Last Thursday, 9th February, the first posting in a series of articles bent on looking into the different methodologies and insights that school librarians utilize to keep children reading and love doing so was published
Today's insights, the second of the series, comes from my interview with Ms. Stacy Dillon a Canadian Expat currently living in NYC. She currently works as a school librarian, is an avid reader of children's and YA fiction and occasionally dabbles into the world of grown up non-fiction.
Enjoy the article and Happy Reading!
How long have you been a librarian? Why did you choose this career?
I have been a librarian for 20 years now. In the public libraries for 5 years and at a school for 15. My grandmother was a librarian, so it was in my DNA a bit. I had planned on going the PhD route, but got frustrated with university. I thought being a librarian would be interesting and still scratch my research itch!
Where are you currently working as a librarian?
I am currently the Lower School Librarian at Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI for short).
Where you always a librarian at this establishment?
I began my career at NYPL, then moved to BPL. I’ve been at LREI since 2001.
What is your role in the educational system as a librarian?
I support teachers and students. I’ve recently moved to a flex schedule with the older students and am embedded in the classroom more. I help teachers find the resources they need and add extra value to their assignments. Our librarians are superstars at reader's advisory and we pride ourselves not only on keeping up with what’s out there but matching the right student with the right book at the right time.
How important do you feel that a librarian and teacher work together to enhance students’ education?
I think it’s super important. I feel that librarians can really add value to classrooms in that we may be more in touch with the resources that are currently available. I find most librarians aren’t so proprietary about being the ones to teach a certain lesson. Personally I love co-teaching in the classroom when it comes to research and note taking and the like. We also see students in the long view and can offer some insight into the ins and outs of their learning as well as a deep understanding of where students are coming from and where they are heading to.
How do you personally work with teachers to enhance students’ enjoyment of visiting a library?
I book talk each week in the older grades, which lends excitement to visits. I also talk with teachers about books that might be good for certain students. Any time I can offer teachers something that will help their teaching, that gets them excited which in turn gets the students excited. All the librarians at my school have contacts in the public libraries, which definitely helps makes the visits to libraries outside of school happen.
How important do you feel it is that students take time to visit a library?
I think it’s very important. They need to know that there are resources beyond their school libraries, and that they can take charge of their reading and researching on their own.
How important do you feel it is that students take time to read?
I don’t like the idea of reading for a certain number of minutes, but I do like the idea of daily reading, and for that to happen in an authentic way, the adults in the lives of students (teachers, librarians, caregivers and parents) need to model reading for fun. Put down your devices and pick up a book!
How do you encourage students to read and enjoy doing so? Can you mention a strategy or two?
I love engaging in D.E.A.R. (drop everything and read). To heck with the curriculum. Take a half hour and read for fun. The adults must do this too -- no planning or grading during this time. Also, I love having kids recommend books to other kids. After I’ve modeled book talks for several weeks, I ask students to book talk with me.
What technologies do you feel are important in helping children remain enthusiastic and interested in reading?
For some kids, audio books are essential. I think it’s important to show them how to use the OPAC so they can be self sufficient in their searching. Some kids love to keep digital reading logs. Book blogging has been very successful in my school to get kids engaged.
Do you have any tips that students should keep in mind when they visit a library?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Librarians are there to help you find what you want and what you need.
Do you have any tips for parents to help encourage their children who may not be as enthusiastic in choosing to read a book?
READ WITH YOUR CHILDREN! I cannot emphasise this enough. Also, it’s okay if your children don’t like the books you liked as a child. It’s okay if your child wants to reread a book again and again. And it’s okay if your child is slow to blossom as a reader. There is no magic time or age when it happens. Reading may ebb and flow with certain kids. If you are stressed out about it, your kids will pick up on it. Also, please do not compare siblings as readers.
Have you written or published any material for children to read? If so, could you let our readers know and where someone could obtain a copy. Please provide any links that may be relevant.
Personally all of my writing has been aimed at librarians and teachers and caregivers! You can find my reviews in School Library Journal, and I blogged for many years over at Welcome to my Tweendom. http://tweendom.blogspot.com.mt/
Can you name some books that you would currently recommend to students to read and why?
I am in the middle of the latest Newbery winner The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Barnhill. It’s a gorgeously written fantasy story about family, magic and lies. And I just finished the forthcoming The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, by Cartaya. It’s realistic fiction about family, first love and community told from Arturo’s point of view. And of course, since I just finished my tenure with the Caldecott committee I recommend our winner and honors as well!
If one of my readers wished to get in touch with you, how may they do so?
They can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you enjoyed reading through Ms. Dilon's insights. I would like to publically thank her for taking the time to share her thoughts about this topic. If you would like to read more from Ms. Dilon you can visit her blog - Welcome to My Tweendom
If you would like to read insights from our contributors to date you can do so by clicking on one of the following links: