The Zachary Fried Children’s Library is a place to pursue personal passions and revel in the shared pleasure of good literature. With roughly 12,000 books in circulation, and approximately 1000 books checked out each month to students, parents and teachers, this very special library creates an inviting space for shared literature experience, supports literacy and research skills introduced in classrooms, and provides a collection of exceptional breadth and depth for recreational reading. Classes make weekly visits to the library in small or whole groups. To guide students’ internet use, we have subscribed to a service that analyzes our subject holdings and inserts internet links appropriate for school-age researchers into our catalogue.
Working in conjunction with classroom teachers, library skills are taught in the context of classroom related projects, seasonal themes, or the emergent interests of the group. For instance, sixth graders create artifacts that derive from the continents they’ve invented as part of a classroom mapmaking project. They must decide how the masks reflect that country’s culture, thereby simulating one means by which we construct knowledge of ancient civilizations. Their descriptions of the elements of culture in their imaginary society are informed by their intensive classroom study of ancient civilizations and parallel the classifications of the Dewey decimal system we will have investigated in the fall.
By 5th and 6th grade, students are ready to question the sources of our knowledge. How do we know what we think we know? We begin to turn to primary sources and artifacts to piece together what is “true.” History becomes a dynamic process of weighing and interpreting evidence, making comparisons and assembling an argument, not a static list of places, dates and facts.