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More than books: Pratt Library supports and inspires students

Author visits, workshops, free resources open the world

On weekdays at 2:30 p.m., the doors to the Pratt Library’s Hamilton Branch fly open. Smiling students - just dismissed from school across the street - say hello to the librarians they know by name. They settle into seats and explore the endless shelves of books, and start their homework.

On one weekend last winter, students and families stopped by the Pratt Central Library to hear author Shadra Strickland read her new picture book, Jump In! After the presentation, they picked up jump ropes and free copies of the book. A joyful jump rope party ensued!

Weekday… weekend… no matter the day, it’s these types of experiences that make City Schools’ partnership with the Pratt Library so special. 

Explained City Schools K-8 Literacy Specialist Christopher Knighting, “We want kids to have windows into places outside of their world, and also mirrors of their world so they see themselves in what they learn and read. Pratt Library is a crucial part of making this happen.” 

Weekdays… weekends… this wide-ranging partnership includes: 

One Book Baltimore and author visits: Every year, City Schools and Pratt Library introduce students to authors and books that inspire. In the annual One Book Baltimore program, delivered through partnership and funding by the T. Rowe Price Foundation, 12,000+ 7th and 8th graders and their families read the same book, which is supplemented by collaborative discussions and author visits. The library also coordinates and funds other author visits - more than 15 visits a year - to schools and their branches. Check out a few of them here and here

Teen Center: Located in the Central Library, The Earl Teen Center for Learning and Leadership is an inclusive, safe space for 6th to 12th graders to pursue age-appropriate reading materials, STEAM programs, literacy workshops, and reserved computer workstations. 

Professional development: Pratt Library regularly leads educators in professional learning workshops, covering topics such as how to utilize library services, enhance school libraries with maker spaces, and coordinate author visits. 

Supporting Literacy Curricula: Pratt Library and City Schools strategically collaborate to ensure that curriculum-aligned books are available for students. City Schools provides the library with display materials that reinforce school-based programs, such as the Ladder of Literacy Infographic that explains what students are studying.

Resources: Students have easy access to Pratt’s Teen Library of Things, which lends out equipment from GoPro cameras and audio-visual equipment to sewing machines. And in the Children’s Library of Things, families check out educational play sets, STEAM kits, and more. 

Meghan McCorkell, Pratt Library’s Chief of Marketing, Communications & Strategy, perfectly summed up the strategy behind the partnership. “We want to build a lifelong love of learning - and a huge part of that is access. That access comes in many forms - books, people, ideas, inspirations. We’re opening doors so that young people can rise to whatever they want in life.” 

To learn more about the library's many programs engaging students, click here.

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