Are Classics Worth It?

By Book Reports, Book Talk, General No Comments

Are classic books worth the time and effort? Are they relevant to today’s time and place? Some adults: parents, teachers, and librarians swear by it and feel, if the students haven’t read any classics – they have wasted their time! However, with the changing times, some find that classic books must be shared with the young. It could be done by incorporating movies.

What makes a book a classic? Italo Calvino’s 14 Criteria for What Makes a Classic

Fundamentally, the work focuses on the style of writing or if it is a new entry in a particular genre. Secondly, it addresses fundamental topics in beauty stimulating visual delight or describes the complex nature of the socio-economic-political structure of a specific place and time. Thirdly, the book reflects values that transcend race, time, and location, providing profound wisdom and teachings of life.

A way to engage students in delving into classic literature might be to introduce students to movies based on these classics. Discussing value systems, character, the period the story was written in, settings, and/or author’s purpose. For example, using Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, you could describe the lifestyle of the girls that grew up in those times and compare and contrast them with the present times’ virtues, and freedom. Discuss the role of women and men who lived in those times and now, in the present. How much has changed and what has remained the same? How can we change and evolve? Why should we develop, grow and change? 

Another example could be Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Why did she write this book, what prompted her to write? What are the experiments related to stem cells? Could these experiments have been influenced by the story or any other literature? How are the different characters in the story relatable? What conditions or situations in the story remind you of our present-day problems? How were outliers viewed in the previous century as compared to the present day? Here are some links to peruse and use for classic analysis with films. 

 PBS Movies with lesson plans

CommonLit – Lesson Plans

Youtube list that houses a variety of Classics

World Classics Movies list

Audio List of Classics

When students watch the movie and read excerpts from the book, impressions about the character, research on the topic, debates and writing reflection can become an interesting learning experience. Variations in the film and its narration can sometimes be taken off from the book narration, those experiences or topics or themes can be analyzed and discussed.

School Library Association – India

By General, Librarian's Role, School Library Association No Comments

School Librarian Association’s first Newsletter for you! SLAI Scoop FINAL(SLAIndia Newsletter) Vol.1 Issue 1 Oct (002). 2019

School Library Association – India has recently been given a separate entitlement in India. Earlier, they were clubbed under one umbrella of all Indian Libraries. But, school Librarians are a different breed altogether. They have come a long way from being merely a book collector or a maintainer of the resources to playing several dynamic roles in an educational organization. Right from organizing the library, supporting and building the curriculum, to transforming the library into a creative space using all kinds of resources building on students’ imagination and dreams.

Librarians work towards building and supporting all forms of literacy from language, research, technology, et.all, contributing to the emotional, social wellbeing of various individuals through stories, and becoming knowledgeable.

The mission of the School Library Association India is to serve as a national platform. It aims at supporting professionals as knowledge ambassadors (SLA – India) while collaborating with all government bodies to support School Librarians.

The main aim is to:

  • Advocate for school libraries
  • Promote understanding of school librarians and their role
  • Integrating and raising the standards of school library programs into the curriculum
  • Promote research, publication and support professional development
  • Promote all forms of Literacies

Information about awards and grants can be found on this page. All updates and communications can be found on this website.

Librarians support Reading OR Learning?

By General No Comments

Librarians are always associate with READING, I wonder WHY? Shouldn’t we be associated with LEARNING?
My colleague and I were talking about why is reading the key purpose of the librarian’s role. Are we teaching students to read letters to make into words, OR are we inspiring students to think and learn, providing the resources to create, evaluate and build on their belief system and supporting and providing information to build on their knowledge?

The definition of reading is defined as an action or skill of reading. When we use the word READING, we use reading as an act to scaffold the content of the subject, so that individuals have a better understanding of the topic or subject. Librarians are in the role of providing opportunities to students to either scaffold, peel out or support students to dive deep into the content.

When librarians read aloud, we often focus on what is obvious. We ask questions like – Who is the character? Where is the setting of the story? What happened at the end of the story? What is the moral of the story? Students pretty much know these answers. We need to challenge the students to ask questions beyond the basic and ask Questions like: Why do you think so? What might happen if…? How is this connected to our lives or our future generation…? How has it changed over time…? Why is the change necessary? What are the different aspects that have led to the change…? How can we make sure that when we are writing, we are paraphrasing, evaluating, synthesizing and finally citing our sources

Mission Statement for Libraries?

By General, Library Vision & Mission No Comments

Every educational institute has a vision for their students and learning community. It guides the entire school program and provides a direction to the learning community. With more and more institution looking for a flexible curriculum, the library is becoming the central service point. Therefore, it is essential for a library to have a guiding mission statement that defines its purpose, direction, and who it serves.

The Library Mission statement stems out of the school vision and identifies what it will achieve, what it values and the commitments towards achieving the goal of the school. The Library mission is directly related to the school’s aims and policies.  Many school libraries have library policies with rules and regulations for all students and teachers; they have guidelines and procedural manuals.  But, often fails to have a vision or a mission, which is where everything must stem from.

How do you create a Library Mission or Vision?

1. Look at your school’s mission and vision carefully
2. Make a list of values and identify what might the Library undertake to ensure that it supports the vision of the school. What is the purpose of the Library?
3. String the list together to match the school vision
4. Once you have a view – the big picture – that statement forms the vision of the library. The statement will express what the library wants to achieve in the future.
5. Then, you can plan your mission. The mission will describe how the library will get there? What are your objectives and goals? You may have a library program, that will help you achieve your goal.

It’s a good idea to look at several library visions and missions to create one that is unique and relevant to your school. You cannot do this exercise alone, involve all members of your library team and the curriculum advisor, a collaborative effort, brings a broader perspective with meaning.

Fake News

By General One Comment

Image by Wikimedia Commons

One time or another, we all fall for fake news and fake information especially when the information touches our heart and mood. As a librarian, I am a firm believer of not posting information without double checking for facts but just the other day, someone forwarded a message on Whatsapp sincerely urging the readers to share the information and help young students receive a scholarship by a very multinational company, and the message also read that it was not a fake message, and to please pass it (and it sounded urgent).  Being human and vulnerable, at this point, I highlighted the message and passed it on immediately, and thankfully, I had passed on this to my Library Group, who very ethically asked me to double check my information and reminded me that the message was a HOAX. Thankfully, this saved me the embarrassment in other groups.

As adults, we often succumb to social media pressure, what about our students? This incident, only reminded me how necessary it is for us to have constant reminders about the importance of constantly checking for the credibility of information, especially in this fast-paced world of news and information.

Here are some gentle reminders: How to identify Fake News on Whatsapp in Hindi (Video -3.44)

How to identify Fake News in India by Dhruv Rathee in Hindi (Video – 9:17)

How to spot Fake News in India by The Quint in English (Video – 3:22)

Besides using the strategies mentioned in the videos, we could also check out the alternative/fact-checking websites and some are:

Why should YOU care whether you get real or fake news? I think it is because:

  • You deserve the truth
  • Fake news destroys your credibility
  • Fake news can hurt you, and a lot of other people
  • Real news can benefit you

That’s why it is important for us to always double check our information and have the real information benefit our lives.

Summer Writing

By Creative Writing No Comments

Writing and Reading are like “Daal & Chawal,” you can’t have one without the other. When you read, you read to learn, feel and think, not read to know what happens at the end of the story. (That’s the small part) Reading is a journey, where you think about the characters feeling, problems, her/his journey and the alternative forms of arriving at solutions, it is learning about different societies and cultures. It is a way of deciphering purpose and meaning. Reading is learning to have PersPective, because everything has a point of view. Reading and writing are like a handshake, and the author inspires you to think, write and share your ideas and your story. So, when you read, you identify and underline the words and sentences, the author has used to express his thoughts. By doing this, you are learning the craft of writing.

Imitation of style NOT CONTENT is the greatest tribute you can give an author for his inspiration, till you discover your own. Having a “Writers Notebook” or “Writers Diary” is the first step towards learning how to write. We must encourage our students to write; we do not want our students to face the Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Tedx). Writing is cathartic. Write, Write and Write. “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” Octavia E. Butler. Revising your writing is the critical component in learning how to write well. 

Why is writing important?

  • To communicate your thoughts, opinions, emotions, and ideas clearly to multiple people at the same time
  • To validate our existence, choices, experiences in life
  • The framework of our communication at the workplace is in forms of –  Reports– Press Release

    – Communicating ideas via email

    – Maintaining a blog

    – Summarizing your work or creating reflections and goals

    – Writing recipes

    – Writing notes, communicating effectively with family

Writing personal narratives is the first step towards learning how to write. Here is some personal description prompts to help you.

Writing prompts for children

Writing prompts for parents & teens

Other writing prompts with technology social media, the internet as the main idea.

Rewriting, revising,  rephrasing and editing are essential parts of a writing process. You are not done with writing until you have gone through the whole process from ideation to sharing.

Summer Reading

By Summer Reading No Comments

Reading Time: 2 min 37 sec

Students who do not read during the summer have a hard time when they return to school in the new academic- it’s called the Summer Slide. To avoid the summer slide, educators recommend that students read. Read to learn, Read to become knowledgeable, Read to have a Hero, Read to have Courage, Read to have Conviction, Read to create Meaning of the World around you.  Oxford Statistics show loss of learning during the summer if one does not participate in some learning.

Reading a book is not simply devouring the words and understanding what happens at the end of the book. Read for Pleasure; it is subjective. Read whatever makes you tick. When you can’t put the book down and your brain fizzes, questions rush to your head, whether it is about a plot, character, theory, method or the heart, or you lose track of time, then you know you are reading!

Read to discover new words, new meaning, new relationships. Ask students to Connect – connect with the characters, connect with the setting, connect with the world around them. Do not think about the format: it could be digital or print. Reading is the key, not the platform.

Here are some questions to think about while reading, taking reading to a level of deep comprehension. Superficial reading does not help anyone. The present 21st-century skills require the individuals to have deep comprehension skills by analyzing, comparing, synthesizing and questioning the texts. ASK THINK & QUESTION.

Reading Reflection

Remember your thoughts, opinions, and ideas about the story; they are essential.  You may write down your reflection or share your observations about the story with an adult.  Be sure to share your thoughts in complete sentences, adding details to support your thinking.

  1. Who was your favorite main character in this story? What are the actions and personality traits that was most likable or appealing? Why?
  2. What is the author’s purpose for the story (to Persuade, Inform or Entertain you)? Explain with evidence.
  3.  Quote a passage from the book that sticks to memory, and explain why that idea or message impressed you so much. What is the main message in the story (not the ending of the story). What does it mean to you? How is it connected to you or the world around you?
  4. What is the most significant hardship experienced by your favorite main character? How did his or her difficulty affect your emotions while reading the novel? How are these hardships similar to people you may know in your life? How is it different or the same?
  5. Summarize the most crucial scene, or climax, of the story. How does the climax affect your favorite main character? Does the climax create greater happiness for him or her? Does it allow this character to accomplish his or her goal within the story? Please explain.
  6. Recall a favorite character from your book. Now, using the first person point of view (“I” and “me”), become that character and write a short episode about one of “your experiences,” based upon the storyline.  
  7. What questions would you like to ask the author before you read this book?  What are you wondering about as you look at the cover and back of your book?
  8. As you’ve been reading, what pictures have been in your mind?  If you were in the story, what would you hear, taste, smell or feel?  What does the character/setting look like in your mind?  Tell me what you imagined in your mind as you read that page/paragraph.
  9. Summarize what you have read today? Retell the essential events in sequential order.
  10.  If you have read a nonfiction book, what have you learned, and what are some of the connections you see with other disciplines or subjects. 
  11. What areas would you like to research about after you have read this book? 
  12. What are the ideas, concepts or plans you have about the topic that triggered your imagination?

Here is another reading reflection for Elementary Students

“Research Roundup: 2014 Summer Reading Suggestions.” Science and Children 051.09 (2014): n. pag. St. Temple School. 2014. Web. 25 Apr. 2017. <http://stmarys-temple.org/documents/Summer%20Reading%20List%20Assignment%20(1).pdf>.

Understanding Media

By Media Literacy No Comments

There are three purposes of Media – To Persuade, To Inform and To Entertain, however, in my opinion, there is the fourth purpose and that is understanding perspective. Many young people are sharing their ideas, opinions and views on social media using self-created media. With over 1 billion people using Facebook, 1 million using Instagram, 1.5 billion using Whatsapp on a daily bases, it is so important for librarians, teachers, and technology teachers to have students understand media.

All our news, entertainment comes from Media. Dr. Anubhati Yadav, Department Head of New Media and Course Director of Advertising and Public Relations Course says, from 2 years old to adults all respond to media, therefore, it is important for students to learn about the purpose of media, how it is created and how students can use media effectively to create, learn and share. Today, being literate, meaning able to read and write is not adequate, it is important to be meta-literate, that is individuals can draw inferences, conclusions, and ideas from a variety of media products like infographics, maps embedded with media, videos, and virtual reality products.

Media literacy is the ability to understand how the media work, how they convey meaning. Media Literacy also involves critical thinking about the thousands of messages we are bombarded with on a daily basisFrank Baker in Media Literacy

Other than reading to students, librarians can embed “Media Literacy” in their curriculum. They can use advertisements in magazines and digital media products to teach students the elements of media and what it takes to create a message for the audience.  Common Sense Media and Media Smarts, have resources to support teachers. Mr. Frank Baker, a specialist in Media Literacy has a Media Literacy Clearinghouse to support educators. Renee Hobbs founder of Media Education Lab has resources to teach media literacy. Check out this video from Common Sense.

Library & After School Clubs

By ASA, General, Reading and Writing, School Libraries No Comments

Library and enrichment programs or after school activities are becoming very popular in both local and international schools. There is merit in our role in inspiring our students who can find refuge, respect, and freedom in the choices that they make — a safe environment to explore their world.

Librarians can offer all kinds of workshops for all ages. It can be ideas from the Maker Trends, ranging from knitting to crochet, creating logos and websites, using 3D printers to replicate to make prototypes that are useful. They can learn digital art, paints, color, and design in the learning space of the Library. Librarians can either mentor the workshops or offer the venue for all these activities.

Librarians can offer – Reading Clubs that allow students to look deeper into the craft of writing, analyze and understand the genre by pointing out different writing crafts that make that book a particular style.

Writing Clubs, where students write their narratives and librarians can support by hosting their stories online or in print. As librarians,  we need to provide a space of free expressions where students can write about every and any topic without being judgemental. In a world where students are influenced by biases based on gender, class, caste, race and economic differences, the library can be a venue where students can assert their voice and feel acknowledged.

Picture Book Clubs bring about lots of interest to little as well as older children. In the picture book clubs, one can read different picture books, keeping the focus on genres; writers can collaborate with artists to create their picture books. Explore folklore from around the world. Or even look at different artwork in the picture books and learn about them.

Wellness Clubs can be in many formats. It can include poetry, dance, simple mindfulness techniques blended with picture books or writing.

Creating eBooks, Graphic novels, Calligraphy, Photostories, Photojournalism, Spoken Poetry are some of the clubs that can be a part of the library engagements.

Should you think of other engagements you have conducted in your school, please add them to the comment section, it will help inspire me.

Should Librarians Ban Books or Stand Up for Freedom?

By Collection Development, General, Reading Program No Comments

Should librarians ban books that are controversial or stand up for freedom of expression?

The primary role of a library is to promote the progress of knowledge, promote love for reading and through this give people a better quality of life. Libraries are centers of all forms of learning. Scientists, artists, and philosophers have discussed, learned and grown in their fields of knowledge only because of libraries. Libraries have always witnessed controversial debate only to bring out the best of knowledge.

Looking back into history there has been many classics and other novels that have been banned at schools and in many countries. More often than not, books with sexual content, profanity, offensive language, stories based on chemical abuse (drugs), satanic themes, religious preferences have been subject to complaints and have pressured librarians not to include such content in the schools. Sometimes, it is the plot or the characters’ viewpoint that impacts morality making it the contention for books to be banned.

Robert A. Heinlein said about censorship: “The whole principle is wrong; it’s like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t eat steak.” A library is a venue to provide the users with all forms of information and not control it in any way, even if librarians do not like or agree with some of the content.

You may argue, that the librarians have a moral duty to their students and therefore needs to carefully curate books and help them have a balanced approach to all forms of knowledge. And, on the other hand, we do want our students to think, make informed decisions and choices, have an opportunity to discuss, learn, and find solutions to the problems that may have cropped up in the story.

In Rodney A. Smolla research paper, “Freedom of Speech for Libraries and Librarians” she says, “Like art museums, libraries will be among the repositories of knowledge and culture in a modern society that can expect to find themselves under increasing pressure to serve as society’s censors.” And as librarians, we must have the courage to fight against censorship. Here are some examples of books that were banned at one time or the other.

To kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple was banned for a while because it was said to promote racial discrimination and racial hatred. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was considered immoral and for having sacrilegious content. Harry Potter series was deemed to be anti-family, violent, and satanic. Another classic, Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, was banned because of profanity. Looking For Alaska by John Green as taken away from libraries for “offensive language” and “sexually explicit content.”

Recently, a group of parents and teachers talked about banning fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, and other such tales which had wicked plots and made step parents and abandoning of children, unnerving plots and they believed that these stories created a negative impact on little children. So, where do we stop and what do librarians do?

Do we become strong and stand up for freedom of knowledge by supporting challenging options, when adding books to our collection? Do we introduce students to LGBTQ books? Do we create an open society of communication and individual rights or do we shun them under hypocrisy and fear? Do we provide an opportunity for healthy discussion and openmindedness, where students can learn and discuss? Or close their minds under the garb of protecting them. What do we do? Do we begin to have an open discussion with parents and share our rationale with them? Do we trust our children to be intelligent enough to have a rational discussion or think of them to be dumb witted? Do we stand up for a reason or given in to being the nurturing and protective agents? Here is a list of books that were banned in India. And here is a list of LGBTQ Books and here is a list of controversial books you might want to have in your library.