Katie Eichbrecht, or “Ms. E” to the students who walk into the Forest Elementary school library in Michigan, has been a media center aide since 2014. Although she started her career six years ago, her love for reading has never faded. “I love to read because I can’t wait to see what each book has to tell me,” she explained.
As an avid reader, I can agree with that statement – opening a book is like unlocking a door that can lead you anywhere.
I have known Katie Eichbrecht for a very long time; she was probably one of the adults who helped spike my love of reading when I was really young, something she says is vital for elementary-age reading.
This book lover talks about the best and worst parts of her job, the graphic novel controversy, and more below!
Question: What are the best and worst parts of your job?
Answer: The best part of being a Media Aide is being able to choose books for the kids at the school, books that I know the kids will love. I have worked at Forest for six years, so I have grown the collection based on what my kids love and need. The worst part of being a Media Aide has been during this pandemic. I have not been able to have the kids in the media center in over a year. I just recently started a book cart (well 3 carts!!). I don’t like it because the kids get such limited choices.
Q: Why do you love to read?
A: I love to read because I can’t wait to see what each book has to tell me. A book might have an adventure or a lesson or a moral. But it also could be one of the funniest picture books I have ever read. I love to read so I can tell my students at school the reasons I love the book I am recommending to them.
Q: How do you choose which books to display on the library shelves?
A: I have no real strategy when it comes to displaying books. I have so many shelves that I feel like I can display so much on them. There are just things I think about. It could be a book I want to remember for a specific student. A series that I want kids to see. As kids get older, they move from readers to chapter books, so I make sure I put out books for 2nd and 3rd graders, not just upper level chapter books. Sometimes I am just in the mood for pretty covers 🙂
Q: Recently, there has been so much controversy on whether graphic novels being real books. What is your insight?
A: This is such a hard subject for me. Are graphic novels real books? Up until 2 years ago, I never bought graphic novels for the media center. If we had a series started and a new book came out, I would buy it. But I was reluctant to start a new graphic novel series. As the years have gone on, I can see the value in the graphic novel. There is a story in the book and kids can learn language. They are funny and thoughtful. If it gets a kid to read that is so important. They might take a graphic novel the first time, but a graphic novel and a chapter book the next time, especially if they trust me. Plus, there are many great graphic novels out there. My favorite is The New Kid by Jerry Kraft.
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: My favorite book is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. My dad always read it to us as kids, It doesn’t bother me that the pictures are in black and white. I love the story that Alexander tells, how his day gets worse and worse. We all have those days.
Q: Is there a certain book that is the most popular in your school library?
A: My most popular book in the media center is any Guinness Book of World Records. Any year, it doesnt matter, the kids love them.
Q: Why do you think reading is important for elementary-age students?
A: Reading is so important in elementary school aged kids for so many reasons. I know there are a lot of studies that support making sure kids read by third grade. But to me, I think it is so important to get kids to read because it adds to their creativity. It could help them find a career path. It could make them become an author, cartoonist or whatever their career path is. When you read, you engage your brain in a different manner. you make the connections and pictures in your head about what is happening in the story. Finally, it exposes kids to different vocabulary. If they don’t know the word, they will ask to find out what it means or how to pronounce it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about graphic novels lately. I think that sometimes they are absolutely the way to tell a story. And the art can really lift up the words and enhance my enjoyment of the book. When it works, I really enjoy that experience.
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