To spark a love of reading in students at an early age and encourage parents to take an active role in their child’s education, Rochester City School District in New York has created “lending libraries” for their pre-k classrooms. The lending libraries serve as a place for parents, grandparents or any caring adult to borrow books to read at home with their child and extend learning beyond the school day.
To hear more about the idea behind “lending libraries” we caught up with Executive Director, Dr. Robin Hooper from Rochester City School District, who created this initiative.
What is a “lending library” and how many do you offer? We implemented the lending libraries in all of our prekindergarten classrooms district-wide. Each of our 128 prekindergarten classrooms are equipped with a lending library. Each classroom was provided with bookcases and multiple copies of high quality preschool fiction and non-fiction books to be borrowed and returned to support the development of early literacy skills.
Why did you create the lending libraries? We wanted to make it convenient for our preschool parents to read books daily with their children and the idea for the lending library was developed.
How did you invite parents to use the lending libraries? We sent a letter to parents informing them of our reading initiative and invited them to join the challenge to read 1,000 books before kindergarten. One of our preschool teachers was featuring the initiative in her classroom and we decided to make this a program-wide initiative.
It was easy to invite parents to borrow books when they picked their children up from the program. Some teachers sent home multiple books at the beginning of each week and exchanged the books weekly.
Are their time restrictions on when parents can use the lending libraries? We have not restricted parent use of the lending library.
How would you recommend other schools create their own lending libraries? I would recommend beginning a lending library by identifying high quality fiction and non-fiction books at the appropriate level and developing a prioritized list of titles to obtain. Also, plan to purchase multiple copies of each title for each classroom.
What is the biggest challenge with the lending library? The biggest challenge is the record keeping. Students and parents help track the number of books read. Our preschool students are learning the basics of borrowing books and returning them to prepare them for the time they are eligible for a public library card. Students who fail to bring a book back are still allowed to borrow books. We discuss why it is important to bring books back and how to take care of books with the student, but they are still allowed to borrow books. It would defeat our purpose if the students were not allowed to continue borrowing books.
It has been very exciting to see so many families have access to so many new hardcover books. We look forward to continuing this initiative.