New Year’s Resolutions for Literacy Leaders

 //  Aug 31, 2016

New Year’s Resolutions for Literacy Leaders

In coming weeks, we will be featuring posts from literacy leaders who will be speaking at the Literacy Leaders' Institute, presented by Scholastic and ASCD (San Diego, CA, September 22-24, 2016). If you're an educational thought leader who would like to plan and implement a comprehensive literacy program in your school or district, click here to register!

Labor Day is upon us, the season when educators make "new year’s resolutions." Rejuvenated from summer break, we dream big about the year to come and the nurturing environments we will create for our students.

Literacy leaders think carefully about how to provide the daily, abundant access to irresistible books that will propel all readers forward. This week, in the calm before school opening, my colleagues and I have made the following commitments. Going forward, as our calendars brim, we’ll help each other sustain these “healthy habits” that we know will pay off big time! 

Literacy Leadership Actions to Promote Access, Choice, and Volume for All Readers

1. Promulgate research on the importance of voluminous, high-success reading for all students

  • Provide professional books, articles, and blog posts for teachers by champions such as Richard Allington, Stephen Krashen, and Donalyn Miller.

  • Allocate time for text-based discussions at faculty meetings.

  • Broadcast the importance of independent reading to families.

  • Make sure that everyone understands that all readers develop by turning page after page in books that they love!

2. Ensure that students have substantial time to read books of their own choosing in school each day

The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™ found that 33% of children ages 6–17 say their class has a designated time during the school day to read a book of choice independently, but only 17% do this every or almost every school day. We need more time dedicated to independent reading during the day!

  • Open the day with 30 minutes of independent reading.

  • Implement reading workshop.

  • Schedule a school-wide reading break.

3. Model our own reading lives and build social energy around reading

  • Display irresistible books in our offices.

  • Carry books with us on classroom visits to read aloud and/or match with readers.

  • Notice what specific children are reading; talk to them about their books and listen carefully for signs of genuine engagement.

4. Promote knowledge of the latest, greatest books and timeless classics

  • Establish book-talking rituals at faculty meetings.

  • Provide time for teachers and librarians to explore reliable reviews and awards lists (e.g., Caldecott, Newbery, American Library Association, Cooperative Center for Children’s Books, National Council for Social Studies, National Science Teachers Association).

  • Provide forums for students, faculty and families to recommend specific titles (e.g., bulletin boards, newsletters, social media).

5. Budget for school libraries and classroom libraries generously, transparently, and reliably

  • Purchase authentic trade books rather than textbooks or programs.

  • Provide teachers and librarians with clear allocations and time and guidance to place orders.

  • Streamline and demystify the ordering process.

  • Monitor budget across the year; ensure every dollar is spent.

  • Encourage teachers and librarians to keep “wish lists” for books and furniture.

  • Budget for new sections; advocate for additional resources.

6. Help teachers build classroom libraries for the readers they expect and customize libraries for the students they have

  • Build baseline collections over time in each classroom of 1,000+ books with a wide range of genres, formats, topics, and levels matching grade level expectations.

  • Develop an ordering cycle that includes an initial allocation and opportunities for teachers to order books across the year based on new releases and student tastes.

  • Enable teachers to print short texts around students’ interests and timely topics and/or to access them on electronic devices.

7. Support teachers in setting up appealing and navigable classroom libraries

  • Encourage teachers to involve children in making choices about library organization.

  • Provide time for teachers to visit each other’s classroom libraries.

  • Discuss the judicious use of reading levels as a professional tool rather than a means of labeling children.

  • Ensure reading levels are not marked conspicuously on books.

8. Support teachers and librarians in inventorying and weeding their collections

  • Provide time and encouragement for weeding; it is difficult to discard books.

  • Remove books that are dated, inaccurate, or misleading; contain stereotypes; are in poor physical condition (reorder new copies of popular classics); don’t reflect students’ interests and needs; are easily obtained somewhere else; or haven’t been read.

  • Discard these books; resist the temptation to donate them.

9. Promote school library circulation

  • Ensure unfettered access to books by reducing or eliminating circulation limits.

  • Free our librarians to match children with appealing books. Provide clerical support and/or cultivate volunteers to check out, return, and re-shelve books.

  • Keep our school libraries open before school, at lunch, and after school.

  • Promote book returns through family outreach and electronic reminders.

  • Do not block library privileges when children do not return books.

  • Track school library circulation patterns and note trends.

10. Ensure every child takes home books to read every day

  • Reduce or eliminate other homework. Make reading the main event!

  • Communicate with parents and caregivers about the specific books children are bringing home and encourage them to provide a quiet time and place for reading.

  • Extend efforts to connect with hard-to-reach parents; make home visits.

11. Prevent "reading slide" over school vacations

  • Model your own plans to read over vacations and across the summer. Engage kids in planning their reading lives with specific book titles, sources and reading locations.

  • Send school and classroom library books home over vacations and summer break.

  • Seek funds (grants, PTA) to enable low-income children to select and keep books 15 books apiece for summer reading and beyond.

12. Pay relentless attention to striving readers!

  • Develop a list of readers not yet at benchmark in each grade and track their progress.

  • Ensure that each child has abundant, daily access to compelling books in the classroom library; augment with books from the school library and/or other classrooms as needed.

  • Procure accessible books for striving readers that do not appear “babyish.” Nonfiction is particularly appealing and offers navigational choices.

  • Present striving readers with diverse preview stacks (Donalyn Miller); respect their choices.

  • Confer frequently and conversationally to monitor the match.

  • Ensure all of these vital things are in place before providing supplementary services. The best intervention is a good book!



Photo credit: daveparker on Flickr