Updated: Dec 26, 2020
Often you will hear that libraries are the Heart of the School. Sometimes you might also come across the terms a Community or a Learning Hub. And indeed, libraries deserve all those titles. Public libraries, university or school libraries are users centered pods. They exist for, and because of their users which can be students, teachers, parents, seniors, researchers etc. Libraries have the power of bringing everyone together.
My role as a teacher librarian is to meet the needs of all stakeholders in the school and build a community. By supporting teachers and students on daily basis I connect with them. Additionally, I support parents as users of the library and build relationships with them. Parents are our strong partners in promoting reading to their children.
The best way to invite parents in and include them in the amazing things happening at your library, is first and foremost opening the library doors for them. Next, collaborate with them on big events such as Book Weeks or Book Swaps etc. They would love to help and they can be very creative. Organizing events such as book cover or book trailer challenges on which they can work together with their child is fun and bonding. I find organizing parents information sessions and/or workshops as the most effective way to promote the role of the library and help them develop an understanding of how the library supports the whole community.
The first time I started running library workshops and info sessions for parents was several years ago when I was asked by my principal to present for parents on the topic: Just Right Books. The focus was on how to encourage your child to choose the best suitable books for his/her age, interest and reading level. From then on those parents library sessions became a tradition at the school and the library reached the level of a true community space. I have organized parents sessions on various topics such as: the importance of information and digital literacy, how author visits impact the readers's experience, role of picture books in social emotional learning, reading digital vs. print texts, and the parents favorite, Book Tasting. I usually arrange this activity for the students. On those days the library turns into a restaurant, with a menu and even menu review cards. Parents basically live the experience of their child and at the same time become familiar with numerous titles appropriate for different interest and age level.
Once you build that connection with the parents, they love to come back. During the week the library turns into a vibrant place before and after school hours. Parents enjoy quality time with their children in a cozy space filled with books. Everyone finds a book and a corner to share a great story or two. It's a heartwarming sight.
Photo credit: Focus Photo of 4 Wooden Pawn Figurine. Pixabay. https://www.pexels.com/photo/focus-photo-of-4-wooden-pawn-figurine-209728/ , 2016