Engage your middle school students' interest in the library with unique and age-appropriate activities on a range of reading, writing and researching themes. How you introduce middle school students to your library or media center will help to shape how they develop study and research skills in high school and beyond. Tap into students' natural interests in reading for pleasure and extend their enthusiasm for new types of books, periodicals and online resources.
Libraries Around the World
Spark your students' interest in visiting other libraries, in addition to the school library or media center. Give out points or awards to students who can show you their public library membership card. On one wall of the library, create a large display of "Libraries Around the World" and post photographs of the interiors and exteriors of interesting libraries from around the world. You might use historical examples, such as the great library at Alexandria, or large public libraries. Round things out with stills from films that have well-known scenes in libraries. If students visit faraway libraries during their travels, encourage them to bring back photographs; award prizes to students who do so.
Banned Book Week
Join libraries around the country by celebrating National Banned Book Week on the last week of September. Teach students about great literary works that were censored or banned at some point in history. Collect such works together and use them to create a display, encouraging students to read these texts that once were forbidden. Particularly for middle school students, the promise of reading something that has been banned may attract attention for older classics that would otherwise elude their interest.
Encourage pleasure reading by arranging a holiday "Secret Santa" activity during which students needn't spend any money: instead of purchasing gifts, they pick out library books for their friends. Within the library, let the students gift-wrap the books and set them up in a large, decorative pile or display. Play a holiday or reading-themed game with many short rounds. Each time your game produces a winner, let that student go up to the pile of books and find the corresponding book. Once all the students have received their books, let them check out their Christmas "gifts." As an additional touch, have the students create personalized bookmarks to give along with the books.
Spark the interest of technology-minded students with a library display that imitates Twitter, the online social networking tool. Using a long band of adding machine paper, line it along one of the walls of the library, winding it back and forth to make interesting curls and whorls, like a long, undulating ribbon. Put up a locked box with a slit, in which students can drop updates on what they're doing in the library that day. Each day, empty the box and write the "Twitter updates" up on the display. See how far you can make the updates stretch around the room over the course of a week, month or school year.
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