School Libraries and Librarians – Help Children Learn and Cope

School District of Philadelphia Board of Education Action Meeting Testimony

October 20, 2022

By Lynda Rubin

My testimony tonight was inspired by a CNN article about Judeah Reynolds, a 9
year old girl who happened to be at the store outside of which George Floyd was
murdered by police. Because her 14 year old cousin, Darnella Frazier, had to
escort her she was there to video the entire assault. Judeah was inspired to write
“A Walk to the Store” because she, herself, needed help in processing this
traumatic event. Judeah said she got the idea from another child who wrote a
book to help people understand autism. Of course adults were involved, and
helpful coping suggestions were included. Let’s not forget that children also take these books home and bond with their parents and family over them. Books like these might never be read if a school librarian doesn’t carefully introduce them to children.

Going as a class to the school library, getting into the habit of checking out books and returning them, and learning about how to do research are essential
educational skills that reverberate into students’ futures. Children need to learn
how, so they can do it for themselves later on. We can’t use skills we don’t even
know we don’t have, much less use them if we’re never taught to appreciate

The important thing is that we have a child learning what autism is from reading a book and hoping that she could learn from what she’d read to deal with her own and other children’s trauma. What a lesson! Helping yourself and others to inject reason and understanding into horrific feelings. Our children are hurting, confused and insecure about their day to day worlds. We have violence, isolation and death from Covid and guns that are forming young children’s minds. Of course we have to teach, test and evaluate, but we are responsible for helping children grow and learn about how to navigate whatever’s to come – and to think.

My two minutes here won’t cut it, just like a classroom library, while nice,
doesn’t have the depth and breadth of novels, biographies and learning about
science and business, as well as a certified school librarian who curates this
selection of books and materials to suit the needs and wants of the students in
that school AND have a warm relationship with these children to introduce them to new ideas, on-going reading and discovery.