There’s a lot going on this February for school libraries everywhere, with plenty to celebrate for Library Lovers’ Month. In this post, we’ve gathered some articles and activities from around the internet to help you find inspiration and new ideas to bring some extra love to your library.
Perhaps more than any other month, February is devoted to children's literature, with major awareness events including National Storytelling Week in the UK (26th January to 2nd February), World Read Aloud Day (1st February), Children’s Authors & Illustrators Week (1st week in February), and Tell a Fairy Tale Day (26th February). If you’d like to get involved in the worldwide celebration of children’s literature and reading, you may want to visit some of the websites below for information, display ideas, and some wonderful selections of picture books to add to your library wish list.
The New Zealand Picture Book Collection, He Kohinga Pukapuka Pikitia o Aotearoa, has an extensive list of New Zealand English picture books selected by children’s literature experts for use in schools. The website conveniently provides activities and curriculum links related to books on the list.
Prompted by the BBC’s Book Challenge, Anita Heiss began compiling her Black Book Challenge lists in 2011, with each list comprised of 99 suggested works by Indigenous Australian authors, helpfully organised by genre. List #3 from 2016 includes 38 entries in the children’s picture books and children’s novels categories and 7 young adult novels. While you’re visiting Anita’s blog, check out this recent post all about love, with reference to the many words for different kinds of love that exist in Wiradjuri (Indigenous Australian Aboriginal) language. This could make an excellent foundation for a love-themed lesson exploring languages with your students.
If the love of science is more your thing, and you’d like to pass this on to students in a meaningful and inspiring way, STEM.org.uk has some wonderful resource packages for teaching science through stories. Resources include book summaries, hints and tips for teaching the science and further stories on a similar theme.
Author visits have many benefits, too. For instance, they are another fantastic opportunity to connect students with the magic of books in a direct and memorable way, while generating positive exposure for the school library.
The following websites may be helpful if you’d like to invite an author to speak at your school but don’t know where to start.
Speakers4Schools is a charity that maintains a network of individuals who are leaders in their field or industry and willing to speak at state secondary schools free of charge.
With an experienced team specialised in children’s libraries and children’s literature events, Authors Aloud offers a comprehensive service to connect you with the right author for your school and even provides additional arrangements such as book sales and communications to help make the most of your author visit.
The New Zealand Book Council provides a service called Writers in Schools, for those based in New Zealand Aotearoa. They have over 200 novelists, journalists, poets, playwrights, non-fiction writers, storytellers, and illustrators available for a visit or skype session.
Speakers Ink is a literary agency that can connect you with experienced speakers in all Australian states.
For those who would prefer to approach individual speakers, here is a list of Australian author websites by state.
If you are looking for more ways to incorporate children’s literature into lesson plans, it’s worth revisiting a number of guest posts from the Softlink blog by innovative teacher librarians Josephine Laretive and Jackie Child, who share lots of ways to engage students using picture books. Josephine focuses on teaching visual literacy skills, while Jackie explores the use of picture books to support teaching in a variety of subject areas, including Digital Technologies, History and STEM. There’s also this printable list of ideas for encouraging reading for pleasure, that you can share with parents and teachers.
The Classroom Kindness Kit and Classroom Empathy Kit from the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website each provide an excellent starting point for planning your Random Acts of Kindness Week activities. While you’re there, check out the free posters and diversity-focused resources, including eBooks and teacher tools.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website also has free K-8 lesson plans and a range of other free resources to promote a year-round kindness culture, including posters, quotations, and a 12-month kindness calendar.
Forget roses and chocolate; the way to a REAL book lover’s heart is through books! Libraries know this, of course, and you can have a lot of fun getting into the Valentine’s Day spirit with special activities and book displays like the ones below, which were entries in Softlink’s School Library Display Competition.
If you’re in the UK and have a great library display to share with the world, consider entering the UK School Library Association Library Display Competition, which has a prize draw every 3 months. You can email your images to enter, or simply share them on social media with the hashtag #schlibrarydisplays for the chance to win a £50 gift voucher.
You could also take advantage of the romance and mystery in the air during February to boost your library’s book count. Take some inspiration from the ever-popular (and so romantic!) Name-a-Star Register gift idea – instead of a star, offer your patrons the chance to donate a book to your library, specially dedicated in their loved one’s name and create a carousel on your Oliver v5 news page to share pictures of the donated books.
To make the gift extra special, you could place each book secretly somewhere in the library, to be discovered with the help of clues contained inside a Valentine’s fortune cookie. It’s fun to come up with your own rhyming clues, but if you’re short on time there are plenty of printable examples online that you can easily adapt to your own context. Here’s some to help you get started.
Provide a simple prop bin with love-themed accessories and invite patrons to take pictures around the library and post to your social media accounts with an appropriate hashtag. Bonus points for shelfies that include the clever use of a book cover – find some inspiration here and here.
Cordon off an area big enough for several students to move freely around a few big stacks of books. Students select book titles and group them so the spines, when stacked, form a love poem. Take a picture of each poem before dismantling the stacks to begin a new one, then use the pictures to decorate a wall in your library or share them on your school’s social media channels or Oliver v5 news page. You could even display them on a digital monitor in the library or reception area in your school, to spread the library love even further.
For a quieter activity that takes up less space, simply use this printable version and send students on a walk around the shelves seeking inspiration. They’ll delight themselves with their ability to compose poems using ready-made phrases sourced from all around them while rediscovering the library at the same time. Find more guidance on planning and delivering this fun library and language arts lesson for students of all ages at this link.
Let us know if you try some of the above ideas or any others for Library Lovers’ Month – we’d love to hear about all the ways you and your students show your #LibraryLove. Email us at email@example.com or share your pictures on Twitter and tag us @SoftlinkEdu
Editor’s note: this post was originally published in February 2018 and was updated for freshness, relevance and accuracy in January 2020.