Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for libraries and the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest Library Media Specialist Julie Hembree! We’re celebrating Thanksgiving with a look at giving back through the Books to Africa program.
Welcome back, Julie.
Recap: Julie is the Library Media Specialist at Bell Elementary in Kirkland, Washington, which serves about 340 students.
Lion’s Pride of Program
My greatest point of pride is our Books to Africa program. A year ago, I had the opportunity to meet Angela Maiers and hear her speak passionately about how students can matter and we are all born to make an impact in this world. Then last September I read The Dot by Peter Reynolds and participated in International Dot Day. My students talked about what they could do to make their mark on the world. I shared my dream to send books I had found to some children in Africa who had few reading materials. A group of students said they wanted to help with my dream and our project began.
In addition to fundraising and sending over 1,000 books to four partner schools, each grade level also learned about a different aspect of Africa and created a research e-Book and video linked with an activity with our art teacher. Here’s an example of one of the first grade projects we made. The 4thgraders made an advertising video and entered it into a contest to draw more attention to our project.
One highlight was when we Skyped with some students in South Africa, over 10,000 miles away and the technology worked! The kids loved seeing each other face to face and hearing the different accents. They learned about each other’s school and the subjects they study. They realized quickly that despite the distances, accents and other minor details like school uniforms, they are really more the same than different.
Their work started to come to a complete circle when our project was included as one of the student quests on Angela Maier’s Choose2Matter website. This past summer I also had the chance to meet Peter Reynolds, and for me, it was a very special moment.
When the school year ended last June, our students knew first hand that they could make a difference in the life of a child. When school began again this year, the question “Are we sending books to Africa again?” was the first I heard. “Yes!” Now we have a new crew of 35 students who want to organize and make sure that we continue this work.
Hot off the Press. Great News about the Books to Africa program!
I just found out that I was selected as one of the 250 Microsoft Expert Educators for my Books to Africa project. I know I’m the only librarian going from the US. Here’s a blog entry about it.
Janet: What an honor Julie. We’re thrilled for you!
We would love to do a Special Edition about your trip here on LL.
I would love your visitors to know about the Bulldog Reader’s Blog where I share ideas about books, library lessons and technology.
Information about Books to Africa project including all of the projects we completed last year and the work we are doing this year in on a separate blog.
Finally, I love connecting with other librarians and educators on Twitter where I’m known as @mrs_hembree
Thank you Janet for giving librarians a chance to roar about the importance of reading and libraries!
Thank you, Julie Hembree for sharing the Books to Africa project with us — a lovely Thanksgiving gift for all of us.
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Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Email Janet on the Contact page on this website for an interview.