Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ask a librarian?

As  I have mentioned I am currently taking a class on the last leg of finishing up my reading endorsement and part of the class was to pick a research topic (related to reading) and look at ten articles about the topic. As a former teacher-librarian I am aware of many studies on the positive impact of libraries and librarians on reading scores, yet (as I am a casualty of budget cuts) it is one of the first positions done without when schools have declining enrollment and can't keep up with increasing budget cuts. So I decided to do my research on the impact of school libraries and also reading incentives (as this is something the librarian is often involved in) on reading scores in schools.

Twenty-one states, including Iowa where I live, have done studies on library impact and reading score. Every study showed a positive impact on reading scores and a quality library program with a certified librarian. So why is this a position that is often shared between buildings or in some cases done without? It made me wonder even more about all the things that can not be done in my former building because one person is now doing the job two used to do. So I created a Prezi (if you haven't tried out this online presentation site, I highly recommend it to any visual learners!) to show what my school was possibly missing with only someone in the library part time. You can click here to check out the presentation by clicking here.

I was not surprised of the information out there about the negative effects of just using Accelerated Reader (AR) or Reading Counts as reading programs. I, myself believe that these programs are not the best way to track reading progress and felt very frustrated when I was student teaching and spent time book talking books with students and having them turn it down because it was not AR or not at their color dot. I am also a horrible test taker, so would probably (and have) done poorly on a multiple choice test over something I just read, but could write, create, or talk endlessly about it.

I was more surprised about the research out there about the negative effect of rewarding reading, as it is suppose to be a pleasant experience for us. I have to respectfully disagree as even though I loved my job as a teacher-librarian I could not make it in society without a paycheck, which in a way was my reward for working. I have also seen reading incentives work with reluctant readers. Not everyone loves to read like I do, but like it or not everyone does read. Even my husband who would never read a book 'just for fun', takes time in the barn each week to read his farm newspapers and pours over manuals to fix equipment almost daily. It is ALL about finding what interests each student. Reading is like any other skill, you are only going to get better at it if you practice and if I can provide a little something extra (be it a bookmark or a small celebration to celebrate reading or even some food) to get a student to take a little extra time to read, I am going to do it.

Before you close the page do you have a full time school librarian at your school and what do they do to promote reading with your students?

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