Just as I did for the early grades, I pondered what message I wanted our upper grades to take away from library orientation. I wanted to of course give them some reminders about routines and procedures, but I wanted them to leave with a sense that the library was a place for all readers to connect with books. I wanted them to know that if they had never found a book that they connected with that I wanted to help them find that book. If we didn’t have the book or topic in our library, then I wanted us to make sure that we did.
Over the summer, I saw John Schu post on his blog about a new site from Scholastic with the motto “Open a World of Possible”. On the site, there are several videos and resources about how reading opens possibilities for us all. One of the best videos is the one asking kids of all ages to talk about why they read.
I asked students to first think about what their answer to the question “Why do you read?” would be. I didn’t take any answers from them since I felt like it was a personal question at that moment in time and that some students may have never thought of the answer. Then, we watched the video to see if we connected to anything the students said or if their ideas sparked some of our own. At that point, instead of asking students to share aloud, I gave them an opportunity. I created a Flipgrid with that same question and told them it would be available for the next two weeks. I hoped they would think about their answer and share their voice with others in our school. I loved that some of them did this before they even left the library.
I shared with students that one of the reasons that I read is to walk in other people’s shoes, especially people who are different from me. I also love to experience things in a book that I know I would never do in real life. Books are my safe place to go into the spooky unknown, the thrill of the Hunger Games, or the magic of a schools for wizards.
Next, I shared a bit of a book that I connected with this summer called Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. These grades will all have an author visit with Cassie in September, so this lesson was also a way for us to start diving into her text. I chose to read aloud starting on p. 65, which is the part where Ephraim first visits the circus as a young boy. He is a believer, so he is able to find the circus. However, he still needs a ticket to get in. It is on these pages that Ephraim discovers that every person’s ticket into Circus Mirandus is different. You can’t pay to get in but instead must offer something to the ticket taker that has a connection with who you are or simply what you have to offer. For one boy, it’s a spool of thread and for Ephraim it’s a fish.
I loved seeing so many students connect to this part of the story and want to read on. I knew they wouldn’t all connect because it’s so hard for us all to connect with the exact same book. However, this part of the story helped us talk about how we are each different. We each have interests that we bring into the library when we search for a book, and those interests are our tickets into the books on the shelves.
Beyond “why I read” and connecting through interests, students have an opportunity to explore the library and refresh their memory on checking out books, using Destiny, and finding the various sections. As in the past, I made some videos connected to QR codes. Students used iPads to watch these videos and then start checking out books when they were ready. I was able to talk to students about their interests rather than focusing on how to check out books.
I hope that students continue to think about why they read and that I can think of more ways to find out their interests and showcase their voices in the library.