Just a School Librarian

Thoughts of a Middle School Librarian

Share your passion. Pimp those books.

Posted by CGibson on December 12, 2009


When was the last time you grabbed a good book?  Perhaps it was steamy Guilty Pleasure, by Lora Leigh, or a thriller such as The Associate, by John Grisham. If nonfiction is your preference, maybe you’ve enjoyed titles such as I Hope they Never Serve Beer in Hell, by Tucker Max, or Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Remember Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert? (ooooooh I really loved that one).

Now wouldn’t it be great if your teen students felt that same passion for reading?  Your students need a good strong dose of your reading passion. Your students need to see that as adults, we read outside the realm of school.  Share your passion. It’s contagious.

Here are a few can-do strategies to motivate your teen students into reading.

1.  Encourage library visits.  Your students will have a wider variety of books to select in the school or public library.

2.  Honor a book. You can prop a great book up on your desk or shelf in a prominent position. I like putting a bright post-it note with “Miss Gibson is reading this now” or “Ask me about this book!” on the cover. When students see teachers value a book, they will more likely choose that book over others.

3.  Showcase favorite books. You can maintain a monthly display of hot books (copies of book and magazine covers).  Include student selections, teacher selections, your colleagues’ selections, and your principal’s favorite books. I particularly like this strategy because you can accomplish this on a classroom bulletin board, on a bulletin board in the school lobby, and on a school Website. You might also consider using LibraryThing or Shelfari as a virtual sharing place.

If you are a subject teacher, remember that your students need time for free, light reading. Yes, I know your students need to read your assigned reading; but it’s also important for students to warm up their brains with light reading (think comics, teen romances, and magazines) as well as the best in literature to help educate teens to read with understanding.  Light reading on a regular basis warms up the brain for heavier content reading.

So the next time you read a book for pleasure, share your passion. I try to do that everyday. After all, I’m just a school librarian.

Sources:  Power of Reading, by Stephen D. Krashen

Simple Practices to Nurture the Motivation to Read, by Linda Gambrell and Barbara Marinak (2009) http://www.adlit.org/article/29625

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3 Responses to “Share your passion. Pimp those books.”

  1. For several years I was a tutor in an adult literacy program. As an incentive for my students to practice their reading I would often (yes, out of my own pocket)buy & present to them a special book which they could read on their own time. I tried to ensure this book was appropriate material and at (or slightly above) their reading level. Perhaps some teachers could find a way to reward students by presenting them with a special book – or by having a contest where the winner gets a classic book. Then again, what do I know — I’m just a humble blog writer!

    • CGibson said

      Linda,
      Yes, students NEED books to read for fun and leisure. You won’t believe how some teachers freak-out when their students borrow comic books and other light-reading material. Some teachers have actually told students to return those books to the library and get something “more appropriate”. The way I see it, if a teen (esp. who doesn’t like to read) wants to read a comic book, then that’s better than NOT reading anything at all. Besides, as adults we read “light books” and not heavy stuff all the time. So why not the kids? BTW, it was so cool talking with you on the phone today. 🙂

  2. Very good ideas – especially the “honour a book” encouraging students to ask about it. And the cover showcasing. Thanks for those.
    Apropos some of the your other posts about coming up with books that appeal to teenage readers, I have found that boys really enjoy the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. The hero is English, but much of the action takes place in American settings, and many of the characters are American.
    There’s a film out a few years ago of the first book in the series, Stormbreaker.
    Hello and thank you for visiting my newbie blog. I must fly over to your blog later today, after work. I will definitely look up your suggestion of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. My school is almost 60% boys, and I am always looking for cool books for them!

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