Statement of Practice: Student Borrowing of Library Materials
The process of book selection engages students in learning how to make purposeful choices. A fundamental role of librarians is to help students acquire these valuable skills. Decades of research have determined there are two keys to guiding students to become lifelong readers: access and choice.
ACCESS: Books and other reading material close at hand create the environment conducive to an increase in reading skills, as well as make reading a leisure choice in a child’s life. A variety of texts in the school library, classroom, and home expose students to the rich world of literature. In his book, Power of Reading: Insights from the Research, Stephen Krashen summarizes ACCESS: “The research supports the commonsense view that when books are readily available, when the print environment is enriched, more reading is done. A print-rich environment in the home is related to how much children read; children who read more have more books in the home (Morrow 1983; Newman 1986; Greaney and Hegarty 1987; McQuillan 1998a; Kim 2003).”
CHOICE: Empowering children to choose what they want to read is an important step in the metacognitive growth of recognizing who they are as readers. Readers come in all abilities and interests. As readers learn to recognize their interests and abilities, they are better able to find the “right fit” text to read. Trial and error is an important part of the learning process and leads to students’ growth in text choice selection. Donalyn Miller in her book, Reading in the Wild, describes CHOICE:
“Self-selecting reading material:
- Allows students to value their decision making ability
- Fosters their capacity to choose appropriate literature
- Gives them confidence and a feeling of ownership
- Improves reading achievement
- Encourages them in becoming lifelong readers”
ACCESS and CHOICE are the cornerstone of reading instruction in the State College Area School District. SCASD teachers currently use a variety of strategies during reading instruction. Instructional practices include elements of:
- The Reading Zone by Nancy Atwell
- Reading Apprenticeship as described in Reading for Understanding by Schoenbach, Greenleaf and Murphy
- CAFE: Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary
- Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
- Falling in Love with Close Reading by Lehman and Roberts
- Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
ACCESS and CHOICE are critical elements of these strategies.
The SCASD Librarians seek to support ACCESS and CHOICE in a number of ways.
ACCESS: School library collections are designed to support a broad range of students. Our schools by nature include a spectrum of age and maturity, as well as perspectives and points of view. All SCASD libraries offer inter-school library loan which broadens the scope of each building’s library even further.
Students are encouraged to borrow the books that interest them and the numbers of what may be borrowed will be based on the interests of individual students. To ensure that there are choices for all students when visiting the library, the librarian may have guidelines on the number of books a student may borrow at a time. Guidelines such as one or two books by a specific author or from a series help ensure that all students are getting access to popular books.
SCASD school libraries are open as much as staffing levels and building schedules allow for students to borrow and return books.
CHOICE: Students are permitted to make their own selections from books found in the school library. Some books may be marked with reading levels or lexiles. The reading levels or lexiles are meant as a guide, not a restriction. There will be times when teachers may ask that students select a book fitting certain criteria to use in the classroom. Part of learning to use the library collection effectively is for students to identify their purpose in selecting a book.
If a student selects a book that does not meet criteria a teacher has set or a book that a parent is not comfortable with, the student is to return the book and make another selection. Recognizing who they are as readers in a classroom, in a family, and as an individual is part of the learning process with teachers, parents and librarians.
Student selection of books is a teachable moment to be seized by librarians, teachers, and parents. Before we redirect a student’s choice, we should ask the student to describe the purpose in selecting a book.
Below are suggestions of how to respond when a student borrows a book that…
is below their reading level --
- Perhaps the book is the newest in a series the student liked at a younger age. We can honor the delight of revisiting a “childhood” choice.
- As adult readers we may pick a “light” book, a “beach” read when we’re looking for a relaxing non-challenging read. A student may have similar motivations, which should be honored.
above their reading level --
- Is the topic of the book a strong interest of the student? Maybe the student’s passion is spiders and a nonfiction book caught their attention. The student may use the pictures for “visual” literacy practice, i.e. look at the pictures. Furthermore, this may become an opportunity for read aloud with a parent or other adult.
- has content that might not be age appropriate --
Readers who are reading at a level well beyond their peers might select text that contains material of a more mature nature. Decisions of appropriateness are best determined by the student and parent(s).
Sequence of Practice
- students typically borrow 1-2 books at a time
- librarians support access & choice to a wide selection of books, and are responsive to students’ individual needs
- librarians provide careful scaffolding throughout the year to give all students a strong introduction to books and school libraries
- students typically borrow 1-3 books at a time
- librarians continue to guide students to a growing selection of “good fit” choices that meet their needs and interests, and are responsive to their individual requests
- students typically borrow 1-4 books at a time
- librarians continue to connect students to “good fit” books that meet their interests while fostering their growing independence
- librarians support access & choice to entire collection
- students begin to independently determine quantity of books based on their needs
- librarians strive to support these developing readers and their reading needs through readers’ advisory and promotion of reading options (e.g., inter-school loans, reserves, & electronic books)
- students determine quantity of books
- librarians continue to support these developing readers and their reading needs through readers’ advisory and promotion of reading options (e.g., inter-school loans, reserves, & electronic books)