Literacy Matters

Literacy Matters

When thinking about creating a classroom or school culture that will last all year long, one of the biggest things that comes to my mind is the importance of literacy. YES, literacy MATTERS when it comes to building culture. Books help us feel less alone, they remind us of who we are, they help us see glimpses into the experiences of others, and so much more.

The fact of the matter is that we are ALL literacy teachers and literacy is the foundation of everything that we do at our schools. So this work is incredibly important.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas to incorporate literacy all year long…

Book Shelves

I believe books should always be accessible. No matter where you are. When we show that books are available outside just our ELAR classrooms and the library we begin to send the message that reading can take place anywhere.

Where did we put bookshelves?

  • in EVERY classroom
  • in the cafeteria
  • in the gym
  • on the bus ramp
  • in the front foyer
  • in every hallway

And when we did this, teachers (and our librarian) said that they were concerned about books getting destroyed or stolen. And I always remember what Donalyn Miller says, “I’d rather lose a book than lose a reader”.

I dive into this deeper in my new online self-paced course HERE.

Front Foyer

The message we’re sending (even subconsciously) about our school takes place the moment families walk through our front doors.

If you’re thinking, “well I’m a teacher I have no say in that space”, you’re wrong!! You can always bring new ideas to your admin team!

It was important to me that our front foyer was welcoming with all types of comfy furniture but ALSO that it included access to tons of books. And we even encouraged families to take a book home with them if they fell in love with it while they were waiting and bring it back on their next visit! Right away it showed what we were about.

I dive into this deeper in my new online self-paced course HERE.

Daily Announcements

Every school I’ve ever been to does some sort of daily announcements. One component we added to ours was daily book talks. These started with me (the principal) doing them. I then started getting different staff members to do them (yes I included ALL staff; cafeteria workers, custodians, nurse, librarian, secretary, etc). I wanted our kids to see that everyone was a reader.

Book talks are simple and can be as short as 20-30 seconds! I also always had a few copies of the book available after my book talk. For some reason when the principal (or other staff) does a book talk, kids just want the book even more!

Eventually we moved to students doing book talks on the daily announcements and it was a powerful moment to show that people of all ages can fall in love with and share about books.

I dive into this deeper in my new online self-paced course HERE.

Book Talks (at least 3 times a week)

I believe book talks should be taking place in EVERY classroom at least 3 times a week. These are such an easy way to let kids know about new books. For some students they may have to hear over 50 booktalks before they find one that interests them.

But many adults are terrified of book talks or don’t even know where to start. I love that Scholastic created this great FREE resource that you can access HERE.

After you book talk leave the books up on the front board so they can be seen all day and picked up in quiet moments for kids to look into more!

I dive into this deeper in my new online self-paced course HERE.

What Am I Reading?

I love the power of subliminal messaging. On my campus we wanted to continually send the message that we are all readers. So outside every door we had little signs made that said “What Am I Reading?” where they staff member could put the cover of the book (or even just write the title with a dry erase marker).

That way when students (or adults) were walking down the hall, their eyes were flooded with book after book idea.

Yes, even our custodian, PE Teacher, instructional aides, counselors, EVERYONE did this!

I dive into this deeper (and share the pre-made templates) in my new online self-paced course HERE.

Little Free Libraries

I love LFL! They are a nationally based idea! Read more HERE.

We had boy and girl scouts build them for us. We then placed them all over the community so people could have access to books anywhere. The idea being “take a book, leave a book”.

When we eliminate the boundary of having no access to books we eliminate another excuse on why people aren’t reading!

I dive into this deeper in my new online self-paced course HERE.

In Closing…

There are so many more ideas on ways to build a love literacy. In fact, in my book Sparks in the Dark, my co-author Travis and I share ideas for elementary, secondary, adults, and campus wide! So check it out!

Literacy is the foundation of all we do. It can’t go understated.

The ideas listed above are just a few ideas to get you started.

You can also hear more ideas in my new online self-paced course HERE.

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