Book Love scholarship recipient speaks at $ 457 board meeting
Two English teachers from Horace Good Middle School are now recipients of the Book Love Foundation Book Grant.
The grant, which began in 2012, is given to teachers in the United States and Canada to help teachers obtain books to put books in the hands of students. It receives more than 400 applications each year. 63 candidates have been selected for 2021.
Jose Alfredo Anaya, a seventh grade English teacher, received the 2021 scholarship while A’Lana Bates, another English teacher, received the scholarship in 2020.
The two spoke about the grant and the importance of reading and putting books in the hands of students at the regular USD 457 Education Council meeting on Monday.
Anaya said he applied because having a diverse library has always been a huge goal for him as a teacher. He was overjoyed when he heard he had won.
Growing up, Anaya read books like the Harry Potter series, Old Yeller, and Goosebumps, but didn’t feel the books really represented him.
“In my time as a teacher for the past seven years, I have noticed that there is a huge lack of diversity in the characters and novels that students read,” he said. “I’m a first generation Hispanic college graduate, and I know a lot of my students come from similar backgrounds, so I want to be able to provide them with books that will interest them and reflect who they are but also teach them about other cultures. . “
Bates said she applied because she has been expanding her classroom library since 2017, which has been growing steadily due to the LiNK grant Horace Good had for three years and which provided the teacher with $ 250 per semester, but that doesn’t go very far when buying new books through the book fair.
She also built funds into her budget to buy used books for the class, but that doesn’t go any further.
“A few years before 2020, Horace Good’s English teachers had done an independent study of Penny Kittle’s Book Love ourselves,” she said. “I thought if I got that, maybe I would get $ 500, I don’t know, but it will be something I can put in their hands.”
Bates said research has shown that class libraries are the “great equalizer.” Sometimes there are students who will not go to the library or who cannot make it to the library.
“In our building, we have to alternate days, each teacher has one day every two weeks to take their whole class,” she said. “We have the option of sending students on passes, two or three at a time, but then you lose the ability to converse with those students while they’re there.”
Classroom libraries remove barriers to getting books to students, Bates said. It is important to give books to students because they use them to help them understand who they are and to discover that they are not alone and that their experiences are shared.
“We heard the high school presentation talk about these socio-emotional self-regulation and reading is a key part of it,” she said. “Teaching practices have a lasting effect on students ‘ability and willingness to read, and when students have a teacher who says’ hey, I know you love sports, this book made me think of you. “. Almost guaranteed the student is going to say “oh, they thought of me” and they are going to take this book and go. They might not read everything, but they will take an interest in it and come back to you for more conversation. “
Books also help students deepen their knowledge of the world.
Anaya said that at the start of the year he did a reading interest inventory to see what the students wanted to read and found that many of them really like graphic novels and historical fiction.
“Something I tried to order to push them out of their comfort zone a little bit was non-fiction books,” he said. “I ordered different ones on different things like the Birmingham Children’s March, we are reading a novel called Refugees right now, so I ordered books on refugees from Central and South America, and then I got books on Native American history in the United States, just different, non-fictional things they could read. “
Bates said other teachers in the building brought their at-risk or reluctant readers to her and she helped them find books and develop their love of reading.
She gave the example of a student who, while in seventh grade, loaned a book from her war literature section the previous year and returned this year to get the second in a series. She also had a 24-year-old former student, who she has kept in touch with and become friends with, calls her and asks her to borrow the Percy Jackson series of books.
“Building these relationships and getting emails from my alumni who are now in high school saying ‘I have to read a book and I have no idea what to do’ okay let’s talk let’s see where is your interest and let put books in your hands, it’s worth it, ”she said.
Anaya and Bates asked at the board meeting to help more teachers create a love for books by supporting and protecting Independent Reading Framework 20 for all high school students, to eventually develop cash matching opportunities for future Book Love grant recipients, to approve furniture requests for more durable shelves that better fit a specific classroom for teachers, to provide professional development opportunities for teachers regarding independent reading and its benefits, to train instructional coaches on how to support independent reading in classrooms and possibly make certified libraries available to teachers.