Wednesday, August 10, 2016
As Summer nears an end and the school year begins it is important to keep reading strong throughout the school year. Although I cover a wide variety of topics in my blog one of my personal favorites is promoting reading. Last post I discussed libraries and this one I am showcasing an organization I have been following on Facebook for a number of months. It is the group, Reading Is Fundamental. On their website they say this about their group: “For 50 years, Reading Is Fundamental has used its experience and expertise to motivate and inspire young children to read. It’s not just the books we distribute that make an impact. Our evidence-based program, Read for Success, helps children improve reading proficiency and combat summer learning loss – a contributing factor to the achievement gap.”
Their website, to explore what they are all about is-- rif.org and I would encourage you to explore all they do as an organization to promote reading on their website. What I like about following them on Facebook is that they daily list important quotes about reading and relevant articles about reading.
Education is important for the success of each individual and reading is foundational for educational progress. On their website at the present time they have some challenging statistics to consider. Think about these stats: 65% of 4th graders do not read on grade level; 8,000 high school students drop out every day; and 80% of low income children are at the risk of falling behind in school. If you think about it; reading touches on each of those issues. Reflect on the lost potential in improving our country and personal lives and dreams of young people through the reality of those statistics. Working on the college level, I see the struggles in students at that level because of a lack of passion and interest in reading which is foundational in college study. It looks like society is faced with a large problem.
But when I see on the RIF homepage “Since 1966, RIF has distributed more than 412 million books to 40 million children nationwide, improving their ability to read, learn and grow.” I see RIF as an organization that is part of the solution in their encouraging of reading. Under their Facts section I found out that “RIF was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1966 by Margaret McNamara when she was tutoring young boys and learned they did not own books.” It is amazing the impact one person with a dream can have. I am sure when she started the program she never thought years later that 412 million books would have been donated.
In their Tips and Resources section they have a wide variety of articles on topics such as motivating kids to read, choosing good books, reading aloud, Summer learning and resources of teachers. Parents may also appreciate their activity calendars for the various ages of children. Check these out at this link - http://www.rif.org/books-activities/calendars/ there are reading ideas and creative learning ideas.
Another item I appreciate about liking them on Facebook is they link to important articles about reading such as this one on the importance of conquering illiteracy - http://www.educationandcareernews.com/learning-tools/access-to-books-is-critical-to-ending-illiteracy
I encourage you if you are a Bookhead like me, check out RIF’s webpage as well as liking them on Facebook. Also tell teachers you know about RIF’s services in promoting reading in the school.
Reflection: How can you encourage reading in your sphere of influence? Think about how RIF was begun by one person, Margaret McNamara, wanting to meet a need for young people’s need for reading. What does that say about the power of one.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
As an avid Bookhead I appreciate the importance of libraries. The local public library was where the love of reading first began for me. Over the years libraries have been perfect places for focused study when I was a college student. Just roaming through the bookstacks gave me new ideas of topics to study and learn. From my past experience I have always been thankful for libraries.
With my interest in books and libraries it was while I was searching for books about books I stumbled upon a book entitled, The Artist’s Library. The authors are Erinn Batykefer and Laura Damon-Moore. The book was a pleasant and insightful read as I enjoy reading about people’s passions. As librarians their passion for books and the services of libraries were evident in the pages of their book.
The book is a creative outflow of a project the two authors were involved with called the Library as Incubator. They interviewed people in the art world, such as writers, artists, performance artists, using a question “What does the phrase, ‘library as incubator’ mean to you?” (p. 15). The book highlights throughout the text some of the participants in the project and their thoughts concerning libraries. One example of an initial response by an artist is this: “An incubator is a warm place that encouraged things to come to life. Information is the seed from which one grows. Information informs our work. Interaction with other users and librarians cross-pollinate our ideas and passions…” (p. 15). What an insightful thought on a purpose for the library experience. I could have read a book of just responses like that one, but the authors provide an interplay of the various artists thoughts with practical descriptions of the important services libraries provide for the public.
There was much I learned about libraries from reading The Artist’s Library as well as reaffirming my own thoughts from my experience over the years with libraries. Some of the artists shared how their time in libraries opened new possibilities in their minds for projects they were working on as well as future projects. Possibility making is one aspect why I encourage students to explore libraries for new topics to expand their thinking about life and their journeys through life.
The ideas in the book show that the library is more than just a place to find books to read, even though that is my favorite part of libraries. They remind that libraries are a place to find information for research, many libraries provide monthly programs on important issues and topics, and they also often showcase display works of art for patrons to enjoy. There is so much a library provides a community if you take time to explore your local library.
Another aspect of the book I enjoyed is that they provide interactive reflections for the reader. For example this one here: “Think back to the first library you ever visited. Write about or draw moments from that experience.” (p. 55) For myself that reflection took me in my mind back to the children’s section of the Barberton Public Library, in my hometown in Ohio. My first remembrance was for the Summer reading program. I remember the colorful posters and all the books on the display racks and shelves. That experience was the start of my Bookhead journey of enjoying reading.
After reading the book I checked out their website about the book :
www.libraryasincubatorproject.org/?p=13166 I encourage you to visit their website as the story of the project continues. The book was published in 2014. If you click on the link and then click on the various headings – artists, writers, performing arts you will find more stories of artists thoughts on the importance of libraries since their initial work in 2014.
I recommend The Artist’s Library, to anyone who enjoys reading and libraries. It should be mandatory reading for librarians to continue their passion for their career choice. The book provides a deeper understanding and appreciation for the importance of libraries. Do not be a stranger to your local library. Take advantage of all the resources there.
Reflection: Think through why are libraries important to you? What are your favorite memories about libraries? Feel free to leave a comment.