Why School Libraries or Kindergarten and Science Rooms?

The Absence of School Libraries

Many of the GLP volunteers–middle school, high school and college students who visit locations that we serve–are really taken aback to arrive in schools that are without basic school supplies, textbooks or even heat.

For locations in our many of our African rural and township sites, this is unfortunately very typical. For instance, in South Africa there are still many areas with this level of development because of the legacy of exclusion dating back from the apartheid era. As a recent South African newspaper noted in February 2008, “A snap survey of township high school libraries has revealed that nine out of 10 are permanently locked, have no books, or are non-existent” (The Cape Argus, February 1, 2008, page 5).

Even worse, the newspaper then found that: “Libraries at the high schools contacted in Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Philippi showed that four had no library books whatsoever while in the other five the books were either outdated or stored in boxes and inaccessible to the pupils.”

But the challenge is just as great in many other locations, not just places that have the legacy of apartheid. In fact our sites in the rural and slum areas of Kenya and in Tamil Nadu, South India all have a dramatic absense of the basics that young children should have access to if we really wish to engender a solid literacy foundation.

This creates a definite challenge for us. After all, one of the main objectives of any early childhood teacher is to instill a love of reading and books in all students.  Reading requires much skill and practice, and to practice you need books!  It’s simple, the more children are exposed to books, the more they learn to love them.

What We Think a Good Kindergarten is All About

Kindergarten classrooms encourage the growth of children’s self-esteem, expands their love of learning, their general knowledge and facilitate’s their ability to get along with others.

Children have access to various activities throughout the day, such as block building, pretend play, picture books, paints and other art materials, and table toys such as pegboards, and puzzles.

  • Children learn numbers and the alphabet in the context of their everyday experiences. Exploring the natural world of plants and animals, cooking, taking attendance, and serving snack are all meaningful activities to children.
  • Children learn in both large and small groups.
  • Children have an opportunity to play outside every day that weather permits. This play is never sacrificed for more instructional time.
  • Teachers read books to children throughout the day, not just at group story time.
  • Children and their parents look forward to school. Parents feel safe sending their child to kindergarten.

What we want available in a GLP kindergarten room…

  • There is almost always a writing table, a science table, an art table, a play dough or another kind of tactile table, and usually another empty table for the kids to follow their own interests.
  • You will also see our easels, the reading nook,the sand or water table, the computers, the blocks, the kitchen or imaginative play area, and all of the rest of our toys, games, puzzles and activities.
  • You might also see the overhead projector set up with letters, or numbers or pattern blocks, or a special felt board center, or a puzzle center or, an invention corner or a “take apart” table.

What is a kindergarten classroom library?

A Kindergarten classroom library should be a place where students can go to look at, or “read” books.  The classroom library area should be a clear, defined space in your classroom with places for students to sit and read.   Some items you can add to create a more “homey”,  personalized touch are lamps, curtains, chairs or furniture, and beanbags.  By creating an inviting area for reading, students are more likely to want to spend time in the library center.

Elementary science rooms are also important for future success!

Kindergarten-5th grade science education is important because “if we don’t grab students and get them interested in science early on, they drop out of the science pipeline in middle and high school and we lose them.” John Payne, president and general manager of Bayer HealthCare LLC – Animal Health Division, North America and Chairman of Bayer’s MSMS program.

“Experiences at the elementary school level give students an early vocabulary, competence and the confidence to tackle sophisticated high school science concepts.” Dr. Olubayi Olubayi, Microbiologist and President, Global Literacy Project, Inc.