School libraries are important to developing children as learners, it promotes curiosity and critical thinking. The National Library of New Zealand sums it up best that an effective school library “embodies the principals of ‘learner agency’ – students having the independence to choose their own reading, and to find resources that help them develop their interests and strengths at their own pace.”
School libraries play an even more important function in communities where children do not have easy access to books. i.e. low-income families, schools under resourced. Being able to borrow a book or just sitting in the library reading a book, plays a significant part in a child’s learning and the development of their reading skills. A lack of reading resources can result in many children finishing education with very limited reading skills.
In the rural District of Dawasamu in Fiji, we had the opportunity to help Navunisea District Primary School to build a library. The building was designed to safely house a donation of books which consisted of a wide range of reading material from storybooks to reference books.
In January 2018, once all the construction and painting was completed. The books were organised and categorise – Reading books were colour code using stickers into levels and reference books were put into classification e.g. History, geography.
When designing the layout, we took into consideration the studies that have been done on making a library an inviting place to visit. Children are more likely to visit the library and actively participate when they are physically attractive.
Many studies have shown that a library should include.
- 300-600 books
- Wide range of reading difficulty
- Variety of genres
- New books with appealing covers
- Attractive, inviting setting
The new library was split into sections:
Section one – bookshelves have been used as partitions to create an area for students to read in, giving them a sense of privacy, there are pillows and a mat to help create a comfortable atmosphere and ample space to accommodate the children.
Section two – Reference section, the books are all labelled and displayed in categories so the children can easily find a subject they want to read about or must research for a project.
Section three – Small groups teaching – the area is light and bright and plenty of room for the students to be able to interact with the teacher and other members of their literacy group.
The library has hosted many activities and lessons and the children of Navunisea District Primary School are enjoying having the chance to choose from so many different types of books. Classes have dedicated library times were then can choose a book, sit, and read it or they can join Storytime and sit in a small group and listen to a book being read out loud. Reading a story book out loud is a great teaching method, it helps children develop in so many ways by improving literacy skills, encourages children to use their imagination, and ask questions. It enhances listening skills, teaches us to love, to forgive others, to be fair, and to always try to do our best.
Being able to have the opportunity to visit the school library and pick up a book and read it really does play such an important part in a child’s learning.
And in the words of Dr. Seuss “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Written by – Michele Comber