Meet The Librarians Who Impacted The Way 2000+ Students Read During the Pandemic
The title of this blog does not lie, we’re going to introduce you to two librarians who have been instrumental in the lives of 2000+ students. But, before we do that, let’s take you back to your school days when the thrill of the school bell would indicate the next class and send mild waves of dread if it was a subject you hated. Now, if like me, you were a bookworm, the only solace was the library period, a time where I would find a book of my choice and dive right into it without so much of a care for the next bell. That was the magic of the library period and something many students, I’m sure, have missed during their time away from physical school.
The last two years have been a huge learning curve for schools that had to adapt their systems of teaching and structure to give their students access to education, while also nurturing their curiosity and thirst for knowledge. Two schools and in particular two fantastic librarians took on the challenge and created an engaging and entertaining literary world for their students- one where they could capture the magic of reading and the thrill of finding their inner storyteller.
As part of the GetLitt! Reading Olympiad, we give out a ‘Most Motivating Librarian’ award to people who have gone above and beyond for their students. In this blog, we want to spotlight the two women who collectively impacted the lives of 2000+ students under their care.
Ms Neena Girish, Primary School Librarian, St. Pauls School, New Delhi.
When the principal at St Paul’s in New Delhi decided that the best way to get kids reading again was to add the ‘library period’ to their online class schedule, it posed a unique challenge that Ms Neena Girish, the primary section librarian had to overcome.
The directive sounds simple, right? However, when students don’t have access to classrooms, let alone their beloved school library, giving them the library period experience was not going to be an easy task. Luckily for the 1,120 students under Ms Girish’s supervision, she came up with some incredible ideas.
What did Ms Girish do to engage her students in reading and learning during the library period?
Ms Girish created a Reading Week for classes 3 to 12, each class had a specific activity catered to their reading level and everything was accessible through online channels and using digital tools and ebooks to give students the feeling that they were back at school having a library period.
Here’s a breakdown of what Ms Girish arranged for the different grades:
- Grades 1 & 2: Storytelling session – Parents had to read aloud to kids using ebooks from Storywearver (their books can be found on GetLitt!). Kids were then encouraged to complete a book activity after reading the book.
- Grades 3 & 5: Weave their own stories – students had to read assigned e-books and create their own story based on a prompt inspired by the book.
- Grades 6 & 8: Create a Lockdown Diary using Padlet – using the online journal writing platform, students were encouraged to write reviews of books, publish personal poems and create a diary of their lockdown experience.
- Grades 9-12: Digital Biography of Author – Students were asked to create a biography of their favorite author and instead of writing an essay they had to create a Google slide presentation.
That’s not all! As amazing as Reading Week sounds, Ms Girish was also instrumental in getting students to use the St Paul’s library blog to keep them connected with digital books, websites, and activities to overcome the absence of the physical library during the pandemic.
It’s because of the amazing work of librarians like Neena, that students have such an active imagination, increased reading/writing/cognitive skills, and most importantly – have developed a love and habit of reading.
Congratulations to Neena Girish, we are so proud of the work you’ve done and can’t wait to see what you’ll be up to next.
Ms Prachi Joshi, Librarian, Bombay Schottish School, Powai, Mumbai.
It’s always a memorable experience when I get to personally meet with the people who help shape GetLitt!’s thriving #RaisingReaders community. And as I sat in Prachi Joshi’s office, with the GetLitt! Reading Olympiad ‘Most Motivating Librarian’ award in hand – I knew it was going to be a great meeting.
I was extremely honored to be giving Ms Prachi Joshi the award in person because of her enthusiasm to get the students of the Bombay Scottish School, Powai, engaged in reading during the pandemic. It’s been a tough transition from school books to e-books and video calls, but as we sat and chatted about the ups and downs over the last two years, I realized that all it takes is the dedication of one role model to instill the joy of reading in many.
That’s precisely what Ms Joshi has done with the 921 students under her care.
Over the last year she along with the computer teacher and three language faculties have:
- Started a student-led editorial team to get kids involved in creating blogs for the BSS Bookworm blog and e-newsletters.
- Arranged an Editorial workshop for grades 6 – 10 which guided them with writing and editing skills.
- Arranged the Scholastic online Book Fairs for all the grades with the help of PTA. The authors visited the students online at a given time during the book fair and inspired them to read more books.
- School sent storytelling links to grades kg-2 from time to time which kept them engaged in the listening of stories and developed alacrity for reading and listening.
- Celebrated National Reading Month by conducting various activities for all the grades, such as enacting the character from a favourite story or a book, writing a note to their favourite authors on a Padlet wall, making and displaying bookmarks, read-aloud stories, etc.
All of the above work is exceptional. However, what really resonated with my team and me, was the podcast they started called ‘The Scottish Connect’ – to involve kids in the world of literature and interview prodigies and alumni who are specialists in their field. Speaking about these activities, Ms Joshi says, “I believe there are bountiful opportunities in this field, wherein inspiring and cultivating readers’ is a most essential area to work. Our school Blog and Podcast is well appreciated by our students. We are in a continuous process to upgrade it and keep it activated with new ideas.”
It’s the ambitious and successful undertakings like these that cemented our vote for Ms Prachi Joshi to be this year’s ‘Most Motivating Librarian.’ While I can’t divulge all the amazing things we spoke about at the meeting, I would like to share a few words from Ms Joshi – “I consider myself truly fortunate and extend my heartfelt gratitude for the award presented by the GetLitt! organisation. I feel privileged to receive this award. Thanks for your encouragement and support. This is a proud moment for my professional career. GetLitt! is a profound organisation that take utmost effort to groom the students as avid readers as well as writers. In today’s digital world keeping the readers alive is absolutely a noble work. I have seen my students taking a keen interest in the activities (Reading Olympiad) provided by GetLitt! I have also noticed my students thoroughly enjoying every Masterclass hosted by the GetLitt! representatives. Wishing you the for the continuation and progress in your value-based reading organisation.”
Such kind words and such a memorable meeting!
Get To Know Your Librarians!
I hope you enjoyed this feature on Ms Neena Girish and Ms Prachi Joshi – and that it brought a fresh perspective into the literary world that schools are fostering for their students. The next time you’re on a video call (or meet) with your schools’ faculty or librarians get to know them and share some of your bookish love with them. During these unprecedented times, it is truly the work of these dedicated people and educational institutions that are trying their best to instill a sense of normalcy through the power of reading, imagination and books.
Stay tuned for more features on role models, right here on GetLitt!’s blog.