Building a Culture of Reading in your School and Classroom

Can You Feel the Literacy?

I have been fortunate enough to visit hundreds of schools and have found so many that welcome you at the door with art, books, and the joy of literacy. Take a journey with me into an awesome example of an Elementary School that has cultivated a rich culture of literacy!

As I enter the building, the first thing to greet me is a child-sized bookcase filled with colorful picture books positioned next to a comfortable chair that just invites me to sit down and have a read! Above this pleasant nook hang pictures of children and teachers reading. Framed in the center on a small shelf is “The Principal’s Book Recommendation of the Week! On the floor next to the chair is a welcome sign with an arrow labeled, “This way to the library!”

Elementary Literacy

As I walk into the office, I see more books on a coffee table for those waiting to meet with the principal to read. The principal’s office is another book wonderland with puppets, stuffed characters, and posters promoting reading. The principal invited me to take a quick tour of the school.

As we ventured down the hallway to the primary classrooms, murals depicting adventures from well-known children’s literature provided a colorful backdrop to examples of student work: art, writing, and mathematics. In a glance, I had a very good idea of what learning had been taking place recently.

Classroom space was clearly designed for movement, reading, and learning. I quickly scanned the bookshelves and bins, noting there were hundreds of books representing both fiction and informational texts at a child’s level, ready and waiting to be opened and savored.

We finished the tour in the staff lounge to sit and talk. Three teachers were having lunch and discussing the books they were reading aloud to their classes. On one wall, there was a messy and well-used shelf with professional books and journals including The Reading Teacher and Instructor, as well as DVD sets for professional learning. On the back of the door hung a white board with information about a teacher book club starting the following week, along with a sign-up list. I was not surprised when I started a deeper conversation with that principal to learn that I was sharing ideas with a literacy lover!

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