How can students succeed even if they don’t have all of the opportunities available to others from wealthier families or even if they don’t have involved parents? The Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, says that these students can succeed “. . . because someone believed in those children and taught them that neither their poverty nor their parents’ choices defined their futures.” http://www.ajc.com/opinion/learning-curve-duncan-no-250081.html Public librarians everywhere help children and teens by assisting them in pursuing their personal interests, by helping them with resources for life and school, and by talking to them, sometimes day-after-day. Librarians let students know that the librarians believe in the students and their ability to succeed. Most libraries don’t have formal after-school programs (though some do), yet operate as de facto after-school, evening, and weekend youth centers for many of the youth in the libraries neighborhoods.
Public libaries encourage the “sparks” that, according to the Search Institute allow youth to thrive.
“A spark is an interest, talent, skill, asset, or dream that truly excites a young person and helps them discover their true passions, whether they be academic, relational, athletic, artistic, or intellectual—anything that inspires and motivates.
Sparks ‘light a fire’ in a person. But sparks, by themselves, go can out if they are not nurtured with enough ongoing fuel to keep them alive and strengthen them. This fuel comes in the form of supportive peers and adults who help celebrate, affirm, and grow a young person’s sparks and are essential if those sparks are to help the young person truly thrive.”
If you haven’t done so lately, take a look at all of the services now provided by your local public library and find ways to support the librarians who are “lighting those fires and keeping them alive.”