Main Street Intermediate School (MSI) loves their librarian KatiAnn Philhower so much they decorated her door for National Library Week. With a Mary Poppins theme, the library entrance announces that the MSI librarian is “practically perfect in every way.” Across the district, students and staff celebrated National Library Week by thanking librarians for the work they do to promote reading and to support classroom instruction.
“I try to align my lesson plans to coincide with what they are learning in their classrooms,” said Rose Machu, T.H. Johnson Librarian. “My goal is to instill in each child the joy of reading books, so I let them choose the books they like and are interested in.”
At Taylor Middle School, Kerrie Zietler plans her library lessons around topics teachers are covering in classrooms. She also works to expose students to new ideas, topics and information through storytelling and activities.
“When English teachers teach about figurative language or informational text structures, I plan an escape room using those topics to reinforce what they've learned,” Zietler said. “Jan. 1, was the anniversary of Ellis Island opening, so we had the Ellis Island simulation.”
Taylor High School students frequently visit the library during lunch and other free time for a quiet place to read or to work on projects. Librarian Lynn Butler communicates with teachers on a regular basis to find out current curriculum needs.
“I ask them for requests and if we don’t have something I make sure I order it at the earliest possible moment,” Butler said. “When they come in with their classes, I try to have everything they need ready to go.”
MSI librarian, Philhower, connects her lessons directly to what students are learning in classrooms. As a state certified reading specialist, she teaches the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for both fourth and fifth grade and also teaches a reading intervention group. She is also available to assist individual students when they come into the library to find a book.
“I am so blessed because I get to work with every student who attends MSI and
I get to teach pretty much all day,” Philhower said. “I love my job.”
Younger students love listening to a great story during library time while older students get excited about new arrivals and talking about their favorite books. Graphic novels are popular at all levels, and at high school, Butler said realistic fiction is making a comeback.
“I think with so much happening in our country as well as the world, students are finding comfort in reading about things that are happening or have happened to them,” Butler said. “Realistic fiction reminds you that you are not alone. It can also offer different perspectives or solutions the students might not have considered for dealing with an issue or problem.”
For parents and community members wanting to support school libraries, donations to help purchase more books are at the top of local librarians’ wish lists.
“The library bound books we need are more expensive,” said Philhower. “About $20 per book, but they hold up and come with a lifetime guarantee.”
For parents wanting to support reading at home, TISD librarians all suggest reading with children more. They also encourage parents to ask children what they are currently reading, and to model reading for enjoyment. Other ways to promote reading is to visit the public library, and to attend special free events like author appearances at bookstores and the Texas Book Festival.