5 Big Benefits of a Bookmark Library Center

student reading book with bookmark

Do you have a bookmark library center in your school library? Let me share the reasons why I think you and your students will benefit from this library center.

Have you taught students how to use a bookmark?

I’ll never forget the day that a high school student stared at my bookmark display on the circulation desk and asked, “what are those?” She was 100% serious. She had made it through 10 years of reading instruction without learning how to use a bookmark. I was astonished, but I shouldn’t have been.

Do you explicitly teach students how to use a bookmark? After that conversation, I made sure to spend one lesson each year teaching my elementary school students (1st grade and up) how to use a bookmark. When students transition from chapter books to picture books, they need to know that we don’t expect them to read the whole book in one sitting. With first and second grade, I like to share an early chapter book (like Frog and Toad or Mercy Watson), reading a chapter or two aloud, then talking through how I am marking my place in the book with a bookmark, so that I can start reading next week at the same spot.

I believe that this little lesson is especially important in our current times when students have missed out on so much reading instruction due to the pandemic. We want our young readers to make that leap from picture books to chapter books, and the bookmark is an important part of this step forward.

Do your teachers and students need a break from academic pressure?

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing so much pressure on teachers to teach more and students to learn more, as if we could actually cram more into the school day than we already have. I like to have the bookmark center every week in our school library so that both students and teachers know that they can find a spot to sit, relax, and color.

I’m sure you’ve seen how popular adult coloring books have become in the past few years. We all need a calming break in this stressful world, and coloring a bookmark can provide that break on your campus.

student colors bookmark near library books

Do you have art classes at your school?

I have only been a school librarian at lower income schools, where we did not have an art teacher. For some students, expressing themselves through colors and drawing are the highlights of their day. Knowing that classroom teachers are often too busy trying to raise those test scores, I like to provide as many art opportunities in the library as possible. For some students who don’t excel in other academic subjects, art is the subject where they would shine. Bookmark library centers are one way that I can make sure that students who thrive on drawing and coloring get to do that every week.

Do you want your students to have conversations with each other and learn to share materials?

As we recover from virtual learning, we’re having to re-teach our students how to have conversations in person. We also need to teach those sharing lessons that our students may have missed because their kindergarten classes were online. Even though it can be tiring, we need to keep repeating phrases like:

  • “The supplies belong to everyone.”
  • “When we take a crayon out of the box, we only take the one we need right now.”
  • “Sharing makes it more fun for everyone.”
  • “We take turns with the supplies. We don’t grab a crayon from someone’s hand.”
  • “Thanks for giving her the red crayon when you finished. That was kind!”

Do you want your school library to be a fun place for your campus community?

Yes, we do teach academic standards, but we often have the flexibility to add FUN to our instruction! We want our school libraries to be the happiest place on campus, where students have more freedom to explore than they do in the classroom. You can keep the bookmark library center set up all year long, and vary the bookmark designs that you provide for students to draw and color. I’ve created printable bookmarks for the seasons and for the months of the year.

When I set up a bookmark library center, I include an expectations sign, and Twistables (R) crayons in a container. I hand out the bookmarks from the check-out desk (or have a student helper take this responsibility). My rule is that students can take one bookmark per week, but you can choose your own limit, based on how much time you have for copying and chopping up bookmarks and whether you are restricted on how many copies you can make.

Bookmark Library Center Links & Resources

Check out these resources to help you get started with bookmark library centers.

Free Bookmarks for School Librarians

Directed Drawing Bookmarks Growing Bundle

Printable Bookmarks to Color Months

Why Display AASL Standards for Library Centers & Makerspaces

I encourage you to set up a bookmark center in your school library this week. Let us know in a comment how it goes!

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