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Promoting a Culture of Reading

By Heather Nigel Deal

As a library media specialist, my philosophy is, "Seek and we shall find." The media center is the true hub of the school. It is the central location to seek and find information, resources, support, guidance, collaboration, and also autonomy. As a library media specialist, my mission is to support and supplement classroom instruction, promote lifelong learning, teach students to be good digital citizens and encourage reading for pleasure. So, how do we keep students engaged? It starts with creating, promoting and nurturing a culture of reading within the entire school community.

Promoting a culture of reading requires teamwork. First, it must be sanctioned and supported by the administration and embedded within the core principles of learning within the building. Teachers and the media specialist play a vital role in keeping the culture of reading lively and fresh. One of the most effective ways that our school promotes a culture of reading is through daily, dedicated, reading for pleasure time. All students are given multiple opportunities throughout the day to read. Students may read a multitude of media and are given much autonomy on how to best achieve their reading goals. Just read!

If you want to keep students interested and engaged, it is essential to have a current, relevant and diverse collection. Weed the old and irrelevant! Invest the time and research into building a collection that your students can connect with, books that represent them, and a collection that motivates them to want to read more (just ask them!)

Promoting a culture of reading requires some creativity, as well. Here are a few other things to consider: Promoting and displaying new books, Book Talks, Sharing new titles with teachers and asking for their opinions, Keeping a 'Teacher's It List' posted, Reader Competitions, Competitive posters placed throughout the school with students' successes, Genrified fiction section, Collaboration with Georgia Public Library to further meet needs, Summer Reading Program, Teaching cross-curricular relevance of reading to students and staff, Encouraging Literature Circles and book talks in the classrooms, Challenging students to read outside of their normal reading preferences, Having classroom libraries available, Free Little Library for parents and community members, Asking community members to come in and read, Letting parents know they are welcome in the media center Just read!

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