Here in the UK, schools have gone back to normal…well, as normal as can be expected. High school students must wear masks in the hallways, but classes are on like they used to be. That means library inductions are on, which are a good thing because they are a lot of fun. This year, I am obviously running library inductions slightly differently, but I hope the students will still enjoy them. Students are allowed to use the library in their grade bubbles. They can browse books that have been set aside for their specific grade; if they want other books they can borrow them, but they need to ask us in the library to retrieve them. It’s not an ideal situation, but nothing is anymore.
We are also quarantining all book returns for 72 hours and asking every student to sign in with their own pen or pencil, our own track and trace type of system.
I want library inductions to be fun, but in the state of the world in which we now live, I also want it to be calming and distracting. I want there to be an hour where students forget about what’s going on outside.
My first activity in the library induction (aimed at our 11-year-old students) will be to introduce them to our new London reading tube map. Each tube line has a series of books on it, and when students read a book, they get a stamp in their handy tube map passport. When they finish a tube line, they get a free book.
Once that’s finished, students will take part in a fun new activity that I came across here. Students taking part in library inductions will make their own paper airplane. But this is no ordinary paper airplane – students will describe the characters on the wings of the plane, write a book review on one side of the body and outline the plot on the other side. They will also be encouraged to decorate the plane as much as possible. My goal is to hang them from the ceiling of the library when they are finished.
Once we’re done, I hope to have time to read out loud to them, because it’s an important activity that students of all ages should experience. Reading aloud creates a calm atmosphere and contains a ton of benefits. It creates a strong connection with your classroom, and shares a love of reading in which students see a role model reading a novel. It’s also known to increase fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. I want to get them interested in mysteries because we are launching a mystery reading competition so I hope to read out High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson.
In High Rise Mystery, Nik and Norva are sweltering in a London heatwave. Their summer is about to get a lot more uncomfortable when they find a corpse in the dumpster outside of the building in which they live. Not trusting the police, they launch their own investigation. When their father becomes a prime suspect, they become obsessed with the case, driven to prove him innocent. It’s a thrilling mystery adventure set in London with a killer sequel. I recommend High Rise Mystery for all school libraries.
We were also lucky to have the author, Sharna Jackson, do a Zoom call with our 11-year-old students to discuss ways that they can write their own mystery story. Having an author Zoom with your students is an amazing way to bring stories to life and breathe some excitement into a library induction.
I hope these library inductions provide some fun and relaxing activities for the students who, let’s face it, are experiencing a ton of pressure right now and facing a lot of anxiety, more than we know.