Tagged: san francisco public library

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A teacher’s book recommendation, plus a trip to the library, leads Gonzalo to a book he loves

my bloody life

favicon Many of us don’t entirely understand the power that teachers have to encourage young people to become engaged readers.

Gonzalo is a ninth grader at City Arts & Technology High School in San Francisco. Gonzalo’s ninth grade English teacher, Brittany Pratt, and his Reading Lab teacher, Marni Spitz, have built a strong culture in their classes to promote independent reading.

Yesterday, Gonzalo and his peers visited The Mix at the San Francisco Public Library and had time to check out books for the summer. To prepare for the field trip, Ms. Pratt arranged with SFPL to ensure that all students had library cards. In addition, earlier in the week, Ms. Spitz recommended several books to Gonzalo.

It looks like the library visit went well. This morning (yes, a Saturday morning), Ms. Spitz received this enthusiastic email from Gonzalo:

Hey Ms.Spitz thanks for the recommendation of the book “My bloody life” I absolutely love this book it’s so amazing and intresting I already read 50 pages in the span of an hour and that’s the most I’ve read in a day my whole life so excited to read more and possibly finish the book before I we go back to school Monday and share all about the book with you thank you again love this book so much!!!!

My experience says that it takes just three or four books (ideally in a short period of time) to change forever a student’s interest in reading.

This seems fairly easy — but it’s not, at all. For this transformation to occur, three crucial ingredients need to be in place: (1) Access to a ton of good books; (2) Teachers who have read widely and know how to recommend the right books to the right students; (3) Students who trust those teachers, who let them in, and who take a risk to follow through on their teacher’s recommendation that reading is for them.

Great work, Gonzalo, Ms. Pratt, and Ms. Spitz! favicon

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Recommended Reading: “In San Jose, Poor Find Doors to Library Closed”

favicon Most of the white, college-educated, middle-class, similarly-aged people I know have warm memories of their local public library when they were kids. These memories usually involve walking or biking to the library, checking out tons of books, and getting an ice cream cone on the way home. For many Americans, the public library is a personal sanctuary, a haven for knowledge, and a treasure of our democracy.

Not everyone, however, shares those sentiments. When I taught in San Francisco, my students told me over and over again that they had a more complicated relationship with their local public library. It didn’t feel comfortable or welcoming. I asked them why they felt that way, and the No. 1 answer was, They were afraid of library fines.

In a recent New York Times piece, reporter Carol Pogash assails the San Jose Public Library’s policies regarding late fees, lost materials, and checkout privileges. The library faces $6.8 million in unpaid fines. Its late fee is 50 cents per day per item. It prohibits checking out additional materials if people owe more than $10. And it uses a collection agency to recoup debts in excess of $50.

In “In San Jose, Poor Find Doors to Library Closed,” Ms. Pogash does not pull punches. She interviews young people who say their moms don’t allow them to check out books. One mom tells her daughter, “Don’t take books out. It’s so expensive.”

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The article goes on to explore how the San Jose Public Library is not alone in its aggressive policies. For example, Texas allows its libraries to take delinquent patrons to court. Though I understand that libraries face tough challenges, particularly when a majority of people do not return books on time, current practice does not seem to be the right way to go.

Obviously, I do have bias because of my interest in the Kindle Classroom Project. Just to be clear, I love public libraries, especially the San Francisco Public Library and the Oakland Public Library. Libraries need to exist, and they do good things. Still, one thing I’ve learned since founding the KCP is how important it is to decrease barriers to reading. (Books are best in young people’s hands.) Rather than keeping track of tons of books each year, students check out and return just two items: their Kindle and their charger. Simple as cake. (Loss and breakage to Kindles is just 3.1%.)

Excerpt
“SAN JOSE, Calif. — When Damaris Triana, then 8, lost several “Little Critter” books that she had borrowed for her sister, the library here fined her $101 — including $40 in processing fees — a bill that was eventually turned over to an agency to collect from her parents.”

Source: http://j.mp/1qkXjdO (via Pocket). You can also find this article in next week’s Iserotope Extras, a weekly email newsletter that includes my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. Feel free to subscribe! favicon