When parents read aloud to their children, they are making a profound contribution to the growth of their kids as readers, listeners and learners. Reading aloud to kids helps to introduce children to the wonders and magic of the world of stories. So many amazing things can happen when parents read to their kids. Parents reading to their kids is one of the most powerful factors in children becoming readers.
Yet it doesn’t need to stop once kids learn to read to themselves. Indeed, it should never stop. Adults, teens, people of all ages love being read to and reap the benefits when they get the chance to listen. High school teachers who give reading aloud a try almost always find that the kids love it and that it can be a powerful educational opportunity.
World Read Aloud Day is a chance to recognize the power of the joy of reading aloud. Spread the word!
As the 2022 March Madness YA Lit Tournament got underway at your School Library, the dream of 64 competitors was to become March Madness Champions. Instead, suddenly it was all over for half of them. 32 books who were eliminated. Sent packing. Dreams crushed.
Most of the contests were very decisive, and went according to expectations, with the higher seeds advancing to the next round. However, there were a few upsets, and a number of matchups went right down to the wire.
As expected, all the Regional #1 Seeds cruised to victory. Harry Potter, Little Women, The Fault in Our Stars, and The Hate U Give all advanced, with Angie Thomas’ novel crushing Speak, 97-3. However, that wasn’t the largest margin of victory. That distinction went to #2 seed The Hunger Games, which obliterated Song of the Lioness with a 100-0 shutout.
As one might expect, the 8 v 9 contests were very close. Shadow and Bone just edged past The Marrow Thieves, and If You Could Be Mine squeaked by Dumplin’, both match-ups going to the final buzzer and 51-49 scores. However, those weren’t the only contests to finish 51-49, as All the Bright Places scared #3 If I Was Your Girl before a heartbreaking finish, while #4 Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was nearly upset by Dear Martin.
There were a few upsets. with two #10 seeds, Long Way Down and Infernal Devices advancing. The biggest upset of the round was #12 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian shocking #5 You Should See Me in a Crown.
Thanks to everyone who voted. We look forward to seeing how your votes give us some more surprises and tight match-ups in the Round of 32.
October is International School Library Month and Canadian Library Month. Join us as we celebrate libraries, librarians, books, the learning commons, online reference, reading, literacy, research, access to information, and everything to do with the library.
People need to read books for book banning to even be a thing. This idea has been expressed in many different ways.
So Read. Keep reading. Read some more. Read what you want to read. Read what you decide to read.
Read for information. Read to learn. Read for fun. Read to escape. Read for entertainment. Read to experience the world from the point of view of different people. Read to cry. Read to be scared. Read to laugh.
Read to understand. Read to learn new things. Read to learn more about things you already know.
Read to learn the point of view of people that you might disagree with, even when you are certain that you will disagree with them. Read to consider new information, new evidence, new perspectives. Read critically, even skeptically, but read with an openness to change your mind when faced with rational and logical reasons to do so.
Read for whatever reason you decide. Stand up for your freedom to decide for yourself what you want to read.
That doesn’t mean you should read anything and everything. People that care about you might know why reading some things, at certain times, might not be so good for you. You might decide not read some books because of your age, maturity, or history. Some books might not be right for you because of your current mental or emotional health. Perhaps some material has nothing to offer you of any value. But that is for you to decide in cooperation with the people that you trust. That is not for other people, other groups, organizations or governments to decide for you.
People try to ban books because they don’t want you to read those books. If you don’t read books to begin with, you are doing their work for them.
It can be tempting to think of the banning of books as something that happened in the past, only by extremely conservative types, or in authoritarian regimes. Sadly, book banning is alive and well here and now. Sure, it is not shocking that anti-democratic governments in places like China, Russia, Iran, Hungary or Venezuela strictly control the flow of information and literature. Yet in our society, where we make claims on being champions of democracy and freedom, book banning is on the rise.
Kara Yorio writes in School Library Journal: “It has been a busy Banned Books Week, as the stepped-up challenges to books and their authors continue, with books by kid lit creators Jerry Craft and Kelly Yang added to the list of titles some parents claim are objectionable.” Read the rest of this article.
Meanwhile “Ruby Bridges Goes to School” has been targeted by book banners as well. Author Ruby Bridges recounts the true story of her experiences as a 6 year old girl who became the first black student to attend a formerly whites only public school. An organized group of parents wanted their local school board to ban this book, “for supposedly “explicit and implicit anti-American, anti-white” bias (source).” Read more in this Miami Herald article.
Here are four of the most challenged books from the last year, all available in our school library:
George by Alex Gino. Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.”
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism and because it was thought to promote antipolice views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now.”
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students, and it included rape and profanity.
The rights and freedoms of Canadians include the right to read what you want to read. Such rights and freedoms are fundamental to democracy. Yet there are forces at work in our society that seek power by attaching your rights, including attempts to censor or limit your freedom to read.
Authoritarian forces and totalitarian states know that uneducated and illiterate citizens are easier to control and oppress. Such forces can only celebrate that the work is much simpler when significant portions of the population choose not to read. Censorship becomes less pressing when “aliteracy” becomes prevalent.
A true democracy guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms to its citizens. But to work effectively, indeed, to survive, democracy requires that citizens exercise those rights. In particular, democracy breaks down if citizens aren’t educated, informed and active.
The rise of powerful new information technology in the last few decades has made it more important than ever that citizens are highly “information literate.” Citizens must not only have access to information, they must have the tools required to wade through increasingly destructive levels of misinformation, disinformation, propaganda, and outright lies. Citizens need to have access to information that is credible, accurate and trustworthy.
The rise of anti-intellectualism and anti-science movements, perhaps most recently represented by anti-vax conspiracies, are part of the wider breakdown of democratic institutions. There is little doubt that attacks on public education over many years have reaped some these results and are integral to the rise of authoritarianism.
It is not enough to celebrate the Freedom to Read. As citizens of democratic societies, we have an obligation to exercise our Freedom to Read, in part so that we are equipped to defend our democratic rights and freedoms.
It is clear that democracy is under attack, throughout the world, and in our back yard. We must act.
Note* The above quote, or variations on it, are often popularly attributed to Mark Twain. However the original source of this quote, or its variations, remains unclear.
Should teachers set aside time during the school day for kids to read for pleasure?
Should schools do more to encourage kids to become recreational readers?
Will there be enough of a payoff for our education system even if it means less time spent on other things?
The answer to all these questions is most certainly yes.
Reading for pleasure, recreational reading, free voluntary reading, personal reading– whatever you want to call it– is built upon the intrinsic goal of reading because it directly benefits the reader: Reading for the sake of reading. Yet there are myriad indirect benefits that come from recreational reading, many of which lead to profoundly positive educational outcomes.
A teacher should care that a student reads for pleasure, because reading brings pleasure to the student! However, more than that, a teacher can also point to so many other benefits that come from recreational reading that will pay off in terms of academic achievement, social learning and character education.
If teachers (or parents, or administrators) are worried that the kids are missing out on valuable educational lessons, please remember this: Students who read more for pleasure will do better in school. Recreational reading has many, many indirect educational benefits to students. Students who do more recreational reading will see improvements in vocabulary, writing skills, grammar, spelling, comprehension, critical thinking, concentration and so many other skills that are essential to one’s overall education.
Moreover, students who read more for pleasure will grow in social and emotional learning, as students can share in the experiences of different people, growing in empathy and understanding for people all backgrounds, ages, genders, orientations, beliefs and cultures.
As if those weren’t enough reasons for reading, here are some more. Reading books can help mitigate against the harmful effects of too much time spent on phones and in front of other screens. One simple and yet important example of this is that studies show that people who read from books or magazines before bed will sleep better than those who are looking at screens before trying to fall asleep.
There are so many reasons to read.
Schools need to do more to encourage kids to read for reading’s sake. In doing so, the school will reap the rewards of having kids who do better in school.
October is International School Library Month
and Canadian Library Month.
As October draws to a close, so does International School Library Month and Canadian Library Month. We hope you learned something about the vital role that libraries play in our country, and that school libraries play in education around the globe. Most importantly, we hope you were able to celebrate the wonderful gift of libraries by visiting some, including your local public library, and especially, your school library.
Come down to see us in person, or visit online– even though October is ending, you can make use of your school library all year long.
Today you have been challenged by the BCTF and BCTLA to Drop Everything and Read! The DEAR Challenge is issued every year for BC School Library Day, in conjunction with Canadian Library Month and International School Library Month.
Every person in British Columbia, including every student and every teacher, is challenged to drop everything else and read a book. Read for pleasure. Read for entertainment. Read for knowledge. Read for escape. Read for experiencing other places, other times, other lives. Read for the joy of it.
In keeping with the continuing celebration of all things library during International School Library Month and Canadian Library Month, here are some links to some interesting library themed content. Enjoy!