While this blog is all about “exploring the opportunities and challenges of collaborative cloud based library infrastructure” there are times when it is worth sharing low tech activities especially when they support key outcomes critical to the library. In this instance supporting literacy and broader reading in a school library.

February 14 is of course St Valentine’s Day, but in Australia it is also Library Lovers’ Day; it is also a few weeks into the new school year. So for an Australian library in a girls’ school there are a number of fun ways to promote literacy and reading, AND provide English teachers with valued information about the reading habits of their new students. While there are lots of fun things a library can do to support Library Lovers Day it is more powerful if the activity also helps the library deliver VALUE as perceived by the host organisation, in this case an Australian girls’ school.

To kick off the Kerferd Library’s 2017 literacy and broader reading program a quick and fun activity was to get the girls to write a ‘love letter’ to their favourite book for Library Lovers Day. The Library made up heart shaped proforma ‘love letters’ with the following:

  • First Name
  • Class
  • The book I love the most is …..
  • Because…

The students filled out the letters, cut out the hearts and the Library staff posted them on to the notice board in the main reading area (see following images). The students were intrigued as to WHAT others had chosen as their favourite book as well as WHY they had chosen a particular book. What makes this activity valued in a school is:

  • Students are more engaged because it is not just confined to their class, they get to see what other classes and year levels have written.
  • English teachers get access to some very useful information about the reading habits and interests of their students at the start of the academic year. This is a time when the teachers have a new class and it takes time to get to know more about their students.
  • In facilitating the activity, the library starts the new year’s literacy program with a discussion on what it is that makes a student like one book over another. This enables the library to have a conversation about genre, plot, character, writing style and so forth.
  • It is a short and fun activity that gets the student to think about what they are reading and why they like it without been so onerous that it feels as though it is a ‘punishment’ for reading a book.

This started out as an experiment, but given the successful way it engaged the students and provided valued insights to the English teachers we will definitely do this again in 2018.