Shelley Roars for School Libraries
Welcome to Library Lions Roar! Celebrating libraries and the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest Shelley Cummings!
Hello. I’m Shelley Cummings, and I work as a librarian at Artman Elementary School in Hermitage, Pennsylvania. Hermitage was voted the best and safest town to live in Pennsylvania. But, I have a confession. I’m not a certified librarian. My certifications are Elementary/Early Childhood Education K-6, English 7-9, and Reading Specialist K-12. This year is my 23rd year in education. I’ve worked as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, literacy coach, and now, librarian. I’m also an adjunct professor at Westminster College in nearby Amish Country, New Wilmington, PA. This is my third year in the library and I LOVE it.
I have always been fascinated with books and stories. My first book, childhood memory was when I discovered an old bookshelf in my grandparents’ basement, filled with old hardcover books. I was drawn to them. The fancy spines, the thick pages, the smell, and the words. Oh, the words. I couldn’t read them yet but the desire to read came deep within.
What I love most about my work is the privilege to create a culture of reading in our K-3 school and community. Too often technology takes place of diving into a good book. I’m guilty of that myself from time to time. Creating a buzz about books and instilling excitement about reading is such a fun challenge and experience. The strategies I use to create a culture in the school are hosting two book fairs a year, consistently giving books to kids and teachers, and leading book clubs.
I am fortunate that the library is in the center of our school surrounded by walls of glass. I am in a fishbowl all day. So, I take advantage of being seen constantly by displaying books everywhere and giving the library a welcoming environment.
The library theme is Into the Woods with paper trees and greenery throughout. I use the Scholastic dollars I earn from the book fairs to buy novels so when I am reading a novel aloud, every student is reading along with me in their own copy. Passers-by see us captivated in the story.
Last May I read The One and Only Ivan to second grade.
We had three sections to finish and ran out of time. I purchased 161 books and distributed them the last day of school for the kids to read over the summer. The kids were ecstatic. I’m starting a book exchange area for the adults in our school. It will be near the place where parent’s sign out their kids at end of the day dismissal. That will provide parents the opportunity to read books, too.
For the community, I created a blog about books for parents and families. I review and give my own personal flair on my favorite books from picture books to adult.
My next endeavor is to include technology into my lessons. My school purchased 25 chrome books for my library. I want to utilize Google Classroom to take the love of reading and books to the next level.
A Mighty Roar!
A school isn’t complete without a library. The library is the hub of the school. It’s a place where magical things happen that one can’t fully explain in words. The people (characters) we meet on a daily basis molds that we are becoming as people. We experience different worlds, families, cultures, problems, insecurities, defeats, accomplishments, perseverance, and many other emotions and situations through in the eyes of the characters. We are better people because of what the library provides.
Libraries are a place to take risks. To try something you might not have thought possible. With the gradual incorporation of STEAM, kids can discover gifts and interests within themselves—gifts that otherwise, they might not have found. No matter what profession the little and big people pursue, one thing remains consistent—heart and soul. Helen Keller said it best. “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” And those words pretty much encompass the depth and width of what a library can do.
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
The Hermitage School District supports a program called Summer Academy. This is a program for kids and teachers during the summer months. The kids because they are invited to participate in a variety of activities, from learning to play chess to pottery making, and the teachers because it is the time and place for teachers to teach their hobbies and passions. Last summer I held a book club for the books Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 by Lauren Tarshis. In addition, I taught kids how to play chess and held a chess tournament.
I brought my husband and my own kids along to make the classes a family event. I have a classroom set of chrome books and my goal is to utilize Google Classroom for second and third grade (HELP!—If anyone has had success in this area, please contact me!)
My district is fortunate to participate in Youngstown State University Annual English Festival. The festival is a celebration of books and authors. Hundreds of students from the area join together for a day of poetry writing, essay writing, trivia, author visits, and opportunities to share and delight in books.
We read seven chosen books selected by the festival team prior to the festival. Each year, authors visit and talk to the kids and sign books. This past year we met Emily Jenkins/E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars.
And we met Gene Luen Yang, author of The Shadow Hero.
The YSU English Festival is one of my favorite days of the year!
Readers Roar: Let’s hear from the kids!
“Some kids aren’t interested in books but when they go to the library, they find books they like and they read more.”-Sydney
“After all the hard work I do, I just want to calm down and read a book in the library.”-Vance
“We learn how to respect and love books in the library.”-Shai
“If the power goes out, you can use a light on your mom’s phone and read a book.”-Laila
“Books are fun adventures.”-Brody
“Books mean a lot to me because I learn new recipes and learn other stuff.”-Carson
“Getting books from Santa makes me happy.”-Maddox
“I feel like my life could end if I can’t get the book I want.” Hunter
“Books are special because if you’re bored you always have books.”-Anthony
A perfect author visit would be one in which the author spends a day in the library and reading to the kids in small groups. And then close the day with a book celebration and book signing.
Library Lions Link
Thank you, Shelley, for your terrific interview!
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 via the Contact page on this website to set up an interview.
Note to Authors: If you’re interested in Roaring for Libraries on this blog, contact Janet.