Decisions, Decisions

Early this morning, when I should have been getting ready for work, Jennifer Reed’s Slice of Life post beckoned. As is often the case, she arrived at the revelation party a few steps ahead of me. (Must be because she has more spring in her step than I.)

The topic of her post this week was “choices and decisions”. She segued easily from a personal reflection about her own life choices, big and small, to observations of her students trying to make choices about what books to borrow. As you can see in the reply I hastily posted to her blog, this same subject matter has been on my mind lately.

Okay, you really have to get out of my head, Jennifer!!

You so often seem to be writing about just what I am thinking. This morning’s thoughts were to choose two books for each child in a certain class, have them browse/peruse and then write a few sentences about why they would pick one over the other. (And then, of course, hope they would actually borrow the book.) Narrowing the choices! Can’t do this for all classes (don’t have time to make that many thoughtful choices), but going to experiment with one to start. I’ll keep you posted.

You see, I too experience the frustration of that frenzied browsing and borrowing time at the end of library period. Twenty children, ten minutes, one librarian.

“Mrs. Kellner, where are the origami books?”

“Mrs. Kellner, remember that book that Johnny borrowed two weeks ago? The one with the hot air balloon on the cover?”

“Mrs. Kellner, when is it going to be my turn to borrow Battle Bunny?” (The library has three copies, by the way).

“Mrs. Kellner, I want a book with a sparkly tiara in it.”

Important questions, all. But, while I am assisting these children, the ones who are having a hard time with choices and decisions fall by the wayside. They leave without a book, hastily grab the closest book at hand or linger as the next class walks in the door. Not an optimal situation at all.

So what’s a teacher-librarian to do?

Here are some choices I have made or plan to make in the near future:

  • Gather up all the superhero books (whether DC comic, folktale, or the amusing contemporary picture books like Superhero School by Aaron Reynolds or Max by Bob Graham) and put them together in one bin
  • Curate an ever-changing and easy-to-find collection of pretty, pretty princess books
  • Use signage, special displays and stickers (as Jennifer noted in her post)
  • Create “If you like…” bookmarks 
  • Try not to answer every “Where are?” or “Do we have?” question. The older students have the skill set to work this out on their own. I’ll just give them a gentle (figurative) shove in the right direction
  • Have a “Backwards Day” where we borrow first, before the lesson
  • Invite the children who struggle the hardest to come back when I can devote time just to them

What choices have you made to insure your collection is browsing friendly and accessible and to ease the decision-making process for your students?

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2 Comments on “Decisions, Decisions”

  1. I love this! I was thinking bookmarks and flipping the lesson as well. #greatminds


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