As a school librarian, this is a question I ask my students on a regular basis. Last year, we collected our K-5 students’ wonders and posted them in the library on a large sheet of blue paper.
Slowly, our collections of wonders grew:
I wonder what my hamster does at night?
I wonder if trees can touch each other?
I wonder if I will get a dog?
I wonder if all cephalopods have three hearts?
I wonder who the fastest pitcher is?
I wonder what I will look like when I am older?
Until the wall was wonder-full.
People think that being a librarian is about books. People think that being a modern librarian is about technology. These are just tools and vessels for what libraries are really about: wonder. Wonder in the sense of curiosity, of course, but also in the sense of magic or delight. The library should be the place in the school where students can come to find answers to their questions, to be awed by new ideas or stories, and to share their own discoveries.
To encourage this, we provide resources, tools, and experiences. At Dyer Elementary, where I work, we are lucky to have a makerspace attached to our library. The two spaces together form our Learning Commons. Students find books for pleasure and books for school. Instead of the dreaded find-and-regurgitate projects which are no fun for teachers and even less fun for kids, our students are encouraged to ask their own questions about topics and find the answers through guided use of library resources. For this reason, I now know how and why clown fish change gender, how to make squishies, and why the Red Sox were able to come back and win the 2004 World Series. My students wondered, asked, discovered, and taught.
Students also build in our learning commons. During Tinker Time they may try out new apps, build instruments out of found objects, experiment with art techniques, or build a life-sized car out of cardboard. In class sessions, we follow the design process to create inventions that stop hurricane force winds, bring clean water to communities, or respond to the problems of characters in books.
We are always learning and growing together. That is the power of wonder.
Librarians are teachers, of course, but we are also program managers, instructional partners, information specialists, and advocates and leaders. Wonder takes center stage in these roles, too.
The new AASL standards highlight four domains for learners, librarians, and library programs: Think, Create, Share, Grow. As school librarians, we administer and organize our libraries so as to facilitate these domains, as well as the AASL standards shared foundations: Inquire, Include, Collaborate, Curate, Explore, Engage. From the physical set up of the library, to the collection we develop, to the policies we put in place we are working to make the library a place for learners to grow.
As instructional partners, we help classroom teacher facilitate lessons that harness the power of wonder by advocating for student voice and choice. We plan collaboratively and share resources with teachers.
As leaders and advocates we help to shape the academic program of the school. As one of the few teachers in the building with a view of what goes on in every classroom, we are able to make connections between teachers, students, and administrators. These connections are what bring learning to the next level — the wonder level.
Maine students, faculty, and staff are not lacking in wonder. What Maine is lacking is certified school librarians. If you want to learn more about beginning the journey toward this wonderful new career (puns are optional), please send me a message or comment here. You can also learn more about our Spring 2019 we course EDT 515 Dynamic PK-12 Library Management through the collaborative Masters in Instructional Technology program. You can see the full course description on our course listing page (link out to And for more information or to register, please contact us. This course has been approved by the Maine Department of Education for the 071 endorsement