Sunday, October 3, 2021

Fall Into Fun At Your School Library

Fall has arrived, scaring up a bountiful harvest of school library events wrapped up and ready to use. Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week, along with other teen-related activities, have been blended into TeenTober, a month-long library celebration with observations and activities designed to connect teens with services, materials, and opportunities to help them develop new skills and fuel their passions for learning. TeenTober heightens awareness as to the critical role school libraries play in the lives of teens (Young Adult Library Services Association, 2020).

Beyond connecting students with books that serve as windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors (Oxley, 2006) librarians help keep students safe online by teaching media and digital literacy skills and by promoting the positive use of technology and social media use (Young Adult Library Services Association, n.d.). One positive use of social media by teens is finding books they want to read by following the #booktok hashtag on TikTok. School librarians, authors, publishers, and retailers, have seen a significant increase in the demand for books featured and reviewed on #booktok TikTok (Murrary, 2021). School librarians should tap into #BookTok as a resource for book recommendations, reading promotions, and increasing literacy in their schools (Merga, 2021).

Check out Texas school librarian Andrea Keller’s #BookTalkTues at @akbusybee, or view TikTok from the teen perspective of @moongirlreads. One activity you could do in your library to get kids actively involved in the #BookTok trend is to set up a #BookTok recording studio in your MakerSpace (Jensen, 2016). All you need is a quiet (or semi-quiet) space and a recording device. Add in a green screen and video editing tools for a little extra spice. Then display the completed videos (with student permission, of course) in your library on a running loop. FlipGrid is another easy-to-use and share video creation platform your students can use to create their very own #BookTok videos from Kindergarten all the way to high school seniors (FlipGrid, 2020)! 

November ushers in World Kindness Day, a holiday that focuses on why it is important to be kind to others, yourself, and the world. Kindness: The World We Make, is a great video to introduce the concept of World Kindness Month. There are so many simple ways we can show kindness every day:

  • Send an uplifting text to a friend

  • Talk to someone new at your school

  • Call your grandparents and ask them about their childhood

  • Read a book to a younger sibling

  • Secretly do a household chore that you don’t normally do

  • Tell your principal how great your teacher is

The Great Kindness Challenge toolkit provides schools with a detailed plan that can involve students, school administrators, teachers and staff, PTA/PTO members, and the community. One super easy activity you can set up in your library to celebrate kindness is to provide a place where students can write uplifting messages. Here is a picture of a tree I used year-round to pose a variety of topics to encourage student voice. 

Discovery Education is filled with Social Emotional Learning resources including the Prevent Bullying channel.

Start December and finish out 2021 with Hour of Code

Hour of CodeTM takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week in recognition of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper’s birthday. Knowing computer programming and basic coding builds the problem-solving skills, logic, and creativity needed for student success in any 21st-century career path (Roy, 2020). Unfortunately, fewer than half of all schools teach computer science which puts our students at a disadvantage when vying for jobs in a competitive job market. Currently, computing jobs are the number one source of new wages in the United States. Unfortunately, students entering the workforce do not possess the skills to fill the over 500,000 computer science jobs currently open (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). 

The Hour of CodeTM website has free coding activities available from pre-readers to high school students. Coding activities are designed to work on computers, Android, iPad/iPhone/no internet, or unplugged. In addition, Hour of CodeTM allows teachers to filter coding activities to complement the curriculum with activities related to science, math, social studies, language arts, and more. Learn how to plan an Hour of CodeTM event at your school, whether you are teaching in-person or virtually, with the Hour of Code planning guide


George, B. (2020, March 25). Write a book review. FlipGrid

Jensen, K. (2016, February 11). MakerSpace: Green screen photo booth, app review and tips and 

tricks. School Library Journal


Merga, M.K. (2021). How can Booktok on TikTok inform readers’ advisory services for young 

people? Library and Information Science Research 

Murray, C. (2021, July 06). TikTok is taking the book industry by storm, and retailers are taking 

notice. NBC News


Oxley, P. (2006). Rudine Sims Bishop: Making a difference through literature. Language Arts, 83(6). 552.

Roy, N. (2020, June 16). Coding is the new literacy. Harvard University

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021, September 8). Employment by major occupational group.

Young Adult Library Services Association (n.d.). Issue brief #2: Libraries help keep teens safe 



Young Adult Library Services Association (2020). 2020 YALSA TEENtober toolkit.


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