- “We only have the Classic Literature in our library.”  What hooey!  What arrogance!  What snobbery!  They are stealing from students!  They are stealing students’ ability to grow as readers because VERY FEW young adults start with the classics and continue to become LIFE LONG READERS!  (You really can’t tell that this is a pet-peeve, can you?)  Certainly it would be great if we all read the classics and this world were full of educated individuals.  How do we get there?  Do you think when we all learned to read that we started with classic literature?  Ha! maybe “Run, Spot, Run” is classic now.  

The point is.  Students develop their reading skills by reading YA books and move on.  Some, as adults, will read the classics and others will read spy novels, but the actual point is THEY WILL READ, because they were able to develop their skills with YA books.  I am like a lot of educated individuals who feel that our classic literature is being lost;  allusions aren’t understood anymore;   aphorisms have become a huge joke; idioms are completely misunderstood and misquoted.  Yes, many of these are found in classic literature which used to be our basis of learning; however, our world has changed.  Alas, so must how we learn and transfer knowledge change.  (Yes, grammatically upsetting but poetic?)  

Young adults might move on to classical literature, but first they must be readers.  When an allusion is placed in a YA book, maybe the young adult will want to know more.  Nah, just like adult readers – they will continue on with the story.  Maybe that is what we need to do – continue on with the story.

The only safety net we have in our world is Education.  The more educated a person; the less likely the person will live in the lizard part of the brain and other brain areas will activate.  Reading gets us beyond ourselves and our small world.  It allows us to flourish, grow and forget about our small problems and look at the world on a larger scale and maybe, just maybe understand a little more.  Sorry, but I have to leave you with this run-on sentence.  Have a merry Monday!

New Readers Thrill Me

A new student just came into the library and said, “My friend told me that you have lots of new books. Do you have…”

“No, that one is checked out, but let me tell you about this Dystopian novel! Have you heard of that before? Dystopia-futuristic-world-gone-wrong books? I loved this one, so here’s what it is about…” I replied. “You also will love this great fantasy (for next time) that has a love story in it. Make sure that you read at least 20 pages before you decide whether you like it or not and if you don’t like it, bring it back. We’ll find you something you love.”

“Oh, another thing that I tell new students. This library is your ‘safe spot’. If you need help or just a few minutes to get away, come here and I will help you.”

“Ok, just one more thing, do your eyes jump around the page? Use this blue slip of paper to read with. It will help relax the pressure in your eyes and your eyes won’t jump around the page. Just try it; it works for many of my students.”

The new student left feeling like she was important to me and her new library. She was excited about her new book and couldn’t wait to start the trilogy. I know that she will be back and I will look for her in the hallway to make sure things are going okay for her in her new school.
Since many of us remember what a teacher in school said about us, everyday I try to make students feel good about who they are, where they are, and where they are headed. I try to instill hope about their future and, of course, a love of reading. Getting out positive energy to students who are having a hard time is rewarding, helpful and most of all, IMPORTANT. Yes, it’s about the books; it’s more about the student.

You might need help becoming a reader

I loves me some books!

How many readers remember their first “real, adult” book? A bunch of hands are waving in the air. I do, too! It was Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk! I was 12 and my aunt gave it to me. She probably doesn’t even know that she bolstered my reading resolve to read forever! (Jot a note to give her a call.) It was a lovely book about a girl who wants to be an actress… That’s what’s in adult books? Boy, lemme at ’em!
When I wasn’t singing, dancing, acting around the house, teaching the neighbor kids, beating up my sisters, well generally being a girl, I was reading. Not always, though.

One day, my mom asked my sister to read the recipe to her. My oldest sister wasn’t a very good reader, so my mom called my other sister and me into the kitchen to read the recipe to her. She found out that her girls who made good grades in school, couldn’t read very well. That started the “reading to mom while she cooked nights.” Each night one of us would read aloud to our mom while she cooked dinner until we all could read really well.

That wasn’t all! In the summer, my mom started reading books to us and then the whole neighborhood would be in our den listening to my mom read The Bobbsey Twins.
What great adventures they had and mom read all the books to us every summer. This instilled a love of reading in us. We have watched our mom reading her own books every day of our lives. One sister doesn’t read and two read everyday! I’d say that worked.

This all ties back to being able to tell students about books. The more you read, the more you can tell them and the more books they will check out, and become a life-long reader. Now that is influence of the very best kind!

Trying to promote a love for reading, I am a guest reader in many classes and love doing that. What a wonderful gift my mom gave us and it only took a little bit of time!

I love it when students come back for a new book… that’s why I do this!

If you are excited, they will be, too

Getting reluctant, alternative school students into the library is a challenge… This is not a disciplinary school; it is a school where students are behind or off track, and we help them get back on track.  But, still, many don’t read, so how do they ever make the trek to the library?

We get students almost every week, so I asked the counselor; “when you check a student into our school, would you bring them by the library?”  This way (1) they find out where the library is, (2) I introduce myself, (3) I find out if they like reading and if they don’t (4) I ask them to please give me a chance – just 5 minutes to tell them about some books.  Usually they come back!  Yes, they do and usually after 5 minutes they leave with a book and a promise to read at least 20 pages before they decide to like it or hate it.   It is quite pushy, so what?  Call me the pushy librarian.  We have readers at this school now.

It is real strange that teachers forget to include the library and research or free reading into the curriculum.  Well, maybe not so strange – they have so much to cover in so little time!  I ask teachers to come to the library with their classes each 9 weeks, but if they can’t do that (4) times; I ask them to come in each semester (2) times.  Sometimes they only get down to the library with their students for 10 or 15 minutes , but that is long enough to “sell” a few books.  Someone will take a book or two!

In the halls, I see students who haven’t come by the library and go up to them, “Hi, I’m the librarian!  I haven’t seen you in the library yet!  When do you think you can come by and visit?”  Usually that very day the student comes in! 

You may say, “Sure, that’s easy for you to do, you have a small school.”  Even when I had 2 campuses and 3200 students, I did that.  It always gets students in the library because they see that someone cares about them and notices them.

The main way that I have such a large book check out is because I ready Young Adult books through the school year (summers are for adult books).  I book talk like crazy!  If there is a book I haven’t read, I ask the student to come back and tell me about it.  They do that especially if they loved the book and then I tell the next student, “Oh, a girl just read this and loved it!  She said I had to read it, so you might want to try it.”  Simple?  Yep, and they take the book!

Really, to “sell” the books and the library to teachers and students, you HAVE to get out there and advertise!

Books are for kids! Down with book fines.

I am asked by students everyday, “How many books can I check out?” My answer is simple, “How many would you like?” Of course, they are shocked and amazed! “You mean I could take all four of these?”

I don’t put limits on how many books a student checks out, nor do I charge fines. These are things that just keep students out of the library and books wasting on the shelves. What good is that?

I ask the students to bring the books back in three weeks, but I don’t charge fines or hound them about it. I send out reminders about every 6-9 weeks.

I believe that a book in a student’s hand is better than a book getting moldy on the shelf. Other librarians tell me, “Well, I sure don’t get enough money to just throw books out the door!” I explain that I am not throwing books out the door. And yes, a few books get lost in the school year, but they were going to anyway! We never get back all the books that go out the door. So what?! Replace it or buy a new title. Books in hands are still better than books on shelves. If the student loses a book, he has to pay for it; Well, that is in a perfect world.

My students rise to the expectation that I set. They come back in three weeks and either return or recheck a book. I ask them a little about the book. I hate when a student returns a book and I how they liked it and they say, “I never got to read it.” My reply? “Here recheck it! Or let’s get you something you will love!”

Books on a shelf is just a waste of district money, but books in students’ hands can change their lives!

He HATES reading!

This morning as I sat in my little school library working on the next mentoring lesson presentation, a young man from our GED program came into the library. 

“Hi, do you remember me?”

“Sure!  How are you liking your book?” I asked him.

“Do you remember that I HATE reading?”

“Yes, so does that mean you don’t like the book?”

“No, just the opposite!  I love it!  I have only read 4 books in my life!” said the 20 year old student.

“No one has ever taken the time to tell me about a book before you.  This book is incredible!  Do you have any more just like it?”  He asked enthusiastically.

“Well, no not exactly like that, but there is a sequel to that one that I found a bit repetitive.  You could try it, but I have another that you would like.  Would you like to try it?  Let me tell you a little about it.”

“That sounds like something that I would like.”

“Do you remember that you have to give me 20 pages before you decide whether you like it or not?”

“Yes, ma’am, I remember.”

“Are your eyes still jumping around the page?  Did you use your blue slip?”

“I can’t believe that something so easy would make my eyes calm down enough to read, and I can’t believe that ANYONE could have gotten me to read a book!”