A Taste for reading

Eugene Field introduces new look at books

By ALAN DALE Managing Editor
Posted 9/15/22

New Eugene Field librarian Justin Hamm is really trying to increase the students’ literary taste buds, and so far, so good.

Last Thursday, Hamm played host to a “Book Tasting” at …

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A Taste for reading

Eugene Field introduces new look at books

Posted

New Eugene Field librarian Justin Hamm is really trying to increase the students’ literary taste buds, and so far, so good.

Last Thursday, Hamm played host to a “Book Tasting” at the school, where they laid out a large number of new books the school recently purchased and invited students and families to come in and “taste” them.

“The purpose is to build excitement about these awesome new books and also involve the family into their child’s reading journey,” Hamm said. “Parent involvement is a major contributor to academic success, so we are trying to find fun ways to facilitate this kind of involvement.”

Children and families enjoyed hot dogs and chips then worked together on a scavenger hunt to identify books that interested them, books that interested their family members, and books they thought would interest their friends.

Parents also received a school September Literacy Challenge which is to find as many ways as possible for their children to see them reading and writing at home.

Hamm introduced this when he was a librarian for North Callaway School District and ran it for a number of years dating back to 2013.

“Theresa Haubner, a friend and former North Callaway library aide, found the idea back then and our library team used it as our kickoff event for our libraries every year,” Hamm said. “At that time, we heard of a handful of other libraries doing similar events. Now the idea seems to be popular with many libraries.

“The event seemed to go over very well. We estimated at least 70-80 attendees. Many students came up to me to tell me about the new books they planned to check out, and several parents also expressed thanks and mentioned they thought it was a wonderful event. We plan to do at least one new library event every month at Eugene Field, so we hope this positive energy continues and word spreads through the Eugene Field community.”

Hamm admits to still trying to get acquainted with his new school, its students and families.

“I can tell you we have a large number of enthusiastic readers,” Hamm said. “It took me a few days longer than usual to get the library fully ready for checkouts since I was new and had to create and train them on my procedures, and they let me know I needed to hurry up so they could get their books.
“Our students have, as you would expect from any reader, a wide range of tastes. Today, for instance, I had students specifically looking for books on dragons, gymnastics, Lebron James, turtles, and puppies.”

Dogman books by Dav Pilkey are a major hit at the moment with all grades, according to Hamm.

“We even have some students who love the classics,” Hamm said. “A fifth grader who was checking out books by H.G. Wells and Edgar Allan Poe said that his favorite book was ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,’ by Jules Verne.”

He added that ‘Elephant and Piggie’ books by Mo Willems are major favorites with the younger grades.

“Next month our event will be a Family Game Night Unplugged,” Hamm said. “Families will be invited to come in and play their favorite board games. We’ll have some good board game snacks available, and we’ll offer some literature to parents on healthy device-time limits and the importance of taking digital breaks.”

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