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Culture of Reading

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Dear Dr. Laura

My principal wants me to work on developing a “culture of reading”. I’m not really sure exactly what that means. I know I’m in charge of getting the kids motivated to read. But, what all do I need to think about?


Cultured Librarian

Hi and what a great question! You are right! There are so many aspects of the word “culture” we need to think about. In very general terms, we can think of culture as the way people think and do things in their particular setting. So let’s think about how your students and your teachers think and behave related to reading.

I’m not sure who it’s easier to think about first, the students or the teachers. So, let’s go with teachers this week and I’ll cover students next week. First, you are going to need to create a shared staff vision that reading is valuable and actually empowering to the students. We also know it can bring great joy and open all kinds of windows, mirrors, and sliding doors.

How can you create this shared vision of a “culture of reading” with your colleagues? You can almost think of this as "design thinking" where your group is going to work through the processes of understanding the problem, ideating, developing a prototype, and evaluating & refining.

Understand the Problem:

  • Work with your campus administration to gather a group of like-minded teachers who will work with you.

  • Ask for some dedicated time where you can work with this group to get them involved in the process of creating a vision statement for your campus' "culture of reading".

  • Gather articles and videos for the group to study prior to meeting in person. Can you put them on a shared Google site or Google folder? Edmodo?


  • Meet and discuss the takeaways from the articles and videos.

  • Use a chart paper outline, padlet, or even post-it notes to share these ideas.

  • Consolidate these ideas into the main idea.


  • Take the best ideas and arrange them as a vision statement.

  • Brainstorm a list of practical ideas your campus is ready to implement related to that vision statement.

  • Roll out your strategies.

Evaluate & Refine

  • Create a survey for teachers to rate themselves as supporters of reading/literacy and how well they implemented the strategies the team identified.

  • Schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss and evaluate your survey results.

  • Refine and roll out the next year.

For starters, here are some quick and hopefully easy wins you can do to help teachers build a culture of reading in their classrooms and on campus.


At Jefferson High School, our students need frequent and varied opportunities to read for information and pleasure.


Our strategies for Spring 2020 include

  • Librarian will put signs in the teachers’ bathroom stalls about great reads to create teacher awareness of new, popular books for children/youth.

  • Use the librarian to guide teachers in building and analyzing the teachers’ classroom collections of books.

  • Make book promo cards for faculty recommendations. (Dec. 12, 2019 post)

  • You’ve Been Book’d” by Shannon Miller is super cute!

  • Create “Look What I’m Reading” Bitmoji Posters by Shannon Miller

  • Teachers commit to scheduling time for students to read daily in the classroom; increasing this time over the semester.

  • Teachers agree to allow for student choice in books read with the understanding that sometimes specific books are required for a class.

Another way to look at this is how my principal Mr. Olivo used to describe to me. He would tell me I was the “reading quarterback” for the school and it was my job to call the plays to get us to the reading end zone. Work with your like-minded teachers and administrators to build a good playbook. So go out there and call some good plays in the huddle.

I invite the readers to add their own ideas wherever they see this post on social media. How can a librarian work with teachers to build a culture of literacy?

Dr. Laura

The librarian influencer of the week is Colleen Nelson, the Sparkling Librarian. You can listen to her interview at:

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