Thursday, July 2, 2015

"I don't have time to read, Mrs. Cooper."


Is there anything better than a shipment of new books? I feel like it is Christmas every time I receive a shipment of books that are hot off the press. I eagerly run to my students with all the new titles and expect them to mob me in the hallway trying to get them. In, that does not happen.  I hear the phrase, "I don't have time to read, Mrs. Cooper."  My heart breaks, as students rush to their next class, and I am left holding my precious treasures.

Well,  fighting back my disappoint, I decided something needed to be done. I am all too aware that students have tight schedules and finding time for pleasure reading takes a backseat more often than not.  So, when are students free?  The answer is lunch time.  The cafeteria is full of students in a relaxed social setting. I thought to myself, "What a great time to go connect with the students!"  

Loading up a book cart of full new titles and magazines,  I start off on my quest.  At first the students look at me oddly. They wonder, what is the librarian doing?  I stop at every table and show off the books and magazines.  Using my trusty iPad, I check out my first book!  Wow, I feel elated. To get one book into a student's hand has made the whole trip worthwhile.  Soon coming to the cafeteria is a weekly event for me.  The students stop me in the hallway and ask, "Are you coming to see us today, Mrs. Cooper?"  Absolutely! The student library assistants begin dressing me in colorful costumes, from Duck Dynasty to a giant box of Valentine's Day candy.  They don't want anyone to miss seeing me!  

Then, something amazing begins to happen.  I begin to build relationships with the students.  Not just, "Hi! How are you?"  I am referring to real authentic relationships. Students wait to see me on Fridays to catch me up on how their week went. They share their accomplishments, disappoints, hopes, dreams, and aspirations with me...the librarian.  Yes, I check out books, many books, but that is not the point. The blessing has become mine. All these amazing young people are sharing their stories with me.  They inspire me, motivate me, and remind me how fortunate I am to have the best job in the world.  

I will share one student's tale. Every week I would approach a table of young men who loved the outdoors, riding recreational vehicles, fishing and hunting.  These young men would look at me with my pile of books and politely tell me, "Mrs. Cooper, we don't read books." Well, I kept coming by every week to chat with them.  As we started getting to know each other, one of the young men asked if I had any Duck Dynasty books.  Well, no I did not have any, but I would be happy to order them.  As soon as the books came in, I rushed to the cafeteria to find the same young man.  Later that day he came by to see me.  He was on page twenty-one.  He kept coming by to inform me what was happening in each chapter. As he finished each book, he shared the stories with me, his English teacher, and his friends.  Later,  I found out this young man had not read one book the entire time he had been in high school up to this point. I felt so humbled that he trusted me enough to ask for a book.  

Now, I look for every possible opportunity to connect with students. Mostly, I listen to their stories. Our young people are just waiting for us to ask them for their ideas, opinions, and dreams. Go ask, today!