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 (27th January to 3rd February), World Read Aloud Day (1st February), Children’s Authors & Illustrators Week (4-10th February), and Tell a Fairy Tale Day (26th February). If you’d like to get involved, 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 in the list.
Prompted by the BBC’s Book Challenge, Anita Heiss has been compiling her Black Book Challenge lists since 2011, with each list comprised of 99 suggested works by Australian Indigenous authors, helpfully organised by genre. The 2016 list includes 38 entries in the children’s picture books and children’s novels categories, and 7 young adult novels.
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; for instance, they are another fantastic opportunity to connect students with the magic of books in a direct and memorable way, while generating positive publicity for the 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.
Children’s Book Creators to You (CBC2U) is an initiative of the NSW branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia to bring quality literature to the young people of NSW especially those disadvantaged from an economic, cultural or distance perspective.
The New Zealand Book Council provides a similar service in New Zealand Aotearoa.
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 these 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.
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 Kindness Week activities. While you’re there, check out the free posters and diversity-focused resources, including eBooks and teacher tools.
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 2017 School Library Display Competition.
You could also take advantage of the romance and mystery in the air this February to boost your library’s book count. Like the ever-popular (and so romantic!) Name-a-Star Register gift idea -- only more practical -- why not offer patrons the chance to donate a book to your library, specially dedicated in their loved one’s name.
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 printables online that you can easily adapt to your own context. Here’s an example to help you get started.
Beginner coders could also use Scratch or a similar program to make Library Love eCards.
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. And for extra ‘feel-good factor’, post your shelfie with the hashtag #MagicofStorytelling before 31 March 2018 and Disney will donate a book to the charity FirstBook.org, which works to provide books and educational opportunities to children in need.
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or share your pictures on Twitter and tag us @SoftlinkEdu