Let’s Put Libraries Back at the Heart of School

My son and I started the Harry Potter series together when he was little and his passion for reading (and writing!) took off from there.

My daughter has learning difficulties, but it hasn’t impeded her reading. She often sneaks the light back on after bedtime to read. She looks at the pictures for clues and makes up the words when she can’t sound them out. Some nights she reads in a loud whisper to our cat and falls asleep mid-sentence.

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My children are lucky—they have both the passion and the opportunity to read. Their bedrooms, their classrooms, and their school library are filled with books. They get books for Christmas and they use their birthday money to shop for more books.

shopping for books at Indigo

This isn’t the case for a lot of kids. They may have the passion for literature, but not the resources. It’s unfortunate and wrong.

My first few years as a teacher were spent at a high needs elementary school in Toronto. My classroom was sparse and the school library was outdated and depleted.

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It was frustrating. My students wanted to read. They NEEDED to read.

“The imagination developed through early literacy is an important part of children’s overall growth, fostering cognitive and social development and ingenuity—the building blocks for the thinkers of tomorrow.”

I did what I could to stock my grade 2/3 split class with books I brought from home or bought myself. We made do. We often created more books from just one. I would read the beginning of a story and the students would write (or draw) the middle and end. Then we would take turns sharing. In some stories Stellaluna would find her mother right away. In others, she would get caught in a net or be swallowed up by a dinosaur. One time she flew so high in the sky looking for her mom that she ended up on the moon.

Children’s literature is where imaginations grow.

The adventures found inside the covers of a book introduce kids to the world and to life’s possibilities. Books also keep lonely kids company. Stories expand minds, and allow some kids to escape reality.

My school received donations over the years, but the money was always gobbled up by “necessities.” New books for the library were never considered a necessity, but a luxury.

With so much information available online, it’s easy to forget the value of real, physical books. But kids need to hold books in their hands, to turn the pages, and to lose themselves in the pictures and words.

What a difference an Indigo Love of Reading Foundation Literary Grant would have made. It would have provided the means to break the cycle of dwindling bookshelves caused by inadequate funding.

School libraries play a big role in encouraging kids to read and develop a sense of curiosity and adventure, especially in low-income areas where kids may not have access to books at home (or The Indigo Love of Reading Foundation has just announced the recipients of its 2016 Literacy grants, and 25 high-needs elementary schools across Canada will benefit from the Foundation’s $1.5 million annual grant commitment.

How wonderful is that?

Find out more by visiting: http://www.loveofreading.org.

Join the conversation online by following @ChaptersIndigo and @IndigoLOR and the hashtags #IndigoLOR #GrantDay on Twitter and Instagram. Also follow on Facebook HERE and HERE.

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Indigo but the images and opinions are my own.

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