Some days as a librarian can be very difficult, as you can probably relate. You may be overwhelmed with back-to-school setup, end-of-year inventory, or any of the other multitude of extra activities you have to take care of. Librarians get called out to man stations during field days, supervise large groups during testing, and even cover for teachers during IEP meetings. Sometimes the last thing you want to do is read a book to a group of kids. There's too much to do and reading the same book over and over again can become rather boring.
One day, the reading specialist saw me carrying the book, I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll. She started yelping, saying “That’s our favorite book at home! My kids love it so much. Are you reading it today?” She was so excited, that I asked if she wanted to read to my next class. She enthusiastically accepted the invitation.
I stood by the door watching and listening to the reading specialist read to one of my kindergarten classes. This also happened to be my class that doesn’t like to sit and listen to stories. My students were on the edge of their seats. They were hanging on her every word. I was too. I watched as she read with so much fury that I began to long for story time. All of a sudden, I was re-energized and ready to read aloud to my next class.
Sometimes it only takes one moment and a bit of variety to get out of your rut. If you're feeling like you need to be renewed, start by inviting teachers and staff to read to some of your classes. Every time you hear a story read by another adult, particularly one who does it with such excitement and passion, like in the story above, you'll remember a little bit about why you decided to become a librarian.
Of course, inviting others to read isn't the only way to spice things up. Whether you're at the beginning of the year, slogging along in the middle, or trudging to the finish line at the end, here are a few ways to spice up your library:
- Share your chair! Do you have a special chair you sit in to read to students? If you do, chances are students try to sneak into that chair to sit during quiet reading time. Instead of chasing them away, embrace their excitement. Choose one student each class to sit in your chair for the day. They will be excited to find out who the "special reader of the day" will be. This can also help with classroom management during lessons and story time. Students who don't actively listen or participate in the lesson may be overlooked when it comes time to pick someone to sit in the special chair.
- Use the Elementary Librarian End of the Year Survival Kit. These lessons are great to leave for a substitute year-round. If you need to take a personal day, you'll know that your library is still in good hands.
- Play music. Sometimes students get tired of reading. Accelerated Reader and book reports can cause them to feel overwhelmed. Take some time to play the music from the Frozen soundtrack, Kids Bop or The Chipmunks soundtrack and just have them sit and relax for a minute or two. Kids love this time to sit back and relax with their classmates. This can also help with classroom management, because if their noise volume is too high, the music is turned off without warning.
- Reward students for returning books. For example, every student that returns their books one week will be given a special stamp or sticker during library time. If all the students in the class return their books and settle their fines, they will earn a movie reward. For example, students love to watch Bill Nye and Magic School Bus.
By constantly incorporating new ideas, you may find that every year as a librarian is your best year yet. Keep things fresh and keep students engaged. This will help you get your library mojo back!
How do you survive the school year? Leave a comment!
This post was written by librarian Amy Blythe. Amy is the librarian at Plattin Primary and Telegraph Intermediate in the Jefferson R-7 School district in Festus, Missouri. She spends each morning at Plattin with students in preschool through second grade and afternoons at Telegraph with students in third through fifth grade. She has been a librarian for nine years.
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