Literacy through active learning practices is important for university students as well as preschool through grade twelve students. The Bringing Books to Life project introduces area educators and librarians to the Cooperative Services for Children’s Literature (CSCL) Children’s Book Center (CBC), a collection of juvenile literature in Bowling Green State University’s (BGSU) Curriculum Resource Center (CRC), of the University Libraries. In conjunction with area school children and students enrolled in BGSU ENG 342 (Literature for Young Children), a substantial number of picture books have been explored, critiqued, and reviewed during an artist-in-residence style series of in-school visits. The CBC is an examination center of newly published, exceptional juvenile literature located on the second floor of the University Libraries. Books representing a wide variety of curriculum-related topics are continually added to the collection by participating children’s book publishers. The publishers want regular reviews of the books supplied to the CRC, and this project is a great beginning to provide them with the feedback they seek.
The Bringing Books to Life project evolved from an ongoing partnership between the CRC and several instructors of ENG 342 at BGSU. Stacey Osborn, Instructor of Children’s Literature in the Department of English, and Sara Bushong, Head Librarian of the Curriculum Resource Center, co-authored a successful BGSU grant to support the project, which was funded by the campus organization Partnerships for Community Action (PCA). This multi-faceted project focuses on five area schools: Fairfield Elementary, Maumee City Schools; Otsego Middle School, Otsego Local Schools; Milton Center and South Main, two Bowling Green City elementary schools; and Glendale-Feilbach, Toledo Public Schools. The instructor will visit the schools in the capacity of a professional teaching artist, conduct an initial planning session with teachers, and bring a book to life in the classroom by involving students in theatre, music, and dance activities based on the themes in a specific picture book. The instructor then will read the actual picture book to the class, making connections to the curriculum and encouraging students to use rich language in describing the book. Finally, the instructor will introduce students to the 2004-05 books from the CRC for their review and use. Reviews by elementary and middle school students will be published in the fall issue of the newsletter Introspective.
The PCA grant allows the CRC to
- Develop closer ties between BGSU University libraries and area educators and librarians;
- Engage students in urban, suburban and rural elementary schools in an active learning experience designed to promote the language arts skills of reading, evaluating and responding to children’s books;
- Heighten awareness of area educators and librarians regarding the collection of materials available in the CBC and through the CRC and how they can use the materials; Bring a professional teaching artist into area classrooms (urban, suburban and rural) in a “bring a book to life” artist-in-residence series;
- Involve BGSU children’s literature students (ENG 342) in a collaborative book-reviewing project with students from northwest Ohio schools;
- Publish the work of area school children and BGSU students to the CRC/CSCL’s online book review website, in the CSCL newsletter, Introspective, and encourage students from both sectors to publish their reviews on Amazon.com and other publishing venues;
- Provide the CRC and CSCL with vital data from participant evaluations regarding the needs of area librarians and educators in researching and developing a future part-time position for a CSCL Outreach Coordinator;
- Develop a pilot “procedures manual” for a future part-time CSCL Outreach Coordinator based on feedback from participants; and
- Demonstrate the sustainability and far-reaching effects of a part-time CSCL Outreach Coordinator through comments from grant partners.
During spring semester 2005, BGSU students enrolled in Children’s Literature classes participated in a picture book reviewing assignment using the new books from the CBC. Student reviews included rich language to describe both text and images in picture books. The top BGSU reviews were published in the Spring 2005 issue of the newsletter Introspective. The authors of the top picture book reviews in all classes (BGSU, elementary and middle schools) received a hardbound copy of the book they reviewed; the school libraries also received copies.
The Bringing Books to Life project has successfully promoted reading, evaluating, and responding to children’s book with elementary, middle school, and university students. Project directors are investigating additional funding sources to expand this project to more northwest Ohio schools.
Sara Bushong, Head Librarian, Curriculum Resource Center
Stacey Osborn, Instructor, Department of English