Getting to know your librarian – MS Readathon

As a practising teacher-librarian, Megan Daley has some tips and tricks for how to make the most of your school library and teacher-librarian. As an ambassador for the MS Readathon, she has some thoughts on how it can help your child to develop empathy for others, and improve their reading at the same time.

Term Three, particularly the month of August when annual CBCA Book Week is held, is considered by teacher-librarians around Australia to be the ‘literary season’. As a passionate teacher-librarian, I love that the MS Readathon is a part of this season and can become a part of what we do in schools to celebrate all things literary.

The MS Readathon helps students to see reading as something that is both social and for a cause – to raise funds for families living with multiple sclerosis to attend MS Camps. As we hurtle towards Book Week, now is a great time for parents to learn a little more about their school library and how they can access its riches!

Well-resourced school libraries…develop and sustain a vibrant reading culture within a school.

Library1-1440School libraries are wonderful places which are the beating heart of many school communities and a refuge for those who need time away from a busy school environment. Well-resourced school libraries, with school library teams, develop and sustain a vibrant reading culture within a school. School libraries also promote innovative use of digital technologies and are a community hub within schools – for students, staff, parents and as a social space that can be used for cultural and educational events.  If your school does not have a school library, staffed by a library team, I would be asking school admin why; we have specialists in schools for PE, music, languages and all manner of other specialist teachers so it makes no sense that we would not have a specialist in reading development.

Teacher librarians are walking, talking stores of all manner of specialist knowledge about the best books for your child, they can curate a beautiful list of reading material for your child and they can help you with all manner of reading issues about supporting a reluctant reader or keeping the books up to a voracious reader.

If you have a school library in your school, I encourage you to get to know a bit more about the services it offers for your child by trying some of the following:

  • Find out the opening hours of the library and wander in one day before or after school if this option is available. School libraries are a service to the school community and parents should feel welcome in the school library.
  • Introduce yourself to the teacher librarian and ask them a book question – we’re good problem solvers! Teacher librarians can help parents navigate their way through the aisles and aisles of library books with ease, they can show you how to log-on to the library catalogue from home, and reserve books, and/or they can explain the difference between a ‘home reader’ from the classroom and a self-selected recreational reading book from the library.
  • Ask about online services. Does your school subscribe to Story Box Library? Do they have an e-book platform? Does your child have access from home to paid online databases? Is an online reading platform? Many primary schools and most secondary schools offer a range of online services available to students 24/7.
  • Read the library section of the school newsletter. Many teacher librarians or school library staff post news of local literary events, reviews of new books or tips and tricks for reading and writing.
  • Volunteer in your school library. Get to really know your way around the library by volunteering to help with reshelving, running Book Club, Book Fairs, programs like the MS Readathon or learn a life skill – the fine art of contacting!

Programs like the MS Readathon are perfect for encouraging reading, talking about reading and recording of reading. We never want to turn reading into a chore, but we do very much want to create opportunities for the readers and the non-readers in our lives to spend focussed time on reading, in this case the month of August, and hopefully fall deeply in love with one or two of the stories they discover in this time. In an age with so many competing demands on our young people, from sport to music to academic pursuits to family life, reading can drop off the radar. Being involved in a readathon can help to make time for reading, to prioritise reading and to bring peers and school communities and all readers together and be involved in reading for a cause together.

Photo and words by Megan Daley, MS Readathon Ambassador.

To register or for more information visit MS Readathon

Megan is a multiple award-winning teacher librarian, and the author of ‘Raising Readers: how to nurture a child’s love of reading’.