A World Without Books…

Posted 22 August, 2011 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 7 Comments

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!

About Mary @ TheBookSwarm

7 Responses to “A World Without Books…”

  1. Great post! I hope many reading this seeks out their local schools as new homes for their books, or even considers a donation of books obtained at low cost (like yard sales).

    I give my read ARCs to a former reading teacher, now assistant principal, at my son’s high school, as well as any YA books I’ve read. I also give most of the swag and things I won off blogs to her.

    I am also a college student and part of an organization whose service project is to collect books for an elementary school. Our program is to aim to give books to kids to take home, so they can also read at home as well as school. Statistics show a large percentage have no books at home to read.

    Keep up the great work! I don’t have a blog, but I hope other bloggers will pass on this suggestion.

  2. Oh, one more thing…I visited the assistant principal one day and found one of my ARCs on her desk, with stickies on the front–a waiting list–from not students, but faculty members! They like new reads too!

  3. Wow, no money at all for new books? That’s depressing. Thanks so much for the info about donating though, I honestly wouldn’t have thought to do that and I have a lot of books I know I’ll never read again that I could give:)

  4. This post has made me so sad. I remember my favorite part of elementary and middle school was spending time in the library (and it would have been my favorite part of high school, but I was in the theatre 24/7). I loved finding a good book and sitting down in a comfy chair to read. My teachers had to confiscate books from me in class because I read so much. I think it’s so sad that this generation of students isn’t nearly as literate as my generation was. I will definitely be looking for ways to help fix this problem.

  5. So sorry. It’s a story we hear over and over. For the past two years my budget has been half of what it was before. But at least half is something…. how about getting parents to donate money for books? Maybe for kids’ birthdays. You could put the kid’s name in the book. Just a thought…

  6. Yes, unfortunately, it’s a growing issue, what with budgetary slashes pretty much everywhere around the US and many other countries, too. We’re lucky in that my school had a fabulous media specialist (who retired last year *sob*) who filled our library with many excellent books.

    Thank you for your lovely comments and support! Support your local school libraries, if you can!

    And great idea, Annette! I’ll pass it along to our new media specialist.

    Meredith, you’re fantastic for donating those ARCs and that’s a really cool service project. Keep up the great work!