Spotlight on Summer Reading: DeBakey Librarian Lana Hayes

This is the third in a series of articles about what HISD students are reading.

July 21, 2011

It used to be that people literally had stacks of books for summer reading, but in today's digital age, more and more people are finding books online-on a laptop, tablet, e-reader, or even on their smartphone.

"We are reading in so many different ways now," Lana Hayes says. She is the librarian at the DeBakey High School for Health Professions and she's focused on building a collection of online and printed materials.

Last year, only a few of Hayes' students brought their own laptops and tablets to school, but many others used school computers to do research or had the ability to find information on their phones. The change in technology and readers' habits has led to a shift in resources at DeBakey-fewer printed reference materials and more online databases. Still, Hayes believes there are other materials that students prefer to have in print. "I think students like their novels in print," she said. "I also keep an area of magazines in print. Students like to sit down with a print magazine. People will invent their own mix of how they want to interface with reading materials."

Hayes says it doesn't matter which medium students choose -the physical book or the e-book. What is important, she says, is that students have a passion for reading and the ability to analyze information. "Students are going to have to learn how to filter, analyze, and check for accuracy. In this day and age, they have to be even better readers than before."

During the school year, Hayes teaches students about effective research methods and reminds them that reading is a skill. "You have to practice in order to keep up your skills and improve," she says.

Apart from required summer reading, Hayes recommends that students spend at least a half hour every day reading for their own enjoyment. She helps students find titles matching their own interests and says young adults particularly enjoy books written by Chris Crutcher, Walter Dean Myers, and Sarah Dessen.