The Education of the Nerdy Chick: A Chat with Margie Myers-Culver

mmcThis week, we are talking to Educator-Blogger-Literacy-Advocate-Extraordinaire, Margie Myers-Culver. Margie began teaching as a school librarian in 1973.  She says, “It has been the single best decision I have ever made.”  She has worked at all grade levels, loving each for their unique characteristics.  She continues to this day to believe the learning experience shared with her students is a give and take, where each is both student and teacher. Her blog is Librarian’s Quest.

As a librarian and teacher, we wanted Margie’s thoughts on The Education of the Nerdy Chick, especially when it comes to reading. Thank you, Margie, for talking to us today!

We asked Margie to finish some of our sentences — here’s what she had to say:

“The differences between girl readers and boy readers are…not how reading recommendations have ever been made in any of my school libraries.  When a class, group or individual student enters the library, they have always been greeted by a variety of book displays around the room based on genre, themes or format, not according to gender.  Booktalks feature a wide range of fiction and nonfiction titles with a mix of reading levels.  Students are encouraged to get any book which interests them.  Tastes in reading are like thumbprints, each individual is unique.”

“Girls can be reluctant readers, too. To get girls to read, I…address them as I do all readers.  A mantra learned in college has served me (and many, many others) well over the years; …the right book for the right reader at the right time.  Readers are advised according to their individual wants and needs.  I ask them:

  • about their activities outside the school day,
  • what their favorite thing to do is when they have free time,
  • is there a dream or goal they want to reach, perhaps we can find a title on that topic,
  • what was the last book they read or had read to them which will remain in their hearts forever.”

“It’s extremely important for girls (all readers) to know you care about them as individuals; that you sincerely want to know as much about them as possible so you can pair them with a book they will enjoy and remember.  There is nothing better than hearing a book you recommended to one student being recommended by them to another.  In that moment you know a flame has been kindled.  I want to keep that flame fanned with titles as often as I can for as long as I can.  It’s about trust and connection.  For many years I hosted brown bag lunch book groups with girls.  This past summer I had a very small group of girls who would come to my home as I read books aloud to them.  We even Skyped with one of the authors.”

“It can be hard for younger girls to embrace their inner Nerdy Chick. But what is great about when that happens is…it’s as if a load has been lifted; they are free to be themselves, to bravely follow their heart.  It’s almost magical to watch.  It spreads from one girl to another and to another.  Sometimes they will read the same book together.  Or sometimes they will explore subject areas or genres they have not previously visited.”

“When a Nerdy Chick comes into my library, I notice…the air of confidence they carry.  Now they not only know what they want and need but they are able to voice it too.”

“Even Nerdy Chicks need guidance. To help her expand her reading interests, I…would suggest she join an online reading community like Biblionasium or Scholastic’s The Stacks. I would share my own book community experiences using Goodreads (and as a member of the Nerdy Book Club).  We all have, as Donalyn Miller, teacher and author of The Book Whisperer:  Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child and Reading in the Wild:  The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Life Long Reading Habits, calls them, book gaps.  I might invite her to join a challenge or start one of her own.  Again I would share my own experiences with online challenges and reading outside my main interest area.  Each year reviewing journals publish their best books of a given year.  I would refer her to those also.”

“As a Nerdy Chick, I…was the student who knew the answers and bravely raised my hand even when I knew I would be teased as being some kind of brainiac.  I have always talked about books and reading with anyone who would listen.  No one is immune to my suggestions including complete strangers in bookstores who look like they need help.  Even one of my former students in his mid-twenties who has been doing some painting for me, remarked as he was leaving today, “You can get anyone excited about reading.”  I was booktalking the graphic novel series Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale.

“Once a Nerdy Chick always a Nerdy Chick.  Come join the flock!”

Once again, a big thank you to Margie for joining us. Want to read more of her brilliant thoughts? Follow her on Twitter. And go find your right book today!

Oh, and in case you thought we forgot…

We have a winner in the original art giveaway! Everybody put your hands together for

@BookishAmbition!

Thanks to everyone for entering!

 

2 comments on “The Education of the Nerdy Chick: A Chat with Margie Myers-Culver

  1. This was great! Next year I hope to start volunteering in the library at school and would love all tips.

  2. As a mom of one nerdy chick, one reluctant reader, and one impressionable fledgling, I appreciate all your thoughtful suggestions. And a huge thank-you to the nerdy chicks and Aaron Zenz for your fabulous giveaway. Thanks so much!

    Joanne

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