Thursday mornings are “Parent Mornings” at BNS, and this past Thursday, our Parents as Learning Partners topic was a special one: Library Love. Usually, we meet in the Art Room for our gatherings, but this event took place in room 401, the BNS/BCS Library.
As we entered the space, our library team (Amanda, Susan, and Karen – ASK) allowed for a slow, welcoming settling in time, to soak in the space. They asked us to think about two questions: “What do you notice? What do you think your children notice?”
When families in attendance reflected, they called the library, “a staggeringly special place.” Other reflections included, “The energy, the color here is really special. I walk in and I want to look at everything.” “I notice the diversity, the representation of authors and covers,” and “It’s a real library!”
Susan explained that many of the libraries in schools around the city aren’t staffed with librarians, and that’s something really special about our library. The library at 610 Henry Street is not just an elementary library or a secondary school library – we have kids of all heights and ages coming in at all times of the day. There are other spaces in our building that are shared, but none that are shared simultaneously like the library.
Access to books is very important in the life of children. For many of them, the school library is a place they visit often. The library team is trying to get kids upstairs as often as possible. The tricks include getting families to come in to support the work, and maintaining a schedule where each class has a time to come up to the library at least once per week.
There is curriculum happening during those library times — social emotional topics in the early grades: the topics of stories shared are fun and inviting, as Susan and Karen are supporting little ones getting used to being in the space on the 4th floor. When Karen leads them up with a song, they have a fun time – it’s almost like a field trip for Pre-K.
In the older BNS grades, the focus is on Picture Book Biographies, a Social Justice curriculum, looking at universal rights and responsibilities around the world. By fifth grade, students are pushed to consider perspective: Who’s telling the story? Whose story isn’t being told?
The library team talked about using Rudine Sims Bishop’s vision of books as windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors: windows into lives that aren’t like ours, mirrors to reflect back experiences we can relate to, and sliding glass doors that allow us to step into another reality. The more kids use the library, the more they find those things that are of interest to them, resulting in an opening up of their viewpoints.
After School Open Library has now begun. On Tuesdays from 2:30 – 3:20, families are invited to the BNS/BCS library. This is a chance for you or your children’s caregivers to come up to enjoy the collection and this magical space.
There is always a call for volunteers to support the library. Access is so important – figuring out ways to keep the library open all day long is essential, and Amanda, Susan, and Karen are doing lots of hard work to make sure their doors are always open. They feel fortunate to have the support to keep the library staffed, but there is always work to be done: preparing new books for the shelves, re-shelving returns, and supporting children with finding books. Families are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to volunteer, or just drop in!
We hope to see you in room 401 soon!
Until then, check out the BNS BCS Library Website:
All for now,
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