A lot may have changed for students this year, but that wasn't going to stop Kent Elementary librarian, Paige Hodge, from helping inspire her students in their love of reading. With in-person visits, not an option, Hodge got creative and used virtual learning as a tool to connect both remote and traditional learners with authors around the country to experience read-alouds of some incredible children's books.
As a librarian, Hodge knows that encouraging her students' love of reading is her most important job. A fellow librarian inspired her to begin hosting virtual author visits for her students. "Virtual visits are equally engaging for remote and in-person students alike," said Hodge. "These visits help students see authors as real people and inspire many in their own writing."
Kent is a Fine Arts Academy, so Ms. Hodge saw this as a perfect way to tie in fine arts with reading. She has chosen authors whose books tie in with music, dance, and theater for her read-alouds. Her students have heard books such as Coco: A Story About Music, Shoes, and Family by Diana Lopez and Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin. As a member of Kent's Cultural Inclusion Committee, Hodge knows the importance of choosing authors who represent various cultures and ethnicities. "I hope this will help all students relate and see themselves as potential authors." Ms. Hodge says.
These virtual visits have been a hit with students, staff, and families at Kent. Ms. Hodge says that after each visit, her students can't wait to check out books by the author and are inspired to be writers themselves. Teachers at Kent love that the visits naturally tie into the curriculum, which gives them an opportunity to help students make connections. The visits are also special to Kent families, who express appreciation of the experience for their students and enjoy getting to watch the author visits with their remote students at home.
Although Hodge hopes to have in-person author visits at some point in the future, she knows that virtual visits can often be more accessible for her students and allows them access to authors that would not be able to visit in person. With the support of her principal, PTA, fellow staff, and community members, her students will continue to have the opportunity to listen to and learn from many more wonderful authors in the future.