Quotes are very popular on blogs and social media because people find them inspiring and motivating. Quotes are also useful in the School Library—a great quote can prompt student questioning and creative thinking in ways that a mere statement, or even a good question, cannot.
As a School Librarian I use quotes 3 different ways:
- A reading teaser to arouse interest in a book.
- In Library Lessons to highlight a theme or enhance a concept.
- As promotional displays on bulletin boards and library walls to advocate for the School Library.
QUOTES AS TEASERS
Many School Librarians use quotations during booktalks, especially the first line on the first page. We all know how enticing that first line can be:
- “Call me Ishmael.”
- “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”
- “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
- “I considered saying no.” (from my daughter’s first published book)
I ‘tease’ the first line of a book to demonstrate to students why the first page is on the IT IS FOR ME! checklist that helps them choose a good book.
A librarian colleague has a wall of windows facing into a hallway, and students can write a favorite book quote on the glass with brightly colored markers.
I don’t have large windows, but when students talk about a good book, I give them a color 3” x 5” index card to write a quote and staple it to their grade level bulletin board.
QUOTES FOR LIBRARY LESSONS
I learned the value of using a quotation to start a lesson while collaborating with a student teacher on a folktales lesson. She displayed a quote from John Lennon on a presentation slide as students entered the library:
“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”
You could see the anticipation on their faces as they read it and wondered what the lesson would be about. After that experience I began to use quotations to give students a taste of a forthcoming Library Lesson.
My favorite lesson starter is for Night of the Notables, our 8g culminating project. It’s such an inspirational way to introduce students to the significance of the 200+ Notables they can choose to embody. I also place this quote as a sign on their grade level bulletin board to excite them about the coming event.
We can also use quotes during Library Lessons to illuminate a concept outside a student’s normal understanding. My Renaissance Brown-Bag Biography Lesson is the year’s first research project for 6g Advanced Academics students. These middle school students cannot comprehend a time when there was no public education and few could read, so I begin my lesson by telling them that 1450 is an important date in history because invention of the printing press made reading a crucial skill. I then quote excerpts from the book Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman, including these:
So powerful—perhaps even magical—was the capacity to read that it could save a man from the gallows. “The said Paul reads, to be branded; the said William does not read, to be hanged.” (p.32)
Of 204 men sentenced to death for a first offense …, 95 of them pleaded “benefit of clergy,” which meant that they could meet the challenge of reading a sentence from the Bible, and therefore, would be spared from the gallows. (p.40)
Students are much more interested in researching this time period after learning that the ability to read could literally save your life!
QUOTES AS PROMOTIONAL DISPLAYS
At my first staff development as a new librarian, the principal shared a quote which I placed in large letters above the circulation desk and often use it to encourage students:
“Everything you need for your success is within you.”
Bulletin boards can promote our School Library Program to students, faculty, administration, and visitors. I customize 3 library bulletin boards near grade level hallways to coordinate the grade’s classroom content. Each bulletin board has a few rotating features that include a quotation or meme to promote reading and using the library:
- An English Language Arts sign for each grading period’s theme:
- Prejudice & hatred arise from seeing only differences. Tolerance comes from recognizing similarities.
- Open books encourage open minds.
- What we see depends mainly on what we look for. (John Lubbock, statesman)
- A sign promoting each grade’s Special Social Studies Collection:
- Reading is a window to the world.
- The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. (Thomas Jefferson)
- Infographics of online services for subject area research projects:
Get Better Grades! Use Library Online Services!
I use a 4th bulletin board—visible to everyone on their way to the cafeteria—for a monthly theme, often with a related quotation:
- September, November, February, and May are Heritage Months: Hispanic, Native American/Indigenous Peoples, Black History, and Asian/Pacific American. For Black History Month we also make a timeline around the exterior walls of the library and each day we add a student-created sign with a quote about a significant event or person of note.
- October includes National Red Ribbon Week, and through the years I’ve collected very creative advertisements & posters with quotes about alcohol, smoking, and drugs. Students help choose items and prepare the display, and they sure know how to draw attention to the bulletin board and this issue!
PERSONAL INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES
In another blog post I shared a few quotes that may be personally inspirational for school librarians, one of which I like to keep posted near my desk so I keep my Library Lessons succinct and relevant:
“Kids have a long attention span, but a low tolerance for boredom.“
My favorite quote, from Louis L’Amour’s The Walking Drum has been displayed in my classroom and then in my school library for 25 years. Many students have told me it helps them appreciate the importance of school. I now display it on my blog (top right, under my photo) to inspire those who visit me here.
My final quote constantly reminds me how important our work is; it, too, is at the top of my blog. A former principal, who knew how meaningful it is to me, gave me a pin of the quote, which I wear on my coat. It’s all the more poignant for remembering whence it came:
“I touch the future; I teach.“
(Teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe)