CHICAGO – Janet Parrish, library media specialist at Butler Traditional High School in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of five school librarians from across the country receiving a 2021 American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Inspire Special Event Grant. Made possible by the generosity of AASL member Marina “Marney” Welmers, the grant program provides funds for public middle or high school libraries to plan a special event to enhance student learning.
“Until recently, Louisville claimed fame for being the birthplace of Muhammad Ali and the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby,” wrote Parrish in the school’s application. “But today, Louisville is more likely to be known for the police killing of Breonna Taylor, a tragedy that set off months of protests and exposed decades of racial inequity and division during a pandemic that has revealed vast health disparities in the city’s underserved communities. As educators we must help our students understand, process, and respond to these immense challenges as we look for ways to ensure each student is valued, included, and has the opportunity to thrive, succeed, and reach their full potential.”
Their program, ReadWokeButler, will promote diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect for others through the sharing of stories written by authors who look like the student community. Multiple copies of four carefully chosen titles will be purchased and the program will be promoted through a creative book display, print postcards, social media, blogs, and a short video about the challenge.
Students will create a reflection for each book they read and be encouraged to attend book club meetings. During meetings, students will reflect on how the book fits into the Read Woke movement, participate in ice breakers, read passages from the book, answer trivia, and play bingo games. The challenge will culminate with a special event in April featuring a ReadWokeButler photo booth, prize drawings, and guest speakers from the Louisville community.
“It has been a difficult year for libraries and the committee took note of that when looking at grant submissions,” said Zandra Lopez, grant committee chair. “A special event might mean something different to individual libraries. School librarians wanted to make connections with students and provide them with opportunities within the library environment. Whether that included virtual author visits, improving collections, or creating makerspaces, each submission focused on student engagement. In a year with many restrictions, the ability to provide a special event for students truly captures the spirit of this award.”
The AASL award winners will be recognized during the 2021 AASL National Conference taking place October 21-23 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.
Originally published at https://www.ala.org/news/member-news/2021/05/janet-parrish-receives-aasl-inspire-special-event-grant