Well folks! It’s the end of my senior year, and unfortunately, the end of my independent study. I have one last activity to chat about before I take my leave, but hopefully I won’t be gone from this blog for good!
For the past two months, I have worked with Lisa on our school’s Summer Reading program. Every year, Lisa complies a list of about 40 fantastic reading choices for students to pick from to read over the summer. All levels and interests are included in the list, so picking the books (both young adult and adult, fiction and non-fiction) can be quite the challenge! This year I was lucky enough to help Lisa out with both the selection of books, and the promotion.
When choosing the books for the list, Lisa reminded me that the choices not only should intrigue all different kinds of readers, but should have varying levels of difficulty. You want to have a literary classic for the girl reader who likes a challenge, but you also want to have a well-crafted sports book for the reluctant boy reader. Even after Lisa had a list of books, she went through it many times, organizing them in different categories to see which readers were getting chipped. She sorted by young adult and adult, by genre, by “girl” books and “guy” books; if you could define a book by one characteristic, she considered it! If she was lacking one type of book, she would ask around and do her own research in order to fill the gap. She finalized a list of 46, which was cut to a list of 43 after consulting with our principal about some books with some possibly inappropriate content. Nothing us high-schoolers can’t handle, but nonetheless topics that could be concerning to parents. Ah, the challenges of public school libraries.
But how does one advertise 43 books to 800 students? How can one get 800 kids excited about a summer assignment? The answer is this: writing witty and intriguing descriptions, and having enthusiastic and encouraging librarians. I am proud to say I contributed to the first part of that answer this year. After my success with the Blind Date With a Book program earlier this year, Lisa requested that I help her write up short descriptions on each of the Summer Reading titles. Using my background knowledge if I had read the book, and Good Reads if I had not, I wrote up 4-5 sentence summaries of each book in a way that hopefully peaks students’ curiosity. We printed the descriptions in a list, we have them looped on a Power Point running continuously on the school TVs, we even have them as the background for every student’s computer account; pretty much any media you can think of, we’ve used it to get the word out about our fabulous list of Summer Reading choices! It was fun for me to use my writing skills with these descriptions, and I love that I could help out Lisa and Marjie, who are swamped as it is with the other aspects of Summer Reading.
For example, here is the description I wrote for the book Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan:
“The world record for longest kiss is thirty-two hours: and it is held by two, seventeen-year-old ex-boyfriends. In a beautiful tribute to past, present, and future LGBT teens, David Levithan writes of the excruciating and elated hours when Harry and Craig become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with long-term relationships, coming out, and navigating gender identity. “
The second piece comes right from the heart of the library: the librarians. I am certain that there is no one better than Lisa and Marjie when it comes to getting kids excited about a book. Not only do they stop what they’re doing to talk to a student about a book, but they constantly work with all types of students to find a book that students will actually read by the time September comes around. They try so hard to get every student involved, and that kind of attitude really makes a difference. I could go on forever about how Summer Reading here at my school wouldn’t work if it weren’t for Lisa and Marjie, but I will leave it at this: thoughtful and fun librarians make all the difference when it comes to participation.
And so, with a bang we kicked off Souhegan Read 2014! So far we’ve had lots of classes come in to chat about Summer Reading, and every day I’m amazed at how talented Lisa and Marjie are at being librarians!
And with an less enthusiastic bang, I am graduating next Friday. It’s crazy how fast the year gone by. I’ve had so much fun with Lisa and Marjie, and I’ve learned so much about different aspects of being a librarian. From weeding to designing programs, from chatting about books to inter-library loan, I am lucky to have experienced so many aspects of a librarian’s daily life during my time here.
Thank you for sticking around to read what I have to say about books and librarians. I’m heading off to Simmons College next year with a major of (get ready to be surprised) library sciences. Or even if it’s not my major, I will be working towards a 3+1 program in which I graduate with an undergrad degree in something and a masters degree in Library Sciences; all in four years. So who knows? Maybe I’ll bring this blog back when it comes time for me to jump into the world of librarianship again.
But we’ll all know I never really left :)