The Value of Book Week

After an action-packed, at least from my perspective, Book Week I began to wonder what is the value added? 

My Book Week included daily mother tongue read alouds by parents in two different locations in the school, 5 local author visits so that every grade level saw someone, mystery readers hosted by the facility and the traditional Character Day. Inside the library, there was a 'Genre Graph' to track students from K-12 favourite fiction genre and a 1 question survey to ask about genrifying them. Also in the K-3 library was a 'Wonder Wall' for questions and students could add a book recommendation to a padlet. The Gr.4-6 students could make recommendations on a padlet and use a variety of QR codes to watch student trailers and publisher created trailers. Our last big event was a competition for our book club groups in a Kahoot team showdown with about 70 kids. However, after all of this by Friday afternoon, I felt like Drew Daywalt's pink crayon, who I happened to dress up as, and I felt very undervalued.

Diane Mackenzie, @dimac4, recently hosted a session at the ECIS triannual library conference, @ecislib18, on value, and whether as a TL do our values match our administration so the concept of value has been percolating in the gray matter for some time.

Where do these ideas meet? I started writing an article for our school magazine and did some research on some of the components I incorporated into Book Week. I felt that after the limp response I received that my school has different values about what my role is. I know what I did has value and my own research validated it.

A Book Week is all about value.  Research shows, in order for our students to develop good reading habits, they need to be intrinsically motivated to read and the best methods are to value their choices, give them time to read for pleasure and talk to them about their reading (Guldager 13). A Book Week should provide students with the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities that validates their choices, gives them the opportunity to discuss books and most importantly have fun!

What is the value added of Character Day? Often I have conversations with parents about their child’s choices and why I do not level the library. By limiting a child’s choice of books to a specified level you dampen their enthusiasm and it takes the joy out plunging into a new tale. If a student feels like their choice is validated, even it is Captain Underpants, they will enjoy reading and be more likely to read independently and therefore develop a good reading habit. Character Day validates student choice, in library with the students I talked about different characters traits and who they liked and why they thought critically about them and then discussed with classmates who they would like to emulate. Character Day is the product, and the discussion beforehand is part of a critical thinking process that develops comprehension skills.

What is the value added of having local authors visit? Singapore has numerous published authors who write from a wide range of cultural perspectives. Not only are we supporting our host country but the students learn about where the authors find their inspiration. Andy Chua is a dinosaur geek with his own fossil collection who decided to share his love with writing adventure stories about kids being Fossil Finders. Leila Boukarim is an expatriate who knows the challenges our students face with continual hellos and goodbyes. AJ Low, the husband and wife team who talk about how they write collaboratively. Josephine Chia, an older author who started out by wanting to share her mother’s tale and eventually her history, Singapore’s history. Our students have the opportunity to question the authors and learn more about how to become authors themselves. The students make connections with their own writing skills and, if interested, will extrapolate how they can take their knowledge and interests and write about them.

What is the value added of activities in the library? Students were invited to create bookmarks, participate in #bookface and other creative endeavors. These activities were not organized by me but were hosted by the librarian assistants and our students enjoyed spending time with them. Maybe next time they are in, they will seek the faces out and ask for help. The value in these interactions is with the people who know the collection and can support them in finding that ‘just right’ book the next time they visit. Also, I'm very much aware that my assistants also feel undervalued and I was hoping that their participation would give them a sense of empowerment.

What is the value of hosting mother tongue read alouds? Engaging your parent community is always valued and the children were overjoyed to hear their ‘own’ language being shared. They brought their friends, who may not understand but were encouraged to attend. The richness of the discussion and the laughter that accompanies it shows the value. If a student feels their language is valued, it will encourage them to continue to study, use and learn in that language which will support language development in both or multiple languages (Yazici 259). Students spend the time discussing the story, the culture and vocabulary. With the bonus that they may learn how to say thank you in a different language or a word from a story. Both the parents and the students enjoy the opportunity.

Book Week is such a valuable tool and good way to support young readers in feeling that their pleasure reading choices are valued. To conclude my reflection on the process, I did create a Book Week Feedback survey for the teachers. In the end, I know what I did has value and I had my readers interests at heart.

Work Cited
GULDAGER, NICOLE N. (SIMON), et al. "Reading Promotion Events Recommended for Elementary Students." Teacher Librarian, vol. 43, no. 5, June 2016, pp. 13-19. EBSCOhost, direct=true&db=tfh&AN=116364064&site=ehost-live.

Yazıcı, Zeliha, et al. "How Bilingual Is Bilingual? Mother-Tongue Proficiency and Learning through a Second Language."
International Journal of Early Years Education, vol. 18, no. 3, Sept. 2010, pp. 259-268. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/09669760.2010.521297.


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