Our school english bookcase/library

DSCN0241“The best way to improve your knowledge of a
foreign language is to go and live among its speakers.
The next best way is to read extensively in it”
(Nuttall, 168).

Setting up and running a school library is one of the most satisfying jobs a teacher can perform. As a teacher-librarian
you will be able to develop children’s love of books and encourage them to read. This in turn will improve their literacy
skills, which they will enjoy, remember and share long after their school days are over. You can also show students how
to find out information from the books in the library, and this too is a skill for life. People need information to educate
themselves and develop their true potential, and for this they need literacy skills and access to books. The library
provides access to books; it is a place where information is shared.
Setting up a library is also a great challenge. It can be hard work, so it is recommended that you work closely with
many other people at your school. In this way the library will belong to everyone at the school and can be made to
benefit many generations of students.

Our English bookcase notebook where all the books are listed!

Our English bookcase notebook where all the books are listed!

The biggest change has been in the children’s confidence and willingness to read, which they have carried back into the classroom. During lessons, particularly guided reading, the children who actively borrow from our library, have been more enthusiastic about taking part and, more importantly, their comprehension of what they are reading has improved measurably too. Their growing confidence and increased exposure to language, grammar and punctuation has also lead to a significant improvement in their written work too

Unfortunately, in my school, I found NO english readers or magazines when I started teaching  there! I decided to set up and run an…english…bookcase myself, by donating my own books to the school first and then by asking parents, students, friends, publishing houses and my PLN to offer us as many books as possible!

The list of books, is always somewhere visible in our classroom, for every student willing to borrow a book, to be able to chose the title which interests him/her the most!

The list of books, is always somewhere visible in our classroom, for every student willing to borrow a book, to be able to chose the title which interests him/her the most!

Today, 7 years later,  our small ” library” has about 400 english books and I am really very proud of that! Children are encouraged to borrow books regularly, on a voluntary basis! At the end of each term, the three most frequent readers in each class, are awarded complimentary bookmarks in front of their classmates!

“We learn to read by reading”
(Nuttall 168)

What is important too, is that I place a piece of paper inside each book , for the students to write a  short book review on, and share it  with the rest of the class! Students who bring this review back , are awarded  a sticker for their english stickers collection!

At the end of each term, the three most frequent readers in each class, are awarded complimentary bookmarks in front of their classmates!

At the end of each term, the three most frequent readers in each class, are awarded complimentary bookmarks in front of their classmates!

The readers  who read  the most titles are given a special award,too at the end of each term  . The competition brings challenge to reading and it is associated more with fun than learning and we therefore do not consider it harmful.

I sometimes, hand them a different  handout ,where they are asked to write a different ending to the book story and maybe draw a picture which has to do with it!

The most basic activity is the  book report, in which students are asked about their
personal experiences of what they read e.g. whether they found the material enjoyable or
interesting and why, whether they liked some characters from the book or what did
reading make them think of. They can also be asked whether the reading was easy or
difficult for them.

Most teachers who are asked to set up and run a library are not trained librarians – and neither am I…

Our small " library", has about 400 english books and I am really very proud of that! Children are encouraged to borrow books regularly, on a voluntary basis..

Our small ” library”, has about 400 english books and I am really very proud of that! Children are encouraged to borrow books regularly, on a voluntary basis..

The steps,one has to follow to set it up in the first place,  are  the ones below!

• select books for the  library
• make a written record of the  school’s books, pamphlets and other library stock such as newspapers, magazines,
audio tapes and videos.

• divide the library stock into subject areas

• choose the best method of letting students borrow library books.

• repair damaged books.

The most basic activity is the book report, in which students are asked about their personal experiences of what they read.

What is important too, is that I place a piece of paper inside each book , for the students to write a short book review on, and share it with the rest of the class! Students who bring this review back , are awarded a sticker for their english stickers collection!

“We want our students to be able to read better: fast and with full
understanding. To do this they need to read more. And there seem to
be two ways of getting them to read more: requiring them to do so
and tempting them to do so”
(Nuttall, 168)

The major problem in order  to get that  started, was…financial!Every school year,  I do everything mentioned below, to be able to finance my library:

I sometimes, hand them a different handout ,where they are asked to write a different ending to the book story and maybe draw a picture which has to do with it!

I sometimes, hand them a different handout ,where they are asked to write a different ending to the book story and maybe draw a picture which has to do with it!

a)I ask my  headmaster to allocate some money for the program. I am  prepared to present budget and the organization of the programme (lending
books, time devoted to ER etc.)
b) I  ask each student to contribute money for one book. This is a good start
but more titles have to be added later therefore, I usually ask my students at the beginning of each year to offer at least one second-hand english book to our library!
c) I  also appeal to local donors (individuals, firms, organizations)
d)I gain money from grants – school bazaars
e)I  contribute books from my personal library or ask my
colleagues to lend books

“Libraries should be the beating heart of the school, not mausoleums for dusty books.”
Stephanie Harvey

Extensive reading (ER) is obviously  crucial  when it comes to EFL but….why don’t teachers use ER more often?

A good question. When I ask such a question to fellow  teachers worldwide, the answers come  down to these:

a) Insufficient time.

b) Too costly.

c) Reading materials not available.

d) ER not linked to the syllabus and the examination.

e) Lack of understanding of ER and its benefits.

f) Downward pressure on teachers to conform to syllabi and textbooks.

g) Resistance from teachers, who find it impossible to stop teaching and to allow learning to take place.

Everything depends on how teachers feel about extensive reading. Unless the teachers are of the view that extensive reading is beneficial in promoting English language development among their students, they are not likely to exert their efforts to make the program a success.

I am not saying here that, ALL my students are eager to read extensively! What I am saying is that, I give them the CHANCE to take up this reading habit! I motivate them, I award them for their efforts, I offer them a free choice of books!

 

School Readers, in essence and origin, are an attempt to make it possible for children to learn something without teachers, or without competent teachers; and they tend to create the conditions they presuppose. Thus, if I were a teacher teaching some subject by means of a School Reader, I should be under a constant temptation to say,‘Get out your reading books’; and the end of it would be that the children would know only the book and not the subject.” Fr. Drinkwater

The biggest change has been in the children's confidence and willingness to read, which they have carried back into the classroom.

The biggest change has been in the children’s confidence and willingness to read, which they have carried back into the classroom.

I am passionate about getting children excited about books when they’re as young as possible, at a time when books and stories seem magical to them and their imaginations are expanding and they are forming language skills. I am staggered when people don’t see how important that is.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Our school english bookcase/library

  1. Setting up an english library is quite challenging and you seem to have made it big time!!! 400 english readers … WOW! I can’t agree more on the benefits that you present and I’ll try to use some of your ideas and see how it goes! Thanks for another inspiring and informative post!

    Like

Leave a Reply - Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s