Thursday, November 29, 2012

Eliterate Librarian: The Librarian's Role in Overcoming Poverty

Eliterate Librarian: The Librarian's Role in Overcoming Poverty: Job loss, recession, foreclosures, and poverty are highlighted in the news every night. The number of American children living in poverty no...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Research Process Marches On

Throughout this month, I have continued to seek journal articles and books related to my research topic.  My favorite sources have been books such as the previously mentioned Readicide and The Book Whisperer.  To this esteemed list, I must add Stephen Krashen's The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research (2005).  (Referenced in my October 1 post).  Krashen's work is valuable to my project precisely because he is using research to back up the importance of reading.  This title and the comprehensive references and bibliography are pointing me to resources directly related to my topic.  Thank you Stephen Krashen!

The focus of my research project is shifting slightly from evaluating reading programs to identifying the specific elements that lead one student to become an avid reader while other students do not like to read at all.  Schools direct so much time, attention, and direct instruction to teaching reading.  Yet, they are failing to inspire a love of reading in today's students.  While I realize that home environment plays a large role in creating avid readers, schools cannot use the absence of parental reading role models as an excuse for churning out non-readers.  We have to show students that reading is enjoyable, pleasurable, and a ready source of entertainment.  Reading instruction is so important, but at some point we have to turn students loose to discover their favorite books and authors.  Providing a wide range of reading material that is of interest to students, allowing free choice of materials, and providing a time and place for students to read are essential. 

I was initially leaning towards a large-scale study that would follow two groups of students through several years of grade school as a means to measure and analyze the students development and achievement in regards to reading.  From the study results, I hoped to be able to focus attention on what does and does not work in encouraging students to love reading.  This type of study is feasible for a large research facility, but is somewhat unrealistic for a lone researcher to undertake.  As an alternative, Dr. Solomon suggested using case studies.  To find subjects for my case study, I plan to conduct reading interest surveys to groups of 2nd and 6th graders.  I will use the survey results to identify two types of students in each grade level:  avid readers and non-readers.  The initial survey will help narrow down a large group of students and identify potential case study participants.  Once I identify enough subjects in each category and grade level, I would then proceed with much more  detailed surveys, observations of each child, and subject interviews.  The idea is to use the case studies to identify certain patterns or commonalities that could possibly be important in the developments of both readers and non-readers.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Worlds Colliding

Increasingly this semester, my graduate coursework is beginning to overlap in terms of subject matter and relevance.  This week the lecture and readings for SLIS 742 are all focused on the school librarian's role in promoting reading and "alternatives to readicide" which is, of course, the subject of my research for 705 and the main topic of this blog.  I feel like this is an episode of Seinfeld, except, unlike George, I welcome the collision of "worlds" and am excited to learn of more resources, research, and reading leaders that can guide me on my path.

I came away from the lecture and readings more convinced than ever that school librarians must be advocates for students and do all we can to help each reader find "their" book.  School librarians must speak out and promote positive reading programs and practices rather than watch silently while students' personal reading preferences are brushed aside.  Silence is a formula for killing the love of reading, not encouraging, fostering, inspiring it.  

Added to my reading list:  The Power of Reading and Free Voluntary Reading both by Stephen Krashen.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Preventing Readicide

As I began searching out relevant books and articles related to promoting reading and reading programs, I kept coming across references to Kelly Gallagher's book, Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It.  Gallagher is a high school English teacher as well as an author and literacy expert.  Readicide is "the systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools."  This definition is provocative, but, unfortunately, it is true for many schools.  I was excited to get a copy of Readicide through my public library ILL program and have already started reading it.  This book would be of interest to teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone else interested in promoting a lifelong love of reading. From what I have read so far, once U.S. students are hitting 7th grade, their time spent reading for pleasure drops precipitously.  Gallagher provides some solutions that might help stem this "reading crisis" and encourage continued literacy at all ages.


Kelly Gallagher's website

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to create readers?

As the semester continues, I am working on altering my initial ideas for a research proposal.  In my last post I referred to a possible study on the "impact of restricting students' reading choices on their reading skills and future reading for pleasure".  While I still feel this is an important topic that calls for research, evaluation, and action (!), I believe that this statement reflects my own preconceived notions about school reading programs.  Perhaps, I need to study what "works" instead of just focusing on what is wrong.  This approach raises a number of questions I would love to explore:

  • How are readers created?  
  • What influences some children to love reading while others loathe it?  
  • Is it solely based on ability?  
  • How important is the home environment at influencing reading?  
  • What can schools and school libraries do to overcome deficits in terms of early exposure to books and literacy?
  • How can librarians best provide materials of interest to students with varied backgrounds and reading abilities?
For the moment, I will focus on seeking out literature related to best practices for cultivating lifelong readers.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Do books whisper to you?

This blog will serve as my Research Journal for SLIS J705 - Introduction to Research in Library and Information Science.  In the interest of space, and in keeping with the library field's love of acronyms and abbreviations, I will refer to the course as 705.  Dr. Solomon has asked us to develop a research proposal.  My initial thought is to focus on the impact of restricting students' reading choices on their reading skills and future reading for pleasure.  I will freely admit that I am influenced by Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer.  Miller's Book Whisperer blog can be found at the Education Week website.