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Getting Involved

National Library Lover’s Month

How Canyons Students are Drawn to District Libraries

Anyone who is fond of books knows that feeling of walking into a room with floor-to-ceiling books and taking in a deep breath. There have been a number of studies looking into that smell of old books. Is it vanilla? Grass? Maybe a hint of leather? Whichever smell comes to mind first – bibliophiles can all agree – it’s a wonderful feeling to step into a library and wonder at the possibilities hidden in thousands of pages.

Within Canyons School District, from August of 2023 to January, Canyons students checked out more than 370,000 printed library books. Adding to that, roughly 8,000 students checked out more than 75,000 ebooks and audiobooks. In a recent episode of Connect Canyons, we celebrate of National Library Lover’s Month, and hear from some of Canyon’s biggest book lovers about what draws our students to our libraries.

“I can’t think of a place that is more of a microcosm of everything people love than a library,” says District Library Media Specialist Gretchen Zaitzeff. “A good library collection has something for everyone.”

Whether physical books or Playaways, physical audiobook players, parents and librarians alike are seeing Canyons students learn to love reading and utilizing the resources available to them.

“I feel like students are finding themselves in libraries,” says Kylie Arbon, teacher-librarian for Draper Park Middle School, “They’re figuring out what they connect with, what they respond to, and they’re making connections with other people. I think a library is an awesome place for us to make connections like that and build relationships with those kids who just want to be seen like anyone else.”

Many Canyons students are taking those connections and their passion for reading and competing in Book Blitz. Students in elementary and middle schools are given a list of books they are challenged to read. Some students split the list up between their teams, other students choose to read every book, sometimes more than once.

“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve chosen a book for the list, and from that, our students go down a rabbit hole of like six books in the series,” says Rachael de Azevedo, Willow Canyon Book Blitz Junior coach. “It’s such a great program, it teaches comprehension and how to be competitive and get along with each other and find new connections.”

Students compete at the school level before some move on to compete at the District level. Last year, more than 400 students competed in CSD’s Book Blitz Jr. and Book Blitz contests.

Zaitzeff recalls a parent at last year’s competition saying her son was only interested in reading two of the books on the Book Blitz list but then wound up reading all 12. “Book Blitz allows students to move between genres and try books out that they might not have other chosen,” she says.

Just like parents can go visit their student’s classroom at the beginning of the year, de Azevedo says parents should visit their student’s library. “Going to the book fair is a nice way,” she says, “it’s usually in the library and then you’re able to see your kids get excited and tell you why that space is important to them.”

Zaitzeff says it’s more than just the books and the four walls that make up a library and make them important. “In my opinion, it’s Kylie, and any other teacher-librarians and library staff in the District. It’s that personal, human connection with students and they serve as pathfinders to help guide them,” she says.

“Reading is a connector,” says Arbon. “You connect to people when you read, if you’re reading the same book or saying ‘oh you have to read what I just read.’ I truly believe there is a book out there for every student. There are students and people who don’t believe reading is their think, I think they just haven’t met that perfect book yet.”

“Find what you love,” suggests de Azevedo, “Whether it’s a graphic novel, or a fantasy, just read what you love because I think the most important thing is that you fall in love with reading. It makes that practice a lot easier and it’s a gift you’ll carry forever, so you might as well fall in love with.”

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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