An Irving ISD high school librarian was on the intiatial book selection committee. The high schools then provided an avenue for distribution of books to students and teachers. The second year I was delighted when Jan Bodnar asked for our involvement again. I was delighted when The House on Mango Street was selected. When she told me Sandra Cisneros would be coming to town, I just had to ask if there was anyway she’d speak to high school students. To our delight she agreed to one presentation. We brought in students from all our high schools to hear her speak.
Ms. Cisnernos was a delight. Our school community is about 70% Hispanic. The connection between audience and author was tremendous. Teachers were enthusiastic because it connected with their curriculum. Several students were on cloud nine talking with her afterwards. What a great way to encourage reading and writing. Take advantage of the spontaneous events that happen along the way!
With the third community read, we again worked through curriculum. The Maltese Falcon while engaging was limiting in scope and appeal. A teen online chain story was tried with mild success. The summer before we enlisted summer school students in English III students to read the Big Read book—The Maltese Falcon--ahead of time. They then did character analyses in an interview format. These were then produced into a short video spot that was used in promotion later that fall. Let’s take a look at what they had to say. It was filmed by amateurs who gave input to the video producer for our district.
The past year the school and public library jointly selected focusing on Edgar Allen Poe. That joint decision greatly impacted our planning and probably success. We brought in guest speakers for the community. Bill Fountain, a poe enthusiast who’s a teacher, worked well visiing schools. He did dramatic readings of “The Raven” for the three different lunch periods at one of the high schools. The space was packed each time.
Mr. Fountain even involved the middle school age. Again we worked that curriculum connection with short stories and poems that are such American Literature standards.
The Big Read author focus gives a theme to an open mic for student and teachers to share or experience literature together. We did have a small crowd but not everything will be a stellar event. Our adult book club at the administration building was a totally flop. While no deep analysis as to what happened was done, I suspect that because we tried the online venue for reading selections, the older adult was a bit uncertain or uncomfortable.
Sharing short stories with a a dramatic flair give the librarians the opportunity to connect with English classes tapping into the curriculum with Poe’s short stories.
The central focus on a particular book or author gives the opportunity for book clubs to join in the event. Most of our high schools organized a book club around each of our author’s. We even had one at the administration building for the staff there. One of the high school clubs even used Shelfari as their discussion platform.
The public library sponsored a Poe-ster contest for teens. We worked through the art department of the school district. The number of entries filled the gallery with some notable interpretations of Poe’s literary works. Winners came from several school. One of the ESL teachers made a point of letting me know how wonderful that it was that her students could relate to this avenue of expression.
Family Literacy Nights have become the thing at elementary and middle schools. Last fall Bowie Middle School organized their whole event around the Poe theme. They wrote poetry, had a Poe-ster contest, fished for bookmarks, read poems, and basically enjoy an evening centered on literature.
Have you noticed how much I’ve stress the curriculum—that’s the secret to obtaining the teachers buy in or securing the local schools buy in. The possibilities of teaming together make a wonderful win win for the community and both library programs. I’m looking forward to future plans whether with grant or local budgeting. Plans for The Call of Wild are shaping up…
Big Read In Irving Isd
Partnering with the Irving Public Library for The Big Read Lea Bailey, Ph.D. Irving Independent School District April 2010