Welcome to 2022 from the MS and HS Libraries

by Graeme Boyd

I’ve noticed the increasing popularity of author Neil Gaiman over the years and his courage to branch out into different genres and write for different age-groups. He also works with a variety of collaborators; other writers and illustrators. His books have been turned into television shows, films and plays. Truth be told I don’t always enjoy his work but I admire his work ethic, and his global success. One of the IB Learner Profiles is ‘Risk-Taker’ which Gaiman has certainly strived for throughout his career. 

An article by Gaiman was recently republished in the UK Guardian newspaper entitled ‘Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming’. It’s an entertaining read and confirms my own thoughts about the importance of reading for pleasure. Within our libraries here at Lincoln we always try to offer a safe, relaxed and happy atmosphere for students (and teachers) to experience, so they can read and browse without pressure or interruption. One of the best ways to do this is to offer the student a feeling of independence. Often students just want a space to think and breathe-in which is away from the classroom. A well-run library should offer this flexibility and solitude. Like a good bookshop it should also offer a degree of serendipity when it comes to choosing books which myself and our librarians try to encourage by offering books displayed face-on, new releases and linked to current events. 

I arrived back from the Winter Holidays from the UK with a suitcase full of books and my Kindle eBook reader. I use and love both. I’m often asked by parents how to wean their children away from screens. Parents, quite rightly so, are concerned their children are spending far too much time staring at screens. Screens captivate children’s attention in an almost hypnotic way and their usefulness seems to only increase for all tasks both professionally and socially. As parents it’s important to control the quality of what your children see and engage with them while they’re using screens. Like it or not, we live in a digital world and in my opinion we should try to embrace being online as much as be wary of it. Eliminating screen time completely is not the answer. eBook readers are now cheap, ubiquitous and easy to use. Amazon sells fantastic eBooks for children for as little as 99 cents. Embrace the array of services and products available on websites like EPIC! and Audible. Some of the features within these reading apps and websites are fantastic like inbuilt thesaurus, translator and note-taking tools. 

It’s important to ensure children enjoy off-screen experiences. Every Friday in the MS Library we offer a reading club for 20-30 minutes during Flex-time. Each student in our group takes a turn to read out loud. I encourage face-to-face interactions. I encourage the students to think before they speak. When we have finished a chapter I will ask the students to summarise what they have read and then to share their own thoughts with the other participants about either the plot, characters, tone or vocabulary. Listening to other participants read helps with their focus and concentration. Indeed reading clubs within schools have been proven to improve student social and cognitive skills overall. 

Think about encouraging your child to listen to recordings of books being read aloud by a family member or friend, even better if they live in another country. Make it a personalized recording with simple software like Loom. I hope the reading club continues to grow and prosper in 2022, as I am sure it will. 

Articles cited : 
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-da ydreaming 

https://www.commonsense.org/education/articles/the-best-digital-libraries-for-kids-and-s tudents 

https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/digital-library-and-reading-apps-and websites 

Recommended eBook websites for students : 

EPIC! https://www.getepic.com/ 

OVERDRIVE https://www.overdrive.com/ 

RAZ-KIDS https://www.raz-kids.com/ 

Recommended audiobook websites for students : 

AUDIBLE https://www.audible.com/ 

Make your own personalised audio recordings : 

LOOM https://www.loom.com/