Teacher librarians are essential in creating a safe, engaging school environment for students. They provide academic support for students and assist them in reaching their goals for personal development. Teacher librarians also collaborate with classroom teachers to develop curriculum, particularly for one of the most important topics in education today: building a library full of diverse books.
“Schools need school librarians.” – Suzanne, teacher librarian
To learn more about the important role school librarians play, particularly in creating diverse libraries, AdoptAClassroom.org sat down with Suzanne, a teacher librarian who was awarded a $1,000 Racial Equity in Schools Grant from AdoptAClassroom.org.
Whether you’re a teacher librarian looking to diversify your school’s bookshelves or a classroom teacher evaluating your classroom library, Suzanne’s advice can help you think critically about your next steps. To sign up for tips from teachers or funding opportunities, register your classroom here.
Teacher librarian tips to create an inclusive library
1. Evaluate Your Books
Suzanne said that many high school students enter her library and tell her that the last book they read was in elementary school.
In many cases, students aren’t reading because there aren’t books on the shelves that are interesting to them.
“If our goal is to have our students become engaged readers who are excited about reading, then we need to have them read things that they’re interested in, that they connect with, and that they see themselves reflected in,” Suzanne said.
2. Use Innovative Ways to Find Engaging Books
Want to get books your students will read? Sometimes that means finding books where your students come across them, through social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
“An interesting way that students have been coming in contact with non-traditional publishing voices is through Instagram. I’ve seen the popularity of Instagram poetry grow the last few years,” said Suzanne. In response to the popularity of Instagram poetry among her students, Suzanne ordered a printed collection of Instagram poetry for her library.
Comic publishing site WebToon is also enormously popular with high school students. Many of the comics are getting published as print books. Suzanne said her school read one of the popular comics, “Lore Olympus,”during their summer reading program.
TikTok has a community of individuals talking about books, referred to as “BookTok.” Suzanne says that BookTok is a major source of inspiration for her high school students to become readers.
3. Diversify Your Options
Often, classroom teachers ask teacher librarians like Suzanne for a more diverse book that can replace a single book in the curriculum.
“It’s not just replacing one text, but about getting students to read all different kinds of texts over their childhood,” said Suzanne.
Instead of thinking in terms of a one-for-one exchange, make sure you approach gathering diverse books with an abundance mindset. There are plenty of books and plenty of stories that you can share with your students. Giving students options so they can find texts that they connect with can help them become lifelong readers.
According to Suzanne, “just like classroom teachers, teacher librarians end up spending our own money too.”
We know that building a diverse library requires a lot of books and that the costs can accumulate quickly. If you’re a teacher librarian who needs support to transform your school or classroom library, you can register on AdoptAClassroom.org to fundraise for school supplies, apply for grants, and be eligible for funding from our sponsors.
Donations you receive on AdoptAClassroom.org can be used to purchase anything your classroom or library needs, whether it’s books, technology, flexible seating, or basic school supplies.