Libertas Reader’s Bill of Rights:
At Libertas, our culture is one that values books and reading over all else. We recognize that success in school and in life is paved with access to great books. We reinforce that culture by defining it and holding one another accountable to it. We begin with a Bill of Rights. Like the actual Bill of Rights-- the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution -- which enumerated the rights of individual citizens, Libertas Reader’s Bill of Rights enumerates the rights of Libertas students as voracious readers within and outside our school. Every LACS student has the right to…
1. Beautiful classroom library brimming with high-quality books
The centerpiece of every classroom is a library filled with high-quality literature and informational texts that are carefully maintained by the classroom teacher and/or students. The libraries are welcoming, student-friendly, culturally relevant, aesthetically pleasing, and express the value that we place on books in our lives. Books are displayed spine-out with titles, levels easily visible. Books are organized by theme and genre so that students can easily access books that interest them.
2. Meaningful and frequent Book Shopping and the services of a “Teacher as Librarian” who thoughtfully guides but does not force book selection.
Every student “shops” for books at least once each week, selecting books from the classroom library to read independently at school and at home. Since each classroom has a library, our teachers are the “librarians” of their classrooms. As such, they get to know their students as readers, suggest books and provide opportunities for kids to share book recommendations with each other.
3. Get lost in a book of his or her own choosing during Independent Reading time several times every week.
Independent reading time is sacred! It’s tempting for time-crunched teachers to skip independent reading time, so we make sure we value this time as highly as we value a math lesson. Not only is it a pleasure to sink into a book that they selected themselves, but independent reading helps kids develop stamina—reading for up to 50 minutes starting in 6th grade.
4. Read books on a reasonable range of levels based on interest, motivation, background knowledge, subject matter of the book, and other considerations.
We use reading levels, but we make sure levels are not ridgid. Our teachers guide kids to books that are neither too easy nor too hard, but they don’t forbid kids from reading books just because they’re “not on that level.”
5. Finish every book that is started as a class or Independent Reading book that he or she has not finished by the next week of Book Shopping.
We want to make sure kids have the opportunity to finish books they’ve started—regardless of whether that particular unit is over or whether they are scheduled to move on to something else.
6. Reread favorites while exploring new options.
Some kids get stuck reading the same book over and over again, so they need a nudge into something more challenging or better suited to them. However, rereading can provide kids with the opportunity to notice details they missed, delve into different or more nuanced meanings, and revel in an author’s craft. Rereading can also provide comfort and build confidence—both so important to social emotional development.
7. Dislike a book, explain why, and choose a new one.
Loving to read doesn’t mean loving every single book you read! We want kids to think critically and get to know themselves as readers. It’s okay for a student not to like a book, especially if he can explain why so his or her classmates or teachers can recommend another option.
8. Laugh or cry or gasp out loud when spontaneously moved to do so.
Independent reading doesn’t mean silent reading. Yes, we expect kids to focus, but it’s also important that they be given the space to react enthusiastically to what they’re reading.
9. Talk about books with friends, teachers, and other adults.
Many readers do their best thinking about what they’ve read by discussing it with someone else. We provide our kids with the time to discuss books with reading partners, share their favorites with teachers, and book talk to the entire class.