Genre Tasting Theme Book Week

“Teaching reading is not supposed to be quick and easy. It’s supposed to be about human connection. It’s one conversation at a time.” - Pernille Ripp

Authentic conversations with kids about what they are reading is critical in building comprehension skills as well as empathy and tolerance. Through conversation, kids make connections to themselves, other literature or events in our world. As a librarian, one of my favourite roles is promoting the love of reading, to value my students' choices and encourage them to select something to saviour for just the fun of it. Jennifer Gonzalez’s blog ‘Cult of Pedagogy’ highlighted a wonderful interview with reading expert Pernille Ripp where she discussed the importance of our children having the time to read and enjoy without feeling pressured to complete a reading log or make a project. For our small book week, we wanted our students to select books that were from a new genre. Our theme, ‘Library Alive’, was to encourage students to awaken their brains and engage in a genuine conversation about a book.

Our students were welcomed to the Library Alive restaurant where they were given a menu that encouraged them to taste different genres, or kinds, of books. To start the lesson, we briefly described each genre and where to find them in the baskets or tables. Every student had the same goal, to find a new genre to enjoy and to challenge themselves.

When possible I combined my class with my colleagues so the students worked across grade levels. Working with someone new helped them to focus their attention on talking about books and we thought the older students could support with some strategies for selection. And recommendations turned out to be a two-way street, with the younger ones sharing their ideas about genres the older students should try! Watching a Grade 6 student talk to a Grade 1 about what genres and books they enjoy warmed my heart and reading soul. My students were thoughtful, “It was good to try more genres that we normally wouldn’t get and I found some nice romance books,” explained a Grade 5 student. I loved finding kids squashed into chairs together or sprawled across the floor with a mountain of books to explore. A Grade 4 student shared, “I worked with the little kids and liked how they tried to explain the books.” The library was buzzing with excellent reading conversations!

How, as a team of librarians, did we know if our week was successful? Well, our circulation increased by nearly 10% during the week and when students share the sentiments like Dia Menon (5-1), “I liked seeing all the different genres and seeing what other people liked,” I feel we have served our kids up a tasty treat. It was so tasty that they came back for more. Empty shelves were a good sign of consumption!

In the following week, many of our students came back for another book in their newly found genre and shared what it was that they loved. I supported many teachings in starting literature circles and giving the students the opportunity to pick a book and genre that suited them as a group. As a team of teachers we kept the learning moving forward with good conversations about books.

References
“How to Stop Killing the Love of Reading.” Cult of Pedagogy, 20 Sept. 2018, www.cultofpedagogy.com/stop-killing-reading/.

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