and received a 2017 Super Librarian Award
(Wherein I change the culture of the library, gain support from my principal and read a book or two)
Below follows my recipe for Lunch Bunch. It is a basic, easily sustainable program that does not break any new ground. What it does do is reflect the changing culture of our library and the growing support for our program. Lunch Bunch continues to be the most highly-attended library program and children vie for “their turn” for a literary lunch.
2 read alouds
30 minute lunch
Pinch of laughter
Splash of relaxation
Handful of Principal support
Well-stocked bins of condiments and silverware
Optional (but a great help):
Student helpers that stock the condiments & silverware
Wipes for cleaning surfaces (donated by parents)
Vacuum for under-the-table messes
Prep time: 5-10 minutes for book selection
Active time: 30 minutes
Serves up to 25
Develop trust and a positive relationship with students, teachers, and administration. Do they rely on you for ideas, guidance, and support? Does your principal consider you an essential piece of the school culture? Is she/he willing to hear your vision and give you free rein to pursue it? (In my case, my principal released me from lunch and recess duty when I proposed 120 extra literacy minutes during lunch times. My principal valued my program and ideas and said yes. I considered it a victory for the library program and the changing attitudes towards the library.)
Prepare the proposal.
Create a schedule and present it to your principal. Who will you serve? How many extra literacy minutes will you be providing during lunch, a time that has untapped potential? Logistics to consider: Who is invited? How many? How will you get them excited? How will they (and their teachers) know it is their turn? (I invite 1 class at a time. Each day I see a different grade and the invitation rotates weekly to the different classes in that particular grade. I keep a schedule posted in the cafeteria and the cafeteria staff remind students who is “Lunch Bunch-ing” that day).
Identify a theme for the read aloud and select two books to read.
They might be a book and it’s sequel, two works by the same author, two books with a common message or two books with something in common. Books with opportunities for interaction are always well-received. We have played rousing rounds of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and debated the best breakfast foods (pancakes, french toast or waffles).
How will you handle the trickling in of students? Will you read jokes, poetry or fun facts while they settle? Will you have a discussion? How will students buying lunch get their lunch in a timely manner? (Lunch Bunch students here are the first ones served).
Once your group arrives, begin the joyous celebration of reading. Read, laugh, question, and enjoy the time together. There is so much more going on than reading. I consider this “building” time - building community, relationships, a positive library culture, and most importantly a safe place for all children to relax and enjoy.
Yes, all good things have to come to an end. When we are done I send my students back to the cafeteria to recycle. Before our recycling program began I borrowed a giant trash barrel and students would throw away their trash and wipe down the tables with wipes donated by parents. Now I wipe the tables while I chat with the stragglers.
Lunch Bunch has been key to changing the culture of the library. Oddly, a traditional program has helped paved the way to the future of our space. Creating this opportunity was my statement to our students, staff and administration that I am here and looking to fill untapped time and opportunity with literacy. To me, Lunch Bunch represents the creative ways in which we can enrich our students’ days.
Student reflections on why they attend Lunch Bunch
- The cafeteria is loud and it is quiet and peaceful in the library
- You share new books
- You can be entertained while you eat
- We can enjoy lunch AND a book
- You can use your imagination during lunch
- You get to cut the line (Lunch Bunch students are served first)
Notes from the trenches
- You will have at least one syrup spill on pancake or french toast day. Keep wet wipes an arms-length away on those days.
- Popcorn has a specialized force field that attracts it to the floor, usually under multiple pairs of feet. Be sure to charge your vacuum the night before popcorn day.
- Lunch Bunch can sometimes be messy. Embrace the glorious mess and the beauty of building a library culture that welcomes all.