Now That’s What I… by Jen Chesney, Tamara Cox, Monique German, & Kristen Hearne

Music fans who want to listen to the latest, greatest hits can pick up the music compilation series, “NOW That’s What I Call Music! Vol. Whatevs.” Pop, hip-hop, rock, dance – it’s all there. So what are some ways we, as school librarians, can craftily put together a similar package for teachers featuring the latest, greatest books from various genres? This was the inspiration for one of our recent book promotion ideas.

“You’ve got to read this book!”  Isn’t that how many of us start conversations with our teachers about the latest mind-bending or soul-altering book we have read?  Some respond with an enthusiastic, “Great!  Hand it over.”  Others tell us they just “don’t have time to read.”  It is sad to say, but we all know that there are teachers that don’t read.  This is a problem. “Teachers who do not read are choosing to be less effective with their students than teachers who do.” Donalyn Miller, SC Assoc. of School Librarians presentation, March 2012 (emphasis added).

As librarians we have made it our mission to promote reading and that includes promotion to our teachers. A teacher that reads and keeps up with trends in books will be able to pass that enthusiasm on to her students. There are several ways we have tried to address this need in our district.

One way we’re reaching out to teachers is to offer district wide professional development sessions devoted to book talks and discussing need-to-know titles and trends. We see our role in the book sessions as a way to “bless” books.  Teachers’ days are full, their classrooms are full, their duties are extensive, and if they only have a few minutes a day to read, they need someone to direct them to the good stuff.  School librarians cut through a mountain of new titles using reviews, blog posts, and our own professional learning network to find the titles that will grab their students regardless of diverse reading levels or genre preferences.  If through our book talks, reviews, colorful posters, jokes, and book lists we can also light a teacher’s reading fire, that’s even better!

Something else we’re doing that you might consider is sponsoring a faculty or district-wide book club for your level (elementary, middle, high) to encourage teachers to read at least one current book a monthor nine weeks – whichever time frame is most realistic for your group. Hey, if we can get teachers to read as many as 4-9 new books a year, that’s better than zero! Books that we’ve used include Wonder by RJ Palacio, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. You can find books to correspond with service projects, professional development priorities, award winners or something just for fun.

Invite your faculty to take part in online reading communities like the Nerdy Book Club, #titletalk Twitter chats, #bookaday, or #summerthrowdown challenge. Create a group on Goodreads so you can share reviews and recommendations. Print signs so staff can post their current read on the classroom door.Techniques that create a classroom reading culture can also be applied to faculty and staff.

We created promotional materials to correspond with our back-to-school book sessions. Just as the “NOW” music series will occasionally break out and focus on a specific genre of music, such as “NOW That’s What I Call Country!” and “NOW That’s What I Call 80s Music!”, we did the same with book genres such as historical fiction, superheroes, and romance and created posters for fans of those themes. We’ve done the work for you this year and hope that you will take these materials to share books with your faculty!

Link for Middle School Book Posters

Link for High School Book Posters

Now, let’s hear from some of you…how do you promote reading to your faculty?

We are librarians in Anderson District One in South Carolina. Follow us online for more reading ideas.

Jen Chesney: @thejenchesney

Tamara Cox: @coxtl

Monique German: @bibliogerman

Kristen Hearne: @KHearne