- We're finishing up our third year at Hopewell and I am filled with joy as I think back on what has occurred in the library this year. So many exciting opportunities for all of us - students and staff - to truly embrace the philosophy that we are a 'A Culture of Readers'. Earlier in the year, 5th and 6th grade students started using that phrase in anticipation of our March author visit with Mac Barnett. We wanted to not only dig deep into his work, but to also begin a grass roots effort to look for ways to bring reading to the forefront for all of us at Hopewell.
Students created original movies and stories to promote Mac Barnett. They started an Edmodo group and made a web page to educate others about his books. Students in grade six posted sticky notes on their lockers to tell what books they were currently reading. It just kept rolling from there.
Our ICCA team of Morgan, Quinn and Miranda won the Pleasant Valley school district ICCA championship and the regional battle at the Bettendorf Public Library. While I am extremely proud of them, I am thrilled to say we had 28 teams of students who were reading from the same list and discussing the books. Last week, Miranda and I were talking about the 2014-2015 list of ICCA titles. She reminded me that the conversations about the stories are the important part. Am I a total fan of all of next year's books? No. But, hearing students discuss the reasons why a book strikes a chord with them, or not, is a gift.
Speaking of gifts…we had several generous gifts this year, thanks to our Hopewell PTA. First of all, Mac Barnett's author visit was absolutely outstanding. His message, his enthusiasm, his wit and humor resonated with all of our students. Students will be talking about him for many years to come. Secondly, our PTA, the 6th grade class and Mr. Brad Treiber, built a beautiful outdoor classroom right off of the library. It is gorgeous. Our students use it frequently and it, too, adds to the message that Hopewell is 'A Culture of Readers'.
I must also thank the authors who supported students this year with their Skype calls. Marsha Hayles (Breathing Room) Gil Lewis ( One White Dolphin), Stuart Gibbs (Spy Camp, Belly Up,), Janet Tashjian ( My Life as a Book), and Delia Ray (Here Lies Linc). Also, thank you to the authors who respond to our tweets when we've had a morning book discussion group meeting, or we absolutely fall in love with your stories - Barbara O'Connor, Bridget Heos, Cynthia Lord, Deborah Wiles, Linda Sue Park, Grace Lin, Deborah Wiles…. YOUR response takes the reading experience to a more personal level. The book then becomes more than just printed words on a page, but also a story that began in the mind of a real person. A story that continues to live and breathe within our 'Culture of Readers.'
Being 'A Culture of Readers' involves not just programming, or scheduled library classes, or a research project, but having a mindset that when we read, we empower ourselves with information. When we read, we connect with conversations, empathy, and understanding. When we read, our perspective is richer and we begin to relate to those around the world. When we read, we embrace imagination, creativity and ingenuity.
Before we head off for summer, I want to close with a heartfelt thank you to Stephanie Judkins, Hopewell's principal. Mrs. Judkins will be moving to a new position in the district. It was Mrs. Judkins who had a vision for the Hopewell Library and helped get our beautiful 'Culture of Readers' off the ground. Thank you for entrusting me with your vision and supporting reading in so many powerful ways.