A timely post as the end of the school year draws close that highlights the varied and engaging experiences that school libraries and rich library programs afford our children. Input from students is an important component of these inspirational ideas shared by Anna Davidson, a teacher librarian at Hutchins School.
The end of the year is a time of celebration, reflection and forward planning. The final library lessons of the year are no exception, with multiple opportunities for all three for both students and staff.
Each year, students are invited to present themselves with a Reading Award for the year. This idea was adapted from the work of the magnificent Pernille Ripp, and is such a rewarding experience for all involved. The premise is simple; students reflect on their growth as a reader throughout the year, nominate an award for themselves and provide evidence for their choice. The beauty of this experience is that the reading award is incredibly personal and caters for all readers. Common reading awards include:
- This year, I learnt to like reading more.
- I found a new series that I’m really into.
- I developed a regular reading routine at home.
- I tried a new genre this year.
- I finished all my Book Chat books this year.
Feel free to adapt our Reading Award template here.
As well as individual reading celebrations, students contribute to a collaborative Google Slides presentation, sharing their favourite reads of the year. These are then displayed on the screens around the library, offering a great conversation starter about recommended reads and a launching pad for planning holiday reading.
As we all know, advocacy for school libraries is vital. These celebratory opportunities help library staff to promote and advocate for the services we offer. Another celebration tool used for advocacy is the end of year report. Whilst library management systems can show all kinds of data, we use a simple poster to highlight the most popular titles, authors and series as well as celebrate the top borrowers and overall number of books borrowed in the year.
Reflection and Forward Planning
Alongside the end of year reading celebrations, students are invited to reflect on their library experience in 2023. Questions include:
- What do you like best about the library?
- What do you wish we did more of in library lessons?
- What do you wish we did less of in library lessons?
- How can Miss Davidson be a better teacher for you?
- What is one word you would use to describe your time in the library in 2023?
Student responses are then used to plan for the following year, building on the strengths and reflecting on areas to improve so that the student experience in the library can be enhanced.
Whilst it can be daunting to display your vulnerability as a teacher by asking students to provide feedback on the library, the program and your teaching, the results are often humbling and incredibly informative. Students generally respond to this invitation in a very honest, yet respectful manner. Each year, it is particularly heartening to see that students value the variety of books in the library and want the opportunity for more reading time.
The end of a school year is always a chaotic time and it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture in amongst the rush of end-of-year concerts, chasing up overdue books and managing of tired students and teachers. Despite all this busyness, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on what went well throughout the year, celebrate the successes and consider goals for 2024.
Twitter - @davidsonteach
Junior School Teacher Librarian, avid reader (mad for Middle Grade Fiction), dog lover, yogi, nature lover, tea drinker