All classes at ISB have a weekly scheduled library time, but students are welcome to visit more often, as the library has a self check-out and check-in system. Primary and Middle School students may borrow up to six books at a time, Kindergarten students may borrow four. Loans are generally for two weeks but can be renewed. The MYP book club, ‘The Bookworm Society,’ meets in the library once a week.
The ISB library is about the joy of reading, finding information, critical thinking, curiosity, and inspiration. We have literature in different languages and literature representing cultures from around the world and different ways of life.
As IB learners we aim to be reflective, open-minded, knowledgeable thinkers, and our book collection is a reflection of this. The ISB library has an ever-growing collection of books to support classes’ units of inquiry, but also a lot of books that both students and teachers never knew they needed! This is the concept of serendipity; stumbling across something you may never have thought about asking for, but may turn out to be helpful, make you laugh, or open your eyes to a new perspective.
Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that might be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience.
There is a saying among librarians that a great library should have something to offend everyone. This means that our library includes books where we can see ourselves represented but also books that tell us about people who are very different from us: people who might live under other circumstances or act in ways we don’t agree with. In some books people use ‘inappropriate’ language, commit crimes, or are generally pessimistic: these are reflections of real life, but that does not mean they are ‘words to live by’. Literature is an art form and we should read to enjoy it, but also reflect on what we are reading. This is especially important when we read books from another time which might include words that are outdated or even cause offense in our contemporary lives. This includes books often regarded as ‘classics’, which should be read in a historical context and, of course, debated openly. On this note, I highly encourage parents to talk with their kids about what they are reading!
Rita Felski talks in her book ‘Uses of literature’ about the four main reasons people read: Recognition, Enchantment, Knowledge and Shock. Literature can be uncomfortable and some books might shock us, as we encounter experiences different from our own or that remind us of something in our own lives. But reading often helps us gain empathy, no matter if we identify with the story or not. Having an emotional reaction to literature can be eye opening, and helps us reflect on our own lives and the lives of others.
A note on Danish children’s literature:
Children’s literature is a reflection of the society in which it is written. At ISB we aim to buy new and modern books in Danish written by Danish authors that represent the best of what Danish children’s literature has to offer. This means that we buy books from well-known publishing houses, working with highly-regarded authors who take pride in writing books that are easy to read but also have a literary quality. Nordic countries, in general, are known for publishing books that will always side with the child and take them seriously, no matter the subject. Children in Danish books are rarely ‘rewarded’ for being ‘well-behaved’. The books can address both serious matters in a literary way but also be very humorous and sometimes mildly controversial. This is true whether we’re talking about picture books or fiction for MYP students.
The Danish books we have at ISB are books that you can find in any public library in Denmark – and in any school library, for that matter.
Sometimes Danish books will include swear words. Again, this is not meant to teach children that it is fine to swear, but to reflect the lives of some real children. Sometimes children come to me in the library to ask about this and tell me how they find it inappropriate. In these cases, we talk about how books are not necessarily ‘words to live by,’ and I tell them, “read it, don’t repeat it”.
More often, though, they will talk to me about the books they loved, and how they were inspired to read more, how a book made them reflect, made them laugh or even made them angry. That is the power of literature.