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Book Access: How It Started

Image Credit: @kathryniveyy (Twitter)

Chances are good you've seen some of the "How it started, How it's going now" photos circulating social media. Some of the images show inspiring progress and others portray the toll the pandemic is taking on people. The image above reminded me of the hard work and sacrifice so many people are making.

No doubt, literacy leaders have stories and examples of how our views and understanding have changed over time. I thought I'd share one such example. (You can go ahead and call this my nerdy and reflective version of "How it started...")

Several years ago, our school invested in additional books celebrating the same strengths, backgrounds, and diversity present in our students and school community. We even planned professional learning experiences for staff that created a space for us to talk about the purpose and value of diverse books. Eventually, the titles made their way to our Media Center where they became part of our circulation.

Some of the books were checked out and others weren't (which is totally okay). However, it took me several years to recognize the difference between making books available and celebrating them. When we actually talk about the books we love with readers, share why a book touched us, and why we think a reader might enjoy it too we create connection.

Our school recently added a pop-up Inclusion Library (below) to our new Media Commons space, and the decision to do so was intentional.

Celebrating books through book-talking, creating displays that teach, and other culture-building practices moves "book access" beyond a theoretical construct. It creates connection. And connection builds upon the tangible aspect of book access by starting to eliminate all kinds of barriers (seen and unseen).

All of this has me thinking, it might be less important worrying about "How it started" and more important to ask, "How will we get even better for kids as a result of what we're learning together?"

Special thanks to Special Olympics Minnesota for the idea to start an Inclusion Library and for all the parents and educators who model what it means to live unified.

If this blog post resonated, you might like my newest book, Reclaiming Our Calling: Hold on to the Heart, Mind, and Hope of Education. The book tackles a tension many educators are feeling using a combination of stories and practical strategies. If you’re interested in technology integration, Renegade Leadership: Creating Innovative Schools for Digital-Age Students is a best-seller with Corwin Press. Both books are built on the belief that everything we do in education starts with relationships and connectedness.




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