Cultivating a Culture of Reading
Keystone’s third annual Love of Reading Week took place from April 23rd-April 27th, transforming the primary, secondary, and high school libraries into spaces for students to participate in a range of activities allowing them to explore intellectual curiosities, share and swap books with peers, and exchange literary ideas beyond the classroom. The Love of Reading Week offered students, faculty, and staff at Keystone the chance to cultivate a culture of reading not just for academia, but also for leisure. Students engaged in a host of programs, from an annual scavenger hunt hosted by the secondary school library, to testing their knowledge of library systems and learning about various resources, and even the opportunity to contribute to the reading tree project in the primary school library created by two Grade 11 students. The three library divisions worked collaboratively during the Love of Reading Week to ensure that activities were equally dispersed amongst the libraries and that students from all schools were able to engage with their peers in meaningful and fun ways throughout the week.
“At Keystone learning takes place inside and outside of the classroom. There are many programs that take place throughout the year. We organize ELP trips, weekend exploration programs, field trips, and reading is no different from those activities” stated Kacy Song, Director of Libraries at Keystone. “Reading for academic growth, for exams, for writing essays, and even for leisure and pleasure is equally important. A lot of the time ideas and inspiration comes from reading, and students never know what they might come across when they read. We want students to have encounters with authors they might not have come across before. That’s why we need a whole week to emphasize that love of reading is special, and we want everyone to embrace it.”
A Variety of Programs
The primary, secondary, and high libraries are beautiful, open air spaces where students can immerse themselves in leisurely reading after school or during short breaks throughout the school day, serve as meeting spaces for students to share and exchange ideas on a class project, or simply serve as a gathering place where students can share exciting thoughts on a new fiction novel or book of poetry.
During Love of Reading Week, there were numerous activities for students across all schools to partake in, and several open to the Keystone community as well. “There are three activities for the whole school” stated Kacy Song, “The reading tree, the book swap, and author A Jia’s visit to Keystone.” Each of these activities were open to students, faculty, and staff to participate in.
The reading tree, organized by two Grade 11 students, is an IB CAS (International Baccalaureate- Creativity, Action, and Service) project that has evolved to include faculty and staff. The project consists of two trees, housed in the primary and secondary school libraries, decorated with post it notes where members of the community suggest books to the community by writing the title and author of a book on a flower shaped post it note, and attaching it to a branch on the trees. The diverse range of books on the reading tree and the amount of floral shaped recommendations are exemplum of how invested members of the community are in cultivating a culture of reading here at Keystone. “Every book is beneficial, and can serve as a source of inspiration for someone” remarked Kacy Song.
Primary school teachers allocated class time for several Grade 10 students to present their personal project presentations to their younger peers. For Grade 10 students, this was a prime opportunity to perfect their public speaking skills, and also to give primary school students a glimpse into what academic life is like when they matriculate into secondary school.
Other Grade 10 students utilized their academic revision times to sit in on peer presentations, helping to foster peer-to-peer support and engage in presentations they otherwise would not be able to due to other academic commitments. For Grade 10 student Betty Gao, presenting her work to primary school students allowed teachers and peers to see another side of her. The normally timid secondary school student gave an exhilarating presentation which garnered lots of positive applause from the young audience.
Throughout the week there were special days allocated to specific activities throughout the week for students to partake in. Monday, April 23rd marked the beginning of the book swap for students, faculty, staff, and even Keystone families. Tuesday, April 24th was Dress Up Day with the built-in photo booth in the primary school library. Primary school students ushered onto campus wearing costumes of characters from their favorite books. Wednesday, the 25th was Battle of the Books Day, where students shared their favorite books with the community. Thursday, guest author A Jia gave an exciting talk to students in the high school library on translations. Friday, April 27th concluded Love of Reading Week and the end of Book Swap day, and the official announcement of Keystone’s Chinese Panda Book Award; an initiative that began to get more young readers interested in Chinese literature.
Books in Bloom
Reading buddies is a program hosted by the secondary school library. All students in Grades 6-8 were paired with classes from Grades 1-4 to share their love of reading. The students read together, sometimes in English and sometimes in Chinese, and everyone got to know each other well and loved the experience.
“We worked together with Jennifer, Carly and Lizzy, and primary school classes to book buddy reading times. This was the first time organizing buddy reading classes and we had almost 20 classes of buddy reading during the week, where primary students shared a book and read with middle school students during their drop everything and read time” remarked Lynne Nigalis. “We were a bit nervous about how this would turn out, and even the middle school students were a bit hesitant. But after half an hour of reading with primary school students, the middle school students grew very attached to their primary school peers. It was wonderful to witness!”
The secondary school library worked alongside the primary school and high school library and hosted a range of programs for students. Reading buddies was a roaring success, as indicated by the high number of secondary school students who eagerly inquired about the possibility of extending it to a KAP activity for the next academic year. Trivia quizzes, the annual scavenger hunt “Dogs Favorite Books”, and Kahoot- an online game which tested the students’ library knowledge were all activities that were well received by students throughout the week.
Looking Towards the Future
One of the merits of Love of Reading Week is the sense of community it fosters between the library departments at Keystone and other departments such as the athletic department. “Doing an activity where we can bridge a connection between the primary and secondary school builds more community at Keystone. We prepared activities that bridged the schools in a very powerful, meaningful way” remarked Lynne Nigalis, Middle School Librarian. “Keystone kids really do love reading, and it’s nice that they see we also value reading and always allocate time for it. In the classroom and beyond.”
Looking towards the future at next year’s Love of Reading Week, Kacy Song states “I would love to see more activities between students and cross divisional collaboration across the libraries and teachers. But more importantly, we want all members of the community to be avid role models for our students and to show a real passion and love for reading!”