Posted on behalf of guest blogger Stephanie Jones
When my colleague Lucy Santos Green asked me to write a post for her while she did research in Brazil, I began reflecting on the theme for this month: collaborative reading promotions and literacy events. I teach courses in the school library media concentration in the Instructional Technology program at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. In my work it’s important to me to keep up with what is happening in the school library field, but it’s been eleven years since I worked as an elementary school librarian and my experience in such matters is definitely outdated.
So I turned to the experts, school librarians here in Georgia, and asked them to share with me what they are doing to promote reading in their school communities. In response I heard about an abundance of creative and exciting reading programs. In this blog post I will share two stories that I think exemplify the kind of effective reading programs that can happen when your school library collaborates with members of your school community. The first is from my good friend and fellow storyteller, Linda Martin. On Thursday, I’ll share the second story from Tanya Hudson whom I met when I was a doctoral student and she was earning her Master’s in Instructional Technology at the University of Georgia in Athens. (Go Bulldogs!)
Linda Martin, who is the school librarian at Sugar Hill Elementary School in Hall County, told me about a summer reading program she has been involved with for the last three years. The program was developed in response to a problem; during the summer many students in Hall County do not read because they do not have transportation to the public libraries. In order to avoid the summer slide, county media specialists working with school personnel brainstormed to find a way to get books to these students. The solution was the Reading Rocket, a bookmobile created from a school bus which the school system donated for this use. The bus was retrofitted by students in a high school shop class who painted it with bright colors and installed gutters to hold the paperback books from Scholastic.
The Reading Rocket operates two days of the week during the summer, traveling to schools, community centers, and trailer parks to bring books to children. The bookmobile is staffed mostly by volunteers: teachers, principals, media specialists, teachers, and even some students who enjoy helping their friends find books to read. Now in its third year, the Reading Rocket is just one part of a year-round reading program developed by a collaboration between Hall County Schools and the public library. You can read more about this innovative reading project at the Reading Rocks website and you can follow them at Twitter @HCReadingRocks.
Stephanie A. Jones, Ph.D.
Director, Instructional Technology
Georgia Southern University