1 July 2024
An image of books on a bookshelf with many display cards naming different subjects  of books on the shelf, they say "birds" "mamma;s" "ocean animals" and more types of animals and have images of the animals as well.

“I can’t find anything to read. Nothing interests me.  These books are too hard. I do not know where the book is located.”  Sound familiar? The My Library Is... Grant provided funding to update and enhance the library collection and reading experience. It also provided colorful new signage to improve book accessibility for staff and students.  

Easy Readers:  Our first-grade students are required to check out one easy reader book so they can practice their newfound reading skills.  Because the average age of this section was 2005, the books were not capturing the attention of our youngest readers. Level 1 easy readers were purchased, and books talks were given to inspire kids to try them out.  

Easy Reader Graphic Novels: “Why can’t we get those books?’ was frequently heard in the graphic novel section. K-2 students really wanted to check out graphic novels, but our books were geared to a 3rd – 6th grade interest level. New graphic novels purchased had a  K-3 interest level and easier readability. We can’t keep the books on the shelves.  Many of our reluctant and struggling readers can be found enjoying these books.  

Bilingual Books: According to our most recent school report card almost 40% of our student population is Hispanic.  New bilingual picture books would enable a parent and child to read together side by side. We shared this information with families through newsletters.   

SEL Section: Many books that supported social emotional learning (SEL) were housed in the Professional section for staff to read aloud to students.  I purchased more SEL books and housed them on a new freestanding shelf. Our students have SEL instruction each week, so they looked forward to reading books about what they were discussing in class.  Books cover a variety of topics: bullying, friendship, anger management, responsibility, and so much more. These books have a dual purpose: they support reading skills and help students develop empathy and self-awareness. These books can impact their ability to get along with others in a positive way.  

So now I had all these new books, but I had to make the books accessible for the students.  I needed students (and staff) to become more independent in locating their books.  New signage did just that. The Everybody section received alphabet divider signs with a brightly colored letter and a corresponding picture.  The non-fiction section is organized by Dewey.  I added signage that highlights key subjects such as space, dinosaurs, arts & crafts, sports.  The new signs come with text and a colorful picture.  Students and staff can now browse these sections independently. The signs increased circulation in our non-fiction section.   

This grant inspired me to tackle two other projects as well. Students love the new SEL section.  I went through all the picture books and labeled any SEL books with a spine label.  Now we can rotate SEL books onto the new bookshelf on a regular basis. Because the new signs were such a hit, I decided to genrify the fiction section and add the colorful coordinating signage. Students easily locate books in their favorite genre. 

I am grateful to RAILS for providing me with The My Library Is... Grant. It benefited my school community in so many ways.  The overall collection age was updated by 2 years. Our new bookshelf signage encourages students and staff to locate books independently.  Most importantly, the new books helped foster a joy of reading in our reluctant and struggling readers.  No longer do I hear kids complaining they cannot find anything to read.  They flock to the new sections and talk about books. We are cultivating lifelong readers! 

Today's blog post was written by Dawn Alexander, Crystal Lawns Elementary School Media Specialist.  

This project was made possible by the My Library Is... Grant.