Mundie Moms

Monday, August 23, 2021

#clearthelist | A Wave of Kindness Helps Teachers and Librarians Fill Their Wish Lists


I think Dickens said it best -- "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

After two years of library subbing, I started last year as a K-5 librarian at a Title I school with a very diverse, mostly immigrant population. I took over for a librarian who had only been there for two years, and had spent them weeding out old books that were rarely checked out. She had replaced the non-fiction and some of the picture books, but she hadn't replenished the middle grade fiction books. The three bookcases against the wall were the only fiction books I had for a school that serves 550 students. 

Then, the world turned upside down. We started off the school year with a combination of in-person and distance-learning models. In order to keep to the necessary social distancing requirements, my library was turned into a classroom for 31 fourth grade students. Gone were the tables, story rug and (airport lounge -- it's what I call them -- LOL -- they are an ugly black color) flexible seating, and in came 31 desks and chairs. I also inherited a dynamic veteran teacher, who turned tables on their side and created white boards out of plywood. My shelves were completely blocked by those. Every week, I went into 27 classrooms pushing one of four library carts, chock full of appropriate grade level books. It was a challenging year to say the least. But, the students and I read books together and laughed and got emotional over the plots and characters. 

Another bombshell dropped when I was told that the money set aside for replenishing the fiction books was going to be used for distance learning laptops and tablets. I shared my predicament on twitter and instagram, and kind bookworms shopped my online Scholastic Book Fair and sent books to the school. Katie (yes, Ms. Mundie Moms herself!) sent dozens of boxes of books. If she sent an ARC, I covered it in clear shelf liner (to protect it because they are paperbacks) and shelved it. My students were thrilled! They had brand new books that they only glimpsed in stores. 

Then, this year started. We are fully in person. COVID Delta+ variant is raging through our biggest, little city, and I, once again find myself with little funds. On Friday night, following the first week of school, I scrolled past this tweet from actress/comedian, Leslie Jones (Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters):

Saturday morning, when I logged back onto twitter, I saw all these replies. About 25 kind souls tweeted at it me saying they were going to buy a book or a card game (I'm planning Library Fun Days as a good behavior award). I was overwhelmed with their kindness. I put together a list of diverse middle grade fiction books and mostly graphic novels, because my students love those the  most. Our small, empty graphic novel shelves, after a week of check-outs, looked so sparse. 

But, no more, because all of those books on the blue cart were kind donations sent in by Leslie's twitter followers. It's been a long year and a half for us all. With COVID infection rates soaring, worries over schools going to distance learning and arguments over masking in schools, I was beginning to lose my faith in human kindness. Then, this happened. My heart grew, much like the Grinch's. 

Look for the hashtags #clearthelist and my favorite, #weneeddiversebooks when you are on twitter and instagram. Amazon is also working to help clear teacher's lists by promoting them. When teachers and librarians have the necessary supplies, they can move forward with instilling a love of learning that will last a lifetime. 

I am so grateful to Katie and all of you who have contributed to my library. Katie will be mad if I don't link my library's Wish List, so I will link it HERE.  My goal is to make 550 bookworms by the end of each year and to give them stories that they can see themselves in as well as find relatable. 

I hope this year, life is more tolerable for you all and that soon, we will all be in better spirits as we put the nightmare of COVID behind us. Here's to a good school year ahead. 

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