Libraries? What’s the point?!

Reading Time: 7 minutes

​Hey guys! I made it back, somewhat different and changed, but change can be good. I feel I have changed in a growth spurt kind of way and that means progress can continue to be made and new goals set. However, procrastination level is still the same. Not sure I will ever rise above that particular obstacle, but, it’s ok.

I have been in the process of writing this particular article for about 4 months but seem to be unable to concentrate enough to finish it. Which is ironic, because when I want to sit and write it, I usually pick up a book to read instead. I’m supposed to be spreading the word and helping to get more libraries around China, but I can’t because I am too busy using the library to get books to read for myself. Dry humor today, I suppose.

Well, I am back in China and my library access is gone so therefore, I have plenty of non-reading time in which to ask you to be more proactive in the area of reading and in turn,  the reason we need access to books which in turn,  means access to libraries.

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As a Library Media Specialist in the States, I have the same job of promoting library usage, activities and reading. I must show the parents WHY they should be utilizing the library system. So, this should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong! Because China is still updating their library systems and how to entail it as a hub of the community and a center of the school system.  It is difficult to explain what I see in my head when I hear the word ‘library’…..therefore, we need the help of the public to spread the word about The Library Project.

What are Libraries?

Libraries are wonderful places. They are quiet and clean and nice (except for the old lady who won’t let you talk…oh wait, is that really me?). They are magical places. They take you away when you are sad or angry or frustrated or lonely. They send you on adventures when you are tired of being in the same place and want to explore. They send you back or forward in time when you want to see what it was like in Ancient China or Rome or want to see what it will be like in 2068.

Libraries are places that provide reading materials of all kinds and a place to enjoy those materials as a family. Libraries provide games and other activities for children and families. Librarians run the library and they help to find the appropriate books or answer questions; they also lead special events and activities for the community each month. They provide a schedule of reading activities such as storytime for little ones, book clubs for older kids and adults, language groups for all ages, STEAM activities to enhance knowledge, drama areas for groups who want to perform for a community audience and most importantly……they provide books and information to everyone, free of charge! Libraries are for EVERYONE. Libraries don’t just exist in school buildings. They are not just for students of that school building.

There are two kinds of libraries: School Libraries and Public Libraries. Both are important. Once children learn how to use their school library, they can then use the public library outside of library hours. This way, they are never without reading material and are always close to someone (Librarian) who can help find answers to questions they have. They can teach their family how to use the library and become an active member of the learning community.

Why do we need them?

We need libraries because we need information, we need to answer questions, we need to gain knowledge, we need social activities that enhance family values and education and we need to read. People read for many reasons: information, facts, research, school work and fun!! Reading helps to lower stress levels by giving us an escape from reality for a little while, it helps us to unwind, it helps us to travel and go on adventures. Reading also helps us to be successful, life long learners. Reading also helps to score better on those mandated tests that seem to be rising in popularity (of course, I don’t believe in testing as means of measuring success). In a library, you could read both sides and see the research and then formulate your own opinion on the matter.

Reading enhances language skills and vocabulary and comprehension. Reading can make or break the literacy level of a child who then grows up to have a lower literacy level as an adult who doesn’t pass on reading skills to the child and therefore, the cycle of continuing illiteracy never stops. If we want to raise the literacy rate, we HAVE to raise the access to books! All children, people, society members need access to books.

The standard time to read is 20 minutes per day of a comfort level book on a topic that we are interested in. The standard number of books to have on hand is 3 level areas: Easy, Comfort and Challenge. The topic should be interesting to person doing the reading, otherwise, learning is not happening. There are no benefits to staring a book for 20 minutes, because you or they aren’t going to read it. No reading = No benefits. Easy levels are for review or to practice fluency. They are too easy for the reader to be of educational reading benefit, but they are good for a quick brush up of information or to increase the speed of reading accurately (fluency). Comfort levels are good for learning by oneself. Reading for enjoyment, escape, adjusting to find new vocabulary or checking comprehension skills. Not too hard, not too easy, just right (like baby bear’s bed).

Challenge level is for reaching new reading goals and levels. Challenge areas should be done as a group or one on one, these books are too hard for the person to sit and read/understand on their own. They can be of the frustration level and if used too often without help or assigned as reading at home, they can stifle the love of reading that we hope to pass to the learner. There is also a fine line between challenge level and just plain too hard, put it back level. To check the level quickly: open the book to the middle, start with the first word on the page and read out loud to the end, hold up one finger for each word you do not know or cannot pronounce. Four to five words is a challenge, six or more is too hard for independent reading.

Literacy of population

According to our estimates 1,112,836,099 persons or 96.36% of adult population (aged 15 years and above) in China are able to read and write. Accordingly about 42,013,778 adults are illiterate.

Literacy rate for adult male population is 98.17% (578,518,683 persons). 10,796,250 are illiterate.

Literacy rate for adult female population is 94.48% (534,317,415 persons). 31,217,529 are illiterate.

Youth literacy rates are 99.74% and 99.71% for males and females accordingly. The overall youth literacy rate is 99.73%. Youth literacy rate definition covers the population between the ages of 15 to 24 years.

The estimation data for section “China population literacy” is based on the latest data published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics (retrieved March 13, 2016) 

With thousands of births each day, having access to libraries and other reading programs will keep the literacy rate growing well into the future as the young people become parents and teach their children the value of reading. The more people means the need for more libraries and more books.

Why read 20 minutes per day?

The more you read, the more words you learn, the more literate you become. Literate people score higher on tests than illiterate ones. For example if person A reads 20 minutes per day, they have access to 1,800,000 words per year and will score in the 90th percentile on tests (provided they have no other issues with testing, ie test anxiety), person B reads 5 minutes per day, they have only gained 282,000 words per year and will score in the middle, around 50th percentile and those who read only 1 minute per day will not have much gain at all, only 8000 words per year and their scores will be at the lowest end of the percentile rank perhaps only 10thpercentile.

Words are power! The more you read, the more you know, the more you know, the more success you will have in life.

What is The Library Project?

The Library Project is a charity that gathers donations to help establish needed libraries throughout China. They are dedicated to improving literacy and creating a way to improve education for all children. To date, they have built over 2,500 libraries through foundations and charity donations. We, at Teacher’s House, are helping with this foundation to bring more literacy and education to all children and communities in China. For more information on how you can help The Library Project, go to their weblink at:

www.library-project.org.

How can you help?

Teacher’s House collects donations for The Library Project. There are different ways in which you can help. You can sponsor a fundraiser or offer a service and collect donations yourself and submit them via QR code to Teacher’s House. 

You can donate directly on The Library Project website. OR you can join Teacher’s House Charity File Sharing group and have a win win experience of having access to multiple pdf files for your use and sending donations for what you find useful. You get something free and give back through a donation that will help others with life long learning. Win Win situation. 

Teacher’s House donation goal for this charity is 34,734 rmb, to date we have raised 14% of that amount (4, 787rmb). For more information on Teacher’s House Charities go to:

www.teachershouseshop.com/charities

Let’s work together to get books into the hands of children and create a love of learning and literacy that will live on from generation to generation.

As Always,

Be Kind,

With Love,

Christy

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Sources:

http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/slr/vol3/SLMR_IndependentReading_V3.pdf

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