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Community Conversations: Raising Readers & Diverse Books at McGillis

by Melinda Kaufman, Lower School Director and Tim Campbell, Middle School Director


Heather Novotny, School Librarian, joined us on May 4 to discuss “Raising Readers and Diverse Books.”  In the Zoom recording, we talk about how to build a lifelong love of reading, how books can be used as windows and mirrors, and then Ms. Novotny talks about 12 wonderful books that highlight diverse characters and experiences. 


Below are the key takeaways from our conversation, and check out our McGillis Summer Reading Lists for suggestions on what to read this summer!


How We Build a Lifelong Love of Reading at School

  • Full time librarian and a professionally curated library collection
  • Time, space, and encouragement for all students to browse & select books
  • Updated classroom libraries, summer reads, leveled library, and curriculum books
  • Sora reading app for digital books and integrated with The City Library’s ebook collection
  • Homework free “Just Read” nights
  • Consistent messaging that books are fun and we love to read!


How You Can Build a Lifelong Love of Reading at Home

  • Create a family culture of reading
    • Let your child see you reading for pleasure & personal enrichment
    • Read together as a family (recommended through middle school)
    • Create time & space for daily reading
  • Provide lots of opportunities to encounter books
    • Books make great travel companions (in the car, on devices, in backpacks)
    • Consider building a home library
  • Encourage your child to pick their own books
    • Visit the library or local bookstores together
    • Bring a variety of reading materials into the home for your child to select from (Include a variety of formats & genres)


Books Can be Windows and Mirrors

  • Books are windows because they allow us to see into the lives and experiences of others. They help us build connections and empathy, and they increase our understanding of different cultures.
  • Books are mirrors because they reflect identities and experiences and validate different life experiences. They foster self-acceptance and build self-esteem.
  • Watch author Grace Lin’s The Windows and Mirrors of your Child’s Bookshelf TedXTalk and hear author Gene Luen Yang speak about the importance of diverse books.

suggested reading by grade level