Monday, October 23, 2006

International School Library Day

Today is International School Library Day, a good day to celebrate the role of libraries in our schools. Professor Stephen Krashen, national expert on reading and language learning, noted that “Library quality, both in terms of better staffing and better collections, is related to reading achievement.” Kids who have access to books become better readers. But not every school has a library—in this country and around the world. The International Board on Books for Young People works to promote books and reading globally ( and our U.S. section supports those efforts ( For example, our section donated $15,000 to tsunami relief efforts last year to bring books and rebuild libraries in that stricken area. I also recently learned about another organization committed to building libraries for children around the world, Room to Read ( And you may know of other similar initiatives. Next time you’re at a school library (on election day, perhaps?), take a moment to appreciate what you may have in your community and see what you can do to help out. Even donating money for one new book or magazine subscription is appreciated. And to celebrate the power of libraries in children’s lives, here’s a special poem:

by Valerie Worth

No need even
To take out
A book: only
Go inside
And savor
The heady
Dry breath of
Ink and paper,
Or stand and
Listen to the
Silent twitter
Of a billion
Tiny busy
Black words.

From All the Small Poems and Fourteen More. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994, p. 163.

For more poems about libraries, check out my article, “A place for poetry: Celebrating the library in poetry” in the most recent issue of Children and Libraries published by the American Library Association.

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