“I just don’t have time, Ms. Davidov.”
“I would, but I can’t. I’ve got other stuff I need to do.”
“I used to love reading. Remember Middle School, guys?”
These are comments I hear over and over again as I talk to students. Time for anything personal is sparse. There are only so many hours in a day not dedicated to school work, and reading does not top the list for a lot of people. This is the sisyphean task many librarians take on. It can be a giant boulder. However, these days I’m finding an injection of energy and enthusiasm. In fact lately, my job seems more joyous because of all the avenues I am finding so that every constituency at Dana Hall, students, parents, teachers, can carve out time in their day to read.
I’ve been meeting weekly with some Middle Schoolers in a group my fellow librarian, Amelia Herring, and I call “Shelf Talkers.” We meet on Wednesdays and find ways of sharing our love of a great story with the school. We sit in the magazine area, the most remote section of the library because we are far from quiet. It began as a place to share latest and greatest reads: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, Guts by Raina Telgemeier, Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. Then the girls began to channel their energy into dissemination of said information. Why keep it to ourselves? Let’s share the love and share these stories with everyone here. There have been days when I am literally chasing after these girls because they want to hang up their posters right away. How exciting that I get to witness and help these girls share their unbridled, unabashed passion for books?
So what did we do? What do we keep doing in the Upper School and Middle School to make time for reading? Here’s what these girls did and how the librarians of Dana Hall supported them:
Bathroom Book Club
Don’t have time to read? You’ve got a little bit of time in the bathroom. In the Upper School we’ve got short stories next to the toilet paper. In the Middle School we’ve got selections from favorite books from the Shelf Talker girls.
All of these are recommendations from our students. “You HAVE to read this, Ms. Davidov! It’s sooooo good.” I believe you. Make me a list of those books I have to read. And so the girls got to work and made great lists. So many lists of great titles that welcome you as you browse the extensive collection of the library on themes from “Really Scary Stories” to “Black Female Creators.” We’ve got a folder full of lists, and we’ll be issuing new lists to peruse every few weeks. These are made by students in both divisions. I don’t have a favorite yet, but my “want to read” list on Goodreads is growing exponentially.
Have you ever walked around a library hoping a book would jump out at you? Deep in the stacks of the Helen Temple Cooke Library you’ll find recommendations from students at the end of many shelves.