| Introduction | Connecting with Kids | Connecting with the School Community | Multicultural Programming | Special Literary Events | Technology Enhanced Programming | Resources | References


Connecting with Kids

This section offers some suggestions for ways to create a community of readers by providing ways for students to connect, converse and challenge one another.[1] In order to remain relevant and useful, it is important to connect with students in the library through more than just instruction and reference assistance, and make them invested in the library space and experience.

Book Club Programs

Below are examples of successful book clubs run in different ways

Creating a book club without a budget: Mosby Middle School

Linda Jaeger and Shelia N Demetriadis, a teacher and media specialist, respectively, created a book club at their middle school after getting the impression from students that they were not reading and reading was not cool. They wanted their book club to be “a place with no grade pressure where peers could encourage each other to read for pleasure, and where students and teachers could come together on equal terms”. [2] Their budget did not allow them to buy multiple copies of a single book so they organized their club in a way that participants could read any book related to a designated theme. The lack of pressure for completion, often associated with classwork, created a more relaxed and comfortable environment for students. In order to boost membership prizes were offered when members brought a friend along, and to the student who posted the most book review at the end of each month. [3]

Book club during school hours: Edward E. Drew Jr. Middle School

Café Book is a book club run as a collaboration between a school library and its local public library. Students choose books from a new list of titles every six weeks and twice a month come to the school’s media center during lunch hour and discuss while they eat. This collaboration between the school librarian and local youth services librarian was found to be mutually beneficial. In 2005, “Café Book titles accounted for seven percent of Drew Middle School’s total book circulation and 20 percent of all seventh- and eighth-grade students participated”. [4] For the public librarian, the benefit is that she is able to come in contact is hundreds of students and talk to them about books. In addition, many of the club members move on to become active in the local library through teen groups, volunteering, programs, and employment. [5]

Online summer book club: Brook Forest Elementary School and K-12 Van Meter School

Two librarians from different schools in different states collaborated together to create a summer book club for fourth- through sixth-graders at both of their schools to keep students reading over the summer using an online forum. The program is called Silly Summerstakes and is run through a classroom network called Edmodo and is moderated by both librarians. Students post pictures of themselves reading and writing in interesting locations. The forum also allows them to post what they are reading and hold discussions. The whole program is run using free software. [6]

Connecting with the School Community

Multicultural Programming

As our society is becoming more culturally diverse, it is imperative that librarians provide materials to further promote differences and multicultural awareness. Integrating multicultural materials can increase open-mindedness and foster an understanding and acceptance of diversity.[7]

Puerto Rican Heritage Program for Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud

(Day of the Abolition of Slavery, March 22)

One way to explore diversity is by focusing on a particular cultural group. This programming idea is targeted towards high school students, but could be easily modified to fit for a younger audience. In this example, the school library media coordinator collaborated with other teachers in the school to create a full day of cross-curricular activities, including a discussion of the government of Puerto Rico and its relationship to the United States in Government and Politics Class, a discussion and practice of Puerto Rican art styles in Art class, and a study of the climate and weather patterns of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in Science class. The library would then focus on the language and literature of Puerto Rico with poems and literature from celebrated authors and possibly a fiesta featuring the food and music of those people, if it was a space that allowed for that kind of activity. The goal of the program is to educate the audience about the culture of the people of Puerto Rico and to see their contributions both within the Commonwealth and in the United States.[8] Unfortunately, many people do not know much about the history or contributions of this cultural group, and having programming on a day celebrated in the Commonwealth (March 22) is a great way to introduce these concepts.

The Wonderful World of Cinderella

Another way to explore cultural and ethnic diversity is to focus on one story or central idea that crosses many cultural backgrounds, such as a familiar folk or fairy tale. In this example, the Egypt Lake Elementary School in Tampa Bay, Florida, partnered with the Egypt Lake Public Library to explore diversity using the “Cinderella” story.[9] They wrote a collaborative grant to purchase multiple copies of a variety of versions of the Cinderella folktale including Adelita, A Mexican Cinderella Story by Tomie de Paola, The Way Meat Loves Salt: A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Tradition by Nina Jaffe, and Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China, by Ai-Ling Louie, as well as stories like The Irish Cinderlad by Shirley Climo to make sure it appealed to a broad range of students.

In the school library, the students reflected on the stories and engaged in a dialogue about what they learned about different cultures through the different retellings. The librarian also hung a large map with pins for the location of each story that they read over the course of the project. The discussion was augmented by the use of pictures and photos as well as the illustrations from the picture books to enrich the experience especially for visual learners. All of the students then completed projects that reflected their experiences and demonstrated what they learned from reading about Cinderella around the world. The public library had complementary programming that explored the foods that were talked about in some of the other stories and held students performances of their favorite versions and even displayed the student’s projects when they were finished which increased both parental and community involvement. This teamwork illustrated just how effective the collaboration between public and school libraries can be in fostering a sense of shared community.


Planning events that fairly and accurately represent a group of people or a culture without conforming to stereotypes and still remaining educational can be challenging, so here are a few things to keep in mind to help ensure that your multicultural programming is successful.[10]

  • Don’t be afraid to have programs about foreign countries, in fact you should include those ideas in your multicultural programming, but remember that those do not replace programs about specific groups within the United States. For example, a program celebrating the culture Mexico is not necessarily representative of the experiences of all Mexican-Americans.[11]
  • Programming should be designed for all age groups, including very young children to help integrate multicultural ideas and promote tolerance and understanding of diversity before the development of prejudice or bias.
  • Try and provide programs that honor cultural diversity throughout the year so that they do not become superficial by limiting them to the once a month occasions on the calendar like Cinco de Mayo or Black History Month.[12] These predetermined dates do serve an important purpose, but diversity programming should not be limited to these specified times.
  • Try and interact with other local multicultural organizations. They may have a wealth or ideas and resources for your own programming or could provide opportunities for collaboration between the library and the outside community.
  • Try and be sure that your programming reflects the complexity of a certain culture or group and avoid stereotypes, even if you perceive them to be harmless.

Special Literary Events

Technology Enhanced Programming


Relevant Wiki Pages

Author Visits
School Library and Public Library Collaboration

Programming Ideas and Advice

The Programming Librarian
A project of the ALA's Public Programs Office, this is the premier online resource for all things related to presenting cultural and community programs for all types and sizes of libraries.


Alexander, Linda B. & Kwon, Nahyun (Eds.). (2010). Multicultural Programs for Teens and Tweens. For the Young Adult Library Services Association. Chicago: American Library Association.

Alexander, Linda & Sanez, Maria. (2006). “Language Arts/Social Studies: Cinderella Around the World.” School Library Media Activities Monthly. 23(3):13-14.

Alexander, Linda & Sanez, Maria. (2006). “Using Children’s Folktales to Explore Multiculturalism.” School Library Media Activities Monthly. 23(3):22-24.

Baden, Martha Walker, and Rebecca Purdy. “Food for Thought.” School Library Journal 52.2 (2006): 33. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.

Barack, Lauren. “Two for the Road.” School Library Journal 57.7 (2011): 8. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.

Bird, Tamie. (2009). Multicultural programming for dummies. Web. Retrieved from http://diversityinlibraries.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/multicultural-programming-for-dummies/

Harrington, J.N. (1994). Multiculturalism in library programming for children. Chicago: American Library Association.

Jaeger, Linda, and Shelia N. Demetriadis. "Book Club On A Budget." School Library Journal 48.3 (2002): 47. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.
  1. ^
    Ruefle, 39.
  2. ^
    Jaeger, 47.
  3. ^ Jaeger, 47.
  4. ^
    Baden, 33.
  5. ^ Baden, 33.
  6. ^
    Barack, 8.
  7. ^
    Alexander 2010, ix.
  8. ^
    Alexander 2010, 138.
  9. ^
    Alexander 2006, 22.
  10. ^
    Harrington 1994.
  11. ^ Bird 2009.
  12. ^ Bird 2009.