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Putting Books in Children’s Hands

May 17, 2019

Our little library, the academic heart of this sweet and special school, was transformed into a beautiful bookstore this week.  Our students, upon first visit, gushed over the fresh new books. The hard covers, soft covers, graphic novels, picture books, non-fiction and activity books delighted our young readers.  

The central focus of this fair was books. So often we think we are walking into a bookstore and instead find ourselves in a toy store.  This did not happen this week. Our Book Fair was appropriately positioned in our library and focused on literature that will expand the critical thinking and points of view of our students.   

Last weekend I read an article in The Globe and Mail about the cuts being made to libraries in Ontario. The article cited research on the importance of books, not only to emergent readers, but to middle grade and teen readers.  The article stated, “Teenagers benefit from access to physical books as well. Hours spent devouring a favourite novel builds self-confidence and resiliency. School performance improves when kids can choose books they want to read, and believe those books are their own, part of their individuation.” At Paul Penna DJDS, we want to ensure that our students’ experience includes  books that are savoured and stories cherished, where thinking about books and conversations surrounding books are rich and connected to greater world issues and questions of human nature.

When I think about the work we have done with literature across the curriculum I am excited by the new books we have put into children’s hands.  Our students from Grades Two through Six have all had new, exciting novel studies added to their curriculum this year. On Monday our Grade Three students were introduced to their spring novel study. The book, Crenshaw, by Catherine Applegate, will have students focus on the question, “What is enough?” In Grades Four and Five, our students are exploring themes of strength and resistance in the Holocaust using exceptional literature.  

Utilizing both classroom-assigned and personally-chosen literature, our students are truly reading.  Books are a part of the fabric of our school, and over the last two years we have strengthened the resources available to support this piece of our school culture.  I hope this week your home library was strengthened with a special book. I know for certain that our school library benefitted tremendously, measured both by the new books and the great excitement to borrow books that line the shelves in our library.

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Paul Penna Downtown
Jewish Day School
750 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2J2
(Located in the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre)


(416) 928-3537