Human Libraries

I just watched a video about Human Libraries on my cousin’s post on Facebook. This is a great idea and I think that it could be a very inspiring thing to do in a school.

The idea is that you have a few people who are “books”. They are in a space and the visitors come and “read” them. The books tell their stories and then answer questions about themselves afterwards.

I think in a middle/high school environment this could be an amazingly powerful way to introduce students to loads of different types of people. You could have one of these that focused on mental illness, drug & alcohol abuse, sexuality, religion, etc.

In a lower school you could have similar but with more lower school friendly stories. For example our grade four students just finished a unit on beliefs. They had several guest speakers come into their classrooms. Instead of guest speakers they could have done a morning of “human library” where they had more of a small group interaction with people from different religions/belief systems and people who practice the same religion/belief system but in different ways. They could rotate around the room to read the books that they were interested in reading. They could ask the questions that they might not be comfortable asking in a whole grade level setting.

Our grade two’s are currently working on a unit about communication and they have had speakers come in that have taught them about sign language and braille. But how powerful a human library could be in that unit as well. Having people who communicate in different methods from verbal to nonverbal methods.

This idea has many possibilities and I think that I will add it to my collection of ideas for provoking students to see the world in all of its unique wonder.

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