Henry and booksThose of us in public libraries need to talk the language of teachers and school librarians. We need to be paying attention to what’s happening with kids in the schools, and we need to be checking in with school folks regularly. It may not seem fair – they don’t need to check in on us at all, but hey, they have the kids most of the day and tell the kids what to do.

Evidently there was a program about public library/school communication at the PLA Conference in Minneapolis, as Angela Reynolds reports in a posting on the ALSC Blog. The (nameless) presenter said (and I agree) that we should talk to the school folks whenever we can – in particular to reading coordinators and reading specialists who can help us massage our own programming and PR in ways that make them more comfortable to the kids and parents we serve. She met with her local reading coordinator and now says:

As a result of my 90-minute meeting, I’ve already made changes. I’ve tweaked some of the wording on our Summer Reading booklet to reflect the terms that teachers are using at the schools. For example—they encourage kids to find books that are “just right” for them—meaning they can read them without too much struggle, but are also encountering new words or ideas. I’ve included this sentence on my SRP booklet: “Have fun, and read lots of books that are just right for you!”. The school also encourages reading aloud—parent to child, child to parent, etc. So I’ve included that on the SRP booklet as well—“Audio books and reading aloud, or listening to someone read to you, counts as well.”

She also encourages us to label our nonfiction in ways that will help kids who have trouble with Dewey to find what they want. Some school librarians teach kids Dewey, but in lots of elementary school libraries there isn’t a trained school librarian and very little in the way of instructions. Even if the kids (or parents) aren’t asking for help, offer it anyway.