We at Freadom LOVE everything about libraries! The musty smell of the books, the vibe, the structure and symmetry of the tall shelves are all the components that a vibrant library needs. Yet, libraries are known for being a thing of the past that only house a collection of traditional print rich texts. On the contrary, we believe that a library is the best place to test out a blend of print and new technology to enhance reading!

Schools are regarded as second homes to children as they play a crucial role in developing basic reading skills. School libraries are an essential member of the cluster responsible for creating readers which also includes parents and teachers. A school library is more than a storehouse for books. They are a very important source of information, communication and transformation. The unique role of school libraries is that they are fundamental to inculcate a reading culture for an upward progression of a student’s life.

Today, we’re revealing some of the best practices our librarian friends have shared with us, to help you make your child’s school library cutting-edge.

A. Activities and Engagement

Libraries are not just about maintaining silence. Adults hold the sheer responsibility to ignite the love for reading in children and libraries are a great place to start. Children should be able to see libraries as a place of wonder where they have the freedom to explore and experiment with different genres of books. Involve them in reading-centric activities to get them hooked on books.

1. Book Discussions
Librarians can organise bi-weekly book discussions within the library where children can talk about the books they have read recently and spark interesting conversations about different tropes and characters with their peers. Librarians can also take the lead by introducing a brand new book to the group, ask them to read a few chapters and come back with an analysis or presentation in the next Book Discussion.

2. Storytelling
The art of storytelling is not new to most children. They would have been told stories from infancy by parents or elders. The art is a universal activity as old as time itself. Schools can introduce this activity in libraries by encouraging students to tell their peers a story they've written, heard or read before.

3. Creative Activities
Getting children involved in creative activities like puppet making, paper mache art or pottery can boost their cognitive skills. The school can then use their artwork to decorate the library and classrooms or organise a small exhibition. The puppet making activity can be followed by a small puppet show by and for the children.

4. Creative writing
Organise creative writing workshops and competitions to establish a reading-writing connection which helps children to learn at all levels. Writing comes naturally when it is preceded by reading. You can also ask the children to write a different ending for a story that has been read to them. Inviting authors and journalists for writing workshops can also get them excited.

The school librarian could introduce exciting clubs within the library. The clubs could be hobby-centric. The library’s role here is to provide a safe environment to foster interest and teamwork amongst the peers. The librarian’s role here could be to provide all the information and resources to build the club. This way, children get to understand the role of the library and the librarian in both their recreational and educational journey. Some clubs ideal for a library include: Poetry Recitation, Elocution and Debate, Stamp Collectors, Pen Friends, Drama Club, Genre-specific reading clubs, etc.

B. Diversify Collection

In order to create a culture in which children are encouraged to be avid readers, it is important to talk to children to understand their interest and then ensure that the range of reading material available at the library reflects their interests.

C. Teacher Involvement

It is paramount to show children that teachers of all subjects read books, not just the English teacher. Ask teachers to bring in their favourite book and discuss them during a Library Period.

D. Invest in technology

Whether you are in favour of the influx of iPads, iPhones and Android or not, these technologies are here to stay. For children, these tools are not just cool new toys. They have become integral to information gathering, making them a good investment for a modern-day library. Adding an audio-visual segment or a 3D printer can allow for more creative uses of the space and drive up engagement.

School libraries are evolving. Gone are the days when they were only known for borrowing books and it was almost blasphemous to talk in a library! Now, they are the campus epicentres for resources and more. These transformations demand that the school administration and librarians always keep their temple of books up-to-date and relevant for children cruising from Learning to Read to Reading to Learn.