Saturday, December 13, 2008

Teachers As Librarians

I've noticed a trend since I started keeping a large number of books available for check out in my classroom. I've noticed that my students want me to help them select the right books. "Help me find a good book" is one of the most common things I hear during silent reading time in my classroom. This means a few things.

First, it means that I need to know the books in my class. Now, when having a bookshelf of 400 books, it's impossible for me to have read all of them (ok it's not impossible, but it's not the easiest thing in the world). It's not hard to have at least a basic understanding of the books, and to, if possible, have read as many as possible.

When my students ask me to help them find a good book, I usually start by asking them what they're looking for. If they're not sure, I have them list out some books they've really enjoyed. Some students know the genre they're looking for, others are wandering aimlessly and need some help in selecting a book that is appropriate for their reading level (see my post titled How To Determine the Reading Level of a Book at a Glance for more on how to do this quickly even with books you're not familiar with). They also may need help finding a book that will keep their interests, and that they have the necessary background for.

I've heard it said that teachers are also nurses, psychiatrists, managers, counselors, surrogate parents, and now librarians (I left out at least 30 other things). That's right, it's part of the job of a teacher to make sure the right things are being read by the right kids.

It's really not that difficult, know your students, know their interests, and know your books. The next step is staying at the forefront of new and exciting children and/or young adult literature. That's where I am right now, and there are many great people out there (some of them linked to from this blog).