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Kathryn-French-Educator

The Best Worst Librarian Ever

An open letter from the best worst librarian

Dear Big Wide World,

The 2014-2015 school year ended with me beginning and ending my career as a librarian.  It’s true… I will not be the librarian at Navasota Intermediate anymore.  I have switched schools and changed job positions. I will now be the Chief Literacy Advisor, aka the Literacy Cruise Director, as I like to call it, for a PK-5 elementary school!  I have spent the last couple of weeks packing all my stuff and moving schools, and that my friends is no easy feat.

After finishing this year, along with this move, I found myself simply exhausted, bone-weary, maybe even a little fragile.  My family and I took a beach vacation to find our repose, and I finally am able to reflect about the past year of school and  my job as the librarian.  Here’s why I think I was truly the worst librarian ever!

As you may, or may not, have heard, I kidnapped the entire Diary of a Wimpy Kid series from the library.  I was tired of the students fake-reading the books, and then coming back to the library day in and out to check out yet another book they would never read.  By kidnapping the books and holding them out of circulation, students checked out books that were on their level that they would actually read. Reflecting back, that was shameful. But, with a little help from this, the worst librarian ever, every child found a book they could… and more importantly would read. And it made them want to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books even more!

Kathryn-French-ShelvesThe second reason why I am the worst librarian is that I am terrible about shelving books.  It was just a fact that the library had stacks and jumbles of tumbling books, that were in constant need of reshelving.  I just could not find the time to organize books in their proper places.  All those days running in and out of classrooms, and rocking on the big purple bench with my little friends does gobble up a bunch of time.  The sweet lady, Sarah Martin, who helped me last year, would walk through the door of the library and would audibly moan, while rolling her eyes at the stacks of misplaced books.  I am truly sorry, Mrs. Martin.

The custodians must have thought me horrible. The library carpets were often covered in pink glitter trails and chalkdust.  I promise we tried to clean up after our games and poetry readings.  To the custodians, and our principal, thank you for being forgiving. The students and faculty really had some good times in our little library.

I am most ashamed of my inability to keep library secrets.  Even though I knew that our Friday Secret Society of Reader meetings were a secret, I posted, tweeted, filmed, and shared our events every chance that I had. And you know what? I am secretly so glad that I did!  So students, please forgive me for having so much fun with you this year.  #SecretSocietyOfReaders

I know without a doubt that I will miss you because I already do.

What I also know without a doubt, is that I will remember you.  You made my FIRST and LAST year as the librarian magical.  For all of those that I had interaction with, please forgive me. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent.

Kathryn-French-KidsI guess that what I have learned this is year was that, although I might have been the worst librarian in certain stereotypical ways, maybe I became the best librarian that sought out the right books for students… and even for the staff.  Maybe instead of falling into the traditional librarian role, I found my true calling helping others learn to love reading and also to find a love for writing.  Perhaps I was not the worst librarian in the world, after all. Just maybe I would call myself a little quirky, and a little thoughtful, and full of love for kids and books. And hey, that’s not so bad… Is it?

I send a warm thank you to the district, our administrative staff, faculty, and teachers, for trusting me to mind and mentor these incredible kids.  Here’s to another year, in a slightly different role!  I’ll try my best to make you proud!

Also be reminded that I shall remain the head librarian at www.labibliotecafresca.com. Come visit me anytime for fresh books and literacy chats. I hope to see you there!

Sincerely,

The Best Worst Librarian, Chief Literacy Advisor, aka the new Literacy Cruise Director,
Ms. Frenchie-Fry

Kathy French

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photo of Kathy French, ofancyfrench, from Navasota ISD

The Navasota Intermediate Librarian Kidnapped the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Books!

The librarian at Navasota Intermediate kidnapped all of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books from the library shelves and has hidden them away!  Surely she has gone insane, the kids love those books!

It is true, the librarian did kidnap all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books at Navasota Intermediate and is holding them hostage until a handsome ransom will be paid.  The librarian is not insane or pro-censorship, rather she is tired of students coming in every other day returning these books to the library, to be re-shelved again and again, without being opened.  How do I know how she feels, because the “she” is me, long time reading teacher and newbie librarian.

You might say that the students did open the novels and were reading during their Silent Sustained Reading time, or maybe they were even reading at home.  But I ask you, can students read novels in two days and brightly smile as they return their books to the library, and have truly read their novels with an intensity that allows recollection?  On our campus I am sad to say, there are very few, and when you spot those readers, you know who they are because they are telling you about their book and why they loved it, or didn’t.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series are the most often checked out titles in my library.  Man, I love the author, Jeff Kinney, he is a smart man.  Its hard to convince reluctant readers to enjoy books, but Mr. Kinney does that so well.  Through the success of the series and the success of the movie, kids are exposed to the wonderful work of Mr. Kinney.  I celebrate him and his work today in this blog, even though I kidnapped his books.  I just want my students to read something different, perhaps a series that they have not yet read…

Now here is where the reader gets to the good part, what price will the students pay to gain access to their beloved Diary of a Wimpy Kid books?  Students asked me what they could do today to get them back, I said, “I dunno, what do you think you could do to get them back?’  One kid responded, “I could read 20 books this week!”  Really, yes please I thought, read 20 books this week!  Another student said, “I could write a book report proving that I really did read my chapter book!” I thought in my head, WHAT?  Maybe this kidnapping of books would end happily ever after after all.

Now students at Navasota Intermediate School are coming up with their own “handsome ransoms” to rescue their beloved books from the librarian, and I couldn’t be more delighted.

Students are being exposed to new authors and new book series.  Students are now talking in the hall, restrooms, and playgrounds about what they can do to save their books.  (When was the last time you heard kids talking about books on the playground?)  Our students are thinking about how to talk about what they read, in non-teacher led, authentic conversations with their peers.  Also, students that cannot read the Kinney series will now have an excuse to check out books that are nearer their independent reading levels and not have to pretend to read the larger chapter books.

For me the kidnapping has been a win, win decision.  I cannot wait to see the handsome ransoms that will be paid to set these books free.  I have never been so happy to take books off the library shelves!

As for Greg Heffley, Rodrick and Rowley… move over, more characters will soon be visiting!

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