Last Monday, school started. The halls filled up with smiling faces (okay, there were some very pouty ones, too), kids happy to be back among their friends and back to the routine of school. I started the week with basic introductions, a tour of my classroom, and rules. Always with the rules.
I’m in a 1:1 classroom (I have 30 laptops in my classroom, one for each kid to use while in class), which means I get to do a lot of fun things with my students. We’re going to do NaNoWriMo again this year (this’ll be my third with my students), chatting with other classrooms around the world about writing and stories and character development. NaNo has a fantastic Young Writer’s Program that we love and it really helps inspire the kids.
This week, I also had the students sign up for GoodReads. I’m particularly excited about this because it’s a great way for kids to connect with books and authors and to share recommendations. I also get to know my kids’ reading tastes and it helps me aim for my goal of finding at least one awesome book for each and every student (gah–some of those kids take great pleasure in NOT liking what I recommend, even though I KNOW they like it. Ah, middle school. Age of reason. Obstinate to no end.).
But, on top of a pretty darned good first week, we had some terrible news. There’s no money in the budget for the library. For any library in the district, as a matter of fact. No new books this year. None. Zip. Zero.
I mean, I’m all for technology — I love it and I love how it enhances my teaching, catching and holding my students’ interest and allowing them to explore new worlds. But how can we justify spending millions on new computers and not one red cent on new books for our libraries? Computers are all flash and bang if our students can’t read.
It’s not like we’re a rich district, even less so in this economic climate. And South Carolina is a poor state, comparatively. I know we have to make choices but without supporting the fundamentals and nurturing a love of reading in as many students as possible, what are we saying about the importance of reading? I just don’t understand. I can’t imagine a world without books, be they ebooks or physical copies (Yes, I know I’m being a bit dramatic here but NO money in the budget for the library? Really?).
So, to all of you with a healthy library or with an overabundance of ARCs, please consider donating any extras you might have to school or classroom libraries. Public libraries can’t shelve ARCs but teachers can. There are a couple of ways you can do this. You can email or call your local middle or high school, find an English teacher and ask if you can donate some books to them. Most likely, they’ll be ecstatic (I know I would!). Or, you can go to ARCs FLOAT ON, which is a grassroots effort by Reach A Reader Advisory Board member Sarah Mulhern Gross (The Reading Zone) to get ARCs into classroom libraries by matching willing donors with needy teachers.
Pass your love of reading on, my honey bees! Be all a-buzz about reading and awesome books!
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