It's Elementary!

by Jamie Forrest

Situation – Thanking a librarian January 28, 2011

Filed under: Myself as curriculum maker,Opinion pieces — Jamie @ 7:17 am

This week for my class, we were asked to write of a situation from our early schooling experience.  This came to me immediately:


I am a reader.  I don’t remember a time when I haven’t been a reader.  I don’t remember much from before I started Kindergarten, but I do remember going to the public library and coming home with BAGS of books to read.  I lived in Southern Alberta at that time.  Halfway through my year in Kindergarten, we moved to Northern Alberta.  I remember going to my new school and being just enthralled with my new school library.  I was so excited at the prospect of all these “new” books I could read.


As I moved into First grade, I had moved on from picture books and couldn’t get enough beginning chapter books.  My teacher recognized both my interest AND the fact that I was quite capable of reading them.  By Second grade, I had moved on from beginning chapter books to full-fledged chapter books.  However, I had also moved on to a teacher who didn’t (wouldn’t) believe that I could read them.  I remember that when our class went to the library, my teacher would not let any of the students venture outside the “Easy” section of the library.  I was absolutely devastated.  I would cry every time we went to the library.  The librarian just sat, seemingly helpless, watching this situation.  Now, as a teacher, I can see that she likely didn’t want to challenge this teacher while the students were around, but she was obviously scheming…


Finally, after watching this situation for a couple of months, I guess my librarian couldn’t handle it anymore.  She finally asked me to be a “library helper” during the morning recess each day.  I was ecstatic to help!  If I couldn’t take out the books I wanted, at least I could look at them, hold them, smell them…  (book lovers will get that)  However, when I got there, I learned that not only would I be able to help, but the “payment” for helping was that I would be able to sign out whatever books I wished during my working time.

Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of this librarian.  I moved away from that school at the end of fifth grade, but that situation has affected me for life.  Thank you to all the librarians (and teachers) who work tirelessly to get (the right) books into the hands of the students they work with.



9 Responses to “Situation – Thanking a librarian”

  1. As a Teacher Librarian, this is one of my biggest pet peeves. I can’t believe it when I see some teachers today still not allow their students free choice in the Library. I agree that the Librarian that you knew in elementary school likely didn’t want to challenge your teacher in front of her students. Engaging students in reading is a fine art. Reading non-fiction or “big people novels” (if appropriate) should be allowed and encourage in order to engage all students in reading. Some books considered “Easy” aren’t actually that easy. I would much rather see a student explore a new concept or read about something of interest. The thing is, they are reading. Isn’t that the whole point of going to the library?

    • Jamie Says:

      I agree with you! Especially about “Easy” books not actually being easy! However, you would actually need to read them to figure that out. Since our students have lost access to our librarian, the classroom teachers have had to fill that role. Some of them do not read. It is very difficult for them to suggest and encourage reading when they don’t read themselves. I have to admit that although I am a reader, it wasn’t until about a year ago when I read Donalyn Miller’s book: The Book Whisperer and I started connecting with my “bookies” on Twitter that I realized how important it was that I be reading the books that my students are reading as well.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  2. Yvonne Denomy Says:

    Thank you for sharing such a powerful memory. Your story serves as a reminder of both the power of free choice in reading, and the impact that we make on our students.

    Your post reminded me of a wonderful article by author, Gary Paulsen, who tells his personal life story of how a library changed his life. I think you will like it!

    Paulsen, G.. (2007). The Gift of Words. Writing, 30(3), 22-23. Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals. (Document ID: 1374234601).

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joyce Valenza and Somers Library, Jamie F. Jamie F said: New blog post: Situation – Thanking a librarian: #edchat #elemchat #kidlit #bookaday #tlchat #libraries […]

  4. Megan Graff Says:

    What a touching story! (and what an annoying teacher.) As a teacher-librarian, I hear quite a few teachers setting limits on what their students are allowed to check out and I don’t contradict them but I keep the library open at lunch hour and I let the students read (and check out) whatever they want.
    At my school, we tell the students that E stands for everyone because everyone likes picture books and they aren’t all easy.

  5. […] Situation – Thanking a librarian ” It’s Elementary! ( […]

  6. […] to a back injury.  The second story I shared was about a teacher that had a big impact on me.  The third story was about a teacher librarian that did something wonderful for me.  The fourth story was about […]

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