This past weekend, the California Reading Association Professional Development Institute (PDI) was held at the Visalia Convention Center. This was a treat for the Central Valley since this state-wide conference for educators involved in reading and language arts instruction is normally held in either Northern or Southern California. On Saturday, our amazing Teacher Librarian Program adjunct instructor Maria Petropulos and I presented a session entitled “Teacher Librarians: The Key to Student Success in CA ELA CCSS.” Our goal was to inspire attendees to either advocate for the addition of a teacher librarian to their school faculty or become one. We knew we had achieved our goal when one attendee left with a huge smile on her face and the parting words, “I feel really empowered now!” It’s so exciting to see other educators learn about the benefits of a credentialed librarian and join us in becoming advocates for the profession.
The keynote speaker of the PDI for Friday evening was Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild. I cannot say enough wonderful things about her presentation! I appreciate how she demonstrates how important self-selected independent reading is to student achievement. Achievement increases in all areas – vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, writing, etc., the more students read! And to be truly college ready, they need to ready widely, in great volume. Sadly, many students in California K-12 schools do not have access to the books needed to engage in this type of reading outside of school. This is why it’s so important for schools to employ a both a teacher librarian and library paraprofessional so that the school library can remain open before and after the school day (and preferably during school breaks) and so all students have equitable access to a quality collection of books provided by personnel who are able to motivate and inspire them to read as much as possible.
Donalyn also shared The Nerdy Book Club – a blog that promotes great reads. Check it out!