Susan Gauthier receives AASL Innovative Reading Grant

For Immediate Release
Tue, 03/19/2019


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)


CHICAGO – Susan Gauthier, director of library services for East Baton Rouge Parish (La.) Schools, is the recipient of the 2019 American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Innovative Reading Grant. Sponsored by Capstone, the $2,500 grant supports the planning and implementation of a unique and innovative program for children that motivates and encourages reading, especially with struggling readers.

Gauthier's project, Animal Advocates: Every Animal Has a Story to Tell, is designed to increase reading comprehension, but also to ignite and sustain third- and fourth-grade students' interest in reading nonfiction. Students will select a nonfiction book and be provided with sticky notes to record new vocabulary words, questions, and topics for discussion, as well as a digital bookmark to log their time spent reading.

After completing the reading portion of the project, students will visit the Baton Rouge Zoo. While there, the students will meet the zookeeper and then zoo educational consultants will introduce the students to the animals in residence. Students will keep a zoo journal to document the different animals, names, and characteristics. After the visit, the students will then select one of the zoo's animals and write its biography, working in collaboration with the zoo educational consultants. Final projects will be displayed at the zoo.

"What stood out to the committee is Susan's project is a perfect collaboration between the school and the community with the involvement of the zoo educator in the lesson planning," said Cathy Evans, awards committee chair. "The Animal Advocates project encompasses not only reading, but also research, writing, and presentation. The students' presentations will be displayed at the zoo, giving the students an authentic audience and a real sense of community engagement."

"This project is unique in that it is conveying a very timely message of animal advocacy and reading in our school library," wrote Gauthier in her application. "We want our students to be an inspiration for others to hear the stories of the animals and to schedule a zoo visit. Reflecting on a Dr. Seuss quote, 'I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.,' reminds us that our students can be the voice for our zoo animals."

The AASL award winners will be honored at the AASL Awards Ceremony during the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 22. All are welcome to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers during this recognition event.

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