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In the Words of Librarians: How to Instill a Love of Reading

Two children reading on the floor.

School librarians are experts in the magic of helping children fall in love with books. Each book is an opportunity to connect countless students with windows into the experiences of others, tools to be informed citizens, and the keys to unlock adventures far beyond their own world. Whether you’re a 1st grade teacher working through the ABCs, a parent racking your brain about how to help your child with summer reading, or a high school english teacher using books as a way to connect with your students, these tips and tricks from librarians are sure to help.

When we asked over 30 DonorsChoose librarians how they do it, this is what we learned.

Try a lot of books to find the right fit.

It can take a few attempts for a child to find a book they groove with, but a “let’s keep trying” mindset can ensure your readers feel confident no matter their level. As one librarian says, “Students ARE readers, regardless of ability.” Once you find out what they like, it opens the door to similar books as well. They’ll be in love in no time. 

Continue adding to your collection.

Helping a child fall in love with reading means cultivating a diverse collection of books; keep hunting for popular titles, high interest books, graphic novels, and well-loved classics. Multiple librarians cited these titles as a good place to start: Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden, and most importantly, “the book they choose for themselves!”.

Model a love of reading.

Resoundingly, we heard that librarians share their own love of reading with their students. They nerd out about new additions to book series, lead with excitement whenever welcoming students, and they make finding the right book a thrilling experience. This librarian’s excitement says it all: “I always get a kick out of how library class starts. I say "Welcome to the Library!" and the students always cheer! I feel really great when a student asks for a book that they are dying to read and I am able to "magically" produce it for them. It feels like we both won the lottery!”

Make your library or reading nook about more than books.

The librarians we spoke to told us about intense reading competitions, placing lines from their favorite books in odd places for students to find, and most importantly, how they’ve made their libraries safe spaces for students to be themselves. Some school libraries are like “the living room of a house,” while others are more like a “3-ring circus.” Either way, as one librarian put it: “You will walk in and see students reading books and working on projects, but you will also see them working together on a board game, learning about circuits with Makey Makeys, designing buildings with Keva planks, creating videos using green screens, or learning coding by programing Ozobots or Spheros.” Librarians make reading about the worlds and types of learning books can inspire.

Librarians are finding new ways to inspire children each day, ensuring their students know that the library isn’t just a “quiet place.”

Believe in the magic of reading? Check out one of the thousands of book projects on DonorsChoose right now.

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