Get Your Public Library Card!

The start of the school year presents an opportunity to encourage a new group of students to fall (or stay) in love with reading.

To kick off our yearlong independent reading unit, my students are signing up for library cards at the local library. As a homework assignment, students will obtain (or dust off) a library card, and snap a photo of themselves holding their cards. After talking it over with students, I decided to offer additional points for photos that convey enthusiasm for reading. Check back for an update of student photos posted with permission.

Conveniently, the American Library Association (ALA) has declared September “Library Card Sign-up Month,” and they offer a full press kit of resources for educators and libraries to use to promote their services. While I suspect many of my high school students have outgrown the ALA’s superhero library month promotional campaign, I think they will be interested in the Library Value Calculator. This online tool will help students consider how much money they can save by using the library. When I tested out the calculator myself, I learned that I used over $1,000 worth of services at my local library this summer! (Thank you, BCCLS!)

To promote reading and launch the independent reading unit, I offer a few introductory experiences:

  • I encourage students to participate in a reading program run by our school librarian, Julie Goldberg, called “Outstanding Books Challenge.” The program challenges students to read several books from ALA’s list of Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners. Titles from the list that Julie features in a school assembly remain in high demand throughout the year. This is where those library cards will come in handy. Last year’s student favorites included The Poisoner’s Handbook, Code Name Verity, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts.
  • Our librarian will visit my classes to teach students how to check out a book from the school library, how to order a book through the local library system, and how to use tools like databases and book awards lists to find books of interest. She calls this presentation “How to Find a Book You’ll Love.” We may also take a trip to the school library to show students the lay of the land.
  • Students create accounts on Goodreads, where they will build virtual “to-read” bookshelves to plan out their reading, rate and review books they’ve read, and read reviews from classmates and other members of the site.
  • Students will be able to claim open badges to recognize their reading accomplishments.

Fellow educators and librarians, how do you promote libraries and choice reading to help students develop or sustain a love of reading? Share some ideas in the comments, below.

Happy Library Card Sign-up Month, fellow readers!

One thought on “Get Your Public Library Card!

  1. Loved the library card project since it will familiarize students with all the ways the library can enhance their learning and growth. Often teens are embarrassed to venture into unfamiliar situations. Visiting with their teacher, getting a tour by the librarian and becoming familiar with the building and how best to utilize it and hopeful will make them comfortable with and anxious to make use of all the library has to offer. They may not know that today the library offers not just books to borrow, but films, workshops, book clubs, notifications of local events they may enjoy, computer access, quiet study cubicles and even socialization for those who don’t want to go home when they may be the only ones there until parents return from work.
    Since many do most of their reading on line, encouraging them to create accounts on Goodreads will provide an impetus to avail themselves to the site. They can read, share reviews and create lists of future reads in the medium they use so often.
    These experiences will most likely assure lifelong readers, which is the goal of any teacher.

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