Serving Black Youth — Part One

One of the new books from Libraries Unlimited that we’re particularly excited about is Libraries, Literacy, and African American Youth, edited by Sandra Hughes-Hassell, Pauletta Brown-Bracy, and Casey H. Rawson. This book tackles the issue of making libraries welcoming to Black youth and addressing the needs and desires of this population in the interests of promoting equity and social justice. The text covers key research concepts and provides illustrations of best practices by offering profiles of school (and public) libraries that are working to effect change.

In their introduction, the authors say that rather than a how-to guide, they want their book to “spur dialogue and reflection about how libraries must change” in order to better serve African American youth. In the interests of building on this dialogue, Dr. Hughes-Hassell and Dr. Rawson were gracious enough to answer  some questions for us about their work.

And, stay tuned! Sandra and Casey also created a professional development workshop for SLC on these same issues. Tomorrow we’ll post a sneak peek of the video.

Continue reading “Serving Black Youth — Part One”

Power of Student Voice

School Library Connection is pleased to collaborate with ALA President Julie Todaro and her school library group Task Force to provide access to a selection of key professional development articles aligned with essential professional competencies for school librarians. We’ll be posting at least one article every work day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.

Competency 5: Community of Care and Support for Students

“Power of Student Voice” by Andy Plemmons. School Library Connection, August 2016.

flipgrid peace prize celebration (31)In  this article from the archives, Andy Plemmons shares how he makes sure his students have a voice in the library and beyond.
Subscribers can find more great articles like this here.

 

What does it mean to empower the voices of members of our library community? The library program does not belong to one person, and it is up to us as school librarians to look for ways to empower each voice in our school. By offering a variety of experiences and by taking risks to try new and innovative practices, we are more likely to find opportunities for students who may not have found their voice yet.

Student Voice in the Collection

When students come into the library to search for something to read, they should be able to find themselves and their interests. I, of course, have an obligation to diversify the collection and introduce readers to different perspectives and topics, but readers should also be able to find their own interests and passions. I cannot assume that I know what interests kids. Therefore, I’ve found value in turning the process of developing the collection over to students. Each year, I reserve a portion of our library budget for students. This student book budget project is led by third through fifth graders who are selected by an application process. Basically, if you apply to be in the group and have a genuine interest, you are included.

I offer advice, but the decisions belong to them. Using Google Forms, the book budget team develops a reading interest survey that is emailed to all third through fifth graders. For our younger students, the team individually surveys students in classrooms, at lunch, and at recess. All data populates a Google spreadsheet. Continue reading “Power of Student Voice”