Book of the Month Unites Students of all Ages
Book of the Month Unites Students of all Ages

500The library team has launched a fun, new initiative this year that is designed to bring students in all three divisions together.

"Even though we are all physically on the same campus, it can be tricky to coordinate cross-divisional opportunities between students, faculty, and staff," explained Upper School Librarian Andrea Yu. "As one of the PreK-12 departments at EA, we librarians thought a monthly, common book could be an easy way to bring our community together."

Each month, the team selects a picture book with a theme that appeals to students of all ages.

"We decided to select children's picture books for two reasons. First, we want to ensure that even our youngest readers can participate. And two, we want to highlight how even children's literature can contain stories that resonate with people beyond the target audience," said Director of Libraries Lori Harding. "Their themes, messages, and artwork are crafted in a way that is simple, yet so impactful and beautiful. Plus, they're short, so anyone can take a few relaxing minutes to read a picture book, regardless of how busy they are."

"I think the Book of the Month is a fabulous way to share some of the most amazing new picture books being published," shared Lower School Librarian Gretchen Simon, Hon. "Authors, illustrators, and publishers are creating beautiful and important books that are related to current issues and build our cultural awareness and appreciation. The art and stories in picture books are enjoyed by everyone regardless of how old we are!"

Discussion questions are provided with each monthly selection to jumpstart meaningful conversations.

A Story Walk kicked things off in September. "I set up the Story Walk to get kids reading, moving, and outside," explained Lower School Librarian Meg Yeaton. The book, The Day You Begin, chronicles the first few days of school for the main character, Angelina.

"I think what's so special about the story is that each age group can take something from it," said Ms. Yeaton.

"We center each month on a theme that correlates to some part of the student experience," said Ms. Yu. "Our first book in September focused on finding connection and belonging, especially pertinent as students begin a new school year. Our second book in October, Sharice's Big Voice, highlights the importance of making people feel seen, valued, and heard."

The selection for November is Thankful, written by Elaine Vickers. The story centers on finding gratitude and joy for all the small things in life that collectively make the human experience so special. "This is also part of our larger mission for the EA Libraries: to foster empathy by providing windows and mirrors of the diverse human experience through our resources, stories, instruction, and environments," said Middle School Librarian Alison King.

"As a PreK-12 department, the library team has the unique opportunity to be a part of an EA student's educational experience, some for as long as thirteen years," shared Mrs. Harding. "Strong collaboration between the Lower, Middle and Upper School libraries ensures our students receive an education that incrementally builds their literacy and information-seeking skills."

Copies of the monthly book selections are available at the entrance of the Upper School, the Middle School office, and in the Lower School Turner Library, and Annenberg Library. Middle School teacher Kim Piersall, Hon. launched the read-aloud series for October. Sophomore Na'rome Rayborn is the guest reader for Thankful.

"Everyone loves to hear a story read aloud," said Mrs. Simon. "The listening experience adds an element of engagement which makes the story that much more memorable."

"Reading is a life-long activity that introduces readers to other worlds and perspectives beyond their own," said Ms. Yu. "We ascribe to the philosophy of Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop who coined the phrase 'Windows, Mirrors and Sliding Glass Doors' to explain how we can see ourselves in a book and how we can learn about the lives of others through the book's narrative. As librarians, we hope to instill in our students a love and curiosity for exploring the world around them through the stories they read and the research projects they undertake."