Sherman High School librarian Debbie Null almost didn’t believe it when she received a phone call recently telling her she had won thousands of dollars for the library.
“To be honest, I thought it was a joke,” she said.
She soon realized the representative from Scholastic Reading Club was not in jest: Null won a total of $10,000 in grant money for the library through James Patterson’s $1.75 Million Pledge to Libraries partnership with Scholastic. She had applied for the grant last Spring, and confessed she forgot about it as the months rolled by.
Patterson, a best-selling author, and Scholastic united in this effort to make a difference to children across the country by improving school libraries.
“They were looking for ways of getting books into the hands of kids,” Null said. “They need to have books that they want to read to learn how to love to read.”
Sherman’s library has always been more of an academic library, Null said, and while she appreciates the importance of that side, she wants the library to be well-rounded. She plans to use the grant money to help her balance the library with literature students want to read, especially a variety of fiction genres, including comic books, graphic novels and books that cover many different tastes, she said.
“We all go to our strengths or what we like,” Null said. “Children who don’t read or say they don’t like to read don’t enjoy it because they haven’t met the genre they would enjoy. That is why it is important to have a wide variety of books.”
When Null came to Sherman in 2012, she changed the layout of the library to make it more student-friendly. She added couches and beanbags that can be used as long as students are reading, as well as three booths. Null schedules Skype (video-calling) sessions with authors to help generate student interest in reading through technology. She also encourages students to write their own stories through projects such as Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month, which in an annual creative writing project held classically in November).
“My role as a librarian is to support students and staff academically and with curriculum,” Null said. “But I am also to support the literacy goals of the county. And thanks to the generosity of James Patterson and Scholastic, we will be better able to meet these goals.”