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School Stories

Graland Library: A Dynamic Environment for Learning

As educators, our responsibility is to provide opportunities for students to discover a world to which they can connect. My responsibility as lead librarian at Graland is to curate a book collection that can provide these very windows and mirrors for each student.
Towards this end, I constantly am researching and analyzing current trends in children’s literature. 

The children’s and young adult book industry is making a concerted effort to create culturally responsive literature that ensures readers are exposed to more than just a “single story,” but rather a multitude of stories. I continue to be impressed by the change makers, those current authors and illustrators, who are diversifying the canon of reading material for students and am proud to say that the Graland library, on a weekly basis, is putting these trend-setting books on the shelves. Accordingly, “check out” time is a bustling period of wonder and curiosity! Between students’ exclaims of excitement on finding just the “right” book and the chatter between classmates over what they are discovering within the pages of a book, check out time truly is a marvel to behold and experience. It reminds me of a visit to a crowded Times Square: colorful, noisy, and electrifying! 

While library class time provides a tremendous opportunity for students to find books, the library team and I always are looking for innovative ways to get the books off our shelves and into the hands of our students. One method is the Book Talk program which I piloted in Grades 3 and 6 this year after working closely with librarians from other ACIS schools. The mission of Book Talks is twofold: to bring the library into the lower school classrooms and to bring the middle school classrooms into the library. 

The Book Talk program presents snippets of books, both new and old, that appeal to a variety of readers. I often ask my students to consider reading “without walls,” to read beyond their comfort level, and to explore different genres and book titles about topics they have yet to discover. Books give students a chance to connect with characters that perhaps are experiencing their same struggles, challenges, feelings, and accomplishments. Whether a child is an avid reader or a reticent one, I believe there is a book for everyone. Over the past few months, the Book Talk program has opened doors to new ideas and experiences. Students have gained access to books that hold up and reflect their mirrors. In essence, the Book Talks provide a snapshot into literature that is available and approachable. 

All in all the Graland library is a welcoming environment responsive to and inclusive of the entire school community. We continually seek out innovative approaches and new book titles to instill a love of reading and inspire all members of our school to open new doors and hold up windows and mirrors: to read and discover “without walls.”  
Lead librarian Ashleigh Finn has a bachelor’s degree in English and two master’s degrees:  children’s literature and elementary education. She was a Grade 4 teacher before joining the library team where she gets the opportunity to really get to know individual students and their families. Ashleigh likes snowboarding, yoga, travel and music, but most of all she loves to read.

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.